18/01/2017 Politics Scotland


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Good afternoon and welcome to the programme.


The SNP's deputy leader, Angus Robertson, has branded


the Prime Ministers plans as "a little Britain Brexit".


And unemployment rises in Scotland as it drops across the UK.


And here at Westminster, away from the public rhetoric,


just how useful can the talks between the UK and Scottish


governments be on the process of leaving the EU?


MSPs will today debate calls for the government


the board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise.


Ministers want to create a Scotland-wide board


for enterprise and skills, prompting fears


Our Political Correspondent, Andrew Kerr, has more on the story.


We will be having a debate in a short time in a chamber. They want


to scrap the enterprise and have won overall Scottish board. I suppose


the aim is very clear, to try to improve growth here in Scotland, to


try and have one overarching board that can oversee that and really


boost growth instead of having this separate body. The new boards would


oversee Scottish enterprise, Highlands enterprise, the Scottish


funding Council and skills development in Scotland. But the


great concern in the Highlands is that this is a centralisation and


that decisions will be made down here in the central belt, it would


take away that local accountability and, of course, the Scottish


Government has been accused of centralising services with Police


Scotland and one central Fire Service too. We are probably looking


at a defeat may be on the government today inflicted by the opposition,


maybe by just one MSP. The Conservatives say it will be close


but it does look like a defeat. The government will have to listen to


Parliament and it will be interesting to hear what they might


be coming up with after that. Defeat is something we haven't been used to


for a long time. We have had a few defeats in Holyrood. The SNP is now


a minority government, since the May election. They were in when --


majority. We are getting a bit more used that here but you are right, it


is a very different scenario from the all-powerful government of


2011-2016. But they are still very powerful in terms of the party. And


it is quite complicated today because there are a number of MSPs


off sick. Some are unable to give evidence on the rural connectivity


committee. So it is a little bit tricky to work out the numbers. It


is very tight but we may be looking at a defeat by one, perhaps. That is


the thinking at Holyrood this afternoon. Thank you.


Well, to discuss the day's stories, I'm joined by Andy Maciver,


director of the PR agency Message Matters


and former head of communications for the Scottish Conservatives.


There is no rebellion ever on the SNP benches so all 63 SNP 's are


always assured to vote with the government. But Andrew is right, it


has been a bit closer in recent times. You remember the occasion a


couple of weeks ago when a couple voted the wrong way and that would


have been a defeat as well. It is a problem but not something they are


accustomed to. Brexit will dominate everything this afternoon and for


the next two years, four years. What did you make of Theresa May's


speech? I think there was an overreaction on both sides. It was


entirely predictable. There was never any signal that we were going


to retain membership of the single market. I don't think anyone in


Europe wanted that. That entails free movement of Labour and it was


quite clear that was never going to happen. I think the reaction to it


has been quite informative because we see the tones being set for


different campaigns. It is unhelpful for Theresa May that the hard Brexit


faction has adopted this beach and received it very well so you get


Nadine Dorries and people like that standing up in Parliament and saying


how wonderful it was. That is not helpful because it allows those on


the other side to put -- painted as a hard Brexit. I thought it was very


predictable. So she could have done without people saying they were


disappointed? Yes, or on the other side. I think it was predictable. I


think everybody on the conservative side will be pretty satisfied


because it was always going to happen. Do you think that what you


see says was as black and white as it has been portrayed? She did seem


to leave various options, we will be out of the single market but various


options on access. The problem with this debate has always been that


people have sometimes accidentally and sometimes deliberately skewed


the meaning of membership and access and they are completely different


things. I don't think membership was ever on the table. Government


ministers have said many times in the past that we will not be members


of the single market. It was always about access and that is the thing


that remains unknown until the negotiations start. It is what level


of access and on what terms we will have it. But I don't think yesterday


was quite the change that everybody today is portraying it as. I suspect


the Scottish Government would disagree. Absolutely. But will they


succeed in doing that? It doesn't make a difference to them because


the Scottish Government knew this was happening. They knew we were not


going to be members of the single market. On the Brexit paper, option


one was keeping the UK in the single market and option two was keeping


Scotland in the single market in the UK state. We might talk about that


later. I think it is very difficult to see how that can possibly happen


politically both on the continent and here. That then gets us to the


point that there is a very big decision to make. We will discuss


that more later. Our Westminster correspondent,


David Porter, is outside We are starting 2017 as we finished


2016, everything dominated by Brexit. In that place behind me and


also a couple of hundred yards over there, the Supreme Court. As far as


the legal action is concerned, some of the mist is now starting to lift.


