27/10/2013 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


27/10/2013

Andrew Neil and Mark Carruthers with the latest political news, interviews and debate. With Lord Heseltine and shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint.


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Morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics. Hope you enjoyed

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the extra hour in bed, and that you've realised it's not 12:45. It's

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11:45! It's getting stormy outside. But they're already battening down

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the hatches at Number Ten because coalition splits are back, with

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bust-ups over free schools and power bills. We'll speak to the Lib Dems,

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and ask Labour who's conning whom over energy.

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EU leaders have been meeting in Brussels. But how's David Cameron

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getting on with that plan to change our relationship with Europe? We

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were there to ask him. Have we got any powers back yet? DS!

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Foreign companies own everything from our energy companies to our

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And in Northern Ireland we talk to railways. Does it

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And in Northern Ireland we talk to the new Shadow Secretary of State,

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Ivan Lewis, who's already annoyed the government over allegations it's

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becoming complacent about what's going on here. Join me in half an

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hour. going on here. Join me in half an

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as many daily journeys made by bus than by tube, so why is the

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investment in buses not keeping pace?

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And with me, three journalists who've bravely agreed to hunker down

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in the studio while Britain braces itself for massive storm winds,

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tweeting their political forecasts with all the accuracy of Michael

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Lewis, Janan Ganesh and Nick Watt. Lewis, Janan Ganesh and Nick Watt.

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Now, sometimes coalition splits are over-egged, or dare we say even

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occasionally stage-managed. But this week, we've seen what looks like the

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genuine article. It turns out Nick Clegg has his doubts about the

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coalition's flagship free schools policy. David Cameron doesn't much

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like the green levies on our energy bills championed by the Lib Dems.

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Neither of them seems to have bothered to tell the other that they

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had their doubts. Who better to discuss these flare-ups than Lib Dem

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Deputy Leader Simon Hughes? He joins me now. Welcome. Good morning. The

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Lib Dems spent three years of sticking up for the coalition when

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times were grim. Explain to me the logic of splitting from them when

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times look better. We will stick with it for five years. It is

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working arrangement, but not surprisingly, where there right

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areas on which we disagree over where to go next, we will stand up.

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It is going to be hard enough for the Lib Dems to get any credit for

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the recovery, what ever it is. It will be even harder if you seem to

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be semidetached and picky. The coalition has led on economic

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policy, some of which were entirely from our stable. The one you have

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heard about most often, a Lib Dem initiative, was to take people on

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blowing comes out of tax. The recovery would not have happened,

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there would not have been confidence in Britain, had there not been a

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coalition government with us in it, making sure the same policies

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produced fair outcomes. We are not going to leave the credit for any

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growth - and there has been very good news this week. We have played

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a part in that, and without us, it would not have happened. Does it not

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underline the trust problem you have? You promised to abolish

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tuition fees. You oppose nuclear power, now you are cheerleading the

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first multi-billion pounds investment in nuclear generation.

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You are dying out on your enthusiasm on green levies, and now they are up

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for renegotiation. Why should we trust a word you say? In relation to

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green levies, as you well know, just under 10% is to do with helping

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energy and helping people. Unless there is continuing investment in

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renewables, we will not have the British produced energy at cheaper

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cost to keep those bills down in the future. At cheaper cost? Explain

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that to me. Off-shore energy is twice the market rate. The costs of

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renewables will increasingly come down. We have fantastic capacity to

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produce the energy and deliver lots of jobs in the process. The parts of

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the energy bill that may be up for renegotiation seems to be the part

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where we subsidise to help either poor people pay less, or where we do

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other things. Too insulated the homes? Are you up to putting that to

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general taxation? Wouldn't that be progressive? I would. It would be

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progressive. I would like to do for energy bills what the Chancellor has

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done for road traffic users, drivers, which is too fuelled motor

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fuel -- to freeze new to fall. That would mean there would be an

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immediate relief this year, not waiting for the election. So there

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is a deal to be done there? Yes. We understand we have to take the

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burden off the consumer, and also deal with the energy companies, who

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look as if they are not paying all the tax they should be, and the

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regulator, which doesn't regulate quickly enough to deal with the

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issues coming down the track. We can toughen the regulator, and I hope

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that the Chancellor, in the Autumn statement, was signalled that energy

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companies will not be allowed to get away with not paying the taxes they

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should. And this deal will allow energy prices to come down? Yes. How

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could David Laws, one of your ministers, proudly defend the record

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of unqualified teachers working in free schools, and then stand

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side-by-side with Mr Clegg, as he says he is against them? David Laws

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was not proudly defending the fact that it is unqualified teachers. He

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said that some of the new, unqualified teachers in free schools

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are doing a superb job. But you want to get rid of them? We want to make

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sure that everybody coming into a free school ends up being qualified.

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Ends up? Goes through a process that means they have qualifications. Just

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as we said very clearly at the last election that the manifesto

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curriculum in free schools should be the same as other schools. It looks

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like Mr Clegg is picking a fight just for the sake of it. Mr Clegg

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was taught by people who didn't have teaching qualifications in one of

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the greatest schools in the land, if not the world. It didn't seem to do

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him any harm. What is the problem? If you pay to go to a school, you

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know what you're getting. But that is what a free school is. No, you

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don't pay fees. A free school is parents taking the decisions, not

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you, the politicians. We believe they would expect to guarantee is,

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firstly that the minimum curriculum taught across the country is taught

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in the free schools, and secondly, that the teachers there are

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qualified. Someone who send their kids to private schools took a

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decision to take -- to send their children there, even if the teachers

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were unqualified, because they are experts in their field. Someone who

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send their kids to free schools is because -- is their decision, not

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yours. Because some of the free schools are new, and have never been

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there before, parents need a guarantee that there are some basics

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in place, whatever sort of school. So they need you to hold their hand?

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It is not about holding hands, it is about having a minimum guarantee.

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Our party made clear at our conference that this is a priority

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for us. Nick Clegg reflects the view of the party, and I believe it is an

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entirely rational thing to do. Nick Clegg complained that the Prime

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Minister gave him only 30 minutes notice on the Prime Minister Buzz 's

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U-turn on green levies. That is almost as little time as Nick Clegg

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gave the Prime Minister on his U-turn on free schools. Aren't you

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supposed to be partners? Green levies were under discussion in the

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ministerial group before Wednesday, because we identified this as an

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issue. We do that in a practical way. Sometimes there is only half an

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hour's notice. We had even less than half an hour this morning! Simon

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Hughes, thank you. So the price of energy is the big

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battle ground in politics at the moment. 72% of people say that high

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bills will influence the way they vote at the next election. Ed

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Miliband has promised a price freeze after the next election, but will

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the coalition turned the tables on Labour, with its proposal to roll

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back green levies. Caroline Flint joins us from Sheffield. It looks

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like the coalition will be able to take ?50 of energy bills, by

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removing green levies. It is quite clear that different parts of the

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government are running round waking up to the fact that the public feel

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that this government has not done enough to listen to their concerns.

