JOHN TIRMAN: Welcome. My name is John Tirman. On behalf of the Center for International Studies, we're glad you're here. And thank you for coming out on such a awful day. Clearly we should have gotten a bigger hall so I apologize to those of you who couldn't find a seat.
Before I introduce our guest, I want to mention-- I will mention some upcoming events. On April 11th, a Starr Forum on Digital Innovation in Africa that's going to be at 12:00 PM noon in E14, which is the Media Lab. On April 12th, a Starr Forum with Former Foreign Minister and Defense Minister of Brazil Celso Amorim. That will be at 4:30 PM in 66-110. On April 25th, a Starr Forum on Solving America's and China's North Korea Problem. And on April 29th, perhaps the last one of the year, a Starr Forum on Somaliland, a feature length documentary. So you can check our website calendar for the details of that. I hope we see you there.
Today, we're very pleased to have Jack Straw with us. Last October I had the pleasure to, with some colleagues, to interview him and have a discussion with him and some of his colleagues about British policy in Iran and invited him to come here. And he very willingly accepted. As you know, he was foreign secretary of the UK from 2001-2006. Is that right? 2006? He had been home secretary before that for four years, has been in Labour Party leadership for about 30 years. So a very rich and productive career.
And today, we asked him to address what is probably the most important and challenging crisis-- is it a crisis?-- that's facing the UK and Europe right now. So would you please help me welcome Jack Straw.
JACK STRAW: Thank you very much, John. Well, I want to say actually, I've got a complaint. It was very good to meet John last October-- excuse me while I put this thing on-- but he got me here under false pretenses, because he promised me that the weather here would be like England. And as it turned out is much worse. Thanks to climate change, the weather in England's never been better.
I'd also like to begin with a health warning. I was strongly in favor of the United Kingdom remaining inside the European Union. And my son, William, was Chief Executive of the Official Remain Campaign. I'd also just like to tell you that were I an American citizen, my vote in last autumn's presidential election would not have been cast for Mr. Trump. I tell you that to explain that I'm not neutral either on Brexit or Trump. But I shall do my best, nonetheless, to consider the issues as objectively as possible.
In this lecture, I want to set out my views as to why a majority of the UK's voters in the referendum last June decided that the United Kingdom should leave the European Union, how far there are strong connections between these voters, other populist parties in Europe, and that which gave Mr Trump his victory, and what Brexit and Trump may mean for both the UK and for Europe as a whole.
First, why the UK chose to leave the European Union. And I begin with some history because it's impossible to understand the sentiment of the British people last June without looking back, actually, a long way into our relationship with Europe. The EU began its life in 1957, very much as part of a compact between Germany and France. Some in Britain argued at the time that the United Kingdom should be on the ground floor of this enterprise and should have become one of the EU's founding fathers.
Dean Acheson, Truman's Secretary of State and ever forthcoming with advice, famously declared that Britain had lost an empire but not yet found a role. For many, the European Union would have provided that role. In the event, in the 1960s, the UK made two applications to join the European Common Market, as it was then known, in 1961 and 1967. Both were rebuffed by General de Gaulle, who ever suspicious of the Anglo-Saxons, believed that the United Kingdom was too close to the United States and would undermine France's interests in the Common Market.
In Britain the idea of sharing its sovereignty within a new European construct was highly contested from the beginning. It aroused the predictable opposition from those on the Right who saw our post-imperial future with our kith and kin in the Commonwealth. But it also provoked strong opposition from sections of the Left in Britain. It was Labour's leader in the early '60s, Hugh Gaitskell, who led the charge against Britain's entry.
Now, Gaitskell happened to be on the Right of the Labour Party, very much a Social Democrat on every other issue. He was an ally of those within his party who were committed to Britain's membership of the Common Market. But in the course of a key speech to his party's conference in 1962, he said this, "We are now being told that the British people are not capable of judging this issue, that the government knows best. The top people are the only people who can understand it. It's too difficult for the rest. What an odious piece of hypocritical, supercilious, arrogant rubbish is this?"
And he went on, "We must be clear about this. Membership of the Common Market does mean the end of Britain as an independent European state. I make no apology for repeating it. It means the end of 1,000 years of history. You may say let it end, but my goodness, isn't it a decision which needs a little care and thought? And it does mean the end of the Commonwealth. How can one really seriously suppose that if the Mother country, the center of the Commonwealth is a province of Europe, which is what federation means, it could continue to exist as a mother country of a series of independent nations."
Now I've quoted Gaitskell at some length both because he was in the moderate center of British politics, not on the jingoistic right wing, and because his complaint that the British government was unwilling to submit the terms of EU membership to the will of the people-- and in his case, he was calling for a general election rather than a referendum-- and that membership would fatally damage our position as an independent sovereign state has remained up heart of the argument against our membership. An argument which finally had its successful expression 54 years later in last June's referendum.
Britain's third application to join, made in 1971, after de Gaulle's death was successful. But it too aroused huge opposition in the UK. And in an effort to preserve party unity, the then Labour leader Harold Wilson promised a referendum on our membership. When Labour unexpectedly won the elections in 1974, this referendum duly took place in June 1975.
Now another confession is that in that referendum, I worked for the No campaign. I believed-- so there's been some elements of family continuity at least-- I believed that at that stage, when the United Kingdom had only been in membership of the Common Market for 2 and 1/2 years, we could still find our future outside the EU. I was concerned about how an apparently innocuous customs arrangement, which is what the Common Market was when it began, could develop into a supranational confederation and weaken the power of the British parliament.
However, the arguments which I supported at that stage fell on very stony ground. Across the United Kingdom, the Yes campaign won by two to one, 67% to 33%. And that's one contrast with the 2016 referendum.
A second contrast is the remarkable homogeneity in 1975 in the vote across all districts, or almost all districts, within the United Kingdom. It varied very little between one district and another.
A third however, is that the most Euro skeptic nations in the union in '75 were Scotland and Northern Ireland. Indeed, the only two districts in the whole of the UK which voted against membership were the Shetland Isles and the Western Isles, both on the northern and western extremities of Scotland. In last year's referendum, we saw a mirror image of these 1975 results with Scotland and Northern Ireland voting strongly in favor of our continued membership, whilst England and Wales voted to leave. Giving an overall result 52% to leave 48% to remain.
In the 1980s, I changed my position on our membership of the EU because I came to believe that the apparent loss of abstract sovereignty was significantly outweighed by the direct and indirect benefits which EU membership had brought. And because I believed our membership strengthened our influence in the world, including with the United States.
