27/10/2013 Sunday Politics West


27/10/2013

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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Transcript


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

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

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

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

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

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and ask Labour who's conning whom over energy.

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

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

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

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Foreign companies own everything from our energy companies to our

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

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

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

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industry. as many daily journeys made by bus

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

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pace? And with me, three journalists

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

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itself for massive storm winds, tweeting their political forecasts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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surprisingly, where there right areas on which we disagree over

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ministers, proudly defend the record of unqualified teachers working in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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election that the manifesto curriculum in free schools should be

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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that the teachers there are qualified. Someone who send their

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Clegg complained that the Prime Minister gave him only 30 minutes

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

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

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

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levies were under discussion in the ministerial group before Wednesday,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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clear that different parts of the government are running round waking

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

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

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of the Prime Minister making up policy literally at the dispatch

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

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

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

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about acknowledging there is something wrong with the way the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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government estimates, apparently doubled the amount the government

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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technologies yet to be developed. We should protect ourselves against

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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set the agenda. The coalition are squabbling among themselves,

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

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

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Miliband has made the weather on this.

:19:57.:20:03.

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

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

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

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

:20:19.:20:21.

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

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

:20:25.:20:29.

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

:20:30.:20:32.

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

:20:33.:20:39.

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

:20:40.:20:41.

British Airports Authority, is owned by a Spanish company.

:20:42.:20:43.

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

:20:44.:20:47.

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

:20:48.:20:50.

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

:20:51.:20:53.

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

:20:54.:20:55.

first nuclear power plant in a generation, backed by Chinese

:20:56.:21:03.

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

:21:04.:21:08.

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

:21:09.:21:11.

by the British government was effectively re-nationalised by the

:21:12.:21:19.

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

:21:20.:21:23.

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

:21:24.:21:28.

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

:21:29.:21:33.

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

:21:34.:21:40.

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

:21:41.:21:46.

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

:21:47.:21:53.

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

:21:54.:22:00.

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

:22:01.:22:05.

relationship between foreign ownership and consumer prices. That

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

:22:09.:22:13.

businesses represented the future, businesses we are good at

:22:14.:22:17.

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

:22:18.:22:23.

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

:22:24.:22:34.

businesses here -- Monotise. Like so many businesses creating

:22:35.:22:40.

products and services and creating the shareholders. Should we allow

:22:41.:22:48.

hour essential services to be in foreign ownership? It was

:22:49.:22:53.

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

:22:54.:22:59.

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

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politicians in Scotland have no say, they were consultants.

:23:04.:23:06.

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

:23:07.:23:13.

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

:23:14.:23:19.

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

:23:20.:23:23.

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

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

:23:31.:23:34.

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

:23:35.:23:38.

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

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

:23:44.:23:50.

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

:23:51.:23:53.

should be returned to public ownership. Nestor. It has

:23:54.:24:05.

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

:24:06.:24:14.

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

:24:15.:24:20.

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

:24:21.:24:25.

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

:24:26.:24:29.

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

:24:30.:24:37.

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

:24:38.:24:44.

energy company in France is reducing its nuclear capability in

:24:45.:24:48.

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

:24:49.:24:52.

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

:24:53.:24:56.

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

:24:57.:25:03.

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

:25:04.:25:10.

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

:25:11.:25:16.

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

:25:17.:25:24.

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

:25:25.:25:28.

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

:25:29.:25:33.

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

:25:34.:25:37.

make decisions. Not just Grangemouth, businesses are making

:25:38.:25:41.

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

:25:42.:25:48.

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

:25:49.:25:52.

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

:25:53.:25:57.

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

:25:58.:26:01.

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

:26:02.:26:08.

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

:26:09.:26:14.

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

:26:15.:26:19.

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

:26:20.:26:23.

Mineworkers because they dared to stand up for people in their

:26:24.:26:29.

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

:26:30.:26:33.

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

:26:34.:26:40.

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

:26:41.:26:47.

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

:26:48.:26:52.

case, Julie Meyer, for entrepreneurs to come to this

:26:53.:26:57.

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

:26:58.:27:02.

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

:27:03.:27:10.

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

:27:11.:27:16.

principle than just energy. Something like broadband services,

:27:17.:27:20.

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

:27:21.:27:27.

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

:27:28.:27:32.

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

:27:33.:27:36.

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

:27:37.:27:44.