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Last week, there was a classic case of the Prime Minister making up

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policy literally at the dispatch box. Let's see what they say in the

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autumn statement. The truth is, whatever the debate around green

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levies, and I have always said we should look at value for money at

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those green levies. Our argument is about acknowledging there is

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something wrong with the way the market works, and the way those

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companies are regulated. Behind our freeze for 20 months is a package of

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proposals to reform this market. I understand that, but you cannot tell

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as the details about that. I can. You cannot give us the details about

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reforming the market. We are going to do three things, and I think I

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said this last time I was on the programme. First, we are going to

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separate out the generation side from the supply side within the big

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six. Secondly, we will have a energy pool, or power exchange, where all

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energy will have to be traded in that pool. Thirdly, we will

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establish a tougher regulator, because Ofgem is increasingly being

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seen as not doing the job right. I notice that you didn't mention any

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reform of the current green and social taxes on the energy bill. Is

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it Labour's policy to maintain the existing green levies? In 2011, the

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government chose to get rid of warm front, which was the publicly funded

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through tracks a scheme to support new installation. When they got rid

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of that, it was the first time we had a government since the 70s that

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didn't have such a policy. What is your policy? We voted against that

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because we believe it is wrong. We believe that the eco-scheme, a

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government intervention which is ?47 of the ?112 on our bills each year,

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is expensive, bureaucratic and isn't going to the fuel poor. I am up for

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a debate on these issues. I am up for a discussion on what the

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government should do and what these energy companies should do. We

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cannot let Cameron all the energy companies off the hook from the way

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in which they organise their businesses, and expect us to pay

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ever increasing rises in our bills. There is ?112 of green levies on our

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bills at the moment. Did you vote against any of them? We didn't, but

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what I would say ease these were government imposed levies. When they

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got rid of the government funded programme, Warm Front, they

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introduced the eco-scheme. The eco-project is one of the ones where

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the energy companies are saying, it's too bureaucratic, and it is

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proving more expensive than government estimates, apparently

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doubled the amount the government thought. These things are all worth

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looking at, but don't go to the heart of the issue. According to

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official figures, on current plans, which you support, which you voted

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for, households will be paying 41% more per unit of electricity by

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2030. It puts your temporary freeze as just a blip. You support a 41%

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rise in our bills. I support making sure we secure for the future access

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to energy that we can grow here in the UK, whether it is through

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nuclear, wind or solar, or other technologies yet to be developed. We

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should protect ourselves against energy costs we cannot control. The

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truth is, it is every fair for you to put that point across, and I

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accept that, but we need to hear the other side about the cost for bill

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payers if we didn't invest in new, indigenous sources of energy supply

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for the future, which, in the long run, will be cheaper and more

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secure, and create the jobs we need. I think it is important to

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have a debate about these issues, but they have to be seen in the

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right context. If we stay stuck in the past, we will pay more and we

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will not create jobs. How can you criticise the coalition's plans for

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a new nuclear station, when jeering 13 years of a Labour government, you

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did not invest in a single nuclear plant? You sold off all our nuclear

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technology to foreign companies. Energy provision was put out to

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private hands and there has been no obstacle in British law against

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ownership outside the UK. Part of this is looking ahead. Because your

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previous track record is so bad? What we did decide under the

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previous government, we came to the view, and there were discussions in

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our party about this, that we did need to support a nuclear future.

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At the time of that, David Cameron was one of those saying that

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nuclear power should be a last resort. And as you said, the

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Liberals did not support it. We stood up for that. We set in train

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the green light of 10 sites, including Hinkley Point, for

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nuclear development. I am glad to see that is making progress and we

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should make more progress over the years ahead. We took a tough

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decision when other governments had not done. You did not build a new

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nuclear station. When you get back into power, will you build HS2?

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That has not had a blank cheque from the Labour Party. I am in

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favour of good infrastructure. Are you in favour of?, answer the

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question? I have answered the question. It does not have a blank

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cheque. If the prices are too high, we will review the decision when we

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come back to vote on it. We will be looking at it closely. We have to

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look for value for money and how it benefits the country. Have you

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stocked up on jumpers this winter? I am perfectly all right with my

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clothing. What is important, it is ridiculous for the Government to

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suggest that the answer to the loss of trust in the energy companies is

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to put on another jumper. The coalition has taken a long time

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to come up with anything that can trump Ed Miliband's simple freezing

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energy prices, vote for us. Are they on the brink of doing so? I do

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not think so. They have had a problem that has dominated the

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debate, talking about GDP, the figures came out on Friday and said,

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well, and went back to talking about energy. My problem with what

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David Cameron proposes is he agrees with the analysis that the Big Six

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make too many profits. He wants to move the green levies into general

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taxation, so that he looks like he is protecting the profits of the

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energy companies. If the coalition can say they will take money off

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the bills, does that change the game? I do not think the Liberal

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Democrats are an obstacle to unwinding the green levies. I think

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Nick Clegg is open to doing a deal, but the real obstacle is the carbon

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reduction targets that we signed up to during the boom years. They were

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ambitious I thought at the time. From that we have the taxes and

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clocking up of the supply-side of the economy. Unless he will revise

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that, and build from first principles a new strategy, he

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cannot do more than put a dent into green levies. He might say as I

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have got to ?50 now and if you voters in in an overall majority, I

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will look up what we have done in the better times and give you more.

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I am sure he will do that. It might be ?50 of the Bill, but it will be

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?50 on your general taxation bill, which would be more progressive.

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They will find it. We will never see it in general taxation. The

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problem for the Coalition on what Ed Miliband has done is that it is

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five weeks since he made that speech and it is all we are talking

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about. David Cameron spent those five weeks trying to work out

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whether Ed Miliband is a Marxist or whether he is connected to Middle

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Britain. That is why Ed Miliband set the agenda. The coalition are

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squabbling among themselves, looking petulant, on energy, and on

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schools. Nobody is taking notice of the fact the economy is under way,

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the recovery is under way. Ed Miliband has made the weather on

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this. It UK has a relaxed attitude about

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selling off assets based -- to companies based abroad. But this

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week we have seen the Swiss owner of one of Scotland's largest

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industrial sites, Grangemouth, come within a whisker of closing part of

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it down. So should we care whether British assets have foreign owners?

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Britain might be a nation of homeowners, but we appear to have

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lost our taste for owning some of our biggest businesses. These are

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among the crown jewels sold off in the past three decades to companies

:20:31.:20:38.

based abroad. Roughly half of Britain's essential services have

:20:39.:20:40.

overseas owners. The airport owner, British Airports Authority, is

:20:41.:20:43.

owned by a Spanish company. Britain's largest water company,

:20:44.:20:45.

Thames, is owned by a consortium led by an Australian bank. Four out

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of six of Britain's biggest energy companies are owned by overseas

:20:50.:20:52.

giants, and one of these, EDF Energy, which is owned by the

:20:53.:20:54.

French state, is building Britain's first nuclear power plant in a

:20:55.:20:57.

generation, backed by Chinese investors. It's a similar story for

:20:58.:21:05.

train operator Arriva, bought by a company owned by the German state.

