Andrew Neil and Gordon Brewer with the latest political news, interviews and debate. Guests include Tim Farron MP and Brandon Lewis MP.
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Jeremy Corbyn struggles to get a grip on the turmoil inside his
party after Ken Livingstone's comments on Hitler and Zionism.
But will the Labour leader's latest anti-Semitism review draw
Despite demands he should be booted out, Mr Livingstone insists he'll
fight to stay in the party, and refuses to apologise for saying
We'll discuss the implications for Labour and its leader.
The row comes just days before Thursday's elections across the UK.
We'll hear from Lib Dem leader Tim Farron and the Conservative's
Four days to go until the voters go to the polls. What can the parties
do at this late stage of the campaign to win you over?
why he should be London now. -- mayor.
And with me for the duration - Nick Watt, Janan Ganesh
They'll all be tweeting using the hashtag #bbcsp.
This time last week Jeremy Corbyn was in a pretty good place.
He'd put in a decent performance at PMQs,
the Tories were ripping themselves apart over the EU referendum
and any Labour rows seemed small beer in comparison.
But that was before the Guido Fawkes political blog uncovered
anti-Semitic tweets from a novice Labour backbencher called Naz Shah -
made before she was an MP - and Ken Livingstone called Hitler
in her aid - perhaps not the most helpful of modern
political interventions - leading to his suspension,
along with Ms Shah's from the party and calls for him to be
So what might have been no more than a little local difficulty has
become the biggest crisis in Mr Corbyn's leadership.
Here's Ellie with a reminder of how the story unfolded.
I accept and understand that the words are used caused upset
and hurt to the Jewish community, and I deeply regret that.
Naz Shah was apologising for this - a Facebook post that suggested
She'd shared it and other offensive comments two years ago.
On Tuesday afternoon she resigned as Parliamentary Private Secretary
to the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.
The next day a fellow shadow frontbencher was calling
There has to be a suspension and an investigation when something
like this occurs, because it is so serious and it does have such
a knock on effect on people outside of parliament, in the real world.
Moments later, the Prime Minister waded in.
The fact that, frankly, we have a Labour Member
of Parliament, with the Labour Whip, who made remarks about
the transportation of people from Israel to America and talked
about "a solution", and is still in receipt of the Labour whip
After hours of speculation, Naz Shah, who was only elected
last year, was suspended from the Labour Party
But if the Labour leadership had hoped it would draw
a line under the issue, they were sorely disappointed,
because the next day, this happened...
You didn't find that to be anti-Semitic?
You have to remember, when Hitler won his election
in 1932 his policy then was Jews should be moved to Israel.
He was supporting Zionism, before he went mad and ended up
You Nazi apologist, you Nazi apologisist.
Rewriting history, rewriting history!
Go back and check what Hitler did, go back and check what Hitler did.
There was a book called Mein Kampf, you obviously haven't heard of it.
Ken Livingstone was on the phone to another radio station
when he got interrupted by the Labour MP John Mann.
Watched by most of the country's media, they took it inside
and continued their interesting difference of opinion
You dare say, you dare say Hitler supported Zionism.
I think you've lost it, Mr Livingstone.
It's a deliberate, calculated attempt to cause problems,
You certainly shouldn't be an Labour's National Executive.
I've not said Hitler was a Zionist, what I said was his policy in '32
was to deport Germany's Jews to Israel.
John Mann was called to the Chief Whip's office for that
and told he shouldn't have big rows on the telly.
Other MPs voiced their opinion in Parliament instead.
Anti-Semitism is wrong, full stop, end of story.
I am sick and tired of people trying to explain it away -
and yes - I'm talking to you, Ken Livingstone.
Less than an hour later Ken Livingstone was suspended
from the Labour Party, and chased by the media.
Do you want to apologise for causing any offence?
While Ken was indisposed, Jeremy Corbyn was trying not to let
the issue occupy his local election campaigning, even if he had been
forced to suspend one of his closest allies.
It's not a crisis, there is no crisis.
Where there is any racism in the party, it will be dealt with,
I have been an anti-racist campaigner all my life.
I suspect that much of this criticism, that you're saying
about a crisis in the party, actually comes from those
who are nervous of the strength of the Labour Party at local level.
But it has been a damaging week for Labour, whose leadership
promised to get a grip on anti-Semitism.
Ken Livingstone insisted he had nothing more to say.
I've got to do the washing now, doing some work on the pond,
Well, Ken Livingstone didn't stay quiet for long.
In fact yesterday morning he appeared on the London radio
After the broadcast, he had this to say to
If people have been offended, I'm really sorry about that.
But they're not offended because I said the truth,
exactly the same thing as the Prime Minister of Israel said
48 hours earlier, they've been offended by the scrutiny
of embittered old Blairite MPs stirring up all these
accusations of anti-Semitism, when I said on the programme 80
Labour Party Jewish members have a letter in the Guardian
today saying they've never experienced anti-Semitism.
We've had a handful of people who have said things
They have been suspended or expelled immediately by Jeremy.
It is filled with people campaigning against racism and anti-Semitism.
Speaking on BBC One earlier this morning,
the new Israeli Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev,
said a line has been crossed in the anti-semitism row
Of course people have the right to criticise the government of Israel -
If you follow the very vigorous public debates
we have in my country, you'll know that every
government position is open to debate in the parliament,
in the press, in a very, very robust civil society.
It's not about criticising Israel, it's about demonising
The comments we've heard over the last two or three weeks
that were made public, it has nothing to do
with criticising this or that particular Israeli policy -
it's demonising and a vilification of my country, and its
But Jeremy Corbyn's close ally Diane Abbott told Andrew Marr
that Labour doesn't have a problem with anti-semitism.
The reality is that there have been 12 for incidents in the period
when Jeremy's leader, and some of those remarks predate
200,000 people have joined the party.
What is your message to him now, should he apologise properly?
Have you ever known Ken apologise for anything?
No, but this might be the time to start!
Ken's remarks were extremely offensive.
He was suspended within hours, there's going to be an investigation
and the party will decide what happens to Ken.
We did ask the Labour Party for an interview with someone
from the Shadow Cabinet, but no one was available.
We're joined now from Exeter by the former Labour culture
Welcome to the programme. In your view how big a problem does Labour
have with anti-Semitism? Well, in a week where the Conservatives are
doing terrible damage to our education system, the National
Health Service and are themselves apart on Europe, I would not want to
be on your programme on Sunday talking about this. In a way I agree
with Diane Abbott, I don't think we have a massive problem but the way
we have mishandled this whole crisis, which has been going on for
weeks, although Ken Livingstone has done his best to make it worse, the
way we have handled the crisis has made it seem worse than it is. What
do you make of Ken Livingstone's claim this is just basically a group
of embittered old Blairite MPs trying to undermine the new order?
I've seen you would include you in that.
One of the first people to call for Ken Livingstone to leave the party
was John Lassman, the head of Momentum, on the hard left. I think
the popular left-wing commentator Owen Jones was also very quick to
call for Ken Livingstone's resignation so to try to describe
this as some Blairite... , it looks more like some left on left battle.
I am increasingly of the view Ken Livingstone is a Conservative Party
spy who has been planted in the Labour Party and has now emerged to
do as much damage as he possibly can to the Labour Party. That is
certainly the view of my loyal Labour Party members and activists
and voters who came up to me asking what was going on. They were
outraged by his comments and defeat comes back into the party, they
won't vote for the party. Jeremy has finally gripped it this week with
the inquiry but we have got to act quickly and decisively. Has Jeremy
Corbyn let it drag on? There have been very sensible voices across the
political spectrum in the Labour Party who, for several weeks if not
months, have been raising concerns about this and calling for quite
simple and sensible solutions to wait. I think if they had been
listened to earlier, we could have nipped this problem in the bud. I
hope it has now been gripped but it will be judged on what we do.
Parties are judged on what they do, not what they say. The leadership
have said all the right things, we now need to see action. What is the
difference between Ken Livingstone's attitude to Israel and the Jews and
Jeremy Corbyn's attitude to Israel and the Jews? I'm not quite sure I'm
qualified to comment on either of their attitudes to Israel and the
Jews. All I know is someone who has been a very strong friend of
Palestine, a supporter of the two state solution, the Labour Party has
a proud tradition of believing and supporting Israel as a state with
the right to exist but I think there is a problem on parts of the left.
They don't seem to recognise where criticism... Legitimate criticism
crosses over to hatred for Israel and anti-Semitism. The Labour Party
supports absolutely Israel's right to exist. We always have and I hope
we always will. We also support a Palestinian state and if we allow
ourselves to be diverted from that sensible position which is held by
all progressives all over the world, that will be a very dangerous path
all progressives all over the world, in my view. Are you clear in your
mind that Ken Livingstone and Jeremy Corbyn support Israel's right to
exist? I cannot speak for them, I can just speak for myself. I am not
inside their brains and I think anybody who tried to get inside Ken
Livingstone's brain would find that a very challenging process. So you
are not sure your leaders support Israel's right to exist? The Labour
Party and Jeremy Corbyn I am sure 100% support Israel's right to
exist, but these are questions the leader can speak for on behalf of
himself. The chance would be a nice thing but we are grateful to speak
to you. In your view, I know there is due process to follow, should Ken
Livingstone be rejected from the Labour Party? Countless Labour Party
members and supporters came up to me on the streets of Exeter yesterday
where we are fighting very important and tough local council elections on
Thursday to say that if he came back, they wouldn't vote for us. If
he was brought back, what would be the reaction amongst your
colleagues? I think they would be dismayed. There is genuine anger
about the damage this has done at a time when the Conservatives should
be on the ropes. We should be 20% ahead in the opinion polls, we are
behind, facing very difficult local elections. We are not being an
effective opposition because the talk is all about turmoil in Labour.
Labour people are furious about that, they want the leadership to
get a grip, they want to be an effective opposition and they want
to make sure we win the next election and the elections across
the UK and in London. Thanks for joining us. Apologies for the
quality of the sound. Nick Watt, how much is this being used by those
opposed to Jeremy Corbyn to undermine his leadership? Yes,
certainly the majority of the PLP don't support his leadership. A
significant number of them would like to get him out, hope to do so
after the European referendum. That had appeared to go away and now we
have this crisis so maybe it will come back but I think those people
who want to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn are not rubbing their hands and
saying doesn't this make him look awful. They are, as most people in
the Labour Party are, horrified by what this makes the Labour Party
look like to the electorate as a whole and would like to deal with
it. If you have two senior figures running after each other on
stairways, whatever the cause, that looks dreadful for voters but then
the issue you are talking about is supremely sensitive issue of
anti-Semitism and the people I talk to who want to get rid of Jeremy
Corbyn just hate what is going and feel that it is very dangerous and
sensitive territory for the Labour Party. Where does it go from here?
It depends whether the party decides this is just an embarrassment that
can be got over. This is when Jeremy Corbyn's leadership stopped being
funny, it is serious and it is not an accident or the mistake of
judgment that meant he didn't get rid of Ken Livingstone immediately.
They are very old allies, they go back a long way and you have to
understand that this juncture of reality, the perception is so
confused. I started my life on the Trotskyist left. I knew people, in
fact I was in Hornsea when Jeremy Corbyn was on the council there.
These people socialise with each other, marry each other, they never
go outside of their very closed self referring political activist circle.
So that picture that Jeremy Corbyn's first white painted of him standing
over a photocopier eating baked beans, we all knew that person in
the 1970s. These people live within their closed political frame of
reference, that's why there was this horrendous misunderstanding of the
significance of what Ken Livingstone had done and said. When they called
John Mann in, they insisted the whip's office called him in to be
disciplined as if there was some kind of moral equivalence between
what Ken Livingstone had said and what John Mann had said in
reprimanding him, that is another reflection of how out of touch they
are. People will wonder why the Labour Party, which has a long
historic track record of fighting racism, introduced legislation going
way back to the 1960s on something like this, why does it now have to
have an investigation into racism and a code of conduct on racism?
Because they have at the very least turned a blind eye to this kind of
behaviour, I would imagine for about 30 years now. I'm only surprised
that other people are surprised by this incident. In the 1980s people
like Ken Livingstone were giving views not just on Zionism but on the
foreign policy issues that were strident to say the least. When
Frank Dobson was installed rather than Ken Livingstone as London
mayoral candidate, a huge part of the soft left took Ken's side, now
we have this disproportionate punishment of John Mann versus Ken.
For a pattern of my lifetime there is an indulgence towards this
behaviour and the only surprised that it has taken this amount of
time for it to manifest in a crystal clear crisis which I imagine makes
the average swing voter look upon Labour as something unpalatable.
Will it have an effect on Thursday's elections? Sadiq Khan is nervous it
will have an effect on him as the candidate for London mayor. He
nominated Jeremy Corbyn but has done a good job of distancing himself
from him. And he was one of the first to criticise him. He did it
immediately. He is nervous but it is probably too late to affect the
campaign. OK. After their disastrous results
in last year's General Election, the Liberal Democrats are hoping
for some better luck this week. Their leader, Tim Farron,
says the local elections are utterly critical for the party's "survival,
revival and rebirth", as they go in defending just over
300 seats in England. But has Mr Farron's leadership over
the past year made any difference The last general election left
the party in a sorry state, going from 57 MPs down
to a measly eight. The result caused former leader
Nick Clegg to resign the very next day, triggering
a party leadership election. Two candidates went head-to-head -
the then Party President Tim Farron and former Care Minister Norman
Lamb. I am up for this, you are up
for this, I am optimistic but it will take hard work
and bloody mindedness. Over the last year, it's been
an uphill struggle for Mr Farron, having to prove to the political
classes that, even with eight MPs, his party is still a force
to be reckoned with. Although the Lib Dems successfully
used their hundred-odd peers to defeat the Government
in the Lords over tax credits, trade union reform and child
refugees, Lord Rennard's resignation
from the party executive and the legal action
over the election of MP And next week, Mr Farron
will once again be put Both the big parties are polling
badly, it couldn't be a better time for a Lib Dem could -- come back,
could there? You have summed it up very nicely. The general election
result last May was obviously devastating, and I am going to argue
it was devastating for the country as it was for the Liberal Democrats.
You think of these issues going on at the moment, the attack on junior
doctors, the Balkanisation, even potential privatisation of our
school system across the UK, the heartless approach to orphaned
refugees in Europe, and yet we are talking about divisions within the
Labour Party. They are indeed the most ineffective official opposition
probably in British political history. What would come back look
like? It would look like a 50% increase in our membership and
gaining more council by-election seats and more votes in those
by-elections than any other party, which incidentally is exactly what
is happening. There is a real sense we are finding people on the
doorsteps being very ready to listen to our message. We have got to fight
for attention and to get onto the stage at all. The results last May
but us in that position but I am an optimistic kind of person. We have
an enormous challenge on our plate, we have a Tory government which is
very arrogant, taking for granted the fact they are in office, being
all the more arrogance because their official opposition is shambolic,
and the desperate need for the good of Britain to be a Liberal Democrat
revival. Given that you are doing so well in local government
by-elections, you must hope to do much better on Thursday than the 331
English councillors you currently have? I think I would be in
dangerous territory if I start giving you figures but I am
increasingly confident we will do much better than we did last May.
The sense I am getting on the doorstep around the country is
positive, people listening. Lots of people who are progressive,
centre-left voters who feel utterly disappointed with the Labour Party
as a movement at the moment. And many people switched off by the
Conservatives, one example of that was a councillor in Yeovil who is a
case worker for the Conservative MP there who defected to the Liberal
Democrats, actually having to give up her job in the process because
she realised that what the Tories were offering last May is not what
they are delivering. We have started down the road of serious unfairness,
taking money away from people with disability, people dependent on the
NHS and care services, and behaving in an inhuman way towards the child
refugees. Will you add to your tally of council seats? I hope so. I hope
so and I couldn't tell you either way. You have been telling me how
good you are doing in the local government by-elections, why
wouldn't you do just as well on Thursday? I am telling you things
that have happened, I'm not capable of telling you things that will
happen. Let me come onto your key message. Your key message for the
local elections is you are pledging to fight unnecessary cuts to
university services, how credible is that when you spent five years in
power with the Tories presiding over these cuts?
We spent five years writing the economy and protecting front-line
services from those cuts. What happened is over five years we help
to get the country in a position where the books were all but
balanced. We got to a crossroads where we make a decision as a
country, do we carry on cutting or is this the time we say, we have
stabilise the financial situation, now it is the time to go easy and to
put money into front-line services? You will see at this point in time
we have a Conservative government that has chosen to give away tax
cuts to the wealthy at a time it is passing on cuts through local
government to social services, to schools, highways and so on. We say
politics is about choosing. At this point, having got the economy from
the brink, this is the point of government, and if the Liberal
Democrats are in government, we would be choosing not to give tax
cuts to the wealthy but supporting public services such as those run by
local authorities. When you were in power, in government, you close to
350 libraries, closed 350 youth centres and around 600 sure start
centres. Now you are posed as the anti-cuts party, no one will believe
you? When we were in government we prevented the Conservatives making
far greater cuts. One of the great sadness is for me, or an irony is it
has taken the last 12 months of seeing what the Conservatives do
without us to see what a difference we made. They managed to do that
with you in power. And now you are trying to tell the voters who are
against all these cuts, cuts you presided over in government. I am
not Jeremy Corbyn, I won't come onto this programme and say you never
need to make tough decisions in government. We were very clear over
those five years we were acting in the national interest to balance
those books. Whether you blame Labour or the
banks, the mess was there. We responded responsibly. But one of
the issues we should be talking more about this week but sadly Labour's
internal divisions has taken it off the front pages is the junior
doctors scandal. Remember, just over a year ago it was my colleague
Norman Lamb who prevented that contract being written in the first
place. It was only the Conservatives getting into power on their own
without us which meant they pushed forward on that cart to our national
health service. If forcing of schools to turn into academies,
something we blocked. Further cuts to the police, we blocked, the
Conservatives are now putting in place. We were the party that
believed we should live within our means, in our ability to fund public
services on the basis of how wealthy the country is. Over five tough
years the Liberal Democrats helped balance the books and get us out of
the financial crisis. We say you don't then make more cuts you don't
need to. You didn't lose the books, Mr Farron. You left behind a deficit
of about ?80 billion. Let me just finally ask you this, you have five
members in Holyrood, five in the cabinet is amply, two in the London
assembly. Of the seats up for grabs, three and 31 councillors. If you
don't improve in at least a couple of these areas, does your leadership
come under pressure, doesn't have consequences for you? -- 331
councillors. You set out the case clearly at the beginning of this
interview, in the last couple of months we have been coming back from
a devastating result for us. I don't expect it to be an overnight
success, but my sense is as I have been knocking on doors is you find a
warming towards a Liberal Democrat message. A sense if you vote Liberal
Democrat, makes a difference. That you have people working on the
ground in your local community to get things done. So you will do
better? I just want to know if you will do better or not? I am no more
others since sales and new, but I'm optimistic about how we will do this
week. It feels more positive than a year ago. With a shocking Tory
government, arrogant as it is, and a Labour opposition so shambolic, this
is a moment where the Liberal Democrats need to recover and I'm
hopeful this week we will. Tim Farron, thank you for your time.
Well that's the Liberal Democrats, what about the Conservatives?
Their local election campaign has been relatively low key
these last few weeks, with the small matter of an EU
referendum campaign taking up most of their time.
You could say with Labour in the spotlight the pressure
is off the Conservatives in the English local elections.
These set of seats were last up for grabs in 2012,
when George Osborne's so-called 'omnishambles budget' had hit
the headlines and the Tories slumped to winning only 884 seats,
However, Ukip are targeting Conservative seats and significant
losses to Mr Farage's party could be a sign the referendum campaign isn't
What's more, there's been a lot of friendly fire
in the last few months, with councillors across the country
criticising government policy on a range of issues,
including turning all schools into academies, more directly
elected mayors and reductions in the grants from
It is not just the EU that the Conservative Party
And the Conservative's Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis
joins me now from Chelmsford in Essex.
Let me go straight to this business of forced academies in England. The
Tory Cabinet member for Oxfordshire County Council says she will have to
suck it up, but she thinks you have gone bonkers. Why have you gone
bonkers? We haven't. I have to say, from my own experience, if I look at
what I have seen in East Anglia and Great Yarmouth, the academies have
reformed education. It is a good step forward, about making those
schools autonomous, giving them independence. I understand
councillors who have been involved in education want to continue to be
involved in education. We have to do what is right for the pupils to get
that improvement in educational standards. She is not against
academies but against you forcing every schools to be academies.
Plenty others share her concerns. Why don't you listen to your own
people? We are listening to people. What we are saying is... You have to
have a two way conversation. Academies have the ability to
improve education. I have seen this first hand myself, with vast
improvement in the offer of education for pupils. We have to put
the pupils first. This is about making sure young people today are
getting the best education, the best life chances to move forward and
benefit from economics, growth and jobs for security. This is about
making sure we do what is right for the pupils and to make sure they are
getting the best education. We believe by putting schools in direct
control of their destiny is the best way to give pupils the best
opportunity. Whom are academies responsible accountable? I didn't
hear that. Whom are academies accountable to? They have shown
across the country having that independence, the knowledge of the
teachers, the headteachers who run those schools and know what is best
in that area... Who are they accountable to? It is important they
have the opportunity... I asked, to whom are they accountable? Ofsted
will judge schools and Ofsted goes in and looks at schools and gives a
review of what the school's position is and if it needs to improve,
Ofsted is very clear. It is transparent, there is no secret and
is well covered in the press local and national when schools have a
challenge. No local accountability? I have never seen the school that
has had a bad Ofsted report be able to keep it secret. It is a public
thing and therefore there is a clear responsibility for the people in
that school to move things forward, improve things. And looking at what
is right for the pupils. You don't want now to have parent governors,
so even if you get a bad Ofsted report, how do the parents hold that
school accountable if under the white paper you propose they
shouldn't be parent governors? Actually there can be parent
governors. What it says is there doesn't have to be. There can be
parent governors. I have seen academies in my own constituency and
elsewhere where parent governors are important. Key to this is making
sure the school itself, with the headteachers and the teachers
themselves, who know what is best to move education board, have the
opportunity to do that. This is about looking what is right and best
for pupils, to get the best possible education, the best start in life.
Let's look at local government spending now. You have slashed
grants to local government over the years. Paul Carter, Conservative
leader of Kent Council, he says the tank is now an empty and we really
are, to use another analogy, scraping the barrel. Councils, even
Tory councillors are saying under your government they are now
scraping the barrel. Local government accounts for about 25% of
all public expenditure. We have never been shy about being clear it
has to play its part in dealing with debt and deficit. Over this
parliament we will see local government in a very strong
position. What local government can do and what it is doing when you
look Oxfordshire, the Midlands, the North, East Anglia sharks, is making
sure they are efficient. -- East Anglia. It is under pound cheaper
than Liberal Democrat equivalents, showing really good efficiencies to
deliver good quality front line services. At the same time. Paul is
an excellent leader, but Lemi -- let me be clear, local government
surpluses has gone up from 13 to ?22 billion. That is a testament to the
efficiencies local governments have shown. It shows there is capacity to
go further and also bearing in mind the grant from central government is
a small part of the finance for local government. It comes from as a
tax, rates and new home tax. Why does he he now Xavi cuts would have
a real impact, are having a real impact on people and communities? It
is a Conservative saying this? We have to live within our means and
make those difficult decisions. They deliver the best decisions to do
that. We have seen those efficiencies. Councils are ?80 a
that. We have seen those year cheaper than the Labour
equivalent. Or local authorities, particularly the district councils,
though smaller local councils, as Great Yarmouth is doing, should see
how they can share chief executives to make sure the efficiencies can
deliver good front line services, dozens of councils across the
country from Oxfordshire through to Staffordshire, East Anglia and the
Midlands are doing this. We can see more of that. There is more
opportunity for that. It doesn't just a liver efficiencies by better
front line services. When you have been making these funding cuts, why
have they disproportionately fallen on Labour areas, which tend to be
poorer, and not Tory areas which tend to be richer? Why have you hit
the poorer parts of this country with your cuts? With the best of
respect, I think the framing of that is slightly misleading. Let's get to
the core of what's going on. One of the worst hit councils in the
country has been my own in Great Yarmouth. The reason for that goes
back historically, before they left power Labour cut the fund that hit
councils with the poorest background. And those are the same
authorities that have the highest spending power. They had more to
spend per household than the equivalent Conservative verities.