The problem facing the Yes campaign in last year's referendum, however, was that the other side had the best tunes which chimed with the instincts, sometimes the base instincts, of a majority of those who voted. And here you do see some echoes between the way the campaign was operated in the UK last year and the presidential campaign in the United States last autumn.
Or to use a different metaphor, it was a difference between head and heart. The remainers argued thoroughly that staying in the European Union would mean quote "more jobs, lower prices, workers' rights, a stronger, safer Britain."
The leave campaign argued emotionally and lead on the strapline "Vote leave take back control." Outside the EU, they claimed that Britain would be able to save 350 million pounds a week to spend on our priorities like the NHS schools and housing, be in charge of its own borders, control immigration, free to trade with the whole world, and make our own laws. And just in case there was anyone still tempted to vote Remain, they raised the specter of Turkey. They said it was, with its 76 million people, quote "One of five new countries joining the European Union." Some of these claims by the Leave campaign were best highly tendentious as they knew when they made them and have admitted since.
The figure of $350 million pound a week as our contribution to the European Union was completely misleading. It's a gross figure. Net the figure drops to 150 million pound a week. But the much higher figure was quite deliberately used by the leave people to join the remain people into an argument that it was then almost impossible for the remainers to win because they managed-- so they said at 350 million. Remainers had to say, no, it's under 150 millions. So they said, well, even if it sounds 150 million, it's an awful lot of money for us to pay to belong to a club which produces dubious benefits. And so it went on.
Thus, we the remainers had to make a lot of yes, but arguments. Yes, we pay more than we take out. Yes, the European Court of Justice is a final arbiter of what is law in the UK. Yes, it's true we cannot stop migration from the European Union.
But, whilst the leave campaign we're able to deploy simple statements in their attack on our continued membership, the simple claim that Turkey was quote "joining" the European Union was clever black propaganda. And it worked. Like the best propaganda it had a grain of truth behind it. Turkey is an accession state. That was agreed in 2005. By the way, it was agreed to all parties acclaim in the United Kingdom, including by many in the leave camp.
Given how far relations between Turkey and many EU member states had deteriorated, it was doubtful, however, even last, year whether Turkeys accession would ever happen. At best, it was a very distant prospect. But the claim that Turkey was joining the EU was skillfully used along with the migrant crisis in Europe, which itself had been hugely exacerbated by Angela Merkel's ex-cathedra announcement that Germany would welcome a million refugees from the Middle East to insinuate that the European Union had lost control of its external borders and that Britain would be overrun by the "other." If we left the EU, they claimed, we would be back in control.
The remain campaign, it has to be said, also tried some tendentious claims. The best or worst of these was a threat by the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne that if we left the European Union, he would have to introduce an emergency budget to plug the 30 billion pound sterling hold in the public finances. And that every family would be worse off by 4,300 pounds. Now I have to say that at the time, I thought this wasn't a bad tactic because scaring the pants off your opponents is a very good way of gaining votes in elections. Both sides do it.
The difficulty, however, which certainly we in the remain campaign had not spotted was that referendum are different from elections. In elections people have a good idea of where each party is coming from. So if we claim that the Conservative Party are going to destroy the health service, or make children pay for books when they go to school, it sort of chimes a chord with the fact that we've painted the Conservative Party-- they sometimes paint themselves-- as very uncaring sort of Victorian gradgrind figures. If they claim that we're going to push up taxes, it sort of chimes with what people understand about the Labour Party is that other things being equal, we are a higher tax party than the Conservatives.
But the kind of normal handholds that people have to sort of fix these claims was not available to voters. The situation was made more confused by the fact that in the referendum campaign, although all three parties were officially supporting a stay position, the parties themselves were split. So with that figure of 4,300 pounds, the public discounted it. Not least interestingly because of the precision of George Osborne's figures.
One of the really striking differences between this campaign and any I fought in 50 years pounding the streets knocking on people's doors seeking votes is how otherwise similar voters in terms of their demography, age, and background canvassed and voted differently depending on where they lived. In the borough where I live in inner London, Lambeth, ethnically diverse, low income voters on many housing housing projects in American terms, were strongly remain. Exactly the same kind of voters in my former constituency of Blackburn. It's a textile town 30 miles north of Manchester were overwhelmingly for leave. Lambeth voted 79% to 21% to remain. Blackburn voted 56% but 44% to leave.
In the boroughs neighboring Blackburn, the leave vote was even higher at 66% to 34%, two to one. And these, by the way, are traditionally Labour areas. And they also have large Muslim Asian populations, second and third generation migrant populations.
It's in the differential nature of the results that one can see the strong echoes of the results of last November's presidential election here in the US. In England and Wales, it was greater London, the prosperous areas of the southeast, plus most, but not all, of the big cities with large universities elsewhere which voted remain. In the smaller industrial towns, in rural areas, and areas outside London and the southeast, it was leave which won.
Also suspicion of London is not anywhere near as intense as suspicion of Washington is in parts of the United States, assertions that the United Kingdom's membership at the EU worked for the metropolitan elite but not for everyone else did have potency. The irony that these charges were being uttered by members of the selfsame elite was lost, just as here in the United States where it was billionaires with strong links to Wall Street and to DC who claimed to be speaking for the dispossessed, the poor, and the ones ignored by that Washington swamp.
There was, however, one consistent element in the voting patterns in the referendum last year. The younger the voter, the more likely they were to vote remain regardless of where they lived. But sadly, proportionately fewer of them actually voted than those in the older age groups. And had they voted, the results would have been a different one.
Now I spent nearly 40 years shuttling between the House of Commons and my home amongst the metropolitan elite on the one hand and my Blackburn constituency and my home there on the other, I was always aware that the distance in terms of attitude and life chances was much greater than it was in miles. It's 225 miles, small in the United States terms. And I could not have been re-elected with good majorities in seven successive elections if I had not taken account of these differences. But what the referendum brought home to me was something stronger, alienation, a sense that people had not been listened to in enough, a desire to hit back.
In government, between 1997-2015, my party, the Labour party, had made great strides to invest in education and the health services and to improve the lot of those on lower incomes. Income inequalities having risen rapidly in the 1980s did stabilize. But then came the 2008 financial crisis. And though this, in aggregate, has led to a narrowing of income inequalities, it crucially led also to a fall in real wages for those on low and middle incomes for the first time in well over a century.
