Documents
Resources
Learning Center
Upload
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out

ANY QUESTIONS

VIEWS: 7 PAGES: 21

									Page 1 of 21


ANY QUESTIONS?

TX:              29/01/10 2000-2050

PRESENTER: Jonathan Dimbleby

PANELLISTS: Jon Cruddas                      – Labour MP
            Ed Davey, MP                     – Liberal Democrats’ Foreign Affairs
                                               spokesman
                 Priti Patel                 – Conservative Parliamentary
                                               Candidate for Witham
                 Sir Max Hastings            – Historian and Columnist

FROM:            Goring-on-Thames Village Hall, Oxfordshire


DIMBLEBY
Welcome to Goring-on-Thames in Oxfordshir, which is in the Chiltern area of
outstanding natural beauty, and the village has just been garlanded with the title of
„South of England Village of the Year‟. Among other – many other – luminaries who
have lived here is Oscar Wilde, which is presumably how Lord Goring in an Ideal
Husband acquired his name. We‟re in the village hall which is extremely busy with
all manner of events and clubs but somehow managed to find a date for us.

On our panel here: Jon Cruddas who used to work for Tony Blair in Downing Street.
He entered Parliament in 2001 and is now spoken of either as a possible future leader
of his party or as a candidate to run against Boris Johnson at the next London Mayoral
Election. Not made up your mind which of these yet Jon?

CRUDDAS
[LAUGHS] I don‟t think things are that bad ...

DIMBLEBY
Priti Patel made her name as a very fierce critic of David Cameron from the right of
her party. This only served to help her cause as her leader soon had her fast-tracked
via the so-called A-list to become a candidate for a new seat which has a comfortable
nominal Tory majority.

Edward Davey has been in Parliament since 1997 formerly Chief of Staff to Sir
Menzies Campbell, he now speaks for the Liberal Democrats on Foreign Affairs.
And, speaking of luminaries, almost half a century ago the famous writer and
journalist McDonald Hastings was on this panel in this village. In his footsteps here –
his son, Sir Max Hastings – used to edit the Daily Telegraph and the Evening
Standard. Now prolific as a columnist and renowned as a military historian – his most
recent best-selling study of Churchill as war leader has been widely acclaimed. I bet
you‟re on another big one as well – Max are you?

HASTINGS
I‟m afraid it‟s another one about the Second World War but also I have written one
which is coming out next month so I suppose I‟m allowed to give a plug for because
Page 2 of 21


it‟s about my early life here ,and it‟s called „Did you Really Shoot the Television?‟
[LAUGHTER].

DIMBLEBY
You can find out – end of plug. He‟s the fourth member of our panel.

[APPLAUSE]

DIMBLEBY
And our first question, please.

WHITE
My name‟s John White. My question is: Does Tony Blair deserve an Oscar?

DIMBLEBY
For his more than six hour performance in front of the Chilcot Enquiry?

WHITE
Correct, yes.

DIMBLEBY
Jon Cruddas.

CRUDDAS
Um .. Well it was a performance. I only saw bits of it because I was dipping in and
out of it through the day and couldn‟t watch it – the full extended version. I was – I
must admit to being disappointed by the process and the experience from what I saw
today because I do think there was a chance for a greater sense of reckoning around
what happened, our own culpability as a party and him as a leader but I don‟t think I
detected that nor a sense of contrition that I was looking for as part of a general
catharsis around the experience and legacy of Iraq. So therefore I found it
disappointing and uncomfortable to watch and I think we needed to do much much
more and it was a great opportunity for Tony Blair which I don‟t think he took um
and that saddens me actually because I think it – it places a cloud over a broader
legacy which I think we need to retrieve as a Prime Minister so I‟ve got a heavy heart
about the experience of watching it.

DIMBLEBY
What would you have liked him to have said – you said he missed an opportunity...

CRUDDAS
Well for example – for example the body count which ranges between 100,000 and
600,000, I think we do need to acknowledge that experience. I think we need to
acknowledge some of the confusion around weapons of mass destruction, I think we
need to acknowledge the post-war reconstruction failures, it‟s not simply good enough
to say we had a plan it was just the wrong plan – I think we need to go much further
in putting our hands up and saying „we‟re sorry‟. And I think maybe Tony Blair‟s
almost doing that through a sort of penance in his faith foundation but I think he could
have done more of it today in terms of his own experience and our own culpability as
a party and a Government through the legacy of what happened in Iraq. [APPLAUSE]
Page 3 of 21



DIMBLEBY
Priti Patel

PATEL
Well to be honest I don‟t think we‟re really that surprised are we by the fact that we
didn‟t really anything new today and that it was going to be a six hour epic from Tony
Blair. I mean no great surprise that he demonstrated no remorse, no regrets, he just
carried on with his own self-belief and justification of what he felt was right.

DIMBLEBY
Do you think he should have expressed remorse?

PATEL
I personally do to be honest – I really do because obviously we‟re now learning
through this Inquiry and we‟re finding our more and more information that actually
questions the whole premise of why we went to war and I‟m really surprised I mean
today he spoke of – he used the term the calculus of risk regarding Iraq changed after
9/11 because of Al Qa - Qaeda - we didn‟t hear any of this before. Um So in answer
to Mr White‟s question, I‟m not surprised we saw another performance from, you
know, the ever-great actor one T Blair, but I do think there are still a lot of
unanswered questions about why we went to war, also, are I say it, even Gordon
Brown‟s role at the time as well because we learnt last week from Alistair Campbell –
Brown was also a key player and Brown was the man that was also controlling the
purse strings at the Treasury at the time, you know, so he was the man funding –
funding ..

