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Page last updated at 11:22 GMT, Sunday, 10 July 2011 12:22 UK

Transcript of Ed Miliband interview

PLEASE NOTE "THE ANDREW MARR SHOW" MUST BE CREDITED IF ANY PART OF THIS TRANSCRIPT IS USED

Andrew Marr interviewed Labour Leader Ed Miliband on Sunday July 10th 2011.

ANDREW MARR:

The Labour Leader has taken up the phone hacking story with gusto, calling for the resignation of the News International Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks, insisting on a judicial inquiry to get going right away, and now demanding that Rupert Murdoch's ambitions to take over BSkyB should be stalled. He's going to be meeting the Prime Minister face to face this week, so what more needs to happen? Ed Miliband is with me now. Welcome.

ED MILIBAND:

Hello.

ANDREW MARR:

What will you be asking the Prime Minister to do that he hasn't done so far when you have that meeting?

ED MILIBAND:

Well I think there are a range of things that he needs to do. I think the first and most pressing is that he needs to make clear that the BSkyB bid - the bid to take over BskyB, 100% ownership - can't go ahead until after the criminal investigation is complete. And I'll perhaps explain why that is in a moment. He also needs to explain the nature of the judge led inquiry and show that it's going to cover all of the major issues because I'm starting to get concerned that it won't do that. And I also think he's got to answer some questions about his own relationship with Andy Coulson, the error of judgement he made in hiring Andy Coulson, and also what he knew about Mr Coulson's activities. Because I think, Andrew, we've seen a massive change this week and I think the public won't accept anything less than the leadership that is necessary from the Prime Minister and the response to the real sense of outrage the public have felt about the revelations around Milly Dowler and all of those issues.

ANDREW MARR:

Well let's go through these in order then. First of all the business of you've got a motion down in the House of Commons next week to delay any takeover of the BSkyB. That will depend upon you being able to win over Liberal Democrat and perhaps Conservative MPs to that point of view. Is this a motion that you're putting down just for political effect or is this a motion you could win?

ED MILIBAND:

Well I hope we can win, and let me explain why. We've always thought that the BSkyB bid should be referred to the Competition Commission, the regulatory authority. The government chose a different course. They've chosen a course which relies on assurances from the News Corporation about what they will do and their behaviour in the future. Now I have to say after this week, I don't believe it's right and I don't believe the public will accept a position whereby this bid is waved through over the coming months, even if it is in September, on the basis of assurances from News Corporation. That's why we're saying this bid cannot be completed, cannot … the process cannot be completed by Jeremy Hunt until after this criminal investigation is complete.

ANDREW MARR:

And is that because of the fit and proper person clause?

ED MILIBAND:

It's two reasons. It's first of all because you, after all, we've seen the Head of the Press Complaints Commission this week say she was lied to by the News Corporation, and we're expected to believe from Jeremy Hunt that he can go ahead with this process, this takeover of BSkyB on the basis of assurances from the News Corporation. Now I don't think that's acceptable. And I also believe that Ofcom must have a chance when this criminal investigation is complete to consider the fit and proper person test. And I hope and I say this to the Prime Minister candidly, over the next 72 hours I hope he changes his position on this because I don't want to have to force this to a vote in the House of Commons. But I think he's got to understand that when the public have seen the disgusting revelations that we've seen this week, the idea that this organisation which engaged in these terrible practices should be allowed to take over BSkyB, to get that 100% stake without the criminal investigation having been completed and on the basis of assurances from that self same organisation, frankly that just won't wash with the public.

ANDREW MARR:

Chris Huhne mentioned other newspapers as well. Is that a concern of yours? Do you think this may have spread beyond one newspaper?

ED MILIBAND:

Well I think that the judge led inquiry needs to look at the culture and practices throughout the industry.

ANDREW MARR:

So that's what you were saying when you said it's not going to spread wide enough. They should be looking at other newspaper groups, other newspapers?

ED MILIBAND:

I think it does need to … You see in the announcement the Prime Minister made on Friday, he said that the issue of the culture and practice of the industry would be looked at separately, not in a judge led inquiry. I think it's very important that that inquiry is judge led, that it looks at all of those issues, that it begins immediately. And also - just an important point - it looks at the relationship between the police and the newspapers because that is another …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) Clearly …

ED MILIBAND:

… important factor on this. But I do say, just to finish on BSkyB, I do really honestly say to the Prime Minister that I don't think he can carry on with business as usual in the way that he has been doing. I do think he's got to understand where the public is. And I think it's right if he doesn't, if he doesn't do so, the House of Commons gets to express its way.

