30/06/2011 Daily Politics


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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


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