13/03/2016 Sunday Politics Scotland


Andrew Neil and Gordon Brewer with the latest political news, interviews and debate. Andrew is joined by Nicola Sturgeon, John Mann, Seema Malhotra and David Davis.

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Morning, folks, and welcome to the Sunday Politics.


begins a new drive urging Scots to support what she calls


"the beautiful dream" of independence.


Tough talk from George Osborne ahead of his Budget on Wednesday.


The Chancellor wants us to live within our means.


Fighting talk too, from the man in his shadow.


John McDonnell wants to revive Labour's economic credibility.


And does Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party have a problem


Labour students at Oxford are already being investigated


and now party students at another university will also face scrutiny.


And coming up on Sunday Politics Scotland:


We'll have more from the SNP's conference, where Nicola Sturgeon's


been making her pitch to continue as First Minister and launching


And with me three Fleet Street journos, living the dream.


Nick Watt, Julia Harley-Brewer and Tim Shipman.


For the rest of us, it is a bit of a nightmare!


So, four months ago, George Osborne sounded upbeat


Writing in the Sun on Sunday, ahead of Wednesday's Budget,


the Chancellor says the world is facing its most uncertain period


He says Britain has to act now, rather than pay later,


Let's listen to the Chancellor on the Marr Show a little earlier.


I think the world is a much more difficult and dangerous place.


My message in this Budget is that the world is a more


uncertain place than at any time since the financial crisis.


We need to act now so we don't pay later.


That is why we need to find additional savings,


equivalent to 50p in every ?100 the Government spends by the end


We have got to live within our means to stay secure.


That is the way we make Britain fit for the future.


That was the Chancellor earlier this morning. What did we learn? He is


preparing the ground for a very difficult budget. Why is he talking


about the difficult global economic circumstances? We have a significant


slowdown in China but it helps him in the EU referendum campaign. Why


risk leaving the EU when it is difficult economic circumstances? It


helps him with a budget. You need to expend why he was talking in the


July budget, the Autumn Statement, targeting a 10 billion budget


surplus by 2020 and now he will be talking back calories and ?18


billion hole in the size of the economy. Will he be able to meet


that surplus? He needs an alibi for that. All the global headwinds,


problems in the emerging markets, the slowdown in China, the Eurozone


struggling to be overwhelmed. We knew that back in July. Nothing has


changed. The thing about George Osborne is he is a politician. It is


always about politics. It is not ideal, coming into local elections,


London mayoral elections, to be giving a load of cuts to public


services and possibly tax rises. The reality is he is always looking at


the long game and he does always play a brilliant politicians long


game. He is looking to 2020 and does not care. He also plays a bad shot


game. Will it be a difficult budget or will it be a steady issues


budget? What is striking about back in this morning, at least half of it


was about the European Union and not the budget. The rest of it was about


the Tory leadership and him taking potshots at Boris Johnson. The


subtext of this budget is it has been a difficult and dangerous time


for George Osborne and his teacher. He sat there and said, I am not


going to sit in this chair and mumble away. Who could he be talking


about there? We were told week ago that the subtext of the budget would


be the dangers of Brexit and the Tory leadership. It is not the


subtext, it is the text. There is hardly anything in it in terms of


big stuff. Steady as she goes. Can we just have another shout out for


the brilliant headline, genius political strategist clears up mess


made by genius political strategist. He may be nursing a little rabbit to


surprise as always! Now, if a certain referendum had


gone a bit differently, Scotland, would be an independent


country in just over ten days' time. Those wanting to leave the UK didn't


win that argument in 2014 but that hasn't dented the fortunes


of the SNP, who are riding high It's the party's Spring Conference


in Glasgow this weekend, and we're joined now


from there by the First Minister Good morning. A pleasure to be with


you, Andrew. Had the referendum gone your way, we would be ten days from


independents. You will be taking a massive and unsustainable ?15


billion budget deficit, 10% of Scottish GDP. What would you be


doing to get that down? We would deal with it in the same way the UK


dealt with its deficit in 2009/ when they had 2.2% of the GDP. -- 2009/


2010. They will be building on the underlying fundamental strengths of


the Scottish economy. Our this goal position has been broadly similar to


the rest of the UK and, in some years, better than the rest of the


UK. Onshore revenues are growing at a faster rate than the fall in


offshore revenues. We have higher employment and faster productivity


growth. The economy is fundamentally strong and that would have been a


very good basis on which to become an independent country. Did you not


oppose most efforts of the British government to get the deficit down?


I opposed many measures that George Osborne has taken. I do not say we


should not try to get the deficit down. I have opposed and continue to


oppose the speed at which it is happening in the way in which it is


happening but no one would deny that countries want to get their fiscal


positions into a more stable condition and the UK is in right


now. The point I'm making is the Scottish economy is fundamentally


strong economy. Much of what I have said illustrates that point. Let's


look at some of the things you have said. You have said most countries


have deficits. Can you name another at Fat economy 80s after the


financial crash that has a budget deficit of 10% of GDP. You do not


look at just one year full if I go back to that -- two 2008, 2009, it


was double that of Scotland. Our this goal position has been stronger


but is not right now because of the particular issues. Is it not the


case that Scotland's deficit now is the highest in the European Union?


That is true, isn't it? In the year we had figures published in this


past week, we have a very difficult and challenging set of figures. It


is the highest. No country, whether the UK, Scotland or another EU


country, makes judgments about that this good strength of that country


on the strength of one year's goes. The point I am making is over the


past ten years, our fiscal position has been broadly similar to the UK


and coming summer beiges, has been significantly better. If you project


forward to the next five years, the future is much more important than


the past, onshore revenues are likely to Bath the outstrip the


decline in offshore revenues. -- basked in the outstrip. The North


Sea contains difficulties for those working in the North Sea and


economies on the North East of Scotland. The economy of Scotland is


fundamentally strong. Let's look at more than one year. You have said it


is a snapshot. Without oil revenues, and there are no oil revenues now,


without the revenues, Scotland has run a persistent budget deficit of


over 10% every year for 13 years. You have a systemic deficit problem.