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So part of the railways privatised by the British government was

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effectively re-nationalised by the German government. But does it

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matter who owns these companies, as long as the lights stay on, the

:21:22.:21:25.

trains run on time, and we can still eat Cadbury's Dairy Milk?

:21:26.:21:31.

We are joined by the general secretary of the RMT, Bob Crow, and

:21:32.:21:36.

by venture capitalist Julie Meyer. They go head to head.

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Have we seen the consequences of relying for essential services to

:21:45.:21:50.

be foreign-owned? Four of the Big Six energy companies, Grangemouth,

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owned by a tax exile in Switzerland. It is not good. I do not think

:21:57.:22:02.

there is a cause and effect relationship between foreign

:22:03.:22:07.

ownership and consumer prices. That is not the right comparison. We

:22:08.:22:11.

need to be concerned about businesses represented the future,

:22:12.:22:15.

businesses we are good at innovating for example in financial

:22:16.:22:19.

services and the UK has a history of building businesses, such as

:22:20.:22:27.

Monotypes. If we were not creating businesses here -- Monotise. Like

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so many businesses creating products and services and creating

:22:38.:22:46.

the shareholders. Should we allow hour essential services to be in

:22:47.:22:52.

foreign ownership? It was demonstrated this week at

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Grangemouth. If you do not own the industry, you do not own it. The

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MPs of this country and the politicians in Scotland have no say,

:23:02.:23:05.

they were consultants. Multinationals decide whether to

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shut a company down. If that had been Unite union, they are the ones

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who saved the jobs. They capitulated. They will come back,

:23:17.:23:22.

like they have for the past 150 years, and capture again what they

:23:23.:23:26.

lost. If it had closed, they would have lost their jobs for ever. If

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the union had called the members up without a ballot for strike action,

:23:34.:23:37.

there would have been uproar. This person in Switzerland can decide to

:23:38.:23:42.

shut the entire industry down. The coalition, the Labour Party, as

:23:43.:23:47.

well, when Labour was in government, they played a role of allowing

:23:48.:23:52.

industries to go abroad, and it should be returned to public

:23:53.:24:04.

ownership. Nestor. It has demonstrated that the Net comes

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from new businesses. We must not be... When Daly motion was stopped

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by the French government to be sold, it was an arrow to the heart of

:24:19.:24:23.

French entrepreneurs. We must not create that culture in the UK.

:24:24.:24:28.

Every train running in France is built in France. 90% of the trains

:24:29.:24:32.

running in Germany are built in Germany. In Japan, it has to be

:24:33.:24:42.

built in that country, and now an energy company in France is

:24:43.:24:46.

reducing its nuclear capability in its own country and wants to make

:24:47.:24:50.

profits out of the British industry to put back into it state industry.

:24:51.:24:55.

That happened with the railway industry. They want to make money

:24:56.:24:58.

at the expense of their own state companies. We sold off energy

:24:59.:25:09.

production. How did we end up in a position where our nuclear capacity

:25:10.:25:14.

will be built by a company owned by a socialist date, France, and

:25:15.:25:17.

funded by a communist one, China, for vital infrastructure? I am not

:25:18.:25:26.

suggesting that is in the national interest. I am saying we can pick

:25:27.:25:31.

any one example and say it is a shame. The simple matter of the

:25:32.:25:35.

fact is the owners are having to make decisions. Not just

:25:36.:25:39.

Grangemouth, businesses are making decisions about what is the common

:25:40.:25:44.

good. Not just in the shareholders' interest. For employees, customers.

:25:45.:25:50.

What is in the common good when prices go up by 10% and the reason

:25:51.:25:56.

is that 20 years ago they shut every coal pit down in this country,

:25:57.:26:00.

the Germans kept theirs open and subsidised it and now we have the

:26:01.:26:03.

Germans doing away with nuclear power and they have coal. Under the

:26:04.:26:12.

Labour government, in 2008, the climate change Act was passed. Well

:26:13.:26:17.

before that, and you know yourself, they shut down the coal mines to

:26:18.:26:22.

smash the National Union of Mineworkers because they dared to

:26:23.:26:26.

stand up for people in their community. Even if we wanted to

:26:27.:26:30.

reopen the coalmines, it would be pointless. Under the 2008 Act, we

:26:31.:26:36.

are not meant to burn more coal. The can, as if you spent some of

:26:37.:26:42.

the profits, you could have carbon catch up. That does not exist on a

:26:43.:26:50.

massive scale. You are arguing the case, Julie Meyer, for

:26:51.:26:54.

entrepreneurs to come to this country. Even Bob Crow is not

:26:55.:27:00.

against that. We are trying to argue, should essential services be

:27:01.:27:07.

in foreign hands? Not those in Silicon round about doing start-ups.

:27:08.:27:13.

I am trying to draw a broader principle than just energy.

:27:14.:27:18.

Something like broadband services, also important to the functioning

:27:19.:27:24.

of the economy. I believe in the UK's ability to innovate. When we

:27:25.:27:30.

have businesses that play off broadband companies to get the best

:27:31.:27:35.

prices for consumers. These new businesses and business models are

:27:36.:27:41.

the best way. Not to control, but to influence. It will be a disaster.

:27:42.:27:46.

Prices will go up and up as a result. Nissan in Sunderland, a

:27:47.:27:53.

Japanese factory, some of the best cars and productivity. You want

:27:54.:27:56.

that to be nationalised and bring it down to the standard of British

:27:57.:28:01.

Leyland? It is not bring it down to the standard. The car manufacturing

:28:02.:28:05.

base in this country has been wrecked. We make more cars now for

:28:06.:28:12.

20 years -- than in 20 years. Ford's Dagenham produced some of

:28:13.:28:17.

the best cars in the world. Did you buy one? I cannot drive. They moved

:28:18.:28:24.

their plants to other countries, where it was cheaper labour. Would

:28:25.:28:31.

you nationalise Nissan? There should be one car industry that

:28:32.:28:36.

produces cars for people. This week the EU summit was about Angela

:28:37.:28:41.

Merkel's mobile phone being tapped, they call it a handy. We sent Adam

:28:42.:28:49.

to Brussels and told him to ignore the business about phone-tapping

:28:50.:28:52.

and investigate the Prime Minister's policy on Europe instead.

:28:53.:29:02.

I have come to my first EU summit to see how David Cameron is getting on

:29:03.:29:11.

with his strategy to claim power was back from Brussels. Got any powers

:29:12.:29:21.

back yet? Yes! Which ones? Sadly, his fellow leaders were not as

:29:22.:29:25.

forthcoming. Chancellor, are you going to give any powers back to

:29:26.:29:32.

Britain? Has David Cameron asked you for any powers back? The president

:29:33.:29:35.

of the commission just laughed, and listen to the Lithuanian President.

:29:36.:29:44.