DIMBLEBY
And he will of course be appearing in due course before the Inquiry.

PATEL
Yup

DIMBLEBY
Ed Davey

DAVEY
The thing is that I don‟t actually think he was acting, I think he believes it. I think
he‟s full of total self-deception, and that really worries me. I think he should have
expressed remorse obviously because of the British service men and women who
died, the other soldiers of other countries who died, the Iraqi civilians who died, but
also because this was an absolute disaster. It was the worst foreign policy mistake, I
think, almost in Britain‟s history. If you look what‟s happened in Iraq: not just the
people who died but the state the country‟s been left in – if you look what it did to Al
Qaeda. Al Qaeda use it as a recruiting sergeant. They became stronger as a result of
it. Tony Blair today said „well if they hadn‟t removed Saddam you‟d have seen an
Iraq and Iran competing in a nuclear arms race‟. Rubbish. You‟d have had a
containment policy which was containing Saddam, you‟d have had the UN weapons
inspectors who were pouring all over Iraq, you wouldn‟t have had that. Iran would
Page 4 of 21


have been weaker because Iraq wouldn‟t actually have had any weapons and therefore
it wouldn‟t have had any hegemony..

DIMBLEBY
He also – he also said, didn‟t he, that – that if nothing be done Saddam or his sons
would be there, he had the intent and the capability to develop these weapons and
where would we be now?

DAVEY
And look how he moved the goalposts from „they actually had weapons of mass
destruction‟ to „they had the intent to have weapons of mass destruction‟ now that‟s
typical Tony Blair for you but – going back to this foreign policy disaster, our troops
are out in Afghanistan, Afghanistan would not be in the mess it is now if we hadn‟t
invaded Iraq and that‟s the price – that‟s the legacy of Tony Blair. [APPLAUSE]

DIMBLEBY
Max Hastings

HASTINGS
I don‟t think we could have realistically expected Tony Blair to say „sorry‟. First of
all Prime Ministers generally don‟t apologise and secondly, if he had said „sorry‟ if he
said „I got by far the biggest thing of my Premiership right – wrong – on that scale‟,
then all that was going to be left was for the vultures to pick over the carcass of his
Premiership. He was never going to make that admission. He had only one line
which I think will see him through the Chilcot Inquiry – he‟s going to go on and on
and on saying „I thought there were weapons of mass destruction, I thought that we
were going to make the world a better place‟ and I don‟t believe that Chilcot are
actually going to be able to prove anything, to show anything that is going to
decisively discredit him. So he‟s got to hang on just as Alistair Campbell hung on in
his name. But of course it is a great tragedy and when you asked about the Oscar – if
he was going to get an Oscar for anything I suppose to say today that because there
had been a decline in child mortality in Iraq since 2003 that it suggested that the war
had been worthwhile – is an insult to the intelligence of all the people who were
listening. But what can you expect from Tony Blair and I speak as one, I believed in
him, I was one of those, I have to confess, like Jon in 1997, I thought Tony Blair was
a different sort of politician, I thought Tony Blair deserved to govern, I thought he
was a man of extraordinary gifts who could do great things for Britain and it‟s
because of that so many of us today feel so bitter that I‟ve never forgotten saying
when my wife said she didn‟t believe there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq
– I said „come off it‟, this is 2002/ 2003‟you can‟t imagine the Government would lie
to us about something as big as this, they wouldn‟t get something as big as this
wrong‟ and my wife was right and I, and millions of others like me, we were wrong –
and we see Tony Blair today in the dock for it but I don‟t think he‟s going to be
convicted. [APPLAUSE]

DIMBLEBY
As Sir Max implied, Jon Cruddas, you voted for the war. Do you feel that you, as
Max has just said, do you feel that you were lied to by your leader?

CRUDDAS
Page 5 of 21


No I don‟t – I don‟t look at it – I was in Chicago in April 1999 where Tony Blair
made a brilliant speech about the case for a duty to intervene by the strong in support
of the weak. I very much supported him in terms of the interventions in the former
Yugoslavia and Kosovo which I think was probably his outstanding contribution in
many respects in foreign affairs and subsequently in Sierra Leone and my fear about
the consequences of the legacy in Iraq is that it will be – we will be unable to muster a
coalition to intervene on behalf of the weak again because of the legacy. I don‟t
personalise it, I think Tony Blair thinks he did the right thing. I would just hope.
Because I – I do like him and I think he did an immense amount as Prime Minister of
this country – that part of rehabilitating his legacy is to acknowledge a degree of
culpability in getting this one wrong so therefore it‟s not a hostility to Tony Blair – on
the contrary actually I very much respect him – so I‟m not going to caricature him just
as an actor. He took these things very very seriously and cared very much about these
issues, I just think we have to acknowledge the failures in order to have a genuine
reckoning so as we – as people say – we can move on.

DIMBLEBY
Given the continuing salience of Iraq which ..

CRUDDAS
Right ..

DIMBLEBY
Which has surprised some people and has lasted so long as an intense issue of public
concern, do you think it‟s inevitable, given the challenges your party faces in the run-
up to the election that you will con – we‟ve got Gordon Brown appearing, not so very
long before the election, that you will inevitably in part suffer because a significant
proportion of the electorate that might be considering voting Labour would say „I
can‟t touch them because I haven‟t had ..‟

 CRUDDAS
And so be it in my view, actually because that is part of the process that has to be
done to achieve a catharsis. A sense of a reckoning. There‟s a lot of certainty around
this. I mean to my view, I don‟t work on absolutes, I think this was a judgement issue
that subsequently – the key question for me is if we know now – we knew then what
we know now – would you still do the same thing? And I think that‟s where we
failed.

