16/04/2012 Daily Politics


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Afternoon, folks, welcome to the Daily Politics. So MPs return from


their Easter break after all of the chocolate, and it when the gloves


off as they get down to fighting a whole host of elections. David


Cameron was out on the stump with his candidate for London mayor this


morning, and he will be launching his party's campaign for the local


elections in England later today. We will be talking to party


chairman Sayeeda Warsi. We return to Bradford West, the scene of


George Galloway's triumph last month. He returns to Parliament as


an MP today. We will be talking to the man himself. And should


politicians published their tax returns? We sent Adam out with


balls in hand. They should, everyone else has to, we all pay


taxes. But we do not publish our tax returns. But we do not hide


All that in the next hour, and with us for the first half-hour today


his former Paralympian Tanni Grey- Thompson, who now sits in the House


of Lords as a crossbench peer. Welcome to the programme. Let's


start by talking about the Paralympics. We have had the lot of


things from viewers wondering whether you support the company


which has people's -- which tests people's ability to work sponsoring


the Paralympics. It is a decision that is way above anything I am


involved in. They take a great deal of care with the companies they


allowed to sponsor the brand. However, I have had hundreds of e-


mails from disabled people saying they are concerned about the


process they go through. Summer that is set in regulations, some of


it is the DWP, and there is a case to say that the process must be


adequately scrutinised. A number of centres have not been accessible.


It is difficult for people to go through that. Isn't it a bit ironic


to have that same company, bearing in mind there are lot of disabled


people are unhappy about those tests, that the same company is


also sponsoring the Paralympics? think it is part of what happens in


business. You could pick out any of the sponsors and say, you know,


there could be issues with it. Sponsorship of the Paralympics is


entirely different to what happens with the assessment process. For me,


I want to make sure that process is absolutely right to make sure the


right number of disabled people get benefits. We have had a response


from the company, which says they conduct assessments on behalf of


the DWP and has a professional dedicated team to conduct the work,


and they say that in an annual survey the team achieved a


satisfaction rating of about 90%. Are you surprised by that? You can


get statistics to say whatever you want. Out at two from people saying


that they are very happy with the process, but the number of e-mails


I have had suggests we need to look at it again to make sure it works.


What about disabled campaigners proposing a boycott? Paralympians


have spent too long training for it, it is too big a deal. The best


thing a Paralympian can do is win a gold medal and then you have a


different platform to speak from. It may have escaped your notice,


but elections are looming. On the 3rd May, local elections will take


place across Scotland and Wales, and in 128 local authorities in


England. Londoners will elect a mayor and members of the Greater


London Assembly. There are also mayoral elections in the Opel and


Salford. 10 cities will hold referendums on whether to have


directly-elected mayors. In Doncaster there will be a


referendum on whether to abolish the position of directly-elected


mayor. Joining the from the launch of their campaign is Conservative


Party chairman Sayeeda Warsi. Welcome to the programme. It has


been a pretty... Good afternoon. has been a pretty dire few weeks


for the government, whichever way you cut it, accusations of a budget


for the rich, do people on the doorstep think we are all in this


together? Well, look, this is not the best of circumstances or the


best backdrop against which we are fighting these local elections.


Indeed, for any party in government, local elections are always a


difficult time. And of course we also have this particular occasion,


seats that we are fighting which are what I would consider Devine


Labour heartland, because we fought these four years ago when Labour


were twentysomething in the polls and were fairly low in the polls.


But what we do have is good Conservative councils up and down


the country who have delivered in very difficult circumstances, and


the simple message at these elections is, do not allow Labour


to do to your local councils what they did to the country. Are you


expecting big gains? Well, the independent assessment has said


that the Labour Party should gain about 700 seats. So you will have


big losses to deal with? Of course, or those predictions, we will not


be having the best of nights. It will be a difficult night. But


having said that, I have been going up and down this country


campaigning alongside my councillors, and what I am hearing


is that local people are satisfied in the way in which Conservative


councils have been run, where they are preserving frontline services,


whereas what they find in Labour areas, where Labour councils are


being run, is that not only are they spending money on things which


are not considered a priority, but they are not taking advantage of


council tax freezes offered by the government. Back to the slogan that


has been with the Conservatives for the last few years, we are all in


this together, but in the words of David Davies, the tax on charitable


donations is an assault on the Big Society idea. You agree with him?


No, I think the argument that has been put, and let's remember that


his is out for consultation and was always intended to be out for


consultation. You have had a barrage of opposition. It is about


whether or not those people who earn a lot of money and quite


generously give that away to good causes, whether they should also be


paying income tax. What George Osborne and the Treasury found was


that a lot of these very generous people who give to great causes


actually give to them, make the choice of where their money should


be going, but actually do not pay much in terms of income tax. It


cannot be a fair society where those who are poor one middle


incomes do not get a choice of where their money goes because they


give to the generic welfare fund, known as paying your tax to the


government, but those who are better off can organise their


resources in a way where they get to choose where their money goes.


We have to strike the right balance between making sure that those who


give generously continued to be supported, but also pay their share


towards the generic good of the welfare state. So do you include


the Tory party treasurer in that? Stanley Fink, the treasurer, is a


fantastic guy, and I have known him for many years, hugely generous...


