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ANY QUESTIONS
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Journey of a Lifetime
Transcript: Any Questions? 19 December 2008

CHAIRMAN: JONATHAN DIMBLEBY

PANELLISTS:


DAME JOAN BAKEWELL: Broadcaster and Voice of Older People

SHAMI CHAKRABARTI: Director, Liberty

PETER OBORNE: Columnist on the Daily Mail and Author

SIR GULAM NOON: Businessman

Guests of Horncastle Town Council, from the Banovallum Secondary School
Boston Road, Horncastle, Lincolnshire, LN9 6RZ



DIMBLEBY:
Welcome to Lincolnshire and to the town of Horncastle which is at the southern edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds area of outstanding natural beauty. We are at the County Community School. It is called Banovallum School after the original Roman name for Horncastle, the walled place on the River Bain.  And we are the guests here of the Town Council. On our panel two newcomers at least to this programme. Sir Gulam Noon who was born in Bombay now Mumbai but moved to London in 1972, went on to become a Curry King responsible for creating the Chicken Tika Masala and later becoming, as a result of that and many other activities, a multi millionaire. In 2006 he lent the Labour Party a quarter of a million pounds and found himself inadvertently at the very heart of the cash for honours scandal, investigated by the police who found no case against him, he converted his loan into a gift and he has written about that in his book Noon with aView. That’s a dreadful pun Sir Gulam. But you would still like to be in the Lords.

SIR GULAM NOON
Well yes if the government feels that I can be of any use to them I would like to.

DIMBLEBY
More recently in fact only a few weeks ago, another far more dreadful physical situation, he was in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel when it was besieged by terrorists and he was barricaded in his room for 9 hours. He is a passionate cricket fan supporting England through thick and thin. Must be quite difficult yet again today with India on 179 for 1. Joan Bakewell has had a distinguished career and still has in television from Late NightLine Up onwards in radio and as a writer and columnist. Dame Joan as she became this year. Do you like being called Dame Joan, Joan?

JOAN BAKEWELL
Not professionally, because I am journalist and I just like my name straight forwardly without the title but I do enjoy the title.

DIMBLEBY
Astonishingly she is halfway through her 8th decade. Less astonishingly she has become a Tsar rather than a Tsarina more specifically appointed by the Government as the voice of older people but you remain your own person I hope.

JOAN BAKEWELL
Indeed I hope so too

DIMBLEBY
With Sir Gulam and Dame Joan, Shami Chakrabati the Director of Liberty and the Daily Mail columnist and writer and film maker Peter Oborne both familiar to listeners of this programme.

(APPLAUSE)

Our first question please.

MICHAEL CLARKE
Does the panel agree with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement today that the recession is a wake up call?

DIMBLEBY
In his interview with the Today programme I think he used, to be precise, the phrase very similar a reality check and he went on a reminder that what I think some people have called fairy gold is just that. Sooner or later you have to ask what are we all making and what are we assembling or accumulating wealth for and in terms of debt and spending, public spending, borrowing and VAT etc he said it was a little bit like the addict returning to the drug. Peter Oborne.

PETER OBORNE
Yes I think that the Archbishop of Canterbury has been a wonderful Archbishop. He looks the part for one thing and he has also got extraordinarily sound views about finance which one wouldn’t necessarily have expected from that quarter and I thought that his remarks today about Gordon Brown’s fiscal stimulus were incredibly telling and why they were so telling was they weren’t, they didn’t come from somebody who is one of these experts all of these hopeless economists and treasury officials and alleged politicians who are supposed to know about these things it was somebody who actually was looking at it in the whole in as he might put it in an holistic way and looking at it not from an economical viewpoint but from a moral view point and that is what I thought was so profound and there are two things that I so thoroughly agreed with from the Archbishop. The one was something went terribly wrong in the late 90’s and the early first six or seven years of this decade. The culture of greed, of naked wealth, of selfishness and of acquisitions, of having loads of houses and cars and a selfish, a horrible arid selfishness and that is true and then I agree with him also about his remark that the government’s response to this which is to borrow its way out of recession is like an addict returning for his drug. I think that is right. The only thing you will achieve by borrowing these incredible sums of money, well over £100 billion next year is to avoid confronting the real problems facing the British economy.

(APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Shami Chakrabati

SHAMI CHAKRABARTI
Well I think like Peter I have a huge amount of respect for Rowan Williams the Archbishop of Canterbury. Now some of the newspapers today because it is that time of year and you have got to try and get a bit of a colorful story have tried to present the Archbishop as in some way taking on the government. I want to be clear that I don’t see it that way. I don’t think that the Archbishop is at all party political and he said himself that he is not an economist and I am even less an economist I am sure than he is so I don’t think that this is a sort of party political spat at all but I do think that it is very hard not to see the common sense of his idea that we all have to take a bit of personal responsibility for our borrowing and for our spending and I completely respect what he said and I challenge anybody to find something in it that wasn’t sincere, well meant and fundamentally intelligent. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Joan Bakewell

JOAN BAKEWELL
Yes I do very much agree with what has been said. I do think it is a wake up call. I don’t agree with what he said that was teased out of him by that villainous interviewer John Humphrys. The Archbishop did say he would be suicidally silly to make an economic comment and I think he was right about that because I do believe that the spending policy that Gordon Brown has embarked upon is the right one. However much more important than that I do believe that there is a wake up call for all of us across the globe really about the condition in which this society has grown into one obsessed by acquisition and greed and the materialism which of course is initially wonderfully gratifying to people who can suddenly own their own homes and enjoy holidays and enjoy the fruits of moderate affluence but it ran away with us and it became obsessive and when that happens the values that have nourished us heretofore become distorted and we have seen trust lapse, we have seen morality lapse, we have seen honesty in public institutions call in doubt, we have seen a lack of transparency, we have seen spin, all of which are modes of deception which we have to confront and we have to have some kind of moral redress now. I think that is a very important and a good wake up call. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Sir Gulam Noon

SIR GULAM NOON
It is indeed a wake up call and I will simplify it we don’t have to be economists all of us, we don’t have to be economists, we have simple common sense. I am a small business man I never thought that in my lifetime I will see a day when the bank doesn’t have money and this is what we are experiencing. Yes this is a wake up call not only for the lenders but even for borrowers. If you need the money to extend your house and you require only £50,000 don’t borrow £60,000 and the person who is giving you money he must be not reckless to see that there as to whether you are able to pay the interest and the principal so this is all over the world, this is the same thing that people who have borrowed more money and that is what we are facing and what Archbishop of Canterbury is saying is correct that moral values are there and morally we must behave in a strict morality so that we are able to sustain our self into society.

DIMBLEBY
On the, Joan Bakewell and Peter Oborne disagreed about debt what is your view about the government seeking to get out of this deepening recession by spending and accumulating more debt which the Archbishop very clearly did take a view on wisely or unwisely depending on your perspective?

SIR GULAM NOON
Jonathan I have heard a lot of arguments that we are borrowing more money today and how are we going to repay. Today if your children are hungry give it to them whatever you have in your refrigerator, don’t worry because if they do not survive another 24 hours anyway you won’t need it. In the business, in the business I think and I am levering my head over the Labour Party don’t associate me with that but frankly I think Gordon Brown’s government was brave enough to put £500 billion, same amount as a huge country like the United States has put $750 billion, same amount basically and I think that without that I think our economy would have collapsed.

DIMBLEBY
Do you think therefore it is right there is a debate going on but the signs seem to be that the government is going to be, is likely to bail out Jaguar/Land Rover which of course is owned by an Indian Company?

SIR GULAM NOON
Well I think it should be on a merits basis. Jaguar has been bought by Indian Company
Tata with open eyes, they must have seen their books and be able to find money. Now they have approached the government for £1 billion now again government has to view how much if Jaguar comes under pressure how many jobs will be lost against that if they are able to give because I know Peter Mandelson has said ours is not an open cheque book. He is right. So every borrower, large borrower has to be extremely careful what they are asking for and whether to what extent society is going to benefit.

DIMBLEBY
Quick response Peter Oborne on the thought powerfully put that if your children are hungry you give them everything there is in the fridge and you let tomorrow look after itself in financial terms effectively. Just a very quick response to that.

