tv Political Thinking with Nick... BBC News October 2, 2022 10:30am-11:01am BST
football match after police tear—gassed pitch invaders. britain's prime minister admits to the bbc that she should have laid the ground better for announcements that sparked chaos on the financial markets. king charles will now not be at next month's climate change conference in egypt following reports that prime minister liz truss "ordered" him not to attend. a man has been charged with the murder of nine—year—old olivia pratt—korbel, who was shot in her home in liverpool in august. the ukrainian flag flies once again in a key town in the donetsk region, just a day after moscow claimed the territory would be russian forever. and brazil goes to the polls today in the first round of an election which has seen a bitter campaign between past and present presidents.
now on bbc news, political thinking with nick robinson. welcome to political thinking, a conversation with, rather than an interrogation of, someone who shapes our thinking about what has shaped theirs. well, you know what they say about a week in politics. what a long time this week has felt since that budget that was officially not a budget. we've seen the pound go down, interest rates go up, mortgages being cancelled, and billions and billions and billions of pounds being spent by the bank of england in order to try and defend the pension system. my guest on political thinking this week is a new member of liz truss�*s new cabinet. he's the education
secretary, kit malthouse. for years before then he'd done more junior roles, having been deputy to borisjohnson, not as prime minister, but when he was mayor of london. kit malthouse is seen as a fixer. he becomes the fifth education secretary in a little over a year, a sign ofjust how unstable politics has been. kit malthouse, welcome to political thinking. thank you. i'm flattered to be here. well, it's been a roller—coaster ride this week, hasn't it? it has been a challenging week, as they say. i think that's the euphemism that politicians use. but hopefully things will settle, although i have to say it comes. i mean, i got elected in 2015 and it's been a pretty much a roller—coaster ride since 2016. so leadership elections, general elections, referendums, pandemics, wars, it's been a, you know, a bit of a roller—coaster. so i sort of feel a bit seasoned towards it.
and to be honest with you, nick, ifind myself a bit surprised that people are surprised because obviously the prime minister advertised during the leadership election that change was coming and that she felt a strong need to respond frankly to a lot of the calls from across the spectrum about issues of productivity, growth, you know, the nature of our economy. and so her stepping into that, particularly with an energy crisis, seems to have taken a lot of people by surprise. and i'm a bit perplexed by that. what, you're surprised that they didn't understand the scale of change that liz truss was always going to bring about? yeah, and as far as i can see, she's moved extremely swiftly to fulfil some of the pledges that she made during their leadership election campaign. maybe it wasn't picked up enough, but certainly she said she was going to move within seven days and that's what she did. so while obviously the the market reaction is something that we have to pay attention to and understand and address, and i know that the treasury and bank of england are working closely together.
yeah, i remain surprised that people are surprised. has it been too quick? in other words, has there been not enough explanation to the markets? well, i think to be fair, there was a sense of a need of urgency to address, you know, the very real anxiety in the british people about the cost of living crisis, particularly with energy. and she had said she would move quickly to deal with that, which is what she did. obviously, i think kwasi announced now he's going to do another wider statement at the end of november, which will talk about the wider fiscal environment. but you had to hesitate, though, because nobody knows what to call these bloomin�* things any more. we used to call them. it was really simple budgets. well, look, when i was a backbencher on the treasury select committee,
i we used to complain about the fact that we had too many fiscal events. we used to complain about the fact that we had too many fiscal events. but, you know, times change. and when you're in a situation of volatility like that, it's critical. but, you know, chris philp, chief secretary, was out saying, you know, fiscal rectitude and discipline still remains at the heart of what we want to do. it's a very important message for the market and the world to understand. but if you look at some of the stuff that was was announced last friday, particularly the i mean, the technical word is supply side, but actually it's measures to make it easier for people to go to work. easier to make wealth. easier to save money and to spend money. you know, all those kind of things are are coming down the track over the next few weeks. and i'm hopeful that all of that will hang together as a package, that people can see what the plan is. and the prime minister is somebody who very definitely has a plan. i guess what people might say is, well, she should have spelt out that plan in the budget.
we're not allowed to call a budget. so that that awful phrase, no, it's not yours. fiscal rectitude. in other words, what we used to call sound money, making the numbers add up was clear to the markets there and then. well, you would like to think, wouldn't you, the conservative party in charge and i speak as a chartered accountant, that would be a given. and maybe that's one of the reasons why we're surprised that people are surprised. it is a given that, you know, our job is to make the books balance. and, you know, i'm sure that's what the treasury team will will lay out in the weeks to come. you know, it's important now at this period of volatility that the bank and the treasury stick close together. and they seem to be doing that. which is great. i'm sure, you know, it's not my department, but i'm sure treasury will be explaining in the days and this is something you clashed with the previous chancellor in cabinet. now, normally we don't get to know, but we did learn. kit malthouse, we read, took rishi sunak on in the cabinet said where's the growth plan? where is the plan for looking again at spending? well, i mean, i obviously can't comment on cabinet. you'll have to see the minutes when they emerge in now 20 years.
