JOHN HUMPHRYS: David Grossman reporting
on an issue that's causing big problems for the government. As for the
Tories... well, they will also obviously have a free vote when fox hunting
comes back to the Commons. But their leader has made his position perfectly
clear. Otherwise he'd hardly be out there today on the march. Is that
wise... identifying himself with a cause that has only minority support
in the nation as a whole and most of THOSE are natural Tory supporters
anyway. It's NEW supporters he needs if he's going to drag the party out
of its torpor. It's still languishing in the polls and shows no sign of
recovery. Well, Mr Duncan Smith has left the march in Parliament Square
and he is in our Westminster studio now.
Good Afternoon Mr Duncan
IAIN DUNCAN SMITH; Good Afternoon John.
HUMPHRYS: Lovely day for a march,
DUNCAN SMITH: It is a nice day. I thought
I'd expect to see you out there...small farmer yourself.
HUMPHRYS: Ah well, I'm busy in
here as you know. The problem for you though is that even people in your
own party think it is a mistake, some of them, think it is a mistake to
identify so publicly, to identify yourself and the party so publicly with
a cause that's inherently unpopular in the country as a whole.
DUNCAN SMITH: Look, I'm an urban MP. I
don't have a rural constituency, and I've always made my position clear
on this. This is a free vote issue. I'm not going to dragoon anybody
into the lobbies on my side. I say I take this view personally. What
I've simply said is I think it's wrong with all the problems that exist
in the countryside at the moment, and you know them as much as anybody
else, you know the rural shops are closing, the schools are in difficulty,
we've got problems with rising crime, and the farm incomes are falling.
I think it was something like fifty thousand farmers last year were actually
on incomes below what the government has set as the national minimum wage.
So these are huge crises and problems following foot and mouth, and what
I say is wrong is that the government should give government time, that's
the key, to a Bill which will ultimately make criminals out of a large
section of the British public and I don't think that's right. So I'm doing
it because, or marching today because I feel to do the right thing is important,
not to make gestures, not to pretend as though I could hide my opinions
behind somebody. As far as I'm concerned I've always said to everybody
I will do the right thing, and I will lead rather than follow.
HUMPHRYS: But when that Bill comes
to Parliament, as come it will, for months on end perhaps, Tories, Tory
peers perhaps, will be fighting a battle that is going to be unpopular
with a great deal of people. And also, just let me make this point if
I may, you will be therefore, not just identified with a cause that is
unpopular with a lot of people, but you will be reinforcing an image that
is out of date in the eyes of many people.
DUNCAN SMITH: Well John, I think there
are two important points to make on that. The first is, this is not just
a Conservative issue. I met Kate Hoey out there on the march. You've
just had pictures of Ann Mallalieu. There are others too, there are some
Liberal Democrats on there, although Charles Kennedy is opposed, although
he says at the same time he supports the issues on the march but is opposed
to the march. It's rather bizarre that, but nonetheless, you have a number
of others in the parties in both Houses that do actually believe that to
ban hunting, to make criminals of them is wrong. So it's not just a Conservative
issue. The second point to make about this is, of course public opinion
as you see it says in the last polls that I saw were marginally in favour
of something being done about hunting, but the truth when you ask them,
do you want to make criminals of people that hunt, you see the polls change
quite dramatically because I don't think the majority of the public actually
thinks this is an item that is really, really important. The items for
them that are important. The things I talked about, you know, the Toynbee
Hall speech about the real five giants of child poverty, the problems in
old age, poor health care, poor education and rising crime, those are the
real issues that the public both in urban constituencies and in rural constituencies
they all know that those are important, not this. And I'm saying by all
means leave it as a Private Member's Bill, but not do giver government
time, because you complain at the same time you haven't got time to do
stuff on education and hospitals, that's the key.
HUMPHRYS: And yet if you were to
form a future government you would give time to repealing and ban on hunting
wouldn't you, so where is your sense of priorities.
DUNCAN SMITH: Well, my priorities are set
here by this government What I'm saying is, if you don't give them government
time, if you leave the Private Member's Bill to see if it can make progress
itself, as has always been the case, because there are people on all sides
of the House that share views and differ with people, then my answer is,
then we will leave it like that. But if you go ahead and do something
which has not been done before, which to make government time, in other
words take time away from education, health, from law and order, take that
away and give it to a ban to make criminals of people who hunt, then the
only thing you can say in balance and fairness is that when we return to
government we will simply say we will give the same time to those if it
is the case, who wish to repeal it, that's all.
HUMPHRYS: But according to an internal
Conservative Party document that would be and I quote 'a lunatic sense
of priorities on your part'.