PETER OBORNE
I thought it was very interesting by the way the way that Gordon Brown responded to the Archbishop by quoting the New Testament and finding a Prime Minister who is happy to engage in a theological debate with proper references and even though I disagreed with him I thought that was rather wonderful by the way. I felt that enhanced our whole national public culture which on the other point still avoiding your question. On Jaguar

DIMBLEBY
I thought this was one of those evenings where there are no politicians on the panel. (LAUGH)

PETER OBORNE
On Jaguar can somebody explain to me why it is that Jaguar V8 which costs 3 times the national average wage consumes manufactures carbon dioxide as if there was no tomorrow is somehow a matter of national importance that we should save this (APPLAUSE).

DIMBLEBY
Sir Gulam having indicated it wasn’t a bad idea to bail it I saw you banging the table in approval on what you have just heard.

SIR GULAM NOON
On the merits, only on the merits again if Jaguar is going to lose 2000 jobs then you have got to be careful

DIMBLEBY
Shami

SHAMI CHAKRABARTI
We have just heard that MFI is going out of business, Woolworths is going out of business it is not, I think most people accept that there is a place for borrowing and there is a place for spending but let’s be a little bit principled and targeted and intelligent about what we spend future generation’s money on please. (APPLAUSE)

JOAN BAKEWELL
Also the Tata Company is a major global player which I think last year posted £2.5 billion profit so perhaps they have the money to support Jaguar themselves.


DIMBLEBY
We will leave that there with a reminder of the Any Answers number after the Saturday broadcast of this programme. It is 03700 100 444 and the email address is any.answers@bbc.co.uk. Could we go to our next question please?


GRAHAM KEEGAN
Is it time for a public enquiry into the invasion of Iraq?.

DIMBLEBY
This has been demanded by the Conservative opposition and the Prime Minister has said not until, he hasn’t said there will be one but there certainly won’t be one he said until after the withdrawal of troops. Joan Bakewell?

JOAN BAKEWELL
Yes I think it is time. I think the sooner we have one the better, this has been a disastrous enterprise, a disastrous adventure which will resonate for decades to come across the globe and has done much to antagonize a whole area of people thinking into ways of terrorism and revenge. Now I know there is a reason we wanted Sadam Hussein to go but I was opposed to the war before it began. I marched against it. I have not seen anything that has happened that has made me feel I was wrong. I think the lack of planning has been atrocious and I think we should investigate every aspect of it on the widest possible remit.

DIMBLEBY
And you can’t see notwithstanding that, you can’t see any reason why it should be postponed until the troops are out.

JOAN BAKEWELL
No I mean the troops are now in Basra, holed up in a very small encampment, they know they are coming home, thank goodness they are coming home. I hope we give them a terrific welcome this is not their fault but I think we cannot delay an investigation too long (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Sir Gulam

SIR GULAM NOON
I think it is important that there should be an enquiry. I think much has been said about it and I think we have suffered a helluva lot. We went into war like a conqueror not as a liberator and unfortunately that is our senior partner took that view and we followed it. There should be an enquiry and I think our boys and girls in the army have done a fantastic job, fantastic job (APPLAUSE) and everyone deserves a medal for that because they are in difficult times and they have gone there so that we can live peacefully. Unfortunately it is not only Iraq, it is Afghanistan, it is Palestine and all the terrorism which we see which we very easily, questionably we call it Islamic terrorists it is all 50% or 75% because of that and I think in order to eradicate or arrest this terrorism I think we have to sort out these 3 countries problems and as far as Iraq is concerned I think the earlier we get our boys here the happier we all will be. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Peter Oborne?

