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JOHN HUMPHRYS: Good afternoon. One of
the Government's proudest boasts is that it has created a new United Kingdom.
So is devolution working? I'll be talking to the leaders of all three devolved
nations: Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland. Why aren't the railways getting
better? We'll be reporting. And will the Liberal Democrats overtake the
Tories as Her Majesty's loyal opposition? All that after the news read
by JANE HILL.
HUMPHRYS: Great things were promised
for our railways when Railtrack vanished from the scene. So why aren't
the trains running on time yet?
And ... forget about who's first in politics. It's the contest for second
place that's interesting many people.
JOHN HUMPHRYS: And we'll also be talking to
the First Ministers of Wales, Northern Ireland ... and, first, Scotland.
Elections take place in the Spring to elect new Governments for all three
nations. In Scotland, the First Minister, Jack McConnell, has been in place
for just a year. He's the third in only three years. When he took over
he was seen by New Labour as THEIR man... a convert to the cause, if you
like. But a year on, it's beginning to look as though perhaps they were
mistaken. It turns out that HIS idea of how to improve the public services
is not exactly in line with Tony Blair's. So, is Mr McConnell forging
a uniquely Scottish ideology for Labour north of the border? Well, he happens
to be south of the border today and he's with me. Good afternoon.
JACK McCONNELL: Good afternoon.
HUMPHRYS: Good afternoon and welcome.
Now, let's look at some of the things that you've been doing. You've
abolished tuition fees, you have rejected specialist schools and foundation
hospitals, you have introduced free long-term care for old people, much
more money for teachers. Is this all about buying off the opposition,
or is it your uniquely distinctly Scottish vision of what you should be
McCONNELL: It's certainly not about buying
off opposition, it's about making sure that reforms in Scottish public
services are the right reforms for Scotland and go with the grain of the
Scottish system. We have a very different education system in Scotland
to that south of the border, we have a different structure for health and
we have a different criminal justice system too, and we need to have reforms
in Scotland that are right for Scotland and make an impact where they are
required in our communities.
HUMPHRYS: And if they are very
very different from New Labour as indeed they are, the way you execute
McCONNELL: Mmm (agrees).
HUMPHRYS: Then so be it. It's
not just pragmatic differences, it is a distinct philosophy.
McCONNELL: Well, it's not so much a distinct
philosophy as the right thing for Scotland. It's about making sure that
we implement reforms in Scotland that can have an impact in Scotland, and
are not just copied from somewhere else. The whole nature of devolution
is about making sure that the reforms in Scotland will make a difference
in Scotland and go with the grain of the Scottish system.
HUMPHRYS. Mmm, but...and if you're
doing things in a very very different way from Westminster, therefore from
New Labour in Westminster, that is, then so be it, it is different.
McCONNELL: Mmm (agrees).
HUMPHRYS: Let me give you a couple
of illustrations of where I am trying to take this. The fire strike at
the moment...the fire-fighters' strike...the English Government tells...the
Government in Westminster I should say specifically...
HUMPHRYS: Tells the fire-fighters
"reform or you do not get any more money"...now...and that is consistent
right across the administration. Rather different in your own administration
in Scotland, isn't it? We've had one of your ministers resigning after
he had talked about "Fascist bastards in the fire-fighters' Union", we
have had another one refusing to endorse the Scottish executives' motion
of this "being an unacceptable strike". It tends to suggest more sympathy
with fire-fighters in Scotland than there is down here.
McCONNELL: I'm not so sure that some of
that language that was used last weekend or at least is alleged to have
been used shows any sympathy, but I think that we....now we need to be
very clear about this. In the fire-fighters' dispute, the support of the
devolved Government in Scotland...for the position nationally where any
additional resources have to be backed by reform is absolute and Cabinet
Ministers in Scotland are united about that. Where we have implemented
reforms in Scotland, we have linked additional money directly with reform,
and I'll give you an example in relation to the education...
HUMPHRYS: Can I pick that one up
in just a moment, I'll just come to that in just a second...stay with the
fire-fighters for the moment. What I'm suggesting to you is that your
approach might be a little more conciliatory than we have seen thus far
McCONNELL: No, I think we have been careful
because we are not directly involved in the negotiations in the fire dispute
nationally. We have been careful to not only support the position, but
also to not inflame the situation and to manage what is a very dangerous
situation in Scotland as it is elsewhere, where the Army and the other
forces are trying to ensure that night after night then people are not
put in danger, so our priority in Scotland has been to make sure that that
is in place and that is happening properly, rather than to say or do anything
that might inflame the dispute one way or another.
HUMPHRYS: I fully understand that,
but when you deal with the unions you do tend to have a more emollient
approach. I mean, when you had this Government here has a huge difference
over PFIs with the Union, your approach to that was to do a deal over PFIs
with unions in Scotland.
McCONNELL: No, actually there's been an
agreement nationally as well as in Scotland. They have two different agreements
HUMPHRYS: Yours much more to the
liking of the unions I should think.
McCONNELL: I wouldn't necessarily bet on
that, and the programme of public/private partnerships PFI Schemes in Scotland
is more extensive than it is in any Whitehall department, so we're going
ahead with a radical reform of the physical infrastructure of public services
in Scotland and we have been able to win support for that, so the fact
that there is not a controversy and a row around this all the time doesn't
mean to say the reforms aren't taking place...I hope...
HUMPHRYS: You're being emollient.
McCONNELL: Well, no, I think it means that
we're communicating, we're winning support, we're making sure that people
are on board for what we're trying to do...
HUMPHRYS: You're not picking a
fight then, let me put it like that? You're not picking a fight?
McCONNELL: Well, I don't think it's necessarily
the case that picking a fight is the best way to reform public services.
I think that in a country the size of Scotland, which has, for example,
got a larger...a smaller population than some of the health authorities
in England...that we can actually pull people together...one of the great
benefits of devolution is in pulling people together and making sure that
reforms are meaningful and happen immediately and I mentioned education
a minute ago, I think that that was the case in education. We have radical
restructures of the teaching profession in Scotland in a way that was done
with the support of Scottish teachers, now that is a far better than a
legislature and it is making a difference in Scottish schools.
HUMPHRYS: I'll offer you some reasons
for that in just one second, but you would avoid as far as fire-fighters'
strike is concerned, for instance, you would avoid using expressions such
as "wreckers" which has been used in Westminster.
McCONNELL: There's been language used on
all sides here, in Scotland and in England, you know which I think has
occasionally...we've got there a situation where people are getting themselves
into corners. I think what is important in the fire dispute is that we
get people back round the negotiating table, we get a settlement to this,
but that any additional investment is linked to reform and there can be
no doubt about that whatsoever.
HUMPRHYS: Right. You mentioned
the teachers a couple of times, let's have a look at that. And yes, indeed,
the teachers liked the deal and I'm not surprised they liked the deal when
you look at what they got - twenty three per cent more in cash and they
were promised various things - I'll read out a couple of them by 2006,
they will be working no more than twenty two and a half hours a week in
their classrooms, a thirty five hour week, no increase in days' worked
over the one ninety five and so on. All sorts of reforms to their working
practice - they won't even have to do any photocopying, I understand, so
it's hardly surprising that they liked it is it, and if that isn't emollient,
then heaven knows that is.
McCONNELL: Well, I've watched your programme
over the past eighteen months regularly discuss this topic and I think,
if I can say so, mis-represent the deal that was reached.
HUMPHRYS: So that's wrong then?
McCONNELL: Well, the teachers' deal in
Scotland, for example, increased the working hours, the contractual working
hours of teachers in Scotland by twenty per cent for each working week.
HUMPHRYS: In the classroom, no
more than twenty two and a half hours?
McCONNELL: It's the contractual working
hours in Scotland by twenty per cent in teachers' working week. It ensures
that we can now reward the best teachers in Scotland with a higher salary
than those in the main and should...now that we have...after eighty five
years in Scotland when it was impossible to sack a teacher...we are now
able to move people who are not fit for the job out of the classroom, and
it's also ensured that teachers now in Scotland have to go through compulsory
professional development and training each year and additional days are
added to the working year as a result of that, now all of that was worth
buying, and we did that...
HUMPHRYS: Well, it depends on the
McCONNELL: Well we did that only by taking
the teachers' salaries in Scotland up to the level they were in England
in the first place anyway, so we've done that, we bought reform with investment,
but we've also made sure those reforms will improve standards in the classroom,
I think that was a good thing to do, we did it by consent, we won an agreement
and I think you see the benefits in Scottish classrooms.
HUMPHRYS: Indeed you did do it
by consent and as I say I'm not surprised because it looks to be the kind
of deal that the firemen here for instance..direct comparisons..of course
you can't make direct comparisons but nonetheless the sort of thing that
anybody would leap at. I mean twenty-two and a half hours a week in the
classroom, not bad.
McCONNELL: Well I don't see the firemen
volunteering for an extra twenty per cent on the working week or some additional
days training each year....
HUMPHRYS: ..depends what's involved
in that working week.
McCONNELL: ...from their holiday time or
disciplinary procedures that make it easier for them to be dismissed, or
rewards for those who are carrying out the best work and all those were
a key part of that deal in Scotland and that deal is making a difference
to standards in Scottish classrooms.
HUMPHRYS: The point I'm really
making here, the broad point is that your approach, your approach - put
aside the outcome for the moment - but your approach is different. There
seems to be, at Westminster, there seems to be quite a deal of enthusiasm
for all sorts of reasons that one can understand, some of which one can
understand, some of which are probably based political reasons to have
a go at the unions, to say look, to the public at large, we are separate
from these people and fully understand that. You seem not to be doing that
in Scotland, more old Labour than new Labour in that sense.
McCONNELL: I don't agree with that and
I think when we need to we will. But what's best for Scotland and what's
best for Scottish public services and for the opportunities that exist
in Scotland today is to make sure that we can implement reforms in a way
that makes a difference right now, rather than simply try and do it in
a way that causes controversy just to perhaps appeal to those who would
rather write headlines.
HUMPHRYS: Alright, let's look at
another difference then if you like and that is over tuition fees. Now
a very clear difference here, there's talk of top-up fees, the government
here appears to want top-up fees, you've abolished even the basic tuition
fee and students will have to pay for it after they graduate. A lot of
people say very sensible, whether it is sensible or not, it is very different
from what's happening down here isn't it.
McCONNELL: Well one...I've watched Charles
Clarke on this programme over the past fortnight and he said one of the
options that he's looking at is the graduate tax and therefore you know
perhaps looking at some of the lessons from the Scottish changes. We need
to again, I think, be able to implement reforms that are appropriate to
our own circumstances. The Scottish university system is an excellent
world class university system, we have fifty per cent of our students in
Scotland...of our young people in Scotland going into further or higher
education. That's the target in England, which I think the figure is currently
thirty-five per cent. So there is a need to do something radical in the
English system and the Scottish system I think what we need to do is to
make sure that the resources we have there are used best and we have..we
promote the excellence in our universities, that has got us a reputation
all over the world that we want to preserve.
HUMPHRYS: You were able to go -
and your party was able to go into the last Election - saying that there
will be no tax increases during the lifetime of this Parliament, you won't
be able to do that again this time will you, bearing in mind some of the
things you've had to do, or have chosen to do, such as for instance, long-term
care, free long- term care, you won't be able to say no tax increase will
McCONNELL: Well we will say no tax increases
and we will also, I think, use the opportunity that comes through devolution
to make best use of the budgets in Scotland. I think the scale that we
operate on in Scotland, a country of five million people, a budget of twenty
billion pounds, a new parliament and a ministerial team that are committed
to getting best value for that, we can use that scale in Scotland to actually
make more of a difference with the money and I think that will be one of
the long-term benefits of devolution and one of the drivers for English
regional devolution where people see the operating at a more local level
can make a difference.
HUMPHRYS: Just a very quick thought,
which may or may not drive a great wedge between you and your colleagues
down here and that's St. Andrew's Day, it was St. Andrew's Day yesterday,
some people are saying there ought to be a national holiday in Scotland
and I notice the Parliament took a day off on Friday, so what about it,
national holiday for St. Andrew's Day in future?
McCONNELL: Well, I think we should celebrate
St. Andrew's Day in Scotland but I'm more interested in celebrating Scotland
all over the world on St. Andrew's Day.
HUMPHRYS: But no public holiday,
no national holiday?
McCONNELL: One of the interesting things
that happened this weekend, was for the first time ever the Foreign Office
and the new devolved government in Scotland worked together to get the
British Embassies all over the world to celebrate St. Andrew's Day more
than they'd ever done before....
HUMPHRYS: You're not answering
my question - holiday or not?
McCONNELL: I'm.....I think a holiday is
the wrong way to go...
HUMPHRYS: Oh, you do...