We know that the Supreme Court will give its decision, its judgment on


the 24th of January, that is next Tuesday, on whether Theresa May is


going to have to introduce legislation into the House of


Commons and the House of Lords before she can go ahead and trigger


article 50 or whether they will agree with the UK Government and


say, no, that is not needed. So it is an important decision for the


House of Commons behind me. The Scottish Government were party to


that legal action and they are hoping that Holyrood will have a say


in whether article 50 will be triggered. Next week will not just


be a dry judgment, it will be very important in legal terms and it will


be very, very important in political terms. We have just been talking


about Theresa May's speech yesterday. What is the reaction to


it there? Just over 24 hours on since Theresa May delivered her


speech, as you would expect, because it is about Brexit and because what


she said about the single market and essentially saying to Europe, either


give us a good deal or we could walk away, the reverberations are still


being felt in this place and I suspect they are being felt in


Holyrood as well. All the proceedings in the House of Commons


today, Scottish questions and then later by ministers questions, were


dominated by that issue of Brexit and leaving the single market. In


response to Theresa May's speech yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon said she


now believes that a second Scottish independence referendum is closer


and at Prime Minister's Questions I'm today, the SNP went on the


attack and they accused Theresa May and the UK Government of wanting a


little Britain Brexit. It is thousands of people who may


lose their jobs in Scotland as a result of the hard Tory Brexit plan


of the Prime Minister. Does the Prime Minister believe that this is


a price worth paying for her little Britain Brexit? I repeat what I said


earlier, we will be working to ensure that we get the best possible


deal in terms of access to the single market and continuing to


cooperate in partnership with the member states of the remaining 27


member states of the European Union but the Right honourable gentleman


once again talks about the possibility of negative impact on


Scotland if Scotland were not part of the single market. His party is


dedicated to taking Scotland out of the single market by taking it out


of the United Kingdom. Amidst all the rhetoric, can I ask


you a boring question? What happens next? Nothing until the negotiations


start? What happens next is that the talking continues, particularly in a


Scottish and UK Government context, despite all the public rhetoric. We


know in politics that as far as public rhetoric is concerned, it is


not always what is being said in private. There is a meeting tomorrow


of the Joint Ministerial Committee, which is made up of the UK


Government and the devolved administrations. Whitehall have set


it a specific committee to look at exiting the European Union. There is


a meeting of that tomorrow down here in which the Scottish Government and


the other devolved administrations will be present, but crucially they


will be discussing the Scottish Government's plan for Brexit. How


those discussions will go, we don't know. They will be in private so


they can probably be a bit more candid. But whatever is going to


happen, these negotiations at an intergovernment level and the


negotiations when they finally happen on the triggering of article


50 are probably going to be pretty long, tortuous, and at times pretty


bumpy. What I thought was quite interesting from Theresa May at


Prime Minister's Questions was the way that she seemed very confident.


She has in effect thrown the gauntlet down not only to Nicola


Sturgeon and the Scottish Government by saying we are going to be leaving


the single market but also to Europe as well by basically saying to


Europe, the other 27 countries, if you don't give us a deal, and we do


want some kind of trade deal, we are willing to walk away, we are willing


to play hardball. It is going to be very interesting in the days, weeks


and months ahead to see what Europe says to that. Thank you. You will be


back later. I am not even going to mention the beautiful sunshine


bathing the houses of parliament. That would be tempting fate. Say no


more. This The Health Secretary is due to make


a statement to parliament on the delay to plans for a network


of trauma centres It was announced last week


that the centres will not be up and running for at least three


years, because of the scale Let's hear from Shona Robison


in the chamber now. it has a dedicated trauma ward which


is led by specialist trauma consultant is supported by doctors,


nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and other


health professionals on a 24-7 basis. The last vital component of


trauma units. They deal with the vast majority of trauma, those who


are not as seriously injured as trauma patients. A trauma centre


cannot succeed without these vital components in place. It should


therefore come as no surprise that trauma networks require significant


planning and investment in order to resource them appropriately and give


seriously injured patients the best care possible. There has been a


rigorous debate in the clinical community as to what the optimum


model for Scotland would be. I am grateful to them and the Chief


Medical Officer for shaping the plans that we are now taking


forward. In September 2013, the National planning forum's major


trauma subgroup released a report with a number of recommendations for


the development of a network. They said it should be a four Centre


model. But they also recognise that there was no clear consensus among


clinicians of what the optimum number of centres was. In April


2014, my predecessor asked for the suggested four centre model to be


taken forward as a practical first step but in line with the 2013


National planning forum report, we knew that the findings of the


evaluation of systems of trauma care should be taken into account when


considering future configurations of a trauma network in Scotland.


Including whether the number of trauma centres can and should be


reduced further. The field work of the study was


conducted in 2014 and the report was compiled thereafter. The study was


noted on a number of occasions by the national planning forum major


trauma oversight group as they took forward their work. In 2015 the


study cast doubt on the four centre model and instead suggested two


trauma centres was the optimal configuration for Scotland. I had a


choice whether to ignore the report, accept it or ask that further work


was done to assess the relative benefits and risks of this


alternative model. I judged this report had to be fully considered to


ensure the right model for Scotland was being developed and to try to


address clinical concerns. Clinicians and other NHS staff


worked tirelessly then with the study group to assess the risks of


having just two centres and in The Spring of last year it became clear


from that further work that those risks outweighed the notional


benefits. The views and concerns of clinicians and the Scottish


ambulance service on a two-centre model were critical at this stage.


