15/07/2012 Sunday Politics Scotland


Andrew Neil and Isabel Fraser with the latest political news and debate, including interviews with Liberal Democrat minister Jeremy Browne and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper.

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Afternoon, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics.


An epic spat in the Commons - with Tories queueing up to strangle Nick


Clegg's plans to reform the Lords. This morning, the Prime Minister


has appealed to backbenchers and coalition partners alike NOT to


descend into "division and navel gazing". That's our top story.


And an Olympic-size fiasco over security for the Games. So who's


for the high jump? The Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, is this


week's Sunday Interview. In Scotland:


The battle for control of the Crown Estate in Scotland continues.


was the opportunity to do the right thing and devolve something that


should have been devolved in 1999. The bottled it. It is outrageous.


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1528 seconds


All that coming up. Here is the Some of the things... Ken Clarke


wanted to end up what substantial weight reduced rate sentences. I do


not think that is the right thing to do. I think that is getting the


balance wrong. There are other areas where you want to prevent


reoffending but I think the Home Secretary is taking a huge risk by


cutting police officers. I think it is too simplistic to talk the way


that you want to. I'm interested in what works. G 4 s, it is one of


those periodic nightmares for the Home Office. Would the Home


Secretary ever-higher G four S again? They do look a complete a


share were at the moment. I think it is shocking what they have done.


I think you need to have a lot of scepticism about their ability to


deliver the contract. It is not just about them though, everybody


is working towards the Olympics. It is not just about them letting the


country down, why did the Home Office not know what was happening?


And wait for the last minute. Exactly. It is utter incompetence.


But it was the Labour Government that make you porous retch. Gabble


whole list of contacts that you gave them. You give them over a


million pounds a year. You make them rich. Would you ever employ


them again? Public and private partnerships can be effective. He


would not expect me to set them for every individual contact. --


contract. The Government had been pushing the police forces into the


contracts. I did not want anyone to do that. You should not be


contracting out policing. I'm sorry to rush you. I want to move on to


Lords reform. Just briefly though, at the Home Secretary does have a


serious questions to answer. She has not yet explained whether she


is on top of what is happening. That is in terms of the number of


staff and volunteers. How could they not know? It looks like they


were advised and not autumn. If the Home Secretary was here for what


you asked them now. Is she in control of it now? Derek now know


that there will not be any additional police needed? And then


secondly, how could she not have known as late as Monday of last


week she said that she was confident. Final question on Lords


reform. Labour says that it is in favour of an elected chamber. Every


constitutional change put forward by their at last Government needed


a programmed timetable. By do not It would have allowed the


Government to force bits of the Bill through that would have been


amended. UK two days to the London mayor, the Human Rights Act, you


get that in 4.5 days. Before these timetables were brought in, we


managed to get legislation through, it requires the government to speak


to us about each stage of the bill. We will work through them to do


that. We will make sure this gets through Parliament. It needs to be


amended. That's why we had to say The afternoon. Welcome to Sunday


Politics. Coming up, a welcome to the programme. The quango, and fear


and loathing in the Scottish arts community. I'm here at the Lyceum


theatre where there are concerns about whether the curtain will rise


to a brighter future. As the Scottish Parliament takes some


holidays, we take a look at the Who should control Scotland's


seabed? There has been growing pressure for rights to be done all


to Scotland and local communities. Instead, the UK Government has


decided they should remain with the Crown Estate. The news was greeted


with dismay by many in the coastal communities of Scotland. The


community or land in this estate on the island of Lewis, but they do


not control the sea. As the potential for harnessing marine


energy becomes a reality, people on the coast what to reap the benefits.


Having previously bought the estate, we believe these revenues ought to


be used for the benefit of the people living on the estate. We


could put them to good use for things that are important to us,


such as social housing or fuel poverty. Control rests with the


Crown Estate, with revenue going direct to the UK Treasury. It was


fouled things were changed that about to change after a strongly


critical report said power should be devolved to local communities.


The UK Government was not this -- not persuaded and gave away strips


of land below Edinburgh Castle. There was every reason to expect


the Government would respond more positively, given that the Liberal


Democrats in the Highlands have been arguing for this for years.