DUNCAN SMITH: Well, listen, there are going
to be people who are in favour of hunting and people that are opposed to
it. I'm simply saying that if the government proceeds down this road,
it is this government that is about to break the practice of all of the
past years, that you don't give government time to a ban on hunting, in
other words making criminals of people. I simply say it's unfair so you
need to balance that on the other side to give those an opportunity if
they want to, to repeal the legislation. It won't be a whipped vote, it
is a free vote, it will always in my book remain a free vote. I'm simply
saying do the right thing, be fair. I don't hunt, I just simply believe
this is not right, and I don't think my constituents at the end of the
day really think this is a number one ranking issue. The issues that bother
them are the ones I spoke about before, those issues of health, education,
crime and drugs. Those are the key issues and the government seems to
think this is a higher priority.
HUMPHRYS: Alright, well, let's
turn to another number one ranking issue that absolutely clearly is that
and that is Iraq, parliament going to be recalled on Tuesday, you'll be
debating it then and you will have the dossier that the government is going
to produce, but you won't have that until shortly before that session of
parliament begins. What do you make of that?
DUNCAN SMITH: Well I, you know, on your
programme, I said that the government, they should bring this dossier forward
well over a week ago and get it in the public domain. Now clearly the government
has some difficulties in doing that, I don't know what those are, they're
probably a lot to do with intelligence gathering and trying to figure out
what they can present, I recognise that, but as long as it's in everyone's
hands so that at least they've got something to debate during the debate,
it's not the only information, let's be honest about this, I don't think
there's going to be a sort of 'golden bullet' sitting in this, this dossier,
that says 'look, this is the final bit that says absolutely bang to rights
these are the amount of weapons he's got.' I don't think that's the case.
The ISS, The Institute of Strategic Studies, produced a very comprehensive
document based on what had been said by the arms inspectors three or four
years ago as well as up until about a year ago, and that shows comprehensively
that he has been developing biological, chemical and even nuclear...
HUMPHRYS: ...no, no, not, not the
latter, they said they'd done nothing more in that than...
DUNCAN SMITH: ...no...
HUMPHRYS: ...they have done for
the last ten years.
DUNCAN SMITH: No, no, if you look at it,
what they're saying is, the procedures, the scientists and everything else
are there and established, what they lack is the fissile material, and
with that they could take anything from a couple of months to a year to
make a warhead for one of their missiles, that's what they're saying.
HUMPHRYS: Well, they, they made
the point very clearly, they were no further advanced with that now than
they were ten years ago...
DUNCAN SMITH: ...because they haven't got
the fissile material John, that's all I'm saying...
BOTH SPEAKING TOGETHER
HUMPHRYS: ...there's no reason
why they should get the fissile material is the point that they're making.
DUNCAN SMITH: ...but that's what their
belief is, but we don't know for certain, that's all I'm saying, but they
do have, clearly do have biological weapons, they have improved missiles
with improved range, it'll cover most of the targets in the Middle East
even if not stretching as far as some parts of south-west Europe, so all
the evidence is there - those who don't want to accept to any of it, well
it doesn't matter how much more is produced.
HUMPHRYS: So, so it doesn't matter
what's in the dossier then, you're...
DUNCAN SMITH: ...it does...
HUMPHRYS: ...well, from the point
of view of your mind being made up, it really doesn't make any difference
does it? You're determined that it should go ahead, an attack should go
DUNCAN SMITH: I believe that we face a
serious and growing danger from Iraq, and the whole of the Middle East
does, if we don't now deal with Saddam Hussein. In two to three years time,
if he gets the fissile material for a nuclear weapon, then that could change
everything, and it will be too late then to say, oh well, I wish we did
something about him. So what is happening is right at the moment, is that
United Nations is now under pressure quite rightly to pass a resolution
that says to Saddam Hussein once and for all, you must now comply with
all those resolutions that say you get rid of your weapons, you obviously
allow the inspectors in, you put a time scale to get rid of those weapons
and you then show that those weapons and the programmes and the scientists
involved are no longer working on them and that's the key bit.
HUMPHRYS: But in the same way that
you would countenance, you would support an attack without any new evidence
in that dossier, you would also, as I understand it, support an attack
without a specific United Nations resolution.
DUNCAN SMITH: No, we've said all along
that we want that resolution, but the only way you'll have it...
HUMPHRYS: ...yes, you'd like it...
DUNCAN SMITH: ...yes, well I believe that
the only way...
HUMPHRYS: ...it's not essential?