ANDREW MARR:

Quite a lot of the newspaper commentators today suggest that in taking on Rupert Murdoch and ending what has been a long Labour tradition of trying to get alongside Rupert Murdoch and News International - your former boss Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister Tony Blair absolutely at it - you have taken on something you don't quite understand; that you are going to be pursued for the rest of your time as Labour Leader by this newspaper group and that you've already been warned in fact, warned off doing this.

ED MILIBAND:

I've tried to do the right thing.

ANDREW MARR:

Have you been warned off doing it by colleagues and by …?

ED MILIBAND:

I don't think that people at News International are very happy about what I've been saying this week, but what I've tried to do …

ANDREW MARR:

I'm sorry, can I ask you have they actually warned you not to do it?

ED MILIBAND:

Well I think you know they obviously, we obviously speak to them. I think they were not very keen for me to say what I said about Rebekah Brooks and about other things, but that's not so much the issue. What I'm trying to do this week, what I'm trying to do and I think what all of us must try and do is recognise the way the world has changed because the world has changed this week. And this sense of, and this sense of … I just want to pause on this point about the public because they're the boss in this. And the public have … I think the public have been ahead of the politicians on this point, and I think this week has crystallised what the public have been feeling - this sense of what has happened to morality in parts of our newspaper industry; what has happened to the sense of right and wrong among people who could hack the phones of the families of dead … of soldiers who fell in Iraq or Afghanistan? And you know therefore we have to in this moment, we have to in this moment understand where the public is and we have to respond in a calm and level-headed way, but in a way that speaks to the gravity of the moment.

ANDREW MARR:

Sure. Well in this moment are you able to say that the relationship between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and News International and other newspaper proprietors was unhealthily close?

ED MILIBAND:

It was too close.

ANDREW MARR:

It was too close and it was wrong?

ED MILIBAND:

It was too close. And it was too close in the following respect. That we didn't speak out enough on some of the major issues which people are now talking about, like the issue of press regulation, for example. I'm in favour of self-regulation, so the press not being told what to do and told how to regulate by politicians, but the current system doesn't work. We should have spoken out earlier about those questions. And you know, look you've got to understand the context of this. Politicians want to win elections, politicians want newspapers to support … to support them.

ANDREW MARR:

(over) And if I may say so, you yourself went to the Rupert Murdoch party …

ED MILIBAND:

(over) I did, I did.

ANDREW MARR:

… didn't raise any of this with them, I don't think.

ED MILIBAND:

And I should have done, and I should have done. And let me just explain why I didn't. Because …

ANDREW MARR:

Well we all understand why: because he's so powerful.

ED MILIBAND:

Well indeed because you're making a judgement about how you win support and also about what you can and can't do. But I think that has changed. I mean I did speak out in favour of an inquiry into these practices a couple of months back, but I accept my responsibility. I accept that I should have spoken out earlier. I think the question though now is how do we make sure that we, as I say, speak to this moment and the feelings of the public about this because I've been struck as I've talked to people over the last few days the sense of revulsion that the public have felt, and actually the fact that they've felt this for some time.

ANDREW MARR:

And you're prepared, you're prepared to say that the way that previous Labour leaders courted News International - you know they went … - it was wrong and it was unhealthy?

ED MILIBAND:

Well I'm not blaming them for it because you know in 1992, as people may remember, we lost an election when one of our leaders …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) But …

ED MILIBAND:

… Neil Kinnock …

ANDREW MARR:

Sure.

ED MILIBAND:

… you know was dealt with very badly by organisations like the Sun. So it's understandable. But Tony Blair himself said in his last speech as Prime Minister on the issue of the press that the relationship was too close …

ANDREW MARR:

Feral beasts and all of that.

ED MILIBAND:

Yeah and he was …

ANDREW MARR:

Okay …

ED MILIBAND:

… and he was right to say that and you know … (AM tries to interject) But let me just finish. I just want to make this one point, which is I'm not saying that contacts between myself and journalists, proprietors are going to stop because that would be naïve and you know politicians are going to continue to make those contacts. But what they mustn't do, just like we mustn't have a press that doesn't speak out against politicians, so we mustn't have politicians that aren't willing to speak out against sections of the press when they do wrong, when they do wrong by the public.