How is David Cameron's renegotiation strategy going? What's that? He

:29:45.:29:54.

wants powers back for Britain. No one knows what powers David Cameron

:29:55.:29:59.

actually wants. Even our usual allies, like Sweden, are bit

:30:00.:30:06.

baffled. We actually don't know yet what is going through the UK

:30:07.:30:12.

membership. We will await the finalisation of that first. You

:30:13.:30:18.

should ask him, and then tell us! Here is someone who must know, the

:30:19.:30:23.

Dutch Prime Minister, he is doing what we are doing, carrying out a

:30:24.:30:29.

review of the EU powers, known as competencies in the jargon, before

:30:30.:30:34.

negotiating to get some back. Have you had any negotiations with David

:30:35.:30:37.

Cameron over what powers you can bring back from Brussels? That is

:30:38.:30:45.

not on the agenda of this summit. Have you talked to him about it?

:30:46.:30:49.

This is not on the schedule for this summit.

:30:50.:30:55.

David Cameron's advises tummy it is because he is playing the long game.

:30:56.:31:06.

-- David Cameron's advisers tell me. At this summit, there was a task

:31:07.:31:11.

force discussing how to cut EU red tape. Just how long this game is was

:31:12.:31:18.

explained to me outside the summit, by the leader of the Conservatives

:31:19.:31:24.

in the European Parliament. I think the behind-the-scenes negotiations

:31:25.:31:28.

will start happening when the new commissioner is appointed later next

:31:29.:31:32.

year. I think the detailed negotiations will start to happen

:31:33.:31:36.

bubbly after the UK general election. That is when we will start

:31:37.:31:41.

getting all of the detail of the horse trading, and real, Lake night

:31:42.:31:49.

negotiations. Angela Merkel seems keen to rewrite the EU's main

:31:50.:31:53.

treaties to deal with changes in the Eurozone, and that is the mechanism

:31:54.:31:58.

David Cameron would use to renegotiate our membership. Everyone

:31:59.:32:02.

here says his relationship with the German Chancellor is strong. So

:32:03.:32:06.

after days in this building, here is how it looks. David Cameron has a

:32:07.:32:13.

mountain to climb. It is climbable, but he isn't even in the foothills

:32:14.:32:17.

yet. Has he even started packing his bags for the trip?

:32:18.:32:21.

Joining us now, a man who knows a thing or two about the difficulties

:32:22.:32:29.

Prime Minister 's face in Europe. Former Deputy Prime Minister,

:32:30.:32:32.

Michael Heseltine. We are nine months from David Cameron's defining

:32:33.:32:37.

speech on EU renegotiation. Can you think of one area of progress? I

:32:38.:32:44.

don't know. And you don't know. And that's a good thing. Why is it a

:32:45.:32:52.

good thing? Because the real progress goes on behind closed

:32:53.:33:03.

doors. And only the most naive, because the real progress goes on

:33:04.:33:09.

behind closed doors. Because, in this weary world, you and I, Andrew,

:33:10.:33:14.

know full well that the moment you say, I making progress, people say,

:33:15.:33:21.

where? And the machine goes to work to show that the progress isn't

:33:22.:33:27.

enough. So you are much better off making progress as best you can in

:33:28.:33:35.

the privacy of private diplomacy. It is a long journey ahead. In this

:33:36.:33:40.

long journey, do you have a clear sense of the destination? Do you

:33:41.:33:46.

have a clear sense of what powers Mr Cameron wants to negotiate? I have a

:33:47.:33:51.

clear sense of the destination, which is a victory for the campaign

:33:52.:33:56.

that he will win to stay inside the European community. That is the

:33:57.:34:03.

agenda, and I have total support for that. I understand that, but if he

:34:04.:34:11.

is incapable of getting any tangible sign of renegotiation, if he is able

:34:12.:34:16.

only to do what Wilson did in 1975, which was to get a couple of token

:34:17.:34:23.

changes to our membership status, he goes into that referendum without

:34:24.:34:28.

much to argue for. He has everything to argue for. He's got Britain's

:34:29.:34:36.

vital role as a major contributor to the community. He's got Britain's

:34:37.:34:39.

self interest as a major beneficiary, and Britain's vital

:34:40.:34:48.

role in the City of London. He's got everything to argue for. He could

:34:49.:34:52.

argue for that now. He could have a referendum now. He doesn't want one

:34:53.:34:58.

now. I haven't any doubt that he will come back with something to

:34:59.:35:07.

talk about. But it may be slightly different to what his critics, the

:35:08.:35:15.

UK isolationist party people, want. He may, for example, have found that

:35:16.:35:19.

allies within the community want change as well, and he may secure

:35:20.:35:25.

changes in the way the community works, which would be a significant

:35:26.:35:31.

argument within the referendum campaign. Let me give you an

:35:32.:35:37.

example. I think it is a scandal that the European Commission don't

:35:38.:35:42.

secure the auditing of some of the accounts. Perhaps that could be on

:35:43.:35:45.

the agenda. He might find a lot of accounts. Perhaps that could be on

:35:46.:35:50.

contributing countries, like Germany, like Colin and, would be

:35:51.:35:59.

very keen. -- like Holland. David vetoed the increase in the European

:36:00.:36:03.

budgets the other day, and he had a lot of allies. So working within

:36:04.:36:09.

Europe on the things that people paying the European bills want is

:36:10.:36:15.

fertile ground. Is John Major right to call for a windfall tax on the

:36:16.:36:21.

energy companies? John is a very cautious fellow. He doesn't say

:36:22.:36:25.

things without thinking them out. So I was surprised that he went for a

:36:26.:36:33.

windfall tax. First of all, it is retrospective, and secondly, it is

:36:34.:36:37.

difficult to predict what the consequences will be. I am, myself,

:36:38.:36:42.

more interested in the other part of his speech, which was talking about

:36:43.:36:46.

the need for the Conservative Party to seek a wider horizon, to

:36:47.:36:51.

recognise what is happening to the Conservative Party in the way in

:36:52.:36:56.

which its membership is shrinking into a southeastern enclave. Are you

:36:57.:37:05.

in favour of a windfall tax? I am not in favour of increasing any

:37:06.:37:17.

taxes. Do you share Iain Duncan Smith's point of view on welfare

:37:18.:37:23.

reform? I think Iain Duncan Smith is right. It is extremely difficult to

:37:24.:37:32.

do, but he is right to try. I think public opinion is behind him, but it

:37:33.:37:41.

isn't easy, because on the fringe of these issues there are genuine hard

:37:42.:37:46.

luck stories, and they are the ones that become the focus of attention

:37:47.:37:51.

the moment you introduce change. It requires a lot of political skill to

:37:52.:37:57.

negotiate your way through that. But isn't Iain Duncan Smith right to

:37:58.:38:02.

invoke the beverage principle, that you should be expected to make a

:38:03.:38:06.

contribution for the welfare you depend on? Yes, he is. I will let

:38:07.:38:12.

you get your Sunday lunch. Thanks for joining us.

:38:13.:38:16.

Coming up in just over 20 minutes, I will be looking

:38:17.:38:19.

