ΣΥΝΟΜΙΛΩΝΤΑΣ ΜΕ ΤΟΝ CHRIS BRYANT

Αναρτήθηκε στο blog του pavloseleftheriadis.com, 20/05/2014.

O Παύλος Ελευθεριάδης συναντήθηκε και συζήτησε με τον Πρώην Υπουργό Ευρωπαϊκών Υποθέσεων της Βρετανίας Chris Bryant, με αφορμή το βιβλίο του για την Ιστορία του Βρετανικού Κοινοβουλίου. Ο Chris είναι απόφοιτος της Οξφόρδης, βουλευτής με το Εργατικό Κόμμα, και εκπρόσωπος του Εργατικού Κόμματος για κοινωνικές υποθέσεις. Είναι επίσης από τους πρώτους ανοικτά gay Βρετανούς βουλευτές και συνδέεται με τον σύντροφό του με σύμφωνο συμβίωσης που τελέστηκε στην βρετανική βουλή το 2010.

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https://youtu.be/wqo-dtGP0fY

 

 

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Ακολουθεί το κείμενο της συνέντευξης. 

 

P Eleftheriadis:             Chris you spoke here about this book, about the History of Parliament.

C Bryant:                      Yep.

P Eleftheriadis:             And you spoke very entertainingly if I may say so about the shenanigans and the corruption. I am, as you know a candidate for the European elections in Greece and there’s a huge issue with corruption #18.22 parliament. In all sorts of things. I think I’ve seen it all before in history of British parliament. What changed British parliament if it has indeed changed since the 19th century.

C Bryant:                      Well there were a group of reformers basically, and some courageous individuals. But it came in waves. Nothing was ever achieved all in one fell swoop. You know even what’s referred to as the Great Reform Act in 1832 which actually abolished some of the…there were parliamentary seats in this country that had no voters living there.

P Eleftheriadis:             Yes.

C Bryant:                      And they could, the seats could be bought and sold. And they were bought and sold right up until you know 1812. One was sold for £32,000. And the Crown was very involved in that. The government always made sure that it won and so on.

P Eleftheriadis:             The electorate was tiny only  - about 6% after the Great Reform Act

C Bryant:                      Even after the Reform Act.

P Eleftheriadis:             It doubled.

C Bryant:                      Yeah. It was still, yes, but it was still tiny.

P Eleftheriadis:             Did you know that in 1844 Greece gave suffrage to all men without property - 1844.

C Bryant:                      And it was 1919 in this country that we did it.

P Eleftheriadis:             So there’s a long history... But you see…

C Bryant:                      Well you are the cradle of democracy.

P Eleftheriadis:             Well it happened in modern history too.

C Bryant:                      But when they say that it’s a kind of slightly A version of democracy.

P Eleftheriadis:             Well yeah.

C Bryant:                      My point is that there’s lots of versions of democracy.

P Eleftheriadis:             Indeed. Indeed.

C Bryant:                      You could, you know that the House of Commons voted for a representative system of voting in 1911. But the House of Lords voted for a different system and then we ended up sticking with what we have. But way back beyond, we used to have probably a proportional system.

P Eleftheriadis:             Right. Now let’s come to that now because we are discussing electoral systems in Greece at the moment, and one of the big problems is how big the constituencies have become. Athens has 2 constituencies. Piraeus and- the biggest cities – made up of 6 constituncies – I think a third of the parliament. So if you want to be a cabinet minister you stand in those constituencies. And you appear nationally. But it costs a lot of money and you get a lot of television exposure. So what, I mean I think that we, what’s your experience of the single member constituneies when were you elected?

C Bryant:                      13 years ago.

P Eleftheriadis:             13 years ago.

C Bryant:                      There is a strength about the single member constituency which is that you…

P Eleftheriadis:             How are you selected by your party?

C Bryant:                      My Party advertised. And I applied.

P Eleftheriadis:             Yes. And anyone could apply?

C Bryant:                      Any member of the Party could apply.

P Eleftheriadis:             Any member of the Party.

C Bryant:                      And the local members, all 400 of them, had first of all they had little branch meetings to nominate people. And then a shortlist was drawn up. And then there was a Hustings meeting at which people could vote. We made our little speeches, we were asked questions and then you had a vote. And I won. And we used an exhaustive ballot to win. So you vote, and then you eliminate people. Until somebody gets a majority yeah.

P Eleftheriadis:             Yes. Yes.

C Bryant:                      The…

P Eleftheriadis:             Do you need money now when you campaign for your election?

C Bryant:                      You need a bit of money. To get selected. Maybe £400, £500? Which might be prohibitive for some people.

P Eleftheriadis:             My constituency right now is about 10 million people.

C Bryant:                      Right. My constituency is 50,000 voters.

P Eleftheriadis:             50,000 voters.

C Bryant:                      But to get elected in a general election, I probably spend £5,000. Not me personally but my local party.

P Eleftheriadis:             Well I probably spend much less than that for my 10 million.

C Bryant:                      Right. But it’s not my money. My Party pays. The problem about…

P Eleftheriadis:             My Party’s very poor. I pay for everything myself.

C Bryant:                      The problem with our system is it’s very difficult to set up a new party.

P Eleftheriadis:             Yes. In Greece too, yes.

