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Journey of a Lifetime
Transcript: Any Questions?  22 August 2008

CHAIRMAN: JONATHAN DIMBLEBY



PANELLISTS:

BOB CROW: General Secretary of the RMT Union
JAMES DELINGPOLE: Writer and columnist
PROFESSOR FRANK FUREDI: Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent
CAROL GOULD: Writer

From: The Emmanuel Church, Laindon Road, Billericay, Essex CM12 9LD

DIMBLEBY:
Welcome to Billericay in Essex where we are the guests of the Independent Town Council which boasts that it is exceptionally active on the community’s behalf. Among its several proclaimed innovations are Billericay in Bloom Competition and an automatic public convenience. We are at Emmanuel Church which also seeks to be at the heart of the community serving Jesus as they say not the least by providing support for local cubs and brownies. On our panel Bob Crow the General Secretary of the Rail and Maritime Union the RMT, the son of a London docker, he left school at 16 and while working on the underground got into Union politics, rising to the top job in 2002 when he was elected following the death of Jimmy Knapp. A couple of years later he formally broke the RMT’s ties to the Labour Party and he said he would like to see the creation of a new political party really representing the working class. Carol Gould is a film maker and journalist, an American citizen but she has lived in Britain for more than 30 years. Her new book out next month is called “Don’t Tread on Me (Anti-Americanism Abroad).” Professor Frank Furedi is a prolific author and essayist especially at that interface between culture and politics. As Professor of Sociology at Kent University his latest in a long line is “Licensed to Hug” in which he argues that measures designed to protect the child are poisoning relationships between generations and in the process having quite the opposite effect to that which was intended. James Delingpole is a broadcaster, columnist, novelist and author of polemical works such as his latest “How to Be Right: the Essential Guide to Making Leftie Liberals History”. He is the 4th member of our panel.

(APPLAUSE)

Our first question please

ESTHER WILKINS
Should registered sex offenders still retain human rights?

DIMBLEBY:
Bob Crow

BOB CROW
Well it is a very difficult question to be in because I have got deep sympathy the way people have been treated with the way paedophiles carry on, convicted paedophiles, I have got 4 children myself and would dread to think if anyone of those would have been assaulted or attacked by a paedophile what the abuse of those young individuals who have the effects for the rest of their life. And I am not one of those people who hide behind the liberal situation where people should not have the death penalty applied to them for such in fact I do adamantly believe that if someone commits an act of paedophilia or an act of an attack, death on another person by pre meditated terms then we should look at the death penalty. The only thing that stops me from supporting the death penalty I have got no trust in the jury system or the legal system in Britain because there have been people who have been hanged for, you know the great shame of the journalist who has been killed, the broadcaster Jill Dando, the lad concerned who has just been released from prison, no doubt would have been hanged or would have had the death sentence applied against him so it is about taking the human rights away what do you do with a situation when someone has served their time? That’s the problem you have got. But I have got the greatest of sympathy and as far as I am concerned…..

DIMBLEBY
The one aspect of the “problem” as you say it is that there is now the control on travel of a convicted paedophile once they have served the sentence has been extended from a few months up until 5 years and in fact in relation to Gary Glitter before she announced this decision the Home Secretary said that she thought Gary Glitter should be prevented from travelling aboard for that sort of period do you, that is where in part the human rights issue comes in doesn’t it.

BOB CROW
Well what do you do do you tag the people concerned, do you put them in an offenders home for their rest of their life? Because you have got the argument that they have serviced their punishment but can you actually, hold out that people can be cured for those kinds of assaults they make on young people. How can you dare to give a paedophile a second chance?

DIMBLEBY
Frank Furedi

FRANK FUREDI
Well I am really disturbed by this whole discussion because in many ways our reaction to paedophilia is often as bad as the terrible that paedophiles do themselves. For the last week we have been having this national hysteria where you have a Home Secretary who decides to call Gary Glitter despicable and then argues I am going to change the law because of that. The idea that you change laws because of one individual is a sorry condemnation of a political lie.

DIMBLEBY
Are you clear…… because there has been, it is being reviewed that she changed it entirely because of Gary Glitter or did he just happen to be the most prominent figure to be caught up in it?