Hello and welcome to Sunday Politics in Northern Ireland. He has warned

:38:20.:38:35.

the Tories they are being complacent with their policy here. They say he

:38:36.:38:39.

is parroting the rubbish of his predecessor. The news shadow

:38:40.:38:44.

Secretary of State, Ivan Lewis, joins me live from Manchester. --

:38:45.:38:51.

the new. Also, is the Exploris Aquarium about to sink or can

:38:52.:38:55.

politicians when the will and the money to save it? To make sense of

:38:56.:39:00.

all that, I am joined by the Irish News journalist Allison Morris and

:39:01.:39:05.

Professor Pete Shirlow from Queen's University.

:39:06.:39:09.

Labour has a new man looking after the Northern Ireland portfolio, and

:39:10.:39:12.

ruffle a few feathers. He has ruffle a few feathers. He has

:39:13.:39:18.

already accused the government of being complacent about what is going

:39:19.:39:22.

on here. But even though he may have annoyed the Secretary of State with

:39:23.:39:26.

the comment, he insists he is wedded to a bipartisan approach to the

:39:27.:39:30.

peace process. Mr Lewis joins me now from Salford studio. In no time you

:39:31.:39:37.

were criticising the government for being complacent. Not at all. The

:39:38.:39:42.

basis on which I made these comments are made on the conversations I have

:39:43.:39:47.

made with senior politicians in Northern Ireland. There is a general

:39:48.:39:53.

view that the UK government is disengaged, is semidetached and

:39:54.:39:56.

politicians in Northern Ireland want them to take on a far more hands-on

:39:57.:40:01.

role. I have made it clear when it comes to supporting issues, we will

:40:02.:40:10.

share our bipartisan report should. -- approach. Where is the evidence

:40:11.:40:18.

for that? You are only in the job, you cannot have done a meaningful

:40:19.:40:24.

sampling of opinion? Many agree that my predecessor was highly respected

:40:25.:40:29.

and was in touch with what was going on. It was his view that he did his

:40:30.:40:37.

job for two years. In all the conversations I have had over the

:40:38.:40:40.

last two weeks, they have made the same point. When I made this point

:40:41.:40:46.

in a debate on Wednesday I got a lot of support with Westminster -based

:40:47.:40:54.

Northern Ireland politicians. Theresa Villiers not particularly

:40:55.:41:01.

pleased with you. She says, with virtually no knowledge, you were

:41:02.:41:03.

parroting the rubbish of your predecessor. It is not a very

:41:04.:41:12.

harmonious start? On the vast majority of issues we will seek a

:41:13.:41:18.

bipartisan approach, I have made that very, very clear. Where there

:41:19.:41:24.

is a general view which affects the situation in Northern Ireland, the

:41:25.:41:33.

engagement of the UK government, the UK's Secretary of State is very

:41:34.:41:45.

important. You talk about the Haas talks, surely they should be part of

:41:46.:41:49.

the bipartisan than approach? Exactly. Haas is supporting, has a

:41:50.:41:59.

lot of credibility in terms of the disturbances we have seen a Northern

:42:00.:42:04.

Ireland this year, his work is important. In terms of the outcome

:42:05.:42:11.

of the macro to process, -- Haas process, the role of the UK

:42:12.:42:17.

government and the Republic of government and the Republic of

:42:18.:42:19.

Ireland government is going to be incredibly important. I welcome that

:42:20.:42:24.

Haas met with the Prime Minister last week, that ongoing engagement

:42:25.:42:30.

is incredibly important. How many times have you been here? I have

:42:31.:42:35.

been privileged to visit last weekend. I attended the annual

:42:36.:42:47.

awards of the retail sector. I addressed the Ulster Unionist Party

:42:48.:42:50.

at their annual conference. I have visited once previously when Peter

:42:51.:42:54.

Mandelson was the Secretary of State on a fact-finding mission. I am not

:42:55.:43:02.

an expert in Northern Ireland. I am going to listen and learn and then

:43:03.:43:07.

on the issues were the opposition can make a difference, provide some

:43:08.:43:12.

leadership. That is what people will expect. People will expect you to be

:43:13.:43:17.

an expert and get up to speed quickly. Does it feel to you at this

:43:18.:43:26.

stage like a place apart? I will tell you how it feels, the people I

:43:27.:43:33.

speak to, what stands out for me is the frankness and blindness of the

:43:34.:43:39.

people I speak to. Whether it be representatives of the business

:43:40.:43:48.

community or civil communities. Alongside that there is massive

:43:49.:43:52.

goodwill to support me in my role and my party. We are incredibly

:43:53.:44:00.

proud of the part the Labour Party played in delivering the peace party

:44:01.:44:03.

process along with the people in part is of Northern Ireland. --

:44:04.:44:11.

parties. We have an ongoing responsibility and we feel that very

:44:12.:44:15.

passionately. For the benefit of people watching is that on that do

:44:16.:44:20.

not know much about you and are interested in what you have to say,

:44:21.:44:21.

not know much about you and are what is the key difference in what

:44:22.:44:26.

your approach would be if you work Secretary of State? I would spend a

:44:27.:44:35.

lot more time getting to know ordinary people as well as

:44:36.:44:39.

politicians, community groups, grassroots organisations, spending

:44:40.:44:45.

time in constituencies. I would have a more proactive approach in terms

:44:46.:44:50.

of supporting the Northern Ireland executive and assembly on jobs and

:44:51.:44:55.

growth. I welcome the conference that took place last week, but

:44:56.:45:01.

getting involved in bringing that inward investment into the country

:45:02.:45:07.

is crucial. We would not pursue some of the welfare reform policies which

:45:08.:45:13.

are pernicious, the bedroom tax, and which would cost if I -- a

:45:14.:45:22.

significant amount of money. We are about jobs and growth, about welfare

:45:23.:45:29.

and reform and general engagement. Thank you very much for joining us

:45:30.:45:33.

on the programme this morning. I am joined by Allison Morris and

:45:34.:45:39.

Professor Pete Shirlow. It is interesting to get the news shadow

:45:40.:45:46.

Secretary of State to list out his approach. There was not sense of --

:45:47.:46:01.

a sense of that. Theresa Villiers has been very important in terms of

:46:02.:46:04.

the fact that she has stopped enquiries, there are things the

:46:05.:46:11.

Secretary of State can do but the rule is very limited. There is

:46:12.:46:15.

nothing there to suggest that there would be a departure from that role.

:46:16.:46:20.

Any differences that strike you? The rule has been watered down. He has

:46:21.:46:28.

come out with some controversial statement early on to try and make a

:46:29.:46:32.

mark in to try and show there was some kind of difference. Theresa

:46:33.:46:40.

accused of things over the summer. accused of things over the summer.

:46:41.:46:46.

The current Secretary of State is a cool character, she would not be the

:46:47.:46:49.

type of person who would get her hands dirty and get to know people.

:46:50.:46:55.

He did not he has only ever been here twice. An MP for Vauxhall from

:46:56.:47:05.

