30/03/2014 Sunday Politics Scotland


Andrew Neil and Gary Robertson with the latest political news, interviews and debate. With energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey.

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Morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics.


Can Ed Davey keep the lights on? Can he ever deliver cheaper power? Or


the investment our energy market badly needs? We will be asking the


Energy Secretary. Why has the anti-independence Better


Together campaign suddenly got the jitters? We will be quizzing


Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael.


And whatever happened to the BNP? They could be heading for electoral


oblivion. We will be asking why. Coming up on Sunday Politics


Scotland. The pro-Union parties have ruled out


a deal on currency, but does a newspaper report signal a change in


the policy? We will be speaking to Alex Salmond live.


And with me, as always, the most useless political panel in the


business, who we're contractually obliged to insult on a weekly basis.


But not today, because they are our chosen ones. They are the brightest


and the best, we've even hired a plane to prove it: Helen Lewis,


Janan Ganesh and Nick Watt who'll be tweeting throughout the programme.


Right, left and centre of the Westminster Establishment have been


unanimous in saying there would be no chance of monetary union with the


rest of the UK for an independent Scotland. Then an unnamed minister


spoke to our Nick saying that wasn't necessarily so, and that made the


Guardian's front page. The SNP were delighted and the anti-independence


campaign rushed to limit the damage. The faux pas has come at a time when


the Better Together side was already beginning to worry that things were


going the Nationalists' way. Let's speak to a leading light in that


campaign, Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael, who's in


Aberdeen at the Scottish Liberal Democrat spring conference.


Alistair Carmichael, why is there a sense of crisis now engulfing the no


campaign? I think that is something of an overstatement. What you have


got is, I am getting my own voice played back in my ear. What you have


got here is one story from an unnamed source, a minister who we


are told, we do not know for certain, who has speculated on the


possibility of a currency union actually happening. I do not think


that is helpful but it is not any big deal. You have to measure it


against what we have got publicly named on the record. We have got a


detailed intervention of the Governor of the Bank of England,


Mark Carney, outlining all the reasons why a currency union would


not be a good idea. And then you have got independent advice from the


permanent Secretary of the Treasury himself saying actually, this is


such a bad idea, that I would never advise a chancellor to go ahead with


it. You set one against the other and you see that pretty much the


force of argument is very much against those of us who want to


remain in the United Kingdom. All the minister was saying is come the


day, if Westminster is negotiating with a new independent Scotland, a


deal is to be done, Faslane where the nuclear deterrent is, there is


nowhere else in the UK to put that is, certainly not for the next 20


years, a deal would be done, the nuclear weapons would stay in


Faslane and Scotland would get a monetary union with the rest of the


UK. That is perfectly plausible, isn't it? No, I'm sorry, it is


simply not plausible. The economy is more important than anything else.


What you have had here is very clear advice from the treasury officials


saying it is not in the economic best interests of the people of


England Wales, Northern Ireland, any more than it is in the interests of


people in Scotland. Where do you put the nukes? The outcome will not


change. Where do you put the nukes when the Nationalists kick you out?


I do not believe that will be a problem because I do not believe


Scotland will vote for independence. But you might be asking the Scottish


Nationalists, who are apparently promoting this, are they then not


sincere when they say they want to remove nuclear weapons from


Scotland? It seems to be a curious mixed message. As you know, I have


not got the Nationalists, I have got you, so let me ask you the


questions. You are widely seen as running a campaign which is too


negative. The Nationalists are narrowing the gap in the poll found


you are squabbling among yourselves. This campaign is going pear shaped,


isn't it? No, let's deal with the polls. All the polls show that the


people of Scotland want to stay as part of the United Kingdom. Yes,


there were a couple of polls last week that said the gap was narrowing


a little. The most recent poll of all, the poll on Wednesday which


actually polled people's voting intentions on the question come


September showed that only 28% of people in Scotland were prepared to


say they were voting yes, as opposed to the 42% who were on our side of


the argument saying they wish to remain part of the UK. That poll


said women were skewing towards a yes vote and it showed that the


don't knows were beginning to skew towards a yes vote. That is why you


yourself wrote this morning that if your campaign does not get its act


together, you would be sleepwalking into a split to quote yourself. No,


to quote myself I said it was not impossible that the Nationalists


could win that. That is absolutely the case. The biggest danger for the


United Kingdom camp in this whole argument is people will look at the


polls. They show us with a healthy lead consistently. As a consequence,


they think this will not happen. It can happen. I have got to tell


everybody that it could, not least because the Nationalists have an


enormous advantage in terms of the amount of money they have at their


disposal to buy momentum. They will be advertising in cinemas, in


football matches and on social media. We have got to realise what


is coming and as a consequence, we have got to get our arguments in


place and our campaign as sharp as theirs. Thank you for joining us.


Nick, this unnamed minister who gave you the story, did he or she know


what they were doing? I do not think they were sitting there wanting to


blast this out there, because the agreed government position was there


will not be a currency union, if there is a vote for independence.