we've shortened it from 30. so you don't have long to wait. you can tell us if the report is rubbish, which i know you're not doing, if you look back at my record, i've always been a kind of low tax tory. i do believe that strongly that giving people autonomy in their life also means autonomy over their finances to make choices for themselves and for their families. and you know that in a way, if i'm also a capitalist, i want people to participate in capitalism. and that means we need to leave them with money so that they can invest in and build asset bases for themselves. so it shouldn't come as a surprise that i'm very much aligned on the policy that the prime minister is promoting. so that means, yes, tax cuts and it also means something you argued for, i assume, before liz truss became prime minister, which is looking again at spending, reconsidering spending. well, i've spent my entire political career and it's now quite long, you argued for, i assume, before liz truss became prime minister, which is looking again at spending, reconsidering spending. well, i've spent my entire political career and it's now quite long, very, very focused on the spending side of the revenue account because, you know, we have a moral obligation to make sure that we're not wasting any money. and i know politicians always say that, but in truth, we do.
and we have to constantly question what we're doing and kind of trim the sails of the boat to make sure that we're as efficient as possible. but also, we need to do our best to leave as much money in the pockets of the people we serve as we possibly can, because they are fundamentally the people who create wealth and create growth and provide intergenerational progress through building a sort of intergenerational balance sheet, if you like, and if the public sector comes to dominate the economy too much, i do believe that it crowds out private sector activity. now, if we've had a problem with growth in this country over the last few years, which we have, it's been pretty anemic. a focus on private sector enterprise and growth is critical, and setting and let's turn to your story now. people listening to kit malthouse, particularly if you come from the north west like me, he would say he's a scouser, isn't he? now, there are lots of liverpudlian senior tories. now, there wouldn't have been, five, ten, 15, 20 years ago, partly because of the rage.
and i think that is a fair description, the rage that was felt in that city towards margaret thatcher for many years. there's you, there's theresa coffey, there's nadine dorries, jake berry. gillian keegan. esther mcvey. esther mcvey, many of whom done this podcast. was it because of your upbringing in liverpool in an incredibly politically charged time that you became a conservative? yeah. steve mcpartland, there's lots of us now. i think somebody said to me the other day, there are more scouse—born tories now than there are labour. and i definitely think thatthe atmosphere in the city during the 19705 and �*80s kind of radicalised the generation of young people to become conservatives. you know, we all watched as the hard left under derek hatton essentially destroyed the city. and we got into the what did neil kinnock call it in that famous speech? the grotesque chaos is what he described liverpool as at the time.
what is sad is i think i can remember the speech, the grotesque chaos, he said, of people scuttling around in taxis with redundancy notices to their own workers. we're showing our age in our political nerdiness. but for people who don't remember, this was derek hatton was running militant with a capital m — that's the name of an organisation, not a description — faction that was running liverpool council. but it made you think what at that time? well, it made me think that there must be a better way. there must be a better way. and it coincided with a, you know, a conservative government nationally who, as far as i could see and i know there are lots of people who felt that what that government did was a negative for the city. but as far as i could see, they were kicking in doors for people like me, little boys from south liverpool, basically saying you can be whatever you want. did you need doors kicking in? you come from aigburth. that's quite posh. well, big houses...
