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U.K. Election Race; Economy a Top Issue for U.K. Voters; Comedian Rory Bremner Talks British Politics; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired April 30, 2015 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) it is still undecided. The smaller fringe parties are taking center stage and I talked
to leader of the Greens, Natalie Bennett.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NATALIE BENNETT, GREEN PARTY (voice-over): What we need to do is fight hunger, disease, support democracy, support human rights around the
world. And all of those things, as well as tackling climate change, will be what give us a far more secure, safer world, a better world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Also ahead, Labour's Tessa Jowell, hoping to become the first female mayor of London --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TESSA JOWELL, LABOUR PARTY: She said, well, you know, I think when you look at these challenges, you just have to think no guts, no glory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.
Desperate times call for desperate measures and that's certainly true right here in Britain in one of the most consequential elections ever for
Britain's fate as a United Kingdom in Europe with a strong economy. And with all polls showing no one party will win an outright majority on May
7th, the leaders are throwing out a whole raft of last-minute policies, gimmicks and (INAUDIBLE) as a new poll found today, a whopping 40 percent
of voters in the U.K. here still (INAUDIBLE) which way to cast their ballots.
Historically, two dominant parties, Labour and the Conservatives, have ruled Westminster. But this year the smaller fringe parties will hold the
keys to any new government in coalition or voting deals.
One of them is the Green Party and its leader, Natalie Bennett, joined me here today.
AMANPOUR: Natalie Bennett, welcome to the program.
BENNETT: It's great to be here.
AMANPOUR: So you are practically the only one talking about the climate in the debates. You are the Green Party and you've just in your
manifesto outlined this very ambitious target --
AMANPOUR: -- on the cards.
How realistic is it or are you just trying to make a real stand?
BENNETT: Well, I think this is absolutely realistic and it's like all of our other policies. We're talking about really mammoth change, a
transformation in terms of the British economy. And we need that because actually the way our economy's working, our society's working and the way
we're treating environment, it cannot continue as (INAUDIBLE) --
BENNETT: -- five years. And that would lift $2 million households at least out of sheer poverty. That would create 100,000 jobs and it would
cut our carbon emissions. We really need to make these kinds of changes.
AMANPOUR: It's clear that --
AMANPOUR: -- have said the risk, with what you've laid out, is going too fast, too far; it's simply not going to work. It's --
BENNETT: (INAUDIBLE) inaction. And that's what we've seen over the past five years with what was proclaimed when it came in as our greenest
government ever. It's now become a sad, sick joke.
And if you look at what's happening around the rest of the world, China, nearly half of the new electricity generation in China last year was
The U.S., Germany, they're all racing ahead. And if you look at this European League table, the amount of energy from renewables, and Britain,
in this league of about 25 countries, Britain can proclaim that it's ahead of Malta (INAUDIBLE).
AMANPOUR: I know that everybody's quite excited about this, but there are just burst that balloon just a little bit because the Ashcroft poll and
others have in a way you had a sort of a peak of popularity in January at about 11 percent. You're (INAUDIBLE).
(INAUDIBLE) the kingmakers.
What is it that you think your party can do? Who and what party would you go into, some kind of alliance or deal or whatever?
BENNETT: What we're looking to do is elect a stronger (INAUDIBLE) peace. And of course for tax continuity, a European deal is in particular
who'll be rather bemused by Britain's rather archaic first parcel post electoral system. We're thinking to win seats around the country. We're
looking at very likely no party and I don't know where in any overall control. We will not support a Tory government, a Conservative government
in any way at all. We would do everything possible to stop that happening.
And in terms of the Labour minority administration, we'd be prepared to support them on a vote-by-vote basis, very much looking to ensure that
we're fighting against the failed policy of austerity, the slashing of government spending that's hit the poor and the disadvantaged particularly
AMANPOUR: Your party, yourself, you want to stay in Europe. And yet you've backed the idea of a referendum, which most people in Europe can't
even believe. UKIP, the very far right party, that's the driver for the referendum.
Why are you doing this?
Labour's not doing it.
