21/04/2013 Sunday Politics Scotland


Andrew Neil and Andrew Kerr with the latest political news, interviews and debate. With shadow communities secretary Hilary Benn and Conservative MP Dominic Raab.

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Sunday Politics. The government is going to court to prevent a new EU


tax hitting the centre of London as more pressure is piled on the Prime


Minister to deliver his pledge to bring back powers from Brussels.


He wants to be in the centre ground of British politics but claims the


centre is moving left, so how will Ed Miliband's strategy go down in


next month was, local elections? The shadow communities secretary joins


us for the Sunday interview. It's claimed a estimated 70,000


lives so two years into the Civil War, is it time to arm the rebels?


And in Scotland, with less than a year and a half to go to the


referendum, a critical conference for Labour as it chews over its


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1702 seconds


tragedy going on right now in Syria. More people have been killed


in recent months than in the first year of the conflict. We want to see


a managed transition in Syria, but there is no sign of that happening.


We have to change the terms of trade We have to change the terms of trade


on the ground. It started with a peaceful demonstration in the street


peaceful demonstration in the street It moved on and now we are involved


in more Islamists. They have given support. This creates a division.


Are you worried about giving them guns? Of course, they have been


planning to gain sympathy and support from the Syrian people,


because they appeared a few months ago and they are giving up to al-


Qaeda. You will end up giving guns to the bad guys. Not necessarily.


fighting on the ground, the people with more arms are the Islamists.


They are going to win if we do nothing. What we need to do is to


get the moderate, secular side to have forced to actually


counterbalance that. You think, in sending arms to the opposition, you


could actually distinguish as to who is going to get the guns?


Absolutely. You cannot do that. It is not practical on the ground. You


would create isolation between the rebels, because the bad guys think


of themselves as the good guys, who are liberating Syria from the


dictatorship. By arming the rebels in Syria, you are creating a


revolution, a kind of battle between the Islamists and between the Syrian


free army. We have three poll is of the conflict, and political solution


is the only way to move forward. do we get that? Through pressure on


Assad. Not through the pressure of Russia and Iran. Assad is not the


supermassive power in Syria. cannot get Russia to do any


pressuring. They are bolstering the Iranians. It will end up with


terrorism in Syria. Even if Al-Qaeda has lost its war with America, it


can regain in Syria. You say 70,000 people have died there, and that is


probably a reasonably accurate estimate. If you give these people


guns, and more than guns, a lot more will die. They've got guns already.


Syria is awash with small arms already. The problem is we cannot


force Assad to a political transition. Nobody wants to see a


violent overthrow, but it is happening in slow motion right now,


because he has enough power to hang on without being forced to the


negotiation table. We have to bring the moderate and secular forces


there, because that is the only guarantee you can get pressure on


Russia, Iran and Hezbollah to change their mind. He says you have to do


it to break the logjam on the ground. But that is not through


getting more debt in Syria. Syria can use chemical weapons in order to


gain power right now. It knows it will get the full power of the


United States if it did that. solution is to pressure Iran and


Russia and Hezbollah. We need to pressure more, more pressure from


the superpowers like America, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The


situation could escalate more, to have a more regional war in Syria,


where we have vulnerable borders, which can leak to Jordan, Israel and


Lebanon. Then we have an international war in the region.


Syria is a tribal mosaic. It is a hotchpotch of tribes that we


understand almost none of. What has it got to do with us? Plenty --


plenty. Firstly, there is a challenge to values going on. Tens


of thousands of people are dying, and that speaks to our values.


you are talking about hard power. Those are national security


situations of a classic kind. Now we have moral interests and strategic


interests too. We are seeing refugees streaming over,


destabilising Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon. It is in our interests to


stop that happening. Thank you both. You are watching the Sunday


conference for Labour in Inverness as the party mulls over what it


might offer in the event of a no vote.


I'll be speaking live with Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour Party


deputy leader. Parents in rural areas want to keep


their local schools open, of course, but it's a difficult balance for


cash-strapped councils. We'll debate the way forward. And that's the UK


Treasury raises doubts about an independent Scotland keeping the


pound, the SNP hip back, saying it in the best interests of Scotland to


stay in stolen -- sterling will stop Scottish Labour have been trying to


refresh and regroup. They say they have to be honest


about the hard choices. One of those hard choices is deciding what to


offer in the event of a no vote in the referendum. Our political


correspondent Raymond Buchanan has been taking the air in the far


north. The glorious Highlands - home to


some of Europe's great wilderness. A place to contemplate, to consider,


to renew. An appropriate location for the modern Labour Party to


choose for their conference. Swept out of office by the voters in


Westminster and Holyrood, they have much to ponder. Some of the


questions the party has to ask itself are really quite deep. How


should they deal with the deficit? What public services should Labour


supporting future? What is the party's attitude to welfare reform,


immigration and the Constitution? These are potentially treacherous


areas to navigate but that is the task of Ed Miliband and JoAnn


laminate. The UK leader arrived in the capital with an old Tory idea.


