BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: Programmes: Breakfast with Frost  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
 Breakfast with Frost
Welsh Secretary Peter Hain.
Welsh Secretary Peter Hain.
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW:
PETER HAIN, MP WELSH SECRETARY
JANUARY 5TH, 2003

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST:
I don't know whether I'm just a traditionalist but I think I prefer the old fashioned version of eternal life rather than this one - do you want to live forever Peter?

PETER HAIN:
What a great idea, but I don't think that's possible David, is it. Not even for a Chelsea fan.

DAVID FROST:
Not even for a Chelsea fan. Chelsea will live forever though.

PETER HAIN:
Of course.

DAVID FROST:
Or almost as long as Arsenal. Talking of sport - and let me say to those who don't realise it that this is the one and only Peter Hain, Welsh Secretary - but talking of sport, which of course you were associated with back in 1970 cricket, what do you think should happen, what should the ICC, ECB, what should English cricket do about playing in Zimbabwe?

PETER HAIN:
Well I was asked by the Independent on Sunday to write a piece, which I've done this morning, setting out my views, and I don't think that the English cricketers should go. If they did, and if the World Cup goes ahead in Harare and Bulawayo, it will be exploited and milked mercilessly by Robert Mugabe and his odious regime while people starve outside, young black cricketers are not even being fed, we don't know whether journalists will be able to cover the tour, the World Cup properly, or whether they may fall foul of the rigid laws there restricting the press, and we don't know whether there'll be protests. It's quite possible that the anger on the street, the desperation, because people are starving, seven million of them, might erupt against the whole World Cup - I wouldn't be surprised.

DAVID FROST:
But what about the people at the ICC and ECB who say around four hundred British firms are still doing business in Zimbabwe, why are they picking on us, why is the government picking on us, why didn't it tell them to get out?

PETER HAIN:
Well there are two issues. We're not telling the cricket authorities to do anything, we're saying this is our view, that it's morally wrong to play and give Mugabe and his tyranny a propaganda victory, which is what will happen. But it's their decision and they have to take those decisions, like we all do, and the idea that cricketers, or cricket officials, are absolved from moral decisions, simply seems to me to be wrong. We all have to take moral decisions in the jobs that we do.

DAVID FROST:
Robin Kempster, who was writing to The Times, said "it seems odd that a government which can order troops into battle at a moment's notice, is powerless to stop the England cricket team from playing in Zimbabwe."

PETER HAIN:
It's a question of what is the right thing to do. If we had simply instructed the English cricket authorities not to go, Nasser Hussain and his colleagues not to go, I think people would have said look, this is not the government's job. It's the job of the whole of the international cricket community in this case, because this is an internationally organised World Cup, to say look we do not think that it would be right to proceed in these circumstances, the people of Zimbabwe don't want us, Zimbabwean cricketers even are reported in this morning's Observer to be opposed to the World Cup going ahead, the opposition, their leader Morgan Tsvanigirai has called for the World Cup to be switched to South Africa, which I think should happen - it reminds me a bit of the opposition inside South Africa when we organised the sports tours 30 years ago, we supported their objective of cutting sports links. We should back the people of Zimbabwe and the opposition there, who are saying this World Cup should not go ahead because it will be milked mercilessly by Mugabe for his own ends.

DAVID FROST:
But what about the cricket people who say this could cost them millions - would they get compensated by anybody?

PETER HAIN:
There's no question of government compensation. But if the World Cup was switched to South Africa, which I believe it should be, or the Zimbabwe matches switched there, then of course no compensation would arise. So I think this comes down the issue of an international question. I don't think it's a question of British, Britain making a decision on its own, or the Australian government on its own, it's a question of all of the Commonwealth countries, because cricket is a Commonwealth sport essentially, saying look, we do not think in a country where there's no freedom, where people are being starved deliberately if they don't support the government, where the whole of the economy and the society is being wrecked by this tyrant Mugabe, we don't think we should hand him a propaganda victory any more than we should have handed Hitler in 1936 a propaganda victory which he got by staging the Berlin Olympics as he did then.

DAVID FROST:
And what about in terms of the subject of Europe. If the verdict on June 7th was we're not quite there yet, we can't quite make the, make the move, we can't quite say that all five conditions are met, could there be another test in this parliament? Could they look at it again, the Treasury?

PETER HAIN:
Let's just wait and see what this economic assessment comes out and then we'll decide where we go. So why are we doing this? We believe Britain should be in the euro - that's a political decision we've got endorsed in two successive general elections. But it has to be done in the right circumstances. If you recall when the Tories took us into the Exchange Rate Mechanism, which was a kind of dress rehearsal for the euro back in 1980, it was a back of an envelope decision announced on a Friday afternoon and it was disastrous. Now we don't think this decision should be taken lightly, that's why the Chancellor's conducting this rigorous economic assessment, and I think people respect that because they will want it to be a very cautious ...

