27/10/2013 Sunday Politics West


Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, interviews and debate. With Lord Heseltine and shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint.

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Morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics. Hope you enjoyed


the extra hour in bed, and that you've realised it's not 12:45. It's


11:45! It's getting stormy outside. But they're already battening down


the hatches at Number Ten because coalition splits are back, with


bust-ups over free schools and power bills. We'll speak to the Lib Dems,


and ask Labour who's conning whom over energy.


EU leaders have been meeting in Brussels. But how's David Cameron


getting on with that plan to change our relationship with Europe? We


were there to ask him. Have we got any powers back yet? DS!


Foreign companies own everything from our energy companies to our


railways. Does it In the West... Tony Benn on why he's


becoming even more left wing. The former Labour minister and Bristol


MP tells me why his party should seek to re`nationalise the energy


industry. as many daily journeys made by bus


than by tube, so why is the planned investment in buses not keeping


pace? And with me, three journalists


who've bravely agreed to hunker down in the studio while Britain braces


itself for massive storm winds, tweeting their political forecasts


with all the accuracy of Michael Fish on hurricane watch. Helen


Lewis, Janan Ganesh and Nick Watt. Now, sometimes coalition splits are


over-egged, or dare we say even occasionally stage-managed. But this


week, we've seen what looks like the genuine article. It turns out Nick


Clegg has his doubts about the coalition's flagship free schools


policy. David Cameron doesn't much like the green levies on our energy


bills championed by the Lib Dems. Neither of them seems to have


bothered to tell the other that they had their doubts. Who better to


discuss these flare-ups than Lib Dem Deputy Leader Simon Hughes? He joins


me now. Welcome. Good morning. The Lib Dems spent three years of


sticking up for the coalition when times were grim. Explain to me the


logic of splitting from them when times look better. We will stick


with it for five years. It is working arrangement, but not


surprisingly, where there right areas on which we disagree over


where to go next, we will stand up. It is going to be hard enough for


the Lib Dems to get any credit for the recovery, what ever it is. It


will be even harder if you seem to be semidetached and picky. The


coalition has led on economic policy, some of which were entirely


from our stable. The one you have heard about most often, a Lib Dem


initiative, was to take people on blowing comes out of tax. The


recovery would not have happened, there would not have been confidence


in Britain, had there not been a coalition government with us in it,


making sure the same policies produced fair outcomes. We are not


going to leave the credit for any growth - and there has been very


good news this week. We have played a part in that, and without us, it


would not have happened. Does it not underline the trust problem you


have? You promised to abolish tuition fees. You oppose nuclear


power, now you are cheerleading the first multi-billion pounds


investment in nuclear generation. You are dying out on your enthusiasm


on green levies, and now they are up for renegotiation. Why should we


trust a word you say? In relation to green levies, as you well know, just


under 10% is to do with helping energy and helping people. Unless


there is continuing investment in renewables, we will not have the


British produced energy at cheaper cost to keep those bills down in the


future. At cheaper cost? Explain that to me. Off-shore energy is


twice the market rate. The costs of renewables will increasingly come


down. We have fantastic capacity to produce the energy and deliver lots


of jobs in the process. The parts of the energy bill that may be up for


renegotiation seems to be the part where we subsidise to help either


poor people pay less, or where we do other things. Too insulated the


homes? Are you up to putting that to general taxation? Wouldn't that be


progressive? I would. It would be progressive. I would like to do for


energy bills what the Chancellor has done for road traffic users,


drivers, which is too fuelled motor fuel -- to freeze new to fall. That


would mean there would be an immediate relief this year, not


waiting for the election. So there is a deal to be done there? Yes We


understand we have to take the burden off the consumer, and also


deal with the energy companies, who look as if they are not paying all


the tax they should be, and the regulator, which doesn't regulate


quickly enough to deal with the issues coming down the track. We can


toughen the regulator, and I hope that the Chancellor, in the Autumn


statement, was signalled that energy companies will not be allowed to get


away with not paying the taxes they should. And this deal will allow


energy prices to come down? Yes How could David Laws, one of your


ministers, proudly defend the record of unqualified teachers working in


free schools, and then stand side-by-side with Mr Clegg, as he


says he is against them? David Laws was not proudly defending the fact


that it is unqualified teachers He said that some of the new,


unqualified teachers in free schools are doing a superb job. But you want


to get rid of them? We want to make sure that everybody coming into a


free school ends up being qualified. Ends up? Goes through a process that


means they have qualifications. Just as we said very clearly at the last


election that the manifesto curriculum in free schools should be


the same as other schools. It looks like Mr Clegg is picking a fight


just for the sake of it. Mr Clegg was taught by people who didn't have


teaching qualifications in one of the greatest schools in the land, if


not the world. It didn't seem to do him any harm. What is the problem?


If you pay to go to a school, you know what you're getting. But that


is what a free school is. No, you don't pay fees. A free school is


parents taking the decisions, not you, the politicians. We believe


they would expect to guarantee is, firstly that the minimum curriculum


taught across the country is taught in the free schools, and secondly,


that the teachers there are qualified. Someone who send their


kids to private schools took a decision to take -- to send their


children there, even if the teachers were unqualified, because they are


experts in their field. Someone who send their kids to free schools is


because -- is their decision, not yours. Because some of the free


schools are new, and have never been there before, parents need a


guarantee that there are some basics in place, whatever sort of school.


So they need you to hold their hand? It is not about holding hands, it is


about having a minimum guarantee. Our party made clear at our


conference that this is a priority for us. Nick Clegg reflects the view


of the party, and I believe it is an entirely rational thing to do. Nick


Clegg complained that the Prime Minister gave him only 30 minutes


notice on the Prime Minister Buzz 's U-turn on green levies. That is


almost as little time as Nick Clegg gave the Prime Minister on his


U-turn on free schools. Aren't you supposed to be partners? Green


levies were under discussion in the ministerial group before Wednesday,


because we identified this as an issue. We do that in a practical


way. Sometimes there is only half an hour's notice. We had even less than


half an hour this morning! Simon Hughes, thank you.


So the price of energy is the big battle ground in politics at the


moment. 72% of people say that high bills will influence the way they


vote at the next election. Ed Miliband has promised a price freeze


after the next election, but will the coalition turned the tables on


Labour, with its proposal to roll back green levies. Caroline Flint


joins us from Sheffield. It looks like the coalition will be able to


take ?50 of energy bills, by removing green levies. It is quite


clear that different parts of the government are running round waking


up to the fact that the public feel that this government has not done


enough to listen to their concerns. Last week, there was a classic case


of the Prime Minister making up policy literally at the dispatch


box. Let's see what they say in the autumn statement. The truth is,


whatever the debate around green levies, and I have always said we


should look at value for money at those green levies. Our argument is


about acknowledging there is something wrong with the way the


market works, and the way those companies are regulated. Behind our


freeze for 20 months is a package of proposals to reform this market I


understand that, but you cannot tell as the details about that. I can.


You cannot give us the details about reforming the market. We are going


to do three things, and I think I said this last time I was on the


programme. First, we are going to separate out the generation side


from the supply side within the big six. Secondly, we will have a energy


pool, or power exchange, where all energy will have to be traded in


that pool. Thirdly, we will establish a tougher regulator,


because Ofgem is increasingly being seen as not doing the job right I


notice that you didn't mention any reform of the current green and


social taxes on the energy bill Is it Labour's policy to maintain the


existing green levies? In 2011, the government chose to get rid of warm


front, which was the publicly funded through tracks a scheme to support


new installation. When they got rid of that, it was the first time we


had a government since the 70s that didn't have such a policy. What is


your policy? We voted against that because we believe it is wrong. We


believe that the eco-scheme, a government intervention which is ?47


of the ?112 on our bills each year, is expensive, bureaucratic and isn't


going to the fuel poor. I am up for a debate on these issues. I am up


for a discussion on what the government should do and what these


energy companies should do. We cannot let Cameron all the energy


companies off the hook from the way in which they organise their


businesses, and expect us to pay ever increasing rises in our bills.


There is ?112 of green levies on our bills at the moment. Did you vote


against any of them? We didn't, but what I would say ease these were


government imposed levies. When they got rid of the government funded


programme, Warm Front, they introduced the eco-scheme. The


eco-project is one of the ones where the energy companies are saying


it's too bureaucratic, and it is proving more expensive than


government estimates, apparently doubled the amount the government


thought. These things are all worth looking at, but don't go to the


heart of the issue. According to official figures, on current plans,


which you support, which you voted for, households will be paying 1%


more per unit of electricity by 2030. It puts your temporary freeze


as just a blip. You support a 4 % rise in our bills. I support making


sure we secure for the future access to energy that we can grow here in


the UK, whether it is through nuclear, wind or solar, or other


technologies yet to be developed. We should protect ourselves against


energy costs we cannot control. The truth is, it is every fair for you


to put that point across, and I accept that, but we need to hear the


other side about the cost for bill payers if we didn't invest in new,


indigenous sources of energy supply for the future, which, in the long


run, will be cheaper and more secure, and create the jobs we


need. I think it is important to have a debate about these issues,


but they have to be seen in the right context. If we stay stuck in


the past, we will pay more and we will not create jobs. How can you


criticise the coalition's plans for a new nuclear station, when jeering


13 years of a Labour government you did not invest in a single nuclear


plant? You sold off all our nuclear technology to foreign companies


Energy provision was put out to private hands and there has been no


obstacle in British law against ownership outside the UK. Part of


this is looking ahead. Because your previous track record is so bad


What we did decide under the previous government, we came to the


view, and there were discussions in our party about this, that we did


need to support a nuclear future. At the time of that, David Cameron


was one of those saying that nuclear power should be a last


resort. And as you said, the Liberals did not support it. We


stood up for that. We set in train the green light of 10 sites,


including Hinkley Point, for nuclear development. I am glad to


see that is making progress and we should make more progress over the


years ahead. We took a tough decision when other governments had


not done. You did not build a new nuclear station. When you get back


into power, will you build HS2? That has not had a blank cheque


from the Labour Party. I am in favour of good infrastructure. Are


you in favour of?, answer the question? I have answered the


question. It does not have a blank cheque. If the prices are too high,


we will review the decision when we come back to vote on it. We will be


looking at it closely. We have to look for value for money and how it


benefits the country. Have you stocked up on jumpers this winter?


I am perfectly all right with my clothing. What is important, it is


ridiculous for the Government to suggest that the answer to the loss


of trust in the energy companies is to put on another jumper.


The coalition has taken a long time to come up with anything that can


trump Ed Miliband's simple freezing energy prices, vote for us. Are


they on the brink of doing so? I do not think so. They have had a


problem that has dominated the debate, talking about GDP, the


figures came out on Friday and said, well, and went back to talking


about energy. My problem with what David Cameron proposes is he agrees


with the analysis that the Big Six make too many profits. He wants to


move the green levies into general taxation, so that he looks like he


is protecting the profits of the energy companies. If the coalition


can say they will take money off the bills, does that change the


game? I do not think the Liberal Democrats are an obstacle to


unwinding the green levies. I think Nick Clegg is open to doing a deal,


but the real obstacle is the carbon reduction targets that we signed up


to during the boom years. They were ambitious I thought at the time


From that we have the taxes and clocking up of the supply-side of


the economy. Unless he will revise that, and build from first


principles a new strategy, he cannot do more than put a dent into


green levies. He might say as I have got to ?50 now and if you


voters in in an overall majority, I will look up what we have done in


the better times and give you more. I am sure he will do that. It might


be ?50 of the Bill, but it will be ?50 on your general taxation bill,


which would be more progressive They will find it. We will never


see it in general taxation. The problem for the Coalition on what


Ed Miliband has done is that it is five weeks since he made that


speech and it is all we are talking about. David Cameron spent those


five weeks trying to work out whether Ed Miliband is a Marxist or


whether he is connected to Middle Britain. That is why Ed Miliband


set the agenda. The coalition are squabbling among themselves,


looking petulant, on energy, and on schools. Nobody is taking notice of


the fact the economy is under way, the recovery is under way. Ed


Miliband has made the weather on this.


It UK has a relaxed attitude about selling off assets based -- to


companies based abroad. But this week we have seen the Swiss owner


of one of Scotland's largest industrial sites, Grangemouth, come


within a whisker of closing part of it down. So should we care whether


British assets have foreign owners? Britain might be a nation of


homeowners, but we appear to have lost our taste for owning some of


our biggest businesses. These are among the crown jewels sold off in


the past three decades to companies based abroad. Roughly half of


Britain's essential services have overseas owners. The airport owner,


British Airports Authority, is owned by a Spanish company.


Britain's largest water company Thames, is owned by a consortium


led by an Australian bank. Four out of six of Britain's biggest energy


companies are owned by overseas giants, and one of these, EDF


Energy, which is owned by the French state, is building Britain's


first nuclear power plant in a generation, backed by Chinese


investors. It's a similar story for train operator Arriva, bought by a


company owned by the German state. So part of the railways privatised


by the British government was effectively re-nationalised by the


German government. But does it matter who owns these companies as


long as the lights stay on, the trains run on time, and we can


still eat Cadbury's Dairy Milk? We are joined by the general


secretary of the RMT, Bob Crow, and by venture capitalist Julie Meyer.


They go head to head. Have we seen the consequences of


relying for essential services to be foreign-owned? Four of the Big


Six energy companies, Grangemouth, owned by a tax exile in Switzerland.


It is not good. I do not think there is a cause and effect


relationship between foreign ownership and consumer prices. That


is not the right comparison. We need to be concerned about


businesses represented the future, businesses we are good at


innovating for example in financial services and the UK has a history


of building businesses, such as Monotypes. If we were not creating


businesses here -- Monotise. Like so many businesses creating


products and services and creating the shareholders. Should we allow


hour essential services to be in foreign ownership? It was


demonstrated this week at Grangemouth. If you do not own the


industry, you do not own it. The MPs of this country and the


politicians in Scotland have no say, they were consultants.


Multinationals decide whether to shut a company down. If that had


been Unite union, they are the ones who saved the jobs. They


capitulated. They will come back, like they have for the past 150


years, and capture again what they lost. If it had closed, they would


have lost their jobs for ever. If the union had called the members up


without a ballot for strike action, there would have been uproar. This


person in Switzerland can decide to shut the entire industry down. The


coalition, the Labour Party, as well, when Labour was in government,


they played a role of allowing industries to go abroad, and it


should be returned to public ownership. Nestor. It has


demonstrated that the Net comes from new businesses. We must not


be... When Daly motion was stopped by the French government to be sold,


it was an arrow to the heart of French entrepreneurs. We must not


create that culture in the UK. Every train running in France is


built in France. 90% of the trains running in Germany are built in


Germany. In Japan, it has to be built in that country, and now an


energy company in France is reducing its nuclear capability in


its own country and wants to make profits out of the British industry


to put back into it state industry. That happened with the railway


industry. They want to make money at the expense of their own state


companies. We sold off energy production. How did we end up in a


position where our nuclear capacity will be built by a company owned by


a socialist date, France, and funded by a communist one, China,


for vital infrastructure? I am not suggesting that is in the national


interest. I am saying we can pick any one example and say it is a


shame. The simple matter of the fact is the owners are having to


make decisions. Not just Grangemouth, businesses are making


decisions about what is the common good. Not just in the shareholders'