Why should you not look at oil revenues? Oil revenues are there and


have been contributing to the Treasury to the tune of ?300


billion. They are not there now. Without them you have run a


persistent budget deficit and have done for 13 years. I accept it is


the future that matters more than the past. If you look at the


projections for the next five years, our onshore revenues, remember more


than 90% of the Scottish economy comes from onshore and not offshore.


If you look five years ahead, onshore revenues are projected to


grow in the region of ?14 billion. That is many times before in


offshore revenues in that period. I am not denying the challenge of


North Sea and other countries. Norway is facing exactly the same


challenge. Because they are better prepared for it and have Stuart did


oil resources better, Norway, in the last couple of weeks true down on


its massive oil fund. The powers that independence would have given


as and we did not vote yes, we have had -- we would have had ability to


draw down on that faster. Why are onshore revenues growing less


strongly in Scotland than the rest of the UK? That is a long-standing


issue. One issue at the heart of that is growth in the heart of


London. We are seeing a narrowing in some of the long-standing gap there


has been between aspects of the Scottish economy and the UK economy.


If we take productivity, for a long time Scotland lags significantly


behind the rest of the UK. Over the past years we have close that gap is


it that can leave. We still lag behind our European competitors and


that is a problem. I am not standing here denying the challenges that the


Scottish economy has. In the same way you have been talking about the


Chancellor's budget and the same way the UK economy has challenges and


across the European Union, they have challenges. There are real strength


is in the Scottish economy. The real question should be how we build on


and accents are the big strengths. Revenues per person in Scotland


where ?10,700 in the years 2011, 20 12. They are now ?10,000, 700 ( even


with the growth in revenues. The offshore has offset that. We still


have a fundamental deficit problem. I am not denying we have a deficit.


The UK has a deficit. Take revenues per head of population, which is


what you decided to me there. In the most recent year, our revenues per


head of population are broadly similar to the UK. In every one of


the past 35 years, revenues per head of population have been higher than


the rest of the UK. I accept we have a challenge in the North Sea. I


accept that like all oil-producing countries, we have challenges about


how we transition away from oil and gas over the years to come, though


there is a great deal of attention in the North Sea. These are


challenges we should embrace and challenges we should be working out


how we face up to and address. Scotland is doing that and we'll do


that on the basis of fundamental strengths in our economy. -- will do


that. Scotland pays per capita about the same as the UK average. I am


talking about the current year. What I am saying is, you cannot judge the


economy in one year. It is similar in one year in 34 of the past 35


years and has been higher. That is the point I am making. The reason


you are running a deficit, per capita spending is so much higher


than in Scotland it is ?1400 higher public spending per person.


Westminster that is that build it is the difference between tax revenues


and what you spend. -- fits that bill. It is a deficit. The UK is in


deficit in Scotland is in deficit. It is twice as big! In 2008, 2009,


the UK deficit was twice as big as Scotland it will vary from year to


year. In terms of the point about per capita spending, there are very


good reasons why someone who knows Scotland well, we have a country


where one in five of the population lives in a row and remote community.


I was Health Secretary for five years. It cost more to deliver


health services on an island or rural community than it does in


Glasgow. Westminster pays for that, it makes up the difference. If you


are independent you would either have to raise taxes or cut spending.


What would it be? By how much would you raise taxes and cut spending? We


set a budget in devolved Scotland every year. We make choices,


sometimes these are tough choices. If Scotland were independent, we


would do that as well. The point I am making, the economy of an


independent Scotland would face challenges like other economies do.


We're in a fundamentally strong position. Employment is higher than


any other UK nation. Productivity is growing faster. We have a number of


key strengths in the economy. One of the challenges is how we build on


these strengths and get our economy growing faster. We have a number of


world leading sectors in our economy.


The fact is your deficit was ?15 billion, moving with oil revenues at


2 billion last year. This year oil revenues are reckoned to be at zero


so your budget deficit would get even worse. Two cut your deficit to


anything like acceptable levels you would have to increase tax to 16% or


cut spending by 14% or a combination of the two, what would it be? We


would deal with the deficit in the same way the UK is dealing with the


deficit and dealt in the deficit -- with the deficit in 2009/ ten. We


would be in the same position as many other countries but we would be


in a position where we have got a fundamentally strong economy. I wish


Scotland have voted yes in 2014, if it had done we would have spent the


last almost two years preparing for Scotland becoming independent. In a


negotiation around independence, there would have been discussions


about assets, liability, the share of defence spending, so that's what


would have been the case if we voted for independence. Looking ahead, we


have a strong economy and the challenge is how we grow it even


faster. You accept surely that you wouldn't be allowed to join the


European Union with a 10% deficit, you would have to agree to Brussels


programme, correct? We are getting into some ridiculous territory here


and one of the most ridiculous arguments. Scotland wouldn't have


been out of the EU, we wouldn't have been in the position of an accession


state. It is a bit rich for anybody, given where we are right now, with


the prospect of being taken out of the EU ahead of us, for


scaremongering about the prospects of that. With two weeks to go until


independence, instead of increases in public spending which you


announced yesterday... They didn't vote yes. But if it had been, you


would have been looking at the list of hospitals and schools to close,


you would be the austerity party, that's what you would have to do.