One polling group YouGov estimated that 62% of those with a household income below 20,000 pounds a year voted to leave the European Union compared with only 35% of those with a household income above 60,000 pounds a year. It is, however, a mistake to assume that only those people, the left behind, voted in significant numbers for Brexit.
And I've been struck by how many people outside London and the southeast, whom I know, prosperous, committed, professional typically in business voted for Brexit. And who are quietly furious about what they see is a metropolitan condescension to which they have been subdued, that it was only the dispossessed, the fanatical, and the racists who voted for Brexit. It was not.
The argument about taking back control chimed many chords with voters. So did the connected argument that the European Union had changed immeasurably since the British people voted to confirm its membership in 1975. But at no stage had the British people been asked whether they wished to sign up for a widening and deepening of the EU's powers over the daily life in the UK and over the British parliament. This was yet another area where those of us on the remain side had to give a yes but answer for the basis of this charge happened to be true.
Crucially, back in 1975, the yes campaign were able to reassure voters with complete accuracy, at the time, that quote "all decisions of any importance must be agreed by every member of the European Union." And that English common law is not affected. For only a few commercial industrial purposes, there is a need for community law.
But in three key stages, the EU moved from being just a Common Market with nine members after we had joined, to being a supernatural institution of 28 members with wide powers across a range of social as well as economic issues able, in most cases, to make decisions by special majority votes and with a directly elected European Parliament with powers of co-decision in many areas.
Now strong arguments were made in favor of each of these three changes that took place in 1986, '92, and 2007. But none of these changes-- and let me say I made, I can make the strong arguments myself. But none of these changes, despite them profoundly altering the scale and scope of the EU were subject to a further referendum in the UK or in most other member states. I did argue, because I was worried about this now 13, 14 years ago, that there had to be a UK referendum on the draft EU constitution. I managed to persuade my boss Tony Blair to announce that. In the event, one was not needed because France and the Netherlands held their referendum on the Constitution earlier and in both cases the draft was rejected.
But rather than accepting the message from these no decisions in two such very strongly EU countries as France and the Netherlands that we needed continually to refresh the popular mandate for a changed EU, the member states reached the opposite conclusion. That, to quote from Hugh Gaitskill's 1962 speech, again, "The British and, therefore, the European people are the capable of judging in the issue. The government knows best."
And there is something in this argument about elites because the truth was-- and I saw it myself, I felt it myself-- that EU leaders lacked the confidence that the changes that they were proposing were ones which were sufficiently embraced by their populations for those populations to be ready to vote for them. And in any democracy, if government pushes against popular sentiment for long enough, something is bound to Give.
It did with Prime Minister David Cameron's decision to hold a referendum. Now some people have criticized him for even suggesting a referendum. I don't think he was right to do that. Mr. Cameron's hope of course was that he'd received a yes vote and the issue of popular consent for the EU would then be settled for a generation or more.
And we received the answer we didn't want is down to factors I've already mentioned, along with, I'm afraid, the abject failure of the leader of my own party, Labour, to campaign vigorously for a yes vote. And the leader of my party, Mr. Jeremy Corbyn, went on public and said that he was 60/40 in favor of the membership of the European Union and saw this as a great campaigning platform. Now, you may deep down feel you're 60/40 in favor of something, but to go and try to lead your troops into battle. You know standing at the front, you're about to charge. And you say to the cavalry behind you, well, I'm 60/40 in favor of this job-- it doesn't actually touch the spot.
Now, the second question that I said I'd consider in this lecture is how far there are strong connections between the Brexit vote support for populist parties elsewhere in Europe and the forces which propelled Mr. Trump to the presidency here. And as I will suggest, there are connections, but I don't think any one should make too much of them. Concern about high and apparently uncontrolled levels of immigrant migration are one obvious common factor.
Within Europe, migration from lower income eastern and southern member states to the more prosperous north has been running at much higher levels than was ever anticipated when the expansion of the EU to the east, for sound political reasons, was agreed in 2003/2004. And as I've already suggested, the EU's handling of the crisis of migrants from outside its borders has frankly been lamentable. Incoherent, suffused with a limp-wristed sentimentality and actually encouraging some of the misery it was designed to avoid. For example, by incentivizing people traffickers to ship thousands across the Mediterranean on unseaworthy boats.
In the forthcoming elections, populist parties in France and Italy, for example, may poll well better than they've done in the past. But that said, Marine Le Pen is not expected for a moment to win the French presidency and still less often ignored abroad, the elections for the National Assembly for their parliament scheduled a month later in mid June. Nor is Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement going to gain the majority in Italy. In Germany, although the AFG, Alternative for Germany, may do better than they've done in the past, September's contest will, as principally, be between the center Right and the center Left. And then the recent elections in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders' party did gain five seats and Prime Minister Rutte's party lost eight. But Geert Wilders' PVV party still only had 13% of the vote. And whilst negotiations that their bound to in the Dutch system for a new government will continue for some weeks, any coalition that is formed will come from the center and will not include the PVV.
As for the United Kingdom, the UK Independence Party, UKIP, with its charismatic, then leader, Nigel Farage achieved its purpose last June. It was a single issue campaigning party. With its success in the referendum, it lost its basic raison d'etre. Faraje is leader no more and the party is consumed by internal strife.
So in a way to say there are some connection between Brexit and the Trump phenomenon, there are some differences to bear in mind, too. One is that in the UK referendum, voters were not electing a government but making a single decision, however fundamental that is to our future.
The second is that in the United Kingdom vote, leave won the popular vote by over one and a quarter million on a turnout of 33.5 million voters. The margin may have been just less than four percentage points, but a win is a win. There can be no challenge to the legitimacy of the referendum result. Plenty of governments have been elected by a smaller margin, including Tony Blair's last administration in 2005. In contrast in the US last autumn, as everybody here knows, Mr. Trump may have gained a majority in the electoral college, but he was nearly three million popular votes behind Hillary Clinton.
The third question, is a separate, by the way, debate on which I'd love to contribute at some stage, John, on why democracy in America is so defective. And you have very little-- I mean it really is. With the way congressional districts are gerrymandering egregiously across this nation in a way that no democratic country elsewhere would ever tolerate. And the United States doesn't tolerate either when it's judging the democracy of other countries. And the way you have no controls at all on what corporations and individuals can spend on supporting or opposing candidates. There is a big agenda here for this fount of democracy to try and get back to its original purpose. But I pass lightly over that.