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

:27:45.:27:49.

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

:27:50.:27:54.

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

:27:55.:27:57.

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

:27:58.:28:03.

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

:28:04.:28:07.

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

:28:08.:28:13.

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

:28:14.:28:21.

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

:28:22.:28:28.

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

:28:29.:28:32.

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

:28:33.:28:39.

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

:28:40.:28:46.

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

:28:47.:28:50.

the business about phone-tapping and investigate the Prime

:28:51.:28:52.

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

:28:53.:29:08.

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

:29:09.:29:12.

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

:29:13.:29:22.

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

:29:23.:29:26.

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

:29:27.:29:33.

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

:29:34.:29:39.

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

:29:40.:29:50.

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

:29:51.:29:55.

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

:29:56.:30:00.

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

:30:01.:30:07.

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

:30:08.:30:15.

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

:30:16.:30:21.

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

:30:22.:30:26.

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

:30:27.:30:30.

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

:30:31.:30:35.

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

:30:36.:30:40.

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

:30:41.:30:47.

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

:30:48.:30:50.

summit. David Cameron's advises tummy it is

:30:51.:31:00.

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

:31:01.:31:08.

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

:31:09.:31:15.

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

:31:16.:31:20.

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

:31:21.:31:25.

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

:31:26.:31:29.

commissioner is appointed later next year. I think the detailed

:31:30.:31:35.

negotiations will start to happen bubbly after the UK general

:31:36.:31:38.

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

:31:39.:31:43.

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

:31:44.:31:51.

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

:31:52.:31:55.

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

:31:56.:32:00.

renegotiate our membership. Everyone here says his relationship with the

:32:01.:32:04.

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

:32:05.:32:09.

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

:32:10.:32:14.

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

:32:15.:32:20.

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

:32:21.:32:24.

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

:32:25.:32:30.

Former Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Heseltine. We are nine

:32:31.:32:33.

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

:32:34.:32:41.

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

:32:42.:32:47.

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

:32:48.:32:53.

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

:32:54.:33:04.

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

:33:05.:33:12.

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

:33:13.:33:17.

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

:33:18.:33:22.

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

:33:23.:33:28.

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

:33:29.:33:38.

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

:33:39.:33:42.

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

:33:43.:33:48.

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

:33:49.:33:52.

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

:33:53.:33:58.

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

:33:59.:34:07.

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

:34:08.:34:12.

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

:34:13.:34:19.

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

:34:20.:34:23.

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

:34:24.:34:29.

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

:34:30.:34:37.

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

:34:38.:34:44.

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

:34:45.:34:49.

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

:34:50.:34:55.

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

:34:56.:35:02.

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

:35:03.:35:12.

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

:35:13.:35:18.

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

:35:19.:35:23.

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

:35:24.:35:29.

works, which would be a significant argument within the referendum

:35:30.:35:32.

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

:35:33.:35:37.

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

:35:38.:35:44.

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

:35:45.:35:50.

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

:35:51.:35:58.

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

:35:59.:36:03.

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

:36:04.:36:08.

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

:36:09.:36:14.

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

:36:15.:36:21.

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

:36:22.:36:25.

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

:36:26.:36:32.

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

:36:33.:36:36.

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

:36:37.:36:41.

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

:36:42.:36:45.

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

:36:46.:36:51.

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

:36:52.:36:55.

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

:36:56.:37:04.

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

:37:05.:37:16.

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

:37:17.:37:22.

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

:37:23.:37:32.

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

:37:33.:37:40.

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

:37:41.:37:45.

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

:37:46.:37:50.

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

:37:51.:37:57.

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

:37:58.:38:01.

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

:38:02.:38:05.

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

:38:06.:38:11.

you get your Sunday lunch. Thanks for joining us.

:38:12.:38:16.

Coming up in just over 20 minutes, I will be

:38:17.:38:26.

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

:38:27.:38:32.

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

:38:33.:38:36.

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

:38:37.:38:40.

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

:38:41.:38:44.

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

:38:45.:38:51.

Conservative MP from North Wiltshire, James Gray and the Labour

:38:52.:38:54.

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

:38:55.:38:58.

heard about Liverpool scrapping bus lanes and Swindon reducing parking

:38:59.:39:01.

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

:39:02.:39:16.

Mayor was asked a question about whether he would be copying

:39:17.:39:20.