That's ridiculous. Countries the world over have deficits and deal


with them. We would also have been taking on the greater powers to grow


our economy, particularly our own short economy. Italy and Greece had


10% deficit and you know the austerity they had to go through. I


think this argument starts to tip over into being incredible, we start


to compare Scotland, with all of the strength of the Scottish economy, to


countries like Greece and Italy. I have spoken about the fundamental


strengths of our economy, not least the fact we have had the longest


period of economic growth since the devolution. You have said all of


that. Yes, we have challenges, but Scotland has a strong economy. Then


why do your revenues like you're spending by ?2400 per person? -- lag


your spending. We have a deficit like many other countries... Nobody


has a deficit like Scotland's. We have a particular issue because of


the fall in North Sea revenues. It is an indictment of Westminster


mismanagement that unlike Norway, we don't have a massive oil fund to


help deal with that. Westminster is paying for your deficit, Westminster


is paying for the difference for the rest of the deficit, would you like


to thank the rest of the people of the United Kingdom for making up for


the deficit you have got? Westminster has a deficit of its


own, it is ?1 trillion in debt. That is not the deficit, that is the


debt. That is why I said debt, I understand the difference between


deficit and debt, but it has accumulated debt of ?1 trillion, it


has an annual deficit just like Scotland and many other countries


do. It is actually 1.5 trillion, even worse than you think. I was


being kind to them, Andrew! You should be kind because they are


saving you quite a bit of money! Does Labour have a problem dealing


with allegations of anti-semitism? The party is worried enough to have


established an inquiry into the Labour Club


at Oxford University where there are accusations that


members used off-colour language And the Sunday Politics has been


told that the investigation will look at new claims


from another university. It comes after an activist


with controversial views was allowed back into the party then promptly


chucked out again last week. Does Jeremy Corbyn's support


for causes like the Palestinians or Stop The War mean he's not tough


enough when there are allegations It's seen that way by some


students at Oxford. Last month the vice-chair


of the Labour club there resigned, claiming some members had a problem


with Jews and used words like Zio, a nickname for Jewish people that


many find offensive. It's now being investigated


by the Labour peer Baroness Royle, who is also looking at the wider


issue of behaviour in We understand she's now


extended her investigation to include students


at the London School of Economics. This week, they have been electing


a new general secretary One of the candidates,


Rayhan Uddin, who's also in the Labour group,


has been criticised for some Facebook posts that emerged


during the campaign. In one, he talked about leading


Zionists wanting to take over the student union to make it right


wing and Zio again. Facebook post:


of language, writing in another He has been referred to Labour's


investigation into student politics by someone


who now works for an MP. We've seen the letter they wrote,


which said: Because it was an older generation


of activists that came up at Prime Minister's


Questions this week. I was completely appalled to see


yesterday that the Labour Party has readmitted someone to their party


who says, and I believe that the 9/11 suicide bombers,


and I quote, must never be condemned and belongs to an organisation that


says "we defend the Islamic State He was referring to Gerry Downing,


who had also blogged about what he called


the Jewish question, after being readmitted to the party


this week he was resuspended. He reckons it's really a battle


between different wings in Labour. You've said there is a conspiracy


of people out to get Jeremy Corbyn, Well, Dan Jarvis and these people


of course, obviously there's the whole Blairite wing of the party


and others, who have been absolutely disgusted at the membership


and the left-wing surge Whereas the Labour MP Wes Streeting


says there is a problem I think in certain parts


of the British left, there has always been a virulent


form of pretty bigoted politics, particularly in terms


of anti-Semitism, which has been There's also a mentality


which I think has been epitomised is simply not acceptable


in the modern Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn's supporters,


like those in the grass roots campaign group Momentum,


say none of this is fair on him. Corbyn comes under the most


incredible level of attacks and one of the things that he's attacked


for is his long-standing commitment to anti-war, anti-imperialism,


peace in the Middle East. And I think that's where some


of this comes from. He does absolutely condemn


anti-Semitism, he has time There is not a shred


of anti-Semitism in his personal make-up, in his moral make-up


or in his political make-up. And as for Labour's investigation


into anti-Semitism among students, there's no time frame


for when it will report. Let's speak now to the Labour MP,


John Mann, who's chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group


against Anti-Semitism. He's in Berlin at an


Anti-Semitism Conference. Is there an anti-Semitism problem in


the Labour Party? Of course, that's why these issues have got attention.


It is not a big why these issues have got attention.


problem when it comes to racism needs to be dealt with. We have been


here before. I can recall 30 years ago when there were extremists


trying to ban Jewish ago when there were extremists


some of the universities, and we clamped down on them very hard then


and they weren't in the Labour Party but it is the same kind of people,


the same ideology. Some of that has crept into the Labour Party and it


needs to be removed. Why has it come back? People could write big


academic books on why it has re-surged but what we have seen in


history is that anti-Semitism never seems to go away. But why in the


Labour Party has come back? People have obviously chosen to dissociate


with the Labour Party in the growth of membership, some of those people


have attitudes that are very outdated and prejudiced. There is no


space for them in the Labour Party and the reason that is important is


because I am getting young Jewish activists posturing whether the


Labour Party is the place for them in terms of their support, their


vote and their activity, and we cannot tolerate a situation where


any part of society doesn't feel that a major political party like


the Labour Party is not the place for them, which is why prompt


effective action and vigilance on this is required, including from


Jeremy as the leader of the Labour Party. Is the Labour leader doing


enough? Or the fact he has talked about his friends, Hamas, Hezbollah,


and shared platforms with people who have been very hostile to Israel and


so on, is that a disadvantage? Is it encouraging anti-Semitism or is it


not relevant? I have met Jeremy recently to discuss anti-Semitism in


the Labour Party and it is clear to me that he does not tolerate or


support it but what he has to do is follow that free with actions and


ensure that others in the Labour Party follow it through with actions


because the kind of thing, the atmosphere that is being created in


Oxford University is not a one-off. This has been happening elsewhere as


well. While these can be seen as small incidents, if you are the


young Jewish person who is impacted by it, it is not small for you and


it is magnified in the universities, which are pretty tolerant places and


rightly so, if there is in tolerance to any particular group and to


Jewish students. We are not prepared to have that in the Labour Party,


there has got to be action, it has got to be led from the front and it


has got to be decisive action. There is no space for these people in the


Labour Party or is there space for people in any way excusing their


actions. But there is an inquiry into what has been going on at


Oxford, but is your party doing enough about this? Because I


understand these inquiries may be subsumed into a much bigger inquiry


into bullying and so on. What is your feeling? It is action by


results. If there is a decisive action, there will be an almighty


row which wouldn't be helpful but the idea that those of us who fought


over decades, challenging anti-Semitism and other forms of


racism, are going to accept other than the highest of standards in our


own party, well I can tell you it is going to happen. There are many of


us who will only accept absolutely the highest standards. We are not


prepared to tolerate any form of anti-Semitism or any excuse for it


in the Labour Party or anywhere else in society. But in our own party


absolutely not and therefore there has got to be action, words are not


good enough. Historically the Labour Party has done well from the Jewish


vote. The Jewish vote over time has tended to vote Labour. If this


anti-Semitism continues in your party, are you in danger of losing


the Jewish vote? We prepared a report ten years ago on a


cross-party basis that highlighted anti-Semitism in all of its aspects


including from the right but also what was described by some as the


new anti-Semitism on the left. It is not new but it had been dormant for


a long period of time. People have been accustomed to the Labour Party


and that part of the left being highly tolerant to everybody. That


has got to happen, you cannot have a progressive party of any substance


in politics if it allows any form of intolerance and therefore we are not


prepared to have second-class citizens, second-class form of


racism allowed in the Labour Party. Anti-Semitism has got to be


challenged, including anti-Semitism on the left, and so robustly and put


back in the dustbin again. That is my intention in the Labour Party. I


am looking forward to Jeremy and the National Executive being decisive,


removing the anti-Semites, going into where there is intolerance and


explaining what is anti-Semitism and why we are not prepared to have it


in our party. Thanks for joining us this morning.


Labour's Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell ran Jeremy Corbyn's


leadership campaign on a platform fighting not just austerity,


Now though, he wants to be the new voice of fiscal


responsibility, and says he's going to re-write


In a moment we'll be talking to John McDonnell's number two,


the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.


But first let's hear what Mr McDonnell had to say


It is a wider ambition then just Labour's fiscal credibility.


I want to try to restore credibility to economic policy-making generally,


not just within the Labour Party but across politics too.


We have had too long, for example, the last six


years we have had fiscal rules which have not been met,


I am trying to encourage a better economic debate.


What I have said is quite clearly, when we go back into government,


we will eliminate the deficit, reduce debt, and will


ensure that is supervised independently by the Office


And Labour's Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Seema Malhotra,


Welcome to the Sunday Politics. You would balance current spending with


revenue and borrow to invest. How does that differ from Mr Brown and


Mr balls? You are right about there being two key parts to the new


fiscal credibility were all. In a sense, this builds on very much


where we have been before. It also responds to the criticisms that were


made of Jaws -- George Osborne's this school charter where he was


criticised for tying his own hands and not allowing for investment. --


fiscal charter. There are two key differences. It makes it more


explicit, that there should be independent voices. We have said we


want the OBR to be an independent voice around deficit reduction


targets, and also reporting directly to Parliament. The second area is


that we want to make sure there is the opportunity for investment and


also, if there are difficult times, like we had in 2009, when monetary


policy does not seem to be working, it gives an opportunity for fiscal


policy to work alongside. It builds on but has two key differences. Mr


Brown defended his rules as well when times got bad. It was described


as being austerity light. This must be as well? It has been developed


and the reason... It is not about austerity. It is a framework that


will allow us to make spending and tax decisions in the future. It


responds to the criticisms, the universal criticisms of George


Osborne's this dull charter. -- fiscal charter. It says we need to


invest for the future. I understand all that. Mr Brown and Mr Balls also


wanted to invest and that was criticised by the Shadow Chancellor


as austerity light. If that were austerity light, this is steroid to


-- night as well. We're in a situation where George Osborne is


blaming everyone but himself. -- this is austerity light as well.


George Osborne's Member of Parliament for the Tory Party has


said, what we have seen our warm words. He has talked about


investment and an export led strategy. This is built on debts,


household debt. How much is public investment? Around 30 billion, if


you take into account the difference in spending. It is 34 billion in


public spending at the moment. It should be much higher. How much more


should it be? It should be higher. There is no excuse for what George


Osborne has done. I am not asking about Mr Osborne. I am asking about


your policy. 34 billion at the moment, rising to 40 billion by 20


20. How much more would it be? It focuses on where it needs to be


regarding GDP. You need to have a good level of investment so you are


creating jobs for the future. What I am trying to work out is what this


creating jobs for the future. What I means in hard cash for investment,


how big would investment be under a Labour government? It is clear that


George Osborne has been cutting investment. It was around 3%, 3.5%,


and is now 1.4% in terms of infrastructure. If you want jobs of


the future coming through, if you want to turn around the situation


where young people... By how much more would public investment


increase under this formula? What we have said is you need to make sure


that we have a balance of where the economy needs investment so we can


that we have a balance of where the get tax receipts and growth for the


future. We had economists saying that George Osborne, if you talk


about fairness in the future... I am here to talk about the labour policy


and not that of George Osborne. Nor here to talk about the labour policy


has there been balanced growth. If you want a balanced budget, you need


to balance growth. Let's talk about labour. John McDonnell has talked


about the difference between short-term and long-term investment.


