Rebecca Long Bailey: Labour ‘didn’t win the argument’ in December…
Sophy Ridge interviewed Rebecca Long Bailey, who launched her campaign for the Labour leadership earlier this week. The shadow business secretary is thought to be the preferred choice of outgoing leader Jeremy Corbyn and she has the support of the Momentum grouping inside the party. However, the race is far from a done deal, with Sir Keir Starmer apparently her biggest competitor. Ridge asked Long Bailey if she agreed with Corbyn that Labour had ‘won the argument’ at the last general election:
“SR: You say that Labour had the right answers to the right questions. Does that mean you think that Labour ‘won the argument’?
RLB: Not at all. We didn’t win the argument. If we’d won the argument we’d have won the general election [and] unfortunately we didn’t. We just weren’t trusted... on key issues, and you have to earn trust.
…Labour ‘didn’t tackle’ anti-Semitism…
One particular key issue where Labour suffered a breakdown of trust was its handling of anti-Semitism cases. It is currently subject to an investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and last month a leaked dossier from the Jewish Labour Movement accused the party of being ‘no longer a safe space for Jewish people’. Long Bailey said Labour had to realise that their response to the problem had been sorely lacking:
“RLB: We didn’t tackle the issue, it’s as simple as that. We have lost trust within the Jewish community...
SR: Does Jeremy Corbyn bear personal responsibility for it?
RLB: He does, and he’s apologised. And I think any [future leader] should apologise again for what’s happened, because it has been unacceptable.
…‘I wouldn't want to inhibit democracy’ on indyref2…
Ridge asked Long Bailey where she stood on the issue of a second Scottish independence referendum, an issue which is likely to find its way back on to Westminster’s agenda before long:
“RLB: I’m fully committed to the Union, and I don’t think that should be shaken in any way. But ultimately, the people of Scotland need to make the case... and I wouldn’t want to inhibit democracy... because that’s one of the most fundamental pillars that we’re proud of.
…and ‘I want to abolish the House of Lords’
Long Bailey also announced her intention to scrap Parliament’s upper chamber, although she did not say if she intended to replace it with anything else:
“RLB: I do want to abolish the House of Lords, and we’ll be rolling out, as my campaign progresses, how we intend to really shake up that constitutional package... There would need to be checks and balances in place, but to have a set of completely unelected people doing that, I don’t think is right.
Clive Lewis: I’d like a referendum on the royal family…
Ridge also interviewed another hopeful for Labour leadership, Clive Lewis. Lewis has until tomorrow to secure the necessary support of 22 MPs and/or MEPs in order to be eligible to run. Ridge asked him about some of his ideas, in a week which has seen a rupture in the royal family:
“CL: I think we’ve seen this week that there’s a great love for the royal family in this country, but I think there’s some concerns about how it will go forward into the future.
SR: How would you vote...?
CL: I’d listen to the debate [but] I’m a republican... I want to be a citizen in this country, not a subject.
…Private schools are ‘an engine of inequality’…
Lewis also voiced his support for the abolition of private schools, an issue where he is well in tune with the membership of his party:
“CL: Private schools are an engine of inequality... [The] schools are fantastic, but I would like that standard for every school in this country... and I think that division within our society at such an early age has consequences for the inequality that we have.
…Brexit project has ‘an element of racism’
Ridge challenged Lewis on a tweet he posted last year where he appeared to describe Brexit as a ‘racist endeavour’. Lewis defended his comments, arguing that the 2016 referendum campaign had been supported by ‘unsavoury’ politicians:
— Sophy Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) January 12, 2020
"They used it...to divide our communities and divide our country"@labourlewis says part of the Brexit campaign "had racism at its core", and "for anyone to say there wasn't an element of racism in the Brexit project, you're basically wrong". #Ridge pic.twitter.com/xCxdo52WmU
“CL: I think part of the Brexit campaign, and part of the undertone of Brexit from some politicians - Nigel Farage and others - had racism at its core. They used it as a mechanism to divide our communities, to divide our country... For anyone to say that there was not an element of racism in the Brexit project... you’re basically wrong.
Richard Ratcliffe: My wife ‘essentially a hostage’ in Iran
The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been imprisoned in Iran since 2016 for allegedly trying to undermine the Iranian government, has told Sophy Ridge of his concern for her welfare. With the current tensions between Iran and Western nations, Ratcliffe expressed doubt that Nazanin would ever return to the UK:
“RR: Four years, [she’s] been held, essentially as a hostage... She is one of a number of foreign nationals being held by the [Iranian] authorities who are being held as bargaining chips in different forms... which makes us, in the middle of all this, very fragile, very vulnerable.
Brandon Lewis: Ambassador arrest ‘completely unacceptable’
Andrew Marr spoke to the Security Minister Brandon Lewis, and they too discussed Iran after the UK’s ambassador Rob Macaire was arrested and accused of helping to organise anti-regime demonstrations. He has since been released. Lewis said that Iran had overstepped the mark:
“BL: It is completely unacceptable, a breach of – certainly – the Vienna convention... Iran is at a crossroads. They have a decision to make... We want to see Iran come back into the international fold and play their part... and de-escalate.
…Russia report will be published ‘in due course’
The government has come under fire in recent months for dragging its heels on publishing an Intelligence and Security Committee report into alleged Russian interference in the UK. The report has been cleared for publication but is still not available. Lewis blamed the delay on the need to install a select committee chair, something which has been disputed by the SNP’s Ian Blackford:
“AM: When is it going to be published?
BL: That report will be published in due course... The House authorities haven’t started the chairman of the select committee process yet. You have to have a chairman of the select committee in place.
Simon Coveney: We want the ‘closest possible relationship’ between UK and EU
Marr also interviewed Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney. Coveney said that he accepted that there was now no doubt that the UK would be leaving the EU, but raised questions about the speed with which the future relationship could be agreed:
SC: Our focus, from an Irish perspective is to try to achieve the closest possible relationship between Britain and the EU... I know that Prime Minister Johnson has set a very ambitious time table to get this done... but just because British law says something, it doesn’t mean that law applies to the [EU27].
Emily Thornberry: UK should pay for Harry and Meghan’s security
And finally, Marr spoke to the Shadow Foreign Secretary and Labour leadership aspirant Emily Thornberry. Thornberry told Marr that she thought that the UK should continue for pay for the security costs for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as they prepare to spend half of each year in North America:
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) January 12, 2020
“ET: I think the British taxpayer should pay for the security of Harry and Meghan and their family, as they do with former ministers. Harry spent  years on the front line in Afghanistan through many tours of duty... If they decide they want to go to Canada, of course they must be protected.