He wants Labour to be the one nation movement, uniting communities from


Shetland to Southampton. We have something none of the other parties


have - the power of the people joining together. Let's leave the


Tories to divide our society. unity can be a difficult thing to


achieve if one party, let alone one nation, doesn't agree. The Scottish


leadership plan to give Holyrood control of all tax hasn't been


unanimously praised. On the subject of MPs, I would say to those unnamed


comrade suspecting their dummies out this week, " get over it and engage


in the party consultation". That's certainly not the phrasing I would


use. There has been a great deal of anxiety about the way this has been


handled. The first I heard was when I read it in the paper. There are


three MPs on the group but they went reporting back so nobody knew what


was being discussed. When Johann Lamont took to the stage, she


challenged Alex Salmond to work with her to improve childcare and be more


open about the economic challenges Scotland's public services face.


is time politicians were honest with the public about hard choices. We


can't afford a cartoon debate when older people are being tucked up in


bed by 6pm because it fits in a carer's pressure to schedule because


of pressure budgets. But she didn't set out what hard choices she would


make. But she did set out the choices she believes faces people in


this country. Alex Salmond would have you believe the enemy is our


neighbours. He wants to have a debate with David Cameron but he


won't debate me and that's because he wants to deceive people into


thinking this is a question of Scotland versus England. It isn't.


The fight is Scotland versus Alex Salmond and it is one that Scotland


themselves as the party of the many and the SNP as the party of the few.


In the end, Scotland will decide which direction it prefers. And also


how long Labour's wildernesses continue.


Joining me live from the Scottish Labour conference in Inverness is


the deputy leader of the party Anas Sarwar. Good afternoon and thank you


for joining me. At the launch of the report on the evolution report,


there was controversy. There is a recommendation to devolve income


tax. Has that been thought through adequately? We are hearing those


concerns from MPs. I wouldn't frame it in the way you have done. What


we're doing is having a genuine discussion and debate to say that we


recognise we need to get a devolution model that works best for


Scotland so we can create the kind of society we want to live in are up


our children. -- and bring up our children. This needs to be a wider


debate right across Scotland. We will base our final conclusions on


those constitution responses and make sure we act not in the Labour


Party's interests but in the interests of Scotland. But raising


income tax purely in Scotland - MPs are concerned that could put


Scotland at risk financially. said there is a strong case around


the accountability argument about having income tax Scottish


parliament but there are still questions that need to be answered.


One thing we are not going to do is create a system that undermined


Scotland's position. We don't want to make Scotland who are. That is


why we are going to test all the arguments to make sure we have a


devolution model that is in the best interests of Scotland. It's an open,


frank discussion and debate. It's not just inside the Labour Party but


with Scotland. We could have the approach of the opposition who make


up all the answers as they go along. That is not the approach the


Labour Party is taking. We want to engage, have a genuine consultation


and discussion with Scotland. Perhaps this discussion has been a


bit too open and frank, as we saw earlier with the comrades spitting


their dummies out. As Johann Lamont spent this weekend trying to exert


her authority in the party? What she has spent this weekend doing is


setting out a different case for Scotland, not just on the


constitution but all the big issues. Just a few weeks ago, you have the


first Minister come here with all the usual bluster, all the usual


lines, but set out his own case for setting up his own legacy. Contrast


that to what you had yesterday - a speech of humility, emotion and


passion. Someone who is not in this for some kind of personal glory but


to increase opportunities for everyone across the country. That is


something we should be proud of and something the party got right


behind. Some say the first Minister was setting out a vision for


Scotland and some said that Johann Lamont's speech lacks vision. She


spoke about her background and university education and said it was


time politicians were honest with the public about hard choices. What


is Labour's hard choice when it comes to higher education? She spoke


about the college budget being mauled. Do you want to reintroduce


tuition fees or a graduate endowment for higher education? That's not


what she is saying. She is saying you can't measure the success of an


individual area by just looking at one policy. We can't pretend we have


perfect higher education system because we have free tuition. The


fat that Scotland, despite not having to tuition fees, if you are


kids in Scotland from a working-class background you are


less likely to go to university than it did in England. Because of health


care inequalities, a lot of people went live long enough to receive


free personal care. How can we have people living longer, more


fulfilling lives? How do we improve the education system to make sure


that no matter where you live, whether affluent area or more


deprived area, there will be a successful education system to go to


university and go to college and be an asset to your community. That's


the kind of society that Johann Lamont wants to create and that's


what she was setting out. opposition said it was rather policy


light. Nicola Sturgeon tweeted that reducing tuition fees was the


closest she came to introducing a policy. She also had to revisit a


controversial policy, the something for nothing speech. She said she was


not attacking the principle of universal benefits but raising the


point that there was not perhaps enough resources to pay for these


universal benefits, so in essence wasn't she attacking the policy?