McCONNELL: ...I think we need to celebrate
Scotland all over the world on St. Andrew's Day, we are doing that and
we are doing it in partnership with our colleagues in London and that's
the real benefit of devolution.
HUMPHRYS: Jack McConnell thanks
very much indeed for joining us this morning.
McCONNELL: Thank you.
HUMPHRYS: It's just over a year
since the government killed off Railtrack. Its successor Network Rail came
into existence a few weeks ago. It's got quite a job to do. But so have
the train operating companies, the TOCs as they're known. They're the people
who actually run the trains of course and they've had a lot of extra money
from the taxpayer to help them make the trains run on time - but so far,
with a notable lack of success. Martin Popplewell wonders why.
MARTIN POPPLEWELL: Even if like me you were born
long after the end of the golden era of Britain's trains, you've probably
have a rather romantic notion of what it was all like then. The trains
ran on time, you could afford to buy a ticket, you have no awful memories
of terrible crashes and of course there were no leaves on the line. How
things have changed. Despite a massive injection of cash, many problems
remain on Britain's railways. Some in the Labour Party feel they were
given the benefit of the doubt at the last General Election to improve
things. Equally they fear if they don't improve them by the next General
Election, in many constituencies, they could be derailed.
CLIVE EFFORD MP: In '97 those people who
were using networks such as these North Kent lines, it was certainly a
very big issue in how they voted because on a daily basis they were suffering
delays and cancelled trains. Now there was high expectation when the new
Labour Government came in but people accepted that there were other issues.
So leading on into the 2001 Election transport still wasn't a high priority
for people and the economy was running well. But people are becoming increasingly
agitated about the constant cancellations and delays on the rail network
and I think you know transport is becoming a very important electoral factor
and it's one that we need to address through the course of this Parliament.
GWYNETH DUNWOODY MP: I don't think people realise the extent
of the difficulties in the rail industry at the present time. There's a
kind of melt down going on, firstly because Railtrack had to be taken over,
there was no choice. But over and above that we now have a number of train
operating companies that are being paid as management companies, just to
run existing franchises, because there are so many severe problems. Now
that was not a situation that was envisaged when the railway was privatised
but it is an immediate and difficult economic problem.
POPPLEWELL: There's nothing new about train
crashes. But a series of accidents after privatisation including Ladbroke
Grove, Hatfield and Potters Bar killed many and severally knocked public
confidence in the trains. Some of the accidents were blamed on poor maintenance
of the track and signals which were owned by Railtrack. The Government
delighted many of its own MPs by effectively re-nationalising the company
and replacing it with Network Rail. The move didn't surprise the man who
masterminded rail privatisation.
LORD PARKINSON: I have no doubt in my own
mind that from the day that Mr Prescott arrived in his ministerial office
he was determined to skewer Railtrack. He hated the privatisation, there's
a story about him beating the table and saying at one of the early meetings:
"I want my railways back!". I don't know whether that's true or not but
I can well imagine that it is. And he just set out, he was hugely hostile
to Railtrack from day one, they exploited Railtrack's problems and they
set out to undermine it and they succeeded.
POPPLEWELL: Now that Railtrack has gone
- it's just the trains which are run by the private sector. Twenty-five
companies have contracts or franchises lasting between five and twenty
years to operate services between different cities and in different regions
of the country. They're called train operating companies or TOCs.
One of the aims of rail
privatisation is to create a market place for passengers. The idea was
that just as you have a choice of different airlines to travel to a major
airport, so you'd have a choice of different train companies to go to a
station. The best train companies would win more passengers and would thrive.
The trouble is though is that for many stations, York included, that kind
of competition just hasn't arrived. Even the man who represents the train
operating companies concedes that competition on the railways hasn't happened.
CHRISTOPHER GARNETT: The issue of competition on the railways
is not what it's about. It is competition with the car and on routes such
as GNER it is competition with the aeroplane. That is where the real competition
lies. Rail has seven/eight per cent of the passenger market, the challenge
for us is to get people out of their cars and on to trains.
POPPLEWELL: Opponents of rail privatisation
say the only type of competition which it has introduced is competition
in the employment market. They say that drivers and other train staff who
work for different companies but do exactly the same job are paid widely
different rates of pay. This has led to a long running dispute, with more
strikes planned between now and Christmas across the North of England and
BOB CROWE: In the canteens and mess rooms
that train drivers and guards sit in, you've probably got something in
the region of nine or ten different companies, working alongside each other,
all on different rates of pay, all on different conditions and that leads
to bitterness, it leads to jealousy, it leads to resentment and ultimately,
it leads to pressure on the trade union and that pressure in my belief,
will mean more strikes in the railway network.
GARNETT: There is not a great differential
of pay between different types of companies. The Intercity train operators
roughly all pay a similar amount. The London Commuter TOCs roughly pay
a similar amount and the Regional train companies roughly pay a similar
amount. But they are different jobs in different environments. A driver
driving our train at a hundred and twenty-five miles an hour with five
hundred people on board deserves a higher rate of pay than drivers working
elsewhere. I don't have a problem about that, I think that that is right.
POPPLEWELL: Competition for staff and the
resulting higher salaries is just one of the reasons why some of the train
companies have run into difficulties. Since privatisation taxpayers have
had to hand over an extra two hundred and fifty-four million pounds to
keep the train companies afloat.
CHRISTIAN WOLMAR: I mean the whole nature of franchising
has been a complete failure because those franchises that have done well
have pocketed the money and said thank you very much. Those that have
done badly have basically gone back to the government and said please,
please can we have some more money because we've run out of money because
we over estimated how we could cut costs, or we haven't had enough passengers
or we've been affected by strikes or affected by the Hatfield rail accident,
whatever the excuse they've asked for more money. And on every occasion
they've got it.
GARNETT: I think the train companies
have done a really good job since privatisation. The train companies nowadays
receive a billion pounds a year less in subsidy than they did at the start,
we up to Hatfield were carrying thirty-five per cent more passengers and
running twenty-five per cent more trains.
POPPLEWELL: The train regulator the Strategic
Rail Authority - or SRA - is responsible with the Secretary of State for
Transport for granting the franchises to the train operating companies.
Ironically, critics have questioned much of the strategy of the Strategic
Rail Authority. But the SRA defends giving the privately owned train companies
so much taxpayers' money.
RICHARD BOWKER: At the time of privatisation which
I think most people would now accept in many ways was a botched privatisation,
mistakes were made when the franchisees were led in terms of how much
they would cost, bidding was probably too aggressive, the cost base has
gone up quite significantly over the last five or six years and frankly
whoever had been the franchisee in these companies in virtually all cases,
additional funding would have been required.