FRANK FUREDI
I think probably the most prominent figure and what she is really saying is I am going to use this case as a way of grandstanding and making a political statement. I do worry when politicians follow the cowboy press and decide to sort of make policy on the basis of a reaction against a fairly despicable individual but the question you all ought to ask is this are we condemning people for what they did or who they are? Because the legal system is designed to punish people for their acts, for their criminal acts not for who they are. If we allow that distinction entirely then what we are saying is that you are guilty for life. What we are saying is that punishment is a life sentence. What we are saying is as a result of that you will be condemned by society forever; you have no second chance nothing can ever happen to you. And I think we also have to reflect on what the sex register is. You see the sex register contains people for example an 18 year old young man who happens to sleep with a 14 or 15 year old girl. Now the idea that that person ought to be treated in the same way as someone who brutalizes and sexually degrades young children I think is just nonsense so I think we do need to take a reality check on this

DIMBLEBY
Would you then given that would you once a sentence has been served say that is it. Would you not have orders would you not have the right of the authorities to check regularly on the behaviour of those individuals because their human rights, to go back to the question, are by definition to an extent being infringed?

FRANK FUREDI
I think what we need is a punishment that fits the crime and if somebody commits an act of paedophilia they should be severely punished, maybe punished more severely than they are now but once that has been done I do think we need to give people back their human rights if you don’t then what do we do next time when somebody is accused of being a terrorist for life? Or a burglar for life? Or when we see that person is an habitual criminal the whole legal system I think will collapse under those circumstances and the rule of law, which has been one of our precious legacies in a democracy, will be severely compromised.

(APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Carol Gould.


CAROL GOULD
I think that one of the things that worries parents is that if somebody is coming back into the community it is human nature that they are worried about their children and there are very strong laws in the US now, there is something called the amber alert which is slightly different because that relates to children being abducted but

DIMBLEBY
It is Megan’s Law which had a great attention here because one of the newspapers wanted to promote the same legislation which allows parents in the community to know who the paedophiles or convicted paedophiles are in the community.

CAROL GOULD
Yes and the sad fact of the matter is that in the US the statistics are that some of these people are re offending they are repeaters, now in the case of Chris Langham the actor those of us who knew and worked with him were really very very upset that he had to go to jail and he had had a sterling life. He wasn’t a paedophile, he wasn’t preying on children but his offence was jail able and it is a tragedy that his career is probably not going to get back on track for the foreseeable future but he is

DIMBLEBY
So coming to the question in this case…..

CAROL GOULD
I think Bob’s idea of people being in an offender’s institution for a while would make a lot of parents happy and I am afraid I tend to be, I am not on Frank’s side on this one I feel that these people are going to reoffend if we are to believe the statistics in the US. It is, I hate to say this it is in their system.

DIMBLEBY
So as the law is at the moment they are as it were on indefinite suspended potential sentence

CAROL GOULD
Yes I think they should be regularly monitored and that parents in the neighbourhood should know if someone is coming back into the co9mmunity that they should know who that person is.

DIMBLEBY
Which is not yet?

CAROL GOULD
No but it is in many states in the United States.

DIMBLEBY
James Delingpole

JAMES DELINGPOLE
I think I am right in thinking that the host nation of the Olympics gets to choose a new sport and I suggest the sport which is introduced in Britain is hound the paedophile. I think an angry mob should pursue him with pitchforks up a tower and he would jump off it at the end. We seem to be obsessed with paedophile, paedophilia , it seems to be almost the worse crime imaginable and I don’t think anyone here is standing up and saying it is a good thing. What I am saying is that I do think we get hysterical and mob like about it whenever the fact is that the Gary Glitter story is a perfect silly season story here he is back and the Home Secretary has seized her opportunity, she can’t solve knife crime but what she can do is pick on Gary Glitter and show how strongly she disapproves of him. Now he has obviously got problems and we don’t want people like that preying on our children but I have to be with Frank that if you commit a crime an actual crime then you should be put away for it, you do the time for it. But if you haven’t done anything since then you should be given the benefit of the doubt and maybe you should be watched, maybe there should be measures taken to ensure you don’t get endanger other children but that is as far as it goes.

DIMBLEBY
Monitored as at the present?

JAMES DELINGPOLE
Yes.

DIMBLEBY
But do you think that for instance Gary Glitter should be prevented from travelling abroad as he may well be under the new legislation by the courts?

JAMES DELINGPOLE
I don’t see how you can; I don’t absolutely not, no.

DIMBLEBY
OK I am going to leave that there with a reminder of the Any Answers number on this or any of the other issues that we are going to discuss it is 03700 100 444 and the email address any.answers@bbc.co.uk. Our next please.


GUY FOOTRING
Had Georgia been a signed up member of NATO does the panel think that the recent events there culminating in Russia’s military action would have had a different outcome?