Happy to discuss it on a separate occasion. The third question-- but I do-- anyway. The third question I said I'd discuss is the effect of Brexit and Trump on Europe and the wider world. Now, Mr. Trump has from time to time praised the European Union. He declared it wonderful in February. Which is an adjective, which few of even the EU's enthusiasts would go so far as using.
But the burden of his observations about the EU on the whole have been ones of hostility and criticism. He applauded the Brexit vote and regards Nigel Farage as his new best friend. He commented that quote "People and countries want their own identity. And the United Kingdom wanted its own identity."
His trade advisor, Peter Navarro, claims that Germany continues to exploit other countries in the EU, as well as the United States, with an implicit deutschmark, the euro which is grossly undervalued. While his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is-- and I wrote this, by the way, before he fell from grace yesterday. But it's very difficult to keep up with what's going on in the court of Donald Trump, but anyway-- his chief strategist is on record as saying the Trump administration will focus on bilateral relations with EU member states rather than on the EU centrally. And there's been a drumbeat of complaint from the Trump administration that European members of data have cut their own defense budgets while still expecting the United States to come to their aid.
Whatever Mr. Bannon may wish for, on the key issue of trade, the United States cannot but negotiate with Brussels, because trade is a central EU competence. That said, it is Germany that has the most at stake in any efforts that the US makes to reconfigure the nature of their trade relationship with the US. Germany is the world's greatest exporter with 47% of its GDP represented by exports compared to under a third for the UK and France and an eighth for the United States. Germany runs a huge trade surplus with the US, as it does with most other countries.
And Germany, and Mr. Navarro is not wrong about this, did pull a blinder by entering the euro at a rate well below the natural level for the deutschmark and "has been able to keep its own unemployment down to just below US and UK levels by, in effect, taking demand from elsewhere in Europe," to quote from a leader yesterday in the very strongly pro EU British Financial Times.
The UK has most to worry about Brexit. But in contrast to the attitude of some in the European Union, there's little sense of schadenfreude in Germany about Brexit, rather much sadness and anxiety, not only about what it will mean for Britain, but also what it's going to mean for Germany. One clear consequence is that Germany will face demands to pay more in net contributions to the EU to make good the loss of the UK's net contribution. In turn, this could, I think will, create tensions with the net beneficiaries of the EU budget, the poorer countries. And if their benefit from the EU membership is reduced, encourage anti EU sentiment in those countries.
A second consequence of our leaving the European Union is that Germany will lose a natural ally within the councils of the EU. On many economic and social decisions before the European Union Germany and the UK has been able to make common cause, broadly in favor of a free market agenda, resisting pressure from southern Europe from more statist approach. That is going to be much less easy in the future, not least because of the way what's called a blocking minority can work within the complicated system of special majority voting.
And a third consequence is that Brexit will thrust Germany into a position of potentially unrivaled dominance, which it does not seek and does not want for obvious historical reasons. Now, right now there's something of an economic recovery taking place in the Eurozone with a further decline in unemployment and the fastest growth in manufacturing since 2011. But whilst Germany's jobless rate, as I just mentioned, is a percentage point below the US and UK's which hovers around 4.7%, 4.8%, the average rate for the Euro area is more than double that for the US and the UK. With Italy, it's about 13%. Spain is above 18%. Greece's unemployment rate above 23%. And in those countries, and many other EU states, truly terrifying levels of unemployment amongst the young.
And at route, it was not British bloodymindedness which was the underlying cause of Brexit, but the cirrhotic nature of the EU itself. It's bound to show considerable solidarity in its negotiations with the UK because it has to. But its underlying problems are not going to disappear when the UK finally has left the Union, far from it.
In my view, the idea of the euro was misconceived from the start. Single currency's beyond single countries rarely work optimally. Obviously, pulling the euro apart now would not be worth the pain. So the EU and Germany will continue the juggling act of accommodating quite disparate economies within the framework of a single monetary policy. Now, logically, that should lead to more and more central power over fiscal policy as well, but that creates huge political tensions within member states and amongst their electorates and gives rise to further feeling that individual voters, individual countries, are very, very detached from the decisions which affects them.
There are already tensions over migration with both the strongly nationalist governments of Poland and Hungary being threatened by Brussels for effectively reinstating their borders against asylum seekers from outside the European Union. And whilst EU leaders now pay lip service to the need to repatriate many pounds back to national parliaments, there is little sign of the kind of leadership needed to implement such changes in culture as well as policy. Altogether, the forces which may act to push EU member states away from each other could easily be exploited by both Russia and by the United States. So Mr. Bannon is not wrong to assert that the United States will focus more on bilateral relations.
As for Britain's future within the EU and the US and the wider world. The dire predictions by many remain economists about the immediate effects of a Brexit vote on the British economy have so far been belied by events. Growth has been higher than predicted. Unemployment has continued to fall. And indeed it is now at its lowest level since August 1975. The devaluation of the pound sterling, down 16% since the referendum, is greatly helping British exporters.
But much of the current demand in the UK economy has come from domestic consumer spending, which does not look sustainable. Credit is very high. The saving ratio has fallen even below the US level. I hope and pray that the economy continues to do well, but there is much anecdotal evidence that the greater uncertainty which Brexit has inevitably brought is adversely affecting investment decisions.
There was much talk from the leavers during the referendum as how the UK could with ease develop trade relations with the rest of the world to compensate for any loss of trade with the EU. There was strength to be gained too, it was argued, from the fact that we run a very large trade deficit with the rest of the EU, particularly with Germany, where a huge market for German cars-- one in five, every car manufactured in Germany is sold in the UK. Thus it was claimed BMW, VW, Mercedes would force a reasonable trade deal on the German federal government. But life is not that simple and nor will the Brexit negotiations. Although the EU share of our exports has declined from 55% in 2000 to 44% last year, the EU is by far our largest trading partner, because proximity in trade really matters.
In the negotiations with the EU, politics will Trump mercantile interests since it's existential for the EU that our terms of trade post Brexit outside the single market are less advantages to us than they were within the single market. The British government is right to try to widen the markets available to us, to the Middle East, India, China, the Antilles, and the US. But currently only 9% of our exports go to Commonwealth countries and only 8% to the Brits. And these will not provide, in any sense, a complete substitute for any EU markets which are lost.