well, both parents i think were chartered accountants. my mum's a lawyer. 0h, forgive me. it's an interesting question. i mean, school, look, so i was born to a pair of penniless students. both my parents first in their family to go to university. both came from modest backgrounds in yorkshire. i'm actually genetically a yorkshireman and you know, they built a life in liverpool which was, you know, prosperous and my dad started a business and built it up. my mum worked very hard to become a lawyer. they are prime examples of the value of kind of good education and hard work and they built a life for me and my sisters, which was a good one. but you're right, i guess. i mean, my parents were fortunate and worked hard to build what they had and we benefited from that. but, you know... was it another thing — forgive me interrupting — which i certainly picked up when i talked to nadine dorries on this programme, a deep, deep resentment at the assumption that because of which city you came from, you should have a certain sort of politics. yeah, there's definitely
a bit of that. if you were if you were a rebellious teenager and you were? well, certainly you felt like you wanted to be different. how posh was this school that you were at? well, the liverpool college at the time was, i would call it an eccentric school. a hangover of liverpool's past. a lot of sport, quite a lot of religion. and we were taught by a fantastic cadre of mainly men who were all in their kind of 50s, some of who obviously, given the time, had kind of as young men had fought in the war. and it was a kind of dusty, incredibly enjoyable backwater, i have to say. i mean, it was fun at school. we had fun. did you have much to do
with kids at the other schools at comprehensives? we didn't have a huge amount, no. if the truth be told, no. i mean, i obviously i was at primary school nearby until i was 11 and then went to school there. but it was it was a strange atmosphere, really. i mean, you know, the college at that time benefited enormously from the assisted place scheme. so we had a lot of boys who came in from different backgrounds. it's quite a mixed school demographically. i think there are three of us in the house now who are from the school, me, jake berry and steve mcpartland. right. all conservatives. yeah, all conservatives. right. so you've got a kind of mixture there. i asked you about mixing with people comprehensives, because i think you're going to remember this letter, you wrote a rather rude letter about people who went to comprehensive schools. when you're a student at university. you had to go a fellow student, i guess, and you said his ill—phrased ponderous letter was obviously written by someone with a less than adequate education. open brackets, probably comprehensive close brackets. yeah. no, this letter i'm you know, talk about offence archaeology 3a years ago it basically at the time it was sort of a satirical letter designed to kind of wind up
the uni labour club. right. you know, newcastle university, where i went was a kind of hotbed of activism and we spent a lot of time winding each other up, you know, essentially. so it's a sort of that it has to be seen in that tone is a sort of idiotic letter written to poke fun at the labour club. and, you know, we're not dissimilar generations. you remember what it was like in the late �*80s at the time. i'm sure they wrote just as rude letters about us. yes. sadly, we haven't got those. but you did then compare conservatives, a party of highly educated, intelligent, intelligent professionals with experience in the real world, with people who went to a whole bunch of social misfits, i think at the labour party. well, i mean it was quite robust that. student politics then was quite red in tooth and claw and there was a lot of winding each other up. but you didn't go straight into politics.
i mean, you had a long career in local politics before you became a member of parliament. you were a businessman. chartered accountant, successful business, i think it's fair to say. well, it's still going so, which is quite something. i'm afraid of the cuttings all that came up were your failures. oh, is that right? oh yeah. so what i as an entrepreneur, you have to live with things that don't work and you're right top. as i think everybody there would admit. and so i resigned the day i qualified and decided hop was a essentially a domestic low—cost airline. i got very frustrated with the fact that our travel system, our network was very radial from london effectively. so if you wanted to go from norwich to liverpool, you had to go via london.
and that seemed crazy to me. we'd have a low cost aircraft carrying, you know, 90—odd passengers that would flit between these towns, hop between the towns of liverpool, norwich, liverpool, edinburgh, glasgow. you couldn't get direct trains. it didn't really work. and in the end, you know, i mean, the business didn't take off, forgive the pun. but the idea was there wasn't a single flight. no. well, i recruited a good management team from a from another airline that had been taken over. and we kind of ran it. we tried to raise money and get it going, but i'm afraid it didn't fly. has that actually been an advantage? in the united states people would boast about failed businesses, even bankruptcies. there's a sort of sense that you only succeed by failing and that most people advertise here is regarded somehow slightly embarrassing as you deal in a house of commons, which seems to me quite short of people who've set up and run their own businesses. a lot of lawyers, a lot ofjournalists, a lot of people who've been in education and all the rest of it, lots of people have been
permanent politicians. you're probably quite a rarity. i think i am. i think there are a few of us who've been involved in business, but not as many as as you might like. and certainly, you know, i'm not shy about my business failures. absolutely not, because i think you're totally right. i learnt a huge amount from them. and, you know, if you've got to keep trying and then you eventually succeed. i mean, one of the things about if you look at entrepreneurs, the most successful ones are the ones who have had, you know, misfires in their records and eventually get it right. and so i think that's absolutely right. and changing that culture to allow people to try and take risk recognising that you are taking a risk when you start businesses is critical. and also, to be honest with you, a reflection in the house of commons about business or a sense of the house of commons about business that it is actually bloody hard. it is really hard work to start a business. it's stressful, it's difficult, it takes time, sweat, money, you know, your whole family very
often put on the line, you know, and particularly when you're running your own business and can't rely on the paycheque coming in every month. that is a psychology that we have to grasp if we're going to help more people do more of that to build those businesses, that will bring the growth we need. and my sense is that that's fed into the way you've operated as a politician. you're at westminster council for a long time. i think you became deputy leader at one point. that council, people of a certain age will remember, has always had a reputation for bearing down on spending, for promoting value for money, not without controversy over the years. but did that experience in council shape your view of national politics now, which is to be more demanding about what you get for your money? you're absolutely right. it was a great lesson in what can be achieved and the trick we set ourselves under the late, great simon milton as as leader was to do, to pull off the impossible, which was to have the lowest council tax in the country and be top of the local government league tables, the blairite local government league tables. and we managed to do it for performance.