DIMBLEBY
Carol Gould

CAROL GOULD
I am sorry I had trouble hearing the question.

DIMBLEBY
If Georgia had been a signed up member of NATO does the panel think that the recent events there culminating in Russia’s military action would have had a different outcome?

CAROL GOULD
Well this situation is so complicated and there are people who say well hang on Saakashvili actually reacted to the rebels in the South and it mushroomed into a violent and a very worrying situation and at one point last week I was beginning we were going to have a war before the American election but I think that NATO already is monitoring this situation and I really am sitting on the fence on this one because I am a bit worried that there is still a bit of manipulation going on by the US government and by Russia prior to the election and I am going to sit on the fence on this one because it is a very worrying situation prior to the American election. We didn't see much of Dick Cheney and one wonders what is going on behind the scenes.

DIMBLEBY
Bob Crow

BOB CROW
Well it is a difficult situation. When the Soviet Union broke up the countries in the so called West were clapping their hands about the break up of the Soviet Union and actually started recognizing some of these new countries that were set up and whether Georgia would have been a signed up member of NATO or not would have allowed a situation where this wouldn’t have happened is debatable because there is if you look at it there is faults either side. But I find it once again rather you know deeply critical of the American government not the American people that it can do a deal with the Polish government now to put nuclear weapons in Poland but when the same situation happened in the 60’s when Russia wanted to put nuclear weapons on Cuba it said that it didn’t want to have any nuclear weapons attacking the United States of America. I think that the Russian government should sit down at the United Nations and sort out the problem and I find it hypocritical as well that a country like America that has invaded country after country and had war after war has got the cheek to turn around to Russia and say get out of Georgia.

(APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
James Delingpole

JAMES DELINGPOLE
I don’t want to sound like a 1930’s appeaser here and be proved horribly wrong in the end but I would suggest what the world doesn’t need right now is a war with Russia. Had Georgia been a member of NATO I think it would have been very very difficult and may be Russia wouldn’t have attacked in the way it did but I think that we ought to do our very best to get Russia on side because we need it as our friend rather than as our enemy particularly over issues like Iran. Russia sometime this year or early next year is preparing to supply Iran with a weapon system which will completely ruin any attempt by the Israelis to take out the nuclear systems that the Iranians are building there. We don’t want the Russians to do that I think we should think about issues like that which are more important. Russia does not pose a major threat to world peace in the way that Iran does and I think that we should also understand why Russia feels the way it does. Georgia was part of the Soviet Union. I think it is taking the Mick slightly to start inviting former soviet satellites to become part of NATO which was after all crated to, in opposition to Russia. So I think we should be careful

(APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Prof Furedi

FRANK FUREDI
Well I think the real problem is actually NATO itself because for some time now NATO has been looking for a role. Ever since the end of the cold war they have been thrashing about trying to find some focus for some enemies. They have discovered that life is not that easy in Iraq or in Afghanistan and increasingly they have turned their energies towards the old East Europe and towards the old Soviet Union and one of the things that concerns me is that over the last 5 to 10 years NATO has been encouraging all the small nations around Russia to become part of NATO to identify with the Western Alliance as a way of almost recreating many of the passions and problems of the old cold war and I don’t know if people will understand that although Georgia is called this plucky democracy, it is a very undemocratic society. It is a society where the present government got elected by I think something like 97.5% in typical Stalinist style. It is a government that has locked up many of its opposition leaders and many non government organisations and although it has got the appearance of being this small democracy it is actually a society and a government that has been entirely manufactured for the West and therefore we should also not forget that it was Georgia who began the whole conflict it was Georgian armies and soldiers who went to Ossetia and started shooting civilians and killing very large numbers of civilians and so we now have a situation where Georgia has actually managed to make Russia look good. Actually make Putin look good which I never thought would be possible and I think that tells us what the real problem is and I think that under those circumstances we really need to keep our hands off what is going on there and let people there sort it out for themselves because the more we intervene the more the conflict is going to go from bad to worse. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
We go to our next please….


SUSAN DAVIS
Hasn’t the time come for there to be stronger curbs even legislation to stop major dog shows promoting their version of each breed’s cosmetic good looks to the detriment of the breed’s genetic health. Crufts was described by a vet as a parade of mutants and freaks.

DIMBLEBY
This came in part at least through a Panorama programme on BBC1 which, and the newspapers all followed it up with pictures of dogs which some people’s tastes looked pretty good in the 19th century and look absolutely disgusting today although they are very popular. James Delingpole?