BENNETT: Because we believe in democracy. We trust the people. You have to actually be aged in your late 50s to have had a chance to vote
previously on Europe. Yet we believe in the people, just as we're calling for people's constitutional conviction to wipe out that first parcel post
failed electoral system --
AMANPOUR: -- the age group that has to vote?
BENNETT: Well, I think what we need to do is open our whole democracy up much more to the people. People are really frustrated with politics for
like they can't have their say at the moment. We need to engage people back into politics. And giving them their say is an important part of
AMANPOUR: What about Britain's place in the world? I mean, Britain is proud of its place in the world and it's often been called the country
that's punched above its weight.
Now it's being accused of punching below its weight and allies like the United States are concerned; where is Britain in some of these major
international affairs? And what if Trident is scrapped? What if the nuclear deterrent is scrapped? That's what makes Britain the world power
that it is. That's what gives Britain its seat at the Security Council and that's what protects many other non-nuclear states.
Why do you want to get rid of Trident?
BENNETT: Well, these are hideous weapons --
AMANPOUR: They are. Everybody knows that.
BENNETT: -- destruction. We're coming up to a decision point around about 2016. We'll have to decide whether to replace Trident. This is a
great opportunity to live up to our obligations under the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty.
AMANPOUR: I just want to know whether you worry that it weakens Britain as a power and as a country that has actually protected other
BENNETT: Well, I think what's done a lot of damage to Britain's position in the world is military adventurism, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya.
We've done a lot of damage in the world. And I want Britain as the world's sixth richest economy to have a real place in the world. We should have a
place in the world that's supporting international law, U.N. peacekeeping, human rights. What we want to do is boost our diplomatic corps; we want to
lift our aid to 1 percent of GDP, currently it's 0.7 percent of GDP, and to make us more secure.
What we need to do is fight hunger, disease, support democracy, support human rights around the world. And all of those things, as well as
tackling climate change, will be what give us a far more secure, safer world, a better world.
AMANPOUR: I want to talk about being a woman leader. You are a female leader of the -- your party, the debate, the first one when all
seven of you were there were noticeable for three female leaders being there.
Do you think it is time to do something other than natural selection to allow women to have more say in politics?
For instance, it's been said that somebody born today, a woman born today who might like to see equality in (INAUDIBLE) --
BENNETT: (INAUDIBLE) Green Party has the highest percentage of female candidates. We're aiming for 15 percent. We've still only got 38. It's
something that really needs to be worked on. We need to set targets. We need to really push for this.
And I'm very proud that I'm the first female leader to have taken over from another female leader of a British political party in British history.
But that we had to get to 2012 to reach that point I'm afraid is very sadly telling.
AMANPOUR: Natalie Bennett, thank you very much, leader of the Green Party.
AMANPOUR: Now the former Labour Party minister, Tessa Jowell, is one of those female leaders. And she's planning to run for London mayor next
year. She would be the first woman in that office if she wins. Jowell shepherded through London's successful 2012 Olympic Games as Cultural
Secretary and Olympics Minister. And now she's out campaigning for her Labour Party to beat the incumbent Tories.
And in between stops, she joined me here to talk about the fringe parties and the very steep price they might demand for backing a
AMANPOUR: Tessa Jowell, welcome to the program.
JOWELL: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: -- business leaders who say that actually Ed Miliband is not going to be great for the economy. He risks derailing the strength of
this economy, which the IMF has said is the strongest growing right now in Europe.
JOWELL: Well, I think there's the sense that history is repeating itself because I remember before we came into government, way back in 1997,
and we said we were going to introduce a national minimum wage. Driven by the same motive as getting rid of zero-hours (ph) contract that this is
something that impacts low pay, insecurity, impacts on the poorest and the most vulnerable in the workforce. And --
AMANPOUR: -- may make unemployment worse.
JOWELL: -- but Christiane, in 1997, businesses up in arms, saying this would cost thousands and thousands of jobs. That didn't transpire in
practice. So all this rests on the implementation.
AMANPOUR: People are worried about the SNP, that that also would inexorably move the country left.
