Corbyn – Labour may scrap Trident nuclear deterrent
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn occupied the prime slot on the Andrew Marr Show this morning, and he told Marr that he wants to see ‘a very different country’. But how different? He was asked what he would say to the captains of the Trident submarines about whether to use their missiles in the event of a nuclear attack on the United Kingdom.
‘What I will be saying is that I want us to achieve a nuclear free world. What I want us to do is adhere to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and take part in negotiations surrounding that, and crucially... immediately promote the six party talks on the Korean peninsula as a way of de-escalating nuclear tensions around the world...
‘The issue has to be we want a secure and peaceful world. We achieve that by promoting peace, but also promoting security, and security comes from that process... I think we should look at the process by which we achieve peace and security because actually nuclear weapons are not the solution to the world's security issues. They're the disaster of the world's security issues if ever used.’
He also stopped short of endorsing his defence spokesperson Nia Griffith's claim that keeping Trident would be in the Labour manifesto:
‘We will have a strategic defence review immediately which will include all aspects of defence, as most incoming governments do... and we would then look at the situation at that time... We haven't completed work on the manifesto yet... we're having that discussion within the Labour party manifesto in May.’
This led Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, to claiming that Labour would ‘dismantle the UK's defences’.
Damian Green – We will cap energy prices
Remember how the Tories laughed at Ed Miliband’s supposedly 1970s-style plan to cap energy bills? This very policy has become the centrepiece of Theresa May’s move to the economic left – and one of her closest Cabinet allies, Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green, was selling its virtues to Sophy Ridge on Sky. So, if he supports it now, why did he oppose the plan when Labour proposed it just two years ago?
‘We do think that the energy market isn't working properly and we do want to change the way it operates... The difference with the Ed Miliband plan is that Ed Miliband just said that there would be a freeze imposed by the government and immediately after that... oil prices and therefore gas prices fell around the world, so people wouldn't have had the advantage of the market changes. What we're going to propose is something different, which is much more sensitive to movements in the market. Ofgem would be able to cap, but in relation to what the market price is, so that what we will get rid of is big energy companies exploiting their customers.’
Green echoed Michael Fallon's line that Labour's energy price freeze would have been ‘extremely dangerous’, but this has not stopped Labour from accusing the Conservatives of stealing their policy, with Caroline Flint remarking that ‘they should be giving a round of applause to the Labour party. If there was any justice, we should be getting the credit for this policy.’
Tim Farron again refuses to say if he believes homosexual sex is a sin
Ever since the election, Tim Farron has faced scrutiny on just how liberal he is – and how his evangelical Christianity squares with his professed liberalism. Robert Peston put to him that he might, in fact, be a homophobe. His reply:-
‘I’ve been asked this question loads of times over the past few days – I even got asked it in the House of Commons... and I answered it really clearly then - being gay is not a sin. And as a committed Christian, I believe that you judge absolutely nobody. I am not a religious leader though... and I stand on my personal record, and on my party's record of being, by far throughout history, the most positive party when it comes to LGBT rights... I just think that if we're going to be pro LGBT rights, we need to do so in a way that is genuine and sincere and my record speaks for itself.’
But in the Commons he was asked if ‘being gay’ was a sin – even the Catholic Church says it isn’t, not as an orientation. The problem many religions tend to have is with gay sex. So Peston asked to clarify on this point – an invitation that Farron declined.
‘It's possible that I am not the only person who is getting tired of this line of questioning... In America it appears that you have to invent a faith in order to be seen to be a serious candidate for anything, and in this county maybe it appears you have to pretend you haven't got one in order to be taken seriously.’
Arron Banks says he’ll stand for Clacton, but has only been there once
‘Why does that surprise you?’ said Arron Banks, the Ukip backer (yes, now Douglas Carwell is out, Banks is back in), when he confirmed that he doesn’t at all know Clacton-on-Sea, in spite of wanting to represent it at the general election. Why is that surprising? Because Ukip is supposed to be against billionaires playing at politics for their own entertainment, using constituents in places like Clacton as props for their own amusement. The chances of a publicity-hungry multi-millionaire like Arron Banks actually doing any serious work for those in Clacton, one of the more deprived areas of Britain, are rather slim. But Banks seems to think that, given how much he has donated to the party, it owes him this nomination. In a 90-second clip he went from saying he’d only run ‘if selected’ for Ukip to saying that ‘I don’t suppose anyone in Ukip will stand against me’.
Paul Nuttall – Britain should ban the burka
Meanwhile Ukip leader Paul Nuttall appeared on the Andrew Marr show talking about his manifesto proposal to ban the burka, the controversial face veil worn by many British Muslim women in accordance with their faith. Nuttall defended himself against the suggestion that he might be turning his back on his 'libertarian' values, arguing that the ban was about security and better integration:
‘Obviously we have a heightened security risk at the moment and for CCTV to be effective you need to see people's faces, because whether we like it or not, in this country there's more CCTV per head than anywhere else on the planet ... and for that to be effective you need to see people's faces. Secondly there's the issue of integration, and I don't believe that you can integrate fully and enjoy the fruits of British society if you can't see people's faces... Look at some of the statistics - 58 per cent of Muslim women are economically inactive, 22 per cent don't speak English to any great level. What we need to do is we need to ensure that these people are fully integrated into British society and you can't do that if you're hidden behind a veil.’
He also went on to criticise Sharia courts operating in Britain:
‘I don't believe that we should have a parallel legal system in this country...The issue surrounding Sharia is that the Muslim population is doubling, decade on decade. It's three million now, it will be six million soon. And Trevor Phillips' report showed that a quarter of Muslim people in Britain want to see Sharia replace British law in areas which are predominantly Muslim... We've got a problem with this and we either deal with it now or we'll deal with it down the line... It cannot be right that we have courts or councils in this country where the word of a woman is only worth half that of a man. That has no place in a liberal democratic functioning Western democracy.’