What is the difference? What we have said as she want to see investment


that will see us having a big stake in the future. If you want to look


at energy investment, you are talking out about -- about 20, 30


years. It is about supporting companies, entrepreneurs and


supporting the long-term growth for the country as well. If you're


talking about rail, roads and infrastructure, you will be aware, I


am sure, of the reports that showed recently we have fewer buses than


2010, our rolling stock and trains are in poor condition, people are


taking longer to get to work and the trains are more crowded. That should


be a wake-up call to George Osborne he is not working in the interests


of the British public and people are asking if the decisions are based on


political interest and not on the country's future. You would balance


current spending, day-to-day spending. At the moment there is a


deficit. What would you cut to balance current spending? There are


two things. The first is about spending decisions and the second


about tax receipts. We are arguing that if you want to see tax receipts


grow, George Osborne has seen them for in regard to productivity


growth. What would you cut? We would want to see that growth increases in


that you see an increase in tax receipts. You cannot spend if it is


not within your means. What would you cut? You cannot spend if it is


not within your means. What the announcement from the Labour Party


is about is how we earn our way in the world and survived in a


competitive economy. We will leave it there. Thank you very much.


Good morning and welcome to Sunday Politics Scotland.


Coming up on the programme: Nicola Sturgeon delights party


This summer, the SNP will embark on a new initiative to build support


for independence. Nicola Sturgeon delights party members with that


announcement at the SNP conference, but what exactly does it mean?


And as she nears the end of her time as Presiding Officer,


Tricia Marwick joins us to discuss how the workings


of the Scottish Parliament can be improved.


With the polls all showing the SNP are likely to win another majority


in May and with their triumph in the General Election


under their belt, it's hardly surprising the mood at the SNP


During Nicola Sturgeon's speech yesterday, delegates applauded


But their biggest cheers were for an issue where the party


Our reporter Andrew Black's been soaking up the atmosphere.


The SNP has now been in power since 2007. That is longer than any other


party at Holyrood. In just a few months' time, it will ask voters to


give it an unprecedented third term in office. At the moment, all the


indications are that is exactly what will happen. Now, given all this


celebration, you may well think the SNP membership, now at 115,000, is


all singing from the same hymn sheet. But not entirely, because a


lot of these new members have come to the conference wanting to have


their say and managing their expectations has been an issue for


the SNP leadership. And on that note, the very first delegate to


speak at the conference had a problem with the agenda. With some


exceptions, the overall tone of the motions is one of complacent


self-congratulation. It pains me to say this. This conference is


beginning to resemble the later party in the Tony Blair era. -- the


Labour Party. I am grateful to Malcolm from making some of those


points because we have heard them a number of times in recent years, and


particularly with regard to the agenda in front of us. But what is a


pre-election conference... Said agenda was duly approved and it was


on the conference. Outside, a small-scale storm was brewing.


Protesters called on the SNP Government to extend its temporary


ban on fracking to a permanent one, a move favoured by some grassroots


SNP members, although Scottish ministers say they are still


assessing the situation. But the big issue on which SNP supporters want


an answer is when might be another independence referendum. Nicola


Sturgeon announced a plan for that and they liked what they heard. Our


success will depend on the strength of our argument is and the clarity


of a revision. It will mean convincing the people of this


country that independence is right, not for yesterday's world, but for


the complex, challenging and increasingly interdependent world


that we live in today. And right also for the world that our children


will inherit and live in tomorrow. Making and winning in that case is


our challenge and our opportunity. That is why I can tell you today


that this summer, the SNP will embark on a new initiative to build


support for independence. APPLAUSE


Afterwords, Nicola Sturgeon's Deputy elaborated on the initiative. What I


want to signal is the willingness of the SNP to engage in an open


conversation with the people of Scotland, to understand their


concerns, to address those concerns and find ways of addressing those


issues. There were some policy announcements. More resources for


the NHS and education, and a commitment to delivering superfast


broadband to all of Scotland. And even though at this stage it is


unlikely the SNP will commit to a second referendum in its election


manifesto, Nicola Sturgeon has once again put independence at the


forefront of her party's ambition. And Andrew Black joins me now


from the SNP conference at the SECC. What are they doing today, Andrew?


In terms of the atmosphere here, and we are almost at the end of the


Scottish party conference Spring season. We have already had the


Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. In terms of the attendance and tone


of those first two, they seemed pretty lacklustre compared to the


SNP conference here, where thousands of delegates have attended. There


has been the odd grumble, but really, overall, the atmosphere has


been pretty upbeat. Yesterday, we had Nicola Sturgeon making that big


announcement on the new drive towards independence. Today, things


don't a different tone because first things first, there is a Holyrood


election to fight. John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister, will deliver


election to fight. John Swinney, the an election rally call to the


conference this afternoon. They will show off their new candidates for


the Holyrood election. It is a bit silly, the party itself would admit,


to start setting targets for the amount of seats they will win in the


election, but if you think back to the last election in Scotland, the


SNP won almost all the seats in Scotland. Labour were just left with


that one Westminster seat. I think it is pretty safe to say that going


into the selection, we are still seeing the SNP with a huge load of


popularity. They will certainly be hoping that they could when pretty


much every single Holyrood constituency in May. Thanks for


that. And I'm joined here in the studio


by the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure,


Investment and Cities, As we saw, Nicola Sturgeon God by


far the biggest round of applause when she said there would be a new


initiative on independence. What is it? Before I answer that question, I


am the Member of Parliament for... it? Before I answer that question, I


am sorry. I did mean to ask it? Before I answer that question, I


about Dunblane. My apologies. I am the Member of Parliament for


Clackmannanshire and Dunblane and today is the 20th anniversary.