As a result, I asked the Chief Medical Officer to lead an


implementation group that would look at how a new trauma network based


around the original model of four centres in Aberdeen, Dundee,


Edinburgh and Glasgow could be made to work in practice, taking note of


the lessons learned from the report, the concerns of the Scottish


ambulance service and Scotland's unique geography. In June last year


the Scottish Government announced they would have the necessary


preparatory work for an enhanced trauma network completed by December


2016. A commitment... The number of people in Scotland


seeking work rose over the autumn by 11,000,


according to the latest figures. It means the Scottish


unemployment rate is 5.1% - It is still an uncertain time for


the economy in Scotland. This latest data shows the job market lagging


behind the rest of the UK. The Office for National Statistics says


11,000 more people were seeking work between September and November. That


means a total of 139,000 people were unemployed. The overall rate of


unemployment is 5. 1%, compared to 4. 8% for the whole of the UK. A


number of factors could be at play. The down turn in oil and gas and


Brexit fears. Some parts of the economy are trying


to manage that uncertainty. This Paisley company is thriving,


offering flexible storages for business and even office space. We


try to take away that uncertainty surrounding it so we hope the


business come in, can take the space for a month, they can grow the


business, bring it back down in size again. We try to make it work for


them. There is other good news, the


Scottish Government says youth unemployment dropped last year. But


it is also published data today showing very slow growth in economic


output in the year to last September.


Our business editor is here. There are also, just to cheer us up even


more, awful figures for GDP growth. Just mentioned there at the end, the


figure come out every three months and take a while to compile so the


figures we are looking at today cover the third quarter last year,


July to September. We already knew the UK figures for that period. That


was growth of 0. 6%, it's kind of on trend, it's what you can expect with


the economy functioning as typically, for both the UK and for


Scotland. Not a bad rate. The Scottish rate is a third of that.


That is really two years of very low rates, particularly the last four


quart they'res we have seen have been very low indeed. Growth of only


0. 7% growth, with 2. 2% across the UK as a whole. The point about this,


they're not awful in an absolute sense, neither are the unemployment


figures, it's the fact there seems to be a gap growing between the


performance in Scotland and the rest of the UK. They're certainly not


good either. You are right the divergence is worrying. Even if the


UK figures came way down, we should still be worrying about growth rates


of only 0. 2%, a fifth of 1% in one quarter and the previous quarter


revised downwards so that's the same, 0. 2%. The quarter before


that, at the start of last year, no growth in the economy at all. So


last year was a very poor year in terms of output from the economy. In


terms of that divergence it matters particularly with these new income


tax powers because if your growth is heading off in a different direction


or at least is growing far less... And you are relying on revenues. It


feeds through income tax and revenues will fall below, over time


this will take place, you can handle a year or two of it, there may be


mechanisms for the Treasury, block grants to make up some of the


difference through the agreement they've got, but if you look forward


ten years, 15 years, you could see a significant gap between what would


happen if Holyrood did not have these income tax powers and what we


may face unless we can get the growth rate up again. OK. What's


going on, Brexit is as an explanation doesn't because that


doesn't explain the difference. The Scottish Government says


independence is a possibility of a another referendum has nothing to do


with it. Is it entirely oil? A lot has to do with oil and gas. The


slump in growth follows the point at which oil and gas sector really


began to suffer from much lower price of oil. But that doesn't look


like the only explanation that there can be. One of the things which has


helped the numbers stay up for quite a while, particularly 2014-2015, was


construction. That's partly because of public spending on big projects,


that is coming to an end, we are running out of money, big projects


are coming to an end, there is less spending on them. That has an


impact. When you take construction out and it's been contracting in the


past year, after a really substantial growth in the previous


couple of years, then the rest of the economy, you see what's really


happening underlining in the main part of the economy. The services


sector, three-quarters of the economy, has been on a growth path.