interest. For employees, customers. What is in the common good when


prices go up by 10% and the reason is that 20 years ago they shut


every coal pit down in this country, the Germans kept theirs open and


subsidised it and now we have the Germans doing away with nuclear


power and they have coal. Under the Labour government, in 2008, the


climate change Act was passed. Well before that, and you know yourself,


they shut down the coal mines to smash the National Union of


Mineworkers because they dared to stand up for people in their


community. Even if we wanted to reopen the coalmines, it would be


pointless. Under the 2008 Act, we are not meant to burn more coal


The can, as if you spent some of the profits, you could have carbon


catch up. That does not exist on a massive scale. You are arguing the


case, Julie Meyer, for entrepreneurs to come to this


country. Even Bob Crow is not against that. We are trying to


argue, should essential services be in foreign hands? Not those in


Silicon round about doing start ups. I am trying to draw a broader


principle than just energy. Something like broadband services,


also important to the functioning of the economy. I believe in the


UK's ability to innovate. When we have businesses that play off


broadband companies to get the best prices for consumers. These new


businesses and business models are the best way. Not to control, but


to influence. It will be a disaster. Prices will go up and up as a


result. Nissan in Sunderland, a Japanese factory, some of the best


cars and productivity. You want that to be nationalised and bring


it down to the standard of British Leyland? It is not bring it down to


the standard. The car manufacturing base in this country has been


wrecked. We make more cars now for 20 years -- than in 20 years.


Ford's Dagenham produced some of the best cars in the world. Did you


buy one? I cannot drive. They moved their plants to other countries


where it was cheaper labour. Would you nationalise Nissan? There


should be one car industry that produces cars for people. This week


the EU summit was about Angela Merkel's mobile phone being tapped,


they call it a handy. We sent Adam to Brussels and told him to ignore


the business about phone-tapping and investigate the Prime


Minister's policy on Europe instead. I have come to my first EU summit to


see how David Cameron is getting on with his strategy to claim power was


back from Brussels. Got any powers back yet? Yes! Which ones? Sadly,


his fellow leaders were not as forthcoming. Chancellor, are you


going to give any powers back to Britain? Has David Cameron asked you


for any powers back? The president of the commission just laughed, and


listen to the Lithuanian President. How is David Cameron's renegotiation


strategy going? What's that? He wants powers back for Britain. No


one knows what powers David Cameron actually wants. Even our usual


allies, like Sweden, are bit baffled. We actually don't know yet


what is going through the UK membership. We will await the


finalisation of that first. You should ask him, and then tell us!


Here is someone who must know, the Dutch Prime Minister, he is doing


what we are doing, carrying out a review of the EU powers, known as


competencies in the jargon, before negotiating to get some back. Have


you had any negotiations with David Cameron over what powers you can


bring back from Brussels? That is not on the agenda of this summit.


Have you talked to him about it This is not on the schedule for this


summit. David Cameron's advises tummy it is


because he is playing the long game. -- David Cameron's advisers tell me.


At this summit, there was a task force discussing how to cut EU red


tape. Just how long this game is was explained to me outside the summit,


by the leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament. I think


the behind-the-scenes negotiations will start happening when the new


commissioner is appointed later next year. I think the detailed


negotiations will start to happen bubbly after the UK general


election. That is when we will start getting all of the detail of the


horse trading, and real, Lake night negotiations. Angela Merkel seems


keen to rewrite the EU's main treaties to deal with changes in the


Eurozone, and that is the mechanism David Cameron would use to


renegotiate our membership. Everyone here says his relationship with the


German Chancellor is strong. So after days in this building, here is


how it looks. David Cameron has a mountain to climb. It is climbable,


but he isn't even in the foothills yet. Has he even started packing his


bags for the trip? Joining us now, a man who knows a


thing or two about the difficulties Prime Minister 's face in Europe.


Former Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Heseltine. We are nine


months from David Cameron's defining speech on EU renegotiation. Can you


think of one area of progress? I don't know. And you don't know. And


that's a good thing. Why is it a good thing? Because the real


progress goes on behind closed doors. And only the most naive,


because the real progress goes on behind closed doors. Because, in


this weary world, you and I, Andrew, know full well that the moment you


say, I making progress, people say, where? And the machine goes to work


to show that the progress isn't enough. So you are much better off


making progress as best you can in the privacy of private diplomacy. It


is a long journey ahead. In this long journey, do you have a clear


sense of the destination? Do you have a clear sense of what powers Mr


Cameron wants to negotiate? I have a clear sense of the destination,


which is a victory for the campaign that he will win to stay inside the


European community. That is the agenda, and I have total support for


that. I understand that, but if he is incapable of getting any tangible


sign of renegotiation, if he is able only to do what Wilson did in 1 75,


which was to get a couple of token changes to our membership status, he


goes into that referendum without much to argue for. He has everything


to argue for. He's got Britain's vital role as a major contributor to


the community. He's got Britain s self interest as a major


beneficiary, and Britain's vital role in the City of London. He's got


everything to argue for. He could argue for that now. He could have a


referendum now. He doesn't want one now. I haven't any doubt that he


will come back with something to talk about. But it may be slightly


different to what his critics, the UK isolationist party people, want.