Are you not worried about that?
Do you believe that (INAUDIBLE)?
JOWELL: I'm not worried about it. And I don't think -- in a lot of this, Christiane, and this is -- we are in a general election campaign and
the right wing media have basically waged war on Ed Miliband --
AMANPOUR: But Nicola Sturgeon has said very, very categorically that she and her aim is to change the (INAUDIBLE) and her policies are well-
JOWELL: What we're trying to do is talk directly to the people whose votes we want. So all this discussion about the SNP and what the SNP get
up on their hind legs and have to say, that waits until after the election.
AMANPOUR: It does wait until after and that's what people are worried about, especially again, people looking in --
JOWELL: We will not --
AMANPOUR: -- potential breakup of the United Kingdom --
JOWELL: -- we will not -- we are a Unionist party. The Labour Party is a Unionist party. The Scots voted against independence for their
country. So we will uphold the union and we are also a pro-European party. We've made absolutely clear, unlike the other parties, that we will --
unlike the Tories and obviously UKIP, that we will not have a referendum, which is probably -- and you go -- to go back to your question about
business, Christiane, the most pro-business policy in this election is being pro-Europe. And we are the pro-European party.
AMANPOUR: What do you say when you see these waves of immigrants who are coming across the Mediterranean and we've all got in Europe a lot of
these anti-immigrant far right parties, which have affected, not just the conservatives but also the Labour Party in this country anyway and other
How can (INAUDIBLE) if you're watching the right flank as well and sort of bending to them as well and these people are just drowning in the
JOWELL: Well, it was a catastrophe for those many souls who died last week. And I think that we have, as a European community, an absolute
responsibility to ensure safety.
Now in this --
AMANPOUR: -- Labour government have more migrants --
JOWELL: -- I think what we have to do is -- Ed Miliband is absolutely right. You have to deal with the circumstances to -- as in international
action that lead (INAUDIBLE) risky course of action.
But what we also need is a policy in relation to immigration which is fair. And I always feel this sort of acutely from the perspective of both
being a Londoner and being a London MP and London is a city that was built by migration. It is a city of immigrants. It is a city of 300
nationalities. And that's what makes it the greatest city in the world.
So we have to make sure that immigration -- the immigration rules are fairly applied. But we also have to be absolutely ruthless in shooting
down the really wickedness that are perpetrated about the migrants who come to our country and in so many cases improve our country and make our
AMANPOUR: You would be the first female mayor of London. That would be historic. You would indeed.
Have you spoken to Hillary Clinton, who is trying to be the first female President of the United States?
What about the F thing and the A thing, being a female and ageism?
JOWELL: Well, I think that anybody who tried to (INAUDIBLE) this campaign -- you know, the campaign that Hillary Clinton is fighting or the
AMANPOUR: And yours.
JOWELL: -- be pretty stupid. You know, I have years of experience. I want to put that experience. And knowing how to do things, knowing how
to deliver, it's fine to make speeches, but are you going to build the homes? Are those children going to have nurseries? Are those young people
going to get into work and all my record in government I think shows that I can do that, that I can actually deliver that change.
I did have a conversation with Hillary Clinton, where we were slightly talking to each other in riddles and --
AMANPOUR: Are you going to run? Are you going to run?
JOWELL: -- yes, yes, it was that sort of thing. I said, are you going to do this? Am I going to do this? But I think, well, certainly, I
was much more undecided. It was last --
AMANPOUR: And you're the same age, right?
JOWELL: And we are the same age, more or less the same age, absolutely. and women in their prime, OK?
AMANPOUR: No argument from me about women in their prime.
JOWELL: And she said -- she said, well, no, I think when you look at these challenges, you just have to think no guts, no glory.
AMANPOUR: There you have it. You have that last word. Tessa Jowell, thank you very much indeed.
JOWELL: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: Now of course all this politicking makes for great satire. And after a break, I speak to impersonator extraordinaire Rory Bremner,
taking on the politicians (INAUDIBLE) Britain's hearts, minds and votes -- that's when we come back.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
For as long as there have been politicians, there have been satirists lampooning them. And my next guest impressionist --
AMANPOUR: What do you make of it?