JAMES DELINGPOLE
Well I think we are on very tricky territory aren’t we talking about dogs, a lot of people have very strong views so I had better tread carefully.

DIMBLEBY
It has never stopped you before.

JAMES DELINGPOLE
I know

DIMBLEBY
The fact that you might have views that are not held by everyone else

JAMES DELINGPOLE
Well I would have thought that was rather the point of shows like Crufts, selected breeding to make your dog more interesting and attractive over the centuries. Aren’t all dogs ultimately descended from wolves so they were all one species once and they have all evolved in different directions so surely this is a form of genetic modification? That’s all.

DIMBLEBY
I think part of the evidence was that it causes these animals ill health because their hearts give out because they are overweight, they can’t breathe properly, they get arthritis more quickly and a whole range of other diseases more prevalent

JAMES DELINGPOLE
Well I am not going to advocate dog torture on radio 4 so I am against it.

(APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
From one strong view to another. Carol Gould


CAROL GOULD
I am afraid I am a cat person. (LAUGH) Now I do know from my many friends who have shown at the cat shows that there is a tendency amongst the pedigree cat er can’t think of the words…….

DIMBLEBY
Burmese, Siamese….

CAROL GOULD
Yes all those very unusual, the Devon, the Cornish … that there is more illness amongst them. Healthy old moggies survive until they are 18 but then again the statistics are about sort of 52/48. I have never been a dog person but I did see the programme, it is worrying and as James said it is a bit like genetically modifying and modifying and modifying and it is worrying that these sicknesses are turning up in these animals. But gosh if you really love going to Crufts and love going to cat shows as I do it is the most wonderful experience I mean I just

DIMBLEBY
Without going too far into the emotional detail what is so wonderful about the cat show that people would immediately identify with?

CAROL GOULD
Well if you are a dog or a cat person seeing these beautiful animals who have been lovingly looked after by their owner who have been bred in a careful way, the beauty of these animals is that there are so many different breeds, they are beautiful to look at, they have many different personalities, as we all know if you are an animal lover you will know that each one has a unique personality, each breed has a particular personality. So I think you actually have to be an animal lover and an animal person and particularly in this country I know that people adore their animals to understand that there is a great pleasure out of seeing these dogs and cats on display. That is my passion I love pedigree animals

DIMBLEBY
What do you make of it Frank Furedi?

FRANK FUREDI
Well I am not a Crufts person and I often wondered why people become so obsessed about dogs and spend so much of their life sort of combing their dog’s hair and prettying them up and everything but having said that I am kind of worried about the very prescriptive atmosphere that prevails in our society where we find it very difficult to allow people to pursue their hobbies and their own passions. And the one thing that I have noticed over the last 10 years is that we tend to want to regulate more and more people’s activities. We don’t want people to go hunting any more for this and that reason. We have very strong views about people who like dog racing, we think that is inhumane. When I was in Spain recently trying to go to a bull ring I was told that bull fights are now going to be regulated out of existence, we are told that certain kinds of food cannot be eaten because of the way that those kinds of foods are produced and therefore they are off the menu you know like foie gras for e.g. which I love. One of my obsessions. So I do think that we need to be a little bit careful here because we are finding all these very good reasons as to why certain minorities cannot do what gives them real meaning in life and I think it is far better to stand back a little bit, a little bit chilled out instead of immediately regulating these kinds of hobbies out of existence which seems to be the predominant tempura of our times.

DIMBLEBY
The RSPCA’s chief vet Mark Evans who featured in this debate this programme said when I watch Crufts what I see is a parade of mutants; it is some freakish, garish beauty pageant that has nothing frankly to do with health and welfare. We have become completely and utterly desensitized to the fact that breeding these deformed, disable, diseased prone animals is either shocking or abnormal. Bob Crow

BOB CROW
Well I must confess I have got a dog, a cat and a goldfish and none of the three of them are put into any shows. But I would say I am all in favour of you know genetics being progressed on the basis of looking after the well being of animals. My good friend has just found out that his dogs has got two cataracts in the eyes with the cost of £1000 and of course is a loved animal they are going to pay all that money to have those cataracts looked at. My dog is a Staffordshire bull terrier, his name is Castro, I won’t tell you who he is named after but you can work it out for yourselves

DIMBLEBY
And he is faithful?

BOB CROW
And he is very faithful and I look after him on dog’s food, remains of kippers and anything that is left on a Sunday afternoon for him to eat. I am more concerned about the behaviour of a dog than about how they look. I am not in favour of shows by the way; I don’t think we should get into this beauty show and giving dogs artificial kinds of prescriptions to make them better I am more concerned about the behaviour of them. I want to see dogs go over to parks and play with each other nicely, in a friendly way, about people being actually attacked so I am more worried about the behaviour of dogs than I am of Crufts.