PETER OBORNE
There is an extra reason which is the most important reason of all why we should have an enquiry now. This excuse that because our 4000 troops are still there which is true just doesn’t work and this reason is this. We can see what is happening. Plans are being made to massively escalate our presence in Afghanistan now every day almost currently we are hearing this horrible news that a couple of soldiers, somebody has been killed in a roadside bomb; somebody has been shot by a sniper. If we are going to massively re-enforce in Afghanistan we need to understand and know what went wrong in Iraq. We need to learn, we must now learn as a matter of total and utter urgency the mistakes that we made in Iraq and I have to say that the statement by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons last week and the statement made by Sir Jock Stirrup Chief of the Defence Staff in a long article in the Guardian were hopelessly unsatisfactory. Both of them were presenting our Iraq experience as a tremendous success. I am sorry it wasn’t. You can’t, that is no good saying that it is not the truth. We know it was not the truth. We know that terrible mistakes were made. Politicians have got to own up to this really in order that we don’t send our young men our bravest and the best that this country has now to needless deaths in Afghanistan. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Shami Chakrabati

SHAMI CHAKRABARTI
This is what happens when you don’t have any politicians on the panel. On a matter of national importance, of global importance you get a little bit of honesty and a great deal of consensus. I may be nearly 40 but when I grow up I want to be Joan Bakewell. (LAUGH) I think that if I may say the audience too have spoken in their responses to what has been said you don’t have to be unpatriotic to believe in this enquiry in fact it is a patriotic enquiry. You don’t have to have a lack of care for people still in harm’s way, British Forces in Iraq, you have to have that care to say it is time that there is accountability so that we are not lied to again as a people so that people aren’t put in harm’s way so that terrorism isn’t made worse by the kind of tragic mistakes that we have seen in this disastrous war and disastrous war on terror (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
You have heard unanimity from the panel Graham Keegan what is your own thought?

GRAHAM KEEGAN
Well I asked the question because I think we desperately need this. It is long overdue because I think the Government are busy re writing history and they are misinterpreting what has happened and (APPLAUSE) they are choosing to forget, they are choosing to completely forget and write out of history why it was done in the first place under pretence of looking for weapons of mass destruction and that has been conveniently forgotten about.


DIMBLEBY
It was clear that most of the audience as Shami Chakrabati pointed out at least sympathized with the panellists view. Is there anyone in this audience by a show of hands who thinks that it has been a success or at least certainly not a failure? Is there anyone who thinks it has not been a failure? Would you put your hands up? There is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Five hands. Who thinks it has been a failure as the panel thought. Well this is 300 or 400 people in this hall and the overwhelmingly majority in this hall shares the view of the panel. One more question who thinks that there are good grounds as the Prime Minister has suggested that the enquiry at least should be held after the return of the troops. Who thinks there are good grounds for holding it back (SHOUTS OF NO). One hand has gone up, two hands have gone up. Our next please.


JILL SHEPHERD
Is 60 the new 40?

(LAUGH)

DIMBLEBY
Sir Gulam? Well you may be reaching 60 soon.

SIR GULAM NOON
Well I am already 72.

DIMBLEBY
Well if you can remember back to 60. I suppose you could answer is 72 the new 52 I don’t know.

SIR GULAM NOON
I will tell you 60, I came to this country in 1966 first time, first time I sat in a plane as a matter of fact when I came to London and I think the 60’s and 70’s are my best years. The country was different I know I love pluralistic society, 300 languages are spoken now, different, mini cars were there ….

DIMBLEBY
But given that difference you are now as you say 72 underlying the question is the thought is life as good now as it was for people who are 60, when people who are 40 thought oh dear oh dear I am going to be 50 and then 60 and now people at 60 saying oh I am only 60. Does life seem pretty good when you are 72?

SIR GULAM NOON
Absolutely brilliant. (LAUGH)

DIMBLEBY
Shami you said you wanted to be as young as Joan.

SHAMI CHAKRABARTI
Well as I am about, next summer I shall be 40 so clearly if 60 is the new 40 I shall be 20 next year and I am not complaining about that but more seriously whilst I welcome the fact that better healthcare and all sorts of other things have meant that we can have a more fulfilled and healthier life, longer that is not going to work if we don’t make adequate provision for the elderly. Gulam will forgive me saying you know it is looking pretty good for him at 72 because he you know he is pretty well sorted out and (LAUGH) and you know that is not even in Britain a universal experience. At the other end of the spectrum I worry about our young people, I worry about our children and young people who are not always cared for as they should be as we have seen in horrific cases but also I worry about demonizing the young. They are not all, they are not all wicked, they are not all hoodies, they are doing their best sometimes having been let down by their parents and by others so yes of course I want to see everyone fulfill their potential at whatever age but I don’t want o be someone who is enjoying a longer and longer middle age at the expense of the old or indeed the young. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Peter Oborne

