Matthew Taylor

Sunday shows round-up: James Cleverly – If the Queen is happy, we should be happy

Sunday shows round-up: James Cleverly – If the Queen is happy, we should be happy
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James Cleverly - If the Queen is happy, we should be happy

Sophy Ridge began the day by talking to the Conservative party chairman James Cleverly. The interview began with the latest developments in the royal family, which from this spring will see Prince Harry and Meghan Markle step back from their official duties. The couple will no longer receive public funding, nor use the style HRH. Cleverly told Ridge that he supported the Duke and Duchess's decision and the arrangement that had been reached:

JC: Harry didn't choose the life that he was born into... Ultimately, his wife and his child are really important to him, and if they're finding a way that works for them, and the Queen is happy, then I think we should be happy.

UK is among 'least racist countries'

Cleverly also dismissed allegations that Meghan Markle had been driven to leave the UK primarily as a result of racism from the media and those around her:

JC: I think that this country is one of the least racist, one of the most open and welcoming countries in the world, and that's reinforced by things like the British Social Attitudes Survey... [Markle] was subject to a huge amount of media interest, and that can be really difficult to deal with.

'We want to protect people' from stalking

The interview moved on to the government's plans to help victims of stalking. Cleverly said that, as of tomorrow, courts would be able to issue Stalking Protection Orders, which would allow the authorities more licence to act on the offence:

JC: A huge number of people have to endure stalking... and it's something that no one should have to deal with... There have been occasions where people's lives have been taken by stalkers and we want to protect people from that.

'We might' move the House of Lords up north

Cleverly gave some credence to the suggestion that the UK's upper house might soon have to find a new home, possibly in York. He said that moving the House of Lords out of the capital was a potential solution to bring politics closer to communities that felt disenfranchised:

JC: When the Prime Minister... said 'This is going to be the 'people's government', he meant it. And that meant connecting people with government and politics...

SR: Could we see the House of Lords in a different place by the next election?

JC: We might. It's one of a range of options we are looking into.

I'm not bunging a bob for Big Ben's bongs

Ridge asked Cleverly whether he or other members of the Cabinet had been asked by the Prime Minister to contribute (or 'bung a bob') towards the estimated £500,000 fund to allow Big Ben to chime at 11 o'clock on 31st January, the moment that the UK officially leaves the EU:

SR: Are you thinking about donating some money...?

JC: No, I'm not! Any money I donate will be to other good causes... This is not, I can assure you, the main focus of government.

Jess Phillips - 'Pass the mic' to women

Ridge went on to speak to Labour leadership candidate Jess Phillips. In a contest where four out of the five runners and riders are female, Phillips said that it would 'look bad' if Labour then proceeded to elect the only man in the race:

JP: It's not great if we can't ever seem to think that the women are good enough... When you're a woman in politics... it'll [always] be your turn 'next time'... and that's disappointing.

SR: Do you think men need to step aside sometimes?

JP: I think that, if you truly believe in women's representation... sometimes passing the mic is the greatest way.

A good leader 'needs to recognise dissent'

Phillips spoke about how she felt her voice was marginalised under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. She added that her criticisms were motivated by a desire to improve the Labour party's fortunes, and pledged that she would be more responsive to any thorns in her side:

JP: I think that there should have been... a much more 'listening' approach, where all the voices in the party... were heard a bit more, and weren't just considered as dissent in bad faith... We could see that there were problems coming... A good leader needs to recognise dissent and be able listen to it.

'I'm definitely open' to drug decriminalisation debate

Ridge asked Phillips about her attitude to drugs. Phillips said that she had changed her mind about the issue over the years, having admitted to using banned substances in the past. She said that drug policy should be made based on its effect on other societal indicators:

JP: I am definitely open to different models around decriminalisation... What we're doing now is currently not working. No fewer people are taking drugs, drug deaths are rising, risk is rising and crime is being wildly affected by it.

Rosena Allin-Khan - Karie Murphy shouldn't be nominated for a peerage

Rosena Allin-Khan, the MP for Tooting and a candidate to be Labour's next deputy leader, told Ridge that it was wrong for Jeremy Corbyn to have nominated his close adviser Karie Murphy for a peerage as part of his resignation honours. Murphy is currently being investigated by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission over her handling of anti-Semitism in the party:

RAK: As deputy leader I would take on board every single recommendation from the EHRC... and Hope Not Hate have said that anyone who is being investigated by the EHRC shouldn't be recommended for a peerage. So I think that does need to be taken seriously.

Mick Whelan - I'm 'at war' over 'forced labour'

The leader of the train driver's union ASLEF has accused the government of wanting to bring in 'slave labour' after it indicated that it wants to pass a law aimed at ruling out strikes unless a minimum level of service can be guaranteed:

MW: I'm at war with the ethos of forced labour, any form of indenture or slavery... That is the feeling of how it is... Putting in process something that will lead to poor industrial relations in my industry for the next 20 years... probably isn't going to deliver on the intention that it's meant to do.

Alok Sharma - We need to spend 'more efficiently'

Andrew Marr interviewed the International Development Secretary Alok Sharma. With a major cabinet reshuffle on the cards next month, the Department for International Development may find itself abolished and its role absorbed by the Foreign Office. Sharma made the case for keeping his job:

AS: We need to spend money much more effectively... One of the things that I have done since I came into my department is to make sure that we have much more scrutiny over where we are putting this money. I think the African Investment summit is a clear example of where [we] have been working to put on what I hope will be a very successful summit.

Ian Murray - 'Labour is a UK party'

Ian Murray, currently Scotland's only remaining Labour MP and another candidate for the deputy leadership, told Marr that there was no cause for a split between Scottish Labour and the UK wide party in order to win back Labour's former heartland:

AM: Do you think when it comes to the party, there should be a federal split?

IM: We're a UK party... The Scottish Labour party actually has more autonomy than any other part of the UK Labour party, but it isn't used. Let's use that autonomy, and that takes away any issue around us being a separate party.

Mark Thompson - Subscription service 'wouldn't be the BBC'

And finally, the BBC's former Director-General Mark Thompson has argued against his former organisation moving towards a subscription based model of funding, rather than the current arrangement through TV licensing:

MT: Were the BBC to do that, it’s possible that a successful subscription company could be made, but it wouldn’t be the BBC, which is in the end a universal service, paid for by everyone and used by everyone.