think what the Cabinet Secretary for infrastructure should do is not just


bend all their time building a case up for independence in the


referendum next year but spent time building infrastructure, roads,


schools, hospitals to help tackle the inequalities I set out. Johann


Lamont is saying there are real challenges right here in Scotland


and what we can't have over the next 18 months is constant conversations


purely about the constitution and funding models and devolution or


about independence. There are real challenges that people are facing


right now. What people don't need is politicians sitting in parliament,


council chambers or Right now in TV studios talking about things like


the monetary policy committee and other issues - all very important


but not ones that affect people's daily lives. People are worried


about how they get food on their table, whether their child will get


access to a college place, will get a job, how their loved one will be


treated by the NHS. They are the real conversations taking place up


and down this country and that's the conversation we want to have and


find the right solutions. important policy is childcare which


Johann Lamont mentioned but there was a scant lack of detail. She


challenged Alex Salmond to return next week. She said she had worked


out proposals for childcare - what are the proposals? I'm sorry,


Andrew, that is the wrong reflection of what she said. What she said was


that the first Minister made a promise on childcare not to actually


change women's lives but to get votes for the referendum. He has the


powers in the Scottish parliament right now to introduce the policy


proposals that he wants and what Johann Lamont quite rightly said is


that we will work with the SNP. People don't care about party


politics when it comes to changing their lives so we will work with the


SNP in the budget and come up with a proposal that works and we will


support it and make the policy happen now. Are they big enough to


take that on? Let's make sure we deliver for Scotland bow. Why wait


until after the referendum? Alex Salmond has the power to do it now


but he is not taking the opportunity. It's a very expensive


policy, which is the point the first Minister made and it needs time to


be worked out. Are you just trying to smoke out the first Minister and


make him commit to a very expensive policy which would require a cut in


another area of the budget? Which every would you like to see cut to


pay for it? Andrew, I'm sorry. He has the power, he says it's a


priority if Scotland wants an independent country. Let's not make


it up as we go along. He can't promise tax systems like Ireland and


public services like Scandinavia. You can't make it up as you go


along, which is what the first minute and the SNP are doing. If he


genuinely believes that it's in the best interests of Scotland to have a


childcare system that works to help women back into work, we will help


them to deliver that policy in this Parliament. Will he take that


challenge? Will he join us in that? If not it proves that it's a policy


to gain votes. Less than 18 months until the referendum, there is


difficulty getting this policy of further devolution for Scotland -


that has been mired over the course of the weekend. Johann Lamont had to


explain once again the something for nothing speech. Where labour


standing at the moment? I don't accept that reflection that you


have. You should perhaps listen less to the SNP press machine and listen


to what actually happened here at conference. I would welcome you to


come to our conference next year, rather than in the studio, is what


we had was a fantastic speech from Johann Lamont. We also set out what


we would do if we were in charge of the NHS, setting out a 12 point plan


on social justice. We had a discussion about the centralisation


of Holyrood. All positive things happening right here at conference


because we are on the side of Scotland and putting Scotland first.


We have to leave it there. Thanks for joining us.


Now to an emotive subject - ruble school closures. For two years


there's been a moratorium on closing village schools while a commission


investigated the future of ruble education. It is now reported but


would it be enough to satisfy the concerns of campaigners or might it


actually make ruble school closures easier? Here's Jamie McIvor.


Any proposal to close a school can be emotive but integral areas, the


passion can be even more intense. -- in rural areas. Quite apart from how


proposals might affect a child's education, the school could be an


important part of the team unity. Two years ago, villagers here bought


a powerful campaign when their village school was facing closure.


The kids keep everybody going and that brings parents here, who look


after the elderly people, who work in the shops to keep the village


open to the tourists that come here. Without the school we will struggle


to keep and attract families to this area. The local primary was one of


many local schools put under threat. At one point, around 25 were facing


the axe. In the end they were saved following a move by the Scottish


government. There was some concern over how the process en route will


school closures was working. The government called for a moratorium


on closures across Scotland while a commission on the future of roll


education carried out a full investigation. It has now reported.


It is a detailed report which makes several recommendations. Key amongst


them... I hope that it will ensure that the education which is provided


for our children in rural Scotland is of a standard which we can be


proud of. But one point in the report is proving controversial. It


proposes... Instead it would be simply about making sure it would


not be harmed. Some fear at good make closures easier.


educational statement not now having priority over everything else, it


gives councils they license to make this all about numbers and there


will be more regard given to the quality of education that will be


lost. Others will suggest that this change will make the debate more on


-- more honest, arguments are sometimes considered later than by


the need to save money anyway. In his Dumbarton sure there is an


intense debate about possible school closures. One rural school as at


risk. I think there should be consultation and that has been


brought up in this sheriff's report, we need financial transparency in


the dealings that the council is having. There is no option here for


us apart from closure. The council could not make a formal moves until


after the commission 's report. The question here will be, what happens


now? Nationally a full response from the Scottish Government is expected


in the next few weeks. So what changes might happen and what will


be the measure of their success? Well, with me in the studio now is


COSLA spokesperson for Education, Children and Young People, the SNP


Councillor Douglas Chapman, and from our Dundee studio, the Scottish


Conservative's Murdo Fraser. Good afternoon. First the euro, Douglas.


A full report. Let's pick up on that. It is that a semantic or


significant point as raised in the report? The report covers a lot of


ground and there are 30 different recommendations. We hope that we can


support all or most of the recommendations. From a council 's


point of view, we would always want to move ahead and ensure that


children's education is protected whatever the situation, a rural or


urban environment. This point for me is about, if a council decides to


close a school, it has got to prove the case that it is in the child's


best interest to do so. I think the point that has been made in the


report is about not having to go as far as saying it has to be a


benefit. As long as that position is neutral and there is no detriment to


a child's education, then that is something that we can support and I


think that is a good thing. Scottish Conservatives say that that


could make the closing of rural skills easily, is that true? We need


to go back to basics on this. There are things in there that benefit


payments in terms of information that is provided and more clarity


and transparency around information. I think some of the recommendations


are how you look at a community in the hall. -- in the hall. Not just


look at a school on its own. I think these are positive steps for how to


take things forward. Are you reassured by Mr Chapmans words?


There is a lot I would agree with and there is a lot that is positive


in the report. I think having to provide a stronger financial case is


very reasonable. We know that in the past of a very unsound financial


case is put forward. But there is a fundamental problem with this that I


think Douglas Chapman has skirted around. That is the shift from


having to prove it is in the educational benefit of the pupils to


close. In effect, lauding that far to say that all the council has to


do is to sure that there would be no disadvantage. That is a fundamental


shift in both the goalposts from where we are. I think we saw in the


film, patents from rural skills to see that as a concern. If that was


to become a change in legislation, are changing guidance, that is


something that would be very vigorously posed, not just by the


Scottish Conservatives but many rural schools campaigners. It does


not sound like you have reassured him. I think we can work on days


bets over the coming months but the important point is, you have a


commission, it is reported on the recommendations that we spoke of,


and the whole issue means that we need to get behind each of these


recommendations and make sure there implemented. I think the discussion


with the Scottish Government needs to start now. The main point, 15


people sitting on the commission and they have all come to the conclusion


that the standard of where the bar is set is the right one to set.


Based on all the evidence, that is the view they have taken so I think


we should move forward with that. very thorough report, of course, and


it is a difficult balance to strike. Cash-strapped councils need to make


difficult decisions. I think that is exactly the problem. Pencils do have


financial issues, that is why the prospect of closing small rural


schools seems so attractive. In the past we have seen a very dubious


cases put forward where councils have not factored in the cost of the


alternative, such as batting pupils to another centre nearby. Anything


that makes it easier for councils to close rural schools is something


that setting councils will seize on. That is why this is so worrying in


the current financial climate and why so many parents will be worried


about it. If we can agree that we will not change that particular


piece of Baden's and embrace the report, I think Douglas and I can


both go home happy. Thank you for joining me.


Coming up after the news. As the UK Treasury prepare to launch a paper


on the economics of independence, there's a warning to the SNP about


keeping the pound. Ministers accuse the party of tying themselves in


knots and bringing powers home with one hand, while giving them away


with another. Alex Salmond has hit out at the downgrade Chancellor.


We'll debate with the SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie and Sir


Malcolm Bruce of the Liberal Democrats. You're watching Sunday


Politics Scotland and the time is coming up for 3pm. So let's cross


now for the news with Chris Eakin and Sally McNair. Thousands lined


the route in response to the Boston attack. Many wore black ribbons and


was tighter security. Before the start, 35,000 fell silent. Despite


the weeks events, the crows immersed in their hundreds of thousands to


cheer on the runners. The spirit of the day was summed up by America's


winner of the wheelchair event, she won the event in Boston just hours


before the bombing. She dedicated her when did people of Boston.


definitely dedicate this one to Boston and I am just remembering


those affected by it. Britain's David Weir only finished fifth while


victories in the elite races went to Ethiopian and Kenyan athletes.


Thoughts were with those across the Atlantic. The great thing about the


marathon is that, no matter what colour, religion or nationality you


are, everyone comes together. everyone who crosses the finish line


here, the ordinator is -- the organiser is donating �2 to the


Boston fund. Many runners are still out on the course but for all, it


has been a day of high emotion. Police in Boston are still waiting


to question the teenager who is expected -- who is suspected of


carrying out the bombing. The FBI has released new energies taken with


a thermal imaging camera. They show the suspect shortly before the


exchange of gunfire and he remains under armed guard in hospital.


More than 200 people are now known to be dead reported missing after


yesterday's earthquake in China. More than 11,000 people have been


injured, according to authorities. Rescue workers have been searching


remote mountain villages for survivors.


Celtic have been crowned Scottish Premier League champions after


beating Inverness at Celtic Park. Celtic only needed a point but they


ran out comfortable 4-1 winners. It is the club's 44th success. There


will be more news on BBC One just after 6:30pm.


Good Afternoon. Experts at Edinburgh Zoo have performed artificial


insemination on the female giant panda Tian Tian. There have been


positive signs. The male panda has been eating bamboo to build himself


up and sniffing around the female enclosure. He has also been


vocalising. Despite this, experts decided against an attempt at


natural meeting and the artificial procedure was carried out. Both


pandas are now slipping after what has been described as an intensive


week. It will be several weeks before it is now an effort was


successful but pandas will be back on display in a couple of days.


Scottish Labour's Deputy Leader, Anas Sarwar, has ended his party's


spring conference in Inverness by telling delegates they have a fight


on their hands ahead of next year's Independence referendum. Mr Sarwar


accused the SNP of making up policy as they go along in a bid to secure


a yes vote in the September 2014 poll ballot. It is now very clear


that they will say what you want to hear, Ron is you that independence


will be at whatever you wanted to be to get a yes vote. Not for them a


debate gritted in reality, but a debate based on what you want to


hear to get your vote. Celebrations are continuing at Celtic Park in


Glasgow after Celtic beat Inverness Caley Thistle to seal the SPL title


with four matches of the season remaining.


Second World War hero has been honoured at a ceremony in Edinburgh.


Thomas Peck Hunter was posthumous he awarded the Victoria Cross for


action in Italy in the final days of the war. He was killed by German


gunfire while he tried to protect men under his command by lying in


full view of the enemy until his colleagues reached safety. The


service was attended by members of his family, including his nephew,


Now the forecast for Scotland. This morning's reign has passed


through and this afternoon it should be brightening up for most of us.


There will be a number of showers around, especially across the West


fairly fairly heavy. Temperatures between


ten and 12 Celsius. Into the evening and overnight, showers tend to fade


away and it will be dry for a time but during the overnight period, and


other weather front starts to work at 6:50pm. Now back to the Sunday


Politics Scotland. This week the UK government will


publish its latest paper on independence. This time it's from


the Treasury. The Chancellor is claiming the SNP are tying


themselves in knots with plans to keep the pound if there is a yes


vote. The SNP say the policy would benefit the whole UK sterling zone.


If Scotland votes yes next year, the Scottish government wants to retain


the pound is part of what it calls a sterling zone with the rest of the


UK. But in a joint UK government article, the chancellor George


Osborne and his Treasury chief secretary say the SNP are tying


Friday, the leader of the Better Together campaign said it would


affect the ability to spend. currency union would mean another


country, which would be a foreign country, would have to approve our


budget, tax, spending and borrowing. That is not freedom. If


you are voted for independence, you are voting yourself into a


straitjacket from which you can never escape and the consequence of


that would be very bad for Scotland. But the Scottish government believes


a currency union would help boost the rest of the UK's Alencon


payments, thanks to its assets including oil and gas. The Deputy


first Minister Nicola Sturgeon insists its the common-sense


position supported by the facts. She experts on the fiscal commission


working group set up by the first Minister Alex Salmond. The UK


Treasury process analysis of what it would mean on Friday.


I'm joined by the SNP's Treasury spokesman, Stewart Hosie, and from


Aberdeen we have the Liberal Democrat MP Sir Malcolm Bruce. Good


afternoon to both of you. First of all to you, Stewart Hosie, the


Treasury in that article is saying you are tying yourselves in knots


with this policy. They are threatening that Scots could risk


losing the pound under independence. You must rue the day when the euro


crisis began because this rather convoluted policy which, of course,


the Treasury say doesn't really make sense. I look forward to the


document being published because if it's as thin as the spun comments


today, it's not going to amount to much more than a repetition of the


usual scare stories that we have to join the euro, which we won't. This


is dreadfully complicated, which it isn't. They say it means a foreign


country will be a controlling our economy, which is completely and


utterly false. I'm happy to expand on any of those. We'll put some of


those points to Sir Malcolm Bruce. What is wrong with a currency zone


because the SNP make it quite clear that the balance of payments would


make it a benefit to the rest of the UK? They say it's just as much


Scotland's pound as England's. is the point - if you want a


currency union, we've got one, it's called the UK. If that's the


argument, we should stay in it. What the SNP doing is creating confusion


and uncertainty and begging a lot of questions because if the Bank of


England is effectively underwriting the Scottish economy, there will be


conditions and, indeed, other parts of the UK, the North of England,


Wales and Northern Ireland, will have use. The SNP seem to think they


can run a completely free budget, underwritten by a foreign bank -


which it will be - and they'll be no conditions attached. When you look


at what's happening in the eurozone, it's fanciful to believe


such an agreement could be achieved, even if it was in


anybody's interests. Stewart Hosie, we have this monetary, fiscal and


political union as things stand - you want to take the political bit


out of it. Does this policy really make sense? As Sir Malcolm points


out, we will have to have these constraints if there is


independence. You would have to reach an agreement with the Bank of


England when it comes to fiscal policy. This all makes perfect


sense. The Bank of England is independent. That's a good thing.


Both Scotland and the rest of the UK will be subject to... Just let him


finish that point. Scotland and the rest of the UK would be subject to


military discipline with independent decisions made. But both Scotland


and the rest of the UK would have full control of their fiscal policy.


At the moment, George Osborne has control of the fiscal policy but


there is very little of that in Scotland. We would have it all and I


think that is a profoundly good thing. What that means in terms of a


stability pact, it makes perfect sense for countries to try to make


sure their deficit is reasonable and their debt begins to shrink. Those


aren't constraints which any country would not want to have. Those are


proper and sensible targets to be worked to buy any government and


that makes sense both for Scotland and the rest of the UK. But how


independent is the Bank of England when the Chancellor in the budget


decided to change its remit to try to boost growth and, of course,


ministers under the bank of England that of 1998 have the power to


override the MPs in the military policy committee. In relation to the


change from a fixed inflation target to flexible inflation targeting, I


think that's extremely sensible indeed because it lays out the


direction of travel for interest rates over the medium-term and


provide more certainty to borrowers, banks and members of the public, to


the decisions the MPC is likely to take. It's a sensible decision and


I'm sure the MPC will use it properly. I think it's a good thing


in terms of monetary stability and boosting growth in the long run.


Stewart Hosie was speaking about the stability pact and the chair of the


Scottish government's fiscal commission was writing this week


saying that a mutual agreement on borrowing and debt levels would


underpin a currency union and would actually be good for both economies.


Yes but with the emphasis on the word mutual. It requires the whole


of the UK to agree it. The way the SNP project it is that it will be


the way the SNP wants it and the rest of the UK will somehow accept.


That's not the real world. The Bank of England is owned by the UK


government and operates under legislation passed by the UK


Parliament. If Scotland was an independent country, it would have


no mistake Bank of England in terms of appointment or any changes in its


mandate or legal basis. It would simply have to deal with it as a


foreign bank and negotiate what it could. It's fine to say we should


have such a pact but both sides will have to agree and the SNP cannot


tell the people of Scotland what the outcome of that agreement will be


because we will not know until Scotland, if it votes for


independence, negotiated. That's the real problem - we have a perfectly


good currency union right now, it's called the United Kingdom and the


best way to keep that is to stay in the UK. Hard for you to make your


imprint on the Bank of England and, as Danny Alexander and Alistair


Darling have been warning this weekend, when it comes to the bigger


partner, these currency unions - look at Germany and Greece in, that


bigger partner tends to have the biggest say. The German and great


example is a particularly bad one. The reason for the great


difficulties is not that there wasn't a political union or a tax


harmonisation with Germany, it's because the productivity was so


miserable. The difference between Scotland and the rest of the UK is


that productivity is near identical, which means we're in an


optimum currency area and that's the key point. We hear the scare stories


about why the rest of the UK might say no but I look forward to


Unionist politicians explain to the good people of England, Wales and


Northern Ireland why they would want to damage sterling in a balance of


trade terms by saying that the �40 million contribution which Scottish


oil and gas brings would no longer be available at the sterling table.