But what I was managing to get hold of whether thoughts that are in the


deeper recesses of people's minds, when they are looking at the polls


which have been narrowing, or there was Alistair Carmichael quite


rightly says, the pro-UK vote is still ahead. People are looking down


the line, what would happen after the 18th of September this year, not


just the next day but the next year, in those very lengthy


negotiations that would take place, when there would be a lot of moving


places on the table. You talked about Faslane, what would happen


then and that is what I managed to get hold of, that there are thoughts


about all those pieces that would be on the table. It is not surprising


that some in Westminster think that. Let's take the Shadow


Chancellor Danny Alexander at his word, they do not want a monetary


union. But if they are faced with giving the Scots a monetary union in


a post-independent Scotland, or having to remove the nuclear


submarines from Faslane, where they have nowhere else to put them,


probably except North America, there is a deal to be done. I think


whatever minister gave Nick his story is probably onto something. If


the Scots vote for independence, of course a deal will be done about the


currency because it is not in London's interests to have a


rancorous relationship with Edinburgh. Even if the deal is not


done, how does one country stop another country using its. That is


different. All London can really do is prevent Scottish intervention on


the monetary policy committee. The interest rate would be set without


any regard to the Scottish interest. Even that is only a fatal problem if


the Scottish economy becomes so out of sync with the UK economy. Except


it is a problem for Scotland's financial system because if you go


down that route there is no means of injecting liquidity into the


financial system in the financial crisis. That is why they would


rather have a monetary union. Is it not remarkable to hear the Secretary


of State for Scotland here that the Nationalists are spending too much


money, when he represents a campaign which brings together all the major


parties in the UK and all the resources of the UK and he is


bleating about the Nationalists having more to spend? I did think


that was a funny line and it was in the Observer. It lays into Alex


Salmond's plucky upstart idea that he's taking on this big


establishment. I thought it was a bizarre open goal, I am losing my


football metaphors, forgive me. The polls are so in favour of a no


vote. But the trend has been going their way. We have six months left


which is not enough to close the gap. They always tell you Alex


Salmond is a strong finisher. The plucky upstarts have this funding


from a millionaire. The Better Together campaign are being


incredibly cautious about where they get their money from. They do not


want to go to the City of London Police say, give us a couple of


million. Being Energy Secretary used to be a


bit of a dawdle, especially when North Sea oil was flowing. Now it's


very much a hot potato as Ed Davey has been finding out the hard way.


High household energy bills have been top of his inbox. The big six


energy companies account for 95% of the market. Off Johnson -- Ofgem


said there had been possible tacit coordination in the timing of price


rises and ordered an investigation by the competition and markets


authorities which will look at whether the big six should be broken


up. Where does that leave investment? The boss of Centrica


made the point that you would not spend money building an extension if


you knew in two years time your home might be bulldozed. The spare


margin, that is what is left in the margin, that is what is left in the


generating system to cope with a surge in demand on a cold winter's


night, is due to drop to historically low levels in 2016,


according to Ofgem. Normally at around 15%, capacity could drop to


2% after the next election and that could lead to a surge in the sale of


candles. Now where is that light switch?


Energy Secretary Ed Davey, joins me now. Oh, we have found the light


switch! The gap between a peak winter demand and generating


capacity could possibly reach 2% next winter or the winter after. We


will keep the lights on, that is for clear. When we came to power, energy


investment had been relatively low. The Labour Party had failed to deal


with the energy deficit. From day one we have been pushing up


massively. Investment has been 8 billion a year. Last year was a


record. Spare capacity is now heading to 2%. Why are you allowing


it to get that no? Because we have been increasing investment


massively, last was a record level, we will be able to keep the lights


on. Some of the figures you are showing suggests we are not doing


anything. We have not only done enough in our last three years, we


have put in measures to stimulate huge amounts of extra investment. We


have the healthiest pipeline investment in our history. We will


come onto investment in a minute. None of that change is the fact that


we will be close to 2% next winter or the winter after that. We have


one major power station shut down, or a cold winter away from having


major problems with energy supply. It is still 2%. Let me explain. The


figures assume we are not doing anything but we are doing something.


Look at the National Grid. They are able to bring in energy from


interconnector is because we are connected up to Europe. They are


able to create a reserve so if we get to problems, they will have a


mothballed plant they can bring on. You have not agreed with anybody on


that. The decision was taken last July. But no supplier has agreed to


under mothball its plant. We would not expect them to do that yet. Our


plan is in place. On time, on schedule, as we already thought it


would be. But you have not got a single agreement with a power supply


who has mothballed plant to on the ball it. We did not expect to. Our


plan is in me National Grid will do an election to allow those plants to


come on. There is a huge amount of interest. There are gigawatts of


power that can come in to come on. There is a huge amount of interest.


There are gigawatts of power that can come into that auction and we


are not other measures we can take and that is just in the short term.


We have a plan for the medium-term. We will be running the first auction


for new capacity. The final decision will be taken and we have learned


lessons from what they do in North America and other European countries


so we can stay minute mothballed plants and new plants to be built. I


am absolutely clear there is not a problem. You only build 9000


megawatts of new capacity from 2011-13. You have closed almost


22,000 megawatts. Why would you be so cavalier with a nation's power


supply? The last Government was cavalier because we knew those


figures are happening because we've known for a long time a lot of power


plants were coming to the end of their life, coal power plants,


nuclear power plants, and we had to increase the rate of investment, but


we... That shows clearly you are closing twice as much, you have to


date, closed twice as much as you have opened, hence the lack of spare


capacity. We knew a lot of them are coming back for the last Labour


Government knew. We have increased the new so that's increasing


significantly, far faster than under the last Government but also


remember, you were very wrong at the beginning of your clip, margins at


15% are very own usual. They are historically high. The average


margin was 25%. That was wasting a huge amount of money. But since


privatisation, we've had margins between 5% and 10%. Normally, high


margins historically, which is costly. Now we will have


historically low margins. People have to pay for that, so we make


sure the lights stay on, we have a short-term policy I have described


to you, and medium-term policy and a long-term policy. The long-term


policy comes huge investment between nuclear and optional,


policy comes huge investment between on. Ofgem, Independent, says the


chance of blackouts by 2016 has increased fourfold under your watch.