It is a very slow growth path, it's consistent recently. Manufacturing


has been much more volatile and over the past few quarters it's been very


weak. Some figures suggest that manufacturing will be helped by a


weaker pound, exports will be helped, also you substitute imports


because of course imported goods become more expensive and local


producers are able to fill the gap there. So, a weaker pound may bake a


difference, there could be a positive Brexit effect. We can't


really see it's down to uncertainty about Brexit, because it really has


the same effect across the whole of the UK. But there is this question


in the background that you mentioned there, if Brexit and constitutional


uncertainty around Britain's place in Europe as a trading regime is one


of the reasons for business investment being down, then like


wise uncertainty about Scotland's position within its major market,


far bigger than the EU and the rest of the UK, that may be weighing on


business investment and confidence, as well. When it turns around next


month and we are doing wonderfully you can tell us about it! And a few


politicians will be here, as well! MSPs have backed a Scottish


Government motion, amended by Labour, welcoming the options


for Scotland's future relationship with Europe,


as set out in the Government paper A Conservative amendment calling


on ministers to stop using the EU Referendum result as a reason


to campaign for Scottish Almost seven months since the EU


referendum in which Scotland voted emphatically to remain in the


European Union, whilst England and Wales voted to leave, the Prime


Minister has today announced as ending the UK involvement in the


European project in the hardest and most complete way possible. We think


this is the wrong decision for the UK as a whole and indicates that the


type of country the Conservatives want is a race to the bottom,


sacrificing consumer, environmental and workers' rights for the price of


deregulation, low wages and low taxes. But the Scottish Government


and the Scottish people as indicated in poll after poll have a different


view. We have to find a way forward, that honours the democratic demand


of the nation to maintain our relationship with our European


friends and neighbours. Scotland's place in Europe was published on


20th December t delivered the mandate that we were required to do


by this parliament. It is the first detailed plan to be published by any


Government in any part of the UK to deal with the implications of the UK


leaving the European Union. Today's debate gives us as a parliament


speaking for our nation to take those plans a step further. On


Thursday the Scottish Government will make a presentation about these


plans to the JMC European negotiating committee and it is of


course proper that this parliament should give its view to them in


advance of that discussion in London. The Prime Minister was


explicit today in stressing this paper is still to be considered by


the UK Government. We have also highlighted ways we can keep


Scotland in the single market while continuing to protect free trade


from across the rest of the UK as well as safeguarding the existing


powers of this parliament and significantly ex-pappeding


revolution in order to mitigate the damage that will be done by Brexit.


Our amendment to the Government motion today calls on the SNP to act


in the best interests of the people of Scotland as a whole and to stop


using the outcome of the EU referendum to campaign for


independence. In the foreword to this paper, supposedly about Europe,


there are 11 separate references to independence. As well as the First


Minister repeated reference to Scotland being independent within


Europe as being the preferred option. Yet again the SNP continues


to defy economic logic by constantly campaigning to leave our domestic UK


trading market represented 65% of our business, to maintain membership


of a European single market that accounts for only 15%. She appeared


to say three things. No to the single market, yes to transitional


arrangements, and on the customs union, don't know. Her Government


has still not reached a clear position on that critical matter.


There was little evidence of a willingness to consider different


outcomes on the single market for different parts of the UK but the


Prime Minister has given undertakings to consider proposals


from the Scottish Government and that pledge should be honoured. Our


place in future as we argued last time we debated the single market


has to mean the most unfetterred access to that market that can be


achieved in the context of the decisions of the United Kingdom as a


whole. But in that context ministers can and should continue to seek ways


to protect Scotland's vital interests, working with others


across the United Kingdom who are also seeking to make the best of the


current circumstances. This afternoon's speech from the Prime


Minister I think confirms that the Conservatives are hellbent on a hard


Brexit, regardless of what the impact will be on millions of people


through higher prices, greater instability, hitting jobs and


hurting our economy, withdrawing from the single market and the


customs union is not in our country's interests, nor was it what


people voted for on the 23rd June. The Tories are turning Brexit into a


democratic stitch-up and it shows how vital it is that the public be


given a say in a Brexit deal referendum. This is exactly the hard


Brexit we had feared and despite the single line acknowledging the


Scottish Government's proposals the plans set out today are entirely


incompatible with the Scotland's place in Europe paper. The


previously mentioned report estimates that a Norway-style deal,


all continue for all the UK, would in the best scenario see Scottish


GDP drop by three million, wages drop by an average of ?800 per


person and still lose over 30,000 jobs. This is quite a compromise.