People in Dunblane, including the families, will have different ways


of dealing with this. Some will want to speak about it and some will be


quieter, but I think it is important that we remember and pursue a people


involved in the tragedy that we will never forget what happened on that


day back in 1986. You, presumably being there of the past period, is


it possible to recover from something like that?


it possible to recover from is very difficult for the families


to recover. They have got personal tragedy to deal with. But the town


itself has tragedy to deal with. But the town


never forget what happened, of course.


will never forget the individuals got


will never forget the individuals back to the conference. This


initiative, which got all the applause, what is it? You can get


the shape of it from what the First Minister said yesterday and what the


Deputy First Minister said. Minister said yesterday and what the


which concerned people in Scotland about


which concerned people in Scotland negatives and it is important we


listen negatives and it is important we


those who support independence but with those who


those who support independence but independence if those concerns can


be alleviated. That might mean that we have to change


be alleviated. That might mean that stances in response


be alleviated. That might mean that respect those who voted no and


rebuilding a case for independence. Stances on what? That is the purpose


of the engagement. We will see close engagement with the First Minister


herself. What do you think? Why prejudge that's some of the concerns


herself. What do you think? Why we have had have continued to be


herself. What do you think? Why expressed as concerns, some of


defence expressed as concerns, some of


engagement in order to find out. A very obvious when you mentioned


there is very obvious when you mentioned


has talked about how, in the eventuality that Britain forced


has talked about how, in the there will be pressure for another


referendum, which would presumably be in some months' time. If there is


one, which currency would you say we should be part of? The point I am


just making is that we understand the fact that there were concerns


people had and the purpose of what the First Minister said yesterday is


to talk to these people and find out those concerns. Sure, but as the SNP


leadership, you've had 14 months or something like that to think about


this. What currency... I mean, if Britain was to leave the EU and


Scotland is to have another independence referendum with a view


to steam in the EU and becoming independent, you presumably would


not be seen... Would you be saying that we should still have the pound


and that all the politicians in London were lying when they were


saying we couldn't? We have seen in the last week a statement to say


that it was perfectly possible that the SNP's proposition could have


been workable. But there are two very big Fs. If that is then


followed by a vote on independence very soon thereafter... Rather than


get into those hypotheticals, I think it is.... Hang on, this is a


campaign you would have to be running within a matter of months. I


have no way of knowing that. Nicola Sturgeon has said there would be


pressure for another independence referendum should this eventuality


arise. It is surely not unreasonable for myself and indeed for viewers to


think that currency thing didn't go very well for them last time. What


is their policy now? Our policy, as was explained during the campaign...


Just to be clear on this, is your policy still that Scotland would be


part of the sterling zone? You are asking what our policy might be in


the event of a future referendum. asking what our policy might be in


am asking what the policy is now. You have asked me and I am trying to


get a sentence out. The fact is, we You have asked me and I am trying to


do not face a referendum just now. What we are meant to do in the


course of anticipating a further referendum is to get the views of


people, especially those we failed to convince in the past. That


respect those who voted no. You asked about the last 14 months. We


have been getting on and governing this country. The opposition parties


have lined up to say forget about the referendum, forget about the


constitution and run the country. We have been doing that very


effectively. I do not understand. My question was is it still SNP policy


that an independent Scotland would There have been a number of comments


made. The policy was perfectly workable. We wanted to listen to


people which is what the First Minister said yesterday. In addition


to a very good track record in governing the country. We want to


move forward. This initiative, talking to people, what does that


mean? Coffee mornings, rallies? We will have more detail on that at the


manifesto launch. Of course it is talking to people, not just rallies,


we have to talk not just at people but to people. I would hope it is


not just outputting to people but we do that all the time and accumulate


intelligence. This would be a continuation of that with the very


clear focus. After the referendum on talking to those people that had


concerns about the referendum. Do you think there should be another


referendum within the next period of the Scottish Parliament? I said this


on the very morning of the referendum, it has got to be at the


point the people of Scotland see there should be one. All ratings is


one way to take the temperature. It could be because of a material


change in circumstances such as the one you recommended. Labour are


proposing is losing the top rate of tax in Scotland, back up to 50p, is


that a good idea? We will wait until we have our manifesto before we


decide what to do with the tax powers. We will not be imposing


further tax increases on those on the lower rungs and also not having


tax cuts for those on the higher levels of taxation. We will wait


until we have the manifesto before really a proposal then tens of tax.


until we have the manifesto before Will newly out the proposals in your


manifesto on what you will do with the new powers coming out under the


Scotland Bill? If we have not bought an agreement through the work of


sturgeon and Swinney through the fiscal framework we will not do that


as a reason to lay out we will be doing it because of the manifesto.


Let me give you one example. George Osborne intends to raise the


threshold at which you start paying 40p tax to 50,000. Is that something


you think should happen in Scotland? I tend not to go with what George


Osborne is reported to be going to do. That is why we will await


Osborne is reported to be going to proposals. Nicola Sturgeon said we


will await. He has already said that. He has said lots of things in


the past. It is only after we know the tax proposals in the budget we


can put forward the tax proposals we have an response. Would you be


comfortably raising? We might have to change tax allowances. That is


before tax calculations. Andrew Neil was talking about the budget deficit


Scotland might have in ten days' was talking about the budget deficit


time if they had become independent, was talking about the budget deficit


never sent of GDP. Nicola Sturgeon said on this programme before the


general election you borrow the money, it needs to borrow the money


but there's also desktop of if we money, it needs to borrow the money


were an independent Scotland we would do all these things which


would make the economy grow faster than the rest of the UK so we cut


that deficit, can you give me a single example of something you


would do? I can give you a number, you have had a substantial cut in


our programme in Scotland since 2010 and we have increased deployment,


the highest climate in the UK. You would have to grow this economy


faster than the UK, give me one example. We have increased


appointment and population is not falling. One of the ways you could


do that is APD, it proposal that is having a substantial impact on


do that is APD, it proposal that is economy. Cutting carbon capture or


renewables. Investing in infrastructure of course you can


grow the economy. Your answer to how to get over the deficit is we would


all more money? We have shown infrastructure projects without


increasing public sector borrowing, it is possible to do that, it is


what we have done and will continue to do.


The Chancellor has been sounding an ominous note ahead of his budget


on Wednesday, warning of further spending cuts.


Speaking on the Andrew Marr programme this morning,


George Osborne said he wanted to cut 50p from every ?100 spent


by the Government by the end of 2020.