What they say, if you read the report, if we did nothing, they


would be problems. But we have been working with Ofgem. We have been


working with National Grid, and we have agreed that there will be a


reserve capacity which can come on if we get to the peak for the Best


not just on the supply side but demand and into connectors. You talk


about industry having to move to off-peak times. We say, they are


prepared to that you paid for it, and it makes commercial sense for


them, it's a sensible thing for the Wii will pay them to move to


off-peak. You have huge diesel parks for the you talk as if that


something new but it's been around for a long time for the 200 these


contracts out there. We want to expand that. You have hundreds of


diesel generators to click into, haven't you? There's a whole range


of generators. Diesel generation, dirty fuel. There's a of mothballed


gas which can come. If you look at the increase of the independent


generators, many companies, a range of power companies who are building


a new power station and want to build new ones. This is a healthy


situation. You say you made over 100 billion new investment between now


and the end of the decade to restore capacity and meet renewable


targets. Now you have referred the Big Six to the competition


commission, how much of that to expect to come from them? We will


see what the market delivers. We have always expected independent


generators to do a lot more than is happening in the past. How much from


the Big Six? It's not for me to say it's going to be best from that


company. The real interest is we have huge amounts of companies


wanting to invest. If you look at independent analysis, they say


Britain is one of the best places to invest in energy in the world. We


are the worldly do in offshore wind, one of the best for


renewables, one of the only countries getting nuclear power


stations. Rather than the bleaker picture you're painting, the reverse


is the case. We are seeing an investment renaissance. You say


that. Let me give you some facts. Under this Government, only one gas


plant has been under construction, only one started under your watch


for the others were done under Labour. You have none in the


pipeline. The Big Six has pulled back from further investment


including new offshore wind investment and none of what you're


talking about will come before 2020 anyway. That's simply not true. The


balance reserves I've talked about, the reserve planned: Making sure the


mothballed plant could come on, I capacity market incentivising new


power, will happen way before 2020, so that's not true. But doesn't


answer the extra capacity. You have no answer between now and the end of


this decade. We have three answers. Let me repeat them for you. I said


permanent, not the short-term ones you are putting in place to try to


do with spare capacity. We have a short-term plan, of course, that's


very sensible. Medium-term plan, auctioning for new power stations.


That can lead to both mothballed plant and when you plant, permanent


plant being built, and the long-term plan, to stimulator long-term


investment, some of which will be built and come online way before the


end of the decade. I'm afraid, it's a far rosier picture than your


painting. It's also far more expensive, too. Let's look at how


you are replacing relatively cheap energy with much more expensive


sources of energy. Wholesale prices is ?50 per megawatt. You have done a


deal with EDF, nuclear, ?92 50. You have indexed it for 30 years at 2012


prices. All of that puts up our bills. First


of all, the support of the low Carbon is just 4% on bills. What has


been driving peoples bills over the last decade has been wholesale gas


prices. No one knows what guys prices are going to be in the future


-- gas prices. When you look at the Ukraine and other market indicators,


many people are worried that by the time nuclear power stations come


online for example, the price of gas could be significantly higher. You


have indexed linked that for them by the time you get any power from


this, it'll be up to ?125 per megawatt hour. The price of gas been


going up far higher. Not recently. Despite Iran, Ukraine, Libya, not


recently. The long-term forecast, Andrew, it's going to go higher but


more importantly than that, this is an area we could disagree on but


it's very important that power plants pay the cost of pollution. In


those prizes, all of those prices except the wholesale out a steep


price, you have those power stations paying the cost of air pollution. If


gas and coal where paying the proper carbon price, you would see nuclear


and renewables as competitive. It's very important that we ensure that


power plants pay the cost of the pollution. When you were last on


this programme to talk about this in May 2012, you said that the price of


offshore wind was coming down fast. You told me it would be down by 30%


in the next few years. That figure is 155, and for the deeper stuff,


it's going to be ?165. That's the first year of a limit control


framework which had it coming down. If you talk to many companies,


Siemens had invested with their partners, ?310 million with two new


factories. They are talking about lower prices because what they are


saying to me is that, rather than the 30% cost reductions I talked


about, I was wrong, they are targeting 40%. You said prices would


come down 30% in two years for that that was 2012 and they have gone


higher. I absolutely did not say that. Your exact quote was 30% in


the next few years. Your exact few years. You said two years, I sell a


few years. I haven't changed a single moment that you said two


years, I said a few years. That's what we are projecting. They will


come down. You have to invest in technology. Let me give you this


example. When people invest in mobile phones to start off with,


they were expensive, and they were clunky and the costs were going down


for the one final question. You put the Big Six into investigation


because they made a 5% return on investment and you're done a deal


with EDF, nuclear power, which will guarantee them a return of 10% - 15%


every year for 30 years. Doesn't that underline the shambles of your


energy policy? You have mixed up two separate things. The 5% Ofgem are


talking about is on the supply retail side. The percentage you


quoted for EDF is in the wholesale side of two different markets. It's


the same return. It's not. You are comparing apples and pears,


dangerous thing to do. You have to do have a high return but in the


dangerous thing to do. You have to retail market, with a 5% stake,


there is less risk, says a low return. Ed Davey, I'm sorry we


haven't got more time. Thank you. Have me back. We will. Whatever


happened to the BNP? The far right party looked as if it was on the


verge of a major breakthrough not so long ago. Now it seems to be going


nowhere. In a moment we'll be speaking to the party's press


officer, Simon Derby. But first here's Giles. His report contains


some flash photography. For a moment in 2009 Nick Griffin and the BNP had


a spring in their step, smiling at their success of winning two seats


in the European Parliament. They already were the second largest


party in a London council and had a London Assembly seat. Despite


concerns from mainstream parties their vote was up. Our vote


increased up to 943,000. Savouring success was brief that morning as


anti-far right protestors invaded and egged the press conference and


forced the BNP MEPs into a hasty retreat. What is more significant is


that, in the years since, that retreat has been matched internally,


electorally and in the minds of those who had given them that vote.