POPPLEWELL: Mallard is the fastest steam
locomotive here at the National Railway Museum in York. When this locomotive
was built Britain's railway system was divided up into a number of regional
privately owned companies. Unlike today's train operating companies they
owned the track as well as the rolling stock. This is known as an integrated
system and some people think it's the best way to run trains.
WOLMAR: There is only one sensible
way to run a railway and that's been proved the world over because all
the countries that have tried to break up the railway into an infrastructure
company and into franchises have found that it hasn't really worked. The
only way to run a railway is to have an integrated railway, that is to
have one company which is in charge of the whole operation.
LORD PARKINSON: Alastair Darling is probably
sensible enough to realise he's better off as he is, the last thing he
would want on his hands I would suspect is another nationalised railway,
a wholly re-nationalised railway with aggressive trade unions, pressure
on government because the workers would know that the company couldn't
go bust, the union at the end of the day would have to bail it out.
POPPLEWELL: But many of the franchises
expire next year. The SRA thinks this is an opportunity for it to improve
the way the train operating companies are run and get tougher with those
companies that don't deliver.
BOWKER: We have in terms of removing
franchises, we have looked extensively over a number of them over the last
couple of years, the decisions that we've taken have always been to continue
with the businesses but as I say, in terms of looking at the new franchise
model going forward I want a position where franchisees are very clear
about their obligations, very clear about the responsibilities, there is
an effective process and if they don't deliver the ultimate sanction is
that they will lose their franchise.
POPPLEWELL: But many in the Labour Party
are not convinced. They're stoking up the pressure on the government,
signalling they want more profound changes to Britain's railways.
EFFORD: My gut instinct is for
a not for profit company because I think that the idea that when we have
services as poor as we do at times on our on our railways and they have
improved, I mean we have to accept that there have been improvements.
But when we do have services that fail, at the end of the day it is the
government that people hold responsible.
WOLMAR: If you'd have asked me
two years ago could you start bringing the railway back into the government's
hands I might have said oh that sounds a bit difficult, in fact Stephen
Byers re-nationalised Railtrack, I mean the government don't admit that
but effectively he re-nationalised Railtrack, he completely changed the
structure of the privatised railway. So anything can happen in the next
three or four years. I think if this new way of franchising doesn't work
then we can look to you know a third model of privatisation or even a virtual
complete re-nationalisation although they'll never quite call it that.
DUNWOODY: You begin to ask yourself is
this worth the tax payers' while. Would it not be better to simply cut
out many of these people and run an integrated service, it wouldn't cost
any more and although you'd have to solve out immediate problems I'm afraid
that there are people who see us getting to that situation very quickly.
Are we getting value for money? - I'm not sure. Do we think there's
another way of doing it? - I think there may be. Is the government prepared
to envisage that at the moment? - no. Is it going to be forced to in the
future? - quite possibly.
POPPLEWELL: Whatever the final destination
is for the train operating companies - the continuing problems with Britain's
railways will keep them high on the political agenda until the next General
Election. If improvements in the service don't arrive on time, Labour
politicians fear it will have an impact on their party's electoral fortunes.
HUMPHRYS: Martin Popplewell reporting
there. Now a look at some of the main political stories of last week.
HUMPHRYS: Terror in paradise again...fifteen
killed, the hotel devastated, and an Israeli jet almost brought down by
The UN weapons inspectors arrived in Iraq. Saddam Hussein has one week
left to declare any weapons of mass destruction. If he doesn't, it could
Gordon Brown admitted
that the Government would be borrowing twenty billion pounds this year
- twice as much as he'd originally told us. The Treasury Minister, Paul
Boateng, was in no mood to apologise.
BOATENG: Record low inflation,
record low mortgage.......
PAXMAN: This is the fourth time
you've said this!
BOATENG: Record levels of employment,
of jobs created and new businesses started...
PAXMAN: Well, thank you.
BOATENG: It's what makes a difference
on the ground that counts, this Chancellor is...
PAXMAN: Maybe there's someone who's
just turned in who hasn't heard this the previous three occasions which
you've said it, so thank you very much...
BOATENG: I know you find it galling,
but it is a fact, Jeremy.
PAXMAN: Yes, thank you.
BOATENG: Give me some credit, where
PAXMAN: Thank you...thank you all
HUMPHRYS: The battle between Government
and fire-fighters heated up. It's now looking like all-out war and no end
But there's a big deal in the offing with NHS workers, just so long as
they agree to change the way they work. Handy timing for the Government,
The next Governor of the Bank of England will be Mervyn King. Mr King
doesn't care for the Euro. That could cause some problems ahead.
And the end of all those cheap flights? The Royal Commission on Environmental
pollution says we've got to pay more and fly less to save the planet.
JOHN HUMPHRYS: When the people of Wales
voted in favour of their own Assembly they did so with a remarkable lack
of enthusiasm. Only half bothered to vote at all and the devolutionists
won by a whisker. The sceptics say very little has been achieved since
then and the Assembly is not much more than an expensive talking shop.
The enthusiasts say if that's true it's because it needs more power. Unlike
Scotland it does not have a Parliament that can pass primary legislation
or raise income tax. So what does the man in charge think? Rhodri Morgan
is the First Minister and he's in our Cardiff studio.
Good afternoon Mr Morgan.
RHODRI MORGAN MP: Good afternoon.
HUMPHRYS: You've no problem admitting
to your differences with London, indeed some say that you positively delight
in them, but you don't have the powers that Scotland has, talking to Jack
McConnell a few minutes ago as you know. And that makes it more difficult
for you to deliver what you might want to deliver.
MORGAN: Well we've delivered an
awful lot with the powers that we've got. We've delivered Assembly learning
grants for higher education and further education students, the first children's
commissioner, an independent ombudsman for children's rights in Wales,
free bus passes with free bus travel for old age pensioners and disabled
people in Wales, I could go on. The list of achievements in three and
a half years of an action packed programme I think is there as a tribute
to the powers that we have got and how effectively we've used them.
HUMPHRYS: But let me give you an
example of where - and I gave this suggestion to Jack McConnell as well,
where you might want to do something different and that is the fire dispute.