I'm joined now from London by Robert Hutton


Presumably you heard what George Osborne had to see earlier on, what


do you make of it? It is a frightening world idea. That is his


message at the moment, the phrase cocktail of risks which we have been


hearing and I think we'll hear for a while longer. It is to try to get


around the fact is forecasts are not coming in. That is as even if you


months ago he hoped the wood. He has got to find another 18 billion more


or less from savings and tax rises and the best way to


or less from savings and tax rises the public, he seems to feel, is


or less from savings and tax rises about the


or less from savings and tax rises impression I got this morning that


he might impression I got this morning that


what you think? The problem he has got, normally the first proper


budget one year into got, normally the first proper


government is when you do all the painful and unpopular stuff


government is when you do all the basis you have then got three or


four years for the voters basis you have then got three or


about it. The problem he has this time as the European referendum with


it turns out Cameron and Osborne slightly misjudged where the


it turns out Cameron and Osborne Parliamentary party is. Half of the


Parliamentary party is on the other Parliamentary party is. Half of the


trying to buy them off to do that is a cut to the headline


rate of personal tax. to do that is a cut to the headline


will be a rabbit. We to do that is a cut to the headline


what the rabbit is back after half an hour of the budget he


what the rabbit is back after half something out


what the rabbit is back after half do with a rabbit with


what the rabbit is back after half flag attached to each year. One


thing being flag attached to each year. One


example he could ask the old BR to flag attached to each year. One


Brexit. I would not be surprised if there was


his prebudget debate today turned into an about Europe. That might


upset some of the dumpy Tories who into an about Europe. That might


feel that the government should stay out of this debate about the


nation's future. He would be upset that they use the OBR to do that. It


is that they use the OBR to do that. It


ask them? Is there an opportunity for Labour here as was mentioned in


Andrews programme earlier? It has been a swing among the economy and


in no warnings that monetary policy and quantitative easing might not be


enough to get it back on its feet. There should be a move


enough to get it back on its feet. economy. Labour can sort of say now


we are not just wild eyed left-wingers but the major


international organisations are now saying what we are saying? The


Labour Party over the last five years have seen a really good


sensible international economic argument that says these kinds of


incredibly low interest rates, startling growth, this is time for


the government to step in, billboards, build houses, spend


money, put people back to work. It billboards, build houses, spend


does not cost much as when interest rates are higher and you can


stimulate the economy that way. That is what was being said on Friday and


the problem is for Labour turning that sensible economic argument into


a widely should be in government and can you trust us kind of argument.


That is a much trickier problem. That, as it were, is about the whole


package. It is not enough just for Labour to say sensible things that


they can say look at all these economists who agree with us but


they have got to say to the public you can trust us, when I am tough


they have got to say to the public you can trust me and I really mean


it. Thank you for joining us this morning.


The Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament,


Tricia Marwick, is standing down as an MSP at the coming election.


But she believes work to improve how business is done at Holyrood needs


to continue, and among the possible reforms she suggests


Ms Marwick is the fourth Presiding Officer, but the first


woman to take on the role, which she's held since 2011.


Tricia Marwick is elected as Presiding Officer of the Scottish


Parliament. There is far too much shouting across the chamber. And the


marriage and civil partnership Scotland Bill is passed. Can I


suggest that members review the footage of First Minister's


Questions and consider whether they showed themselves and this


parliament in the best light? Before I


end First Minister's Questions, can I thank all of the party leaders for


their brevity today? You floated the idea, didn't you,


the second chamber in the Scottish Parliament but you also seem to


concede it is not going to happen? It was in response to a journalist


asking if they should be a second chamber and I said I have always


believed there should be a second chamber but I have also acknowledged


until you work out how that second chamber is working it is not going


to happen. Politicians will be going to the public saying we need more


politicians? I think if you argue for an increase in the number of


members in the Scottish Parliament or arguing for a second chamber, you


need to be very clear what those arguments are and be very sure you


have all-party support for them because if one party made such an


argument I imagine it would not go down well on the doorsteps. Do you


think there is a case for getting all the parties together and saying


we need a proper second chamber in the Scottish Parliament, let's


discuss how we do it and make a joint approach to the public and say


actually, folks, this is what we need? I think that is a matter for


the future. We need to continue to perform procedures and structures


within the Scottish Parliament itself. I would suggest that is the


number one priority. The problem is that the underlying problem is that


there was this hope in 1999 that the committee system of the Scottish


Parliament would be different from the House of Commons in London.


Actually, it has not really been. Arguably bodies like the Finance


committee in the House of Commons, the way it held ministers to account


during and after the financial crisis, have operated better than


anything that has happened in Holyrood? I think it was the desire


from the constitutional committee to do things different from


Westminster, we ended up with the system that was different from the


standing committees at Westminster. That presents problems because the


committees at Westminster you talk about that have been extremely


effective ID select committees -- have been the select committees and


do not have a legislative role as well so they of course can do more


in terms of interrogation, holding the government to account than a


midi of the Scottish Parliament that has two consider legislation, called


ministers to account, all their own enquiries and initiate the on


legislation. The reality of the situation is that since 1999 the


committees have never worked in the week the CSG envisaged that they


should. I think it is fair to say that the administration of those


committees by the CSG and others were seriously misplaced. Part of


the problem is the Scottish Parliament was not designed for a


party having a majority. It so happens your party have bought a


majority but in a way that is not the point. What has happened as the


perception of the public is that parties are just falling party


lines. We have talked about the houses of commons early in his term


but that has not really happened, we have not really had Labour people


standing up and criticising the previously but administration or the


SNP people standing up saying this is not good enough. I do not have a


party, I gave up my party in 2011. Your background! I think for


accuracy, I think you know the point I am making is that it is difficult


for the communities to do all of these things. That has been true


since 1999 as you rightly point out. If the government wants to get its


own legislation through. The point I'm making is that in Westminster


you have select committees where legislation is not dependent on it


so, of course, people can be a lot more critical.