DIMBLEBY
James.

JAMES DELINGPOLE
Can I change my mind Jonathan? Now you have revealed to me that the RSPCA are again it. I am suddenly for it. I can’t bear the RSPCA. They have been taken over by the animal rights extremists, they are not about loving animals any more, they are just a political organisation

DIMBLEBY
Let us speak carefully you mean that metaphorically speaking ….of course because you wouldn’t wish to be defamatory in any way at all.

JAMES DELINGPOLE
No indeed not.

DIMBLEBY
Susan Davis you put the question. What is your own view?

SUSAN DAVIS
I am more worried that we should have healthy dogs and these winners of these shows who are often deformed or debilitated in some way are used as breeding stock for future litters and one that was mentioned on the programme after it had had this dreadful brain condition had sired 28 litters. Now that disability will go on to oncoming litters and we won’t get a healthy stock at all.

DIMBLEBY
Thank you. It could jut be that this will generate a call or two to Any Answers. If so and if you wish to contribute to that discussion 03700 100 444 is the telephone number and email address any.answers@bbc.co.uk. We will go to our next please….


KEITH GRAHAM
As the economy gets towards recession is it responsible for unions to pursue above inflation pay increases?

(Applause)

DIMBLEBY
Frank Furedi

FRANK FUREDI
Well the way that I look at it is that any section of society who is facing the consequences of a downturn in the economy is deeply and passionately worried about their living standards and I think that goes for almost everybody in this room we are all feeling the pinch in one form or another and I think under these circumstances we will find that everybody will be trying to increase their material well being and therefore that I am not particularly surprised that trade unions like anybody else whether they are business men or employers will do whatever they can to aspire to higher living standards. I know for example without the Trade Unionists I wouldn’t say to myself well gosh you know inflation is 4% therefore I am going to have a pay increase of 3.8%, if I can get 5 or 6% I think I would go for it and I think that is what professionals would do, that is what doctors would do, that is what professors will also try to do that is also what anybody else will do and I think that sometimes we tend to pick on a few sections of society and say oh these people are greedy, all the while forgetting that most of us under those circumstances would want to have the maximum amount of resources for our families regardless what the rate of inflation is.

DIMBLEBY
And within the law if you have the capacity to exercise some political or economical or social muscle by collective action that doesn’t dismay you except it might be difficult for you to travel on let us say on a tube train

FRANK FUREDI
Well obviously I am going on holiday on Sunday and it would be real drag if the sort of baggage handlers would go on strike on Sunday and I would be very inconvenienced by that but at the same time I would fully understand why they took the action that they did. In a similar way I would fully understand why professionals take the action that they do, why the dentists for example sort of attempt to get resources for their own profession, why business men try to keep a bit of money back, why the banks in our country are not lending money out for mortgages because they want to hang on to as much of their capital as possible. I mean we all do it and we use whatever means we have at our disposal to realize that, baggage handlers go on strike, business men organise monopolies. I think we need to understand that this is a common way that we respond to hard times and try to understand it we don’t necessarily have to go along with it but try to understand that this is an entirely normal and natural reaction for people to undertake.

DIMBLEBY
Is it responsible Carol Gould for unions to pursue above inflation pay increases as the economy heads, according to Keith Graham, towards recession?

CAROL GOULD
Yes I do and my conservative friends and going to faint listening to this but I come from a family of union members. I am a union member and I am afraid on this point I am not on the right, particularly as we are all suffering. I don’t know about all of you here but I feel that every time a bill comes in it seems to have gone up, everything is going up, life is very difficult for working people, it is even more difficult for people who are part time. What I would like to see I am going to go off on a tangent here is for people with endowment mortgages who are struggling so much on the wage they have had for years and years with the interest rate not going down, people who have been paying into endowment mortgages for years and years and years and then the endowment policies crashed and you can take for e.g. someone with a Friends Provident for e.g. an endowment policy and people are written to and told that it won’t pay off their mortgages when they reach a certain age and suddenly they are stuck with a huge balance they haven’t paid and nothing belongs to them and Friends Provident are sponsoring an event at Lords Cricket Ground but people are struggling and I therefore think we are going to have more Union, we are going to have more Union action we are going to have more strikes because life is very hard for everybody