There was the opportunity to do the right thing. They could evolve


something that should have been devolved in 1999 and they have


bottled it. It is quite outrageous. Why didn't they go further? I think


there are two aspects, the Treasury does not want to give up control,


the potential for renewables is big, it is power. The second is


political, I suspect the government did not want to give the SNP


something they wanted. It is bad timing. The Scottish Government had


described the decision as a missed opportunity but the Crown Estate


says it plays an important strategic role when it comes to


offshore renewables in Scotland. The British Government has looked


at the entirety of renewable energy around the United Kingdom and


considered that the Crown Estate, with its very collaborative role


through industry, the supply chain, and both governments in Westminster


and here, we are best placed to collaborate that activity. At the


moment, revenue from the Crown Estate accounts for about �13


million, but here in Orkney, seen as the front line in tidal energy


research, they are convinced it could be much greater. That is why


despite assurances of more local involvement they are deeply


disappointed. They were hoping for an 80% share of all revenue.


remains to be seen whether it will go far enough. We are trying to


drive economic development. We feel if the Revenue had been devolved


here, we could have managed the development locally, make sure it


was unsustainably and ensure that there was going to be a thriving


economy or young people to grow into. Does the story end here?


Campaigners hope not. They plan to meet with the Scottish Affairs


Committee soon. With me in the studio, Labour MP Ian Davidson, who


chairs the Scottish Affairs Committee, and also from that


committee, Alan Reid. In our Inverness studio, Dr Michael Foxley,


until recently, the leader of Highland Council and a long-time


campaigner on this issue. We did ask for a Scottish government


minister to be part of this discussion but none was available.


Ian Davidson, if we look at the findings from your committee, you


have said that the Crown Estate has a fundamental misunderstanding of


the needs and interests of the local communities, little regards


for those needs and interests, other than where it serves business


interest. At worst, it behaves as an absentee landlord or tax


collector. What effect does that have? It effectively means that the


local communities are completely alienated from what is going on


immediately adjacent to them. It means the Crown Estate act like any


other private sector landlord, takes no account of what is going


on, the needs and aspirations of local people. We produced a radical


report. The vast majority of support from people we met in the


Highlands and Islands, we are very disappointed that the government


has swept aside. The difficulty is that the Treasury doesn't want to


let go of anything that generates money and I think that is


regrettable and we will come to think again. Alan Reid, if the


coalition government were to sit down together and say, let's come


up with a plan, one that will discredit and infuriate what is


left of the Liberal Democrat based in the Highlands, they couldn't


have come up with anything better. How can a Liberal Democrats'


Scottish Secretary justify this? Let's look at the positive things,


they set up the coastal communities fund, which means the revenues


generated by the marine park of the Crown Estate is spent in Scotland,


and it is ring-fenced so that race in the Highlands and Islands goes


back to the communities in the Highlands and Islands, so have the


Revenue -- 50% of the revenue comes back in Ireland and Islands. I wish


it was 100%, but that is a start. Why isn't it? Don't you have any


concern that what has been handed over here, including very minimal


amounts, talking estate amounts, coming in from shellfish farming,


that is almost more work insulting? I am disappointed the Government


has not gone the whole 100%. But in addition to the 50% of the revenue


coming back, the Government is also telling the Crown Estate to set up


local management agreements. These have already been set up in Portree.


These will give local communities the power to take the initiative in


managing the coastline. Why is Michael Moore as saying this has to


remain in UK control? I'm convinced that this was a Liberal Democrat


government we would have implemented the committee report.


It's a coalition government, there needs to be agreement between us


and the Conservatives. As Liberal Democrats, we can achieve


everything we want, but we need to compromise. -- we cannot achieve. I


think 50% is a good start. Michael Foxley, you are respected


Liberal Democrat councillor, you have been at forefront, campaigning


on this issue for many years. Are you satisfied with this response?