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

:39:21.:39:28.

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

:39:29.:39:35.

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

:39:36.:39:41.

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

:39:42.:39:47.

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

:39:48.:39:54.

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

:39:55.:39:58.

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

:39:59.:40:05.

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

:40:06.:40:13.

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

:40:14.:40:19.

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

:40:20.:40:26.

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

:40:27.:40:38.

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

:40:39.:40:43.

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

:40:44.:40:48.

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

:40:49.:40:53.

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

:40:54.:40:58.

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

:40:59.:41:04.

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

:41:05.:41:09.

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

:41:10.:41:14.

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

:41:15.:41:20.

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

:41:21.:41:24.

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

:41:25.:41:27.

who critics say made Labour unelectable because of his hard left

:41:28.:41:30.

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

:41:31.:41:34.

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

:41:35.:41:42.

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

:41:43.:41:51.

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

:41:52.:41:57.

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

:41:58.:42:01.

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

:42:02.:42:08.

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

:42:09.:42:13.

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

:42:14.:42:16.

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

:42:17.:42:21.

then available to everyone. Socialism is an understanding of the

:42:22.:42:27.

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

:42:28.:42:33.

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

:42:34.:42:38.

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

:42:39.:42:50.

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

:42:51.:42:57.

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

:42:58.:43:04.

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

:43:05.:43:09.

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

:43:10.:43:14.

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

:43:15.:43:21.

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

:43:22.:43:29.

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

:43:30.:43:33.

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

:43:34.:43:38.

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

:43:39.:43:45.

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

:43:46.:43:51.

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

:43:52.:44:00.

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

:44:01.:44:05.

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

:44:06.:44:16.

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

:44:17.:44:27.

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

:44:28.:44:33.

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

:44:34.:44:40.

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

:44:41.:44:44.

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

:44:45.:44:49.

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

:44:50.:44:55.

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

:44:56.:45:04.

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

:45:05.:45:10.

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

:45:11.:45:15.

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

:45:16.:45:22.

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

:45:23.:45:29.

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

:45:30.:45:34.

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

:45:35.:45:43.

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

:45:44.:45:51.

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

:45:52.:45:58.

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

:45:59.:46:04.

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

:46:05.:46:14.

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

:46:15.:46:29.

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

:46:30.:46:36.

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

:46:37.:46:41.

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

:46:42.:46:51.

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

:46:52.:46:55.

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

:46:56.:47:03.

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

:47:04.:47:10.

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

:47:11.:47:17.

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

:47:18.:47:23.

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

:47:24.:47:31.

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

:47:32.:47:34.

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

:47:35.:47:43.

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

:47:44.:47:49.

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

:47:50.:47:56.

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

:47:57.:48:02.

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

:48:03.:48:08.

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

:48:09.:48:16.

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

:48:17.:48:25.

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

:48:26.:48:34.

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

:48:35.:48:40.

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

:48:41.:48:45.

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

:48:46.:48:51.

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

:48:52.:48:57.

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

:48:58.:49:02.

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

:49:03.:49:06.

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

:49:07.:49:11.

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

:49:12.:49:18.

renationalisation. Was he right about public ownership? He believed

:49:19.:49:27.

they should all be accountable through public ownership. Why does

:49:28.:49:34.

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

:49:35.:49:38.

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

:49:39.:49:45.

prepared to freeze prices. Regulation is something we need to

:49:46.:49:50.

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

:49:51.:49:55.

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

:49:56.:50:04.

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

:50:05.:50:08.

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

:50:09.:50:15.

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

:50:16.:50:19.

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

:50:20.:50:22.

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

:50:23.:50:25.

that there are not enough women or ethnic minority candidates being

:50:26.:50:27.

elected to council chambers and Westminster. Charlotte Callen

:50:28.:50:40.

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

:50:41.:50:43.

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

:50:44.:50:48.

these suffragettes were known as militants, angry at society and

:50:49.:50:51.

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

:50:52.:50:58.

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

:50:59.:51:03.

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

:51:04.:51:07.

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

:51:08.:51:14.

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

:51:15.:51:20.

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

:51:21.:51:24.

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

:51:25.:51:28.

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

:51:29.:51:35.

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

:51:36.:51:39.

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

:51:40.:51:44.

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

:51:45.:51:47.

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

:51:48.:51:54.

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

:51:55.:52:00.