DIMBLEBY
He said „yes‟..

CRUDDAS
Exactly. Exactly. And that‟s where I disagree quite profoundly with him. And I
think that doesn‟t help him and I take Max‟s point about the certainties of being Prime
Minister – you can never acknowledge this. But I would just say a different tenor to
the contributions today could have acknowledged a sense of contrition on behalf of
the people who died actually. [APPLAUSE]

DIMBLEBY
You posed the question John Duncan White – your own thought?
Page 6 of 21



WHITE
Yes I think he let us down as a Prime Minister so he gets the Oscar but he failed as
Prime Minister as Max and Ed have just articulated so well.

DIMBLEBY
Thank you very much. We‟ll go to our next.

LUNT
Hello Graham Lunt. Is the legality of the war in Iraq relevant – or should the decision
to go to war always be a moral one?

DIMBLEBY
This is a quite precise question – not about whether there were or weren‟t weapons of
mass destruction, what conversation were or weren‟t held with President Bush. This
is about legality and morality.

LUNT
Correct

DIMBLEBY
How important is that in your view Ed Davey?

DAVEY
It‟s incredibly important – both morality and legality are important and one hopes that
the way international law is fashioned is to try to prevent conflict because conflicts
obviously create those huge moral dilemmas and one of my concerns – one of the
Liberal Democrats concerns at the time is we believe and we said we thought this war
was in breach of international law. And this week we heard Sir Michael Wood, the
senior foreign policy legal advisor, his deputy Elizabeth Wilmhurt all say in terms that
they thought the war was illegal and they advised Jack Straw was illegal and Jack
Straw, even though he‟s now the Secretary of State for Justice, didn‟t take their advice
and I don‟t think we‟ve got to the bottom or even after today, about whether or not
Tony Blair really understood the legal position. I don‟t think we‟ve really analysed
and I hope Chilcot will come back to this – about why Peter Goldsmith – Lord
Goldsmith, the Attorney General, changed his mind. He told the Inquiry that it was
because of what he‟d hear in America from US Attorneys, what he‟d hear from one or
two other people. But I don‟t think that goes to – to the nub of it. Let‟s remember
that we heard that Jack Straw prevented the Attorney General giving a thirteen page
legal opinion to the Cabinet and that thirteen page opinion actually expressed some
doubts. It expressed that it wasn‟t a clear – a clear cut issue and instead the Attorney
General was only able to put a three page legal opinion which inev – inevitably was
briefer and sustained the position that Jack Straw and Tony Blair were trying to drive
through.

So I think there‟s some very serious questions here to ask about the conduct of Jack
Straw and Tony Blair.

DIMBLEBY
Priti Patel.
Page 7 of 21



[APPLAUSE]

PATEL
I think much of this actually goes to the heart of the decision-making and who was
involved with the decision-making and who was listening to what advice and what
advice was actually being given at the time. I mean we now know that Blair‟s
approach to Government was his famous sofa-style of Government so excluded a lot
of people that he probably should have been listening to at the time of making that
judgement as to whether or not to go to war, and I think fundamentally you have to
obviously look at the whole picture. The legality of war, the morality of war and
listen to everybody which is why I come back to what I said earlier on, I mean there
are without a doubt a significant number of questions that do remain unanswered and
I think that Chilcot still has his work cut out, they‟ve got to continue to probe, they
really have ..

DIMBLEBY
Your – your party, forgive me, your party when many people at the time were saying
it is illegal because there isn‟t a second resolution that has been passed by the Security
Council, your party overwhelmingly, with one or two exceptions, voted in favour of
the war. Do you believe that your party voted for something that in your judgement
was unlawful?

PATEL
Well I think fundamentally we now know things, don‟t we, that we didn‟t know at the
time so I guess, you know, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

DIMBLEBY
So you think it‟s – whether or not it‟s legal or not depends on what happens when you
know afterwards?

PATEL
Well no – not – no it doesn‟t – I mean it simply doesn‟t. [LAUGHTER]

DAVEY / CRUDDAS?
Hold on I can‟t let Priti get away with that. The Conservative party knew that there
wasn‟t a second resolution at the United Nations. The Conservative party knew that
most international lawyers thought this was illegal but the Conservative party voted
with Tony Blair. I‟m afraid the Conservative party have to take some of the blame.

PATEL
Yea but we – we – well I‟m sure we do but the point is we voted on the basis of the
information that we knew at the time and what the Government was telling us you
know.

DAVEY/CRUDDAS?
This is international, it‟s not about weapons of mass destruction, this point, it‟s about
international law ..

PATEL
Page 8 of 21


Well it‟s still a judgement ..

DAVEY/CRUDDAS?
Well it‟s still a judgement that the party took then and the purpose of the Inquiry and
this is an Inquiry that we have also called for and we called for it consistently, was
that so the information could come out into the public domain.

DIMBLEBY
Legality of the war – Max Hastings.