It's probably the Westminster Government's last chance to ensure


Scotland continues to be part of the UK. Yet for all Theresa May spoke


about wanting the UK to be more united than ever before, she has


refused to compromise. I believe now that a vote on our own future is all


but impossible to avoid. Let's speak to some MSPs at


Holyrood. Dan jel Johnson, let's start with


you. Working out Labour policy these days is like doing a tricky


crossword. Can we judge from what Lewis McDonald was saying there that


Labour supports Nicola Sturgeon's ambitions to keep Scotland in the


single market and within the UK and supports what was said in the paper


that the Scottish Government produced? What Labour are saying is


that the Scottish Government is right to the extent that it is


absolutely right to look at what options are available to protect


Scotland's interests in access to the single market. But what I have


to say and what Scottish Labour are saying is that if you are starting


point of the issues around Brexit are about uncertainty, about the


economic consequences and your solution is independence, we have to


absolutely reject that because independence will compound those, if


not by a factor of When you say you support the


proposals, what is it you support? Are you saying you would back


Scotland staying in the single market and the UK, even if the UK


leaves the single market? We are saying that we were look at options


that are realistic that are brought forward. But the options have been


brought forward. You still haven't answered my question. Are you saying


that Labour in Scotland supports the contents of the paper that the


Scottish Government produced, which suggested they should be some way


found to allow Scotland to say in the single market even when Britain


exits the European Union? There are lots of things in that paper worthy


of consideration and given that we are only at the start of the Brexit


process, I think it is important that we explore all of those


options, but above all else we have to recognise, and the government's


own paper recognises that we have to protect the UK single market, but we


also need to engage properly, fully and adequately with this process. To


be straightforward question, would you support the Scottish


Government's efforts to keep Scotland in the single market, your


answer would be yes? As long as that doesn't jeopardise the UK. Liam


McArthur, the big problem for your line on Europe is that, admittedly


almost to everyone's surprise, all the economic evidence is running


against you. It was supposed to be a disaster if we left the EU. I think


the pound went up by the biggest amount since 2008 after Theresa


May's speech yesterday. The Bank of England has said Brexit is no longer


the main economic issue facing the UK. And even business investment is


going up. I think your point about the jump in the pound, what we have


seen is the pound plummeting and yesterday we saw it recovering some


of the lost value over recent months. At the same time, the FTSE


was going in the other direction. Let's not lose sight of the fact


that Brexit hasn't happened yet. Yesterday we had more of the detail


of what the UK Government are proposing but still a wide range of


uncertainty that will need to be filled. But if you are right, why


does the governor of the Bank of England say Brexit is no longer the


main economic issue facing the UK? You would have too asked the


governor of the Bank of England. Explain to me why you think he is


wrong. What we are looking at in terms of access to markets is a


complete departure of what we were told throughout the referendum


campaign from the leadership of Leave, when we were assured by


senior representatives and by Ruth Davidson in this Parliament is that


the maintenance of our full access to the single market, and that has


been cast aside yesterday. I can't see how that is in the interest of


any business sector across not just Scotland but the UK. How that will


play out in the months and years to come, I think is going to be


difficult to predict, but anyone who suggests it is going to be easier,


it is going to be a business advantage to have access to the


single market unless favourable terms than we have at the moment is


I think naive. It's Adam Tomkins, a single market deal is in


the bin now, isn't it? Absolutely not. The Prime Minister said


yesterday she wants the freest possible trade with the EU, she


wants a new, bold, Conrad Smith free-trade agreement between the UK


and the rest of the EU, she wants the greatest possible access to the


single market. I'm sure China or India would tell you the same thing,


that's not the same thing as being part of the single market. Having


the fullest possible access to the single market is not the same as


Canada, India and China. Do tell us what the difference is. China has no


free-trade agreement with the European Union. You said it is


different from Canada. There is no free-trade agreement between Canada


and the EU. You know there is one on the table. We can't play games with


this, it is far too important. What the Prime Minister said yesterday


was that we will be members of the European Union. We want a full,


compressive free-trade agreement with the European Union that will


give us the greatest possible access to the single market. I first argued


for that in this Parliament in September. It is perfectly


consistent with what the Scottish Conservatives have been saying for


five months. Has anything changed? The SNP knew perfectly well that


Theresa May wasn't going to say that Britain would stay in the single


market and she wasn't going to say Britain would stay in the customs


union. The indications over the last three months have been that that is


the direction the Conservatives have been heading in. I'm actually having


-- the fact we have produced this compressive paper outlining the


various options available to Scotland and the UK Government and


asking for them to consider them is the right way forward. We have been


the first partly, the only party to have a consistent message since the


day after the EU referendum. Consistently wrong. Wales are


following suit as well. They are putting something together which is


going to outline their position as well. What is wrong with the British


government saying, we have had a look at that, we don't think it is


realistic. They have got a right to do that but we were told we were an


equal partner in this United Kingdom and they have to look at our


document and take it seriously. Gordon, there seems to be a bit of a


disconnect between what Theresa May... They have got to do


everything you say? No, we have got to work together. But there is a


disconnect between what Theresa May said yesterday and the rhetoric of


the Scottish Conservatives. Theresa May says she was going to look at


that paper and we are looking for her to do that. They has to be a


negotiation. But there doesn't seem to be any evidence of that