He may, for example, have found that allies within the community want


change as well, and he may secure changes in the way the community


works, which would be a significant argument within the referendum


campaign. Let me give you an example. I think it is a scandal


that the European Commission don't secure the auditing of some of the


accounts. Perhaps that could be on the agenda. He might find a lot of


contributing countries, like Germany, like Colin and, would be


very keen. -- like Holland. David vetoed the increase in the European


budgets the other day, and he had a lot of allies. So working within


Europe on the things that people paying the European bills want is


fertile ground. Is John Major right to call for a windfall tax on the


energy companies? John is a very cautious fellow. He doesn't say


things without thinking them out. So I was surprised that he went for a


windfall tax. First of all, it is retrospective, and secondly, it is


difficult to predict what the consequences will be. I am, myself,


more interested in the other part of his speech, which was talking about


the need for the Conservative Party to seek a wider horizon, to


recognise what is happening to the Conservative Party in the way in


which its membership is shrinking into a southeastern enclave. Are you


in favour of a windfall tax? I am not in favour of increasing any


taxes. Do you share Iain Duncan Smith's point of view on welfare


reform? I think Iain Duncan Smith is right. It is extremely difficult to


do, but he is right to try. I think public opinion is behind him, but it


isn't easy, because on the fringe of these issues there are genuine hard


luck stories, and they are the ones that become the focus of attention


the moment you introduce change It requires a lot of political skill to


negotiate your way through that But isn't Iain Duncan Smith right to


invoke the beverage principle, that you should be expected to make a


contribution for the welfare you depend on? Yes, he is. I will let


you get your Sunday lunch. Thanks for joining us.


Coming up in just over 20 minutes, I will be


Thank you, Andrew and welcome to the part of the programme that's just


for us here in the west. Coming up this week... Socialism is not a


dirty word. That's according to the former Labour Minister and Bristol


MP who tells us why, as he gets older, he moves even further to the


left. So why doesn't his party agree with him? Joining us today is the


Conservative MP from North Wiltshire, James Gray and the Labour


leader on Bristol City Council, Helen Holland. Helen, this week we


heard about Liverpool scrapping bus lanes and Swindon reducing parking


charges. Is it time Bristol became more motorist friendly? I think the


Mayor was asked a question about whether he would be copying


Liverpool and for once, we had a one word answer and that answer was no.


I think... It is about policies that suit the place. I think that Bristol


is one of the most congested cities in the country. Managing that number


of cars has got to be a priority. In Swindon, they got rid of traffic


wardens and it helped traffic flow. That might have been the case, but


Swindon is not Bristol. I do not think it would be the right way to


go, although I do think that when we do introduce measures they have to


be a lot more consensual. There has to be a lot more consensus. I want


to talk about energy prices. Ed Miliband has called for a freeze on


the cost of gas and electricity He has wrong`footed David Cameron. That


is a total corn. You cannot freeze prices without nationalisation. `` a


total corn. You cannot freeze them and to him saying that is just


trying to mislead the public and people know it cannot be done. We


need to do something, but David Cameron has come up with an idea,


and much better idea though is to find more energy and that is why I


welcome the new nuclear announcement this week. I would like to see more


oil being drilled in the North Sea. I would like to see fracking coming


in. If you have got more energy it costs less. I do not think they


would be anything wrong with fracking in my constituency. He was


the politician who opened a nuclear power station in the west and saved


Concorde. Tony Benn is Bristol's best known former MP, a socialist


who critics say made Labour unelectable because of his hard left


views. He's now 88 and has just published his final volume of


diaries. I have been to speak to him about his life in politics. Have you


feared ever so slightly to the right as you have got older? In general I


think I have moved to the left. I know many people do that, I have


done at the other way around. You are one of the last remaining


full`blown socialists I guess in British politics. Does it feel like


that to you? Know, if you take the word socialist used as a term of


abuse, the most socialist thing we ever did was the National Health


Service and it is the most popular thing that we did. Good health was


then available to everyone. Socialism is an understanding of the


world. It is a question of how you understand what is going on in the


world. What sort of society would July? A lot of people think about


you and they think about process `` protest. I think all advances have


been made with democracy. When democracy works, progress is made.


It is about advancing public control of services so that they are


accountable. I think for me, democracy is a very good idea. If


you have got no money, you cannot do very much for yourself. You have got


the vote, you can vote for the things you need. I think democracy


is a good idea and I am a Democrat. I think that socialism is about the


extension of democracy. You have defeated the House of Lords, you


have defeated the courts, you have change the constitution of this


country by your own power! That is a very great achievement! You say you


were a good friend of Ralph Miller band. He was accused in the Daily


Mail of hating his country `` Ed Miliband's father. What are your


views about your country? I love Britain but I feel myself


increasingly at odds. Are you patriotic? I love my country and oh


a lot to my country. `` I owe a lot to my country. Tony Benn is in the


road, come and meet him. If you were to stand in Bristol again, you would


not have had much chance `` much of a chance, because they are going for


all women short lists. I am in favour of a different solution.


