BBC Radio 5 Live: Andrew Gwynne (29 April 2018)
John Pienaar: Andrew Gwynne is sitting in the studio with us we’re gonna talk to you now Andrew if we can. Hi and thanks for coming along – do you expect on your benches, the Labour benches, do
you expect, seriously expect to get the Home Secretary’s scalp tomorrow realistically.
Andrew Gwynne: Well I think if there was any justice not just for the Windrush generation but for others that may well be caught up in similar circumstances I
think it’s incumbent on the Home Secretary to do the honourable thing and that is to resign.
John Pienaar: Not going to happen though. Andrew Gwynne: Well let’s be clear this is a mess that has happened on her watch I don’t accept the defense that because this was
an item for noting that she didn’t have that memo in her red box. I have worked
with Labour Home Secretaries, I was the Parliamentary Private Secretary to
Jacqui Smith when she was Home Secretary and I know the level of detail that Home
Secretary’s go through and they don’t just have items for decision, they have items for noting as well it’s unbelievable quite frankly that she did
not know that this was her department’s policy and if she didn’t know, that in itself raises issues of competency and she should be held accountable.
John Pienaar: Yes, you’ve condemned the Windrush scandal. It is and was a scandal, but then again who hasn’t condemned the Windrush scandal and I’ve got a dog his name’s Nelson, I wouldn’t be surprised to have him apologising for the Windrush scandal
sometimes later on, you’ve condemned the hostile environment around migration policy I presume you think the Government should apologise for that too?
Andrew Gwynne: Well of course the problem here is that it is the culmination of wanting to tackle and wanting to be strong on tackling illegal immigration, and then catching into that people who have a legitimate right here.
John Pienaar: Is the climate caused by being tough on migration? Andrew Gwynne: Absolutely, when you’re dealing with people who have got the status to be here that is where this has all unravelled very dramatically for the current government.
John Pienaar: But your suggestion is the Windrush scandal was a product of the the climate that was created as you say in the wrong way. Now the Labour competed to sound tougher than the Tories on immigration in the years BC, that’s before Corbyn, should Labour apologise for that now Andrew, and if that’s your view?
Andrew Gwynne: Well what we need to have firm and fair migration policies and that is very clear and it’s clear today that we need to have firm and fair migration and immigration policies but the issue is under the last Labour
government this Windrush generation, their status was not in doubt.
John Pienaar: But on the climate, the hostile environment. Andrew Gwynne: Everybody knew John that these
people were British citizens they have the right to be, they’ve worked here. But the point is we don’t even know whether any or how many, if they have, have been deported, it’s an absolute scandal and it’s a scandal both of Theresa Mae’s making, because let’s remember she was the Home Secretary for a period of time in
question but also of Amber Rudd as well. It seems as Amber Rudd is a human shield for Theresa May at the moment. John Pienaar: Well some do argue that, but at least as far as the Windrush generations treatment I could say you’ll struggle to find anyone disagreeing that it was it was done badly and the whole thing
was wrong but my question to you there was do you think Labour has anything to
answer for, to apologise for in creating the climate which led to hostility a
feeling of hostility around the handling of illegal migration, does Labour have to apologise?
Andrew Gwynne: Well I think we need to have firm and fair immigration.
John Pienaar: That wasn’t my question Andrew Gwynne: Well the point is it has to be firm, it has to be fair but do we scapegoat migrants for all the policy failures of government and particularly eight years of austerity, absolutely not and that’s where Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott are absolutely right to say we should not be making immigrants the scapegoats for all of the country’s ills.
Question: Andrew, Ed Miliband’s former chief of staff Stuart Wood, recently said that actually looking back having seen Jeremy Corbyn’s speech in the House of Commons on the 2014 Immigration Bill where he opposed it, a tiny number of Labour MPs opposed it, the party line was to abstain, do you now regret abstaining.
Andrew Gwynne: Yes.
Question: And you personally as well? Andrew Gwynne: Yes.
John Pienaar: And what was driving that, was that as some sort of has been suggested in the case of this particular
hostile environment it’s about appeasing an anti migrant feeling.
Andrew Gwynne: I mean the trouble is abstaining as we’ve found in other areas where under previous leaders we took that decision neither pleases nor nor appease is
anybody actually you’re much better to come down on one side of an argument or another. I actually don’t think abstention is right.
John Pienaar: When it comes to campaigning and your campaigning now in the local elections there’s gonna be more campaigns to come, should and will Labour candidates go to the doorsteps now and start making a case for migration trying to convince people who have got their doubts about that deep doubts. Andrew Gwynne: Well I would hope that that’s what we do anyway, we’ve not said that there should never ever in any circumstances.
John Pienaar: No one said that. Andrew Gwynne: And of course one of our tests for the Brexit deal is that we want to ensure that there are fair migration rules in place that roofs reflect and respect the needs in the economy at any one time.
John Pienaar: But on a lot of Labour doorsteps as you know very very well you’ll find people who
are worried about migration you want a tough line on migration, you want, for illegal immigrants certainly, a hostile environment.
Andrew Gwynne: Well in terms of making sure that we have legal migration and that they match the skills shortages that we have in the economy that is absolutely crucial and only by having fair rules in
place do you then manage to convince people that remain to be convinced of the need for immigration that actually our economy benefits as a consequence.
John Pienaar: Jenny Turner.
Jenny Turner: Do you think this whole saga has potentially made a strong case for a Yvette Cooper to be a in the Shadow Cabinet.
Andrew Gwynne: Well I’m a good friend of Yvette’s, but that’s above my pay grade as to who is in the Shadow Cabinet and who isn’t that’s for Jeremy Corbyn. But Yvette’s doing an absolutely superb job job as the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee and I’m sure that she’s quite happy to continue.
Paul: How about David Lammy going in the shadow team, he’s not a chair of a select committee, doesn’t have that sort of problem.
Andrew Gwynne: Well again you know these aren’t decisions that I make Paul, I’m not the leader of the party whether you know if I was, whether I was.
John Pienaar: Don’t give up Andrew. Stranger things have happened. Jenny Turner: This whole thing has shown the strength though of the Labour backbenches, I mean some of the real stars in terms of the
the fight and the arguments they’ve been taking so House of Commons have actually been from those two individuals. Andrew Gwynne: Oh we’ve got some absolutely great Labour MPs on both the front bench and and the backbenches. John Pienaar: Before you go and before we go to the news because I’m always running over every time I sit in this chair.so I’m given some I sit in this chair, so another story. A Sunday Times story, you’d have seen it, all over its front page it says that Russia there were Russian attempts to help Labour in the last election by setting up thousands of social media accounts pumping up pro-Labour material trying to influence the election, what do you day to that?
Andrew Gwynne: Well I’m not sure how much of a story this really
is I mean for example the Russian government made it very clear through the embassy in London of their support for the Conservatives in the 2017
general election campaign, they talked about their ideological convergence and Theresa May’s strong and stable mantra was pumped out by them on Twitter, let me make it clear we are incredibly proud of our people-powered social media aspect of the campaign in 2017. I’m not sure if we had the help of all these ‘bots’, whether we needed them we certainly didn’t endorse them, we have no knowledge of them, and quite frankly we didn’t need them. John Pienaar: I think that last speech needs to be set to stirring music and run in a campaign. Maybe someone will take me up on that helpful suggestion. Andrew Gwynne good to talk to you.