Good afternoon, I am relying on people like Alan Reid and Alistair


Carmichael to continue the campaign, because it will certainly continue,


the present situation is completely unacceptable, the response from the


UK Government is unacceptable, and this is not just about the benefits


that need to fall from things like marine renewables, the key issue is


the management and local communities and local authorities,


agencies in the Highlands and Islands, need to be in charge of


that management, the benefits. strongly do you think local


communities feel about this? -- how strongly? If you are living on an


island and tried to develop a hard work, if someone tries to takeover


the Marines from the least, it originally, 3040 years ago -- 30


years ago, firemen arrived with no consultation, then you are very


angry. What we are aware of is the potential of offshore renewables. I


am delighted with the report led by Ian Davidson, with the support of


people like Alan Reid, they took the argument and accepted it, that


is about local management. A few months ago I was in Orkney and it


was clear from the companies in Orkney that they wanted to work


with the local authorities, local communities, this report does not


put that in place. Local management agreements referred to are at the


very lowest level of tokenism, if it was all the partners, in the


Highlands and Islands, that would be a serious step. The need to


develop without the bureaucracy, the legal issues, the financial


cost. It is a Scottish asset and the management needs to be devolved.


The let me ask you something, but Dr Michael Foxley says he is


delighted that the committee has taken this on and heard the voices,


but it has not done them much good. Do you have a concern at this


critical time, when the campaign are saying stick with the evolution,


trust us, something like this come a long, you do not get more powers,


how can people have confidence in that sort of undertaking? Of course


I am disappointed that the government didn't implement the


committee report in full, but we have made steps in the right


direction. 50% of the revenue coming back to the Highlands, and I


will continue to campaign for the committee report to be implemented


in full. Let's become something that the Crown Estate have mention,


that there is a strategic benefit if you are trying to get investors


to keeping this in one level, one coherent package, so the argument


would be too transparent to the Scottish Government in Holyrood so


they could have an overview. That is not want the committee -- that


is not what the committee wants. Is that true? Not entirely. This is


quite complex. There are some issues where we had said we believe


the Scottish Government should have a strategic overview, and that the


expertise that the Crown Estate has built up should be retained, rather


than being broken up, and the resources, but not all the


resources. Let me be clear, we believe initially there is the


benefit of the developments and they should go to the people at a


decent, local authorities. -- the people next door. We had system


where we would have localised decisions, in the hands of the


people in the area, once it got wider. Once it got wider still, it


was something that needed to be dealt with at a Scottish level.


There are some issues that still need to be dealt with at the UK


level, because they have UK-wide strategic responsibilities. We


wanted to put them together in a way that localised as much as


possible. This is not just about the Crown Estate, it is about the


politics of the situation. For people like me, devolution was a


way towards giving people more power where they lead.


Decentralising and breaking up elements of the Crown Estate is


about decentralising further, making sure that local people have


local control, control over things that immediately affect them. It is


part of that process. Is it your opinion that if there were Lib Dems


with any sense of the political nuances in Scotland, they would


have not made this choice? suppose you've got to be fair, it


is always regrettable, but this is not the top of their agenda. They


have taken at Treasury decision, driven by finance. We will now go


and meet people in the Highlands and Islands and forced it up the


political agenda. Dr Michael Foxley, presumably it is not about the


amounts of revenue, although they will increase dramatically if there


are renewables, it is the principle of what happens. What should happen


next? Well, I think we all have to consider the report and the


response of the UK Government, we have to meet with the Scottish


Affairs Committee in September, and we have to redouble our efforts. It


is in the company's interest that we develop renewable energy,


working with the community. We need to ensure that the planning is


right, the training is right, apprenticeships, at the jobs


As communities are about to be hit by funding cuts. Scores of


organisations are left worried about their future. Mainly theatre


companies have been moved from regular funding to project funding


which means they have to apply for individual grants. We have been


hearing about the concerns of artists who are concerned that the


curtains are coming down on their future.


These large scale wall-hangings had been funded through a greater


Scotland grant. But Scotland's arts agency is changing the way it funds


small and medium scale arts organisations. They will see their


regular funding come to an end next year when they have to apply for


funding and an individual project basis. This woman, Fiona, is unsure


of how it will affect her. There is less and less money out there so it


will have an effect on the ability to be experimental. To be able to


explore things that you do not know where they're going to teach you.