Is this comedy fodder for you?
RORY BREMNER, IMPRESSIONIST: Well, it's hardly trying to make sense of it at all because I'm sure --
BREMNER: -- yes, exactly, trying to work out what exactly is going on, because I think Natalie Bennett was talking about our first pass as the
post system. It's now we've been to a second past the post system because according to the book makers, they're saying the favorite's get more seats
than Conservatives, so you think people there will form the government. No, the favorite to get into government is actually the Labour Party.
And I think this is a part -- this is multiparty politics. This is -- if you go back to 1951, and 96 percent of the voters voted either Labour or
Conservative. But now there's all this right. And I think one of the consequences, David Cameron saying I don't want to debate with the other
one, is we've seen all the other parties. And we've seen all these different political flavors. And it's rather difficult to get seven
parties through a two-party system.
And I think the reelection -- we also like to keep politicians guessing. So we're a week away and 40 percent of our --
AMANPOUR: It's really extraordinary, 40 percent of the extraordinary -- you slip in and out of Cameronisms and others very naturally but are
these -- is this crop the seven who we saw on the stage at the first debate -- in fact we watched it together -- are they (INAUDIBLE)?
Are they comic fodder?
BREMNER: Well, yes, I mean, caricature's partly -- now the public has seen them. They've seen them innovate. And in Cameron, we've been
watching for quite a while and he got back some patrician thing. I mean they -- I mean, people say oh, I'm going to meet the rich richer or the
poor poorer, I think we can do both. That's what Miliband is an interesting campaigner because he saw people sort of caricatured him as
being quite geeky with the other was speaking of another child, I swallowed a kazoo. And people actually said, you know, they've characterized people
like animals. They said that Cameron was a fox and Farage was a weasel or a peacock. And actually the public said that this is true, Miliband, they
said, if you went to the zoo and you didn't see that animal there, you wouldn't be bothered.
And but he's actually done well during this campaign --
AMANPOUR: He has.
BREMNER: -- he's actually matured (INAUDIBLE) -- an intensity which reminds me a little bit of Baraka Butler (ph). He has something of that
intellectual aloofness about him. Nigel Farage, of course, as we've seen, great achievement. He's managed to take UKIP from digging into the -- a
lunatic fringe party to becoming a lunatic mainstream party.
I think (INAUDIBLE). And the other ones, you know, this is -- well, this is a (INAUDIBLE) the SNP, in fact, the election in many ways will --
AMANPOUR: Can you do Nicola Sturgeon?
BREMNER: I wouldn't dare because it is illegal in Scotland to do -- this is the thing --
BREMNER: I can't believe you went for that.
No, when during the referendum campaign -- during the referendum campaign, if you did -- if you made fun of Alex Salmond, you got into
terrible so people said don't insult them because I voted for him, which is very bizarre because, you know, all my life I've been doing political
figures, whether it's Gordon Brown or Tony Blair.
And where's Tony Blair now?
(INAUDIBLE) to be fair in a way --
AMANPOUR: Anybody can tell you that.
AMANPOUR: Do you miss the (INAUDIBLE)? Because I mean, you know, you -- all these amazing things, you know, you're involved in and there were
huge, whenever you thought of them, larger than life people, like Reagan or Thatcher --
BREMNER: Yes, indeed, well, satire does -- it thrives on the grotesques in a way. But also that was a time when politics kind of -- or
the politicians didn't seem like they were big beasts and they were (INAUDIBLE) than the whole game. And now it's much more complicated
(INAUDIBLE). How much politicians -- how much power do politicians actually have? It's more subtle. It's -- you've got the big businesses.
You've got the multinationals. You've got the banks and all that. So and also during the last election, during the last five years, there were fewer
characters. I think in some ways if characters were eccentric it was in a way a liability. We've got Boris Johnson -- who, you people probably make
these familiar, the mayor of London, yes. And he's so rampantly eccentric. And in many ways he's one of the most popular politicians we have.