Now, you would rather like to have the power and it is being talked about
as I understand at the moment, to deal separately from England with the
MORGAN: Absolutely not, I don't
know who's told you that, but it couldn't be further from the truth. We
have always set our faces against having civil servants from the Welsh
Assembly government actually conducting pay negotiations separately for
Wales for Health Service staff, it's all done on an England and Wales basis,
for teachers that's done on an England and Wales basis and likewise for
the Fire Brigade, it's slightly mysterious, it is effectively done on a
UK basis although it's the local government association that does it on
an England and Wales basis, and Scotland have to come in behind it, as
Jack McConnell explained. We have no ambitions in that regard to have different
pay rates for public service workers in Wales.
HUMPHRYS: But wouldn't it help
to in the sense that Mr Gilchrist, the FBU leader wants to get away as
he puts it, from new Labour and back to real Labour as he puts it. You'd
quite like to do that too wouldn't you?
MORGAN: Well, I've always described
myself personally as classic Labour. I don't recognise the term 'Real
Labour'. I mean I'm not sure what game he is playing there, but I do think
that in terms of the FBU I do fear after the eight day strike now that
the FBU is in danger of doing what the water workers did to themselves
when they went on strike twenty or thirty years ago, when what they did
was to demonstrate that they were not as indispensable as everybody previously
thought they were including themselves, and there's an enormous danger
in strike action in the public service, if that's what the outcome is.
Don't go down the water workers' road, because I don't think that's very
wise at all. We are not involved in the negotiations and have no ambitions
to be involved in the negotiations.
HUMPHRYS: Nonetheless your advice
would be to them, get back round the table quickly even if it's not our
HUMPHRYS: Let's give you another
illustration then, perhaps you'd agree with this one, where you could make
a difference if you had more powers and that's the power to raise taxes
perhaps. The National Health Service, the Health Service in Wales. The
worst waiting lists in Europe. You have spent more money of course, but
you need to spend more don't you? You promised nobody would wait for more
than six months for out-patients treatment and eighteen months for in-patient
care. At the end of August it was eighty-four thousand, you know the figures
as well as I, waiting for out-patient care, four thousand for in-patient
care. You are not going to meet your target there are you, you could do
with a bit of extra cash?
MORGAN: Yes, but I mean you've
seen that the Scottish Parliament is not using the power that it has, so
that's really a very bad example to quote, because if they've got the power
and they're not using it and we haven't got the power, then I think anybody
would say that if we did have that power we wouldn't use it either.
HUMPHRYS: Wouldn't you?
MORGAN: So we have to find the
solutions in a different way and we are finding those solutions by increasing
the intake in the medical schools of Wales by eighty nine per cent from
1999 to 2005. We would increase it faster if you could recruit lecturers
in the medical schools, but you can't do it any faster than an eighty nine
per cent increase and similar increases for growing more of our own nurses,
professions allied to medicine as well because we don't want to be stripping
South Africa of all its doctors and the Philippines of its nurses unless
they actually want us to, so we are expanding the capacity of the National
Health Service to treat as fast as you humanly can. It's not a matter
of taxation, it's the human capacity to treat. Consultants do not grow
on trees, it takes ten years to train them and we are training them very
very rapidly indeed, but they're not there yet and the increase in the
out-patient waiting list is a consequence of our going for a primary healthcare
led system with national frameworks, national service frameworks, for coronary
heart disease, for diabetes, rheumatism and arthritis and as soon as you
do that, you see consultants having to treat more and more people in the
community, frail elderly people with heart trouble or diabetes, or arthritis,
and that makes it very difficult then to handle new cases as they come
HUMPHRYS: So...but one way or the
other, you're not going to make that target, are you and you're not saying
you couldn't do with a bit more cash, surely?
MORGAN: Well, we have been given
a large amount of additional cash by Gordon Brown and we know that as regards
health from April 1st next year where we are going to be as regards cash
for five years ahead, so that then you can sensibly...you've got the capacity
to plan ahead. The expansion of the staffing capability and therefore
the treatment capability of the NHS in Wales. For other public services
we know where we are for three years ahead from April 1st next year, it's
a very, very good platform to build on, given the size of the increases
that Gordon Brown has given us.
HUMPHRYS: But I mean, you knew
that people got sick before you set these targets, didn't you?
MORGAN: Well, we didn't know what
the consequence of introducing national service frameworks was going to
be. What you do with national service frameworks, you go out and find
the vulnerable at risk categories and you bring them in for treatment and
you need more consultants to do that and you cannot just pull consultants
out of the...you know, from the unemployment register, they're just not
HUMPHRYS: So, you don't want the
extra cash or so it would seem. Let's suggest to you that maybe you might
want...possibly want some other powers though it seems to be saying ...you
seem to be saying that you don't want tax raising powers, we've got the
Richard Commission looking at this whole area and I know that you're going
to say that well we're going to have wait and see what they say, but you're
already apparently saying that we don't want tax raising powers, are you
saying you don't want more powers?
MORGAN: No, we are asking for more
powers - individually we have said we want the transfer of animal health
powers from Westminster to Wales, that was one of the lessons from the
foot-and-mouth disease inquiry. We are looking at a wide range of areas
where there are individual things where we think we could deal with it
better because there's a clear lesson from some incidents that have occurred
like the foot-and-mouth disease epidemic. But we don't get obsessed with
this, it's a...we are delivering public services to the people of Wales
in the way that they want them. We are bringing down unemployment to forty-six
and a half thousand now in Wales compared to its peak during the Tory years
of hundred and sixty-eight and a half thousand during the year 1986. It's
back now to 1975 levels. There was an increase in the total number of
jobs in the Welsh economy last year of thirty-three thousand from September
'01 to September '02. These are huge achievements which we have done in
partnership with Westminster. We are doing a good job for the people of
HUMPHRYS: If the Richard Commission
were to recommend fairly drastic things, such as the ability for you to
raise tax, whether you wanted to raise it or not and I accept you might
not want to raise it but, nonetheless, if you were to do that, you would
say what? - we'd have to have a referendum before that could be agreed,
MORGAN: The whole purpose of setting
up the Richard Commission is for them to be able to report back to the
Assembly with the ability to look back at the whole of the Assembly's first
term, so they will be reporting in about October of next year, ten months',
eleven months' time, and then the Assembly will debate the consequences...well
the conclusions rather, of the Richard Commission. And then it's a matter
really for each party to pick that up in any way that they want. They will
either reject or accept part or all of the Richard Commission recommendations
and then it's a natural consequence of that, that each party will look
at it and will say: right, well what we do we want to put in the manifesto
for the next general election - full acceptance of any recommendations
from the Richard Commission, what are the consequences of that, for the
need for another referendum, if it was that kind of change that they were
proposing. If that's what the Assembly accepted, that's a matter for parties
to take forward, as parties always do, there's no magic about it and no
HUMPHRYS: Rhodri Morgan, many thanks.