Northern Ireland, issued a direct use of advice for home which was,

:47:06.:47:12.

meet communities, get down on the ground. If he does that, that would

:47:13.:47:18.

be very interesting. Does it seem to you that is what he needs to do and

:47:19.:47:23.

that is what the current Secretary of State is not doing? It does bring

:47:24.:47:31.

faith into political institutions and makes people think that

:47:32.:47:35.

politicians care. Although the role is limited, it is still an important

:47:36.:47:39.

role. Any engagement would be crucial. We don't have an opposition

:47:40.:47:46.

here in Northern Ireland, do we need a shadow Secretary of State to be an

:47:47.:47:54.

effective voice of opposition? The secretary of state does not have any

:47:55.:47:59.

political powers. He could make statements because we do not have an

:48:00.:48:03.

opposition here, are local politicians might be scared. It is

:48:04.:48:09.

interesting, I think he will be an interesting character to watch. He

:48:10.:48:16.

did I am self to a lot of local politicians here. But as Peter said,

:48:17.:48:24.

it is not a role with any effect. It was interesting to hear what he had

:48:25.:48:29.

to say. We will see if we comes back to Northern Ireland for his third

:48:30.:48:34.

visit. The Enterprise Trade and Investment

:48:35.:48:36.

Committee made a fact-finding visit to the ex-Lotus aquarium in

:48:37.:48:41.

Portaferry this week. Nothing odd about that, you might think, but

:48:42.:48:47.

some have queried why Ards Borough Council didn't ask the Department

:48:48.:48:51.

itself, which has responsibility for tourism, of course - for help in

:48:52.:48:56.

saving the aquarium. Sinn Fein claims the decision not to contact

:48:57.:49:02.

DETI was politically motivated. So what are the issues threatening the

:49:03.:49:06.

aquarium's survival? He was mark since. The politicians came to see

:49:07.:49:08.

aquarium's survival? He was mark the fish and also to hear the

:49:09.:49:13.

arguments in favour of keeping open the aquarium. Campaigners say that

:49:14.:49:18.

Northern Ireland couldn't afford to lose a vital visitor attraction.

:49:19.:49:23.

They are coming here because it is special, it is different. They can

:49:24.:49:27.

see a Sea life centre anywhere in the world, there is only one

:49:28.:49:32.

Exploris. But the problem is the aquarium is costing the council more

:49:33.:49:38.

than ?500,000 a year. It is not just in aquarium water seals actually

:49:39.:49:44.

helping those injured to recover in safe surroundings. In the past the

:49:45.:49:47.

council has taken turtles washed up on the shore to the Bahamas. I

:49:48.:49:54.

wouldn't say that it has to be specifically somewhere, it may be

:49:55.:49:58.

difficult for us to get them be honed but that is what we would have

:49:59.:50:02.

to do. But is there a chance of a last-minute reprieve for Exploris? I

:50:03.:50:09.

hope it will be saved. It is a great facility. For anyone to allow this

:50:10.:50:16.

to go down the drain as madness. Exploris has no shortage of

:50:17.:50:18.

supporters but what it really needs is more money and there is no sign

:50:19.:50:21.

yet that it is going to get it. Mark Simpson reporting. To discuss

:50:22.:50:39.

the uncertain for two -- future for Exploris is Philip Smith and Phil

:50:40.:50:44.

Flanagan. Thanks for joining us. Why precisely did the council not

:50:45.:50:52.

contact DETI for support? I am delighted to be able to ask DETI for

:50:53.:50:56.

support. Every time I talk about this either they are on my list as

:50:57.:51:01.

support for Exploris. It is not about going to a list of executive

:51:02.:51:07.

departments but about the Executive taken a holistic view here. I do not

:51:08.:51:14.

know -- care what department comes forward to support, I want the

:51:15.:51:17.

Executive to take the lead here. It is important that the realise it is

:51:18.:51:21.

not just a local facility but regional facility. Your council

:51:22.:51:28.

contacted three departments asking for support. Not enterprise trade

:51:29.:51:39.

and investment. The council did not contact that department and I am

:51:40.:51:46.

asking you why not. And the motion was -- a motion was put for words to

:51:47.:51:56.

do this. We have done that and as I said before, I do not care which

:51:57.:52:01.

department comes forward, as long as they do collectively, up with a

:52:02.:52:11.

solution. Do you have an explanation why your colleagues did not help?

:52:12.:52:21.

Were they trying to protect the DUP tourism Minister? I believe that

:52:22.:52:29.

DETI have a role to play here. Do you think it was a mistake not to

:52:30.:52:33.

formally approached them? It has been done. Has it? The council has

:52:34.:52:42.

asked for DETI's input. And from the Executive as a whole. That is the

:52:43.:52:47.

bottom line. I am not concerned about what department it is, as long

:52:48.:52:56.

as one comes forward with proposals. You have heard the explanation from

:52:57.:53:05.

the deputy mayor. I think the view of people in Portaferry that I

:53:06.:53:10.

engage with is that there is a feeling that it has been up for

:53:11.:53:14.

closure and it has been run down for a number of years because of its

:53:15.:53:19.

location in Portaferry. Why because of its location? Portaferry is in a

:53:20.:53:27.

Unionist dominated council area and it is a small nationalist part of

:53:28.:53:38.

the area. People have felt that many facilities have been run down in the

:53:39.:53:42.

last few years. Exploris is the latest on the list. The concern of

:53:43.:53:48.

the people is that is being targeted because of its location in

:53:49.:53:52.

Portaferry. We have heard some say that it should be located in another

:53:53.:53:58.

area. So it is sectarian, that is what you are saying? I cannot say

:53:59.:54:04.

that. It is the view is the views that are being presented to me by

:54:05.:54:09.

the people of Portaferry. Have you heard that suggestion and how do you

:54:10.:54:13.

respond to it? I think the accusation of sectarianism is slower

:54:14.:54:20.

on a council that has an excellent record on relations. -- slur. ?1.8

:54:21.:54:34.

million was spent in Portaferry. In my own area, we had less money

:54:35.:54:47.

spent. They are of equal size. If that is sectarian... It is a small

:54:48.:55:06.

area, the councillor approached three ministers who are all

:55:07.:55:12.

nationalists. They didn't approach the DETI. We are putting two and two

:55:13.:55:19.

together. I can always be for my own party. After the decision was made,

:55:20.:55:28.

it was put to four ministers as well as DETI. We have done our bit, we

:55:29.:55:32.

have an amendment to the last proposal coming to the assembly in a

:55:33.:55:37.

week or two, technology this is a regional facility and asking the

:55:38.:55:43.

Executive to step up to the plate. Let's talk about what the future

:55:44.:55:47.

might be. You have been to visit it, you have now seen it and talk to

:55:48.:55:52.

some of the people who work there and visit their and who want to see

:55:53.:55:57.

it said. Do you see it as a regional facility that need support? The

:55:58.:56:02.