C Bryant:                      You have, but you have the dominance of the more or less the 2 party system or the 2½ party system that we have in the UK. The whips. You make sure that business is carried through in Parliament and you make sure you vote with your party. They have a great deal of power - but it means that actually, the big parties are actually a coalition of views.

P Eleftheriadis:             Yes.

C Bryant:                      So often, the press, the media is about teasing, about apart the difference within the coalition. Within the Labour Party.

P Eleftheriadis:             Right.

C Bryant:                      Between the Socialists and the Democrats as it were.

P Eleftheriadis:             Right. Now, you were a Minister for Europe.

C Bryant:                      Yes.

P Eleftheriadis:             For a while. I’m sure you follow what’s going on. I mean what’s one of the most important challenges for the next 5 years. This European election. What will they decide? - but the European Parliament. What do you think is on the agenda for the next 5 years in the European Parliament?

C Bryant:                      Well, if you were to read the British Press you would think that Europe is a basket case and it’s all a disaster and we’re all going to hell in a handcart and all the rest of it. I actually think that the European Union is the greatest single political success that I can think of.

P Eleftheriadis:             I agree.

C Bryant:                      It’s meant that countries which in my lifetime were dictatorships either of the left or of the right, in Spain.

P Eleftheriadis:             Bulgaria, Romania.

C Bryant:                      Bulgaria, Romania. Are now not dictatorships. You do not have the death penalty. You do have free speech, etc etc. You have recognition of human rights across the continent. You have a market where you can’t use anti competitive practices to prevent other people from entering the market. You can’t have monopolies and all the rest of it. It’s far from perfect. 

P Eleftheriadis:             Well the criticism in Greece is that the European Union, Europe as a whole is attacking social rights. Is that right? What do you think? You’re a Labour Party member.

C Bryant:                      It’s not. My reading of Greek politics - and I’m not by any means an expert -  but my analysis was that you’ve had 2 parties which have become dynasties.

P Eleftheriadis:             Yes.

C Bryant:                      That’s never great, I think for politics.

P Eleftheriadis:             No.

C Bryant:                      It’s concentrated in very small number of families.

P Eleftheriadis:             Yes.

C Bryant:                      It’s become a class of its own. There’s a problem about this incidentally in the British Parliament as well.

P Eleftheriadis:             Yes.

C Bryant:                      And also, the thing that I think that you’ve done amazingly well is that for centuries you were a diaspora nation. You exported people.

P Eleftheriadis:             Yes.

C Bryant:                      And then 10, 15 years ago you started importing people. In particular from Albania and elsewhere.

P Eleftheriadis:             Yes, yes, yes.

C Bryant:                      And that, I mean to manage to do that without violence…

P Eleftheriadis:             Yes. Until the crisis there was no violence.

C Bryant:                      Yes.

P Eleftheriadis:             Since the crisis started, there is violence and of course there’s violence and of course there’s Golden Dawn – the raicit part  as you know ??

C Bryant:                      Yeah. But to, but I would say that . Because you gave the word diaspora to the world.

P Eleftheriadis:             Yes, yes, yes. It was very open. For all this time there were no problems, there’s no hint of violence.

C Bryant:                      But also you know, you had, we all laughed about all those unfinished houses in Greece when nobody was paying any local income tax.

P Eleftheriadis:             Yes, yes. Final question. My Party is campaigning for civil partnerships, gay civil partnerships. What’s your experience in, you are yourself in a civil partnership.

C Bryant:                      I am.

P Eleftheriadis:             How did this change happen? In my time in Britain attitudes have changed completely in 20 years. What happened? What changed now, you know for equal rights for everyone?

C Bryant:                      When I was first involved in the Labour Party in the early 1990’s, Mrs Thatcher had introduced laws which prohibited teachers from referring to homosexuals as equal members of society. You had anybody who mentioned gay rights was described as loony left and was hounded out, you know it was very very difficult. And it’s been an amazing transformation. You know one of the big things that changed it was that Members of Parliament started to come out. Chris Smith in particular. And then a few others. And because in the end, I mean this is a bit Pauolo Ferreira but I believe that you can only liberate yourself, you can’t liberate other people.

P Eleftheriadis:             It’s a cross party agreement - it’s not a Conservative, it was never a Conservative Labour disagreement?

C Bryant:                      It was a Conservative Labour [disagreement]. Yeah. It was big time.

P Eleftheriadis:             Really?

C Bryant:                      Yeah.

P Eleftheriadis:             Because it’s not any more is it? I mean its total consensus.

C Bryant:                      It’s not total consensus. There’s never total consensus. Most of the people who voted against were Conservative.

P Eleftheriadis:             Right.

C Bryant:                      I mean 95% of the people who voted against gay marriage here were Conservative. But even the Conservative Party has moved dramatically. The most interesting thing is of course the role of the church. Because in the United Kingdom, 30 years ago church men would have said, bishops would have said that your sexuality is your choice. You’ve chosen to be homosexual. Nobody says that now. So if it’s no longer a choice, and it’s just a fact, then maybe it’s God given your sexuality. In which case then the whole argument against homosexuality falls apart. The religious argument against homosexuality falls apart.

P Eleftheriadis:             Chris thank you very much. Thank you.

 

https://youtu.be/wqo-dtGP0fY