Every constituency should have two candidates, a man and a woman. We


would have more MPs, but I think that is a better way. Once you start


saying to a party, whoever you have, you cannot have them if they are the


wrong sex, I think that is wrong, I am not in favour. Having been a


member of Parliament for 32 years, I was in the House of Commons that


introduced the National Health Service Bill... Looking back at your


life and politics, are you confident that you were a force for good? I


tried to be. I said what I believed in and I believed what I said. I did


what I said I would do when I had the chance. I have to stand by what


I did. If I know that I made mistakes, I would avoid them in the


future by learning from the past. I learned a lot from Bristol, I loved


the city. As a 25`year`old Labour candidate back then and then for 20


years, I represented the city and came to learn to love it and its


influences. I am indebted to them. You are 88? Yes. Not terribly old by


the standards today. I have my doubts about living to 100. I would


like to. How would you like to be remembered? I would like to be


remembered for what I have done The key thing, especially now I am old,


is to encourage people. If when I die, people say that Tony Benn


encourage me, that will be the greatest tribute that could possibly


be. Thank you. Did he inspire and encourage you? When I joined the


Labour Party, Tony Benn was my MP and I think like a lot of people, we


hold him with huge affection. Why is the Labour Party so different now?


He is right, some of the greatest achievements of the Labour Party


like the NHS, like the minimum wage, about civil partnerships, all of


those great things, are because people listened to what it was that


the electorate wanted. Why are there are no Tony Benn is coming through


the ranks? I think there are. We do have debates. Social media, all of


those things have changed the context of debate and you do have to


listen and take people with you Is he too left`wing? Was he so wrong


about a nationalised eight? He opened a nuclear power station ``


nationalisation. Now we are going to the French and ask them to build our


power station. Tony Benn, he was one of the nicest people I ever met A


complete and utter gentleman. Talked total nonsense, but he was a lovely


man and I love the way he said it. I think it is fantastic we will have


it, Labour talked about it, we have actually said we will have nuclear


power and we will bring it in. The industry was under public


ownership, now it is not. I am glad that we are bringing in overseas


investment. That is fantastic news. French and Chinese investment is


good. They know there is a future in this country and they will make


money. I am glad that we are doing that rather than fooling around with


renationalisation. Was he right about public ownership? He believed


they should all be accountable through public ownership. Why does


Labour not agree? Look at energy, it is extraordinary that David Cameron


is prepared to gamble on the prices that we might have. He is not


prepared to freeze prices. Regulation is something we need to


talk about. At a recent Labour Party conference, we talked about


re`regulating public transport. Those are the discussions. I can


bear the world nationalisation. `` word. I think in terms of the Royal


Mail, what we have seen happen has been a disaster. Thank you. It was


great to meet him. We've just heard from Tony Benn about his dislike of


all`women short lists to elect politicians. But one hundred years


on from riots by Suffragettes in Bristol, there are still concerns


that there are not enough women or ethnic minority candidates being


elected to council chambers and Westminster. Charlotte Callen


reports. Marching for equality. One hundred years ago, these women


couldn't vote, let alone stand as candidates in elections. Some of


these suffragettes were known as militants, angry at society and


politicians and prepared to go to extreme lengths, on the streets in


Bristol, to be heard. The suffragettes burnt down a sports


pavilion at the University. They left a message protesting about the


arrest of a woman called Mary Richardson. When the students found


out about this, about 300 students rushed down and started wrecking the


shop. Just a few years after the riots here, women did start to get


the right to vote, but many believed the suffragettes would still be


disappointed by just how far we have come in terms of equality in


politics. I think they `` we can be confident we would not be impressed


by the numbers. We do not have parity. Labour's answer to gender


inequality? They introduced all`women short lists and the Lib


Dems have suggested they may do the same. But would the suffragettes


approve? I think in some ways, I can imagine some of the women would not


like that idea. They were very much about being equal to men, going out


and doing what they were doing and they would have found, they might


have found an element of this as patronising. There are over 150


female MPs in Parliament. But with just 27 MPs classed as being from


'ethnic minority communities' is this where the 'new equality


campaigners' should focus their attention? The former Labour MP for


Gloucester, Parmjit Dhanda, thinks so. In some ways it was great to


look and sound different to lots of people, but as you get older, you


have a wife, you have young children, there are particular


challenges with being very visible and different and seem to be


different. There were certainly challenges in the election campaign.


I think stuff that was directed at me, which may not have been


deflected if I looked or my background was different. He lost


his seat at the last election and says it is time to address some of


the problems he faced during his political career. So he's given


evidence to a cross`party group on discrimination in politics. There


was a paid's severed head left outside our front door `` pig. That


makes you think. You expect that rough and tumble as Emperor of


Parliament, it goes with the territory, although I do not think I


was ever really so thick`skinned that I could just ignore things like


that. Councillor Hibaq Jama is the first Somali woman to be elected to


the city council in Bristol. It s thought as many as 20,000 somalians


now live in the city. But she says Ukip, who came second to her in the


Lawrence Hill ward, ran a clearly anti`Somali campaign against her. I


think the progress we have made is evident with the likes of me


standing for election and winning. I do think that in 2013, our aims need


to be much more ambitious and we need to be much more bold about


addressing the inequality that stands and strangled our political


system. Many of these women were imprisoned, force`fed and


marginalised because of their political views. What `` much


pleasure was expressed at the actions taken by the students. There


was not much support? Not amongst some levels of society. There was


quite a lot of animosity. There s no doubt, since 1913, Britain has come


a long way. But campaigners still believe we're many years away from


our council chambers and Commons benches mirroring society at large.