But he does not pay enough tax? course, he has quite rightly raised


concerns about whether or not the implications of this would be that


there may be a reduction in the amount of giving to good causes.


says there will be, that he will give less money. Stanley think,


along with many other people who give so generously, will be part of


the consultation, and I am confident they will be able to


strike the right balance between making sure that rich people


continue to give generously and support good causes and also make a


contribution to the general public purse. You yourself have been a


great advocate of listening to activists and listening to what the


grassroots are saying, rather than the voices of MPs and ministers.


Let's take the 50 pence rate of tax, grassroots Tories did not want that.


Sorry, I did not catch that, Jo. Grassroots Tories did not want the


50p tax rate remote. The decision that was taken by the Chancellor on


the reduction to 45p was a decision based on how much revenue was being


raised. Sure, but... Taxation is all about making sure that we get


the most Lee Camp of those that can afford to pay. But he didn't listen


to activists on that issue. clearly shows that at 50p you are


raising less than what you would raise at 45%, so activists of all


political parties would say it is better to get more from the rich


than less from the rich. Let's have a look at the post-budget U-turns


that have been reported in the papers. On the charity Relate tax,


you talk about the consultation, you think it will be draft for


change? As I had said, this was always intended to go out for


consultation, and it would be wrong for me to predict the wrong --


outcome of the consultation. That would be a Labour consultation,


predicting the outcome before you have spoken to people. It will be a


proper government consultation. I would like to see a balance


struck... Because it is wrong? believe in people being allowed to


give generously to charities, it is something that I do, that many of


my friends and family do, but we also pay tax to the Government, and


I think it is important that we strike... You said it has got to


strike a balance, is the proposal as it stands now wrong at the


moment? The proposal is going to go out for consultation. It would be


wrong for me to predict the outcome of that, but it would be right for


me to ensure that all voices are heard during that consultation,


which is why I have been peaking -- speaking to philanthropists to make


sure that their voices are heard loudly when the consultation takes


place. What about the pasty tax? Should there be a U-turn? Well,


let's talk about what it is all about. Labour tried to make out


that it was some sort of major class war. Let me tell you from


somebody who was working class and Northern, it is not a class war,


because actually many people go out and buy a chip butty for their


lunch are as a snack, and that has 20% tax on it at the moment. It is


absolutely right and then that if you buy hot food, whether from the


fish-and-chip shop, the chicken shop or a pasty, it cannot be fair


that you buy -- a 20% tax on fish and chips, 20% on a chicken and


chips, but not on your plastic. no U-turn there, what about...


think it is a sensible measure. What about the conservatory tax, as


the Tory MPs are calling it? Well, look, Jo, this is an interview


about local elections. I can give you chapter and verse on every


single provision in the Budget. What I'm saying is that the


measures we are announcing in the Budget, they were measures that


were supposed to simplify the tax system, measures which are supposed


to be more fair, to make sure that those who can pay tax should pay


tax, to make sure there are no loopholes, as with the pasty tax,


make sure that we get the best possible that we can for the public


purse, so that we can spend it in the best interests of the nation.


But those measures have upset an awful lot of people, a lot of them


Tory MPs and voters who will be talking to about these things on


the doorsteps. The conservatory tax, will it be dropped? It is my job,


Jo, to make sure that the voice of actor bursts up and down this


country is heard by the Prime Minister and Cabinet colleagues. --


activists. It is why I am on the road to make sure those voices are


brought back. But it is also my job to make sure that every decision


the Government makes is not a decision made in party interests


but in the national interests. It is why we formed a coalition, and


David Cameron is the leader of the Conservative Party, but I have


great respect for him that he does not analyse every single decision


that his government makes through the lens of what is right for the


Conservatives, but the lens of what is right for the country. That is


the kind of Prime Minister that I want to see.


Tanni Grey-Thompson, you have been listening to that, what you think


about the prospect of local elections? It all becomes extremely


partisan as they attacked each other on all fronts. What does that


do for voters? I think people are slightly bored of it all, to be


honest. I spend a lot of time talking to young people about what


they think of politics and sport, and when I have 17 year-olds saying,


we are sick to death of soundbites, that is a big wake-up call for


politicians. Politics at the moment is quite bland. You see people


spinning out the party line. As a crossbencher, I am in a privileged


position that I can say what I think, and it is up to me, no-one


is telling me what to say. We see too much of the party line. We are


going to see a lot more of it before these elections. Last month,


George Galloway confounded many people and won the Bradford West


by-election in spectacular style. It was considered a safe Labour


seat, but standing for Respect, he won with a 10,000 plus majority. He


now claims to be the Robin Hood of British politics and will be sworn


in as an MP in just over an hour's time, and we will be talking to him


in a moment, but there's Len Tingle takes a look at how his victory is


shaping the local elections and Bradford.


One week ago, this man would never have dreamt of standing as a


councillor, but now the political future of Bradford could be in his


hands. He is the candidate for Respect in Bradford's Little


Houghton Ward. This is a great opportunity, a real opportunity to


have a change and bring about change, and this is what is needed.


Lots of people who are first-time voters and have just got involved


in politicians. Previously, the 43- year-old youth worker had not even


been a member of a political party. The political weather which was


dark glance over Bradford for so many years has now been swept away.


-- clouds. At his victory rally, George Galloway promised that his


party would fly at Bradford with council candidates. In fact, just


12 are standing. But it could still cause major problems for this man,


Ian Greenwood, the Labour councillor defending his seat in


the area. He also happens to be the council leader, and Labour is just


one short of an outright majority. My own view is that you might local


elections on local issues. I was born and brought up there and have


represented the ward for 17 years. I understand the concerns that


people have, they are about in particular the fact that they are


suffering under government cutbacks, the fact that young people cannot


get a job, the fact that the regeneration of the district has


The other parties insist it's not just a two-horse race. Does that


make it tougher for you? That's a by-election. Local election people


look at the person. People want to know their local issues. I think if


we offer a positive vision, and continue our positive campaign, I


hope the people will see that we are fighting for them and fighting


for Bradford. With three weeks to go before polling day, this ward is


likely to be a major focus of attention.


Joining me now is the new MP for Bradford West George Galloway who


will be sworn into Parliament in just over an hour's time. Welcome


to the programme. Thank you. These local elections will be the first


test of the Bradford spring, are you worried it might Peter out


after the euphoria of the by- election, that it won't translate


in the local elections? We had a thank you party yesterday. We


catered for 250 people, but 1100 people turned up. That might have


been because the curry was good, but it's also an indication that


the wind is still in our sales. We'll see. What are your


expectations then? We have deliberately targeted 12 seats with


a view to holding the balance of power and we're campaigning for a


Yes vote in the referendum so we can get a directly elected mayor


come November, which we will -- think will be a breakthrough for


the people in Bradford. Why is Respect not fielding candidates in


Birmingham which was a strong hold for the party? Yes our champion


there has been poorly. She would have led the campaign. She lost her


seat, didn't she? No, she stood down through ill health. She


narrowly avoided winning the Parliamentary seat twice and may


well stand again if there's a by- election when she's better.


party is not fielding candidates there? We're not fielding


candidates in Birmingham. We are in Bradford and other parts of the


north. This Bradford spring has started in the north. The sun has


risen in the north and we hope to fan out across the country. We're a


very small party with very few resources, less than �10,000 was


our annual income, Labour's was �9.2 million. We'll talk about


party funding later. Coming back to Bradford, it's starting there, in


your words, what are you going to do for Bradford? We heard there


that it should be about local issues, what issues would you


champion? The Odeon is falling down, there's a hole in the city centre


where the Westfield Shopping Centre was suppose to be. We're asking


what kind of council knocks down the centre without any guarantees.


What are you guaranteeing? Heads roll. Whoever signed a contract


without penalty clauses so that the they can be recompensated for the


failure. We have a campaign to bring public attention to the


chronic levels of unemployment. What is the level of youth


unemployment? It has tripled in a year and risen by 40% in 12 weeks.


What can you do in Parliament to change it? Speak about it. You're


going to be in Parliament regularly? Yes, I will be. I'll be


appearing on the media and the media seem to want me to appear,


including your good selves, so the first thing I've done is draw


attention to Bradford's problems. I will be responsible for projecting


solutions to those problems over the weeks and months ahead. Will


you focus on unemployment more in the coming months than things that


also appeal to you on the interNational stage? I don't think


it's either/or. One of the reasons I won such a majority was because


the other three parties have an iron clad consensus in support of


the war in Afghanistan. We said that the war in Afghanistan should


end right now and our soldiers brought back before more of them


come back in boxes. So, these are not issues that are easily accept


rabble, but neither would it be right to concentrate on one more


than the other. What do you make of the situation in Syria, should


Bashar al-Assad stand down? There should be a free election. That's


not really possible at the moment. The fighting isn't going on...


truce hasn't held that well. Kofi Annan thinks... Not only do I not


support Bashar al-Assad, I never did support Bashar al-Assad. I


support the Syrian people's demands for democratic change, just like I


do in Saudi Arabia. Now, you would never ask anybody here if they


supported democratic change in Saudi Arabia and you need to ask


yourselves why your researcher prepared that question rather than


say do I support democracy in Saudi Arabia, it's just a point. Only


because Syria is so much in the news. Saudi Arabia isn't in the


news, but ought to be. Syria is in the news, I know why and you know


why. Let's ask about Egypt then, who would you like to see win the


forth coming Egyptian presidential election? I'm not sure that the


name will mean much but the best candidate is Dr Fatou. There have


been disqualifications in the last few days. I'm touched that you're


interested in on my views on that. You have talked widely about the


Middle East. I want to popular ise his name. Thanks for the


opportunity to do so. In erms it -- in terms of views expressed, how


important was moral or religious views in terms of your win in


Bradford? Moral views are important in politics. The morality of


killing people for profit. The morality of stealing from people in


the way that the economic system we have does. The morality of having


children in mass poverty whilst others frolic in riches. These are


important moral questions in politics. But the main reason,


frankly, that I got the land slide majority I did, is the wholesale


rejection of the three cheeks of the same backside that represent


the mainstream political parties. On one of the moral issues coming


up and has been talked about on gay marriage, have you decided how


you'll vote on that issue? Is it coming up, I don't know if it's


coming up? I have a long record of supporting equality for gay people.


Long before others in the mainstream parties did so. I'm


certainly not going to change that stand, because I believe in


equality. I believe we're all God's children. I believe that our


behaviour will be judged by God on the last day. And not by men on


this day. Tanni, listening to George, saying that the main reason


he won that election with a land slide, you could say, is because of


the rejection of the three main parties, do you agree with that?


Yeah I do. I think it's getting harder for people, it's fine when


you're deeply involved in politics like we are, most people feel it


doesn't touch their lives. It's getting harder for people to see


the differences between the parties. On tax returns, would you publish


your tax return? Do you think the politicians should? Everyone should,


yes. That's what happens in the United States. I think it's a good


practice. They're not obliged to by law, they just do. I think the


House should voluntarily do that. I register all my income in the


Parliamentary registry of interests, much more than I'm forced to do.


You wouldn't be concerned by scrutiny? Everyone knows what I


earn, which can't be said for all MPs. All right, George Galloway,


thank you. Now, reforming benefits for people


with disabilities is always difficult and emotive. This


Government's under fire because from next year, it intends to phase


out the Disability Living Allowance and replace it with the Personal


Independence Payment. Ministers say the change will make sure money


goes to those who really need it and it will save billions of pounds


over the next three years. Campaigners claim that not only


will it force thousands of disabled people out of work, but in a worst


case scenario, could end up costing more. Who's right? David Thompson


went to find out. The RNIB resource centre in London,


it's choc full of gadgets designed to help the blind and partially


sighted live as independent as possible. But as with most things


in this world, they cost. There is some Government assistance for


those most in need, the Disability Living Allowance for example. Help


with care costs goes from just under �20 to �73.60. There's a


mobility allowance worth as much as �51.40 a week. More than three


million people get DLA and that costs an estimated �12.6 billion a


year. That's a problem. The number of people claiming DLA has trebled


since it was introduced 20 years ago. It hasn't really been reformed


since then. There's a concern that because there isn't an independent


medical assessment at the moment, we're spending too much money on


the wrong people so there's less to go round for the people who really


need it. A little industry has sprung up of companies who will,


for a fee, help you work the tests, say the right things and get the


money. So from next year, the Government will introduce the


Personal Independence Payment, saving, they hope almost �3 billion


in the first three years. The new scheme will feature more rigorous


assessments and a stream lined scale of payments. Ministers say


that will allow money to be targeted at those would really need


it. Campaigners argue this is all about cutting costs. Either way,


will it work? The campaign group Disability Rights UK is considering


mounting a legal challenge because it believes that in the rush to


make savings, ministers haven't shown their workings. In a report


due to be sent to the Department of Work and Pensions later this month,


it claims that even based on the lowest estimates the Government


could end up saving almost �630 million less than expected. That's


because it believes ministers have failed to take into account the


impact made by things like the loss of tax revenues, increased benefit


payments and the cost of assessments. Worst case scenario -


the new scheme could actually increase the benefits bill by


hundreds of millions of pounds. We think the Government has acted


irresponsibly in not assessing properly the full costs to


Government and the impact on disabled people. We could see many


thousands of disabled people in work lose work. It would undermine


our objective if we didn't per sue all options available to us. We


believe there's a strong case for a legal challenge to the Government's


plans. Baked beans. Heartless and stupid ministers snatch benefits


from the needy in a kak handed attempt to save money, well, maybe


not. When you look at the fact that it's trebled since it was


introduced, they're only trying to get it back down to the levels that


it was at in about 2009, so really, actually, this is quite a


conservative estimate of how much they might save. Is it possible to


reboot a multibillion pound part of the benefit budget without knock-on


effects. We do support reform that improves benefits for disabled


people. But this is not a case of reform. This is a clear cut and


uncosted cut that could have massive implications in public


expenditure down the line. Tugging at the heart strings is often the


easy way to make a point, but in a time of austerity, it's the purse


strings which make or break the argument.


We're joined now by the minister for disabled people, Maria Miller.


Before we come to you, I'm going to come to you first, Tanni, we aerd


there that the numbers receiving DLA has risen by 30%, that's a very


large increase in the last eight years. Surely, there is a very


strong case for reform? There's a very strong case for reform.


Personally I want to see money go to the right people. But I think


once people are on DLA, we have to make sure in transition and when


they go to Personal Independence Payment, they don't lose out. I


want disabled people to be in work. DLA is an important part of helping


keep disabled people in work. does that money go towards? People


can spend it on whatever they choose to spend it on I think is


quite important. For me, I use it to pay for hand controls on my car.


I use it for the extra cost of getting around. Where I live in the


north-east public transport is not accessible at all. It's very


important that people can choose how to spend it. For an individual


it's not a huge amount of money, but for me, it's making a huge


difference to disable people's lives. It's about giving them an


opportunity to live, not just to survive. And you're being accused


of taking that opportunity away. Surely that's not what you want to


have numbers of disabled people going down in terms of those who


are going to work. What disabled people tell me is that they want to


be able to live a more independent life. That's driving all the


changes that we're making across Government, whether making more


money available for adapting people's houses or more money for


specialist employment support. can you do that making such large


cuts? Rereforming DLA to make sure the money goes to the right people.


At the moment we know �600 million is going in overpayments to people


who may no longer qualify for the level of support. Do you agree, do


you think that amount of money is going to people who don't need it


or deserve it? It's really hard. Some of the figures were arriving


late in the reform bill. One of the things we need to look at with the


impact assessment is making sure the figures are right. We have


access to the figures. At the moment, I can't, there are probably


a few people claiming DLA who shouldn't be, I don't know the


figures. The statistics were produced under the last


administration in 2005. How have they done them if they haven't done


tests until now on whether people need that living allowance? In 2005


it was clear that �600 million was going out in overpayments and �190


million going out in underpayments as it were, people not receiving


enough money. We have a real problem with the money not getting


to the people who need it most. I think the telling statistic is that


over 70% of people are receiving this benefit for life with no


reassessment, and that's no way to administer a benefit. That can't be


right. There will be some disabled people whose disabilities will be


there forever and others, do you accept, that the situation could


change, in that sense Maria Miller has a point. People have


fluctuating conditions. But it's making sure that the right people


are retested. There's a cost... are the right people, when you say


that, who are you talking about? Are you looking at list of people


claiming DLA, isn't everybody the right person to be tested? You can


put certain people in boxes and say your condition will never change.


I'm paralysed my condition will never get better only worse.


There's no point testing somebody like Tanni is there? For the


assessment we're work closely with organisations, disabled people to


ensure we have the right advice in place for testing people. Clearly


we won't retest people at the same intervals. But it is important to


make sure that people are getting the right support and if their


situation actually gets worse that they're getting support that they


need. You haven't brought people along with you, because disability


rights UK could launch a legal challenge. So these reforms have


not convinced the lobby you are Reform is needed. I do not think


there is any debate... But they are contesting that your sons are not


correct, and that you can actually end up saving less than you expect.


Do you admits that? I do not know where they have got their figures


from on that. 70% of people at the moment are getting this benefit for


life, we have �600 million going out in overpayments, and at a time


when we have to make sure that every single pound is working hard


and supporting disabled people who needed, it is right that we have


assessment. Why is it from this particular lobby, that most people


would agree, even if some people are being overpaid, they need this


money? As this Clare said, it is not about making cuts to the amount


of money that we are spending at the moment. We are continuing to


spend the same amount. It is about making sure the money is going to


the right people, and at the moment we know that is not the case.


you convinced? No OBE, half a million people could lose out in


the transition. I would back the government to ensure they track the


disabled people who do not make the transition. We might save money by


cutting some people from the I P, but it could pass costs to other


areas. It could push people into greater need. The government has to


respond to the Joint Committee on Human Rights by the 1st May, and a


lot of people will be interested in that response to see what happens.


We spend �40 billion to support disabled people in a whole variety


of ways. DNA is only one part of that. We have seen significant


increases in other parts of the budget, and we have to look at the


package of measures in the round. Thank you both very much. MPs get


back to work this afternoon fresh from the Easter break to discuss


what they will be talking about, we enjoyed by Polly Toynbee of the


garden and Fraser Nelson of the Spectator. How would you


characterise the last few weeks post-Budget for the Conservatives?


She shambolic, chaotic, humiliating, the list goes on! But now we have


got David Cameron and George Osborne back in the country, they


are going to try to get a grip of this. We have seen that with the


Treasury fighting back over the charity tax, giving you a list of


the offenders who do not pay enough tax in their view. You can see them


trying to wrestle back control of the news agenda, and they are


hoping the media will turn its focus on to the Labour Party and


how badly they are going to do in the upcoming local elections. It is


a strange strategy, not what they are doing right, but what Labour is


doing wrong, and that is what they're going to try to encourage


us journalists to look at. And we may well be doing at as the


elections approach, but going back descending is said, the Treasury


put out figures showing the percentage of millionaires who pay


the basic rate of tax, why has it taken them so long? If they were


going to have a fight back, they should have done it a while ago.


Because they are not particularly well-organised. This is the hugely


embarrassing thing. It is not that bad policy but basic organisation


that they have not been capable of. Here we are, three weeks after the


Budget, and only now pollinating the arguments that they should have


been making before. If I were David Cameron, I would be asking what my


Chancellor is playing at, making these arguments now, not weeks ago.


Polly Toynbee, the other side of the coin, polls have shown, is that


people to support the idea of rich people pay more tax, but they do


not like the idea in terms of charitable donations. It is a


difficult one to play? I think it is. On this one, the government is


on the right track, but they have played it very badly indeed. I


think there is real indignation at discovering that very rich people


pay incredibly little tax. Some as little as 10%, San none at all.


Whether taking on charities was wise, I rather doubt, because there


are lots of things that the rich can do to close down first, tax


havens, moving money into private equity, building up lots of debt


and setting it off against your profits. I think they had gone for


that first, rather than charity, they would be in less trouble. But


they are right about charity, too. There is no reason... We hope the


rich continue to give to charity, but why should the state have to


subsidise that? They may be things that are not the state priorities.


If you look at what charities include, it includes a charity for


helping Japanese dogs. It includes anything that is on the Charity


Commission's lists. I cannot quite see why the taxpayer has to fund


whatever eccentric tastes billionaires might have. Well,


let's get to the issue, whether it is bad organisation, as you have


said, Fraser Nelson, or are they of the ball in policy terms? Looking


at the publishing of tax returns, for example, is that wise? How far


should you go? Should the disclosure go all the way down in


terms of politics, or just Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet? It is a bit of


a red herring, if you asked me. We know how much ministers get paid,


they have to tell Parliament, and it is no great surprise if a tax


return is the same. This is happening because the Government


wants to help Boris stick it to Ken Livingstone, his tax returns are a


source of embarrassment. That is what this is about. It is a big


question where you draw the line. You include spouses? They often


earn more because of their position and proximity to government. You


end up with the Swedish situation where everybody knows what


everybody else is earning? I have a feeling, after the mayoral election,


it is going to die out as an issue because they will have made the


point, which is that Ken Livingstone is a dirty tax Dodger.


On that claimed by Fraser Nelson, he would deny that, Polly Toynbee,


it could be quite difficult on the local elections for Ed Miliband,


particularly in London. Well, I think it is very difficult. I think


that Labour is very conflicted about a lot are the candidates that


they are putting up here and there, but what is important is that


Labour does really well in the local elections. I think that they


are very much underestimated in public, what they are actually


likely to achieve, and they need to achieve at least 50% more than the


numbers they are talking about now. They probably will. This is a


classic collection in tough times when the government of the day can


accept a thorough kicking, and I think Labour should expect to do


very well. A new poll out today looking at the Lib Dem chances


reckons that the next election, they are only due to win seven


seats. The Lib Dems will be very worried, too. Thank you very much.


With me for the rest of the programme are Conservative MP


Nicola Blackwood, Labour's Jonathan Reynolds, PPS to Ed Miliband, and


Liberal Democrat Julian Huppert. Welcome to all of you. Jonathan


Randles, picking up on what Polly Toynbee said, how many seats should


Labour be aiming for in these local elections? There are a lot less


seats at this year, so it is not something you can make a direct


comparison to, so 350 would be very good. It should be nearer 700. Four


years ago, when Labour was not doing particularly well, surely


they have got to be up to 700, or it will be seen as a failure.


other parties will put a figure on it, it is expectations management,


everybody is used to it. Four years ago, it was a difficult day for


Labour, but that does not automatically mean it will swing


back. We see a lot of volatility in the elective. We are putting a


sensible projection what we think we can gain, and it is about


rebuilding from what was a very disappointing general election


result. We heard from George Galloway talking about his outright


rejection of the three main parties, including the Conservatives. Is he


right? There is a lot of political disillusionment. People feel


politicians are not listening, and on the doorstep there is a feeling


of that, and I think you generally to get that in the middle of a term.


Especially when governments are having to make difficult decisions,


the decision we are having to make at the moment. But the solution, I


do not think, is specific policies for parties coming out and


attacking people. It is politicians getting out and campaigning at


talking to people and seeing that we are real people trying to


address their concerns. So you do not think it is policies, the post-


Budget policies like the charity tax relief, the pasty tax, the fuel


crisis, none of these things then much in terms of the way people


will vote? I think all of those things matter, but I do not think


that is the source of the political disillusionment. I think the source


of that is that people do not be engaged with politicians themselves.


We have got to get out more locally, face to face with voters, talking


to them, engaging with them on issues that matter at a local level.


It is also down to local activists, local councillors, local membership.


I think that there is a great feeling of disengagement and this


enfranchisement, and that is part of the problem. Isn't the point


that the activists are the ones who are disillusioned with the policies


that we have been talking about, and that is why you're not getting


local poll? I have more people out canvassing with me on every session


now than I had before the last election, even. So that is not


something that I am experiencing a my constituency. So I do not think


that is a problem that I am having, and I do not know if that is


something that other members are experiencing. None of them will say


they are having problems with that, but Polly Toynbee gave that


prediction that the Liberal Democrats would only have seven


seats out of the number they have currently got. Are you very fearful


of these local elections? They were terrible for you last year. Polly


has a record of putting a very spun position on that, and we have seen


all sorts of odd predictions. It was a spectacularly bad time for


Labour last time in these elections, just after Gordon Brown had doubled


the tax rate on low income earners, whereas we have lifted two million


people out of income tax. The idea is that they will do relatively


better, so you are going to suffer. They did spectacularly badly then.


On the doorstep I have been finding out that what matters is what


happens locally. We live in a bubble where we talk about the same


issues that we will discuss, but that is not what comes up on the


doorstep. People care about what is happening locally. In Cambridge, my


constituency, people like the fact that their councillors have been


helping them with issues, running a city that has low unemployment than


it had under Labour, the lowest of any city in the country. It is


local issues that matter. No Liberal Democrat council has


increased council tax. Where they have been well run, they will do


well. You cannot get away from the unpopularity of the coalition and


the budget, and I have never known a but it been so unpopular for so


long. I have quite staunch Conservative areas are my


constituent, and the disillusionment is palpable. There


is a lot of anger caused by the pasty tax and the granny tax and


the row over charitable giving. They do not even seem to think that


the government is there for them, and these are Conservative voters.


There is always some spillover of national politics, but as in


Bradford West, it spills over to every political party, not just the


party of government, which is why local issues are much more


important than they ever have been before. Should politicians reveal


or not? And talking about their tax returns. We send Adam to find out


what you think. We are here at HM Revenue and


Customs, the home of the taxman, and were going to get the public to


vote on whether politicians should publish tax returns, yes or no.


Should politicians published their tax returns? Why do say that?


idea! I think transparency is the best thing, really, because that


way the public will not have anything to say, we will not have


any reason to have any doubt in where we are putting our trust.


Thank you! Thanks very much. It is a personal thing, you pay your


taxes, don't you? Simple as that. Wouldn't it be good to have a bit


of evidence? Where is it going to stop, spouses, children? Some of


the politicians are pretty well the people, and I believe, may be


wrongly, that some of them are probably in the bracket where they


are not paying the full whack of tax that the rest of us are. Who'd


you think would have the most interesting tax return? George


Osborne. Do think it might put people off going into politics?


might put the wrong people off. dodgers! I will take one of your


papers, if you take one of my balls. Whoops! Do think politicians


should... They should, everyone else has to, we all pay taxes.


we do not publish them. We do not have to, because we do not hide


anything. Maybe they do not hide anything. Maybe they do! Would you


be happy to publish your tax return? It ain't a problem to me!


How much you pay quite -- how much you pay? Quite a lot! Call me back


later with the number! After an hour of intense ball action, you


can see the Yes camp is well in the lead, although when you ask people


about the details, they tend to get Yes and no, because why should they


pay, because it's supposed to be private. In the current way things


are going, it's needed for visibility and clarity. Should it


be all MPs, just the Cabinet or the top table of the Cabinet?


you're asking too many questions in the morning. Always more tricky


when you start to think about them. The public is a -- eligible to know


what they pay... Do you want to think about it and come back at


lunch time? Yes, would that be OK? Come back at lunch time. I wouldn't


want mine published, it's not anybody's business. Oh, yes. Grab a


ball. There you go, a resounding vote in favour of politicians


publishing their tax details. A lot of the people who said yes were


civil servants. I'm off to show this to the tax man.


How funny that there, he's outside the Treasury offices, they were


probably all civil serve abts. I've been joined by Nigel Farage, people


would like politicians to have tax rushes -- returns published. In the


spirit of transparency should they just do it? Transparency can be a


deceptive word. We applied it to the banking sector, look what good


it did us. The public are angry about the misuse of public money


through expenses, perfectly understandable. The public want to


know their politicians are having to live and abide by the same rules


they are. That's a perfectly reasonable thing that the public


should want. If you start to say that people in politics must


declare their tax return, there may be information on that return that


actual sli private, charitable donations perhaps would be a good


example. But I also think where does this finish? Why not bank


statements, why not your leaving School Report? Where do we go with


this. That's the point, where do you go with it? Would you like to


see politicians have their tax returns published? I wouldn't have


a problem with it. Where would you stop it? I'd want protections. You


wouldn't want spouses or partners doing that or medical records.


where does it stop? People will say actually we've seen your tax return,


it's not very interesting, for example, you know, your PAYE, I


want more. This is where it's come from, we have a privileged


administration, particularly the top rate of tax, people want to


know who is benefiting from this. Because they don't feel they are


benefiting from it. That's the motivation for this. The Government


hasn't become a hostage to fortune. By going down that route, the cash


for access then a link in people's minds people having access to top


politicians, then the top rate of tax being cut, now they want to see


everything. Yes, what we have to make clear that there are


privileged people in every party. I think the problem with publishing


tax returns is that what you risk is a real trivialisation of the


debate. People are going to pick out little bits and pieces of the


tax return and the debate will be about that. It won't be about the


simple issue - does the candidate pay their taxes, yes or no? Are


they a British taxpayer, yes or no? That's all you want to know.


but is it? If you get about details, you will go down the expenses route


of having trivial stories again and again in the tabloids which is not


what the debate should be about. That's not helping the political


debate. It's not talking about the important democratic issues which


we should be debating before elections. It's damaging the


discussion. I think people, most people, assume politicians pay


their taxes. What they want... all people are assuming that.


of them pay their taxes, what they want to see is the level of tax


they pay. What they want to see is whether politicians are not paying


as much tax as other people on similar salaries. You're on the


street asking this question, I put it to you there are more important


questions, what the public wants, more important than seeing MPs' tax


rurpbdz, they want to feel that there are people in Parliament in


touch and expressing their ideas on issues and not this disconnect and


they want to see more competence in Parliament. Isn't this row about


the budget one of competence? My argument is the more we have to


declare our private incomes, the less chance there is of


entrepreneurs come nooing politics and goodness me we could do with


some. Zou agree? There are questions if you make every


candidate publish their returns. What about yours? Mine is dull. It


says I earn money as an MP and pay taxes. There are wealthy people in


the Labour Party and other parties. There are people who have more


complex arrangements. The vast majority of MPs have fairly simple


arrangements of you know, getting a salary and paying tax on it.


the is -- is the Government considering this? It looks as if


they have danced around the idea, is it more of the I -- a political


weapon to attack opponents like Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone?


They're keen not to be seen to trying to hide anything. There is


quite a large concern surrounding the issues that have been revealed


with the Ken, Boris issue where it was very clear that Ken was


avoiding taxes... Totally legally of course, some would say being


efficient. You have to say, well, should we address the problems in


the tax system to deal with that. We should make it not possible to


avoid taxes in that way. Hang on, if you went down that route, you


would affect every single limited company in this country, please no.


Tax avoidance is legal. I mean has the Government got itself caught up


in language problems here, tax avoidance is legal, companies do it


to be efficient. People have ISAs to be tax efficient. If you go down


that route you will run into all sorts of problems. That's what the


Government is doing having a debate about what level of tax avoidance


are acceptable. What's acceptable tax avoidance? To go back to the


point, the point is that the Government are under pressure


because they've made the wrong decision cutting the rate of income


tax for the people at the top. They feel they have to compensate for


that. Is any tax avoidance acceptable? There's a difference


between tax efficiencies and avoiding rules on taxation. This is


one of the reasons for a general an tai bues rule which we have pushed


for for a while, if you do something simply to avoid paying


taxes, you should look carefully at it. ISAs are legitimate and a


sensible thing. We can't allow the abuse to happen to continue about


Ken or nb else. Stay here all of you, often discuss and so far never


solved talks on how political parties are funded started up again


laflt week. It came onto the spotlight before the Easter break


as cash for access became as a political headache for the Prime


Minister. There's no limit on individual donations but a gift


over �7500 has to be declared. Sir Christopher Kelly clird a --


chaired a report last year calling for a �10,000 cap on individual


donations, and a union opt-in. Ed Miliband called for a �5,000 cap on


individual donations but no change to the system, where members of


unions have to opt-out of a �3 a year to the Labour Partyment


Reacting for the Conservatives, Grant Shapps told the Sunday


Politics that his proposal was virtually meaningless and would


lead to a 1% cut in funding for Labour. The Tories are looking for


a more generous limit, talking about a �50,000 cap on individual


gifts. Nick Clegg highlighted Lib Dem support for key parts of Sir


Christopher Kelly's report including the individual donation


cap but warned increased taxpayer funding of parties was unlikely to


receive much support from the public. We have had this proposal


from Ed Miliband, how should the coalition respond, a �5,000 cap on


donations? I'm afraid it does come across as party political postuerg


because a chunk of the funding is excluded from the proposal. They


would still lose a significant amount of the funding particularly


in an election year. Yes, they would. But when we're talking about


party funding, which is a huge source of concern for the public


and lack of public trust, you need to put everything on the table in


these discussions. Everything has been on the table. No, it's not.


They have said they would put a �5,000 cap on donations except for


those coming from unions. Affiliations. But affiliation fees


and membership fees. Which is a big part of Labour funding. And so, it


just undermines trust in the negotiations. It gives the


impression that Labour are not genuinely wanting to come to the


table. It just does not give the public the sense that Labour Party


are wanting to come to the table and have a proper discussion and


debate about it. Having said that... If Labour did do that, if they went


for the opt-in for the affiliation fees to the Labour Party would you


consider the �5,000 cap on donations, do you think the


Conservatives should consider it? It would certainly give the


impression that Labour are genuinely wanting to come to the


table and have a proper debate it it -- about it. There's more on the


table here than Ed Miliband said than ever before. It deserves a


slightly better response than what the coalition parties have given it


so far. The money scandals in politics tarnish all of politics.


They diminish the job we do. We have to take big money out of


politics. You need a substantial cap. A �50,000 cap is not enough.


We are putting more on the table before. It deserves a serious


response. What about the cap, would you agree? Yes around �5,000,


�10,000 feels like the right number. I was quite encouraged that Ed


Miliband have said this. We've got significantly more donations than


the Labour Party in terms of individual donations. I'm pleased


Ed is starting to talk about. It I'd like to see a change to the


union system. It is not right that people are, have to take an active


step to avoid giving the Labour Party money. There are people in


unions who don't want to do it, but don't take that step. People who


support other parties who do not want to give the money. This is


democratic money. Let people opt in if they want to and if they wish to


give each year to the Labour Party that's fine and they can do that.


They do unite. If you join Unite, or Unison you have a choice between


giving to the Labour-affiliated fund. It's not a case of saying


right I've joined this union... It's a confrontational thing to


join a union but say I don't want to support the party of choice. You


shouldn't put workers in that position. Are you optimistic for


consensus on this? Let's be clear here, we're talking about the cap.


You say let's take big money out of politics, big private money out of


politics and replace it with taxpayer funded money. No-one's


talked about state funding yet. Capped union fees gets negotiated,


simultaneously with the state funding of politics in this country.


It now appears that the three party leaders have accepted that in


principle and I am very worried about that. No they haven't.


don't think they have. You could fill the gap... One at a time. OK...


The limit of �90 million can be reduced. Why do we need big


billboards at general election time. You could cut down on some of the


parts of political spending. You don't need it and that could fill


the gap if donations didn't increase. But that's not really


going to happen. You would have to have some state funding in order


to... I don't think they've agreed though. Has Nick Clegg signed up to


that? No, Nick has said it's not on the table for this Parliament. We


can't say was going to happen in 20, 30, 40 years. It's absurd to say so.


But how do we stop the influence? It's happened with this Government,


the last Government, every Government that money is to buy


influence and power. We have to have political parties that


function and funding them. But not large money from individuals.


cap, your party can't survive, therefore you need state funding.


What about your fund sning We'd be better off. What about the cap?


taxpayer should not bail out individual political parties.


stop you there. I don't hold out a lot of hope for agreement. Thank


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