Is it possible to have a similar system here? These committees are


not working. I have tried for the past five years to get all parties


to address the need for formal committees. That has not been a


battle but I have one. But I am confident that the time of committee


reform is yet to come and it will come because it needs to. Forget all


that. What are you going to do? I have not a clue. I have absolutely


no plans whatsoever. I hope that I will still have some sort of role in


public life. I am open to offers. I do not get a pension until I am 65.


You do not want to get involved in politics. You left the SNP because


you'd became Presiding Officer. But you do not want to rejoin? I do not


intend to stand for any elected office in the future. Once you have


been the Presiding Officer, everything else is second to that.


Anyone thinking of setting up grand public bodies should be listening


very closely to what you have just said. You are available. I would


hope that I have got some skills and qualities that people might find


attractive. Tricia Myrick, thank you very much indeed.


Time now to take a look at the week's big stories,


and what's coming up in the week ahead.


And I'm joined from the SNP conference by the press


Association's Lynsey Bews and by the political editor of the Career,


Kieran Andrews. Give us a bit of atmosphere. One of


the things John Swinney said yesterday was that he reckoned the


SNP conference was not just bigger than Labour, but bigger than all the


other party conferences combined. Well, there is rather be a bit of


truth in that. It is a massive venue here. It is packed. Fringe events


are overflowing. There really is a bit of buzz around here. That bars,


funnily enough, during the cluster Jim's speech yesterday came during a


mention of independence, not during the mention of three key domestic


policies. There is an segment and anticipation. -- there is


excitement. We mentioned a delegate getting up and criticising the party


for being too easy on itself with its agenda and harking back to Tony


Blair, which is practically heresy in these parts with the SNP.


Overall, though, the atmosphere has been quite good and positive. More


charged than the SNP's opponent conferences. Lynsey, as keirin said


there, the biggest applause was for the mention of independence. I do


not know if you heard the view we did with Keith Brown, but at the end


I was not sure if I was any I was at the beginning exactly what this


initiative is other than talking about independence. No, exactly.


Just when you thought that independence was off the agenda and


Nicola Sturgeon was perhaps concentrating more on the new powers


coming to Holyrood, and what she will do with those powers, she


announced this initiative for building the case again for


independence. As Keith Brown was failing to tell you, really, the SNP


has not really given us much detail about what this initiative will


involve. What we can garner from what Nicholas Turgeon said yesterday


is that this will be a different approach in terms of tone. -- from


what Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday. Maybe a move away from the very


antagonistic, polarising debate we had leading up to the 2014 fold.


Really, a bit of an omission from Nicola Sturgeon yesterday that there


are some serious, key issues that need to be addressed in the case for


independence before she can secure that yes vote. The problem is that


if this was really just code for some of our arguments were not very


convincing, we will come up with some new ones, that's not really


going to satisfy, is it, the people who were wildly cheering what they


thought was good to be some big new campaign? Yes, but I think Nicola


Sturgeon is really trying to tell her supporters that they need to


play the long game on this. Even if there is a Brexit and a second


referendum was put forward, there are still key issues which need to


be addressed which will not go away. The SNP will be challenged on these


be addressed which will not go away. again if there was to be a second


referendum. She is really laying the groundwork for a looking again at


some of those policy positions the SNP have taken. Clearly, there has


been a detailed postmortem of what went wrong in that independence


referendum of 2014. Nicola Sturgeon is recognising there are key issues


which need to be revisited and challenged. She said the SNP was


prepared to change some of its answers. Presumably, Kieran Andrews,


this is a bit of a challenge. The SNP are any great position with


thousands of new members. The challenge is keeping them. All this


talk about new benefits for children and all the rest, I am sure all the


delegates agree with that. They all agree with things like air passenger


duty. But it is not what gets them out of bed in the morning, is it? It


will not keep them excited. It certainly isn't. And it is not why


so many new members joined the SNP. Nicola Sturgeon is walking a bit of


a tightrope on this. She has to decide when she wants another


call another referendum is the mac call another referendum is the mac


-- independence referendum. If a second referendum is lost, then it


is off the table for a proper generation, not to the fuzzy version


we have had promised so far. But the longer she weaves it, the more she


risks antagonising those new members who joined to declare independence,


to fight for the yes cause, as it were. You can imagine that if Nicola


Sturgeon is not careful, little factions might begin to break off,


break away and show a little bit more of the descent we saw yesterday


morning over the coming years. It is a difficult one to play, balancing


political reality with the fervour of members and a new grassroots


members. Lynsey, on taxation and what they will do with new powers,


it is all terribly cautious. They say they will not release their


manifesto until they release their manifesto. Unless they have got


something hidden away, it is basically don't frighten the horses,


isn't it? It seems that way. Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday they would


be no change to the basic rate of tax. They are against the policy put


forward by Scottish Labour and by the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Also


kicking into... Taking a decision only 40p threshold and waiting to


see what George Osborne does with that in the budget. We already know


those plans for the top rate, sorry, for the 40p rate of tax. John


Swinney did tell us that if the fiscal framework was agreed, we


would get more detail on the SNP's new tax plans by mid-March. I am


sorry, I do not mean to cut a cross but we're running out of time.


Lynsey Bews and Kieran Andrews, but we're running out of time.


thank you both for joining us. Now, before we go, as part


of our Holyrood election coverage, BBC Scotland has announced two


televised Scottish leaders debates. The first takes place on the 24th


of March in Glasgow. If you'd like to apply to be


part of the audience, you can find the details on our BBC


Scotland news website. I'll be back at the


same time next week. What will he say this time about


the state of the British economy, and what will that mean for you


and your family's finances? Join me, Huw Edwards, for


live coverage and expert analysis.


Andrew Neil and Gordon Brewer with the latest political news, interviews and debate.

Andrew is joined by Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism John Mann, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Seema Malhotra and David Davis MP.

On the political panel are Julia Hartley-Brewer, The Sunday Times's Tim Shipman and Nick Watt from The Guardian.

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