MORGAN: Thank you.
HUMPHRYS: Tony Blair seems invincible.
He has his problems, of course, but they pale into insignificance compared
with the Conservatives. They're making no progress in the opinion polls
indeed. The question being asked increasingly these days is not whether
they will form the next government, but whether they can prevent the Liberal
Democrats displacing them as the main party of opposition. Iain Watson
has been to the Conservative heartland of Surrey to find out.
IAIN WATSON: It's not just the planet that
looks blue from a distance. Many constituencies in southern England have
traditionally had a Tory hue. But recently a political beast of a different
colour has been stalking the country - with the aim of dramatically changing
the landscape. This is the traditional territory of the lesser spotted
Conservative voter. Now I'm currently walking through the Twickenham constituency
in South West London, but just downstream of here you can see the constituency
of Richmond and upstream Kingston and Surbiton. Now these three seats
all have one thing in common - in 1997 they fell to a new species of political
animal - the Liberal Democrat. And buoyed by their success in this area,
they're now keen to invade neighbouring Tory terrain.
The Lib Dems are no longer
confined to their usual habitat on the Celtic fringe. In 2001 they advanced
into the home counties, winning Guildford. Now they are campaigning in
the neighbouring seat of South West Surrey. Not all the residents are
friendly, but that doesn't dent their almost hallucinogenic levels of optimism.
Nationally, they're talking about becoming the official opposition. Locally
they think they can do even better.
SIMON CORDON: We can become the official
opposition and we can become the government of this country. That's certainly
the objective we have. They said in the 80s and 90s, we would always be
stuck on twenty seats and we now have over fifty and in the last election
they said we would go back to just twenty, but we were the only party who
WATSON: But at the 2001 election
Labour won 413 seats - including the speaker - and the Tories, even with
a poor showing of 166 seats, were way ahead of the Liberal Democrats, whose
tally was just 52. Even so, some polling experts don't rule out a radical
shift next time round.
PROFESSOR PAUL WHITELEY: People's attachments to the political
parties are much weaker than they used to be. The brand loyalty if you
like was very much stronger a generation ago than it is now, which means
that people who are potential Conservatives can be detached and equally
people who are Labour supporters can be detached by the Lib Dems.
WATSON: A typical characteristic
of both the Liberal Democrat and the football manager alike is an obsession
with tactics and positioning.
To win seats from the Tories the Lib Dems need to squeeze the Labour vote
where Labour is in third place. Some strategists say privately that the
party should be stressing their commitment to the public services, to appeal
to left wing voters, while simultaneously adopting more business-friendly
policies to attract one nation Conservatives.
But we unearthed a document
by the Association of Liberal Democrat councillors which takes a less high
minded approach. It says: "effective opposition accentuates the negative".
And on the Darwinian principle of the survival of the fittest - it suggests
that to be successful, grass roots campaigners should evolve - into political
The document states in
simple terms: "you can secure support from voters who normally vote Tory
by being effectively anti-Labour" And similarly "in a Tory area secure
labour votes by being anti-Tory". And there's advice on finding the ingredients
for the perfect campaign cocktail:"be wicked, act shamelessly, stir endlessly".
Are you wicked, do you
act shamelessly, do you stir endlessly?
CORDON: I'm never afraid to take
a risk and shoot from the hip if you like. As for wicked, certainly not.
Shameless, certainly not, determined to be a powerful advocate of local
need yes, always and ever. You know the ALDC, our Association of Liberal
Democrat Councillors, they are a superb organisation who have helped people
like me and many others to know how to campaign.
THERESA MAY MP: One could almost say that Liberal
Democrats hold fast to their principles as long as it takes get from one
doorstep to another, and we do see them adopting different causes in different
WATSON: But whether the Lib Dems
are campaigning on the moral high ground, or down in the gutter, it would
still take electoral swings of historical proportions for them to get more
seats than the Tories
WHITELEY: It would mean literally
a two punch knock out blow, one delivered from the Lib Dems with a ten
per cent swing from the Conservatives to the Lib Dems and the second punch
would have to come from Labour, again a ten per cent swing from the Conservatives
to Labour. Now if you recall that between 1992 and 1997 Labour achieved
a ten per cent swing, it's clearly possible but it's a tall order.
WATSON: The Liberal Democrats have
beavering away here in South West Surrey and they've got high hopes of
winning the seat. But the less than charitable might suggest that this
is the only Downing Street they are ever likely to see. Talk to Liberal
Democrats privately and they'll tell you there's really little chance of
overhauling the Tories at the time of the next election - so why all this
talk of official opposition. What's their game? Well, apparently it's all
a matter of inflicting maximum psychological damage.
The Liberal Democrats
will forage for potential territorial gains very carefully in the run up
to the next election. Although the Tories may end up with more seats, the
Lib Dems want to create the impression that the momentum is with them.
In other words, they are like spring to the Tory autumn, a few thousand
votes extra in just four seats could devastate the Shadow Cabinet. The
Shadow Home Secretary, Oliver Letwin, former Party Chairman David Davis,
one of their key campaigners Tim Collins and the current Party Chairman,
Theresa May, are all vulnerable.
SHERLOCK: That would, of course,
be..deliver a psychological devastating blow to the Conservative Party
losing some of their key rising stars, so I think those seats will be very
crucial to the Conservative Liberal Democrat balance and, of course, the
psychology of those results is important to what happens in the new Parliament
after the 2004 or 2005 election, so those will certainly be seats to watch,
and I can bet the Liberal Democrats would put in enormous effort in to
trying to win them.
WATSON: A past victim of Liberal
Democrat targeting says her party should ape the techniques of their opponents,
or their progress at the next election could be severely limited.
LADY MAITLAND: The Conservative Party should
be learning much more about high profile targeting of seats which are vulnerable.
They didn't do it at the last election and I think it was a great mistake.
There's no evidence that they're actually getting round to doing it next
time round. Unless they really focus their support on the seats that we
might lose and the seats that we must win, then frankly they're lost.
WATSON: South West Surrey Conservatives
are braving the elements to meet in a council of war. This is the night
that the fightback against the cocky Liberal Democrat insurgents should
begin. That is, once the ceremony of the door-opening has been mastered.