ANDREW MARR:

Well let me come to press regulation because a lot of journalists, a lot of very fine journalists of very good newspapers are extremely worried that what's now going to happen on the back of this is the political class is going to get together and put in a new system of rules and regulations effectively intending to muzzle the press - you know to remove some of the uncomfortable things that the press does, and I know all about that - but that what we pay for is the price of a free society and a free press?

ED MILIBAND:

No, I don't think that's going to … Well I'm not seeking for that to happen and that's why we need a level-headed response to this. What I talked about on Friday …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) So what is the nature of the new body that you want to see?

ED MILIBAND:

(over) Well let me explain. You currently have the Press Complaints Commission. Most of the people on it I think are editors, current editors. It doesn't have powers to investigate really, so that's why it says it was lied to and couldn't do anything about it by News International. It doesn't have the power to demand corrections in a prominent position. So, for example, if someone says something that's wrong on page one, the correction gets buried on page 23.

ANDREW MARR:

Could I just stop you there?

ED MILIBAND:

Yeah.

ANDREW MARR:

Would it therefore be acceptable for the PCC to be reformed and improved and given new teeth and allowed to carry on?

ED MILIBAND:

Well I don't think the PCC can do that because I don't think it can command public confidence, so I think it needs to be a new body. But let me tell you why my instincts are for self-reg…

ANDREW MARR:

(over) But standing well aside from the political class?

ED MILIBAND:

Yes, my instincts are for self-regulation because we prize a free press in this country. Indeed we look to other countries, including democracies who …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) So a new self-regulatory body with tougher powers is what you'd like to see?

ED MILIBAND:

That would be my preference.

ANDREW MARR:

Now you've been very critical of the Prime Minister in hiring Andy Coulson and it's been said that that was to produce a sort of conduit to News International. Can you remind us where your own Press Secretary used to work before he worked for you?

ED MILIBAND:

I have two people working for me, or a number of people working for me.

ANDREW MARR:

(over) Your senior bod.

ED MILIBAND:

(over) One who's worked for the Daily Mirror and one who used to work for the Times newspaper. And I have other people who work from other different backgrounds.

ANDREW MARR:

(over) So your Director of Communications also used to work for Rupert Murdoch?

ED MILIBAND:

Yeah, but … Well let me just …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) Because a lot of people say it's the same old, same old.

ED MILIBAND:

(over) Sure. Well let me go straight to this point because people are trying to make a comparison between Andy Coulson, who resigned from the News of the World over phone hacking - of the Royal Family as it happens - and Tom Baldwin who works for me. Frankly this is ridiculous. Let me just explain why. Tom Baldwin was engaged on the Times newspaper, including in an investigation of Michael Ashcroft about whom there was massive public interest …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) But he used somebody to go into Michael Ashcroft's bank account.

ED MILIBAND:

That's untrue, Andrew.

ANDREW MARR:

Are you sure about that?

ED MILIBAND:

That is untrue. Yes, it is untrue.

ANDREW MARR:

So there was no …

ED MILIBAND:

And just let me be very …

ANDREW MARR:

Because Lord Ashcroft is very clear that his bank account - and he's explained all the details of it - was blagged into …

ED MILIBAND:

Well Lord Ashcroft is saying …

ANDREW MARR:

… by somebody working for Tom Baldwin.

ED MILIBAND:

Well Lord Ashcroft is saying that Tom Baldwin hired a private investigator to perform illegal activities. Tom Baldwin absolutely denies this. And I have to say …

ANDREW MARR:

And you've asked all the right questions as David Cameron didn't of Andy Coulson?

ED MILIBAND:

Yes I have, yes I have. And I have to say that this is pretty desperate stuff. It's pretty desperate stuff because the Prime Minister must answer the real questions at the heart of this affair - about his error of judgment in hiring Andy Coulson and also the mounting evidence there now is about the warnings that were given to him before he brought Andy Coulson into the heart of the Downing Street machine. Warnings from the Guardian newspaper with evidence that there was a convicted criminal that had been hired by Andy Coulson, someone who paid the police on behalf of newspapers; warnings from Lord Ashdown; warnings I felt from Chris Huhne and Nick Clegg. And the Prime Minister's got to come clean on this affair if he is going to lead the change we need in relation to our press.

ANDREW MARR:

You've declared war on Rupert Murdoch, haven't you?

ED MILIBAND:

No I haven't. This is not about a war with one proprietor. This is about saying that when the press … that a free press is incredibly important, a fearless press is incredibly important; but when the press does wrong by the British people, it is the duty of politicians to stand up and say that. And that is what I have tried to do and it's not about one particular proprietor.