HASTINGS
Nations must act within the framework of law. If we don‟t adhere to the law then
we‟re nothing. I think what is most scary about it all is what it says about our system
of government. What is emerging from Chilcot, I was very doubtful whether the
Chilcot Inquiry was worth holding because I felt that we knew most of the essential
elements of what it was going to find. But it has inked in an enormous amount of
detail that we‟re supposed to have a Parliamentary system of government not a
Presidential one – but what is emerging day after day from Chilcot is the
extraordinary range of civil servants, diplomats, soldiers and ministers who all
thought that his war was a ghastly mistake and probably illegal but who were quite
unable to prevent the Prime Minister from acting in accordance with his personal
wish. This is Tony Blair‟s war all the way down the line. And that is a shocking
indictment of the a failure of the Parliamentary system. [APPLAUSE]

DIMBLEBY
Jon Cruddas when you voted for the war did you regard it as legal or did you regard
that as a secondary issue?

CRUDDAS
No I did – I did regard it as legal on the basis of ..

DIMBLEBY
Despite the fact that the UN had not delivered the second resolution in fact had said
„we do not approve this venture‟.

CRUDDAS
On the basis of the earlier 4041 which I understand was a chapter 7 resolution I am
not a lawyer – an international lawyer – but that accepted a material breach and said
within 30 days, if there was, you know, a further material breach, then that provided a
legal basis which Goldsmith himself had told the Prime Ministers was a legal
position.

DIMBLEBY
Er...

CRUDDAS
Now I take your point about a subsequent search for a second resolution does that
change the constitutional question internationally I don‟t know is the answer but I was
under the assumption on the basis of the weapons of mass destruction, the argument
Page 9 of 21


about active, detailed and growing rather than sporadic and patchy as we subsequently
know that that constituted illegality.

DIMBLEBY
Just – just ..

CRUDDAS
I do take the point from the questioner though about the overarching moral imperative
and how you reconcile the legal question with the moral imperative which actually
did drive Tony Blair and I think he would be clear in saying that he saw this as a just
war on the basis of almost a parable of the strong defending the weak.

DIMBLEBY
You say that you – you accept that Tony Blair acted in good faith.

CRUDDAS
Yes

DIMBLEBY
He had the evidence from the intelligence services that the evidence was spasmodic
and patchy – he told the House of Commons, you and others, he told them that there
was overwhelming evidence – he told the public that – and that it was growing.

CRUDDAS
Yes

DIMBLEBY
Is that something you take as an act of good faith on his part or do you think he was
playing with the evidence as his critics allege in order to win them round?

CRUDDAS
I think – Max said he didn‟t see the point of Chilcot. Actually I think on this, given
the kind of forensic analysis that is directed to it, I think it will be very interesting to
see that because there is – there‟s a bit of a discrepancy there to say the least, shall we
say and Chilcot has great latitude he can investigate what it wants, it has a total remit,
it can ask for any pieces of material that – and he will receive all of the materials that
it requests, not to say that they will all be placed in the public domain but it will have
the greatest possibilities of dissecting and analysing this and providing the type of
analysis and resolution to it to the extent that we haven‟t had to date and therefore I
think that‟s why I actually think that Chilcot will prove functional in terms of
resolving some of these things and giving us greater clarity than to date we have been
able to ascertain from our – our approach from almost the sidelines.

DIMBLEBY
Our questioner Mr Blunt – Graham Lunt – sorry.

LUNT
My response is simply that for me the war clearly has to be legal and any war would
need to be but I was concerned earlier in the week that we were slipping into a
Page 10 of 21


technical debate as to whether it was legal rather than fully examining whether it was
right or wrong and I think that we‟ve seen that ...

DIMBLEBY
Do you believe – to go back as it were to your own question. If there was a constant
debate about whether something was legal or wasn‟t as some say that it isn‟t cast iron
– I‟m going to come back to Ed Davey on that in a moment – but you thought there
was a moral case – would the legal dubiety concern you or would you say we can
override that?

LUNT
I think there would have to be an instance for us to be able to go to war in an illegal
situation if we were absolutely convinced on the moral imperative. I don‟t personally
think that this was the case on this occasion.

DIMBLEBY
Just on that Ed Davey – you said it was very important to have the law.

DAVEY
Yeah I want to link the legal issue with the moral issue because the fact that we
clearly breached international law and there wasn‟t a good case to go to war anyway
on the evidence has undermined Britain and American‟s moral authority so when we
try to give a moral lead in the world, when we try to criticise China for its human
rights abuses, when we try to criticise Russia for the atrocities in Chechnya and all the
other future wars when we want to criticise other countries, they‟ll look at us and
they‟ll say „well you broke international law and your leaders knew the evidence
wasn‟t there‟. [APPLAUSE]

DIMBLEBY
You may have thoughts about this issue. If so, Any Answers may be for you after the
Saturday broadcast of this programme. The number is 03700 100 444 and the lines
open at 12.30 so if you‟re listening to this live edition of the programme and you want
to get in – get in quick at 12.30 because the lines are likely to be pretty busy. The e-
mail address is Any.answers@bbc.co.uk. We‟ll please go to our next question.

TURNER
Mary Turner. Should Britain condone and contribute to buying our exit from
Afghanistan.

DIMBLEBY
This is the proposal that some five hundred million pounds will be set aside to pay to
Taliban fighters who rejoin the .. the law of the land as opposed to fighting. Sir Max
what do you make of it?