Virginia Bottomley is standing down at the next election, and the Conservative
Party is about to interview four hopefuls - all of them white males - who
think THEY can see off the Liberal Democrats.
Here in deepest Haslemere, behind very firmly closed doors, one of the
most sombre and secretive rituals in the Tory tribe is taking place - the
selection of the Parliamentary candidate. Now, it's not surprising that
they don't really want the likes of us to look in on such an important
occasion, but what is astonishing is that Party chiefs at Central Office
have told us we can't even have an interview with the successful candidate
once they've been chosen. Now in a key marginal seat where they have
to see off the Liberal Democrats, they are bound to leave themselves open
to accusations that they're running scared.
Your opponents say you're running scared.
MAY: Certainly not, and
what they will find...it's very interesting, if you look at what happened
in South West Surrey at the last election, the Liberal Democrats targeted
South West Surrey at the last election. They said they were going to win
that seat, they failed to win that seat and they will not win that seat.
WATSON: Officials at Conservative
Central Office are now burrowing away on schemes to fend off the Liberal
Democrats. The Party Chairman, Theresa May, has sent a letter to constituencies
telling them to go on the offensive ahead of next year's local elections,
but a former Tory MP says the anti Liberal Democrat unit here is more
of a sleeping lion cub than a ferocious beast.
MAITLAND: The unit at Central Office
is woefully inadequate, they have two people, one of them is a very young
man, someone who is more experienced, and that's it. I haven't seen any
leading speeches by senior politicians highlighting the Liberal Democrats.
I think that's a big mistake. I think they take the view that if you ignore
them, the problem will go away. I think it's the reverse, I think you've
got to hit them very very hard indeed.
MAY: What we've put together
is a very good group of people who are working to ensure that we can support
those of our candidates, be it at local government or Westminster level,
who are fighting the Liberal Democrats as the opposition party in their
WATSON: So not woefully inadequate
MAY: Certainly not.
WATSON: Are you going to beef it
MAY: I'm not going to tell
you anything about what our strategy for our Liberal Democrat unit is.
WATSON: Well, whatever it is, it
had better be good. There's not just the next election at stake; but
the long term survival of the species.
Sixth formers have come to Westminster to hear senior politicians address
a mass meeting of first time voters.
A polling analysis being studied in Conservative Central Office and seen
by On the Record suggests the Tories have problems.
While Iain Duncan Smith received a warm welcome here, his party is now
running neck and neck with the Liberal Democrats amongst 18 to 34 year
old voters. After this meeting, we spoke to a group of students from Godalming
College in South West Surrey.
This isn't a scientific study, but every one of them told us that a good
performance from the Tory leader hadn't persuaded them to back his party.
BOBBIE GANNON: They're just not up to date...like
the Lib Dems are very much more accommodating for the youth of today, like
NATASHA HARRINGTON: I did feel that Iain Duncan
Smith and the Tory Party were more in tune with young people than I thought
they would be, but I wouldn't be convinced to vote for, for the Tories
over the Lib Dems.
ALEX GREGSON: They need to change their
attitudes towards Europe, and particularly this homosexual...their attitudes
towards homosexuals and their rights to live their lives in this country.
I just think that needs a lot of reform.
WATSON: But before the Conservatives
retreat into their cave, there are those who say there's only limited grounds
for optimism amongst Charles Kennedy's party.
WHITELEY: Everyone's support is
shallow, but it's certainly true that Lib Dem support is more shallow.
A lot of people who say that they don't support any party voted Lib Dem
at the last election, and so to a significant extent the Lib Dems are still
a protest party. Now, the thing about being a protest party of course
is that you can easily lose support as well as quickly gain it.
WATSON: Every so often political
parties - just like planets - can suffer from what's known as extinction
level events. Who remembers the continuing SDP? The Lib Dems hope that
the next stage of political evolution could render the Tories if not extinct,
at least irrelevant. But if a week is a long time in politics, then the
Liberal Democrats' ambition to become the official opposition could still
be light years away.
HUMPHRYS: Iain Watson reporting.
JOHN HUMPHRYS: And now to the third
of our national leaders, David Trimble in Northern Ireland. In fact, Mr
Trimble is no longer the First Minister, there isn't one at the moment.
The Government at Westminster suspended the assembly six weeks ago after
the Unionists demanded that Sinn Fein be removed from its Executive. The
final straw was the discovery of IRA spies at the heart of the Government
in Stormont. So, can it all be put back together again? The Irish Prime
Minister seems to think it can - and soon. Can it? And is it worth trying?
David Trimble is in our Belfast studio.
Good afternoon Mr Trimble.
DAVID TRIMBLE: Good afternoon.
HUMPHRYS: Is there any point in
trying to preserve devolution, to restore it?
TRIMBLE: Oh yes there is. I mean
we've no doubt and I think supported by people across the board here in
Northern Ireland, we've no doubt that the administration was better, more
responsive to local needs with devolution and that's not just because of
the abilities of myself and my colleagues, it's also because the ministers
that we have at the moment who have been...who are drawn from the Labour
Party and the Labour Government have no organic connection with society
here in Northern Ireland and nobody votes for them in Northern Ireland
because they won't take members from - membership from people in Northern
Ireland. So they have this sense that they wouldn't have for example in
Wales and Scotland of not having any connection with society and not being
responsive to society here. So devolution is clearly needed.
HUMPHRYS: I raised the question
because you yourself have apparently missed two sessions of this inter-party
grouping, these talks that are trying to reconstitute the assembly and
that rather suggests a lack of enthusiasm on your part.
TRIMBLE: Oh, no, no, not at all.
I mean we have been very well represented and I have just a little problem
with the way in which the sessions are being arranged without consultation
with me so that I haven't been able to arrange my diary so as to be able
to go to them. But I am sure the Secretary of State will correct that
in the near future.
HUMPHYRS: Bertie Ahern, the Irish
Prime Minister, thinks the IRA is preparing to make some kind of deal that
would enable it all to be put back together again. Do you know anything
about that deal?
TRIMBLE: Well, not as yet, I hope
that the leaks that appeared or at least the stories that were planted
in the national press yesterday are true. I have rather a suspicion actually
that they have been grossly over-stated in order to send messages to various
people and I am afraid that this happens sometimes. I am sure you know
that some politicians try to manipulate the press...
TRIMBLE: ....but what we do need
is very clearly we do need to see what Tony Blair has called "acts of completion".
