16/04/2012 Daily Politics


16/04/2012

Former paralympian and crossbench peer Tanni Grey-Thompson is in the studio. Plus, interviews with George Galloway, MP and the Conservative Party Chairman Sayeeda Warsi.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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politicians published their tax returns? We sent Adam out with

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

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 But we do not publish our tax returns.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

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

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

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

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

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things from viewers wondering whether you support the company

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

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

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

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

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mails from disabled people saying they are concerned about the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What about disabled campaigners proposing a boycott? Paralympians

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Salford. 10 cities will hold referendums on whether to have

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directly-elected mayors. In Doncaster there will be a

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referendum on whether to abolish the position of directly-elected

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

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

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

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

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

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

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best backdrop against which we are fighting these local elections.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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the country who have delivered in very difficult circumstances, and

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

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

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expecting big gains? Well, the independent assessment has said

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

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

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

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

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campaigning alongside my councillors, and what I am hearing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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government, but those who are better off can organise their

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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strike the right balance between making sure that rich people

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

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

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great advocate of listening to activists and listening to what the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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proper government consultation. I would like to see a balance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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sure that their voices are heard loudly when the consultation takes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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the Government makes is not a decision made in party interests

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

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

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

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

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

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the kind of Prime Minister that I want to see.

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

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about the prospect of local elections? It all becomes extremely

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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George Galloway confounded many people and won the Bradford West

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

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

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

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

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

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shaping the local elections and Bradford.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ian Greenwood, the Labour councillor defending his seat in

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

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

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

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

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

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suffering under government cutbacks, the fact that young people cannot

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

:15:34.:15:44.
:15:44.:15:46.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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likely to be a major focus of attention.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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expectations then? We have deliberately targeted 12 seats with

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

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

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

:17:08.:17:12.

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

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

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

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

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narrowly avoided winning the Parliamentary seat twice and may

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

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

:17:39.:17:43.

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

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

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

:17:51.:17:56.

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

:17:56.:18:01.

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

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

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

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

:18:18.:18:23.

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

:18:23.:18:27.

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

:18:27.:18:32.

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

:18:32.:18:38.

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

:18:38.:18:45.

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

:18:45.:18:49.

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

:18:49.:18:52.

chronic levels of unemployment. What is the level of youth

:18:53.:18:57.

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

:18:57.:19:01.

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

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

:19:05.:19:10.

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

:19:10.:19:14.

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

:19:14.:19:19.

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

:19:19.:19:22.

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

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

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

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

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

:19:39.:19:42.

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

:19:42.:19:45.

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

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

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

:19:56.:20:01.

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

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

:20:05.:20:09.

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

:20:09.:20:14.

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

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

:20:17.:20:21.

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

:20:21.:20:27.

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

:20:27.:20:31.

supported democratic change in Saudi Arabia and you need to ask

:20:31.:20:34.

yourselves why your researcher prepared that question rather than

:20:34.:20:39.

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

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

:20:43.:20:47.

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

:20:47.:20:51.

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

:20:51.:20:55.

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

:20:55.:21:05.
:21:05.:21:07.

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

:21:07.:21:11.

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

:21:11.:21:15.

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

:21:15.:21:19.

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

:21:19.:21:24.

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

:21:24.:21:28.

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

:21:28.:21:33.

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

:21:33.:21:36.

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

:21:36.:21:41.

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

:21:41.:21:47.

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

:21:47.:21:50.

important moral questions in politics. But the main reason,

:21:50.:21:56.

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

:21:56.:21:59.

rejection of the three cheeks of the same backside that represent

:21:59.:22:03.

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

:22:03.:22:06.

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

:22:06.:22:10.

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

:22:10.:22:15.

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

:22:15.:22:18.

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

:22:18.:22:20.

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

:22:20.:22:25.

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

:22:25.:22:31.

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

:22:31.:22:34.

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

:22:34.:22:38.

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

:22:38.:22:41.

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

:22:41.:22:46.

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

:22:46.:22:49.

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

:22:49.:22:53.

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

:22:53.:22:58.

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

:22:58.:23:04.

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

:23:04.:23:08.

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

:23:08.:23:14.

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

:23:14.:23:19.

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

:23:19.:23:23.

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

:23:23.:23:27.

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

:23:27.:23:30.

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

:23:30.:23:35.

thank you. Now, reforming benefits for people

:23:35.:23:37.

with disabilities is always difficult and emotive. This

:23:37.:23:41.

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

:23:41.:23:44.

out the Disability Living Allowance and replace it with the Personal

:23:44.:23:47.

Independence Payment. Ministers say the change will make sure money

:23:47.:23:51.

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

:23:51.:23:53.

over the next three years. Campaigners claim that not only

:23:53.:23:58.

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

:23:58.:24:02.

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

:24:02.:24:07.

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

:24:07.:24:10.

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

:24:10.:24:13.

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

:24:13.:24:18.

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

:24:18.:24:21.

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

:24:21.:24:28.

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

:24:28.:24:32.

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

:24:32.:24:37.

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

:24:37.:24:42.

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

:24:42.:24:46.

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

:24:46.:24:49.

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

:24:49.:24:52.

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

:24:52.:24:56.

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

:24:56.:24:59.

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

:24:59.:25:02.

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

:25:02.:25:09.

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

:25:09.:25:12.

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

:25:12.:25:17.

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

:25:17.:25:20.

assessments and a stream lined scale of payments. Ministers say

:25:20.:25:24.

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

:25:25.:25:30.

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

:25:30.:25:35.

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

:25:35.:25:39.

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

:25:39.:25:42.

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

:25:42.:25:45.

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

:25:45.:25:49.

it claims that even based on the lowest estimates the Government

:25:49.:25:54.

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

:25:54.:25:58.

because it believes ministers have failed to take into account the

:25:58.:26:01.

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

:26:01.:26:05.

payments and the cost of assessments. Worst case scenario -

:26:05.:26:08.

the new scheme could actually increase the benefits bill by

:26:08.:26:14.

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

:26:14.:26:17.

irresponsibly in not assessing properly the full costs to

:26:17.:26:22.

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

:26:22.:26:26.

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

:26:26.:26:30.

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

:26:30.:26:32.

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

:26:33.:26:39.

plans. Baked beans. Heartless and stupid ministers snatch benefits

:26:39.:26:42.

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

:26:42.:26:48.

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

:26:48.:26:51.

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

:26:51.:26:57.

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

:26:57.:27:00.

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

:27:00.:27:06.

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

:27:06.:27:10.

effects. We do support reform that improves benefits for disabled

:27:10.:27:14.

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

:27:14.:27:17.

uncosted cut that could have massive implications in public

:27:17.:27:22.

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

:27:22.:27:27.

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

:27:27.:27:30.

strings which make or break the argument.

:27:30.:27:33.

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

:27:34.:27:38.

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

:27:38.:27:42.

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

:27:42.:27:45.

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

:27:45.:27:49.

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

:27:49.:27:53.

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

:27:53.:27:58.

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

:27:58.:28:01.

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

:28:01.:28:05.

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

:28:05.:28:10.

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

:28:10.:28:14.

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

:28:14.:28:17.

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

:28:17.:28:22.

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

:28:22.:28:25.

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

:28:25.:28:28.

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

:28:28.:28:32.

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

:28:32.:28:34.

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

:28:34.:28:40.

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

:28:40.:28:43.

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

:28:43.:28:46.

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

:28:46.:28:50.

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

:28:50.:28:53.

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

:28:53.:28:57.

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

:28:57.:29:01.

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

:29:01.:29:05.

specialist employment support. can you do that making such large

:29:05.:29:11.

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

:29:11.:29:15.

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

:29:15.:29:20.

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

:29:20.:29:24.

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

:29:24.:29:30.

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

:29:30.:29:34.

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

:29:34.:29:37.

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

:29:37.:29:41.

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

:29:41.:29:45.

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

:29:45.:29:48.

figures. The statistics were produced under the last

:29:48.:29:53.

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

:29:53.:29:57.

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

:29:57.:30:03.

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

:30:03.:30:06.

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

:30:07.:30:09.

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

:30:09.:30:15.

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

:30:15.:30:20.

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

:30:20.:30:24.

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

:30:24.:30:27.

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

:30:27.:30:31.

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

:30:31.:30:35.

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

:30:35.:30:38.

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

:30:38.:30:41.

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

:30:41.:30:47.

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

:30:47.:30:50.

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

:30:50.:30:54.

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

:30:54.:30:58.

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

:30:58.:31:02.

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

:31:02.:31:06.

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

:31:06.:31:09.

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

:31:09.:31:13.

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

:31:13.:31:17.

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

:31:17.:31:19.

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

:31:19.:31:24.

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

:31:24.:31:28.

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

:31:28.:31:38.
:31:38.:31:38.

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

:31:38.:31:43.

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

:31:43.:31:47.

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

:31:47.:31:51.

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

:31:51.:31:56.

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

:31:56.:32:01.

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

:32:01.:32:04.

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

:32:04.:32:08.

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

:32:08.:32:13.

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

:32:13.:32:17.

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

:32:17.:32:21.

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

:32:21.:32:25.

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

:32:25.:32:29.

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

:32:29.:32:33.

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

:32:33.:32:37.

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

:32:37.:32:43.

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

:32:43.:32:46.

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

:32:46.:32:51.

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

:32:51.:32:55.

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

:32:55.:32:59.

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

:32:59.:33:04.

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

:33:04.:33:07.

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

:33:07.:33:12.

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

:33:12.:33:15.

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

:33:15.:33:22.

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

:33:22.:33:25.

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

:33:25.:33:29.

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

:33:29.:33:32.

garden and Fraser Nelson of the Spectator. How would you

:33:32.:33:36.

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

:33:36.:33:43.

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

:33:43.:33:46.

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

:33:46.:33:50.

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

:33:50.:33:53.

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

:33:53.:33:57.

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

:33:57.:34:01.

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

:34:01.:34:04.

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

:34:04.:34:08.

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

:34:08.:34:12.

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

:34:12.:34:15.

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

:34:15.:34:19.

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

:34:19.:34:24.

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

:34:24.:34:26.

put out figures showing the percentage of millionaires who pay

:34:26.:34:30.

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

:34:30.:34:34.

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

:34:34.:34:37.

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

:34:37.:34:41.

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

:34:41.:34:45.

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

:34:45.:34:49.

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

:34:49.:34:53.

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

:34:53.:34:58.

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

:34:58.:35:01.

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

:35:01.:35:07.

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

:35:07.:35:11.

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

:35:11.:35:15.

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

:35:16.:35:19.

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

:35:19.:35:23.

think there is real indignation at discovering that very rich people

:35:23.:35:32.

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

:35:32.:35:36.

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

:35:36.:35:39.

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

:35:39.:35:44.

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

:35:44.:35:48.

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

:35:48.:35:51.

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

:35:51.:35:57.

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

:35:57.:36:01.

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

:36:01.:36:04.

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

:36:04.:36:08.

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

:36:08.:36:13.

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

:36:13.:36:17.

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

:36:17.:36:21.

whatever eccentric tastes billionaires might have. Well,

:36:21.:36:26.

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

:36:26.:36:32.

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

:36:32.:36:36.

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

:36:36.:36:40.

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

:36:40.:36:45.

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

:36:45.:36:48.

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

:36:49.:36:52.

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

:36:52.:36:55.

return is the same. This is happening because the Government

:36:55.:36:59.

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

:36:59.:37:03.

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

:37:03.:37:07.

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

:37:07.:37:11.

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

:37:11.:37:14.

end up with the Swedish situation where everybody knows what

:37:14.:37:20.

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

:37:20.:37:24.

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

:37:24.:37:29.

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

:37:29.:37:32.

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

:37:32.:37:36.

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

:37:37.:37:42.

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

:37:42.:37:45.

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

:37:45.:37:48.

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

:37:48.:37:53.

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

:37:53.:37:56.

are very much underestimated in public, what they are actually

:37:56.:37:59.

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

:38:00.:38:04.

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

:38:04.:38:07.

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

:38:07.:38:10.

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

:38:10.:38:14.

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

:38:14.:38:18.

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

:38:18.:38:25.

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

:38:25.:38:28.

With me for the rest of the programme are Conservative MP

:38:28.:38:34.

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

:38:34.:38:39.

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

:38:39.:38:43.

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

:38:43.:38:49.

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

:38:49.:38:52.

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

:38:52.:38:58.

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

:38:58.:39:02.

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

:39:02.:39:07.

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

:39:07.:39:11.

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

:39:11.:39:15.

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

:39:15.:39:19.

Labour, but that does not automatically mean it will swing

:39:19.:39:23.

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

:39:23.:39:27.

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

:39:27.:39:29.

rebuilding from what was a very disappointing general election

:39:30.:39:34.

result. We heard from George Galloway talking about his outright

:39:34.:39:37.

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

:39:37.:39:41.

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

:39:41.:39:44.

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

:39:44.:39:50.

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

:39:50.:39:53.

Especially when governments are having to make difficult decisions,

:39:53.:39:56.

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

:39:56.:40:00.

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

:40:00.:40:04.

attacking people. It is politicians getting out and campaigning at

:40:04.:40:07.

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

:40:08.:40:11.

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

:40:12.:40:16.

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

:40:16.:40:20.

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

:40:20.:40:25.

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

:40:25.:40:28.

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

:40:28.:40:31.

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

:40:31.:40:36.

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

:40:36.:40:41.

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

:40:41.:40:45.

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

:40:45.:40:51.

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

:40:51.:40:55.

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

:40:55.:40:58.

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

:40:58.:41:01.

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

:41:01.:41:06.

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

:41:06.:41:10.

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

:41:10.:41:14.

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

:41:14.:41:17.

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

:41:17.:41:21.

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

:41:21.:41:25.

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

:41:25.:41:27.

prediction that the Liberal Democrats would only have seven

:41:27.:41:31.

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

:41:31.:41:35.

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

:41:35.:41:39.

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

:41:39.:41:45.

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

:41:45.:41:48.

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

:41:48.:41:53.

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

:41:53.:41:58.

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

:41:58.:42:01.

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

:42:02.:42:05.

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

:42:05.:42:08.

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

:42:08.:42:12.

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

:42:12.:42:16.

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

:42:16.:42:19.

constituency, people like the fact that their councillors have been

:42:19.:42:23.

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

:42:23.:42:27.

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

:42:27.:42:31.

local issues that matter. No Liberal Democrat council has

:42:31.:42:34.

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

:42:34.:42:40.

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

:42:40.:42:44.

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

:42:44.:42:47.

long. I have quite staunch Conservative areas are my

:42:47.:42:50.

constituent, and the disillusionment is palpable. There

:42:50.:42:54.

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

:42:54.:42:57.

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

:42:57.:43:01.

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

:43:01.:43:05.

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

:43:05.:43:09.

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

:43:09.:43:11.

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

:43:12.:43:17.

important than they ever have been before. Should politicians reveal

:43:17.:43:23.

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

:43:23.:43:26.

what you think. We are here at HM Revenue and

:43:26.:43:29.

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

:43:30.:43:34.

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

:43:34.:43:40.

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

:43:40.:43:47.

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

:43:47.:43:50.

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

:43:50.:43:56.

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

:43:56.:44:02.

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

:44:02.:44:05.

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

:44:05.:44:11.

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

:44:11.:44:14.

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

:44:14.:44:17.

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

:44:17.:44:21.

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

:44:21.:44:24.

you think would have the most interesting tax return? George

:44:24.:44:29.

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

:44:29.:44:34.

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

:44:34.:44:40.

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

:44:40.:44:47.

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

:44:47.:44:51.

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

:44:51.:44:56.

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

:44:56.:45:00.

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

:45:00.:45:08.

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

:45:08.:45:13.

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

:45:13.:45:17.

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

:45:17.:45:26.

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

:45:26.:45:31.

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

:45:31.:45:36.

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

:45:36.:45:41.

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

:45:41.:45:44.

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

:45:45.:45:51.

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

:45:51.:45:55.

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

:45:55.:46:02.

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

:46:02.:46:05.

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

:46:05.:46:15.

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

:46:15.:46:19.

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

:46:19.:46:23.

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

:46:23.:46:30.

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

:46:30.:46:35.

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

:46:35.:46:42.

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

:46:42.:46:48.

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

:46:48.:46:52.

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

:46:52.:46:57.

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

:46:57.:47:00.

through expenses, perfectly understandable. The public want to

:47:00.:47:03.

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

:47:03.:47:05.

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

:47:05.:47:09.

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

:47:09.:47:13.

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

:47:13.:47:18.

actual sli private, charitable donations perhaps would be a good

:47:19.:47:23.

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

:47:23.:47:27.

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

:47:27.:47:30.

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

:47:30.:47:34.

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

:47:34.:47:39.

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

:47:39.:47:44.

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

:47:44.:47:48.

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

:47:48.:47:54.

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

:47:54.:47:58.

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

:47:58.:48:00.

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

:48:00.:48:03.

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

:48:03.:48:08.

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

:48:08.:48:12.

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

:48:12.:48:17.

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

:48:17.:48:21.

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

:48:21.:48:25.

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

:48:25.:48:29.

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

:48:29.:48:33.

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

:48:33.:48:37.

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

:48:37.:48:40.

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

:48:40.:48:45.

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

:48:45.:48:50.

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

:48:50.:48:56.

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

:48:56.:48:59.

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

:48:59.:49:02.

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

:49:02.:49:05.

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

:49:05.:49:09.

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

:49:09.:49:13.

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

:49:13.:49:17.

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

:49:17.:49:21.

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

:49:21.:49:25.

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

:49:25.:49:29.

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

:49:29.:49:32.

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

:49:32.:49:36.

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

:49:36.:49:39.

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

:49:39.:49:44.

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

:49:44.:49:47.

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

:49:47.:49:51.

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

:49:52.:49:55.

declare our private incomes, the less chance there is of

:49:55.:49:59.

entrepreneurs come nooing politics and goodness me we could do with

:49:59.:50:04.

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

:50:04.:50:09.

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

:50:09.:50:13.

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

:50:13.:50:16.

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

:50:16.:50:20.

complex arrangements. The vast majority of MPs have fairly simple

:50:20.:50:23.

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

:50:23.:50:28.

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

:50:28.:50:34.

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

:50:34.:50:39.

weapon to attack opponents like Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone?

:50:39.:50:44.

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

:50:44.:50:48.

quite a large concern surrounding the issues that have been revealed

:50:48.:50:53.

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

:50:53.:51:00.

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

:51:00.:51:04.

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

:51:04.:51:08.

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

:51:08.:51:12.

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

:51:12.:51:18.

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

:51:18.:51:24.

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

:51:24.:51:27.

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

:51:27.:51:32.

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

:51:32.:51:35.

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

:51:35.:51:41.

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

:51:41.:51:44.

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

:51:44.:51:47.

point, the point is that the Government are under pressure

:51:47.:51:50.

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

:51:50.:51:53.

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

:51:53.:52:03.

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

:52:03.:52:06.

between tax efficiencies and avoiding rules on taxation. This is

:52:06.:52:11.

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

:52:11.:52:15.

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

:52:15.:52:20.

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

:52:20.:52:23.

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

:52:23.:52:29.

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

:52:29.:52:33.

solved talks on how political parties are funded started up again

:52:33.:52:38.

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

:52:38.:52:42.

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

:52:42.:52:47.

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

:52:47.:52:51.

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

:52:51.:52:57.

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

:52:57.:53:03.

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

:53:03.:53:06.

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

:53:06.:53:10.

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

:53:10.:53:14.

Reacting for the Conservatives, Grant Shapps told the Sunday

:53:14.:53:17.

Politics that his proposal was virtually meaningless and would

:53:17.:53:21.

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

:53:21.:53:27.

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

:53:27.:53:31.

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

:53:31.:53:33.

Christopher Kelly's report including the individual donation

:53:33.:53:38.

cap but warned increased taxpayer funding of parties was unlikely to

:53:38.:53:42.

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

:53:42.:53:47.

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

:53:47.:53:56.

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

:53:56.:54:01.

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

:54:01.:54:04.

would still lose a significant amount of the funding particularly

:54:04.:54:09.

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

:54:09.:54:13.

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

:54:13.:54:18.

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

:54:18.:54:21.

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

:54:21.:54:25.

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

:54:25.:54:31.

those coming from unions. Affiliations. But affiliation fees

:54:31.:54:37.

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

:54:37.:54:41.

just undermines trust in the negotiations. It gives the

:54:41.:54:44.

impression that Labour are not genuinely wanting to come to the

:54:44.:54:48.

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

:54:48.:54:52.

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

:54:52.:54:58.

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

:54:58.:55:04.

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

:55:04.:55:07.

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

:55:07.:55:10.

Conservatives should consider it? It would certainly give the

:55:10.:55:13.

impression that Labour are genuinely wanting to come to the

:55:13.:55:17.

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

:55:17.:55:21.

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

:55:21.:55:23.

slightly better response than what the coalition parties have given it

:55:23.:55:28.

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

:55:28.:55:32.

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

:55:32.:55:40.

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

:55:40.:55:44.

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

:55:44.:55:50.

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

:55:50.:55:54.

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

:55:54.:56:00.

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

:56:00.:56:04.

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

:56:04.:56:07.

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

:56:07.:56:11.

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

:56:11.:56:15.

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

:56:15.:56:20.

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

:56:20.:56:24.

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

:56:24.:56:30.

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

:56:30.:56:33.

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

:56:33.:56:40.

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

:56:40.:56:45.

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

:56:45.:56:49.

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

:56:49.:56:53.

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

:56:53.:56:57.

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

:56:57.:57:01.

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

:57:01.:57:06.

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

:57:06.:57:10.

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

:57:10.:57:15.

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

:57:15.:57:18.

simultaneously with the state funding of politics in this country.

:57:18.:57:21.

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

:57:21.:57:26.

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

:57:26.:57:35.

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

:57:35.:57:40.

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

:57:40.:57:45.

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

:57:45.:57:48.

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

:57:48.:57:52.

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

:57:52.:57:57.

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

:57:57.:58:01.

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

:58:01.:58:05.

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

:58:05.:58:10.

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

:58:10.:58:15.

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

:58:15.:58:19.

the last Government, every Government that money is to buy

:58:19.:58:22.

influence and power. We have to have political parties that

:58:22.:58:28.

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

:58:28.:58:32.

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

:58:32.:58:38.

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

:58:38.:58:41.

taxpayer should not bail out individual political parties.

:58:41.:58:45.

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

:58:45.:58:48.

Former paralympian and crossbench peer Tanni Grey-Thompson is in the studio. Plus, interviews with the new MP for Bradford West, George Galloway and the Conservative Party Chairman Sayeeda Warsi who is at the Conservative's local election campaign launch in Derbyshire. For the back half hour we're joined by a panel of three MPs: Nicola Blackwood (Conservative), Jonathan Reynolds (Labour), and Julian Huppert (Liberal Democrat). UKIP leader Nigel Farage MEP also joins us to talk about tax and party funding.


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