More needs. Labour led councils like Liverpool, even if they just
collected the council tax, it would be ?500 per house better off
roughly. We need to make sure these efficiencies are there. The average
cup per household in the Tory area is calculated to be ?68 per person
per household by the end of this parliament. The Labour councils per
household is ?340. You are picking on the poorer parts this country. We
also have to bear in mind the spending power in the first places
much higher. Because they had more than they needed to spend on. That
is why their spending power can be up to ?1500 more in some places than
the equivalent smaller district area. They still do have higher
spending power per household. And that is why extra money, an extra
?300 million was put in for those transitional works, because as we
get to the end of this parliament, the change we made to put more money
in with a focus on social care, those authorities start to get more
money coming through again. Thank you for joining us, Brandon Lewis.
It's just gone 11.40am, you're watching the Sunday Politics.
We say goodbye to viewers in Scotland who leave us now
Good morning and welcome to Sunday Politics Scotland.
Coming up on the programme: Voters go to the polls on Thursday.
Are their minds made up or is there anything the parties can
Tax has been the dominant issue of this campaign.
We'll be asking how the numbers add up and who gains and loses.
"Down with compromise, down with hesitancy" -
the call to workers to take part in the General Strike 90 years
If the Scotland Act was an attempt to allay constitutional dissent
by giving Holyrood increased powers, then the current election
campaign has shown the flaws in that argument.
The SNP looks on course to secure a convincing
Bids by Labour and the Liberal Democrats to to use the new powers
coming to the Scottish parliament could result in the parties
being pushed into third and fifth place respectively.
Meanwhile, the Greens, which also supports independence,
Even the Conservatives, bidding to take second place,
does so on the basis that it will strongly oppose
So after 18 months, is the constitution still king?
Professor John Curtice, is in our London studio.
Is there any? It is still king, isn't it? Is there any sign that any
thing else is altering this campaign? No, the truth is the big
division in Scottish electoral politics is the constitutional
question. Opinion polls are finding, including ones out this morning,
that 85% of those who voted yes in the referendum back in September
2014 are now backing the SNP and conversely only about 15% of those
who voted no backing the SNP. Of course, it's always been true that
the constitutional question has been one of the central question is, if
we go back to 2011 when the SNP won and then, the truth is that there
were plenty of people out there who on that occasion were voting for the
SNP, even not necessarily wanting
independence. They were saying we think SNP can provide the --
Scotland with the best government. But the truth is, those days are
over. The foundation of the SNP's lead in the opinion polls is pretty
much every body who once independence, they are determined to
repeat their vote independence by voting for the SNP. That makes it
pretty much impossible for any other party to make progress. From the
SNP's point of view, the support for independence might not be very good
when it comes to a referendum but is terrific when it comes to an
election exit leaves everyone fighting over the other half of the
population. That's right. In this morning's opinion personal, it is
much in line with other polls since the referendum. 45%, 47% doesn't win
you a referendum but for a Parliamentary election, even under
proportional representation, when your opponents are divided between
two or three political parties, that puts you in a dominant position
because the truth is, it has looked as though the SNP have been
guaranteed at least 44% of the vote for the last 18 months and as we saw
12 months ago, can conceivably get 50%. The referendum may not have
been one of the referendum has provided the SNP with a very
foundation which is difficult to overcome for others, because it has
made the constitutional question something that is more popular than
it was and something which is now reflected in the ballot box to a
much greater extent than before. If the polls are correct, this election
is about who comes second, isn't it? Do the Tories have a chance, do you
think? They would love it, wouldn't they? They would love it and the
Tories have a chance but if one looks across the piste, the truth is
we had one or two that have said the Tories are close to Labour, may be
very slightly ahead, whereas we've had others including the one this
morning which has said they have a fair lead over the Conservatives.