Namely the completion of the transition to the situation where we are operating
by exclusively peaceful and democratic means and that necessarily means
no private armies, no private armies at all - Loyalist and Republican.
So we have got a long way to go, the sooner that we get that way, we get
that job done the better.
HUMPHRYS: So when Dublin seems
to suggest that it could all be up and running again by February, early
March, you don't recognise that timetable.
TRIMBLE: Well, I would be delighted
if it can be achieved, let me be quite clear about that. I would be delighted
if it can be achieved. But in order for it to be achieved we need to see
radical movement by Republicans on both weapons and on their structures
and capability, we want to see what effectively would be the end of their
private army. They know that, they know that and the question is whether
they are going to do what they should have done a long time ago and what
their failure to do, caused the current crisis.
HUMPHRYS: And if those radical
moves, as you described them, amounted to the IRA saying: right, we are
getting rid of them - or have got rid of all of our arms dumps and that's
it, decommissioning now is a fact. Would you say, okay, that will do?
TRIMBLE: Well, I'd be delighted
if we had that achieved and I would equally be delighted if we had an end
to all paramilitary activity. I mean those are the two key things that
we need to see and are as it were the essential steps towards, as it were,
putting the private armies to bed once and for all.
HUMPHRYS: But that's the point,
I mean is it enough. Would what I have just described be enough?
TRIMBLE: We'd have to look very
closely at the full context of this and I am not going to get into an argument...discussion
now about well will this little bit be necessary, or that little bit be
necessary. We know in broad terms what has to be achieved and just as the
Prime Minister has kept on those broad terms by talking about acts of completion
I will do the same.
HUMPHRYS: So that does seem to
leave the door open doesn't it and if one added in a couple of other things
that's been talked about apparently, that is the end of training by the
IRA, the end of their surveillance operations, the end of punishment beatings,
if you put all that together with decommissioning, with getting rid of
their weapons, you seem to be suggesting that that might be enough, as
opposed to the total disbandment of the IRA.
TRIMBLE: Well, I mean the distinction
between all the things you've mentioned and total disbandment seems to
me to be a play on words.
HUMPHRYS: Oh, really?
TRIMBLE: Yeah, because I mean if
you do all of that, you do all the things that have been mentioned there,
HUMPHRYS: You'd still have an army?
I mean you would still have the IRA behind it.
TRIMBLE: Well, if it's got rid
of all of its weapons, if it ceased all activities, and we are there very
close to as it were putting the organisation to bed...the reason why we
just hesitate a little bit at this John, and I think it's important...we
have a huge difficulty with a secret army in knowing whether it exists
and the circumstances in which it exist, so there's going to be difficulty
in that sense, although of course it does occur to me that if there was
public confidence, the police could do a lot to help with this because
as everybody knows, all the paramilitary organisations that operate in
Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland too, they're all pretty
thoroughly penetrated by the police, so the police can do a lot in terms
of their advice to the community. The question that there would be then
is "would that be credible, would that give enough public confidence?",
because at the end of the day what's crucial is public confidence and after
the revelation of the activities of Republicans, there was a collapse in
public confidence in terms of the continuation of the administration, so
what has to be done is to restore that confidence. All these things that
you have mentioned are very important elements in it, but then at the end
of it, we have to ask the question - we can only ask it when the time comes
- "is there sufficient confidence to go forward again?".
HUMPHRYS: Right, but it need not
be to restore that confidence, you need not necessarily have a declaration
by the IRA to say "come Thursday..we could...ten o'clock in the morning...we
no longer exist"... you're not absolutely looking for that, that's...that's
the crucial thing here isn't it.
TRIMBLE: Let's look at that the
other way, if there was just such a statement, would people believe it,
that's the problem, we've got a secret army, the secret army could say
all sorts of things, but how would you know whether it's true, and that's
why there has to be - in the first instance at least - an act of...a focus
on the things that can be seen - the activities, dealing with the weapons
and so on. Whether that is sufficient is, however, a question that we
can only ask and only answer when the time comes, so please let's not get
bogged down in these details. At the moment, as far as we can see, there
is very little sign that the Republican movement intend to do what should
be done, so let us get the questions put to the Republican movement about
what are they going to do, are they still going to continue in their criminal
activities, at the moment are we still going to get these attacks, are
we still going to get these beatings, are we still going to see these efforts
to de-stabilise other parties which is what they were doing - those are
the questions that need to be addressed now.
HUMPHRYS: What I'm really trying
to establish here is whether - and the answer seems to be from you, seems
to be yes - there is a sort of continuum here - at one end they stay where
they are and do nothing - clearly that means no assembly - at the other
end of the continuum, they say "it's all over, finished and here's the
proof". What you seem to be saying to me this morning is that there is
a series of actions they can take and at some point along this line you,
at that stage, would judge that they had done enough without necessarily
disbanding - whatever that may mean - you might judge that they had done
enough to restore your confidence and the confidence of other Unionists?
TRIMBLE: Well, in a sense, what
we're...what has to be done is there has to be huge movement and let's
not understate this - there has to be huge movement from Republicans -
there has to be acts of completion. We have to be sure that this problem
is not coming back again. Now, we have taken...I have taken...three times
we have gone forward to form an administration relying on promises or beginnings
from Republicans. On each occasion, they let us down and they let society
down and that's the background from which we approach this. We have, as
it were, taken a chance three times and three times...Mr Adams and his
colleagues have let us down. Now, we don't intend to be let down again.
TRIMBLE: We want to be sure this
time it's going to work and that consequently we will have stability in
the political process in Northern Ireland and if...
HUMPRHYS: And if you...sorry, just
a very quick final thought if I may...if you don't get that, then what
about elections in May, are you saying they should not be held if the Assembly
is not up and running, because obviously...
HUMPRHYS: Sinn Fein want...
TRIMBLE: That's why Government
talks about February in the hope that they won't have to take a difficult
decision, but if we don't get progress by February, then a difficult decision
is inevitable and there is a total lack of credibility in an election to
something that doesn't exist and can't even meet.
HUMPHRYS: David Trimble, many thanks
and many thanks too for having joined us so often on this programme at
sometimes very difficult times indeed, so our thanks to you for that.
TRIMBLE: Thank you.
HUMPHRYS: And that's it for this
week. Don't forget about our website. We will be back at half past eleven
not twelve o'clock, half past eleven next Sunday and I'll be talking to
the leader of the Conservative Party Iain Duncan Smith and the leader of
the Liberal Democrats Charles Kennedy and that will be our last but one
programme. See you then, good afternoon.