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

:52:01.:52:04.

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

:52:05.:52:09.

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

:52:10.:52:15.

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

:52:16.:52:17.

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

:52:18.:52:20.

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

:52:21.:52:24.

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

:52:25.:52:34.

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

:52:35.:52:39.

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

:52:40.:52:44.

challenges with being very visible and different and seem to be

:52:45.:52:49.

different. There were certainly challenges in the election campaign.

:52:50.:52:52.

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

:52:53.:52:57.

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

:52:58.:53:05.

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

:53:06.:53:09.

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

:53:10.:53:12.

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

:53:13.:53:19.

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

:53:20.:53:24.

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

:53:25.:53:28.

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

:53:29.:53:35.

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

:53:36.:53:41.

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

:53:42.:53:44.

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

:53:45.:53:48.

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

:53:49.:53:52.

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

:53:53.:53:57.

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

:53:58.:54:03.

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

:54:04.:54:07.

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

:54:08.:54:12.

addressing the inequality that stands and strangled our political

:54:13.:54:19.

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

:54:20.:54:21.

marginalised because of their political views. What `` much

:54:22.:54:27.

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

:54:28.:54:35.

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

:54:36.:54:45.

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

:54:46.:54:48.

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

:54:49.:54:51.

our council chambers and Commons benches mirroring society at large.

:54:52.:54:56.

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

:54:57.:54:58.

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

:54:59.:55:02.

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

:55:03.:55:11.

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

:55:12.:55:16.

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

:55:17.:55:28.

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

:55:29.:55:32.

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

:55:33.:55:41.

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

:55:42.:55:46.

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

:55:47.:55:50.

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

:55:51.:56:01.

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

:56:02.:56:05.

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

:56:06.:56:13.

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

:56:14.:56:17.

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

:56:18.:56:21.

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

:56:22.:56:26.

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

:56:27.:56:32.

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

:56:33.:56:38.

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

:56:39.:56:43.

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

:56:44.:56:47.

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

:56:48.:56:51.

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

:56:52.:56:58.

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

:56:59.:57:08.

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

:57:09.:57:13.

have diversity, you do not have council chambers reflecting the

:57:14.:57:15.

communities they represent, there are people in those communities who

:57:16.:57:20.

feel disenfranchising, whose interest are not represented. I do

:57:21.:57:25.

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

:57:26.:57:31.

discrimination against women or ethnic minorities. I think that the

:57:32.:57:36.

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

:57:37.:57:41.

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

:57:42.:57:46.

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

:57:47.:57:50.

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

:57:51.:57:53.

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

:57:54.:58:02.

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

:58:03.:58:06.

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

:58:07.:58:20.

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

:58:21.:58:25.

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

:58:26.:58:36.

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

:58:37.:58:42.

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

:58:43.:58:45.

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

:58:46.:58:48.

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

:58:49.:58:59.

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

:59:00.:59:05.

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

:59:06.:59:09.

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

:59:10.:59:12.

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

:59:13.:59:16.

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

:59:17.:59:21.

government is facing a legal challenge after agreeing to a

:59:22.:59:24.

further eight weeks of badger culling in Gloucestershire.

:59:25.:59:26.

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

:59:27.:59:32.

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

:59:33.:59:35.

number of regular soldiers and replace them with reservists. Former

:59:36.:59:37.

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

:59:38.:59:50.

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

:59:51.:59:56.

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

:59:57.:00:00.

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

:00:01.:00:05.

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

:00:06.:00:09.

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

:00:10.:00:13.

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

:00:14.:00:17.

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

:00:18.:00:24.

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

:00:25.:00:29.

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

:00:30.:00:36.

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

:00:37.:00:39.

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

:00:40.:00:45.

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

:00:46.:00:48.

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

:00:49.:00:52.

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

:00:53.:00:57.

targets and we cannot just fill those places with the Territorial

:00:58.:01:02.

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

:01:03.:01:07.

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

:01:08.:01:13.

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

:01:14.:01:16.

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

:01:17.:01:20.

free school area for into that category. Thank you.

:01:21.:01:32.

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

:01:33.:01:32.

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

:01:33.:01:36.

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

:01:37.:01:47.

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

:01:48.:02:00.

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

:02:01.:02:04.

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

:02:05.:02:09.

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

:02:10.:02:14.

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

:02:15.:02:19.