PETER OBORNE
It is definitely the case it has been the most, one of the most noticeable things of all our lifetimes that you know we are active, people are active for so much longer, they carry on in their careers, in physical pursuits, remain fitter for so much longer and as a political journalist it puzzles me this because while the average age of the population and their activity level gets older and older politicians in the same period have got younger and younger and you can see this you know with the emergence of David Cameron in the Tory Party, Nick Clegg in the Labour Party, Miliband

DIMBLEBY
Liberal Democrats

PETER OBORNE
Sorry yes now you mention it Nick Clegg he is a Liberal Democrat (LAUGH) and indeed if you look at the whole Miliband phenomenon in the Labour Party anybody over the age of 45 with perhaps the single exception of our beloved Prime Minister really are regarded as being hopelessly old. Now I just think there is something wrong there that actually our politicians should get older too. You need to be a bit older, knocked around the world a bit and why is it so off putting in a politician that he or she may be 60 but so attractive in Joan Bakewell that (LAUGH)

DIMBLEBY
I get the feeling that you would like Joan to take over at this point….
Voice for what is called the elderly Joan

JOAN BAKEWELL
Well of course there is a lot of jokey fun to be had at the idea of Madonna being 50 and we all feel that you know we could perhaps turn out quite like that if we were locked in a room on our own. There is a lot of fun to be had in trying to be stay young, enjoy good health, stay fit, keep your place in the work market, be part of the mainstream of the working population. So there is a great deal of pleasure to be had in those early years of being older, in your 60’s and 70’s you are as old as you feel and more and more people are fit and happy to go on working. There will have to be social change to accommodate the great increase in the number of older people. Employers are very slow to get on to this and to retire people against their will when they don’t want to be they will have to involve people in flexible working hours, part time working all sorts of social changes have to take place so that we can enjoy our later years and there is an unspoken group within old because old seems to be anyone from 50 onwards well that is you know a vast range of age experience and the very old are not heard. The very old are often lonely, widowed, depressed, confined to their homes and we mustn’t forget that when we have fun being out and about with our good health in old age that there are right at the end of life people who are suffering real deprivation (applause)

DIMBLEBY
Just on your job description you are renowned for very great independence of mind as you have shown earlier in this programme. What are you doing as it were not financially but taking the Government’s shilling being its voice for older people?

JOAN BAKEWELL
Well we had a very interesting discussion about my role which is as you say I am not on the government’s payroll nor am I their spokesperson. I made that quite clear. I said I had a job as a journalist, I reserved the right to be critical of policy as I saw it and indeed I am not speaking for them I am speaking for older people and my role is to tell people who have asked me what older people are telling me.

DIMBLEBY
And here are you renowned in all manner of ways how do you know what older people are thinking and feeling?

JOAN BAKEWELL
Well a great many of them are writing to me. I mean absolutely shoals of people are writing to me. Just uninvited the letters are pouring in, the emails, there is a website so the system is really overloaded but also there is going to be a major government bill in the Spring which the Govt will embark on quite soon which is an equality bill which involves laws against ageism and the burden of the duty put on local authorities for example, public sector to consider the old and there will be lots of consultations and I will be happy to be part of that so people will be asked. They will be asked what they want, they will be asked preferences, they will be asked to raise subjects that perhaps nobody in Government has thought out and they are starting to tell me now so I don’t think we will want for ideas.

DIMBLEBY
Well I think after that

SHAMA CHAKRABATI
Instead of writing to Father Christmas write to Dame Joan

DIMBLEBY
Yes I was going to say (LAUGH) if you like instead of giving out the email address for Any Answers I will give out your email address to increase the number of communications. But I think we ought to go on to our next question please.


JULIAN FAIRCHILD
Why do wealthy people make contributions to political parties?

(Laugh applause)

DIMBLEBY
I am not quite clear where to start. Shami Chakrabati

SHAMI CHAKRABARTI
Why do wealthy people make contributions to political parties? Now why am I qualified to answer this question? Am I a wealthy person or am I a political party?

DIMBLEBY
You have never been short of a view that is why you are entitled to answer the question

SHAMI CHAKRABARTI
I am sitting next to Gulam Noon. I am forgiven in advance. I suspect they have a range of motives in truth. I suspect that some have always been genuinely interested in the political cause that they are promoting and I suppose that others have slightly more, slightly less noble motives. Nobles come into this as well don’t they. Like the rest of us some have higher motives and some have slightly baser ones I guess.

DIMBLEBY
Usually I have to say thank you very much in order to stop you. Peter Oborne

PETER OBORNE
I think somebody needs to get a grip here Jonathan.

DIMBLEBY
Yes I think it would be a good idea.

PETER OBORNE
And the reason why wealthy people make donations to political parties are as a whole not out of reasons of public service. Quite a lot of them give donations in order that they can become a peer in the House of Lords. I would never make that accusation at Gulam Noon by the way. But the fact is you are 7 times more likely to become a member of the House of Lords if you make a large donation to the Labour Party than otherwise. (APPLAUSE)
Amazingly enough this fact has not passed unnoticed among the very rich and that was a major thing. Another reason and I think that is a fairly innocent reason the more distressing reason I think is that rich people note that if you make donations to political parties you can affect government policy and there have been a number of disgraceful episodes of this kind. There was the coincidence, I would only refer to it as a coincidence, I mean purely innocent coincidence this one I am sure it was the £1 million donation given by Bernie Ecclestone to Labour at the same time they were changing policy on tobacco advertising to favour the formula one industry. Purely innocent, pure chance. Yes. But it was bad luck he didn’t mean any harm and the way that private equity tycoons gave £100’s of thousands, millions of pounds to the Labour Party in the late 1990’s in return for changing the tax system would you believe it in order to make private equity tycoons even richer. And the full story has not been told about that and it played quite a large part in the creation of the recession which has followed because it prioritized debt above equity. It made debt finance more.. Yes

DIMBLEBY
Can I just ask you cite it with great authority you are 7 times more likely

PETER OBORNE
7000 times more likely

DIMBLEBY
This was a statistic that you have come across from your research

PETER OBORNE
My political research. I think it was a Fabian Society pamphlet I don’t swear to that.

DIMBLEBY
But what you are doing then is attributing to the effect, the cause aren’t you. If it is the case that someone gave money and it happened that afterwards they for all sorts of reasons were put into the Lords it doesn’t necessarily imply that they only got into the Lords because they gave the money does it.

PETER OBORNE
It could be pure coincidence I agree.

DIMBLEBY
I just (LAUGH APPLAUSE I just wanted to check that with you for absolute clarity’s sake. Sir Gulam can you help us?

SIR GULAM NOON
Yes the first thing is there is no crime in being rich. Everyone has the right to earn money... I came with nothing to this country and I am proud that this country gave me everything. Honours twice (APPLAUSE) and therefore I always say that this is the best country in the world to live. I was already MBE in 1994, I was given knighthood in 2002, I was not aspiring, I never imagined that the Prime Minister would ever put my name for the Lordship and if you see the newspapers and the record that my loan is the smallest loan. People have given millions from off shore or after paying taxes but I can honestly say that I paid whatever I paid to the Labour Party as a donation. I paid after paying 40% or 45% tax and the residue I gave. Now I never approached anyone for the Lordship. I was surprised when my name was mentioned one day in the Independent newspaper. It was Sunday I remember that one of the cronies of Tony Blair has been selected for the Lordship. Now as long as the law permits rich people to give to a Party in which they believe they will continue to give.

DIMBLEBY
This was in the first instance which was (I don’t want to go into the very detail of it) was in fact a loan, which you subsequently as I said at the very beginning converted…. and you were asked to keep it quiet.

SIR GULAM NOON
I was asked to keep it quiet not orally but in writing. I should

DIMBLEBY
But you didn’t say which some people might say as some would hang on why are they asking me to keep it quiet

SIR GULAM NOON
No they wrote me a letter, the General Secretary of the Labour Party wrote me a letter, this loan is not reportable under the Parliamentary Act 2000. And therefore, and yet when the form came ladies and gentlemen I want you to know when the form came the form says your financial relationship with the Party and I put that £250,000 which was a loan and I sent it back to 10 Downing Street which was supposed to send it to the Scrutiny Committee. Next day, next day I got a call from the Labour Peer saying have you sent the form? I said yes and he said I hope you have not put this £250,000 and I said yes the question was very clear. I have put it.

PETER OBORNE
Who was this Labour peer?

SIR GULAM NOON
Lord Levy. He is still my friend. He is still my friend. He did a fantastic job. He was asked to collect money for the party and he collected it. Now what wrong has he done?

DIMBLEBY
As in all these cases everyone has a view about exactly what happened so this is your perspective on what happened. Lord Levy might have a second view.

SIR GULAM NOON
And when he asked me for money. When he asked for the first time give me a £1 million I said I haven’t got it. But he said I want a loan. And I said alright £250,000 loan provided it is a loan and it was signed as a loan agreement. And subsequently this blew up but I declared it I was an honest man and I still am, I declared it and that is why the press realised at a later date and they were very kind to me.


DIMBLEBY
OK to come to the question itself against that background. You said you have been very open about this you said when you asked why you got involved in this and this is an interview with the Times a very short time ago. “Which human being whether a business man or a bureaucratic would not like to hobnob with the politicians in power, power is an aphrodisiac and power ultimately lies in Westminster so why should I not want to move in those circles and politics is like cricket you enjoy the match more if you care who wins.” Is that a fair summary of your …?

SIR GULAM NOON
Yes it is and I am not going to deny that. If when you got to a restaurant and if you say hello Mr. Jonathan please come in and if the maître d’ says come in Mr. Jonathan your ego is boosted up. The Maitre d’of this restaurant recognises me. I personally feel that if you are, if a) you believe in a Party which is good for your business, for your country you can give money whenever you like and why should I not make friendship with people. I am sitting here; I am delighted with this audience that they have (LAUGH)
Every human being has an ego and I too have one.

(LAUGH APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Joan Bakewell

JOAN BAKEWELL
There is an interesting tightrope being walked here because Parties need support and if you see the agenda of a particular Party which you prefer to any other why would you not want to promote the interests of that Party that is a thoroughly honorable thing. On the other side of the tightrope is the fact that money often bestows a sense of righteous authority. People who are rich fly first class, they get good tables in restaurants and they like influence that they can exercise and it becomes an insidious influence that with more and more money they begin to recognise that they can exercise power over the people to whom they give it and that is when you tip over the tightrope. But no one has yet come up with a solution for how to fund political parties other than by the state and no political party dare propose it.

SHAMI CHAKRABARTI
Well I have got a solution actually Joan

DIMBLEBY
Well just before you got into solutions. I think, I just want to pick up on that point. Is there an element of truth, whether you can see yourself clearly in the way that this is suggested by Joan that you do acquire a sense of droite de seigneur but through your wealth that you can, that it can be corruptive of relationships which is what you are really saying Joan.


SIR GULAM NOON
If they nation feels it can corrupt you to give the money to the Party you should bring the law and say to the people, to the rich people particularly that you can’t give money to the Party. We won’t. Simple as that.

DIMBLEBY
Quick thought

SHAMI CHAKRABARTI
I don’t think that is the answer nor do I think that the tax payer should have to bail out political parties any more than it should have to bale out big business. I think the political parties should roll up their sleeves and get back to recruiting a mass membership. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
You may have thoughts about any or all of that. The number to ring if you do is 03700 100 444 and the email address any.answers@bbc.co.uk and we will pass any that you want us to do on to Joan afterwards as well. Meanwhile we will go to our next please.


BERNARD MARTIN
The police believe an enquiry into the murder of Rachel Nickell is not needed as changes have been made but should police be the judge of this?