DIMBLEBY
And if you are told that by so doing you are shooting your self in the foot as some economists say because that will simply accelerate inflation and will drive the economy further down because it won’t be possible to find the resources except by borrowing more and more you say well so be it reality is reality

CAROL GOULD
Well I think that the banks and the government have got to do something about the fact that so many people are losing their homes that we are in the situation that we are having more and more repossessions, the unemployment rate is going up. It is six of one and half a dozen of the other because the people who are losing their jobs are becoming a drain on society because social security is paying out and I am afraid I stick to my point I am all for these pay rises and for unions to remain strong because the banks are accumulating properties from repossession, they are accumulating assets and I have no sympathy for them as you can see but I do have great sympathy for the working man in this country. People who fought in a war are now retiring who now have grandchildren who are working who are struggling; they didn’t fight in the war so their grandchildren would not be able to pay their mortgages. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
And when you say working man just to pre-empt you also include working women of course


CAROL GOULD
Absolutely.

DIMBLEBY
Bob Crow you secured there was a prospect of strikes but those became unnecessary from your perspective because you secured just under 5% in the first year and then inflation what ever that may be in the second year of your new deal. Do you regard that before we come to the… do you regard that as having breached as it were inflation or is the two year deal within what you regard as the level of inflation?

BOB CROW
No the deal this week was 4.99% and inflation plus 0.85% which on current RPI figures would be 5.85% which would be 11% in 12 months and we make no excuse for getting that at all whatsoever because who has created this inflation? Why are we in a recession? Is it the workers fault? Is it the workers fault that these banks were being greedy giving mortgages out at 125%, five times sometimes to people that couldn’t even afford to pay them back, they had no intentions of getting the money back and was quite happy to accept money from these people for the rest of their lives because it was the interest they was getting on their mortgages and if they failed to pay them they could come and take their houses off them. But I find it hypocritical when people are saying that workers have got to keep their pay rises down when yesterday Eon said they are going to put their prices by just under 30%. (APPLAUSE)
Our energy prices are going through the roof and they expect nurses and lower paid workers to accept pay rises of 2.45 % over the next 3 years. I see no limit on the amount of share dividends that these share holders have got and what’s happened. The energy companies were publicly owned and we was told that it was the fault of the public sector that they couldn’t be run efficient, they have been stolen off us they have been handed to a minority of people who have made absolutely millions upon millions upon millions. I bet these people when they get home tonight, these Chief Executives they will have two letters waiting for them, one from the national lottery to tell them they have won it or one they can stay as a shareholder in a private company, they would throw the national lottery one away because actually owning a private company would mean more to them than that. And it is a result of these prices going up you see when the 30% gas bill goes up to the employer the employer says we pay it but when diesel or petrol goes up they pay it but when workers ask for a pay rise they want to restrict the workers. Now a Trade Union is about defending its members and I think also what should happen is that the conservative government who done away with the link between earnings and pensioners would have been kept enforced what it would mean as workers got bigger pay rises it would mean that our pensioners would have got bigger pensions as well. (APPLUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Leaving aside the moral case which in part you were making and the economic case for your members do you believe that the effect of “inflation busting” pay rises will be to the benefit of the long term economy and everyone who lives in this market economy or do you think they will, the people will suffer in the long term if you have to keep catching up in the short term?

BOB CROW
Well when these energy companies stop sending bills to our members telling them that their prices have gone up by 30%, when these oil companies are making millions every second, stop putting the petrol up in the pumps then we will reconsider about what pay rises that we have but until that time we are going to make sure that our members living standards are not cut.

DIMBLEBY
James Delingpole

JAMES DELINGPOLE
I presume that this was mainly a Bob Crow related question is it responsible. Bob Crow’s duty, responsibility is to his members. He earns his £99,634 salary for doing that, for doing that job and he has done it very well. But we are not all members of the RMT in fact relatively very few of us in the British population are and those of us who aren’t represented by unions, those of us for example in my profession, the word rate you get paid for an article has not increased since 1988 which is when I started being a journalist. So a 5% annual pay rise seems to me a ruddy miracle. The economy is about to go into recession, has just gone into recession, we also face the grim prospect of stagflation whereby the economy is going into recession at the same time we have got inflation. this is a real problem and it is no good blaming energy prices which have got nothing to do with the energy companies and everything to do with supply and demand I think that we need to recognize people like Bob Crow as dinosaurs of the 1970’s and they should be consigned back to the 1970’s like the dinosaurs that they are.

DIMBLEBY
I will let the “dinosaur” speak in a second but first of all Frank Furedi you want to come in.