We do not know what the outcome will be. Creative Scotland say the


changes are due to at �2 million drop in their funding. Although


they do have access to new lottery money it is governed by strict


rules which means it is only available for projects and not long


term funding. Nearly 50 theatres -- theatre company's will lose their


funding and will have to apply in a project by project basis. Many


organisations are worried and feel that the changes will make them


financially unstable and compromise their work. As artistic director of


the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh, Mark Thomson speaks for many of the


theatre companies. That's a duty, and we're only talking about two


years security, can be critical to allowing artists to continue to


work and create in Scotland. If it becomes impoverished, if that


landscape becomes more unsteady and less secure or with less of that


ability then there is a danger that some of her guests artists might


leave. This is there culture freesheet newspaper created by


artists. Its co-editor fears that its funding could be in jeopardy


because of its non commercial business model and critical work.


If you are seeing some uncritical about cultural policy you become


more and more or unpopular in this sort of environment. It is


censorship by the back door, I think. You have a culture as an


employment of policy and then it changes and sets the tone for what


people write about us and what people think is worthy to produce.


Creative Scotland has delayed its plans for six months and has


apologised to arts are organisations for or causing


anxiety. But its criticism and the media remains for many of our top


artists. A perception is that this body is only two years old Bailey


and yet it is on a par or with the organisation, the old Scottish Arts


Council, that more than a decade ago was called in front of


Westminster to at be asked why it was not communicating properly.


There's a feeling that we have not progressed as far as we can and


that is something that we have to address. Critics fear that the


funding shake-up could result in the death of many other theatre


companies. They say the need funding stability to survive.


Joining me is the chief executive of Creative Scotland, Andrew Dixon


and the Adam a columnist to Joyce McMillan. Andrew, do you accept


this has caused a great deal of anxiety? There are worthwhile


companies saying that they have no idea what their future is going to


be. The first thing to say is that Creative Scotland is a new agency,


it has inherited a number of commitments and we want see on are


those commitments that we have done and there is not a single


organisation that has been cut. Scotland is an incredibly creative


place and we have some fantastic music organisations and the tears


and the to companies and festivals. Our role is to make sure that the


entire population of Scotland gets the benefit of that. These changes


are to try to support our organisations and a time what we do


have a slight reduction in Arab for money from Government but we do


also have additional money from the Government for at Edinburgh


festivals and for capital funding and innovation funding from the


Government. Where the growth in a lottery fund also. It is about


trying to sustain those cultural organisations by moving them across


into the lottery area where they can bet for programmes of work.


Does this sound acceptable to you got as Mark I think the real issues


with that. I think both the Creative Scotland and the Minister


have been a great job of sustaining their overall level of arts funding


in Scotland. That contrasts very positively to the situation in


England. But in a way they have snatched defeat from the jaws of


victory by it increasingly pursuing a model for the week Creative


Scotland works that is in fact not very creative. The idea of a


functional arts funding agency is that it allows artists to meet the


change. The need to be inspirational and thinking about


new ways of looking at Scotland and the world in which we love. The


Arts agency's job is to respond to the agendas of artists. What is


happening here is that by the way it is being managed it looks as


though Creative Scotland is putting itself at the centre of things as a


sort of strategic Agency which judges from project to project what


artists should be doing. It tries to manoeuvre their agenda is


towards policy goals and that is not the way to get good art. But as


back-up account. You could become more interventionist than arts


funding has been able to be in the past and that is not necessarily a


good thing. Greater Scotland is going in different direction. We


have doubled their funding took artists. Where artist residencies


growing. Their residency hosts taking the decisions necessary.


We're trying to get them to generate their own ideas and work


but we are the national strategic body and we do about duty to


deliver to people all over Scotland. Places that might not have


professional theatre companies and other facilities. Short-term


funding presumably brings its own problems in terms of their talent


you retain and that unsure track down. Is there a concern that this


might become rooted in something very secure like Edinburgh Festival


and all the thing we can predict funding will go to and does not


going to more imaginative projects? And Sharada would agree that it is


the role of Creative Scotland to fund things that are unpredictable


but the problem is how do you achieve that? I do not think you do


that by imposing and business investments model on a function


which is basically about supporting things that need Government support.