For a number of years they were performing better than the UK


Independence Party and other smaller parties like the Greens and respect.


The problem for the BNP if they didn't make any inroads into other


groups, they didn't go into the middle class, the young, they didn't


go into women and ethnic minorities for obvious reasons. So the party


was quickly handicapped from the outset. Not that you would have


known that at the outset. In 2006 in Barking and Dagenham, the party won


12 council seats against a back drop of discontent with the ruling Labour


council and Government and picking up on immigration and housing


concerns in the borough. It's because of all the different


nationality people moving in the area, they are taking over


everything. My Nan and grandad lived there all their lives. I thought I


would vote for BNP. Hopefully, yeah, they will get elected over here.


When I came to Barking, Dagenham and Redbridge in 2006, the BNP with a


second largest party in one of the local councils. You can even find


non-white people who voted BNP. Now they have no counsellors, and even


though can when you talk to people, you will find among the older white


working-class population concerned that the BNP claim to represent,


everyone says they are nowhere. So what happened to that about? On


behalf of all the people in Britain, we in Barking have not just beaten,


that we have smashed the attempt of extremist outsiders. The local


Labour MP was as clear in 2010 as she is now. I always knew if we


could manage to ensure that wasn't a single BNP councillor left on the


council and I won my seat, it would stop the process of disintegration.


But what beat the BNP here in 2010 was a mobilisation of the Labour


vote. And today it is not hard to find the same discontent over the


same issues. It's just finding a new political home. A couple of years


ago, I used to vote Labour. Obviously, they haven't done nothing


around here as much now, with jobs and unemployment, and housing and


stuff like that about, basically, BNP ain't around here no more. Now


it's more about UKIP and I believe that these UKIP are saying are true.


If I thought BNP would make the difference, I would vote but is not


in the people behind them. They all get bandaged with the same brush.


I'm going to vote UKIP because BNP didn't get anywhere. What they say


in UKIP, with a bit of luck, they will get somewhere. It's not racist


but it's just that our kids haven't got jobs. Nick Griffin's dislike of


UKIP is mutual but his once fellow MEP Andrew Brons who's now left the


party issued a statement to this programme saying BNP failure is


closer to home post 2010. It was after that election discontent arose


amongst sections of the membership. Those members who left or were


thrown out by Nick Griffin had already felt let down by his


appearance on Question Time. It was a national platform for the BNP,


something they felt they had the right to through electoral success.


This was no big breakthrough moment for Griffin, unlike it was for John


Marina pen when he appeared on national television in France. He


went on to mobilise a national force. Despite there being some


voters tuned to their message, for the BNP, becoming such a force here


has never looked quite so difficult. And Simon Derby from the BNP joins


me now. Welcome to the Sunday Politics. It was not long ago you


had 55 councillors up and down the land, you now have two. You are on


the brink of extinction. That is not true. I have watched the film. It is


very negative as I would expect. The party has faced a few problems. The


main thing to bear in mind is that the issues, the problems the country


faces have gone away. We won nearly a million votes in the European


elections. We brought that mandate to the establishment and we were


denied. Let's face it, we would -- were denied any opportunity to take


place in the political apparatus. You have been destroyed by a pincer


movement. UKIP has taken away or more respectable voters and the EDL


is better at anti-Muslim protests and street thuggery. The EDL is not


a political party. I take your point about UKIP. The power structure took


a look at us and so we were a threat to power. We were not making this


stuff up, we meant it and they have co-opted our message. This shameless


promotion of UKIP, you have evenly had him presenting the weather on


this programme. That is unbelievable. That was a joke.


Across Europe, in France, your sister party the National front will


probably do very well. You can see the rise of the far right across


Western Europe so why are you in decline? We are not far right, I


reject that label. How would you describe yourselves nationalists and


Patriots. Why are you in decline and other similar parties to yours are


on the rise? You mentioned Barking and it is very interesting because I


was involved in that campaign. What Margaret Hodge and her Labour Party


did, they replaced the white indigenous population in Barking and


Dagenham with Africans, that is how they won that election. For that was


true, you would be doing well elsewhere. You have now got a leader


who is declared bankrupt and your party is heading for bankruptcy.


No, it is not. It is over. In 2009, they said a party with a


platform like yours would never win, and we did. Win or lose seats, the


Lib Dems would be annihilated in the next election, that will be the big


news. You deny that you are far right, but people used to say that


the BNP were neo-Nazi, and then Nick Griffin appears with golden dawn


from Greece, they are Nazis, and Nick Griffin appears with them. As a


pan-European organisation, we have to appear. You have to appear with


the Golden Dawn? I am happy to appear with everyone. The BBC has a


turbo reputation now, but I am happy to be here. Why can't Mr Griffin


come onto the BBC, common to TV and do an interview with us? You will to


an interview. He flew out to Damascus and prevented a war, he was


instrumental in sending a letter to the UK Parliament where we said we


would not interfere with Syria. The BBC never cover that, so do not make


out that we are not ordinarily political party that you cover like


everybody else. It is completely different. All of the signs are that


membership of the polls, performance and elections, the problems with


leadership, it is that you are now going the way of the National


front, heading for oblivion. That may be the case, if all of the


problems that we hadn't highlighted, and how we got that


you'd vote so many years ago, six years ago, in 2009, if they weren't


around. They are only going to get worse. These things will only get


worse. We're looking at a prototype, Islamic Republic that will be set up


in this country that will lead you to problems. And only the BNP are


prepared to say that and deal with it. Word leaked out that I was doing


this interview with you before the weekend, isn't it a sign of how


irrelevant you now are, that's not a single person has turned up at new


broadcasting house this morning to protest appearance, as there used to


be, hundreds which turn up and be said the BNP was coming on. That is


the left for you, they put the clocks on this morning and they


couldn't be bothered to get out of bed. Maybe they just could not be


bothered, they're not interested. Now, time for the programme in


Scotland. Good morning and welcome to Sunday


Politics Scotland. Coming up on the programme... An unnamed UK minister


tells a newspaper there COULD be a deal on sharing a currency. We'll


speak to the First Minister live. At their conference, the leader of


the Scottish Liberal Democrats tells delegates the focus should be on


making the UK work. And a year after the Coalition


government introduced major reforms to Housing benefit, we'll look at


how it's working in Scotland. Good morning. You'll remember a few


weeks ago the Chancellor came up to Edinburgh to formally rule out a


currency union, supported in a rare show of unity by his Labour and Lib


Dem counterparts. The Scottish government said it was a bluff and


maintained their stance of no Plan B. But a report in yesterday's


Guardian quoted an unnamed UK government minister as saying there


COULD be a deal to share sterling in the event of a vote for independence


in September's referendum. We'll be speaking to the leader of


the Scottish Liberal Democrats in a few moments, but all three


pro-Unionist parties have said the report is wrong. So just how


credible is it? Joining me now from Aberdeen is the First Minister, Alex


Salmond. Thank you for joining us this afternoon. Do you accept that


the statement from the three men who would be Chancellor after the 2015


election is a political one? Of course it is a political one, to be


stated at the time when they made at first that it was bluff and bluster


and ambling, and it looks like we have been proven to be correct. You


cannot say incidentally that the report was wrong, unless they are


saying that Nicolas Walter is not irresponsible journalist at the


Guardian and that it it's not responsible newspaper. The minister


doesn't oppose government policy? They say that a minister in the


government has it as a campaign tactic, and negotiating position. If


a minister in this government says this and believes this, why on earth


should the Scottish people be irritated by a combination of George


Osborne and Ed Balls? You may well say that this is not in the interest


of Scotland in the UK, but your opponents might disagree. You make a


political decision, these three men make the same decision, why would


they not go through with this? I thought if he asked me whether to


political decision, was at a political tactic? That is what the


unnamed minister has said to the Guardian, it is what the unnamed


minister has said to the Guardian, to the campaign tactic. But of


course, the obvious point is, if that is what the people in their


organisation in their own ministerial team believe, then why


on earth should the Scottish people believe any different? We know that


opposition to a currency union was a new-found thing. Alistair Darling


described the currency as logical and desirable. Only last December,


Alistair Carmichael said it would not be sensible to rule out a


currency zone, so it was a new-found tactic, dreamt up by Alistair


Darling and Andrew Dunlop, persuading the Treasury to do this.


Now it has been seen through that the bluff has been called and the no


campaign will have to take the political consequences, which will


be severe. It was said that the currency union would repeat the


mistakes of the euro crisis, and a currency union without a fiscal year


Min. That is the problem with what you're proposing, isn't it? No, we


put forward in the fiscal commission report last year, the measures that


it would make and how a currency zone would work. Mark Carney did not


rule out a currency zone, you stated provisions he would have to make a


currency zone work. You cannot argue that UK parties are against a


currency zone in principle, when Jackson Carlo, the debited leader of


the Conservatives in Scotland that he would go to the barricades to


obtain one. So incoherent at the heart of the neo-con pain, this has


now been exposed as a campaign tactic, something to intimidate the


Scots. London before you can set them in


Scotland under your proposals? There has to be responsible budgeting, but


you need that under any circumstance. You cannot say that


currency zones do not work. There was one for 70 years between Belgium


and Luxembourg that worked extremely well. That led eventually to a


political union. No, Belgium and Luxembourg are still independent


countries within the European Union and of course, throughout that


period of currency union, there was different taxation rates, different


personal taxation rates, different corporate taxation rates. It was a


working a sample of a currency zone within the heart of Europe, so it is


not an argument in principle, it is an argument as the fiscal commission


working group of foreword, and it is to the best advantage of Scotland


and the rest of the UK. Otters been exposed from the other side by the


unnamed minister is that this is a campaign tactic which was wanted by


Alistair Darling and Andrew Dunlop. -- what has been exposed. It was


designed to intimidate the Scots. Do you accept the rest of the code for


the Minister said that the UK wants to keep Trident nuclear weapon that


Faslane and the Scottish Government once a currency zone, can you see


the outline of a deal? No, not on the question of nuclear weapons. I


will explain to you why that is not correct to suggest that they are


half right. The opposition to nuclear weapons is not a negotiating


position, or a campaign tactic, it was alkaline and in the White Paper,


it is one of the reasons why we believe in Scottish independence.