I said near the beginning of this lecture that one reason why 30 years ago I changed my mind on the EU was because our membership of the EU plainly amplified Britain's influence in the world, gave us more traction with the US and obviously with EU member states. In principle, the converse must also be true. We've already seen from Prime Minister Theresa May's decision-- correct in my view, to be the first foreign leader through the door to meet President Trump-- that Brexit makes us inherently more reliant on the United States in terms both of trade and of wider foreign policy influence.
NATO has become all the more important to us. Our defense capability should be stronger, but it remains the best in Europe. Our intelligence and security capacity is unrivaled on the continent. And we're going to have to make use of both sets of capabilities if we're going to be able to offset the loss of influence which our withdrawal from the EU inevitably brings. With wise leadership in Britain-- and Theresa May is wise-- it could be possible to defy this default actively to cooperate with member states on foreign policy issues, especially with France and Germany.
And in truth, our positions on many issues, Israel-Palestine, climate change, Iran are closer to our EU allies than they are currently to the positions of the United States' administration. The future of the Iran nuclear deal, the JCPOA, will be one test here. And Theresa May, thankfully, being on record as continuing wholeheartedly to support that. But sustaining good relations post Brexit with EU countries will be inherently harder and will require a bigger investment in diplomacy and in understanding.
There's one last aspect to Brexit, which I need to mention, and that is the effect of Brexit on the unity of the United Kingdom itself. Three years ago, Scotland voted by a significant margin 55% to 45% to remain part of the United Kingdom. Many of us naively thought that would settle the matter for a couple of generations. Indeed the leaders of the Scottish National Party, the SNP, said as much themselves.
But three factors have conspired to change that. The first is that in the general election in May 2015, Labour, previously the dominant party from Scotland in the Westminster Parliament was all but wiped out. Something I never thought I'd ever see in my lifetime in politics. We used to be the dominant party. Whatever else happened, we were the dominant party in Scotland. Before the election, we had 41 seats out of a total of 58, well over half the Scottish total. After the election, we had one. With gains from the other parties as well, the SNP went up from six seats to 56. We got one and the Conservatives got one-- sorry, liberals got one, too, so making it 59.
Second, in the Scottish Parliamentary elections-- something else I never ever thought I'd see-- Labour was eclipsed in the third place by the Conservatives.
Third, and most important-- as I brought out at the beginning of this lecture-- whilst as the UK as a whole voted by 48 to 52 to leave the European Union, the Scots voted by a big margin to stay. Now separatist parties, like the Scottish National Party, work on grievance, in their case, grievance against the English. Ironically it's the same political device that the Brexiteers were using last year-- grievance. In their case, grievance against the other lot, the Europeans.
But the SNP has a great grievance now that England is forcing Scotland to leave the European Union against the Scots' will. The Scottish Parliament has passed a resolution calling for a further independence referendum. It's non-binding. A referendum requires a decision by the Westminster Parliament and Mrs. May has correctly made clear that she won't countenance one until the Brexit is a fait accompli. I hope and I think that if there is a referendum which takes place in 2020, 2021, by then the Scots will see that although we we've left the European Union, it would be still less in their interest to detach themselves from the United Kingdom than it would have been in 2014. But you can't be certain about that.
And in Northern Ireland, nationalist sentiment is stirring again. Our border there with the Republic is our only land border with the European Union. Ensuring that trade continue without the distortions of tight border controls and smuggling is yet another challenge for the negotiations of our exit from the European Union.
Now, despite my personal sadness about the result of last year's referendum, I do not believe that the United Kingdom will fall over some cliff edge of the day that our ties with the European Union are finally cut. The British are too resourceful for that. And if the British government has any sense, which the Prime Minister and Chancellor both certainly have, then they will negotiate lengthy transitional arrangements to allow for adjustments on both sides. But with Trump here and Brexit there, it's likely to be a bumpy ride in the meantime, with the only compensation that the history unfolding before our eyes will be gripping in the extreme. Thank you, very much indeed.
JOHN TIRMAN: So, we'll take some questions. And please come to the microphones on either side and we'll field them alternatively.
AUDIENCE: Thank you very much for this fantastic speech. My name is Miam Hikoshima. I'm a PhD student in the political science department at MIT. I have a couple of questions about what Brexit means-- I mean the strategic and political meaning of Brexit for the United States and the world. So first of all, British leaders according to their previous defense white papers of Britain, British leaders seem to believe that it is in Britain's best interest to keep its policies aligned with the United States, because for Britain, the alliance with the United States is a sort of power multiplier through which British leaders can enhance British interests and prestige and influence. And so I guess do you personally agree--
JACK STRAW: Yeah.
AUDIENCE: --even after you see that President Trump with the notion that it's still in Britain's best interest to keep its policies aligned with the United States?
And my second question is that so previous US administration tended to see Britain's EU membership as a sort of window of opportunity for US leaders to sway and influence the EU policies, not just on security policies, but also a variety of different policies like trade. And so for that reason you could argue that Brexit means that now UK now has less strategic value from the US standpoint. And so do you still, I guess do you think that after the Brexit the alliance with the US will remain intact? Or if you agree that our alliance will remain intact, then what other concrete assets that actually support the continued special relationship between the UK and the US. Thank you very much.
JACK STRAW: Thank you very much. I'll just take this gentleman and then I'll answer those two questions. Yes sire.
AUDIENCE: Thank you, sir. According to Financial Times, last year the Chinese direct investment in European Union increased 76%, which brings the total investment from 2000-2016 to 101 billion euros. So with the current crisis in the European Union and then the Brexit, what role do you think China will play and what role do you think Chinese should play in terms of economy and the geopolitics. And moreover, there is a growing evidence saying that there is more activity between Russia and the far right group in the European Union which causes instability to the Union. So with this huge economic stake Beijing has in Europe, what do you think the effect the relationship between Beijing and the Moscow. Thank you.
JACK STRAW: Just say that last bit again? What's the--
AUDIENCE: So the last one is like with this huge you know financial stake--
JACK STRAW: You mentioned about Beijing and Moscow. Just say what was your point there, please sir?
AUDIENCE: Point is that because you know Russia is trying to destabilize the European Union based on the current report. If European Union is destabilized, China may have a financial loss. So in this case, what do you think the effect on Beijing and Moscow's relationship. Thank you.
JACK STRAW: Thank you. All right. Two small questions.
I'll take you in a minute, sir. Right.
The first question about defense policies. It's been a given of Britain's approach to foreign policy, since, well since the middle of the last war, since the United States came into the last war that we should be aligned with the United States on defense policy. And the only time that there was an aberration from that was over in 1956 in the Suez Crisis when we, and France, and Israel, decided to provoke the reason in quotes to invade Egypt, blindsiding President Eisenhower just before presidential election in '56.
It was not a good idea. The US Treasury made sure that there was a near collapse in sterling. And we've stayed alongside the US ever since. And I think on defense policy, and defense and security, it's crucial that we should do.
The fact that there is somebody-- who as I say-- I would not have voted for in the White House is neither here nor there. And I have great confidence in the good sense of the American people. And also the one thing I think Mr. Trump, whatever else he may do, I don't think it's going to change, is the fact that a US president can only last two terms. Our interests are deeper and wider than whoever is occupying the White House for the time being.
It's worth bearing in mind, however, it's a mistake often made in Britain that because we have a very strong security and defense relationship with the United States, and to a degree, a strong foreign policy relationship, that therefore on other issues we're in the same place. When it comes to trade, United States looks to it's own constituency, as do we. It's just completely naive for any people in Britain to think that because Donald Trump is our new best friend that we're going to get some sweet heart deal out of the US which may adversely affect some industry or sector in the United States. Life is not like that. So we should not be naive about that.
Yes, one of the arguments in favor of staying in the European Union was that we provided a sort of Anglo-Saxon bridge for the United States into the European Union. I saw that myself operating on many cases. But Iraq was one of those where not least because of our influence inside the European Union, Iraq was one instance where EU members apart from us were opposed to what President George W. Bush. The EU at the time was split about 50/50.
And we will have to work extremely hard-- and I was trying to bring that out-- to repair the strategic value that we have had to the United States and to other countries by being that kind of bridge. Because we're members of the Security Council, along with France, we've got a wider perspective in foreign policy than other EU member states. And we've been able to deploy that to our advantage and the advantage of our allies.
Gentleman here who asked me the question about China. I mean China is obviously a key trading partner for the European Union and runs a large trade surplus with the European Union, not least with the UK. It's narrowing a tiny bit.
China has tended to play a less active role in foreign policy affecting Europe than has Russia for the obvious reasons that it doesn't have a contiguous border with us, and for all sorts of historical reasons. On Russia's-- I mean, I think one can get paranoid about Russia. Russia's fundamental concern is the concern that Russia has had forever about protecting the integrity of its borders and not feeling surrounded by hostile states. But it's also under President Putin. He has sought to take opportunities to influence who is elected in countries which could affect its interests. If as is almost certain, I think the Russians did try to interfere in the US presidential election. That's certainly not something I support.
It is, however, just worth bearing-- if one looks at the history of Italian politics since the war, the United States, both covertly and overtly were all over influencing Italian politics, particularly when it appeared that the communists would gain ascendancy there. So it's worth just bearing in mind that big states with a lot of power are always tempted to manipulate the politics of smaller countries which may be inconvenient to them.
And let me say the history of Britain during--
I leave aside the difficulties we had here in Boston.
But you know if we run into difficulties-- I mean clearly well into the 20th century. If you look at our history in Iran, for example. If leaders were causing us trouble, well we said goodbye to them, including postwar.
So Russia is going to do what Russia will do. But there are plenty of countries where Russia can exploit unhappiness with the European Union. It's all the more important that the European Union shows some strategic leadership and some understanding about what has got to change in Europe. And as everybody is preoccupied with the Brexit and a part from everything else Brexit is a huge diversion from all sorts of other things which we should be dealing with, but there you are.
But one of my real worries about the EU at the moment is that no one there providing this imaginative leadership, willing to hold the mirror up to the problems that Europe has faced and the problems which actually are not going to be lessened when Britain leaves, but are going to be made more serious. They've got to sort those out. Above all the fact that the Union has taken too much power to the center and detached itself from its publics.
I'm sorry. I don't feel in a position to be able to comment further on the role of China. But I think China's interest in Europe is for trade. And I think it's to detach from the situation to want to or to be able to exercise the kind of political interference that variously Russia, the United States, and even the UK may try to exercise.
AUDIENCE: Well, it's probably not surprising that you should have favored Hillary Clinton in the presidential elections since, like you, she supported the Iraq war. And prior to that she supported the sanctions on Iraq. Now this is not a rhetorical question, but I wonder whether you ever have any pangs of conscience about all the Iraqis that were killed by these policies as well as the Americans and the British.
And I wonder also whether you think Trump should go down the same road of the Democratic Republican bipartisan interventionism American exceptionalism and the need to preserve this Western world order that's caused so much harm and destruction in the world. He's indicated that he is very skeptical of a lot of parts of that, but unfortunately the quote unquote "deep state" and others that are in the establishment seem to be really wrestling with him on this one. And I don't think he's going to prevail.
So I mean have your experiences in Iraq in retrospect given you any really qualms of conscience or doubt about how these policies are being pursued and for whose interests?
JACK STRAW: Thank you. Yes, sir.
AUDIENCE: You focused particularly on Brexit, Trump, and nationalism in Scotland. But if you go beyond that, there's also a decreasing propensity for interventionist foreign policy increasing isolationism. So why is it that this is happening at the same time in various parts of the world? And what are the underlying global forces? And why did it take a decade after the global financial crash for these sorts of things to happen?
JACK STRAW: Thank you. I'll take these two then I'll take two more.
So the gentleman who just asked-- yeah. I have more than pangs of conscience about what happened in Iraq. And I bear a very heavy responsibility for it. And I would do for the loss of life, even if it had not-- if it had turned out that the weapons of mass destruction, which we believed were there, were there. The fact that there was a major intelligence failure makes the responsibility which I bear all the greater.
If you make these decisions, you make them on the best available information you have. They have huge consequences. And you then have to carry the responsibility that goes with them. So of course I reflect all the time on the decisions which I made.
I've said on many occasions in the past that if I had known then what we subsequently came to know about the absence of weapons of mass destruction, then obviously the basis for taking military action would have gone. Certainly as far as the United Kingdom is concerned, there would be no possibility of our supporting it. But we didn't know that at the time. Indeed, the international community didn't know that, which is why they supported the Resolution 1441 at the time.
So, yes, we bear-- I bear responsibility for the loss of life. I can't put the clock back. What we have to do is to try as best we can to create stability and normality in a very benighted part of the world. And we're partly responsible for that, but by no means completely.
And if I just mention Syria, there's been no external intervention in Syria. Syria, well, there hasn't. I mean--
AUDIENCE: The bombings? Are you talking about the bombings?
JACK STRAW: What hold on a sec. Syria fell into anarchy and chaos as a result of things that were happening in Syria, as a result of the way Assad treated his own people and not because of any US or UK intervention.
Gentleman here are asked about the declining propensity to intervene. I think that that's an inevitable consequence. Where is the gentleman that just asked that question? Over here. Inevitable consequence, partly of what happened over Iraq and a kind of war weariness in particularly in the UK and in the United States. And other problems, there was Libya where a decision was taken, supported by UN resolution, but with acquiescence by Russia. But serious arguments as a consequence of what actually took place by Russia that their good faith had been abused. And certainly the resolution can be stretched in its interpretation.
Syria, four years ago, with President Obama. I mean let's just spend a moment on that, the proposal from President Obama that US and UK and other forces should take action against President Assad because of his use of chemical weapons. I've thought a lot about that because I supported my party's front bench on the 29 August 2013 to vote against the direct proposal from David Cameron and instead in favor of a resolution which moved the issue to one side and said it should go back to the UN.
The difficulty, bluntly, was the fact that there wasn't proper preparation either here in Washington or in London to prepare legislators, lawmakers, for that decision. We were suddenly panicked into a decision. The British Parliament which was due to meet anyway from its summer holidays the following Monday. It was called the previous Thursday. And that was the worst possible thing for David Cameron and President Obama behind it to do. People are on-- politician's families-- it's tough being either married or partnered of a politician or a member of their family. It just is because of the pressures on them. Right at the end of the school holidays. You got four more days to go before you go back to the political swirl.
We're all called-- it didn't matter to me, my children were grown up-- but we were all called back. You land it in the House of Commons. There's not the opportunity you have in the normal course of events to talk to people to build up alliances, all of that. So there was no sort of psychological preparation for that vote. If Obama, President Obama, had been willing to wait a week, I'm pretty certain that the vote-- that that resolution, the one he wanted or something very similar, would have gone through. But he rushed the fences. And he also used a metaphor which was unbelievably confusing, because he said-- I've never forgotten this-- he said that what he what was proposing was a shot across the bow of President Assad.
Now there are plenty of boats out in the Charles River, you should across about the bow of those boats, they'll look exactly the same when you've finished firing as they did before you started. He was not talking about a shot across the bow. He was talking about causing quite serious damage to the Assad regime. But if you're going to use a metaphor, you need to use one which is accurate and not confusing. So these things have led to some reluctance to intervene. I think things will come back in due course, but where people are today is bound to take account of where they were before.
AUDIENCE: Thanks for coming all the way to Boston to speak to us. It's been very interesting.
JACK STRAW: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: I'd like to have you go back to what you started with the yes, but. You're a veteran politician, have been elected many times at the local level. And there seems to be a connection between the scare tactics and sort of lies, I guess you could say, or certainly exaggerations in the Brexit case and also in the Trump election case. And I'm curious if, as a local politician, you feel like there's been a sea change or whether you feel sanguine that this too shall pass, it's not a big deal. Or whether there's a change in tactics necessary for the Labour or Liberal side to try and counter that.
JACK STRAW: OK. Thank you. Yes, ma'am.
AUDIENCE: So I guess it's a little bit on Syria and Russia. But yesterday, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Syria. And I think the representative of the UK was one of the most passionate in terms of expressing his opinion. And he jumped to the conclusions that that was Assad's kind of initiative. And Russia, at the same time, questioned the fact that that happened at all. So we see that there is a miscommunication kind of like very different narratives are going on. And first of all, what is your personal opinion on what happened?
And the second question is how can we restore dialogue with Russia seeing that our narratives are completely different?
JACK STRAW: OK. Thank you. To the gentleman there, about scare tactics, I think there has been something of a sea change. There's been an increase in the kind of vulgarity of some of the political narrative and the readiness to use bare-faced lies or half truths to scare people.
And the best example of that was this claim that not only were we spending 350 million pounds a week on the European Union, but this money would be available for the NHS. Now, I'm not just saying this, I know this to be true. The leave people, when they sat down to consider using this in advance, knew that it was inaccurate. But they completely cynically said, we'll put this figure out. The figure of 350 million a week is our gross contribution. Yes, remain will come back and say it's a gross contribution and the net contribution is 150 million, but we've then got them on 150 million.
Yes, we understand that there's not to be 350 million pounds for the NHS, but at least we got on the table that money that could be used in the UK is being used for the other. So that we're completely cynical about that. And sadly, the tactics worked.
And one of the things I should've mentioned and didn't mention is the way the press has changed in the UK. Now, the big difference in the UK, as with other European countries, and with the US is that the print media is much larger-- we have 11, 10 national titles. And it's more widely read as well. And although the buying of printed newspapers has gone down significantly, the print media still determine the news agenda, including of our great national broadcaster, the BBC.
And back in '75 every single one of the national newspapers, bar the tiny minority circulation Communist Morning Star was in favor of us staying in the European Union, including conservative newspapers like The Daily Telegraph, the Daily Express, the Daily Mail, and The Sun. In this last referendum, well over half the newspapers, more than half, considerably more than half by circulation were in favor of us leaving. And it's been a very sort of virulent campaign as well. Their language has changed.
So I do worry about it. I don't think it's not gotten anywhere as bad as here in the US. And-- well it hasn't. We're no better a people, let me say, but the fact that there is no limit on what could be spent on political campaigning at all. And that there is no ban on television advertising means that the opportunities for demagoguery and for the most extraordinary telling of fibs is much greater here. Plus the fact that your defamation laws are much weaker than ours. So we got people who have just the same views as Mr. Trump, but the possibility of them being able to turn themselves into a prime minister slightly fewer, thank god.
With apologies to anybody here who voted for him.
On Syria, Russia. My view-- I've got no inside information-- but my view is that these chemical weapons have to have come from the Assad regime. Chemical weapons are not things which people store in their basement like bullets. It seems to me almost inconceivable they could have come from anywhere else. It's perfectly possible that they were used by a divisional commander without direct authority from the center. These things happen in war.
In terms of how do we stir up the dialogue, I have my suspicions about Russia. But I've never thought any good comes by from-- in particular, well I'll change that sentence. It's particularly with countries with whom you have suspicions you need to have the greatest dialogue. It's very easy to have good relations with people with whom you agree.
So people used to say we should cut off diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe who have been really difficult. That would have been really clever, because we didn't have much communication with them. If we cut them off altogether, we'd have still less. So I think that improving communication for the British government and also for the American government is really important. I mean there's one by the by really serious problem in America which is that the State Department at the moment is like the Mary Celeste. Well it is.
I read some numbers yesterday, which I could scarcely believe, but this is across the US Administration, but it applies particularly to I think to the State Department, of about 550 senior positions which need confirmation by the Senate, something like 20 or so being filled, 20 were in the pipeline. 500 are awaiting nominations. Amazing. Amazing. So at the moment, I think of all the really serious senior career diplomats and appointed people in the Bush administration who were there, involved from the start, including Condoleezza Rice, a great Russia expert, I compare the situation today. I mean it is extraordinary vacuum just in terms of diplomatic capacity to have the relationships So that needs to be filled pretty much too.
Yes, of course, Mr. Trump can have the relationship with Mr. Putin and Rex Tillerson with Sergey Lavrov, if you're building up a diplomatic relationship, you need relationships underneath that as well. And those can't happen for the moment because the counterparts here don't exist. Right?
A couple more questions. And then we finish? Or do you want to go on? I'm happy to go on as long as you want.
JOHN TIRMAN: One quick question. Make it very quick.
JACK STRAW: OK. Yes, yes. If you could make them quick, that would be really helpful.
AUDIENCE: OK. So I just wanted to thank you for your continued support of the Iran nuclear deal.
JACK STRAW: All right. Thank you.
AUDIENCE: And the question I have and the people in the region have is like why doesn't the Western countries and the governments, why don't they take the same approach and scrutiny over the Israeli nuclear, potential nuclear power activities?
JACK STRAW: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Thank you very much for your time. I'm Italian, but I've lived in Edinburgh for a few years. I believe it's a bit of an oversimplification to say that the Scottish Independence Movement is against the English. I think from my experience there is to create a better society, a fair society, with social inclusion, social justice, with international relations. So it's all topics that you should be standing for as the Labour Party But there has been a kind of big detachment. So it's not only from the European Union the citizen, but it's also from your party and the citizens of Scotland. I leaned to that, I'm thinking--
JACK STRAW: Can you make it quick, right?
JACK STRAW: Could you make it quick, please?
JACK STRAW: I know it's oxymoronic for Italians, but with apologies.
AUDIENCE: Very, very quickly. I believe that's how Brexit might be the best way to keep the United Kingdom united. And they said would they have Brexit so were no trade deal. And it's a bit of a paradox. And I would like to have your opinion on that, because if there is no trade deal then Scotland wouldn't have so many advantages.
JACK STRAW: Yeah. OK. Thanks. I'll just say it's last quick. But can you make it please, quick.
AUDIENCE: So I wanted to ask, as someone who offered a key piece of legislation that regulated political funding, do you think there was a certain situation in place that meant the British, the party in power in the UK, was willing to do that to regulate itself? And do you think there's something about the US situation that's makes that less likely to happen? And do you think it could happen in future?
JACK STRAW: Thanks very much. OK.
On Iran nuclear-- the gentleman there-- well, thanks for you said and I continue to take close interest in Iran. And one of the things I'm proudest of is with Joschka Fisher and Dominique de Villepin is getting the E3 negotiations started back in 2003 against the wishes of Mr. D. Trump-- of Donald Rumsfeld who describes our efforts then as a disaster. And in one sense, they were, because as I, and de Villepin and Fisher used to say to the Iranians that needed to talk to us, because we were quotes "their human shield" against any possibility of military action by Iran-- which was certainly being contemplated at the time.
And I am delighted that John Kerry and President Obama were able to conclude this deal with some support, including from the British Conservative government. And just very frustrated about the possibility, not a certainty, that the Trump administration may try and scatter it. And this kind of ludicrous arguments which were advanced by Benjamin Netanyahu against any idea of normalizing relationships with Iran.
On the issue of Israel's nuclear capacity, yes, Israel ought to be treated in a similar way. The only thing I'd say, however, is that you've got to see it from the Israeli's point of view. Israel is a small country, six million people, in a very hostile area. And I mean given you can argue about whether Balfour Declaration, you can argue about the decision of the United Nations after the war to approve the establishment of the Israeli state, but it's there. And I happen to think it right, but you can take a different view.
But given the history Israel faced of unremitting hostility early on and then during the subsequent attempts to reduce its size and so on, you can see it from their point of view as to why they hold a nuclear weapon. I personally say I understand exactly the point you're making. I've made the same point to the Israelis. And certainly for all sorts of reasons, it's very important that the Iranians do not develop a nuclear weapon, including from the Iranian's point of view, I've made the point to Israeli friends that it's difficult for them to advance the argument against there being any nuclear capacity in the Middle East, because, hey, they've got it.
On our Italian member of the Scottish Nationalist Party
Look. The SNP advance any argument they can think of in favor of independence. But a lot of it is anti-English. I've seen it. I've felt it. It just is. It's just true.
And they sort of mine a deep vein of part of Scotland's history. I happen to think that it is very much against Scotland's interest to leave the United Kingdom, profoundly. They've actually got the best of both worlds at the moment, including very substantial continued subsidy from English taxpayers, including me. It's huge. Don't shake your head. It's just fact. All right? And they all know it. So with luck, reason will prevail.
Now gentleman asked me about the regulation of-- that gentleman there-- yeah. One of the things that happens if you're out of power for a long time in government, you are able to think about things and try to think about things from the point of view of the opposition as well as those of government.
So when we came in, and I had to be responsible for doing this, we introduced a number of measures which probably, if we'd been in government for years and years, we wouldn't have done. But one was the regulation of political funding. It's been there since 1883 is was when it started. What I was able to do was to introduce the controls on the totality of the money that can be spent in our national elections. And just so you know, it's $20 million a party, total spending, in a general election. All right? Now, you can gross that out by a factor of five for population, so $100 million sterling in US terms. And it works, as well.
It works to ensure that money is not the only thing that influence how people vote. It's that along with completely clean drawing of our boundaries on which there's a total party consensus. They are determined by an independent boundary commission, and this ban on television advertising and radio advertising. Now our politics is far from perfect. But it is a lot cleaner, frankly, than the United States which has this rather-- apologies-- because it has this fundamental flaw. And America will be the worse for it if it doesn't actually deal with the fact that some key parts of the way its politics work are not democratic. Thank you, very much.
JOHN TIRMAN: Thank you.