There are lots of scare stories and I understand why are parents want to


use them but they make no sense, even for the rest of the UK. When we


get to the negotiations, and of course there will be negotiations,


common sense will prevail. A currency union but fiscal freedom is


the ideal position for Scotland to be in and that's why independence


makes so much sense. You were shaking your head about the balance


of trade terms. If there's so much agreement, I can't see the need for


us to break up an existing agreement. But I was shaking my head


in relation to things like the oil revenues. They come and go and the


fluctuation of one or 2% in terms of UK GDP is absorbable. For the


Scottish economy, that could be 5% or 10% in any one given year. That


could put pressure on Scotland that does not currently exist. What the


SNP are proposing is to impose more uncertainty into what is a difficult


and uncertain situation at a time when what we actually need is to get


over our problems together, not argue about who should take the


lion's share of the burden. The SNP try to attend that they are somehow


fundamentally different but Stewart Hosie is saying today it won't make


much difference. If it weren't, what's the point? What are the


reasons for independence apart from the currency union? Crawford


Beveridge writing in the Scotsman on Friday said the right way forward


would be for both parties to engage in technical discussions but, of


course, the UK government don't want to engage in that just now, do


they? Know, and why should we? You can't debate a situation which is


hypothetical. The people of Scotland have not voted and right now it


looks as if they are unlikely to vote for the separation of Scotland


and it's quite reasonable and proper to say that the mood, the


environment, the circumstances for any kind of negotiation to


hypothetical prior to a decision being made. Only when the decision


has been made and is for real can you properly engage and most people


are beginning to realise that that is a very unpredictable and volatile


situation which we do not have to go into. Why should the UK government


engage and, perhaps, why embark on this policy when the Economist Jim


Cuthbert, sometimes quoted by the SNP, said that your strategy should


be rethought because it could expose Scotland to a catastrophic rises?


a great deal of respect for the work of Jim Cuthbert over many years and


I would criticise but I think on this he is wrong. In terms of


instability, the very fact that the fiscal commission suggested, very


sensibly, that we have a stability fund based on the oil revenues so


that we can park cash in the good times and use it in the good times


is the technical answer to the scaremongering Malcolm Bruce had


earlier. In terms of instability, he suggested the UK economy can absorb


certain losses. The UK economy debt is about to rise to over 100% of


GDP. It is in excess of �1 trillion at the moment there is no certainty


in terms of UK's future. If we sort this currency thing, fiscal


decisions so that we could grow the Scottish economy, will be taken in


Scotland according to Scottish needs and circumstances and not in terms


of the disastrous it annoyed losses of George Osborne. The future of the


UK possibly at stake as well in the hands of, as the SNP budget, the


downgrade Chancellor. The point we have to accept is we have a


difficult few years ahead of us and this is a distraction the people of


the UK, Scotland and elsewhere could do without. It would put pressure on


Scotland. Never mind the oil revenues, there could be other


sectors which are vulnerable which a small economy like Scotland would


have difficulty absorbing. It's right to say the UK has difficulty


but together, we have a better chance of overcoming our problems


when we unite as one to deal with it. When the SNP at knowledge we


have more in common than divides us, to tear that up right now is not the


interests of Scotland or the rest of the UK. We have to leave it there.


Thank you both very much. In a moment, we'll be discussing the


coming week at Holyrood but let's take a look back at the week in 60


seconds. Thousands of people lined the


streets of London for the funeral of Baroness Thatcher will stop in the


former -- in a former pit village in Midlothian, well it is laid a


wreath. The Scottish government published


legislation to increase preschool childcare. It will entitle three and


four-year-old s two hours of free care.


The six time Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoyer announced he is


retiring from cycling. I didn't want to turn up just a way to the crowd


and get a tracksuit. I wanted to be there to win a medal for Scotland


and because I don't feel I can do that, I've got to step aside and let


someone else take my place. Almost 600 workers have been made redundant


following the collapse of Scottish Coal. Directors of the biggest


coal-mining company put it into Administration on Friday.


And we were on Panda watch all week. The question now is, will the


artificial insemination work? Stay tuned. That's the week that's just


gone by. Now let's turn our attention to the big stories in


politics and look at what's coming up in the week ahead.


I'm joined in the studio now by two keen political bloggers, Kate


Higgins who writes as Burdz Eye View, and Ian Smart who posts on his


own site and contributes to Labour Hame. Good afternoon to you both.


Let's start with a lighter subject, the pandas. First some news. I think


we would -- we should just leave them alone. It is a reason why


pandas are endangered. Animals should be treated with committee.


am struggling to say anything respectful about this before the


watershed. Let's turn our attention to what we were discussing at the


top of the programme, we were interviewing Anas Sarwar. In the


newspapers today we have headlines like... This was Johann Lamont 's


conference speech. What did you make of it. It's hard to try and be


positive when there is so little positivity coming from Labour. The


first thing I would say, Labour has two stop orbiting around the SNP


sun. It needs to define a political message and an offering for the


Scottish people based on its values and what it has to say for himself.


And linked into the interim report on devolution commission, that was


basically an exercise on writing off all the things we can't do for


reasons that are really about trying to win the UK election and also


keeping their hands on for this Scottish elections, rather than


actually thinking about what needs to be said and done as part of this


independence referendum. It needs to sort is strategy and stop trying to


make its proposals meet too many purposes. Let's take Kate's


critique. A lot of people were saying there is a lack of vision in


Laming's speech. -- Johann Lamont's speech. If I can deal with the


demolition -- demolition commission first. Clearly, the Labour Party


would admit that it was wrong. That would really cast a cloud as the


conference met. As someone who was there, I thought the tone was too


negative and up to a certain point, we knew what we were against but we


didn't know what we are actually for. But I thought her speech that


have a lot of substance. She said these were the things that need a


priority, Scottish Parliament to bring in three childcare. But it


involves making choices and the difficulty at the moment as that the


current Scottish Government is not making these choices, it is just


saying that everything should stay the same until September 2014. That


is a long time away for there to be effectively no government in


Scotland. Just in the point of the demolition -- did demolition


commission, people would say what I Labour doing. When they are arguing


amongst themselves. I don't know if they are all arguing among


themselves but the same issues remain, if there is a vacant degree


of financial autonomy for the Scottish Parliament, should we still


have the same numbers of members at Westminster? The second thing is, as


they are a proper parliament if it does not have accountability? The


Americans had a revolution on no taxation without representation. In


Scotland it is bizarre that we will have that. The interim report on the


demolition commission, it is not the final one. Surely it is fear to have


this open debate. I think that is something of a fudge. How long does


it take for a commission to come up with a report? They have been at


this for a year. To come back to the point is that Ian raises, I think


they are fair ones. They are ones that Scottish Labour should be


considering. This report does neither. 2014 truths team, who ever


came up with that should be sacked or at least have a copy of 1984


confiscated. The problem with setting yourself up as a witch


finder general is that you will be found out. For jailed gear, you need


that are currently reserved at Westminster. You need them in order


to fashion a proper childcare policy that fits in a proper economic


strategy, that is an argument for independence. I will let you come


back on that. I take your point on employment law which is not


devolved. I don't agree with the point about tax credits, I think


there is a lot that can be done using the existing powers of the


Scottish Parliament. Let's move it on to the current debate. From the


male, we had... Not good reading for the SNP, is it? No, but I am sure


that the Daily Mail does not count as one of his greatest cheerleaders.


It is not partial or -- it is not impartial or I'm biased. Everything


has got -- everyone has that something different to say on this.


The one certainty we can offer is that the day after a yes vote we


will still have sterling and we will still have pound, we will still be


using the same currency as the rest of the UK. Thereafter, there is an


honest on everybody in Scotland to fashion and work out what is in


Scotland's long-term interests. It may be a separate currency because


other countries manage just fine and all the scaremongering that Malcolm


Bruce was putting up in the programme, and is contained in the


newspapers, is nonsense. Other small countries manage their finances


perfectly well without all the problems that seem to be foreseen by


Scotland. In Scotland on Sunday, the headline is... Kate says she


believes that after day one post independence, sterling will still be


there. I think what it was saying that day one after the referendum is


that sterling will still be there. The problem SNP has is that the


minute anyone in the SNP started suggesting they would be a separate


company, finds largely owned by English people in Scotland would get


out of Scotland otherwise the business would collapse. That is one


of the central contradictions, we have this integrated financial


services market disproportionately located in Scotland at the moment


and it would have to relocate for reasons of business necessity. It


would have to relocate to England and Scotland and England have


separate currencies. The point Malcolm Bruce was saying that why


have independence if you want to keep this rest Mark there is a


circle that the SNP are trying to square and not very well. Because


exactly the point is that Ian is trying to make, not scaling horses


before we get to the referendum. But there are ways around keeping a


strong financial sector in Scotland after independence if that is what


we want to do. You can use tax breaks, tax allowances in order to


get over a separate currency or indeed, Malcolm Bruce's position and


also the no campaign, is predicated on the fact that it would not be in


the rest of the UK's centres to keep Scotland any currency union. I don't


think that is the case, I think they would want to keep Scotland and all


her assets as much as we would want that to happen. Just be free, that


Treasury report coming out on Tuesday. Do these have a big impact


on the debate? I have to say, I don't think anything has is big


impact. In various blogs, there is a lot of debate but I would guarantee


that nobody is a vote had been swept -- swayed by this. Bluntly, I don't


see any body having the breakthrough and we may be in the same position


for the next 18 months. We will have to leave it there, I'm afraid. Thank


Political magazine presented by Andrew Neil and Andrew Kerr.