The odds are still in Labour's favour but the results are certainly
less than 100%. To that extent at least, the Tories will go into the
election on Thursday still somewhat hopeful, although not expected. The
fact we're talking about this, it's hopeful, although not expected. The
not a commentary on how successful Conservatives are at 17% or 18%, the
high end of where they've been in the polls for the last 20 years or
so in Scotland, it is how far Labour can sink, and during the course of
this campaign, we've had two or three opinion polls which have
produced record low shares for Labour. Maybe the one thing that
will help Labour out and there are signs of this is morning, is that if
indeed as a result of talking about the constitutional question, and
when the Conservatives but... She puts off some of those no voters
that the SNP do have, at that might possibly help the Labour Party to
ensure that they say about possibly help the Labour Party to
conservatives. The implication is that the voters out of their hands
because you've described what he SNP does and what the Tories do, rather
than what Labour does. The thing Labour have discovered in the
selection is the strategy be pursued on the taxation and spending issue,
while it was perfectly sensible, in truth has not evidently worked. But
the Labour Party worked out is the people they lost to the SNP in the
wake of a referendum was essentially they're more left-wing vote, people
who had a belief in a more equal society which was part of the vision
of independence which the SNP put forward. Labour said we will try and
win these people back by outflanking the SNP on the left by saying we
will put up taxes on the SNP will not. A couple problems. While people
in Scotland would be willing to pay more, they are not necessarily keen
on paying more than people south of the border. At the end of the day,
people are going to vote for the SNP because of their views on his
independence, even though a majority of SNP supporters say that they
think the basic rate of income tax should go up. The taxation issue, as
central as it has been to the debate, has not shifted voters
because essentially, voters's views have been trimmed by their views on
the constitutional question. Do you think there is any merit in the
argument to some extent people like Dugdale have, which is look, OK,
we've positioned ourselves. We might not convince people for whom the
main thing is independence in this election, but we are playing a
longer game here. We're trying to reinvent the party. Absolutely
right. The Labour Party in Scotland does need to be reinvented but what
I would say is the thing the Labour Party really needs to do north of
the border is not simply to come up with eye-catching policies but to
come up with a story of the kind of Scotland it wants to create and how
it is going to get there. I am not sure, in truth, so far cosier
Dugdale has demonstrated she has that bigger story. As we saw during
opinion polling in the last week, people know what he SNP stand for
and the SNP told Scotland a picture of what they want to create during
the independence of action. If you ask people what the latest party
stands for, many people will say no. Dugdale may have a plan to reform
labour but the truth is, I am not sure she has shown enough of that
plan might be. -- Labour. One would expect to want to tell that story
from the rooftops in advance of the selection more than waiting
afterwards. The slightly tentative nature of Labour's campaign is sewn
up by the fact they didn't bothered to release them manifested until a
week before late election day. To be so late in coming up with the
principal election document, it did seem an extraordinary decision.
principal election document, it did what way think many people would say
was an uneventful campaign, one of the most controversial figures has
been you! You wrote a paper, an article, saying that if you support
independence, there might be certain areas where you would be better off
voting for one of the other parties on the SNP, like the Greens or Rise,
not the SNP itself and all hell broke loose. You got lots of
brickbats. Do you think that as this case? If the opinion polls are
correct and the SNP are going to get maybe over 50% of the vote, as a
result of that, probably mop up virtually all of the 73 first past
the post constituencies that are available to be won on Thursday, and
if the polls are also right in saying that on the list vote, the
SNP may not do as well, in those circumstances, the truth of the
arithmetic is that the SNP may well end up only getting additional MSP
is in one or two regions of Scotland.
What you do about that in a sense is up to you. If you are a committed
SNP supporter, the truth is you are going to vote for the SNP on both
votes, come what may. If, however, the position is that what actually I
would like to be able to do is maximise the number of MPs, MSP 's,
who are in favour of independence, maybe you will want to take the
wrist of voting for the Greens who maybe you will want to take the
look as though in the opinion polls they are capable of taking them on,
in the hope they will get more in the way of MSP. Now, that is not a
strategy that doesn't come without risk because the truth is, maybe the
SNP are not going to do as well as the opinion polls say. Maybe they
will need additional MSP is to get past the winning post. The paper was
trying to point type of the potential limitations of the
electoral system, where voters can be faced with a tactical dilemma.
What voters do about it, at the end of the day, is entirely up to them.
This conversation has been on the assumption that the SNP are going to
walk it. They will be worried, presumably on things like turnout,
about complacency. Looking at the other side, it wouldn't take that
much, would it, to stop the SNP having a
All parties worry about turnout. They are particularly concerned
about turnout. I think certainly, perhaps in one word, I would suggest
that probably don't set your expectations too high. If the
constitutional question is so central to the way people are going
to vote, and if that is becoming more the case and some of those
people who voted no may not vote for SMP at the end of the day, the SNP
might not do much better than they did five is ago. Some of the opinion
polls have been suggesting they would do dramatically better. It
isn't in the bag for the SNP. It never is until all the votes are
counted. They need to press their expectations and I would say to
Nicola Sturgeon I know you wish to maintain the enthusiasm of your
supporters and that's why you're talking about the referendum but at
this stage of the campaign, you are trying to appeal to as wide a
section of the electorate as possible, particularly to the
undecided and they weren't necessarily share the enthusiasm and
interest for the independence referendum the bulk of your
supporters will have. Briefly, the referendum the bulk of your
Liberal Democrats, this was always going to be difficult for them. The
truth is, they're not defending very much. They did very bad five years
ago. The opinion polls are saying they will hang on to what they've
got. The Greens could well overtake the Liberal Democrats as the fourth
party in Holyrood. Willie Rennie might find himself even further back
if, indeed, Patrick Harvie has more MSPs than he does after Thursday.
Thank you very much for that. Tax has been the dominant
theme of this campaign, with pledges to keep it the same,
raise it for top earners, Some extraordinary claims have been
made about the effect it Stephen Hay, who is
a senior tax partner for the accountancy firm RSM,
joins me from our Edinburgh studio. Let's start with a controversy about
the proposal by Labour to raise the top rate of tax by 50p. While they'd
like to do that, they don't want to be because they have advice that you
could end up losing tax revenue explain this for those of us that
aren't glued to accountancy spread to -- spreadsheets. Some people say
19,000 people in Scotland pay tax at 45%. That is people who earn over
hundred ?50,000 a year. The idea of putting 5p on that tax rate to get
an extra somewhere between ?120 million hundred and 30 million
the taxpayer that pays 45%. ?150,000 the taxpayer that pays 45%. ?150,000
- ?200,000, there's about 9,000 Scottish taxpayers who earn over
?200,000. What we don't know is how much they earn, so it could
significant. In general, the view seems to be if you put 5p on the
highest rate of tax, some of those top 9,000 could leave the country,
leave Scotland, to avoid that. You deal with clients who have got
fairly substantial funds. In your dealings with people, do you think
people would leave just because you'll be paying tax over those
earnings. Those that earn between 150-200,000 will not. I would
probably have said that if I was earning over ?200,000 a year, and I
was faced with an extra 5p on the tax, if I was in a position where I
was in a small or medium sized enterprise and I was able to take a
dividend, I would take a dividend. A dividend tax individually is going
to be less than 50p, around about 38p, so you'd expect a higher rate
taxpayer with a 50% band take a dividend rather than pay 5p on
earnings. There are 360,000 enterprises in Scotland and 300 of
those enterprises have five or fewer employees, which makes them able to
take a dividend. And I think the problem here is not about people
taking flight. It's about the fact that if a dividend were to be taken
instead of the 5p tax, dividend taxes are not devolved to Scotland.