What will be negotiated in terms of a artist currency zone will be all


about monetary aspects, because the situation could forward via George


Osborne and Ed Balls, if you claim the assets of the UK, like the Bank


of England and the BBC, then you get stuck with all of the liabilities


like the huge national debt and the hundred and ?25 billion which


otherwise, as we put forward in the White Paper, would be happy to take


responsibility for. That is what was being negotiated about a currency


zone. Or opposition to Trident and nuclear weapons, that is fundamental


to this case. Willie Rennie says that if there is a Nova Road, your


party should be involved in shaping the extra powers that the Unionist


powers have said for Holly Ruud? Would you get involved in that. --


if there is a Nova. -- no vote. Let me say clearly to Willie Rennie, I


want full involvement of the Liberal Democrats in the negotiating of the


best settlement of Scotland and the rest of the UK after Scotland votes


yes on the 18th of September. And if it goes the other way, the SNP would


give full co-operation? We are in visiting a yes vote, we will always


battle for the best for Scotland in all circumstances, but think we have


the wind at our back at the present moment. Tuesday is the anniversary


of the poll tax, and Andrew Dunlop, the same person who was mentioned in


the Guardian story as being the architect of this merry wheeze about


ruling out a currency zone, he was one of the architects of the poll


tax, so not content with wrecking the Prime Minister ship of Margaret


Thatcher, Andrew Dunlop seems to be instrumental in hauling the Unionist


case below the water line, perhaps he's by secret agents at the heart


of Whitehall! Well this issue of a currency union


has been one of the talking points amongst Scottish Liberal Democrats


at their party conference in Aberdeen. With senior coalition


ministers Danny Alexander and Alastair Carmichael both continuing


to insist it isn't going to happen. Meanwhile the party's leader Willie


Rennie has been trying to bring some 'sunshine' to the granite city and


the debate on independence. Responding to comments that the no


campaign is being too negative he's being outlining the benefits, as he


sees them, of remaining in the union. I'll speak to Willie Rennie


shortly but first from Aberdeen our political correspondent, Glenn


Campbell, reports. The Liberal Democrats Scottish


leader has adopted a sort of Morecambe and wise approach to


politics. It is what he called his sunshine strategy. It is to


emphasise the progress that we are making as a party, the fact that we


have an expansion of 30,000 more jobs in Scotland, the taxes are


down, pensions are up. That is the sunshine strategy. Emphasising what


Lib Dems are doing in government but also the fact the UK is good for


Scotland in Scotland is good for the UK. They oppose independence, but


their federal party leader concedes that the UK is not perfect, and is


in need of reform. Let me be unequivocal, rejecting independence


will not be choosing the status quo. It would be the start of a new


chapter. A different era. It must, I believe, be a giant leapt towards


are long-term, liberal definition, home rule. Nick Clegg called three


United front with Labour and the Conservatives in the referendum


campaign. But this was the weekend when one unnamed coalition minister


broke ranks, telling the Guardian that of course, there would be a


currency union after a yes vote, despite the fact that the UK


government has explicitly ruled that out. In Lib Dem ranks, one


independent supporting former party treasurer thinks that the currency


position is a bluff. The pound is not England, it is Britain. We are


part of Britain, we own as much of the pound as they do, they need to


negotiate with us. But Danny Alexander and sister will be no


pound sharing deal. It is nonsense, myself, the Shadow Chancellor, the


Chancellor, we have all been clear on clear advice of the Treasury that


a currency union would not work for an independent Scotland or the rest


of the UK, so it will not happen. Having Lib Dems like Danny Alexander


in Cabinet gives the party a high profile, but power comes at a price.


Some coalition policies are a hard sell in Scotland, and the party has


lost seats in local government and at Holyrood. It has lost some of the


bedroom tax is at Westminster, but worst of all, because of the U-turn


on tuition fees, people now do not trust the Liberal Democrats. We're


sometimes perceived as being liars, and to mutter what we say, it is not


going to convince them. We have got to prove by accidents. Willie Rennie


once housing benefit changes to be scrapped. It is not working as


intended, and I think it should just go. Big smiles! The Lib Dems are


awesome! Nick Clegg has hinted on giving Holyrood more power to offset


the income tax may be coming sooner. Willie Rennie may raise a


glass to that, but only avoiding election setbacks would call for a


knees up in a brewery. Joining us now from the conference centre is


leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie.


Let me ask you firstly about the currency union story. This is a


bluff? I was disappointed with the interview with the first Minister.


He is treating this as some sort of game. It is not a game. He is not


understanding the advice that was given by the Treasury. The position


has not changed and instead of taking the opportunity to set out


what the alternative would be, he carries on as usual, bluffing away


in his own way. But they have said all the time that this was a bluff


and behind the scenes, he may be getting proved right. The United


Kingdom Government has not changed. The stance of the Labour Party or


the Liberal Democrats has not changed. This was a mistake. A


minister out of the room who did not understand the policy. It is not a


change of policy. What Alex and his needs to set out as the situation


which will occur if we do not have a shared currency. Alex Salmond seems


certain that the yes campaign can win. Do you think that is possible?


Of course it is possible. I hope and I am campaigning with every inch of


my body that the latter is not the case. But no one should take this


for granted. A campaign which is very much alive. It is alive in part


a cause of the amount of money the yes campaign have been flowing into


this. They have the fortune in the war chest. We need to make sure we


compete every step of the way to match that. We need to put across


our messages, the messages I have been putting across this weekend


about the benefits of the currency union, and energy union. All of the


great things in the United Kingdom at great news for Scotland. Is this


new-found positivity on your part and what seems a trend in the


opinion polls towards a yes fort, down to the fact that the no


campaign has been too negative until now? We should not exaggerate. I do


not think there is a real trend. We have to get the balance right. I am


not afraid to ask difficult questions. I am not afraid to do


that on the big subjects, the likes of the currency union, the single


market and energy union. We need to get the balance right. I have always


been an upbeat type of person who will always accentuate the


positives. The fact we are able to drive forward that, renewable energy


ambitions in Scotland with in the United Kingdom. I want to tackle


climate change and make the best use of the assets we have here. I think


the United Kingdom is the best platform to do that. That message


has not reached some in your party. A couple of high-profile Liberal


Democrats have backed the yes campaign. Why can you not convince


senior members of your party to back the Better Together campaign? The


whole point of party is that we are called liberals, people with the


party different views. But I think you could count on the fingers of


one hand the number of people in the party who are in favour of


independence. Looking at your electoral fortunes as you go into


the European elections campaign, and much of the policies of the


coalition government parting the party in Scotland? Let us look at


the facts. Taxes are down, pensions are dropped, there are more jobs.


But looking at things that don't, you'll fought in Cowdenbeath, you


fought in Dunfermline. I want to tell you about the good things.