DIMBLEBY
Peter Oborne

PETER OBORNE
I am not at all sure that the police are wrong about that. Do we need yet another enquiry and particularly into the Nickell thing which as the family were so movingly saying you know this picture of Rachel is so upsetting to them you can understand and haven’t we learnt the lessons. I mean the coverage has been very full. I mean the lessons were the police were barking up the wrong tree and I would argue that something needs to be done about the police though, maybe there should be an enquiry into the police. We all know how loads of police officers are very courageous, dedicated, honest men but the message which comes out of the Rachel Nickell affair and the de Menezes affair and so many of the other recent high profile public relations catastrophes for the police is really have they stopped being policemen. You know you think a policeman is somebody who when they investigate a crime, you have a bit of hunch, a bit of instinct, a bit of intelligence a bit of experience. \You put all that together and maybe you find the culprit. But nowadays I was looking at a list of policemen recently you know they have all read sociology at some university or they have all got ologies attached to them, they have all gone to management college and they spend much too much of their time ingratiating themselves. Ian Blair is a most lamentable example of this with senior politicians and rather than getting on with the hard job being a policeman.

DIMBLEBY
Joan Bakewell

JOAN BAKEWELL
I think what is interesting about this particular case is that it demonstrates something about human mind in that if you adopt a particular mindset and you come to believe that such a case is the fact, the truth which is the accusation they made against Colin Stagg it is very hard for a human being, and this applies to politicians, it applies to academics it applies to all thinkers to move yourself from that mindset and open up your mind that other alternatives might be possible. They decided it was Colin Stagg and they went out to look for proof that would find Colin Stagg guilty. Now that was a disaster and I think that has been recognised. I think that has been widely recognised. Something else has happened since the Nickell murder which of course is the use of DNA so that huge scientific leap is probably as much of a lesson as we need to know to avoid that kind of protracted mistake again

DIMBLEBY
Sir Gulam


SIR GULAM NOON
We have to really go deep into it in the sense are we short of policemen? Are we short of any scientific data which should be available? I have lived in four continents and I think we have the best police force I can think of. I have personally experienced it and yes it has been in everywhere and anytime there is a slip on the part of the police there cannot be an enquiry all the time but I think the police has to be supported by politicians and it should also be on the politician, I mean I quite understand what Peter said about Ian Blair for example was slightly more connected or more associated with the politics and that is why in fact he lost his job because of that. Police should be completely detached and then they should be able to do the job, yes we realise with Rachel’s case and we realise with the de Menezes case it was absolutely deplorable undoubtedly but things are not that wrong that we can blame the police all the time.

(APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Shami Chakrabati

SHAMI CHAKRABARTI
Well it is such a privilege to be with these people because I agree with everything that has been said and that doesn’t normally happen to me bizarrely enough. I do think there is a great tradition of policing in this country, I do think it has to some extent been diluted and compromised politically in recent years. I do think it is time we realised there are no short cuts in this very very difficult work that they do. All the databases and all the new powers and all the appearances on TV in the world are no substitute. In fact they are a dangerous distraction from good old fashioned investigation and law enforcement and we don’t need another enquiry to tell us that. We need perhaps a different debate about getting back to the basics of policing and forgetting all this nonsense about standing outside the court door and making speeches and calling for new laws. Let’s get back to basics because those basics in that country have served us well for hundreds of years (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Just very briefly I am afraid because it is a big issue but related to that is the Home Secretary has dropped plans to have some directly elected individuals to police authorities after protests or at least views expressed by t eh police themselves and from allegedly from Labour authorities. What is your quick thought on that?

SHAMI CHAKRABARTI
Well another first for me the Home Secretary was absolutely right to do that. Hold the front page. I for once agree with a serving Home Secretary. We don’t need more politicization, we don’t want to elect our Police Chiefs or elect, they should be accountable to the rule of law and via that every single one of us not whoever which politician decides to poke their nose into policing that day.


DIMBLEBY
Thank you. And that I am afraid is all we have time for. It is also the last Any Questions of this year. Any Answers just one more chance to give you that number it is 03700 100 444 do call in on any of these issues. For now a very Happy Christmas and Goodbye form Horncastle Town Council’s invitation at The Banovallum School in Lincolnshire. Goodbye.
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