happening. So what do you do now? The people of Scotland's voices are


not being heard at all. We continue to engage with the UK Government as


we have done all along. But you are saying they are not engaging with


you. No, we are engaging with the UK Government. You were just saying


they weren't paying any attention to you. We are meeting tomorrow. But


certainly, when you look at things like the length of time it took


David Davies to get back to Michael Russell, when he said he had a


hotline to David Davies, it doesn't give me much cause for comfort. So


what do you do? Just saying we will have another independence referendum


unless you do something else, you can't just keep saying that for


years. Are you going to come up with another set of proposals? Have you


got a plan for encouraging the UK Government to listen to you? We have


always got plans for the UK Government and the fact you have had


to say that to me is indicative of the way this is viewed. We shouldn't


have to be pressing the UK Government to listen to the Scottish


Government, we are government in our own right and this should be an


equal partnership. I genuinely hope I will be proved... That the UK


Government will take on board what is in that paper and we can have a


constructive dialogue. Theresa May seems to be acting on the whims of


the centre-right part of her party, the Brexiteers. One of the things I


find really bizarre is that they were impassioned speeches from the


Conservative members before the EU referendum about staying in the


single market have evaporated. Because we respect the result of the


referendum. Let's have a lovely shot of all of you standing there saying


cheese. Now, two former First Ministers have


suggested major changes to the Scottish Parliament,


including an increase Both men suggested the electoral


list system currently used in Holyrood elections


should be re-evaluated. And, as Holyrood assumes more powers


and responsibilities for Scotland, Mr McLeish said the current total


of 129 of MSPs was The massive changes that have taken


place in politics everywhere and the massive change in politics in the UK


with the distribution of powers, I think we do need to look at the size


of the parliament in the future, we do need to look at the question of


capacity and how these members are elected. Jack McConnell was saying


he saw no need. Well, Professor Greg


Philo Research Director of the Glasgow University Media Unit


and Andy Maciver is here to discuss how the public might be convinced


that more politicians Greg, just on this issue of reform,


it is a tough one, because he argued for reforms and the way things were


done when he was First Minister and got nowhere. Tricia Marwick, when


she was Presiding Officer, said she was banging her head against a brick


wall. Why do you think MSPs are so resistant to making any changes?


There is always resistance because people have their own ways of doing


things. But if there is a fundamental change going on in the


sense of new powers being allocated and real work is moving from one,


from Westminster to Holyrood, there is busy a case to say that things


have to be done differently and you are going to need more personnel. If


you want to sell that to people, that is the way to do it, to the


population as a whole. One of the issues is whether people will accept


the need for more politicians or for more money on politics. But that


seems to me to be the clearest way of explaining it. If there is more


work, you need more people. On the other hand, just imagine going to


the streets of Glasgow and saying, we need more politicians. Imagine


the reaction you would get. If you expressed it in those woods, that is


the reaction you would get, but if you said there is a lot more work


happening now because of the devolved powers because all sort of


work is being moved from Westminster up to here so we need more people to


do it, nobody would think twice about it. The other point that they


seem to be getting on about was that they feel that the Holyrood


committees, which were advertised before devolution as being a great


new thing, so much better than London, they are not actually


holding ministers to account even in the way parliamentary committees in


London do to politicians at Westminster. If that's the case, you


need to argue about who is on those committees and what their capacity


is. That is really down to the quality of the people asking the


questions. I'm not being rude but realistically there is no reason...


You are being rude. If people aren't asking the right questions, you need


to ask why is that so. Look at the problems in Northern Ireland where


you have got the collapse of the whole Executive because of


effectively a scandal where huge amounts of public money was spent


without being held to account. You need to say, what was the oversight


procedure, who was supposed to be asking the questions and why would


they ask? Andy, what do you make of this? When Tricia Marwick left, I


did at least two interviews wishy talked about how frustrated she was.


She made all sorts of proposals. They got nowhere. Why is there such


resistance? Big political change is difficult in this country because it


is not generally received very well by the public. I think in this


instance, if you were to look at the proposal to have more MSPs because


of more work, I think that is completely reasonable, not least


because the committee system really struggles with the number of MSPs.


You can have two or three committees per MSP sometime and they can't do a


good job on a committee when you are that spread out. Tricia Marwick said


in London you have got select committees and then committees


overseeing, line by line, the government legislation. Yet they


have to do the functions of both. Our politicians are actually very


busy. Very hard-working. They are not all brilliant but they are very


busy. There is an easy way of getting around the public issue of


having more MSPs, you have the equivalent number of MPs reduced.


You reduce the number of Scottish MPs by the number of MSPs. From a


public perspective, that is a much easier sell. It doesn't answer the


question why politicians aren't popular. But in this instance, you


could quite easily have more MSPs. What do you think of that? To reduce


the number of MSPs? No, it includes MSPs, reduce MSPs -- reduce MPs. I


would say what will probably happen is that people in Westminster will


say they are overloaded to and if you reduce the MPs you will get less


oversight there. Given the costs to the nation, if you actually costed


this up and worked out how much it costs to have a few more MSPs, it's


really not a lot in terms of the vast sums. You have been doing focus


groups. What reaction to politicians are you getting less


There is a sense politicians aren't trustworthy because of the long


history of things like cash for questions. I didn't catch that, did


you say the sense is that politicians are not trustworthy?