Executive needs to explore it. One of the problems is that there has

:56:03.:56:08.

not been a proper market strategy. I had never heard of the place before

:56:09.:56:11.

it was proposed for closure in the media picked up on it. But certainly

:56:12.:56:17.

the Executive collectively needs to work with the council and interested

:56:18.:56:26.

stakeholders to work out how they can keep this excellent facility.

:56:27.:56:37.

The council may need to dig deeper into its pockets? Absolutely. The

:56:38.:56:53.

president has already been set here. -- precedent. We will leave it

:56:54.:57:00.

there. Thank you for joining us on the programme. Let's take a look

:57:01.:57:05.

back at the political week that was in 60 Seconds with Gareth Gordon.

:57:06.:57:15.

Permission denied, the new planning Bill stopped at ground level. After

:57:16.:57:20.

very careful and lengthy consideration, I have decided not to

:57:21.:57:27.

move the bill onto further consideration stage now or later.

:57:28.:57:34.

The shank ill bombing is remembered 20 years on. -- Shankill bombing.

:57:35.:57:46.

The findings in this book came from... The Minister can talk like

:57:47.:58:02.

she always does. Disgraceful from Mr Flanagan. It is the type of

:58:03.:58:07.

opportunistic stuff I expect from him. A beauty pageant in Stormont.

:58:08.:58:17.

Time for a final word from Allison him. A beauty pageant in Stormont.

:58:18.:58:29.

Morris and Pete Shirlow. The past, systemic collusion in the 1970s. The

:58:30.:58:40.

book is a remarkable piece of research. It is 15 years worth of

:58:41.:58:45.

research. It brings together for the first time reports, RUC files from

:58:46.:58:53.

the time and witness testimonies. It is the first time someone has joined

:58:54.:58:57.

the dots. We have always thought there was some collusion in the

:58:58.:58:58.

area. It has left a lot of families there was some collusion in the

:58:59.:59:03.

with a lot of questions that need and sold. That is across the board,

:59:04.:59:08.

we also saw the Shankill bombing commemoration. Yes, that is the

:59:09.:59:15.

other point about remembering the past, were 20 years on from the

:59:16.:59:20.

Shankill bombing and 20 years of the Greysteel massacre coming up later

:59:21.:59:23.

this week. What did you make of that book? People went to prison, so we

:59:24.:59:32.

know there was collusion. What I find difficult about the whole issue

:59:33.:59:39.

is the way it is partisan and it is finger-pointing. We are now close to

:59:40.:59:47.

be conciliation. It is now we see some of the families who've lost

:59:48.:59:58.

members who are taking up cases. We have a process of prosecution, we

:59:59.:00:02.

have a process of enquiry that is finished, but we still have, taking

:00:03.:00:12.

place. This constant animosity which is not good for victims. We are a

:00:13.:00:18.

long way to finding a solution. It is necessary to find a better way to

:00:19.:00:23.

deal with this. We have the Haas walks -- talks we commencing this

:00:24.:00:30.

week. What are your thoughts on the prospects of progress? He is here to

:00:31.:00:43.

discuss how we deal with the past. We still do not have an agreed

:00:44.:00:50.

definition of victims. We should concentrate on the living and those

:00:51.:00:57.

left behind. Rather than constantly arguing of the definition of those

:00:58.:01:07.

who died. It is down to leadership here. It is down to whether people

:01:08.:01:18.

share their definitions and of the runway.

:01:19.:01:20.

free school area for into that category. Thank you.

:01:21.:01:32.

Is Labour about to drop its support category. Thank you.

:01:33.:01:32.

Is Labour about to drop its support for High Speed 2, a rail line the

:01:33.:01:37.

party approved while in government? for High Speed 2, a rail line the

:01:38.:01:48.

these green shoots? These are all questions for The Week Ahead.

:01:49.:02:00.

So, HS2. Miss Flint wouldn't answer the question. She's in northern MP

:02:01.:02:04.

too. Ed Balls is comparing it to the Millennium Dome.

:02:05.:02:10.

too. Ed Balls is comparing it to the minute's silence for HS2? It will

:02:11.:02:14.

not be quite as crude as that. They will not stand up and say, we

:02:15.:02:19.

not be quite as crude as that. They senior Labour person said to me it

:02:20.:02:20.

would be a bit senior Labour person said to me it

:02:21.:02:22.

that Gordon Brown and Ed Balls set for the euro back in 97. They will

:02:23.:02:28.

be chucking lots of questions into the air, and the questions will

:02:29.:02:32.

create doubt, and will create the grounds for Labour to say, at some

:02:33.:02:39.

point, we think there is a much much better way of spending the money. It

:02:40.:02:44.

isn't ?42 billion, because that includes a contingency. Let's see

:02:45.:02:50.

what Peter Mandelson had to say about HS2. He was in the government

:02:51.:02:58.

when Labour supported it. Frankly, there was too much of the argument

:02:59.:03:02.

that if everyone else has got a high-speed train, we should have won

:03:03.:03:09.

too. Regardless of need, regardless of cost, and regardless of

:03:10.:03:14.

alternatives. As a party, to be frank, we didn't feel like being

:03:15.:03:20.

trumped by the zeal of the then opposition's support for the

:03:21.:03:26.

high-speed train. We wanted, if anything, to upstage them. So they

:03:27.:03:31.

didn't really need it, and we're only talking about ?50 billion. Why

:03:32.:03:38.

would you take a decision involving ?50 billion in a serious way? For

:03:39.:03:43.

David Cameron, if it becomes clear Labour is against it, he cannot

:03:44.:03:48.

proceed. He indicated last week that he wouldn't proceed if the certainty

:03:49.:03:53.

wasn't there. For Labour, HS2 is really a debate about the deficit by

:03:54.:03:57.

proxy. They think that if you don't go ahead with HS2, that releases

:03:58.:04:02.

tens of billions of pounds to spend on other things, such as public

:04:03.:04:06.

services, without going into boring. I don't think that works because

:04:07.:04:29.

there was a difference between cancelling something that already

:04:30.:04:31.

exists to pay for something else, and cancelling something that does

:04:32.:04:33.

not yet exist and will be paid for over decades to pay for something

:04:34.:04:36.

here and now. Can Labour do this? I know that the line will be, we are

:04:37.:04:39.

not going to build this railway because we are going to build

:04:40.:04:41.

200,000 houses a year. Can they do this without political cost? I think

:04:42.:04:44.

there will be political costs, but they will play this card of we have

:04:45.:04:48.

changed our mind. I think Cameron's line has been very clever, saying we

:04:49.:04:54.

cannot do it without labour. You can put it in two ways. Sorry, we cannot

:04:55.:04:59.

go ahead with it, but Labour has ruined your chance of prosperity, or

:05:00.:05:03.

they can tie themselves to it, and then Labour cannot attack it on

:05:04.:05:09.

great grounds when costs do spire. You can write Labour's script right

:05:10.:05:13.

great grounds when costs do spire. now. They can say, if we were in

:05:14.:05:20.

charge, the financial management would be much better. This raises

:05:21.:05:24.

some really important questions for the government. They have utterly

:05:25.:05:30.

failed to make the case for HS2. There is a real case to make.