The new Government support to see it them three not so that they have


to follow certain agendas and appear certain geographical areas


or whatever back agenda is. Imposing VAT on the arts will not


get good work. I think the main goal of greater Scotland should be


to listen to artists, assess which artists are making good work and


dabbing Open and well understood ways of doing that and then giving


the money to those that really have the creative energy and brilliance


to do the job. And the Creative Scotland should focus its energy on


that and less on inventing strategies and ideas and


commissioning projects of its own and in trying to make artists


follow them by the way it distributes the money. Do you


accept that? We have learnt that we need to listen more or two artists


in the cultural sector. But we do have a duty to the entire


population of Scotland and we also have a duty to invest an artist and


talent. Doing things like the Europe Creative Scotland and the


programme for the Commonwealth Games provides an unprecedented


opportunity for Scotland in terms of celebrating its cultural success.


Readers will and is different, it is not just a cheque book. It is a


body that is going to celebrate Scotland here and internationally.


At what point does that become too politicised and your budget being


too dependent on that. We have been criticised for doing


international work, but it is important that our theatres or


internationally. We have been criticised for not being critical


of the Government, but the Government has given as good


supporting a up initial two years. We've been criticised perhaps


justifiably or not celebrating the role of artists and I think artists


are central to our work and deliver amazing things in Scotland. We have


many great agencies like the Transmission Gallery who are doing


fantastic work. There are going to be here. A we have 30 seconds. Many


of those organisations feel threatened and destabilised and


insulted by the business language being used to them as if they do


not understand creative entrepreneurship and is that they


do not understand how to keep an organisation together with many


sources of income. There's been a real failure of cultural or


assonance between the sector and the council and it really has to


change the language it's used and more than that, it changed its


model of operation so that it really allows artists to lead and


does not put itself at the centre of things. We're out of time that


Thank you very much. In a moment we will be discussing


the Week in Scottish politics but first it let's take hour week --


look back at a week in 60 seconds. UK government's plan to take their


house of words into her up elected chamber had a backbench rebellion.


Scottish dairy farmers demanded their power to fix the price of


they're not saying that it is being driven down by retailers and


processors. Average cost of production is in excess of 30 pence


a litre of which is now talking about five per sit -- we are now at


5p less than that. The average business is really struggling.


Electoral commission said it would not look out independence


referendum things that were bought by it those parties.


The council brought an emergency meeting to discuss the Halls


factory. Jobs could be lost. And the American billionaire Donald


Trump opened his controversial new golf course in Aberdeenshire.


So despite Holyrood being in recess this week of the question of the


referendum still dominated the headlines.


My guests this afternoon at the political commentator Hamish


MacDonell and here in the studio madness God and the political


editor of the Daily Record. If you to cast your eye back over the last


year of political activity what we do think was the top story, Magnus?