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

:02:20.:02:19.

would be a bit senior Labour person said to me it

:02:20.:02:22.

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

:02:23.:02:28.

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

:02:29.:02:32.

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

:02:33.:02:39.

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

:02:40.:02:43.

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

:02:44.:02:50.

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

:02:51.:02:57.

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

:02:58.:03:02.

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

:03:03.:03:08.

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

:03:09.:03:14.

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

:03:15.:03:19.

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

:03:20.:03:26.

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

:03:27.:03:31.

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

:03:32.:03:38.

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

:03:39.:03:42.

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

:03:43.:03:48.

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

:03:49.:03:53.

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

:03:54.:03:57.

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

:03:58.:04:01.

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

:04:02.:04:06.

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

:04:07.:04:28.

there was a difference between cancelling something that already

:04:29.:04:30.

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

:04:31.:04:33.

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

:04:34.:04:35.

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

:04:36.:04:39.

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

:04:40.:04:41.

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

:04:42.:04:43.

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

:04:44.:04:48.

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

:04:49.:04:53.

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

:04:54.:04:58.

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

:04:59.:05:03.

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

:05:04.:05:09.

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

:05:10.:05:15.

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

:05:16.:05:22.

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

:05:23.:05:27.

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

:05:28.:05:33.

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

:05:34.:05:37.

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

:05:38.:05:42.

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

:05:43.:05:46.

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

:05:47.:05:50.

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

:05:51.:05:58.

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

:05:59.:06:01.

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

:06:02.:06:11.

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

:06:12.:06:18.

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

:06:19.:06:24.

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

:06:25.:06:27.

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

:06:28.:06:33.

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

:06:34.:06:38.

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

:06:39.:06:46.

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

:06:47.:06:51.

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

:06:52.:06:57.

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

:06:58.:07:02.

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

:07:03.:07:06.

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

:07:07.:07:10.

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

:07:11.:07:44.

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

:07:45.:07:50.

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

:07:51.:07:59.

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

:08:00.:08:03.

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

:08:04.:08:15.

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

:08:16.:08:20.

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

:08:21.:08:27.

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

:08:28.:08:31.

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

:08:32.:08:36.

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

:08:37.:08:43.

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

:08:44.:08:47.

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

:08:48.:08:52.

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

:08:53.:08:57.

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

:08:58.:09:05.

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

:09:06.:09:08.

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

:09:09.:09:12.

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

:09:13.:09:17.

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

:09:18.:09:22.

that the Conservatives want to get the debate back to the

:09:23.:09:25.

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

:09:26.:09:33.

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

:09:34.:09:38.

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

:09:39.:09:45.

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

:09:46.:09:49.

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

:09:50.:09:56.

debate to living standards. Some economists are now privately

:09:57.:10:00.

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

:10:01.:10:05.

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

:10:06.:10:07.

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

:10:08.:10:14.

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

:10:15.:10:18.

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

:10:19.:10:25.

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

:10:26.:10:29.

That macro economic story matters more than the issue of living

:10:30.:10:34.

standards. The interesting thing about the recovery is it confounds

:10:35.:10:38.

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

:10:39.:10:44.

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

:10:45.:10:51.

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

:10:52.:10:57.

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

:10:58.:11:00.

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

:11:01.:11:05.

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

:11:06.:11:09.

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

:11:10.:11:15.

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

:11:16.:11:23.

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

:11:24.:11:27.

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

:11:28.:11:34.

economic recovery continues, the coalition will be stronger. But

:11:35.:11:43.

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

:11:44.:11:47.

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

:11:48.:11:51.

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

:11:52.:11:57.

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

:11:58.:12:00.

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

:12:01.:12:05.

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

:12:06.:12:12.

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

:12:13.:12:16.

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

:12:17.:12:21.

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

:12:22.:12:25.

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

:12:26.:12:33.

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

:12:34.:12:38.

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

:12:39.:12:43.

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

:12:44.:12:47.

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

:12:48.:12:52.

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

:12:53.:12:56.

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

:12:57.:13:03.

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

:13:04.:13:07.

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

:13:08.:13:11.

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

:13:12.:13:17.

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

:13:18.:13:21.

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

:13:22.:13:25.

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

:13:26.:13:30.

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

:13:31.:13:37.

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

:13:38.:13:44.

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

:13:45.:13:51.

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