FRANK FUREDI
I think one point we need to realize is that the relationship between wages and inflation is not a direct one and the inflation that we are experiencing today is not due to high wages but is due to the fact that commodity prices are going up, is due to the fact that credit has been extended phenomenally in the system and therefore the money that is in your pocket is worth less and less the more that credit is increased and I think it is these wider global forces that are driving inflation in such a destructive kind of way and that has got to be born in mind rather than simply blaming wage rises which have been fairly minimal in the recent period as being in any shape or form the main cause or the main responsibility for inflation today.

DIMBLEBY
Keith Graham I will bring you in in a moment Bob. Keith Graham you put the question.


KEITH GRAHAM
I just wanted to make the point that pay rises now will just meant hat jobs are lost in the future as we sort of price ourselves out of jobs and they go back to China and the Far East where wage rates are much lower than they are here.

DIMBLEBY
So you think that in that sense people will be shooting themselves in the foot. Can you just make sure the microphone is still with our questioner? Whether people are doing it for perfectly understandable reasons they will actually be pricing themselves out.

KEITH GRAHAM
We all want to be better off but I don’t think this is necessarily the way as Frank Furedi said the causes of inflation so far have been because of higher oil prices and commodity prices but there is this danger of a second found of inflation caused by higher inflation busting rises such as the RMT has just negotiated.

DIMBLEBY
Bob Crow

BOB CROW
Well I don’t accept that because the reality would be how comes every time we ask for a pay rise people say jobs will go but these Chief Executives and they get pay rises and I don’t see their jobs going and in fact the company that we done a deal with this week the average salary of a Director was £660,000 a lot higher than the £99,000 that you researched and I give you credibility for you doing your research and secondly they got an £80,000 pension and they have made £200 million profits in the last 3 years and the fact is it is always the workers fault. The problem that we have got with energy at the moment and the problem and the problem we have got with utilities is that we don’t own these companies. Gordon Brown can’t do nothing. David Cameron couldn’t do nothing and the liberal leader whatever I forget his name he can’t do nothing neither.

DIMBLEBY
Are you saying that you would somehow or another find the national resources to bring back into the public ownership the privatized utilities?

BOB CROW
Absolutely, absolutely.

DIMBLEBY
So where is the money coming from?

BOB CROW
Well I will tell you where the money comes from. Number one if you renationalize the railway industry it will be cheaper than actually giving the £20 billion in subsidies that you have given already. But what has happened to Northern Rock. You see when Northern Rock makes a profit the shareholders all do well out of it, when it goes bankrupt the tax payer has to pay for it and I wouldn’t just take back (APPLAUSE) Why is it that it is always the lame duck that we take back? A nationalized industry goes bankrupt or a private company goes bankrupt and they bring it back, I don’t believe we should bring the lame ducks back I want to see the white swans back, I want to see the Barclays Banks, I want to see the insurance companies and I want to give that money to the pensioners and the students and the infrastructure that Britain deserves.

(APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Our next question please



ANN JONES
Good evening. Do you think the anti-American feelings in the UK will change if a young black American is voted in?

DIMBLEBY
If Barak Obama makes it will what our questioner describes as anti-American feelings in this country change. Carol Gould?

CAROL GOULD
Well in my book that is coming-out shortly (I couldn’t help it) I talk about the evolution of anti-Americanism it will, I think it will subside a bit but I have experienced it for 33 years so when I first came here many people were still angry about Roosevelt not coming in sooner to help during the war. Whenever I went to a dinner party that was the mantra, then it evolved into you Americans keep supporting the IRA and when the Earl Mountbatten was murdered I had a lot of flak, I had a neighbour who actually just walked into my flat because I had the door open and he started screaming at me in the middle of my living room if you Americans wouldn’t give money to the IRA these things wouldn’t happen and I kept saying sorry it is a little group of people perhaps in Boston it is not all of America. Then it evolved in feelings about the American’s support for Israel so it is really who ever is in the White House hasn’t really mattered in terms of those of us who have been here continuously being at the end of what can sometimes be very nasty abuse. And of course during the Bush years it has been breathtaking.

DIMBLEBY
Frank Furedi

FRANK FUREDI
Well I think anti-Americanism has had a long history predominantly driven by envy in the 1930’s/1950’s. I think today it is a very powerful impulse in European society where increasingly all sections from the elite downwards regard America as being in some shape or form bad or evil or immoral. It is a common alliance to target America predominantly because it is a symbol of modernity and modernism and America is seen as this kind of gigantic threat to us. I don’t see that changing. I think that you have to remember that when JF Kennedy, when we had President Kennedy who was very popular in Europe anti Americanism didn’t subside. I don’t think Obama would in any shape or form lead to the diminution of anti-Americanisms

DIMBLEBY
He is welcome in Berlin with the 200,000 people doesn’t add up to a row of beans in the end.


FRANK FUREDI
Well Kennedy had a very similar welcome in Berlin as well. I think that there might be a lot of sympathy for the individual but I think that once he is President and once he becomes a personification for American power all hostilities will resume because in many respects people dine out on their anti-Americanism in Europe it is something they are not going to let go off just yet.

DIMBLEBY
James Delingpole

JAMES DELINGPOLE
Yes I think whoever is top dog in the world is bound to get resentment from everyone else it goes with the territory. I think actually Obama is bound to get elected isn’t he I think he will change things I think people are just so viscerally anti-George Bush so utterly sick of him that even if he were to create world peace now and turn water into wine he would still be absolutely loathed whereas the view of Obama is I think equally distorted in that this guy is the new Kennedy. We tend to get American Presidents wrong anyway look how we vilified Reagan who was one of the best US presidents. We don’t really understand American presidents and I don’t think we understand Obama but he will definitely I think contribute to the decline of anti- Americanism in Europe yes.

DIMBLEBY
Bob Crow

BOB CROW
Well I am not anti-American at all. We have a close link with the American trade unions and we want to see stronger working relationship between all workers throughout the world and a person’s nationality is purely an accident of birth.

DIMBLEBY
Are you backing Obama?

BOB CROW
Well I hope Obama wins it because he has got to be better than this lunatic we have had over here for the last 8 years. I have got to say I am more concerned about the politics because it is just getting like Britain. Whatever the President is, what are the policies they stand for, years ago we used to have a Labour Party Manifesto where people could see exactly what was in their Manifesto for them now it is about where the rallies are. It is very similar now to Cameron and his rallies, to the Labour Party and their rallies and to the Liberal Party and their rallies. What I would be more concerned about is I want to see an American President for once that breaks the shackles and says I am not going to have a war. For once a president who is not going to have a war, start spending money on peace that is what I want to see (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Carol Gould just a very brief.

CAROL GOULD
Yes it will be very important who both candidates pick for the Vice President because nobody would every have dreamt that JFK would be assassinated then came LBJ who Lyndon Johnson who dragged the world into the Vietnam war so it is not just the President it is somebody who as Bob said is going to sustain world peace whoever is in the White House.

DIMBLEBY
We must move on we can squeeze in one more question






SUSANNE CHAPMAN
As an Essex girl born and bred I find I no longer fit the descriptive category of Essex girl. Which category do the panellists find they no longer belong to?

DIMBLEBY
What category do you no longer belong to? Frank Furedi?

FRANK FUREDI
Well I am glad you asked that question. I think the category I no longer belong to has got to be young man. And even though I look in the mirror and say to myself what a good looking young man the reality kicks in very swiftly and you realize that life has moved on. Therefore I have got to make do with something else which is being an elderly gentleman

DIMBLEBY
What category Bob Crow do you no longer belong to?

BOB CROW
Well Essex girls I thought were called Sharon and had blond hair with stilettos on and drove around in Ford Escort cars and certainly you have changed. (LAUGH) I don’t see myself as a category any more of being a person linked to this Labour Party. I think this Labour Party is carrying out the same policies as the Tories.

DIMBLEBY
And Carol Gould?

CAROL GOULD
I think as we get older some of us become more interested in religion and faith as we get nearer to meeting our maker and I think I no longer belong to the secular category because in the past few years I have had some awful things some illness and I have prayed and here we are sitting in this beautiful church and I know that my Guardian reading friends are going to kill me for saying this but I actually do believe that there is a higher being, I am an anti-Dawkins person now and that is a new category for me.

DIMBLEBY
James Delingpole

JAMES DELINGPOLE
I wouldn’t say I had every been a rich person but I used to be just about able to afford it person and now I am definitely not one of those either I am a can’t afford it person like most of the country I think.

DIMBLEBY
Thank you and thank you Essex girl ex Essex girl whatever it may be Susanne Chapman for that. That’s all we have got time for for this week, next week we are going to be in Maidenhead with the previous former mayor of London Ken Livingstone, the columnist for the Mail on Sunder Peter Hitchens, Jenny Tonge for the Liberal Democrats and the Chairman of the Local Govt Association Sir Simon Milton. Join us there from here in the Emmanuel Church in Billericay Goodbye.

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