HASTINGS
I wouldn‟t choose those exact words and I‟m sure the army wouldn‟t either but the
fact is for the last two hundred years the British army has found that the only way to
deal with the Afghans is by paying them not to fight us [LAUGHTER]. The Italians
were shockingly mocked a few months ago when it was found that the Italian
contingent in Afghanistan had been paying the local Taliban not to – not to shoot at
Page 11 of 21


them – I took rather a minority view and I said I thought this was extraordinarily
sensible Italian behaviour which we could learn a lot from. [LAUGHTER] when you
consider, I‟m not being frivolous about this, when you consider what it costs to keep
an army in Afghanistan, paying the other side not to shoot at us is an awful lot
cheaper than keeping two and a half thousand men on the ground out there. So if it
works – I mean the real point about all this – we can never win a military victory in
Afghanistan. This is not about Rourks Drift or waging Charge of the Light Brigade in
Afghanistan this is all about a political issue to which there is a military dimension.
And the fundamental reason an awful lot of people at the moment who are involved
with policy making are very worried about Afghanistan is not because the British
Army is being defeated (which it‟s not) but because whatever the British Army does,
win or lose, doesn‟t mean much unless there‟s a political – unless there‟s a policy in
Afghanistan that can pull together. And bribing the Afghans to maintain some sort of
minimal peace is an awful lot more promising than defending fire bases against the
Taliban from Monday to Friday. So I wouldn‟t say it‟s to do with buying our exit in
one sense but I would say it‟s to do with achieving some sort of modus vivendi that I
suppose is another way around of putting what you‟re saying – that enables us to
leave with something that we can call honour.

DIMBLEBY
Can you be confident that once you‟ve paid out to those who you‟ve seduced across
or bribed across if that‟s the right term, that they won‟t as it were take the money and
then run back and come back for another helping a couple of years later?

HASTINGS
Oh no you have to keep paying them. I mean it has to be a regular arrangement.
[LAUGHTER] The Army has always said about Afghanistan that – that you can‟t –
you can‟t secure an Afghan‟s loyalty terribly easily but you can buy quite a lot of
Afghan loyalty at a price and this seems an absolutely sensible policy so although I
don‟t want to sound flippant about this – I think it‟s terribly important and it‟s very
striking that the senior American and British commanders have reached the
conclusion that this is a sensible way to go and it‟s an awful lot more sensible than
fire fights all week.

DIMBLEBY
Priti Patel we hear ... [APPLAUSE] .. we hear from some quarters that those who
have – their sons or daughters in Afghanistan or who have lost their sons or daughters
in Afghanistan or indeed other relatives – feel that it‟s, at best, bizarre to be paying
those who‟ve been killing their relatives.

PATEL
I think naturally it will seem odd to be really honest, and a strange approach and a
strange policy without a doubt when their sons and daughters are out there in terrible
conditions with not very good equipment to protect themselves and yet here we are,
you know, giving dare I say it tax payers money away so to speak. But I mean the
fact of the matter is that Afghanistan is an incredibly serious situation and there are
obviously real issues with insurgents and the threat of terror – terrorists going around
and really sort of doing what they do. We have a real long-term problem here which
is it‟s not just about the military people on the ground but how do we actually move
forward in Afghanistan and enable the Afghanistan‟s in particularly to develop their
Page 12 of 21


own country, get theirselves (sp) back up and running as well. So I do think it‟s a big
challenge for us and I think it does seem bizarre really to – to the families of service
men and women.

DIMBLEBY
Jon Cruddas.

CRUDDAS
I‟ve got a – a different approach to this. I was the most relevant thing in the week for
me was Wednesday night I was at out ceremonial council in Dagenham in East
London and we gave the Freedom of the borough to the Royal Anglian Regiment and
it was incredibly moving and a sign of the gratitude afforded by the local community
to the work of the Royal Anglians. And Sir John McCall who‟s the head of them
gave this brilliant speech about how he went over to Helmand recently to talk to them
and he thought he was going to be giving this pep talk to the lads and instead he got a
pep talk because of the morale they had and – but he did suggest that, you know, what
is the timescale for this? And that brought it home to me when you think this cannot
be an indefinite tour of duty to these guys who are under extraordinary pressure and
so therefore it is incumbent upon our political leaders to talk about how we can most
effectively get to a position where the Government of Afghanistan takes control. And
that will mean some unpalatable truths where intuitively I react in a negative way to
the idea of financing those to keep them away from Al Qaeda to make sure that we
can tans – transit to get out of the country but I think that‟s exactly what we‟re going
to have to do – how difficult that is, because we have to try and make this most
difficult of tours of duty the most painless for the guys on the front line.
[APPLAUSE]

DIMBLEBY
Ed Davey

DAVEY
Well Jonathan can I start by correcting you a little bit..

DIMBLEBY
Sure

DAVEY
.. because in the papers today there were the families of some of our service men who
sacrificed their lives who said they supported this.

DIMBLEBY
I just said „some‟ – far from saying all.

DAVEY
Yes and I – I think that sends a clear message and what the Liberal Democrats have
been arguing – we actually argued for this type of approach some time ago that what‟s
been lacking in Afghanistan for so long is a political strategy at international,
national, local level to reach out to the Taliban to try and reconcile those who aren‟t
the extremists, those who are the mercenaries, who are the local tribal leaders, who
are the Pashtun Nationalists who‟ve always fought foreigners, but to reach out to them
Page 13 of 21


to show that we‟re not an army of occupation, we want to work with them to make
their lives better and then we‟ll go. We want to work with them and if that means
giving some money to create jobs so that they can go back to farming I think that‟s a
better way of spending money than putting our soldiers lives on the lines which, as
Max said as a very distinguished military historian, is extremely expensive both in
treasure and in blood. So I think this is the right approach. And we have to remember
when people say 'oh this is terribly difficult, terribly controversial‟. The Taliban are
this mixed group of people, they‟re not all complete extremists. The extremists are
actually a much smaller group. Most Taliban fighters are fighting just twenty miles
away from where they live.