DUNCAN SMITH: Well it's not essential strictly
speaking in legal terms. I mean David Hannay on your Today programme, the
other programme you do, made it clear a couple of weeks ago that strictly
speaking, and he was the ex-ambassador to the UN, he said strictly speaking,
legally those resolutions themselves, are enforceable. But what clearly
the President of the United States, and I hope the Prime Minister and believe
the Prime Minister as well, and others are trying to do, is to strive to
get the United Nations now to give an overall mandate to say 'look, if
you don't comply with any of those, then military action will take place.'
And you know, Saddam Hussein, what - four days ago, suddenly seemed to
me to be panicked, he then suddenly said, 'I'll let the inspectors back
in.' Now do we honestly think that he'd have allowed to talk, or would
have started talking about that, if he hadn't begun to realise that they
were serious about military action. It's the threat of military action
that is forcing him to comply with those resolutions.
HUMPHRYS: Yes, but the interesting
thing about that was even though he said it, the response from Washington
was to say, it doesn't matter, we're going to attack anyway, we want regime
change. That was the effect of it. And you, this morning, seem to be saying
very much the same thing, doesn't matter about the dossier, that's to say
whether there's new evidence, doesn't matter whether there is a specific
United Nations resolution...
DUNCAN SMITH: ...no, I didn't say it didn't
matter about the dossier, I said...
HUMPHRYS: ...you said it would
make no difference to your basic decision as to whether there was new information.
DUNCAN SMITH: ...no, I said, I said those
who expect there to be some final absolute proof would build it up to be
more than it is. My belief in discussions with government is that the dossier
will add to the sum total of knowledge out there...
HUMPHRYS: ...but if it doesn't?
DUNCAN SMITH: ...there isn't one single
bit that actually...
DUNCAN SMITH: ...that actually changes,
suddenly, you know, a revelation to somebody.
HUMPHRYS: Alright. Well let's be
quite clear about this then, even if there is no specific new evidence
in addition to that which we already know, the stuff that came out of the
ISS, and all the rest of it, even without that, your position is quite
clear, we should attack Saddam Hussein?
DUNCAN SMITH: I believe, quite rightly,
that the threat of military action from the allies is the only way to deal
with Saddam Husseim...
DUNCAN SMITH: ...either, and I believe
this is a very strong chance that he finally is forced to comply completely
with those resolutions and get rid of those weapons, which is after all
what we want, and that's what he was told to do ten years ago, and he hasn't
done it, and I thought very importantly David Hannay, again, on your programme,
the other programme, said that you know, when South Africa said they would
end their nuclear and biological programmes, it took one year, because
they actually agreed and worked with the inspectorate. They don't have
them any more. In Iraq's case, they stopped, blocked the inspectorate at
all places, and they were not able to get rid of those weapons, so we need
them to be got rid of, and it's interesting John, it's very important because
the public I think do need to know this, all the inspectors have said that
those weapons were being developed and he continued to make stockpiles
of them whilst they were there, every one of them has said that, from the
head of UNSCOM Richard Butler, right the way through to all the inspectors.
HUMPHRYS: Well, let's look to the
future and not for the moment to the past, though obviously the past has
to inform the future quite clearly, but nonetheless, your position is,
that whatever Saddam Hussein now says, you believe there should be, to
use the American expression, regime change in Iraq? That is your position?
DUNCAN SMITH: My position has been quite
clear, I have said, if that is what is necessary, and if it the only thing
we can do, then regime change would have to take place, but if however
Saddam Hussein, as I am absolutely clear about this, if Saddam Hussein
agrees to comply with the total resolutions within a time scale under a
new resolution from the United Nations, then that is clearly preferable,
but my point is, he'll only do that if he recognises that there is a threat
if he doesn't comply. That's where the pressure comes, that's where the
compression comes, so what we want is the end of those weapons, the eradication
of the programmes, the dispersal of the scientists, at that point, Saddam
Hussein, or whoever ends up being in charge of that country, is more than
likely to be a peaceful neighbour and not threaten all the other countries
HUMPHRYS: One of your predecessors,
John Major, has said, there would be a great price to be paid in terms
of the war on terrorism, in terms of the International World Order, if
there were to be an attack on Iraq without a specific United Nations resolution.
DUNCAN SMITH: Well that's we're asking
for, that's what I have worked for, that's what I have been saying, that
there must be now a clear United Nations line on this, and the reason why
John, you know I've been on this thing since 1995, I've tried to warn endlessly,
year in, year out, that he is going on producing these weapons and the
west is hiding its head, pretending that he's not. At last we are facing
up to it, and it is important this, I think this is a test for the United
Nations, they have an opportunity now to send a very strong signal to all
those other countries and would-be dictators around the world, that they're
not prepared to put up with this sort of action.
HUMPHRYS: Right. But, if there
is not a United Nations resolution, you would not support an attack on
Iraq? I'm slightly puzzled you see, as to your position here. Are you saying,
that in the absence of a United Nations resolution, there should be no
attack on Iraq? Is that what you're saying?