These savings taxes. They are preserved at Westminster which means
the tax itself, if collected by individuals deciding to take a
dividend rather than a salary, it would go to Westminster. So people
would pay less tax, as they are paying a tax on dividend, not
income, but that is hopeless because the money goes straight to George
Osborne. That is the point here, isn't it? Yes, it is. What about
putting a penny up on the basic rate which both the Lib Dems and Labour
are proposing? Is that going to drive people away? I don't think it
would drive people away. It is a very interesting point. The whole
point about the 1p on the tax is in the current Parliament, there is no
option if one raises or lowers tax rates. You have to raise it for the
lower, higher, everyone would have to have an increase, everyone would
have to have a decrease. That is the problem we face today. If the
parties were in power, they would use the current powers available to
them to do so. The Scottish National Party have said they feel they would
not... There must be presumably at least in theory a limit to this.
Perhaps put people's tax up by 1p, they're not going to leave the
country or take their income as dividends, as you were at
describing. The more you have a divergences between Scotland and the
UK, if taxes here are higher, there is more incentive to do that. What
we are missing is the fact about tax 's rates and bands. We haven't seen
this at the moment because Scotland doesn't have the power to raise tax
rates and bands as they like. From the 6th of April 2017, that is when
the difference is going to be. You might see a 30% band coming into
Scotland. You might see a third % band at a particular limit, a 40% at
a front limit. We might see 45 bands. That's the point a lot of
parties are beginning to make. It's not about the 1p on the basic rate.
It is about when do you start paying tax at a higher rate? The issue here
is 25% of the population pay tax at 30%. You'd get far more people
paying far more tax than you would if you put 5p on the top end where
perhaps only 18,000 people would pay it. I expect to see bands coming in,
and that might make a difference. Can we make something clear and the
bands - the Scottish government has one of is the other parties are
saying that they will not do what George Osborne is going to do which
is raise the threshold for the 40p band, up eventually to ?50,000. And
they claim that various amounts of money resulting from that. It's not
any extra money for the Scottish government, is it? They don't need
to make savings the way George Osborne has to make savings. It's
interesting. What George Osborne isn't doing is not a competition.
Not for a taxpayer. A taxpayer lives in a country, whether that is
Scotland or the UK. What is going to happen is that in Scotland we are
going to have a tax system, like it or not, and that's tax system will
determine how much we pay in taxes based on our ability to raise that
money to spend. What is going to happen, going forward, is no matter
what George Osborne does, we will be faced with a tax position in the
Scottish government here and we will have to pay it. Our alternative is
to try to avoid paying it or to leave Scotland altogether and go to
England, and as we've said earlier, my view is that is not something one
would do unless the tax was significantly different.
Significantly greater. We might find those in the middle income brackets
are paying more tax than they are today. And, again, I'm not too for
those people would be the people who could leave Scotland. All right,
thank you very much for joining us this morning.
Exactly 90 years ago today thousands of people gathered on Glasgow Green
in Glasgow for a Mayday rally, wondering what was going to happen
next in the dispute between the miners and the Conservative
What happened, of course, was the General Strike,
It started in the coalfields. A dispute about wages and hours. At
pits across the country, work stopped on May the 4th, 1926, the
next day the battle began to tell the story of the strike. This was
produced for the government on behalf of the employers. The trade
unions paper highlighted what it saw as the success of the action. World
War I ended eight years earlier. Arguably, it had laid down the roots
of the general strike. It dramatically affects coal mining
because Cole couldn't be sent abroad. People started to rely on
other countries to supply them with coal. That undermined the miners.
There was an investigation into the miners' conditions and the
government suggested 13.5% of their salary would be. At and their hours
would be lengthened. It was a battle for control, as owners of the
pre-nationalisation coal industry reasserted themselves. 1926 can be
seen, I think, as an attempt by the employers to regain control which
they felt had been lost during the First World War and its aftermath.
They'd lost control of their workplaces, lost control of the
management of reduction, to some extent, with workers more confident,
aiming a much greater share of effective daily practical control
over how their work was organised. Engineers and shipbuilders in the
West of Scotland were not called out until seven days later, the day the
strike actually came to an end. It was called off very suddenly, to the
great annoyance and anger of a lot of people in Glasgow, particularly
those who had actually only been called out that they face the fact
they were called out and the whole strike had been called off. I think
the trade union Congress absolutely lost a of support. They lost 1.5
million members partly as a result of how they had given up so quickly.
The impact of the general strike was remarkable. Actually, far more
workers came out on strike from a sense of shared class loyalty to the
miners, groups of workers in a variety of money factoring
industries, including in Glasgow, in Scotland, the textile industry,
there were many women workers as well as male workers involved in the
stoppage, so, actually, the scale of the stoppage surprise not only the
30s, the government of the day, the Conservative government of the day,
but surprise the TUC itself. People in the TUC got very, very cold feet
very quickly and they were scared by allegations coming from the
government that the TUC was attempting to subvert the rotation
constitution, the British democratic system. These images come from an
album of photographs recently acquired by an adult education
Centre in London. They show miners in the Fife coalfield organising,
marching, and protesting in May and through the summer of 1926, as they
remained locked out of the pits. For six months, miners lived, struggled
without income, without work. The level of poverty, the level of...
Frankly, the level of class conflict that existed in 1926 was something
quite striking in Scotland. Shared with other parts of the coalfields
in South Wales, for example, and the north-east of England. But that was
a special characteristic of the conflict in Scotland. Mr Speaker,
this stinks. Has the government water down its new trade union Bill?
This shows this government really is water down its new trade union Bill?
at the rotten heart of the European water down its new trade union Bill?
Union. The accusation is that David Cameron did it to win support in the
European referendum. So, perhaps some of the issues raised in 1926
European referendum. So, perhaps are still relevant today.
I'm joined by two guests this morning, the Observer columnist
Kevin McKenna and Magnus Gardham, who is the political
I mean, look, during the lifetime of the next parliament, there will be
enormous tax powers devolved to Scotland. This should have been a
very exciting election campaign because of that. And it has been
pretty dull, to be honest. I think the campaign two have been
lacklustre. It has been interesting because of the tax debate we've had
but perhaps what has been most interesting is the extent to which
it has shown the constitutional question still dominate Scottish
politics. Is that the problem, that compared
to we went independence, messing around with tax rates just doesn't
quite do it for people? I don't know if that is a problem. I think this
is certainly what is happening. On paper, labour, the Liberal Democrats
have a tax policy which you would think appealed to SNP voters more
than the SNP's tax plan. Have SNP voters switched to Labour and the
Lib Dems? No, they haven't. I think is pretty clear that the
constitution is a big factor and also the figure of Nicola Sturgeon,
whose appeal transcends the political dividing line. Judging by
your column in the Observer this morning, you haven't managed to get
yourself very excited either, have you? The participants in the
selection of fighting against the recent history of last year's
Westminster election and the referendum on independence six
months, eight months prior to that. In both of those elections or polls,
there was a sense of history being made and a sense that people were
participating in the great, important days and they were lucky
that they were around to participate in Fareham. That hasn't really
happened here. It has been reduced, the main issue has been tax and
whether it is 1p or whether or not, whether the SNP risk-sharing all
their wares for the next few years because quite frankly, they don't
need to. The only historical axe back to this election is that I
cannot remember any time when the UK, when not only is the outcome
seemingly assured but also an overall majority, perhaps the second
of Tony Blair's wins in the UK, that is the only thing that comes close.
So you think the excitement is gone because there is not that sense of
will show that because you have 35% will show that because you have 35%
-- had 85% turnout at the referendum. You had 71% at
Westminster. I think we would be struggling to get around 60% at this
one. It just doesn't carry the same romance and drama. It's not to say
it is not important because the FS it is not important because the FS
-- if the SNP do win this, it means they are set fair for government...
What has happened? The idea of lots of people becoming involved in
politics for the first time, you bought into the excitement of the
referendum campaign, the idea of a new movement and the rest of it. Do
you think that has dissipated largely? I am not sure it has
dissipated. What it has is reinforced the hegemony of the SNP.
We are seeing the prevailing narrative in the selection is still
the constitutional issue that we had more than 18 months ago. That has
led to a bedrock of 45% to 47% of the SNP vote. That would dominate
home election. I happen to disagree with Nicola Sturgeon when she says
we are looking for five successive polls of 50% or more. I think going
into a second referendum, whether it be in three or five years' time,
with 45%, 47% still sticking with pro-independence, that is still 15
points better off than when the yes campaign went in to bat a year and a
half before the referendum. OK. You think... I see what you mean. You
think they could put on another 10%. They are guaranteed 45% or 47%, if
the next five polls showed what Professor Curtis was saying, then
they are aiming for another 5%, 6%. You had a theory, didn't you, about
shy Labour voters. You've been putting it up. They are very, very,
very shy indeed. Do you think they might still be there? The poll today
in the Sunday Times suggests they might be starting to emerge and
in the Sunday Times suggests they certainly, the point that Professor
Curtis was making about a Tory victory over Labour depends more
actually on how low Labour sinks than it does how well the Tories
perform. The Tories themselves understand that which is why they
have talked about overtaking Labour but they've not ever been and
confident that they are going to be able to do it. Yeah, the polls are
giving Labour a bit... This phenomenon was a new one, wasn't it?
It was the idea... It's used to be with the Tories, that people didn't
like to tell pollsters that actually they were going to vote
Conservative. You find the same thing in Scotland with Labour. Yeah.
Friends in the SNP and the Tories both told me that when they are
knocking on doors, people will both told me that when they are
volunteer a view on the SNP and they will say yes, we like them or no, we
don't like the SNP but they weren't volunteering the fact that they were
Labour. It raises a big question about whether the Labour vote is
there, whether it is going to turn out and all of these things. It
makes it very, very difficult to predict, actually, how Labour and
the Conservatives are going to do on Thursday in relation to each other.
I think I am right in saying, you would have liked to have seen the
SNP being a bit more radical in its programme for the next few years but
I presume they would say, first of all, we've got to worry about
voters, a huge number of voters who might not like that radical
programme and also we don't have to because we are going to win anyway.
Yeah, that is what I would like the SNP to deliver more on, its
narrative since 2007. I suspect that they would say, well, look, we are
the dominant party, we want to first of all ensure that we are returned
as a party of government and that we maintain our overall majority. To do
that, we have to continue our appeal maintain our overall majority. To do
to a wide spectrum of voters, including some who maybe don't want
to vote for independence. How long do you think that can last? Do you
think they does come a point where perhaps people say, in the Glasgow
area, where many used to be Labour, who voted SNP because they thought
in a way independence became a proxy about something more radical
happening van has happened up until now, do you think at any point they
get fed up and say, what the SNP is proposing isn't many more radical?
By the end of the next session of Hollywood, the SNP, if they win,
will have been in power for 13 years. One of the main criticisms of
the Tony Blair government was, at the outset in 1997, that was seen as
a three term government and many on the left, not radical left, said
this is great, this is more than enough time, there is more than
enough opportunity for us not just to have a soft left agenda but to
reverse things like Margaret Thatcher's anti-trade union laws and
impose stricter laws on the financial businesses. People on the
left here, including those who voted for the SNP and voted yes, will say
after 13 years, who will be looking for something a little bit more
radical, a little bit more reforming that goes beyond little packages of
many here for nurses or GPs or primary care. I will have to cut you
off because we've completely run out of time. 20 both very much indeed.
I'll be back at the same time next week.
Andrew Neil and Gordon Brewer with the latest political news, interviews and debate. Guests include Tim Farron MP and Brandon Lewis MP. On the political panel are Janet Daley, Janan Ganesh and Nick Watt.