Joining us is Brenda Weston from Equality South West, an organisation


which works for change but is closing down this month due to a


lack of funding. Do you think our politicians should be more


representative of real life? Our work is far from done. We hear how


much people will miss us and the work that we do. In what way are


women now disadvantaged? I think if the suffragettes saw 100 years ago


what is happening now, they would be out on the streets again. Women are


being objectified in terrible ways through media, they are not properly


represented on councils, at any level of government or at national


government. Is this something you recognise? Yes. A report shows that


actually the government's cuts are a disadvantage in women far more. Have


you felt disadvantaged in your career? Absolutely. If you look back


to the time when Tony Benn encourage me to become a member of the Labour


Party and then to start standing for positions, it was quite unusual


especially as I was much younger, for a young woman to get any kind of


position. That is not about saying we should have been there by right,


it was just that the system disadvantaged women as it does the


black and minority ethnic community. I think that Hibaq Jama is right. It


is not just because we want the council chamber or the House of


Commons to reflect the population of the country, it is about why do we?


It is about the challenge that we face. What difference does it make


to the public if there are elected representative is a man or a woman?


I think there are lots of people who would disagree. Whilst you do not


have diversity, you do not have council chambers reflecting the


communities they represent, there are people in those communities who


feel disenfranchising, whose interest are not represented. I do


not agree. I am opposed to discrimination. There must not be


discrimination against women or ethnic minorities. I think that the


job of an MP is to be the best you can be. I represent 38,000 women,


quite well I hope, a number of people from different racial


backgrounds, I represent intelligent and stupid people, you do not


necessarily have to have an exact match. I want to see the right


people who work hard for the local area. Do you have to be stupid to


represent a stupid person? You can represent everybody. Posit the ``


Michael positive disconnection is terrible. Even Tony Benn said that?


I disagree with Tony Benn. I think if what James is saying is correct,


we would not have inequality. We have it in so many ways. Thank you.


And now for a brief round`up of some of the other political news in the


West this week in just 60 seconds. They've lost money, but reckon it's


good for business. It's three years since Swindon cut parking charges


and traffic wardens. The council say their car`friendly approach has


boosted the town centre. Swindon is prepare friendly place to come. For


parking, you cannot go wrong. The South West is falling behind the


rest of England when it comes to teenagers going to university. The


national trend is sharply up, but in parts of Somerset rates have fallen,


while in South Bristol just 18% go on to higher education. The


government is facing a legal challenge after agreeing to a


further eight weeks of badger culling in Gloucestershire.


Campaigners say it breaches official policy on tackling bovine TB. And


there's been more criticism of government plans to reduce the


number of regular soldiers and replace them with reservists. Former


Defence Secretary Liam Fox is the latest to speak out. Let us pick up


on the plans to reduce the regular Army further. James Gray, you've


voted against this. I am a strong supporter of the Territorial Army


and they do a great job. 10% of all people who have been in Afghanistan


and Iraq are from the Territorial Army. I welcome the fact that we


will increase the numbers and the government has spent ?2 billion on


improving the Territorial Army. How can we cut the regular Army by


30,000 people won't we have not yet found the new people to go in? That


is why I rebelled. I need the government to hold, stop laying


soldiers of, until such time as we have the reserves to replace them. I


do agree. It is interesting that a number of people rebelled against


the government because they are do not listening to the advice that the


people in the Ministry of Defence are saying. I think that it


potentially could leave us very vulnerable and I think it is quite


right that Army recruitment is not going well, they have not met the


targets and we cannot just fill those places with the Territorial


Army, although I also have great admiration for them. I think we need


a proper, fully staffed up service and we need the Territorial Army to


be there. We have to leave it there. Thank you to my guests. If you would


like to watch the interview with Tony Benn again it will be available


free school area for into that category. Thank you.


Is Labour about to drop its support category. Thank you.


Is Labour about to drop its support for High Speed 2, a rail line the


party approved while in government? for High Speed 2, a rail line the


these green shoots? These are all questions for The Week Ahead.


So, HS2. Miss Flint wouldn't answer the question. She's in northern MP


too. Ed Balls is comparing it to the Millennium Dome.