It has to be the referendum. From the start of the Year we had the


Prime Minister at intervening right at the beginning of January. That


it started at all. Alex Salmond responded very quickly with his


timetable and then we had the wording of the question. Then we at


the launch of their it Vs Scotland. Then we had better together. It has


been a referendum roller-coaster and has sucked the life out of


every other story. And on it goes. Hamish, what you think? I think


that madness is exactly right. But we're going sec get another two-


and- a-half years of that. There is a danger that the public will get a


bit tired. We are only six months into a very long campaign that will


last at least until October at 2014 and may go on for them on that. The


big parties have to be careful that we do not go and get referendum


city. What you think are the most important news stories other than


that? Sitting in Holyrood it is easy to forget that we're in the


middle of an economic crisis. Growth is painfully slow and the


employment situation is poor. I know every quarter we argue about


whether Scotland is doing well compared with the rest of the UK


but actually we are just squabbling over fractions of 1%. There are


nearly 100,000 young Scots out of work. There has been an alarming


drift towards part-time employment as opposed to full-time employment


the STUC say that there are something like half a million Scots


under employed or unemployed. There is a huge problem there. It would


be grossly unfair it to me that all at the door at a of the SNP, the


SNP and Labour up both agree that it is George Osborne is the real


cost of this with the austerity drive. But there are questions


about how it these bosses from the SNP are in passing and whether they


are helping especially in terms of colleges. As cuts demands we see


that their only a quarter of the way through those go cuts. These


What about the renewables question? I think there is one issue that has


been bubbling around in the background and it will continue to


affect politics across the country. The SNP have said they won 100% of


Scotland's electricity produced by renewables by 2020. That is a very


ambitious target, most of which will come from wind power. As we


have got closer to that timetable, people ask questions as to whether


we are on the right lines, whether should week -- whether we should be


waiting longer to see how tidal power develops, not putting all


legs towards wind farms. As the SNP pushes towards this target of


Twenty20, people will look at places like Denmark and say, is


this really the right way to go? I think the SNP will need to answer


some questions about this. Shortly we will be looking at what creeps


up on the political horizon, but now the lunchtime news. Good


afternoon, a Spanish fugitive linked to be Basque terrorists, has


been arrested in Edinburgh. Benat Atorrasagasti Ordonez was arrested


in Leith on Friday night. Spanish authorities requested his arrest


and said he had been living in the capital for some time. He is


expected to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff court tomorrow. The


Scottish Government has revealed more than 26,000 responses were


received during its consultation on the independence referendum. The


total is 5,000 more than previously thought. Nicola Sturgeon said it


showed that people wanted the terms and timing decided in Scotland. The


UK Government said there was strong support for a single question. The


leaders at the Scottish Open are beginning their final round.


Francesco Molinari take a one-shot lead into the final round. Mark


Warren, Martin Laird and Peter White furred are also in contention.


White furred are also in contention. -- Whiteford. Bright spells and


scattered showers this afternoon. The best spells are in the East,


but that is also where we will see the heavy showers. Cloudier in the


northern isles, and in the West mainland. There will be bits and


pieces of showery rain. There will be a breeze in the central belt.


be a breeze in the central belt. Next bulletin is at 7:50pm. Goodbye.


It is the end of the political term, but if you cannot remember what has


been going on for the last six From the start of the year, one


issue has been on the present, independence. Nobody escaped the


question and many lined up to take the flak. The world is ready for us,


and I know Scotland is ready. Thank you. Following the end of the


consultation on same-sex marriage in September, the Scottish


Government response was eagerly awaited but has not arrived.


Meanwhile, campaigners lined up outside the parliament to gather


support. The new party leaders have had time to settle into their roles,


especially during first minister's questions. Big men, one not quite


so big man. Some say the First Minister has been devious,


conniving, double-dealing. Isn't he just covering up fact that are rich


man has played him for a full again? -- fool. Tackling


unemployment remains the priority whatever party you belong to, but


despite apprenticeship schemes and free rail travel, redundancies


continue. In the local elections, Labour held their nerve in Glasgow


and the SNP claimed significant victories elsewhere. And the


Liberal Democrats were beaten by Penguin in Edinburgh. After the


celebrations, the Scottish Government confirmed that wants to


set a minimum price of 50 pence per unit of alcohol. The Lockerbie bomb


work died in Tripoli, but whether his conviction is sound remains


contentious. The First Minister's appearance at the Leveson enquiry


revealed the startling claim that his bank account was packed. I was


informed by a former Observer journalist who gave me a fairly


exact account of what was in my bank account. He was allowed to


wrong-foot the Lord Justice. Thank you, and the same is so for the


English Parliament, they can adopted. I like the term English


Parliament, I approve of that. But it one of the things that


politicians cannot control, the Scottish summer threatens


For Westminster perspective, we are joined by James Cusack of the


Independent's newspaper. Thank you for joining in. What are the waves


of Scottish politics that wash up at Westminster? This is bad news,


Scotland's obsession with the referendum has not hit the UK media.