performance, right. and notjust performance on the stuff that's easy, but the hard stuff, like social care and social services, right? so westminster city council was top of the league table for things like children's services, really important risk—managing stuff. and that taught me an enormous lesson about financial rectitude and the ability to squeeze the maximum amount of value out of every pound. now, if i were the chief secretary to the treasury and i was listening to that, i think, tremendous, kit malthouse is exactly where i need him to be. he just said how important it is to cut taxes. he wants to cut spending too. he wants to get efficiencies. have you given up the idea that education secretary's job is to get a bigger education budget? well, no, because the one thing we do know about education
is that resources and capacity matter. it's not the be all and end all. you know, in the end, it's the teacher that stands in front of the class that is the most important influence on outcomes. but when you're looking at a pattern of spending across the whole of a, of an organisation, whether it's a council or a, you know, city hall or whether it's a government, you have to do it within a framework of priorities. we have to have a conversation with treasury colleagues about what we and what the prime minister want to achieve and then how we pay for it. now, i can't do my i'm not going to do my budget negotiations here on in. but the you know, a key part of our growth strategy is to to make sure that the young people that we're turning out have the skills and abilities and the future that they want everywhere across the whole of the united kingdom. everywhere is an interesting word, isn't it? because liz truss has talked about doing more to promote grammar schools which teach a tiny, tiny fraction of people in this country. even conservative governments have not allowed new grammar schools to be created.
they've had to go through hoops to say, we're creating an annexe, we're creating a branch. but you can't create new grammar schools. does kit malthouse, education secretary, want new grammar schools? well, the prime minister has made this pledge during the leadership election and she's very keen to see it through. and so we'll be doing a lot of work in this area to understand what it is parents want, because whatever the arguments are, there's a strong desire in some parts of the country for parents to have that choice that that's where they want to send their children. katherine burbalsingh was appointed by this government to be the social mobility tsar, says the problem with grammar schools now, she says, is there's an industry around preparing children to get into them. so if you don't have the cash or the wherewithal to prepare your child to get in, then you get left out. and there are plenty of conservatives who say, look,
this is a sort of misty—eyed nostalgia for a system that doesn't exist any more. well, that's why i say, nick, i think we have to have a conversation about what people actually want, what they're looking for when they say, i want a grammar school. is that about actually a school called a grammar is about a political ethos, a certain type of education. it sounds like you think the values of grammar schools you might be promoting, not necessarily new, new ones. generally, i don't ask people about their family, but i think it's legitimate. in this one case, your own children, do they go to ordinary state schools or private schools? so i generally don't talk about my family and they're not part of my political life. they don't appear in photos. i'm not part of that kind of thing. but my kids, all my kids have been to a mixture of both. and, you know, we make personal choices ourselves. at the beginning of this interview, i mentioned that you're the fifth education secretary in just over i think it's a week or two over a year. and i'm going to confess, when my producer told me this, i said, are you sure? and we just kept checking it back. i think you said a roller—coaster since you became an mp in 2015. well, that's a really good question. i mean, look, it's obviously
less than optimal. it's absolutely true. and in one of my previous jobs, i was housing ministerfor a year, and i think i was something like the 17th minister in 18 years. and so, you know that it is a problem. having said that, we had just had come through a period of longevity. so i was policing minister for three and a half years. which enabled me to embed and progress policies as well. look, we have these moments in our history where things become volatile. at root of today's instability is because the former prime minister was forced out by conservative ministers and conservative mps. borisjohnson, of course. you were his deputy for years as mayor of london.
could you see then both the qualities, yes, but also the problems that would dog him when he moved into downing street? no, i don't think so, nick, to be honest with you, i mean, i learnt at city hall that you know, that borisjohnson was a kind of very potent political force. extraordinary personality that the british people found attractive. and ifelt when he became prime minister that we would see that success that he'd had at city hall for eight years. you know, in a city which demographically people said we could never win. and then he won twice. and then similarly in a referendum, which they said would never win. and he was instrumental in that victory, too. so i had assumed that it would continue. but a combination of events meant that wasn't to be. i've spoken to people who say that you were a kind of gordon brown to his tony blair in city hall, doing all the work, getting not much of the glory and thinking, i could do thisjob better than he could. well, you know, iforget who it was.
there was an american politician who said there's no end to what you can achieve in politics if you're not interested in who gets the credit. of mission—focused person. i've never really been that interested in the celebrity side of politics. to me, it's about the mission. a final thought for you, then. given how keen you are on this project or mission as you describe it, do you share the worries that some have? that there are critics who are, to use the words of a telegraph columnist, alastair heath, trying to turn this into an erm mark two? that was the moment in whichjohn major's government was effectively destroyed politically in 1992 when the pound plummeted and interest rates went up. is that a fear you have politically? well, i don't share that fear. i'll have to read his column. i mean, one of the things i have to say, since i got involved in politics,
that has become a big influence, i think is social media. and it's increased the velocity of decision—making. it's increased the kind of sense of outrage out there. and i do worry that we get ourselves into a kind of psychological doom loop. i know from my point of view as a you know, a long time ago economics graduate, a business person, an accountant, all the rest of it, you know, 80% of economics is psychology. and if these, you know, it is possible to talk yourself into a problem. and i think we need now to talk positively and for people to understand the plan. but there is a kind of professional troll out there who's trying to steer things in a particular way. and we just need to calmly counteract that, point out with the plan is, recognise the worries and concerns of the british people as we have done on energy and then i think will be we'll steer a steady course. kit malthouse, thanks forjoining me on political thinking. that explanation of the arguments for liz truss and kwasi kwarteng's
economic approach was, i have to say, clearer than any that i've heard the argument that awfuljargon supply side was just about make it easier to create businesses and to do business and to create wealth. but his interview revealed something else that this cabinet took for granted that the conservatives would be trusted to make the books add up. and what we've learnt this week is they couldn't take it for granted at all. thanks for watching. hello. it was certainly a soggy start to sunday across some southern parts of england and wales, but that rain continues to clear its way southwards and eastwards, and we'lljoin the rest of the country with a fine afternoon with sunny spells. it was this weather system which was a little bit further south than we were expecting 2a hours ago. because of that, it clears away a little bit quicker, too, which means a brighter, drier afternoon for most. clearing away from the southeast corner by the time we get to lunchtime, maybe a few showers continuing across the channel islands through the afternoon, but away from that isolated showers mainly
to the north and west of scotland. but overall, fewer showers than yesterday and temperatures up a little bit. and that's because we'll have lighter winds than yesterday, especially for england and wales. still a keen breeze across parts of the north and west of scotland, that will keep temperatures up here through the night, as it will do in northern ireland as the breeze picks up. but away from that, across england and wales, particularly southeast scotland, a few mist and fog patches forming with clear skies. a bit more cloud pushing in from the west later, but that won't stop the temperatures from dropping too much. this is how we look in the towns and cities to start your monday morning commute. the mildest weather, cloudiest, breeziest weather is towards the west of scotland and northern ireland, but in some rural parts of england and wales we could see temperatures around two or three degrees. that's low enough for a touch of frost on the grass and the cars. so it's that ridge of high pressure which keeps things dry to begin with with light winds. but as these weather fronts push into the north we will see some cloud run ahead of it. so not quite as sunny as it will be for some of you this afternoon, but there'll still be some spells of hazy sunshine around. isolated chance of a shower in cumbria, maybe across devon, cornwall and dorset. but rain will come and go north and
west of scotland, turning heavier through the afternoon. same, too, across parts of northern ireland where it'll become more extensive later in the day. it's a southerly wind, so temperatures will be on the milder side for this stage in october and a mild night to come then through the night and into tuesday, weatherfronts pushing their way southwards. a wet start across parts of scotland, northern ireland, but basically two batches of rain working their way into england and wales through the day and gradually fizzling. brightening up through scotland, northern ireland on tuesday. after that wet start. east anglia, the south east could stay dry throughout with temperatures around 20 or 21 degrees, but that area extends back into another system, which will bring more widespread wind and rain on wednesday. and the end of the week looks fairly blustery and it's back to a mix of sunshine and showers. see you soon.
this is bbc news, i'm luxmy gopal, and these are the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. one of the world's worst stadium disasters: at least 174 people have died in a stampede at an indonesian football match after police tear—gassed pitch invaders. translation: i regret this tragedy, i and i hope this is the last tragedy l to occur in indonesian football. we cannot have any more in the future. sportsmanship, humanity and brotherhood in the nation should be upheld together. britain's prime minister admits to the bbc that she should have laid the ground better for announcements that sparked chaos on the financial markets. i do stand by the package we announced, and i stand by the fact that we announced it quickly because we had to act. but i do accept we should have