too. Ed Balls is comparing it to the minute's silence for HS2? It will


not be quite as crude as that. They will not stand up and say, we


not be quite as crude as that. They senior Labour person said to me it


would be a bit senior Labour person said to me it


that Gordon Brown and Ed Balls set for the euro back in 97. They will


be chucking lots of questions into the air, and the questions will


create doubt, and will create the grounds for Labour to say, at some


point, we think there is a much much better way of spending the money. It


isn't ?42 billion, because that includes a contingency. Let's see


what Peter Mandelson had to say about HS2. He was in the government


when Labour supported it. Frankly, there was too much of the argument


that if everyone else has got a high-speed train, we should have won


too. Regardless of need, regardless of cost, and regardless of


alternatives. As a party, to be frank, we didn't feel like being


trumped by the zeal of the then opposition's support for the


high-speed train. We wanted, if anything, to upstage them. So they


didn't really need it, and we're only talking about ?50 billion. Why


would you take a decision involving ?50 billion in a serious way? For


David Cameron, if it becomes clear Labour is against it, he cannot


proceed. He indicated last week that he wouldn't proceed if the certainty


wasn't there. For Labour, HS2 is really a debate about the deficit by


proxy. They think that if you don't go ahead with HS2, that releases


tens of billions of pounds to spend on other things, such as public


services, without going into boring. I don't think that works because


there was a difference between cancelling something that already


exists to pay for something else, and cancelling something that does


not yet exist and will be paid for over decades to pay for something


here and now. Can Labour do this? I know that the line will be, we are


not going to build this railway because we are going to build


200,000 houses a year. Can they do this without political cost? I think


there will be political costs, but they will play this card of we have


changed our mind. I think Cameron's line has been very clever, saying we


cannot do it without labour. You can put it in two ways. Sorry, we cannot


go ahead with it, but Labour has ruined your chance of prosperity, or


they can tie themselves to it, and then Labour cannot attack it on


great grounds when costs do spire. You can write Labour's script right


now. They can say, if we were in charge, the financial management


would be much better. This raises some really important questions for


the government. They have utterly failed to make the case for HS2


There is a real case to make. Between London and Birmingham it is


about capacity not speed. North of Birmingham, it is about


connectivity. It is a simple case to make, but it is only in the last


month that they have been making that case. It shows really terrible


complacency in the coalition that they haven't done that. We'll HS2


happen or not? I think it will. For the reasons that Nick outlined,


there is not of a constituency for it amongst Northern areas. -- there


is enough of a constituency for it. There is private investment as well.


It isn't like Heathrow. I say no, because I think Labour will drop


their support for it. Caroline Flint said she was in favour of the


concept of trains generally, but will it go further than that? It is


difficult to see how it will go ahead if Labour will not support it


after setting five tests that it clearly will not meet. Some will


breathe a sigh of relief. Some will say, even in the 20th century, we


cannot build a proper rail network. The economy was another big story of


the week. We had those GDP figures. There is a video the Tories are


releasing. The world premiere is going to be here. Where's the red


carpet? It gives an indication of how the Tories will hand Mr Miliband


and labour in the run-up to the election. Let's have a look at it.


These graphics are even worse than the ones we use on our show! How on


earth would you expect that to go viral? It did have a strange feel


about it. It doesn't understand the Internet at all. Who is going to


read those little screens between it? Put a dog in it! However,


putting that aside, I have no idea that that is going to go viral. The


Tories are now operating - and I say Tories rather than the coalition -


on the assumption that the economy is improving and will continue to


improve, and that that will become more obvious as 2014 goes on. We


just saw their how they will fight the campaign. Yes, and at the


crucial moment, you will reach the point where wages. To rise at a


faster pace than inflation, and then people will start to, in the words


of Harold Macmillan, feel that they have never had it so good. That is


the key moment. If the economy is growing, there is a rule of thumb


that the government should get a benefit. But it doesn't always work


like that. The fundamental point here is that Ed Miliband has had a


great month. He has totally set the agenda. He has set the agenda with


something - freezing energy prices - that may not work. That video shows


that the Conservatives want to get the debate back to the


fundamentals. That this is a party that told us for three years that


this coalition was telling us to -- was taking us to hell on a handcart.


That doesn't seem to have happened. The energy price was a very clever


thing, at the party conference season, which now seems years ago.


They saw that the recovery was going to happen, so they changed the


debate to living standards. Some economists are now privately


expecting growth to be 3% next year, which was inconceivable for five


months ago. If growth is 3% next year, living standards will start to


rise again. Where does Labour go then? I would go further, and say


that even though Ed Miliband has made a small political victory on


living standards, it hasn't registered in the polls. Those polls


have been contracted since April -- have been contracting since April.


That macro economic story matters more than the issue of living


standards. The interesting thing about the recovery is it confounds


everybody. No one was predicting, not the Treasury, not the media not


the IMF, not the academics, and the only people I can think of... I fit


-- I thought they knew everything! The only people I know who did are


one adviser who is very close to George Osborne, and the clever hedge


fund is who were buying British equities back in January. Because


the Treasury's record is so appalling, no one believe them, but


they were saying around February, March this year, that by the end of


the summer, the recovery would be gathering momentum. For once, they


turned out to be right! They said that the economy would be going gang


bust is! Where did the new Tory voters come from? I agree, if the


economic recovery continues, the coalition will be stronger. But


where will they get new voters from? For people who sign up to help to


buy, they will be locked into nice mortgages at a low interest rate,


and just as you go into a general election, if you are getting 3%


growth and unemployment is down the Bank of England will have to review


their interest rates. People who are getting nice interest rates now may


find that it is not like that in a few months time. The point John


Major was making implicitly was that Mrs Thatcher could speak to people


on low incomes. John Major could not speak to them -- John Major could


speak to them. But this coalition cannot speak to them. This idea


about the reshuffle was that David Cameron wanted more Northern voices,


more women, to make it look like it was not a party of seven men. When


David Cameron became leader, John Major said, I do not speak very


often, but when I do, I will help you, because I think you are good


thing and I do not want to be like Margaret Thatcher. But that speech


was clearly a lament for the party he believed that David Cameron was


going to lead and create, but that isn't happening. And energy prices


continue into this coming week. We have the companies going before a


select committee. My information is they are sending along the secondary


division, not the boss. How can they get along -- get away with that I


got the letter through from British Gas this week explaining why my


bills are going up, and at no point since this became a story have any


of the big companies handled it well. I will have to leave it there.


Make sure you pay your bill! That's it for today. The Daily Politics is


back on BBC Two tomorrow. I will be back here on BBC One next Sunday.


Remember, if it's Sunday, it is The Sunday Politics.


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