:05:31.:05:35.

Between London and Birmingham it is about capacity not speed. North of

:05:36.:05:40.

Birmingham, it is about connectivity. It is a simple case to

:05:41.:05:45.

make, but it is only in the last month that they have been making

:05:46.:05:49.

that case. It shows really terrible complacency in the coalition that

:05:50.:05:53.

they haven't done that. We'll HS2 happen or not? I think it will. For

:05:54.:05:59.

the reasons that Nick outlined, there is not of a constituency for

:06:00.:06:09.

it amongst Northern areas. -- there is enough of a constituency for it.

:06:10.:06:14.

There is private investment as well. It isn't like Heathrow. I say no,

:06:15.:06:20.

because I think Labour will drop their support for it. Caroline Flint

:06:21.:06:27.

said she was in favour of the concept of trains generally, but

:06:28.:06:31.

will it go further than that? It is difficult to see how it will go

:06:32.:06:38.

ahead if Labour will not support it after setting five tests that it

:06:39.:06:42.

clearly will not meet. Some will breathe a sigh of relief. Some will

:06:43.:06:49.

say, even in the 20th century, we cannot build a proper rail network.

:06:50.:06:54.

The economy was another big story of the week. We had those GDP figures.

:06:55.:06:59.

There is a video the Tories are releasing. The world premiere is

:07:00.:07:04.

going to be here. Where's the red carpet? It gives an indication of

:07:05.:07:08.

how the Tories will hand Mr Miliband and labour in the run-up to the

:07:09.:07:10.

election. Let's have a look at it. These graphics are even worse than

:07:11.:07:48.

the ones we use on our show! How on earth would you expect that to go

:07:49.:07:56.

viral? It did have a strange feel about it. It doesn't understand the

:07:57.:08:02.

Internet at all. Who is going to read those little screens between

:08:03.:08:11.

it? Put a dog in it! However, putting that aside, I have no idea

:08:12.:08:17.

that that is going to go viral. The Tories are now operating - and I say

:08:18.:08:25.

Tories rather than the coalition - on the assumption that the economy

:08:26.:08:29.

is improving and will continue to improve, and that that will become

:08:30.:08:35.

more obvious as 2014 goes on. We just saw their how they will fight

:08:36.:08:41.

the campaign. Yes, and at the crucial moment, you will reach the

:08:42.:08:46.

point where wages. To rise at a faster pace than inflation, and then

:08:47.:08:51.

people will start to, in the words of Harold Macmillan, feel that they

:08:52.:08:55.

have never had it so good. That is the key moment. If the economy is

:08:56.:08:59.

growing, there is a rule of thumb that the government should get a

:09:00.:09:08.

benefit. But it doesn't always work like that. The fundamental point

:09:09.:09:10.

here is that Ed Miliband has had a great month. He has totally set the

:09:11.:09:15.

agenda. He has set the agenda with something - freezing energy prices -

:09:16.:09:21.

that may not work. That video shows that the Conservatives want to get

:09:22.:09:24.

the debate back to the fundamentals. That this is a party

:09:25.:09:28.

that told us for three years that this coalition was telling us to --

:09:29.:09:35.

was taking us to hell on a handcart. That doesn't seem to have happened.

:09:36.:09:41.

The energy price was a very clever thing, at the party conference

:09:42.:09:48.

season, which now seems years ago. They saw that the recovery was going

:09:49.:09:54.

to happen, so they changed the debate to living standards. Some

:09:55.:09:57.

economists are now privately expecting growth to be 3% next year,

:09:58.:10:02.

which was inconceivable for five months ago. If growth is 3% next

:10:03.:10:06.

year, living standards will start to rise again. Where does Labour go

:10:07.:10:13.

then? I would go further, and say that even though Ed Miliband has

:10:14.:10:17.

made a small political victory on living standards, it hasn't

:10:18.:10:21.

registered in the polls. Those polls have been contracted since April --

:10:22.:10:28.

have been contracting since April. That macro economic story matters

:10:29.:10:31.

more than the issue of living standards. The interesting thing

:10:32.:10:36.

about the recovery is it confounds everybody. No one was predicting,

:10:37.:10:41.

not the Treasury, not the media, not the IMF, not the academics, and the

:10:42.:10:49.

only people I can think of... I fit -- I thought they knew everything!

:10:50.:10:55.

The only people I know who did are one adviser who is very close to

:10:56.:10:59.

George Osborne, and the clever hedge fund is who were buying British

:11:00.:11:04.

equities back in January. Because the Treasury's record is so

:11:05.:11:07.

appalling, no one believe them, but they were saying around February,

:11:08.:11:12.

March this year, that by the end of the summer, the recovery would be

:11:13.:11:17.

gathering momentum. For once, they turned out to be right! They said

:11:18.:11:25.

that the economy would be going gang bust is! Where did the new Tory

:11:26.:11:33.

voters come from? I agree, if the economic recovery continues, the

:11:34.:11:38.

coalition will be stronger. But where will they get new voters from?

:11:39.:11:45.

For people who sign up to help to buy, they will be locked into nice

:11:46.:11:49.

mortgages at a low interest rate, and just as you go into a general

:11:50.:11:57.

election, if you are getting 3% growth and unemployment is down, the

:11:58.:11:59.

Bank of England will have to review their interest rates. People who are

:12:00.:12:02.

getting nice interest rates now may find that it is not like that in a

:12:03.:12:09.

few months time. The point John Major was making implicitly was that

:12:10.:12:14.

Mrs Thatcher could speak to people on low incomes. John Major could not

:12:15.:12:19.

speak to them -- John Major could speak to them. But this coalition

:12:20.:12:24.

cannot speak to them. This idea about the reshuffle was that David

:12:25.:12:27.

Cameron wanted more Northern voices, more women, to make it look like it

:12:28.:12:38.

was not a party of seven men. When David Cameron became leader, John

:12:39.:12:41.

Major said, I do not speak very often, but when I do, I will help

:12:42.:12:45.

you, because I think you are good thing and I do not want to be like

:12:46.:12:50.

Margaret Thatcher. But that speech was clearly a lament for the party

:12:51.:12:55.

he believed that David Cameron was going to lead and create, but that

:12:56.:13:01.

isn't happening. And energy prices continue into this coming week. We

:13:02.:13:05.

have the companies going before a select committee. My information is

:13:06.:13:09.

they are sending along the secondary division, not the boss. How can they

:13:10.:13:16.

get along -- get away with that? I got the letter through from British

:13:17.:13:19.

Gas this week explaining why my bills are going up, and at no point

:13:20.:13:24.

since this became a story have any of the big companies handled it

:13:25.:13:28.

well. I will have to leave it there. Make sure you pay your bill! That's

:13:29.:13:33.

it for today. The Daily Politics is back on BBC Two tomorrow. I will be

:13:34.:13:42.

back here on BBC One next Sunday. Remember, if it's Sunday, it is The

:13:43.:13:45.

Sunday Politics.

:13:46.:13:52.

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