Taxes are down, pensions are up and that is more provision for childcare


and more jobs. That could not be happening without the Liberal


Democrats. That could not be happening if we did not take part in


government in the early days to put forward our views. I know things are


coming for the party. Things are getting better. And I know what is


happening on the ground. I was quoting your figures from recent


elections. You said in a conversation with Brian Taylor that


the bedroom tax should be scrapped. Has Nick Clegg given any indication


that that will happen? There will be an announcement in the coming


weeks, which will meet the bequest from John Swinney to raise the, so


it is effectively quashed in Scotland. Should it be scrapped in


Scotland? I understand the principle of it. We need people to make the


best use of their assets, but it has not what. Thank you very much for


joining us. The reforms were controversial from


the start and as we have just heard, this week Scottish Liberal Democrat


leader Willie Rennie said Westminster welfare changes aimed at


cutting under-occupancy in social housing should be scrapped. His


comments come as a BBC investigation suggests the changes have failed to


tackle overcrowding leaving thousands of tenants in rent


arrears. A year on since the policies introduction, Megan


Paterson looks back at the impact it has had here. Over the last year,


the people in this house have been interested in the people living in


our house is. In that reducing the welfare bill, it reduced benefits


for people in social housing deemed to have a spear room. I was worried


about being if it did. It was very stressful for me and for my two


girls. This was my grandparents house. Fiona is one of the 72,000


people affected by changes to housing benefit. She is considered


to have a spear room so has had her benefits reduced and is now in rent


arrears. She is fighting her case with the help of shelter Scotland. I


cannot really afford it. I am on benefits and I am struggling. I wake


up in the middle of the night, I cannot sleep. It is horrible, it is


not nice. Almost 80% of Scotland's councils responded to the survey. If


over 15,000, a hundred households in rent arrears for the first time


after the introduction of the benefit change, just over 25%. In


Edinburgh, 58% find themselves in arrears in Dundee, 53%. Temporary


support is available in the form of discretionary housing payment. But


some councils have not spent their allocation, mainly because many


people who are entitled to have not claimed. Like manager council has


the highest spend in the United Kingdom in this regard. There were


always challenges before even the bedroom tax was in Broughton.


Unfortunately, with the difficulties of the bedroom tax, it has caused


the speak in the amount of disruption and I am pleased we have


been able to keep that to a minimum. ?36 million in total was set aside


for the scheme, housing charities say the rugby a shortfall of ?14


million between what it cost to implement and it returns. The fewer


the shortfall will have to be met by local authorities. It means that the


business plan for individual housing authorities will become less viable


as time goes on. All in all, it is a bad policy. It is a policy being


closely monitored by the independent housing monitoring Scotland. It


certainly has great health risks to social landlords. It could be as


negative for them as it could be for tenants. Less than 2% of those


affected by the changes have moved to smaller properties. Maybe was one


of them. She moved to a one-bedroom flat in the same street in


Motherwell. It made certain changes. There where some personal things, I


had to throw away a lot of memories in that house. I was a bit tearful


when I moved them, but I am getting there now. She still has rent


arrears, but the Department for work and person say there is enough


financial support available for people like her and the policy will


lead to fairness and social housing known and in the future.


Joining me now in the studio is Housing Minister Margaret Burgess


and in Aberdeen, Alex Johnstone from the Scottish Conservative. This


policy has not worked yet? I think it has the potential to work. There


are a number of organisations in Scotland who have been working very


hard to make sure it does not work. It was designed to ease


overcrowding, but only 2% of people have done so and moved. We could


probably get about 20% of people in every given year moving to smaller


accommodation. The fact that it's only 2% in Scotland shows you the


amount of opposition there has been to it. Have you been deliberately


steaming this policy? Of course we have not. Housing is devolved in


Scotland. It is for social landlords in Scotland to determine, not for


the United Kingdom Government. Alex Johnson said 20% of people could


potentially moving to smaller homes, the house is available. Could it


work in practice? No, the houses are not available. There is not the


house is the and the policy is not working and is unfair. We have that


the report that few owner does not want to move from her house because


it was her parents home, for grandparents home. What do you say


to someone in her position? What I see as we have a government in


Scotland which is working at changes to social housing. We have tens of


thousands of families waiting for social housing. The policy is


designed to make the best use of housing stock available. How do we


make sure that we do match people to the house is available? Since the


Scottish comment came to power, we are building more social housing


than previous administrations ever built. There is 32% more social


housing being built since the Scottish National party came into


power. What we are not prepared to do is force people to move from


their houses as the do not want to. If someone wants to move, we would


help and support and encourage that, but if they do not want to move,


they should not have to do it. The policy is not working. People cannot


afford to do it in the house is not there. Lifting the cap on


discretionary payments was difficult to do and she says that is why the


Scottish gunmen had asked Westminster to do that. Are you


asking for the impossible? No, we are asking for something simple. It


allows Westminster to make the cuts they need to do, but allows the


Scottish gunmen to assess people affected by the bedroom tax. It is a


simple change in legislation. Even Nick Clegg has said it is a sensible


thing to do. All we need to do is get the United Kingdom Government to


let us get on with it. I should not this not be instigated? I think it


was a mistake for them to ask for the to be lifted. I think it is


possible to lift the cap and ensure that has currently for consideration


in front of the Chancellor. In the last day of January this year, less


than two thirds of discretionary housing payments money had been


allocated with only two months left. I would suggest the Scottish gunmen


should have listened about how additional money could be used in


other ways. As a consequence, there could have been underpinning schemes


similar to the one in East Renfrewshire, for they are using


money to improve the housing. Just a brief response? This is the only way


that we can get money into rent account on a regular basis, and that


is why it is so important to get the cap lifted, and the point that Alec


Johnson makes about not all local authorities using it, that is the


whole point that we are arguing, that it is not distributed


properly, so the areas where it is needed most, they are not getting


enough, and the areas were perhaps they do not needed, they are getting


too much. Thank you both very much. You're watching Sunday Politics


Scotland. Let's cross to the news now from Reporting Scotland with


Andrew Kerr. Good afternoon. The First Minister


is predicting the Better Together campaign is going to "get worse"


following the leak on the currency union, but the UK government say no


deal will be done. Alex Salmond was speaking after yesterday's report in


which an unnamed minister said a Westminster opposition to Scotland


keeping the pound would fall away in the event of a yes vote. But cabinet


ministers say whatever happens, a currency union will not take place.