DAVID FROST:
... to me Peter though, this, Gordon Brown and the Treasury are doing this assessment. They come up with the assessment, they say, let's say they say no, and Tony Blair and most of the Cabinet don't agree. Does Gordon Brown's word act as a sole, absolute veto that the Prime Minister cannot and dare not dispute?

PETER HAIN:
Let's just look at the sequence. The Treasury under Gordon Brown has conducted this economic assessment -

DAVID FROST:
Yes or no to that?

PETER HAIN:
Well the results of that assessment will go to the Prime Minister and a recommendation come from the Prime Minister and the Chancellor to the Cabinet as to whether we proceed to call a referendum if the economic tests justify it or not. And in the end this is about jobs, prosperity, convergence, all of these things, and we have to get it right. We're determined to get it right. We don't think, I don't believe, I never have believed, we should rush in madly, like for example Michael Heseltine and Charles Kennedy have said. Nor that we should rule it out for ever, as Iain Duncan Smith has said. Both of those positions are no sense positions. The commonsense position is to say, yes we ought to be in the single currency in the future but we've got to do it in a careful, cautious practical fashion.

DAVID FROST:
Does Gordon Brown have an absolute veto?

PETER HAIN:
Nobody has a veto in the Cabinet. The Prime Minister heads the Cabinet but clearly -

DAVID FROST:
So the Prime Minister could over-rule on that?

PETER HAIN:
Well, as I've said, it will be Gordon Brown's

DAVID FROST: Or will they sort it out ...

PETER HAIN:
It will be Gordon Brown's economic assessment discussed with the Prime Minister which is then the source of a recommendation to the Cabinet. I think that's pretty straightforward isn't it?

DAVID FROST:
A lot of people, a lot of people here say that from your interview today, where you're saying that time is not the issue, except it can't be postponed for ever, the issue is the practical economic consequences and so on, and this is really a year ago he raised the possibility of an early assessment of the economic tests and pointed out the introduction of ... would reduce people's aversion to it and so on. And the Sunday Times, from all of those words, detect that you are less confident about it and less keen on it now than you were a year ago, is that true?

PETER HAIN:
Well what I've found David, as Europe minister for nearly 18 months, is you can say exactly the same things but because you've put words in a different order in response to a different question, the policy changes. Well the policy has remained the same, we want to be in the euro but only under circumstances which are economically right and that's why this assessment will be very hard evidence. Nothing that I've said to the Sunday Times this morning changes that.

DAVID FROST:
And what about Wales? There you are in Wales and Welsh policies are much more socialist, as it were, than London policies. You've got things like no foundation hospitals, student grants, no end to comprehensives for us in Wales says Rhodri. No league tables, all of that. It must be rather odd you are now, you are new Labour in London but you have to be old Labour when you're in Wales?

PETER HAIN:
I'm not sure those labels really describe the reality but devolution, why I felt so passionately that Wales should have its own national assembly and I'm proud to have helped achieve it, is that devolution means you did things differently and Wales is different. Wales has much stronger communities going back to the mining tradition that I represent, for example, in my constituency in Neath. There is a much more socialist solidarity, a culture, and therefore the assembly is approaching these issues in a different way. So I think it's right that the assembly should be able to take a different decision on how we proceed to implement health policy or schools policy or environmental policy, that's what devolution is about and I support Rhodri Morgan and the Labour group there in that objective.

DAVID FROST:
And clear red water, they talk about, between Wales and the government in London. Are you swimming in clear red water?

PETER HAIN:
I'm - I'm supporting the right of the assembly and of Rhodri Morgan to have a different approach, which after all is what the Prime Minister supported when he pushed through devolution in the first year of our Labour government, a constitutional revolution. The same in Scotland - Scotland is doing different things. We, for example, have free bus passes in Wales for all pensioners - you'd be able to get one very soon there David - to travel free across Wales.

DAVID FROST:
I look forward to it.

PETER HAIN:
And student grants to help deal with the problem of low income families going in to universities and so on. So things are being done differently in Wales and we can all look and decide whether the English model is better for England or whether things are being done better in Wales. I'm proud to be in Wales at the moment, I think it's a really go ahead place, winning football matches, for example, under Mark Hughes, a Chelsea striker. There's broadband is going into the south of Wales more than anywhere else in Europe, to give us a telecommunications lead, it's a really go ahead place.

DAVID FROST:
And they're talking about you as the next Labour prime minister but one.

PETER HAIN:
Well, ask me a serious question David. I'm just very pleased to be in the Cabinet and proud to be representing Wales, any Welsh MP would be, and to represent the government on the future of Europe convention and so long as the Prime Minister wants me to do those jobs I'll be very pleased to do that.

DAVID FROST:
Thank you very much indeed Peter for being with us this morning.

INTERVIEW ENDS

 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Breakfast with Frost stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes