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Morning, folks. Welcome to The Daily Politics. I'm at work, are
you? Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers aren't.
They've taken to the streets angry over proposed changes to their
pensions and how long they'll have to work. That's the view in central
London, where the main march is about to start. It's estimated
750,000 people are taking part in industrial action across the
country. Thousands of schools are shut across England and Wales.
Government ministers had to cross picket lines in Westminster this
morning. The Government says it's still negotiating with the unions.
We'll be asking, will there be a compromise? The PM's also on a
collision course with his mates in Europe. No surprise there. The EU
is calling for an increase in it's budget. Call Me Dave's not happy.
Some people call him Red Ed, but is he actually on a mission to turn
Labour blue? Or even purple? Are you going colour blind yet?! Ed
Miliband's new policy wallah will It could end up a rainbow coalition.
I see what you did. All that in the next half hour.
With us for the duration, Labour peer, Maurice Glasman.
Welcome to the programme, the first time, I think. It is, thank you.
He's also personal guru to Ed Before we talk about strikes, let's
turn our eyes briefly to events in Europe, because the EU's talking
money again. It wants a 5% increase in its budget for the seven years
from 2014. This is at a time when national budgets across Europe are
being slashed. Not music to the ears of the Government, who called
it "completely unrealistic". The Commission is also proposing a
Europe-wide VAT levy and a re- working of the UK budget rebate. No
doubt Mr Cameron will be looking for Mrs Thatcher's au -- old
handbag. What is your view? I think the EU has lost its way, it has
become very administrative, liberal and procedural. The vision is there
and -- is not there. We have to restore proper democratic politics.
A 5% increase, for what? Do you think this government, which often
talks tough and doesn't always act tough, will it to draw what they
call the red line in Brussels, will there be much bluster and they will
walk away from it? I think this government talks tough but is
generally weak and quite confused and they will cave. That should
cheer them up in Brussels if not in the rest of the country.
Picket lines are being set up outside schools, Government
buildings, job centres and courts as thousands of public sector
workers go on strike over their pensions. The Government estimates
that up to one in five of all public sectors workers will strike
today. But who exactly is taking action? And what are they angry
With some schools closed, we thought we'd give our own lesson
this morning. You'll be surprised to hear both sides are claiming
victory in the strike today. There are four unions involved in the
action, three teaching unions and the Public and Commercial Services
Union. According to a Downing Street survey of about 75% of
schools in England, around a third will close, a third will be
partially closed and a third would be open. In Wales it's believed
around 1,000 out of 1,800 are closed. The PCS has about 250,000
members, including coastguards, police support workers, court staff
and UK border agency staff. Airports are warning of delays,
although the Government claims a "vast majority" of courts, job
centres and HM Revenue and Customs call centres would remain open. The
unions are protesting at planned changes to their pensions which
will mean having to work longer, pay more in and receive less in
retirement. The Government argues these changes are necessary because
the current schemes are unaffordable and says the plans are
fair to taxpayers and the public sector. Earlier this morning, I
spoke to Christine Blower, who's the general secretary of the NUT. I
began by asking her whether it was right to strike when negotiations
are continuing. The problem with the talks is that
the government haven't been listening to what we have been
saying. In the Hutton reports, there are no comments about the
pensions being unaffordable. The point is, the government has not
done the evaluation of the teachers' pension scheme. Secondly,
the cost of public sector pensions is set to fall. Hutton recognises
that. Yet the talks from the Government's point of view are all
about implementing what they have already put on the table. That
simply isn't satisfactory. That is why we have decided to take action,
because at last, the media is realising that what we've been
saying all along, about the pensions not going broke and not
being unsustainable, isn't -- is actually true. Aren't these points
that should be raised around the table instead of placards and
freezing central London? You saw Benny Alexander saying, this is the
bottom line, there are no negotiations about anything other
than this. If they were to take the �2.8 billion off the table, which
is what they want to put on to the public sector pension scheme, we
would have something about which we could discuss. That was our
position at the end of January when these talks started. The fact is
there has been no move on the central question of affordability.
We think it is very important that by taking this action today, we are
able to make the case for the fact that Hutton did not say public
sector pensions are unaffordable. The government can't demonstrate
that they are, because in the case of the teachers' pension scheme,
they haven't done the valuation. The how much sympathy do you think
there is for your course, particularly from people not on
public sector pensions, who have had to take a day of work to look
after their kids? Today, we are launching a petition, fair pensions
for all. We recognise that in the private sector, there are real
problems with pensions. We don't want to be in a race to the bottom.
The petition we are launching his for fair pensions across the public
sector, the private sector, and a fair state pension. Yes, we believe
we are all in this together. Rather different from George Osborne.
you disappointed in the stance of the Labour Party? There is no
shoulder to shoulder from the leadership, they have distanced
themselves from today's action. It would appear to be a backlash even
among your firmest allies. I think what Ed Miliband has said is that
this is a failure of the system and the government should have been
negotiating in good faith. That is what Andy Burnham said in the House
of Commons. Of course, there will be Labour MPs who have supported
this, I am not going to name them now. The fact is there are people
everywhere across society who support us. Even parents who are
losing money today, we have had many messages of support from them.
You are being selective about the Miliband quote. He also said
today's action was a mistake and he is taking great pains to distance
himself from it. It is his view that it is a mistake, but not my
view, and not the view of the members who are on strike today.
Because they know that by taking this action, we are exposing the
flaws in the Government's position. If you listen to Justine Greening
or Francis Maude, you will see that they can't answer the basic
questions. The basic questions are about affordability, and whether
the scheme is tenable or not. It's a choice, whether the scheme is
tenable or not. We believe we have systems in place, from the
arrangements were made in 2007, to be able to maintain the teacher
scheme as it is, albeit with a negotiation that contributions may
have to go up. But on the basis of the scheme that we negotiated in
Apologies for the pictures dropping out.
You forgot to put a shilling in the meter.
I am not that well off. We are joined by Nick deep, we hope
to be joined by the general secretary of the Fire Brigades'
Union, Matt Wrack. The government - - we are joined by the Schools
Can we clarify what areas are still open to negotiation and compromise?
Moving pension increases from the RPI index to the CPI index, which
is a tougher index, it doesn't rise by as much as the RPI, though they
both go through the roof at the moment. Is that open to
negotiation? The issues that are being discussed with the trade
unions are about how you implement these different recommendations,
recommended by Lord Hutton. There has to be an increase in
contributions, there has to be some move on the retirement age, because
people are living longer. All those issues are being discussed with the
trade unions. I understand that, so I will come back to my question. Is
the move from RPI to CPI open to negotiation or not? That decision
has been taken. It will be a move to CPI. So it is not? The decision
has been taken. By the norms of the English language as I was taught it,
that means it is not open to negotiation. I have given the
wording as I have given it. What about public sector workers, who
often don't make much of a contribution, they are now going to
make bigger ones, sometimes 3% more, is that open to negotiation? There
has to be a significant increase in the contribution all rate. If these
pensions are to be sustainable... This is what Lord Hutton said, he
said that given the scheme design, the general public cannot be sure
of the sustainability of the pension into the future.
understand that. We have heard all this before. I am trying to find
out what is still open for negotiation. I take it that
increased contributions of up to 3%, maybe more, that is not open to
negotiation. How those contributions are allocated across
the funds and between employees of different salary levels is what is
being discussed. An employee earning under �15,000 a year, we do
believe should be making any contributions increase.
principle of increased contributions of 3% or more, that
is not open to negotiation. concept of increased contributions
has to happen, if we are going to keep these pensions sustainable to
the future. We want teachers and public service staff to have good
pensions, in great contrast to many people in the public -- the private
sector who no longer have defined benefits. I know you have to get
your talking points out, but I am asking specific questions and we
haven't got much time. It would be good if you could stick to the
specific answers. Changing the retirement age, up to an extra
eight years for some people, not as much for others, a substantial rise
in the retirement age, is that open to negotiation? There does have to
be a change in the retirement age. One-third of all active members of
the teacher pension, are already at retirement age of 65. Given that
people are living significant number, it is right that people
contribute longer to the Pensions Scheme, if they are to be
sustainable. What you have just told us is that there maybe a lot
to talk about, negotiations are going on, but on the core
principles of switching from RPI to CPI, increasing contributions by 3%
or more, and changing the retirement age up to an extra eight
years, these three core principles are not open for negotiation.
they are implemented is the issue. That is not the issue, ministers. I
am saying, are they open for negotiation or not as core
principles. I think you have told your viewers that they are not.
they are implemented, the extent they are implemented, is what is
being discussed with the trade unions, this Monday for two hours,
resuming again next week. Which is why we believe that going on strike
is premature, while these negotiations are going on. I am
sorry, Minister. I can understand there are issues of process. Let's
take the idea that some people's retirement age may have to go up by
eight extra years. Is that open to negotiation? The way you put it, it
is as though somebody who is 64 will be working until they are 72.
No, I am not. There is a transitional period for all of this
and all the crude rights will be maintained. Nobody need fear that
the money they have put into their pension will change as a
consequence -- all the accrued rights. None of this will come in
before 2015, there will be plenty of time for it to be implemented.
will have one more go. Is it open to negotiation that some people in
their 50s, mainly women as I understand it, at some stage, under
the current plans, their retirement age increases by eight years. What
they had planned to retire on and what they will, under your
proposals, will change by eight years, is that open to negotiation?
How it is implemented is what is matters, that will determine the
precise retirement age of any individual, the transition period.
We have said that people can still retire at the age they were
expecting to, but there may be an actuary the adjusted figure that
applies to their pension. I believe the unions are issuing
scaremongering statements about the consequences of these reforms, and
that is what the negotiations are about. We understand the passions
teachers have for their profession, we want to maintain good-quality
pensions in the teaching profession. It is part of the overall package
for people working in the public sector, and that is what we want to
You have described what the Government is doing as vicious.
That is a 1970s word, it is doing what a Labour government would have
had to do and what a former Labour minister said had to be done.
last government did significantly changed pensions and we did not
like those. But we were told in 2006 that the changes make would
make public sector pensions affordable for the long term. That
is why we consider this vicious. Horton said affordability has to be
measured by the share of GDP going to pension liabilities -- the Lord
Hutton. This is a nonsense. Given that average public-sector pay it
in this country is higher than average pay and the private sector,
from the office of National Statistics, why should those in the
private sector with poor pensions have to pay more for those and the
public sector with good pensions? Every year, another �10 billion is
added to public spending from private sector taxes to pay for
your pension, why should you not contribute more? We want decent
pensions for everybody. This Government has created a nasty and
vicious attempt to divide people in both sectors. Most have family
members in both. I have a member of my family on strike today as a
teacher and others in the private sector, we reject this idea the
government is creating. Because they have taken it away from people
in the private sector, they want to take it away from you. It is an
outrageous and nasty attack by the government. It is not the
Conservative government that has seen private pensions slight to the
bottom, Mr Brown took 100 and -- �100 billion out of private sector
provision. I do not care who did it, it is disgraceful what happens to
workers in the private sector and I support them trying to defend their
pensions. Lord Hutton has made it clear we want good-quality pensions.
Take teachers' pensions, this year it cost �7 billion a year and by
2014 it will be 10 billion, so we need to take measures to keep these
as high quality pensions that our sustainable into the future. You
referred to the paragraph in the Hutton report saying it is 1.5% of
GDP, but he says that depends on the assumptions you use for life
expectancy, size of workforce. Every assumption and sup with less
than 1.9% of GDP last year -- ends up with. But that was before that.
It was 1.5% in 1999, we are trained to get it to a level that is
sustainable in the long term -- we are trying to. We cannot be sure it
will be sustainable in the future unless we make the recommended
reforms. It Lord Hutton was a Labour minister dealing with
pensions. I understand what he did. Maurice Glasman, you have been
patient. If this is right, a vicious attack on ordinary workers,
why does the Leader of the Labour Party say these strikes are wrong
at a time when negotiations are going on? We have not yet built up
the organisation and the support and the mobilisation, the
compelling alternative. This can be portrayed as a defence of the
status quo. Why does he not support the workers as Labour leader?
this is the result of is the complete dishonour of teachers. So
where is the mutualisation with the public sector? You do not trust
teachers. Teachers have no sense of vocation, no sense of respect. You
have a teacher who is 50 Yate and have been wonderful and served the
children, in your scheme, there is no recognition of good teachers all
those who have given everything to the children. And now she is
looking at less money, working longer, you have really dishonoured
the teachers and no part of your scheme... Do you see this, you
are... I am an an old-fashioned socialist. Do you see this as a
political challenge? I think members, I think they are very
careful about what they do. They study the details of the government.
Do you see it? Pay and pensions of public sector which has -- workers
are a key political debate in Britain today. I know you have a
busy day, so thank you for being here.
Now, we all know blue stands for Conservative. Yellow stands for
Liberal Democrat and Red is Labour. But moves are afoot in the Labour
Party to change all that. Max Hello, today, we are talking about
callers. Weather blew his Conservative, whether read his
radical or whether Green is green - - blue. Let's look at the pictures
you have been sending the and four hour gallery. David Cameron -- sent
us in for the gallery. David Cameron does not like this as much
as this, the Red Tory. It is about Big Society. Nick Clegg has been
working on this for some time, it is the Orange book and it is a
homage to economic liberalism. This is the purple book, from the New
Labour think tank. The idea is blue Conservatism meets read socialism.
But we are here to talk about the work of Ed Miliband. This is Blue
Labour, but he has had a bit of help. Marks tears was -- Mark
Stears was at Oxford with Ed Miliband and is one of the
architects of New Labour. Something went wrong with Tony Brown -- Tony
Blair and Gordon Brown. Labour was so far out of touch with the public.
Labour did not resonate with the public. So it came up with a plan
of doing politics by stealth, to redistribute by stealth and
increase people's right. For a lot of the time, of New Labour was
doing things behind closed doors rather than saying, this is what we
think, this is what we think, how can we find a common good? Blue
Labour wants to reconnect with working class voters who feel
alienated. They want to on a family, faith and community. Policy
relating to immigration and minority rates were not be swept
under the carpet, and Blue Labour wheat to the private sector and not
state to weed growth and provide jobs. This man likes some of the
stuff, but there are plenty of reservations. Some of the rhetoric
suggests the people cannot see anything good that new Labour did
in power for 13 years. And that is unfortunate. Some of the colour-
coded names like Blue Labour, and the purple book, they disconcert
ordinary party members because it sounds like because you are moving
away from the Labour Party must back read that you are going to
ditch values -- the Labour party's red. Politics, branding is
everything, and this is like asking Manchester it United to play in the
kicked of Manchester City. -- Manchester United.
We're now joined by Danny Finkelstein, of the Times, and
Maurice Glasman, of course, to talk about Blue Labour.
So many viewers do not know what Blue Labour is about. What is the
main difference between Blue Labour and New Labour? It has disrespect
for the managerial are some and has more on a for the workforce. So if
you talk about schooling, we would like to see parents have a third of
the power and teachers and the state or local authority, and
negotiate a common good. New Labour look for managerial solutions in
the private sector that led to the banking collapse, and to the public
sector... We but people and relationships first. What is the
difference between Blue Labour and Old Labour? There is a distrust of
the Keynesian economics. The idea you get a few people that worked at
Oxford and put them in the Treasury and it will be all right.
Miliband also did PPE at Oxford, so did his brother and Ed Balls.
there is a problem with the way working class leaders have --
working-class readers have not come through, we have become to
managerial. People who have not had the experience of life. If you look
at Bevan, they Union was their teacher and they would great
teachers. The difference between old and new is that we rejected the
nationalisation model. And we are very interested in the German
social market economy, particularly in vocation. What do you make of
this? Some of it is good, some of it is right. Some of it makes the
Labour recognise issues they did not recognise enough empower. But I
am worried it sounds quite nostalgic and it moves the Labour
Party towards a class analysis. A lot of talk about respecting the
working class or public servants, I am in favour of respecting
everybody, but with an issue like pensions, it is about distributing
money between one person and another. So the respect you showed
teachers are increasing their pensions is disrespect you show to
security guards charging them to pay for it. So there are
distribution issues. There are a lot of be questioned. New Labour
believes in distribution of income? Do not be too anxious! People keep
going, I am really worried. Read it carefully and do not drum -- jump
to premature conclusions. This is just crazy. Security guards,
cleaners and cooks is my central concern, so to talk about not being
concerned about living wage... Naturally. This is just wrong!
There is no nostalgia. Naturally, you have respect. But Arab
distributional questions and I do not think you have sold those --
but there are. And talking about respect for working people, there
were people he sustained Labour full sums to -- for some time in
power and Tony Blair's concentration on middle-class is
help they stayed in power. And I am middle class. I am in favour of the
German model that favours both sides, there has to be a big change
in the way we conceptualise public funds... I am sorry we have had to
rush this. These are some pictures of what is happening, that is the
march in central London. Thanks to our guests. I'll be back tonight
for This Week with the author Michael Rosen, Adam Boulton and