We like politicians, I think, to be recognizable, that we can relate to --
AMANPOUR: Well, you say that, relate to. But one of the problems is that a lot of people are disconnected. There aren't that many political
comedy shows that there used to be, even in my lifetime, I mean, 20 years ago, right?
BREMNER: Well, in a strange way, I think that satire should well, like America, of course, have "The Daily Show," and a lot of people get
their political information and their education from "The Daily Show." We haven't had an equivalent weekly show running during the time of this
So I haven't been held to account. And it's not --
AMANPOUR: Should there be one?
BREMNER: Absolutely, because satire is not just about knocking the politicians down; it actually -- if people watch a show like "The Daily
Show" or ours, as it was, they're getting to know their politicians albeit in a comic context. And I think that's important.
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, as you said, there's not just satire and comedy, it's about these very (INAUDIBLE). You just wrote an article,
where you highlighted some of the sort of straw men, so to speak, that a lot of politicians and people then start believing.
For instance, the public thinks that 24 percent of benefits are claimed fraudulently; the (INAUDIBLE).
That must bother you a lot.
BREMNER: Well, it does. I think part of the issue -- I think outside Britain, people look at this and say, well, you've got quite good economic
figures; you've got growth and unemployment is down, you know, Why isn't Cameron streets ahead? Well, I think it's because we are divided as a
country. As I said, you know, about the rich have got richer, but the poor have got poorer. And is -- there is this -- and yet still, you know,
Conservative, the outgoing party, you know, are we going to tax rich people in their mansions or poor people who have a spare room that they only use
when their daughter comes out of dialysis?
Well, the Conservatives, they're taxing the poor people who have a spare room that they only use when their daughter comes out of dialysis.
And I think the British people out there think there's an unfairness about that. I think they think that their hole was blown in the economy
850 billion pounds at the top end and it's the bottom end that's suffering through austerity.
So I think that's why it's a -- I think people are conflicted. They think, well, yes, the rich are doing very well. But what about the rest of
So we haven't made up our minds yet.
AMANPOUR: And as a comedian, you wear your politics on your (INAUDIBLE).
BREMNER: I gave it back in the past, Christiane, the -- you know, I could go as far right as I wanted because, in those days, there was nothing
to the left of Tony Blair.
So he could be -- you know he could almost overtake the Conservatives. Now, of course, I suppose it's -- if Ed Miliband is calculating that the
political center in Britain is a little bit further to the left. And he's calling the bluff of the city. He's calling the bluff of the non-doms and
he's saying, well, if you want to leave the country, you leave the country. But all I'm saying is, you know, pay your fair share.
AMANPOUR: And they're all watching overseas.
BREMNER: -- they're all -- well --
AMANPOUR: They're listening in.
BREMNER: -- well, the French are saying, you know, we've done this. It didn't work so well. And the Spanish and the Portuguese. But it is --
there is a choice at this election. I think there is a choice. And interestingly, the city, it doesn't seem to be panicking. Everything seems
to be -- it's a very curious time to be in Britain because if 40 percent haven't made their minds up yet, the politicians don't know, nobody knows
what's going to happen.
AMANPOUR: And that's why it's so exciting --
BREMNER: Even the Queen. The Queen must be sort of saying, well, you know, I wish somebody would tell me, because I'm going to have to ask
somebody to form a government. And if they don't make up their minds, my week's going to be rather ruined.
AMANPOUR: Rory Bremner, on that note, the Queen has the last word.
AMANPOUR: And after a break, we imagine a world with much less contentious elections taking place on the same day next week, flying
towards a winged victory. We'll explain after this.
AMANPOUR: (INAUDIBLE) British (INAUDIBLE) favorite (INAUDIBLE).
(INAUDIBLE) this year it's (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE) which is almost (INAUDIBLE) crowned in a (INAUDIBLE) more than (INAUDIBLE).
And that's it (INAUDIBLE) online at amanpour.com, and (INAUDIBLE) on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for watching and goodbye from (INAUDIBLE).