ANDREW MARR:

I asked you earlier on what you wanted from the Prime Minister. When Rupert Murdoch gets off his plane relatively shortly, what should he do?

ED MILIBAND:

Oh well I mean the first thing he should do is he should drop the bid for BSkyB because he should recognise that with the cloud hanging over his organisation, it's not possible, I don't think, for this bid to go ahead at the current time. And the second thing he should do is show some responsibility in relation to his organisation because I think it beggars belief …

ANDREW MARR:

What does that mean in practice?

ED MILIBAND:

Well it beggars belief that Rebekah Brooks is still in her post. I mean Rebekah Brooks was the editor at the time that Milly Dowler's phone was hacked. That was a terrible thing that happened - a deletion of messages causing further grief to her parents, giving them false hope that she was alive - and the least he should do is say that Rebekah Brooks cannot continue. I mean the idea that she's still in post, as I say I don't think the public can understand how that can possibly be the case.

ANDREW MARR:

This huge story has blown away a lot of other stories. One of the stories it's blown away has been what looks like an almost coordinated series of criticisms of you by Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson, both saying - if you strip aside all the jargon - basically that you're too far to the left …

ED MILIBAND:

(over) I hadn't noticed that.

ANDREW MARR:

… and you can't win an election.

ED MILIBAND:

I hadn't noticed that. Look, I …

ANDREW MARR:

Oh come on! I mean he told the Progress Rally that New Labour effectively died when Gordon Brown took over and that you can only win elections absolutely plum centre, and then you suggested that you were too far to the left.

ED MILIBAND:

(over) Well, look, Tony Blair is entitled to his view. I've had conversations in private, which have been good conversations with Tony Blair. But let me just say this. It all depends where you think the centre ground is. I am absolutely a leader placing my party firmly in the centre ground, but there's a new centre ground in our politics. The new centre ground for example that means you speak out on these issues of press responsibility; a new centre ground that says that responsibility in the banking system - which we didn't talk about enough when we were in government - is relevant; a new centre ground that says people are worried about concentrations of private power in this country when it leads to abuses. And that's the new centre ground. So there was a centre ground that Tony Blair was occupying when he was the Leader of the Labour Party, but one of the things you've got to do in politics is yes you've got to run from the centre, you've got to understand …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) So he's out of date is what you're saying effectively?

ED MILIBAND:

I'm not saying that. I'm saying that I'm leading the Labour Party speaking to the concerns of the country, and that is what matters and that's what I'm going to carry on doing.

ANDREW MARR:

You've got quite an important rule change through the Labour Party to give you more power to decide who's in your shadow cabinet. Are you going to use that power fairly briskly? Are you going to reshape your shadow cabinet?

ED MILIBAND:

I'm not going to imminently reshuffle my shadow cabinet. But let me just say this. The reason I did that was that I believe it's very important that our party speaks outwards to the country and doesn't look inwards, and you know this has been obviously clear this week but it's got to be true every week of our time in opposition. We're trying to do something very difficult, Andrew - to be a one-term opposition. We've got no time for self-indulgence, we've got no time for looking inwards. And I came to the view that shadow cabinet elections, all of that jockeying for position was the wrong thing for our party …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) It was a distraction?

ED MILIBAND:

… and a distraction.

ANDREW MARR:

By the time of party conference, will you have a new team, a new focus?

ED MILIBAND:

I'm not getting … Tempting as it is to get into that on your programme, I'm not going to get into that.

ANDREW MARR:

But it would of course allow you to bring your brother back, wouldn't it?

ED MILIBAND:

Well, look, he's a very talented person, but you know he's made his position clear in relation to the shadow cabinet. I'm not saying you'll be the first to know when that changes, but we'll see what happens.

ANDREW MARR:

Yeah. The general criticism however - that you know your leadership needs a bit of new dynamism, needs a bit of tougher direction - is one that you would accept perhaps?

ED MILIBAND:

No, it isn't. I've been very clear about the direction I'm taking this party in. I'm speaking to the concerns of the country in a way I think that other politicians aren't speaking to them at the moment, other parties - the squeeze on people's living standards, which is a massive issue and remains a massive issue; people's worry about the next generation in Britain and what's happening to them, and the need for responsibility: responsibility yes in the benefits system, but responsibility yes also in our boardrooms as well.

ANDREW MARR:

A busy week ahead. Thank you very much indeed, Ed Miliband.

ED MILIBAND:

Thank you.

INTERVIEW ENDS




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