If the Scottish people were to vote for independence, there would be a


protracted negotiation about many issues and the future of the base at


Faslane would be one of those issues. What I'm saying to you about


a currency union is that is not just another item that could be


negotiated, because there are clear, economic reasons why it would not


work. A man has died after falling on Ben


Nevis in the Highlands. The 57-year-old from Glasgow was


climbing with a friend on the north face of the mountain in Lochaber


when the accident happened yesterday morning.


Now a look at the weather forecast, here's Christopher.


A disappointing afternoon, dry and cloudy. Some brighter skies in the


south-west and later in the north-west and quite warm when the


sun comes out. 15, 16 degrees. Generally, about ten, 12 degrees and


down the eastern side, the easterly breeze continues to be quite chilly.


Plenty of sunshine for a Shetland, but cooler with nine degrees. Cloudy


with further fog in the east, that is your forecast.


That's it. I'll now hand you back to Gary. It's time to have a look at


what's in the Sunday papers and what is coming up in the week ahead.


Joining me this week - Political Editor of the Scottish Daily Mail,


Alan Roden, who's in Aberdeen. And here in the studio is Kevin McKenna,


who's a columnist with the Observer. Good afternoon to both of you, Alan,


you are in Aberdeen, Europe and watching the Willie Rennie speech,


how would you characterise the spring conference? I thought his


speech was quite positive. It has been an incredibly tough couple of


days for the no campaign. It's dominated proceedings here in


Aberdeen. A lot of work is being done by the Lib Dems and other


parties to resurrect Better Together. At the moment, in England


and Wales, his party is trailing UKIP. He did give a good upbeat


speech. Perversely, if Scotland were to vote yes, I think it would


benefit not only his party, but the other parties of the union in


Scotland. There is urgent in fortunes? -- a research and is. He


recognised that the Lib Dems had suffered for their association,


especially in Scotland, with the Conservative Party. So, it stands to


reason that if Scotland were to vote yes, the Lib Dems may be able to


reclaim quite a lot of their support they have lost up here. On the issue


of the referendum campaign, we have this unnamed minister at Westminster


saying that yes, that could be a deal on the currency union, clearly


as we heard earlier from Alex Salmond on the ass campaign. That


was buoyed by this. Can we look back on this and see it as a significant


potential turning point in the campaign? -- on the yes campaign. I


am confident that the no campaign will win this referendum. It has


been the most damaging week for this no campaign. The race is getting


closer, senior ministers and politicians coming out to criticise


Alistair Darling and others and crisis talks at Better Together for


the need for a new positive advertising campaign. There are


still an element of complacency in Better Together believes to be


stamped out, because this fight has got very, very real. Do you think it


is a turning point? It is a significant point in the campaign,


this journalist immediately knew the significance of what he was being


told. He was on the programme earlier, and also on the panel was


the financial Times journalist who said that what this minister was


saying made sense. You get the impression that people in England,


if Scotland were to vote yes, and the rest of the UK, they would


immediately go into business mode, it just makes sense for the rest of


the UK to share currency. Could it be harmful for some people in the


rest of the UK at Scotland has at that moment said, yes, we do not


want to have part of what you are offering? They are giving the hard


sell at the moment and they hope that they will never be asked to


deliver or to decide. They are hoping that there will be a vote for


no, and then that this will be forgotten about and as such, it will


not been a significant point in the campaign, however, Alex Salmond is


certainly on to something when he says that there is a lot of bluster


about this. It's an fee does not make sense. Are we expecting a


Chancellor of the rest of the UK to say to tens of thousands of English


businesses who are already being squeezed by the big banks to lend


and increase overdrafts, then it will actually cost them more money


to deal with Scotland and Scottish business and Scotland after all is


England's second biggest trading partner. On the direction of travel


for Better Together, you talk about a meeting this week that could be


characterised as a crisis meeting or otherwise, Better Together tell us


that they will continue to make many positive reasons for staying in the


UK, but this seems to be a shift, and Willie Rennie is exemplifying


this in the message they are trying to get across. Yes, he described it


as his sunshine speech. The negativity of the no campaign has


worked to some extent. There are these warnings about currency, and


the argument is heading to the ship workers, and there are swathes of


people in housing schemes in Glasgow and Edinburgh that are being


attracted to the yes cause, and they need to save this great nation of


ours. What do you make of this sunshine campaign, is there a


mileage in it for Better Together? Many of these people working on this


campaign are Labour activist, they come from working class areas which


are home to families that are living below the breadline and they know


that this would be a hard sell for people like them. I heard Alistair


Carmichael's speech yesterday, the day before, and he was talking about


what Britain has done for us in the context of what the Romans did for


us in the Monty Python sketch. That is all very well. A lot of these


issues about currency, about taxation, that is way beyond, way


above the radar for ordinary, poor, low-income families of which there


are many in Scotland. The recent trends have shown that they are more


likely to vote yes. Thank you both very much indeed.


That's all from the us this week. I'll be back at the usual time next


week. Until then, goodbye.


Political magazine presented by Andrew Neil and Andrew Kerr.

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