That's right. It's a very, very deep distrust of politicians and


politics, which is not just in this country. That is I think in many


ways misplaced because I think very many MPs do work hard and are very


dedicated to what they do. But the sense that they are constantly under


attack does really wear them down and I advise them on issues like


climate change and a range of issues and how to get these sorts of


arguments across to the public. I go and talk to the committees. What are


people saying to you in the focus groups, is it that they trust MPs or


MSPs of their party they vote for but don't trust the others or do


they just not trust politicians in general? I think it's a general


distrust of politicians. But at the same time there is a sense that they


have a very important job to do and also I think there is a terrible


nervousness at the moment about what's going to happen next. People


are genuinely scared about the society they're in, in a way that


they weren't I think probably 50 years ago. There is much more fear


now about jobs, pensions, the future, health. There was a kind of


optimism 50 years ago that things were going to get better, I think.


Now I think people are generally scared. They're very worried that


politicians are not going to really protect them and I think that is I


think the biggest issue that we face, a sense that the political


structures that we have are not going to protect people and I think


politicians add to that by not being very clear on what is at stake or


what the offers are. There is a sense people are being lied to all


the time. You can see that over Brexit, you know, people just don't


believe the information they're being given half the time. Thank you


very much. Don't go away, Andy. You are back


later. And now it's time for this week's


Prime Minister's questions. The issue of Brexit dominated


proceedings, with the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn devoting


all of his six questions to it. He began by asking Theresa May,


why she was not allowing parliament Yesterday the Prime Minister snubbed


parliament and snubbed the Brexit committee's recommendations to bring


forward a White Paper whilst at the same time describing the referendum


as a vote to restore our parliamentary democracy. This is


about our jobs, living standards and future prosperity. Why will it not


be scrutinised by this House? Can I say to the right honourable


gentleman that what I did yesterday was set out a plan for a global


Britain. I set out a plan that will put the divisions of last year


behind us, that will show a vision... That shows a vision for a


stronger, fairer, more united, more outward looking, prosperous,


tolerant and independent truly global Britain. It was a vision


which will shape a stronger future and build a better Britain. Shortly


after the Prime Minister confirmed that she wants to take the UK out of


the single European market, the Scottish parliament voted by a large


cross-party majority to remain in the single European market, just as


a large majority of people in Scotland voted to remain in the


European Union. The Prime Minister has said that Scotland is an equal


partner in the United Kingdom. Does she still believe this is true or is


she just stringing the people of Scotland along? I gave - I might


refer the right honourable gentleman to my speech yesterday where I


reiterated my commitment to be working with the devolved


administrations to ensure their voice is heard, their interests are


taken into account as we proceed along this path of negotiating our


exit from the European Union. Also I specifically referenced the Scotland


plan, I understand the Welsh Government will be producing a plan


for Wales for to us look at too. That Scotland plan will be being


considered by the JMC on European negotiations tomorrow, I believe. We


will looking at is seriously and working with the Scottish Government


on the proes they bring forward. In the United Kingdom we have 14


regional markets for electricity distribution and high landers and


islanders are facing higher prices because of where we live.


Electricity distribution charges for the north of Scotland are an


eyewatering 84% high are than distribution charges for London. The


Prime Minister talks about fairness. Will she introduce a universal


market for electricity pricing and stop penalising Highlanders and


Islanders? Those of us that live in the coaliest windiest places are


discriminated against by her Government and it must end --


coldiest. Well, the honourable gentleman draws


attention to the fact that of course geography does have an impact on


these matters. He talks about living in the coldest and windiest place.


Obviously, one of the issues that's interesting to look at in relation


to Scotland is the whole question of renewables and the opportunities for


renewables that appear in Scotland. But I can tell him that we are


looking at the impact... We are looking at making sure that energy


markets in the UK are indeed working properly.


I didn't succeed in cursing the weather for David Porter! Here he is


with lots of MPs. Thank you very much, Gordon. Yes a


lot to talk about this afternoon. Without any further ado, let me


introduce you to my guests this afternoon, deer dree Rock for the


SNP, George Folks for Labour, Alistair Carmichael and Ian Stuart


for the Conservatives. Let's talk first of all and a brief answer from


all of us, Supreme Court will now report on Tuesday in its decision


about Article 50. This is a big one, isn't it? It is but we will see on


Tuesday whether the Supreme Court has agreed with the Government's


appeal. If it chooses not to, I don't think it will be that


significant in terms of what we do. The Government has a simple bill


ready to introduce to parliament which I hope will quickly get past


so we can get on with what the country wants to see and that is


start the negotiations with the EU. You are a former lawyer, what's your


take on this? I mean, you always know not to prejudge the judgment of


a court until you see it. We will know the significance when we see


it. In fact, I would say that it's already had a significant impact. It


has already taken Theresa May from a position where she was saying the


Government and only the Government will have a say on this, to one


where they seek to involve parliament. They've not yet gone as


far as they need to but have made a significant concession already.