DUNCAN SMITH: No, I haven't said that.
I have said that I want the United Nations to complete this mandate, and
give the mandate to the allies, that if he doesn't comply with those resolutions
which are already legally binding on him, and to which action is available,
I mean to the sense that after his failure...
HUMPHRYS: ...but, but without that
there should be an attack anyway?
DUNCAN SMITH: I'm saying that military
action is the only way to do it if the United Nations now however steps
up to the mark, which I believe they will do, I don't believe they are
going to shirk this, look Saddam Hussein is somebody who is a threat to
all those people - in the dossier by the way John, something you ought
to know, there will be published some of the most graphic pictures I believe,
of what he has done to his own people using chemical and biological weapons,
civilians he has attacked, and the Iranians, and also the Saudis, the point
HUMPHRYS: We've seen those pictures.
DUNCAN SMITH: ...well you might have seen
HUMPHRYS: ...no the world has seen
them, there are pictures in the newspapers this morning showing that...
DUNCAN SMITH: ...but many in the public
are not aware, honestly, you know, I think it is the role as well of the
media to say who this man really is...
HUMPHRYS: ...well, alright, I...
DUNCAN SMITH: ...he is a serious threat
HUMPHRYS: ...I believe we've saying
that for a very, very long time. But let me, let me turn to some, a couple
of quick questions about your own party. We saw the resignation of Dominic
Cummings this past week, you've now lost, I'm doing a quick count, you've
now lost your Chairman, you've lost your Chief of Staff and you've last
your Director of Staff...
DUNCAN SMITH: ...I haven't lost them at
HUMPHRYS: ...well they've, they
have, they are no longer in their positions, they...
DUNCAN SMITH: ...well that's because I
took decisions about them.
HUMPHRYS: ...ah, well alright then,
you've sacked them, you've got rid of them, they've gone, whatever, they
are no longer there. It rather suggests a leadership in some disarray?
DUNCAN SMITH: Not at all. You are looking,
do I look like I'm in disarray? I can tell you now, I know exactly where
we are going, and our programme John has not changed. I mean you yourself
know, because we talked about my Toynbee Hall speech, identified the five
giants, that followed from the Hackney speech I made, and the Harrogate
speech I made back in the Spring, what I am saying, that the party, and
anybody who disagrees with this will just have to follow, because what
we are about to do is to explain to the British people that the Conservative
Party believes that they key objectives, the priorities for us as a returning
government are solving the crisis in the Health Service, improving the
quality of our schools, getting more policemen onto the streets, and improving
the quality of the policing so that we have less crime, less violent crime.
These are the key three priorities which will help with the other two,
which is to improve the lot of children who are in poverty, and the elderly
now who I think are, many are in crisis, facing serious problems across
the board from the lack of care homes to their poor pensions. Now, those
are our priorities, those are not going to change, and you'll see that
again at the conference John and I promise you, at conference you will
see us begin to flesh out policy initiatives, that will show the direction
of how we will deal with these and why the government...
HUMPHRYS: And what you will have
to persuade the conference of, at least many people at that conference
is that you truly are modernising the party, you're not the old Conservative
Party, and we've talked about this before as well, but Michael Portillo
got into this subject himself yesterday and that is this touchstone issue
of Section Twenty-eight, and he said, 'it's time to get rid of it, it has
completely served its day' and again, the problem is you don't seem to
be giving clear leadership on this, it isn't absolutely clear quite whether
you go along with the Portillo line who is a moderniser or you go along
with a traditionalist line.
DUNCAN SMITH: Well with respect John, I
don't think I should be defined by another person. I was...
HUMPHRYS: ...no, an issue......
DUNCAN SMITH: No I was elected John on
the programme that I put forward at the time of the leadership election
and I made it clear then that all of our policies that we had must be under
review so that we can decide whether they're right for where we want Britain
to go. Section Twenty-eight is part of that, what I said to you on your
programme as you recall was that I believe the principle behind Section
Twenty-eight, which should run right the way through the education system,
is that children who are under the authority of adults who are not clearly
their parents, they must be protected in case adults beyond those teachers
have particular desires or views and...
HUMPHRYS: ...right, and it needs
Section Twenty-eight to do that?
DUNCAN SMITH: ...well it may or may not.
DUNCAN SMITH: My point has been that we
will look at this and decide how best to do that so that it covers a whole
range of activities rather than just perhaps necessarily a narrow one.
HUMPHRYS: Right. Iain Duncan Smith,
thanks very much indeed, you can go back to the march now.
DUNCAN SMITH: Pleasure.