HASTINGS
Mmm

DAVEY
Therefore they‟re local Afghans and they‟re being paid by the Taliban to fight. So I
think this approach is a much more sensible approach. It comes with risks and
difficulties, we mustn‟t create perverse incentives and Max was a little bit light on this
because there are a lot of law-abiding Afghans who haven‟t buckled under the Taliban
dollar and haven‟t – have stood up to them. This isn‟t about waving a white flag to
the Taliban, we can‟t have them back with the way they treated women, for example.
But I think we can persuade those Afghans who haven‟t been poisoned by the extreme
ideologies of the Taliban leaders, I think we can win them over and when we do our
troops will be able to come home.

HASTINGS
I totally agree with Ed that it‟s not about letting down the Army in fact I‟ve heard – it
was a General who said to me – if the Taliban are getting people to fight for them by
paying them 15 or 20 dollars a day – then it doesn‟t seem too stupid for us to pay
them 25 dollars not to fight us. And he wasn‟t being flippant either. I‟m a passionate
supporter and advocate of the British Army but what is really grossly unfair is to ask
them to do something which is beyond military means and beyond their power.

DIMBLEBY
We hear Hamid Karzai saying that at the conference in London that it would be
militarily necessary to have outside support for the next ten years or so and then
financial support and then other support for another five years or so afterwards.
We‟ve heard President Obama talking a much shorter time frame, a lot of politicians
here talking a much shorter timeframe. What is your judgement – you talk a great
deal to very senior military figures, what is your own judgement of the kind of
timescale that would make it possible for British troops to come home relatively
confident that stability is there in Afghanistan.

HASTINGS
I don‟t think that anybody on the military side is losing their nerve about Afghanistan
but they‟re very conscious of the sensitivity of the British public about casualties
Now my own opinion, I‟ve had this conversation with a lot of senior officers, is that I
believe that the British public are very sensible and very realistic and prepared to be
tough minded about casualties if they believe that what we‟re doing is going
somewhere. But they have got to be convinced that this is going to arrive at a
Page 14 of 21


destination. You cannot ask people to lose their lives week after week in these
circumstances unless the policy seems to be working. Now my own guess and it‟s not
more than a guess, but I rather suspect that a good many senior officers take the same
view: if within a year or two there isn‟t a clear sign that we‟re getting somewhere in
Afghanistan, the British and American publics are going to say „enough‟.

DIMBLEBY
Let me go to Mary Turner you asked the question – is it right to buy our exit?

TURNER
I would say as the parent of a son who is on his second tour in Afghanistan, there is so
much uncertainty about what the outcome will be and this war seems to be dragging
on and on and I simply ask if my substituting money, payment, for fighting, how long
can that be sustained as well and is there any certainty of any outcome for doing that –
I am not very – very much for this policy.

DIMBLEBY
You‟re not. We‟ve heard from members of the panel the extraordinary demands that
are made on your son and others in Afghanistan. Is it your own view that you
therefore continue to wage military war without going in for this policy or, as a
parent, do you hope he comes home much more – obviously you want him home
you‟re his mother – but in terms of, if I can ask you, in terms of your general sense of
what ought to be done, what‟s your view.

TURNER
Well as we have it now his life is just an endless cycle of tours of Afghanistan and
that is very unsatisfactory and it‟s – he‟s constantly very tired and working very hard
and you know, I feel that if we had a focus, but I don‟t feel that focus is particularly
clear at the moment and I feel that it isn‟t necessarily serving any good purpose.

DIMBLEBY
Thank you very much. Quick comment Ed Davey.

DAVEY
Can I reassure you this sort of strategy can work. It actually worked with the
American surge in Baghdad where the Sunni Militia were bought off and persuaded to
join the Iraqi army and suddenly the violence that the Sunni Militia were creating
reduced massively overnight. And if you look at the history of how conflicts have
come to an end in Afghanistan it‟s by people switching sides, defecting, and that I
think is where this strategy can come through. It can divide the Taliban and that must
be in the interests of British service men and women.

DIMBLEBY
Mary do you want to have a ...

TURNER
All I can say is well we‟d have to wait and see.

DIMBLEBY
Page 15 of 21


And there we will pause that subject with a reminder of the Any Answers number
again which is 03700 100 333 and the e-mail address any.answers@bbc.co.uk . Mary
Turner thank you so much for sharing that. Our next please.

WILLIAMS
Patricia Williams. Would you go shopping in your pyjamas? [LAUGHTER]

DIMBLEBY
Slight change of tone and topic. This is because a Tesco shop in Cardiff has put up a
notice – it‟s in St Mellons in Cardiff: „To avoid causing offence or embarrassment to
others we ask that our customers are appropriately dressed when visiting our store.
Footwear must be worn at all times and no nightwear is permitted‟. [LAUGHTER]
They might have meant it much more gently than that. Priti Patel – would you?

PATEL
Not in this weather I don‟t think. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE]. I‟m also a busy
mum. I did read the article and it said that mothers were dropping their kids off to
school and then heading straight to Tescos but I , under no circumstances, would I
inflict that sight upon my dear constituents, so no.

DIMBLEBY
There‟s a broader issue here as to how free people should be to dress as they wish
when they‟re in public – so long as they‟re dressed quotes not indecently.

PATEL
I mean I think you know you‟ve got to go out looking semi decent definitely but um
from the picture that I saw in that newspaper today a lady was there in slippers and
some very very skimpy looking pyjamas and I think anybody would draw the line at
that.