George? Yes, the Government knows that the High Court was right that's


why the bill is ready to bring in straightaway. The Supreme Court will


certainly uphold the High Court's decision. The other good thing is in


the statement yesterday Theresa May has said that parliament will now


have a say on the final deal and that was the only good thing in it,


that is certainly a step forward. Of course spokespeople have said


quickly after that there will not be a vote on whether they stay or not.


We will get to hear whether the Scottish parliament has a say in


being dragged out of Europe against its will or not. That might be legal


Brexit, political Brexit very much in evidence. Your Government has


been accused today of wanting a Little Britain Brexit as far as


Scotland is concerned. No, the Prime Minister was very clear yesterday.


We want Britain post-Brexit to be outward facing, liberal, open to the


world, trading around the world. That's far from a Little Britain


mentality. What is important now, there is an opportunity, both to get


a good deal with the EU, and to open up our trading opportunities around


the globe. I work in international trade department, there is an


enormous appetite for the product of Scottish companies and UK companies


to sell more. That's the opportunity we have now got to seize. Should we


have been surprised when the Prime Minister actually ruled out we leave


Europe, we leave the single market, surely one follows the other? She


had given signals of that sort. In fact, it was remarkable that it has


taken us seven months to get to a position as simple and as


straightforward as that. But, yesterday's speech was a classic


example of the way she handles this. She talks the internationalist talk


but does not walk the walk. All the rest of the mood music in that


speech yesterday was about a country that was turning inwards, that was


drawing in from the rest of the world and ultimately that is going


to be bad for us and specifically bad for our economy. It was


noticeable that the Prime Minister said in her speech actually no deal


could be better than a bad deal. Implicitly saying to Europe if you


don't give us a good deal we will walk away. Yeah, well that's the


kind of irresponsible talk we have heard. You know, with the country


the way it is at the moment, the economy, we have just seen an


ambulance go by, the health service in disarray, all of these things,


the last thing we want is the kind of tax haven economy that is


foreseen by what Theresa May is suggesting at the moment. The only


thing that would make it worse would make the uncertainty worse, is the


prospect of a second independence referendum. To have this uncertainty


at the moment, for Scotland to have a second referendum would make it


really ten times worse because we would be out of Europe, we would


also be out of the United Kingdom. No country in Europe is going to


accept Scotland, an independent Scotland as a separate member of the


European Union. Total catastrophe. Your Government wants to make it ten


times worse. That's nonsense, George. We have put a plan through


to Theresa May and her Government proposing that - making a proposal


regarding Scotland staying in the single market and retaining free


movement of people. That gets discussed by a joint Ministerial


council tomorrow and we will wait and see what she has to say. We are


about protecting the people of Scotland's interests. 74% within my


constituency voted to stay within Europe. This is a very clear message


from the Scottish people and we will continue to protect their interests.


Sticking with the idea of independence and a second


referendum, a brief final question to you all, because of what we heard


yesterday and Nicola Sturgeon's response to that, do you think we


are now closer to a second Scottish independence referendum? No, I


don't. My message to the Scottish Government is to work with the UK


Government to get that best possible deal, that's what is in Scotland's


interests, take this idea off the table so we can have that certainty.


I feel we might be but we shouldn't be. You know, England is the biggest


export market for Scottish manufacturers, over two-thirds of


our goods are exported into England. 15% exported into the single market.


George, briefly. I don't think we will. Nicola Sturgeon is no fool,


she knows if she had one she would lose it, that would be the ind of


independents completely and the end of her leadership. Unfortunately we


would probably have Alex Salmond back again. Certainly Nicola


indicated yesterday it would be likely if Theresa May is not


prepared to look seriously at the proposals on the table and come back


to us with flexible, some flexibility regarding our proposals.


To aguests, thank you all very much. The clock has beaten us this


afternoon. Gordon, one prediction I will make, two in fact, the weather


won't remain as good here forever. Next week we are going to be talking


about Brexit. Thanks, David. Let's get final


thoughts from Andy. Do you think an independence referendum is any


closer? It's a little bit closer because one of the apparent options


has been ruled out. But we are always going to be getting to this


point of the journey, a referendum is always going to happen and George


is right about this, it's only going to happen when the Scottish


Government feel they've a good chance of winning it. Way back they


thought 60-40 was what they wanted the polls to look like before they


called one. They're in a little bit of a corner harks time might


evaporate and they might have to call one if they want to keep to


previous assurances and the big decision then from Nicola Sturgeon


is does she back down and come up with an excuse not to call one or


take a risk? She is not a gambler, not like her predecessor, so it's a


big decision, I am not sure he will go for it. Or hope there is a change


in opinion polls. It's not just the increase in yes, they need an


increase in people who want a referendum. There could be a big


change but they said that after the Brexit vote and it didn't happen. So


it's not certain. All right. Thank you, Andy: Join us tomorrow on BBC


Two Scotland at 12 noon. That's all from us for now, goodbye.


Robert Burns never travelled to America.


In America, Burns was the 19th century Elvis.


Many, from Lincoln to Dylan, have identified with his works.


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