That is not because there is no room left because of the Olympics,


it just hasn't had resonance. There are maybe two reasons, one is a


matter of Westminster are not being embarrassed, however much they try


to order Westminster -- order Holyrood, that has not worked. A


rather than get involved at this early stage, they are keeping their


powder dry and will deal with it later. It is certainly not the


obsession it is in the Scottish media. If we were to look forward


to what will be waiting in the long grass for the various political


parties in Holyrood when they come back, what do you think will be the


key areas? What is most interesting is the narrative of Scottish


politics has changed. We came into this year with the SNP being more


powerful, they had one of huge majority in the last elections,


Labour was on its knees, and then we have the local elections, where


Labour changed the tone of Scottish politics, started fighting back,


getting Councillors back, it didn't necessarily when the greatest


number of councillors, but we saw them replied. A lot of that is down


to the leader, she has done a good job, but since then opinion polls


have suggested independence is not enjoying the support the SNP would


like, and that is the tone and context we will see going into the


next political year. We will see the SNP for the first time since


that the election victory on the defensive, and the Unionist parties


with a bit of a spring in their step. This next year will be more


difficult for Alex Salmond and the 18 months have been. In relative


terms, but in actual terms, Alex Salmond still has the nominally


high approval ratings, and in terms of public recognition, so you may


be saying they are coming back relatively, but realistically, how


significant is that? I think it is very significant. Yes, he has very


good approval ratings, but the focus for the next 2.5 years is


going to be on independence, and that is where there is a difference.


There are people who do not like the idea of independence, and with


the Pope has been shifted, almost to the exclusion of everything else,


that difference will tell. -- with the attention shifting. If we don't


do the referendum or anything obvious, will something under the


radar emerge? The police merger is extremely controversial and has not


been discussed. There are some real-world issues it would be


unwise not to keep an eye on. It police forces will be merged into a


single national police force, as we know of. It is a big undertaking


and a tight timescale. There are issues of political control. We


know from bitter experience that big undertakings like this don't


always go smoothly according to plan, it throws up the issue of


jobs, the unions are warning there could be 3,000 civilian workers


laid off. The police authorities say the figure will be about a


quarter of that. If there is the merest hint that the very powerful


Chief Constable of Scotland is basing his policing priorities on


political targets, that will be seized upon by critics who have


said this merger, although money- saving, will bring politics and


police to close together. We need to keep a close eye on how that


happens. Same-sex marriage is another one. Again, Alex Salmond is


facing a difficult decision there, because he knows there will be a


big backlash from the Catholic Church, the church groups, and some


within his own side. However, I think he will take a progressive


view. We also at the curriculum for excellence. Children going back to


school next month, learning for new national exams that are replacing


standard grades our midst great worries in the teaching profession


that they are not adequately prepared. Mike Russell, it is fair


to say, has averted the threat of strike action, but if this goes


wrong, it will be a very big problem for the SNP. Have you heard


of Donald Trump? I have heard of Donald Trump and his enterprises in


Aberdeen. Tell me what you're going to say. We've had a lot of coverage


of Donald Trump, he has been a controversial figure. I know you


like Gulf, have edited a Gulf magazine, what do you think about


some of the claims that have been made? -- golf. I would be very wary


of his claim that his project has come to a halt because of the wind


farm. That is on a massive scale, the market is no longer there.


Crucially, he was recently told even if his Gulf course was going


to be the greatest in the world, it would take 20 years to come onto


competition were tough. -- rota. Many we have heard him limiting his


marketing strategy, but I would distrust almost everything he says


and I hope Alex Salmond does not get played again. Let's look at the


Olympic security, that is developing today. People are


talking about a Home Secretary, but if you look at the sequence of


events, in December, Sebastian Coe, organising committee, goes to the


security company and says we need 10,000 not 2000, why is none of the


state coming his way? -- stick. Frankly I find it astonishing we


are at his position two weeks before the Games start. I find it


astonishing that a Home Office would not have at least acted on a


potential contract. If security was at the top of that agenda, they


must have known how many security were there, where they trained, are


all part of that contract, was it in place? I don't think we should


be shifting the blame towards LOCOG too much, although I think a lesser


question can be asked of Sebastian Coe. What frightens me is that if


this is the level of preparation just on security, this is the stuff


we know at the top, underneath, there is a vast amount we do not


know about. These games need to be run successfully and we cannot


afford them to be derailed by plans that have been put in a drama. I


Andrew Neil and Isabel Fraser with the latest political news, interviews and debate, including interviews with Liberal Democrat minister Jeremy Browne and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper.

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