DIMBLEBY
Do you – we‟ll discover. Jon Cruddas. There is a picture of someone who was very
unkeen on it – unfortunately I have to describe everything – one could say that it
looked like beach wear. It‟s a blue top perfectly respectable covered and below that
the trousers. I might pass it along the panel so that they can see – blue vertically
striped white trousers and a pair of elegant you could say slippers, I wouldn‟t wish to
say anything else about it. Let me – I‟m going to Jon Cruddas first, you can have a
glance at it if you want to Jon but the issue itself – heaven forefend would you go into
Tescos yourself in your pyjamas.

CRUDDAS
Er no no [LAUGHTER] no my Mum might be listening as well and I never have
either I just thought I‟d put that on the record. When I came on the train over here
this evening I was thinking of the questions I might get asked and I must admit I‟m
behind the 8-ball on this because I didn‟t even know this was a story. I agree with
Priti I think we‟ll all – we‟ll – we‟ll all agree that this is not a good thing. People are,
you know ...

DIMBLEBY
And you‟d ban it would you - you‟re with Tescos ..
Page 16 of 21



CRUDDAS
I wouldn‟t ban people ..

DIMBLEBY
Well that‟s what it said – this woman was not allowed into the shop she was invited to
leave. You‟d better read .. you can‟t go quiet on us now and read a story. Ed.
Liberal Democrat Ed what do you make of it?

CRUDDAS
Yeah the Liberal comment.

DAVEY
I don‟t think it‟s a vote winner [LAUGHTER] to be honest and in reading the article,
I did read the article, Jon and apparently this is a big social issue. Apparently a GP
practice in Manchester has banned people coming because people were going to GPs
in their pyjamas. [LAUGHTER] There‟s a cafe in Belfast that has banned it and
there‟s a Facebook site in Liverpool that ten thousand people have signed to try to
campaign against people wearing pyjamas, and this sort of culture has passed me by.
My wife doesn‟t like me coming down to breakfast in my pyjamas so I don‟t think it‟s
for me.

DIMBLEBY
We are spared nothing on this programme.

DAVEY
Jonathan you said it was a serious point and my serious take is I don‟t like Nanny
State bans on people telling us how to live our lives, you know, if people really want
to do it, if they‟re part of the „ain‟t bothered‟ culture, well let them.

DIMBLEBY
This isn‟t the State this is a private company. Large one, but it‟s a company.

DAVEY
Yes well sometimes it seems like Tesco is taking over the world. [LAUGHTER] Yes
of course ultimately a private company can do that but I think you know, it‟s not
British to start banning people and telling them what they can and can‟t wear.

HASTINGS
Ed this is Liberalism gone mad.

CRUDDAS
It is

HASTINGS
The idea – the evidence we see all around us every day is that if you don‟t,
sometimes, say enough is enough and stop people doing things they do absolutely
everything.

DAVEY
Page 17 of 21


You ban it?

HASTINGS
I would go a step further. I wouldn‟t allow topless men over a certain weight in
summer days for ..(becomes inaudible under applause) [LAUGHTER AND
APPLAUSE].

MAN IN AUDIENCE
(not entirely audible) .. burkas

DIMBLEBY
Burka someone said. But Sir Max are those who have seen pictures of you because
they have been in the public (inaudible) dressed up in a bizarre set of clothing because
you undertake the sport of shooting. It someone said „terribly sorry this is very
unpleasant to see this excessive wear and it‟s ridiculous and we want to ban it‟ would
you object to that?

HASTINGS
What you‟re really saying is you don‟t think people in plus fours should be allowed to
go about .. (starts laughing) [LAUGHTER]

MAN IN AUDIENCE
Here here.

DIMBLEBY
Anyway – I‟m going to ask our audience about them – who‟s in favour of the Tesco
ban on pyjamas – would you put your hands up. Who‟s against it – would you put
your hands up. Well it‟s very evenly divided. [AUDIENCE REACTION]

HASTINGS
I‟m shocked I thought Goring was a socially respectable (inaudible) [LAUGHTER]

DIMBLEBY
Goring has divided views and maybe there‟s a non-Tescos around in the areas as well
as a Tescos we will leave that there and go to our next please.

CALDER
Jack Calder. Britain has become more unequal. What, if anything, should the
Government do about it?

DIMBLEBY
This is the finding of the National Equality Panel which was set up by Harriet Harman
and has concluded on the basis of its research that the statistics that the poorer you are
the less chance you have and therefore, as a consequence, the better off you are the
more chance you have and therefore the gap has grown since 1997 between the poor
and the rich in terms of possibilities in their lives rather than narrowed. What should
the Government do about this Jon Cruddas?

CRUDDAS
Cor where do you start with this?
Page 18 of 21



DIMBLEBY
If anything?

CRUDDAS
I think it‟s a very good thing firstly that ..

DIMBLEBY
Can I ask you first of all a very simple question ..

CRUDDAS
Yes

DIMBLEBY
Is this a mark of failure in a Government that calls itself a Labour Government?

CRUDDAS
Yes I think it makes uncomfortable reading for a Labour Government after 12 years in
power that we have such enduring class ... distinctions in this country and social
immobility and patterns of poverty and neglect, and I think a lot of that is to do with
all the political classes pitched out in a place called middle England and some of the
people like in my community are disenfranchised and some of the issues that we need
addressing are not addressed in terms of enduring poverty, lack of social housing,
inequality in terms of access to good quality .. public services, the consequences of
mass immigration in some of our poorer communities as well that cannot be ignored
in terms of a sense of a competition over scarce resources. All of this needs a proper
airing and proper remedies need to be put in place.

The other thing that came out this week was the British social attitudes survey which
also said that less people thought that it could be made more equal as well, and I find
that really uncomfortable because one of the problems is for the Government I think is
that we haven‟t made this - a search for equality - part of our crusade: we‟ve talked
about equality of opportunity rather than distributional justice and I think that‟s what I
think we should be heralding as a Labour Government and not resting until we
achieve great equality of outcomes and not just opportunities. [APPLAUSE]

DIMBLEBY
Priti Patel. Priti Patel.

PATEL
I actually think the report this week was a terrible, terrible indictment of the current
Government I really do and the fact that no progress has been made. What the
Government should do and can do I think is fundamentally start to tackle some of the
causes of these problems whether it‟s poverty, broken families, the inequalities in
education, our failing schools, there are some big big social challenges out there and
quite frankly this Government has failed and I think it‟s going to be incumbent upon a
future Conservative Government to pick up the baton and start addressing these
problems. [APPLAUSE]

DIMBLEBY
Page 19 of 21


Max Hastings?

HASTINGS
I‟ve always found Harriet Harman enormously useful in making up my mind on
political issues [LAUGHTER] because if I‟m ever in any doubt which side of a
controversy to be on, when I discover which side Ms Harman‟s on I know I can‟t go
far wrong if I get on the opposite side. [LAUGHTER] When Harriet Harman went on
the radio after this report was published and said it was all down to disadvantages of
class, that it is – it‟s not patriotism that is the last resort of a scoundrel – it‟s when
politicians talk about class is the last resort of scoundrels. That the real tragedy of all
this – it‟s all about education – it‟s not about – it‟s not about class, it‟s about the
tragedy that it was easier a generation ago for the children of the poor to break out of
poverty through the grammar school system than it is today through the failing state
education system. [APPLAUSE] And it‟s all about “education, education, education”.
We know how difficult it is to tackle that and we know that there are – we know that
to be realistic there are some children at the bottom of the pile who are almost
unteachable but there are also a tremendous number of children with ambitious and
supportive parents who‟ve got the brains and they‟ve got the personal ambition. They
want to do it if their schools give them the chance to do it, but the school system fails
them – not the class system.

MAN
Rubbish.

DIMBLEBY
And Ed Davey.

DAVEY
Well we live in a very unfair society and it‟s got worst. I mean after 18 years of
Conservative Government we had some of the greatest inequality that we‟d seen for
100 years and Tony Blair came and we all thought he was going to try to deal with
that and make things fairer but on the report this week he clearly hasn‟t, he‟s clearly
failed and we‟ve got to ask ourselves some serious questions about how we do tackle
these inequalities. I don‟t think you can escape from the issue of education. I think
there‟s agreement with Max and Priti on that. I think we need to, you know, push
further on smaller class size for infants so they can get more one-to-one tuition so
children who are disadvantaged, who are falling behind get picked up early so they
are able to read and write from a much earlier age so they have that opportunity, that
key to future life success. That will really re-engineer and push social mobility but I
don‟t think we can escape from the tax system because we have one of the most unfair
tax systems in the world and when Vince Cable argued for a mansions tax so that
people with homes over two million – I‟m sorry if there are any in the audience
tonight – but people with homes over two million should pay a little bit more in tax so
we‟d have an income tax cut for those on low and middle incomes who are really
struggling on low wages – I think that is really important, let‟s get people – give
people some income tax at the bottom end and make some of the people who are the
bankers with their bonuses, and people who are incredibly wealthy who‟ve benefitted
both under Blair and under Thatcher – ask them to pay a little bit more so we can have
a fairer society. [APPLAUSE]
Page 20 of 21


DIMBLEBY
I‟m going to squeeze in one more but it‟s – I‟m afraid only going to invite one word
answers.

DICKINSON
Good evening Mike Dickinson. This week Apple launched their iPad after months of
secrecy. No early press release, no briefings, leaks or advanced viewings, the result
was anticipation and excitement. Is there anything our politicians can learn from this
method of PR?

DIMBLEBY
Jon Cruddas.

CRUDDAS
Oh I don‟t ..

DIMBLEBY
Briefly I‟m afraid

CRUDDAS
(inaudible) .. this question. Less is more in terms of presentation and it‟s all about the
authenticity of the product and the form that you present it in and less spin more
substance.

DIMBLEBY
Ed Davey

DAVEY
Politicians will always leak I‟m afraid, we don‟t have the self discipline of – of Apple
and I‟m not even sure that our policies are quite as exciting as the iPad and I speak as
an iPhone aficionado.

DIMBLEBY
Priti Patel

PATEL
I think politicians could just learn to have a very cool product.

DIMBLEBY
And Sir Max

HASTINGS
I don‟t think there‟s a chance it‟s going to happen do you?

DIMBLEBY
On that note they‟re not going to learn according to Sir Max we‟ve come to the end of
this week‟s programme. Next week we will have Benedict Brogan who is the Chief
Political Commentator for the Telegraph, the Director for the Howard League for
Penal Reform, Frances Crook, Esther Rantzen who seeks to be in Parliament at the
next election and similarly Brian Paddick for the Liberal Democrats. Hope you can
Page 21 of 21


join us, don‟t forget Any Answers. From here in Goring Village Hall – Goodbye.
[APPLAUSE]
END OF TRANSCRIPT

								
To top