Andrew Neil with the current political news, interviews and debate, including the latest on the new GCSE exams and what it will mean for teachers and pupils.
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Afternoon folks. Welcome to the Daily Politics. Goodbye GCSEs,
hello "Gove Levels". Education Secretary Michael Gove announces
plans to shake up secondary schools exams in England to make them more
rigorous. We'll discuss the plan with former Tory Education
Secretary, Ken Baker. Iain Duncan Smith faces questions about his
plan for universal credits with reports that the country's most
senior civil servant is out to block the reform. We'll discuss the
Welfare Secretary's big project. Scores are written every year, but
can political books really change anything? Can writing one really
help your political career? And could Britain see a full state
funeral for King Richard III? We'll hear from one MP who wants a
military procession, lying in state - the whole works - if this
skeleton turns out to be the 15th century king. All that in the next
hour and with us for the duration Patrick Diamond from the left of
centre think-tank Policy Network, he was once adviser to Tony Blair
and Gordon Brown. Don't blame us! And by Ruth Porter from the Free
Market Institute of Economic Affairs. Welcome to the Daily
Politics. Let's kick off though with an interesting line from the
latest British Social Attitudes report which is published today.
The survey reveals the proportion of people wanting increased public
spending - even if it means higher taxes - has gone up for the first
time in a decade. But only by a little. It has gone up to 36% while
55% want spending levels to stay where they are.
Isn't that the dip lem ma for a left of centre party at the moment?
To act collectively in various ways and even at this will time when
public spending has been cut, there is only 36% want more public
spending? That's right. The numbers favouring more public spending have
increased in recent years. That's a sign that people are worried that
the cuts which the current Government are carrying out are
biting hard. It is a dilemma for every left of centre Government.
What's the right balance to strike between taxation and public
spending and do people feel they are getting value for money out of
things like the NHS and schools? have been talking about a small
increase, there is a big increase in the number of people who think
the NHS is in decline. That's surely more worrying? Well, it is
interesting in that when you look at outcomes in health, so far
people have felt that the NHS is delivering and it is not. The
Government is trying to reform the Health Service whilst also trying
to say that the Health Service is delivering. I think at some point
it needs to change that narrative if it is going to get public
opinion on its side. Why do you think people are saying
it is not as good as it was last year? Is that because they have
tried to reform it? Because the media and the Labour Party have
been saying these reforms are terrible? Or do you think people
are experiencing a worse service on the ground? I think people are
bound to be experiencing a worse service on the ground and the
Government needs to play catch-up and start pointing to the fact that
the NHS has not been delivering and make the case.
There is a disjuncture between how people feel about their local
hospital or GP and how they feel about the National Health Service
as a national entity. And there is no doubt that the impact of the
Lancy Reforms has sapped many people's confidence in the NHS.
John Major said yesterday that the economy has, "Passed the the
darkest moment." I think he might have talked about green shoots
which no minister will do. We are used to reporting bad things about
the economy that sometimes we miss a turning point and bad is always a
better story thang good. -- than good. Are there signs that the
worst might be over? It is difficult to tell. There is a
problem with the kind of language that John Major was using in the
sense that there is a lot of evidence that many people out there
in the real world of experiencing problems with the economy, not
least the huge numbers of young people who are unemployed and
haven't been able to find jobs or college places when leaving school.
There are real issues about performance of our economy at the
same time, we have to recognise that the return of economic
confidence is very, very important to us getting out of this economic
mess that we're in. So we're -- restoring confidence is important.
Ruth, it is still bad, but have we passed the worse? It is hard to say.
Things with the eurozone could get worse.
But that got better? It keeps getting pushed into the long grass.
We don't know. Some of it depends on that. But yeah.
Ruth is right, international circumstances matter a huge amount
to the UK. We are an economy that relies on exports, the health of
the eurozone will have a crucial impact on our our ability to
recover. That might be another reason for
being positive. We were covering stories about Kate's pictures, some
events took place in Europe. It is time for our quiz. The question
today is which of these is the odd one out? George Osborne, Alex
Salmond, Theresa May, or Bojo, also known as Boris Johnson!
I have worked it out myself! Have you worked it out? Just about.
Have you? No idea. LAUGHTER
We'll see. We are probably wrong. They are calling them Gove Levels a
new system of exams intending to sweep away GCSEs. The reforms don't
affect Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. The Education Secretary
alooning with the -- along with the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg
who was hostile to the plan will announce the details later today.
So what's it all about? Well, the current system of modules and
assessment, will be replaced by one exam per subject at the end of a
two year course like the old O- levels. Each exam would be three
hours long. They can be as short as 90 minutes. There will be no
opportunity to bump upgrades by resitting parts of the test. If
students are unhappy with the grade, they would have to resit the exam.
The new exams would include more maths and more full length essays
and a return to English to foreign language translation tests. 22% get
an A or an A* grade at present, with a new course as few as a%
would be expected to get a grade one. The Government plans to launch
the new system in the autumn of 2015 which would mean we would see
the the first examinations in the summer of 2017. So that's where we
are. Let's go to our Adam to get a bit on the politics of this. April
dam, are you there for -- Adam, are you there for us? Afternoon, Andrew.
Tell me this Adam, it is good to see new the glorious sunshine there.
Mr Clegg seemed to be against this when it was originally announced,
now he is standing by Mr Clegg to announce it. What happened? Well,
the Government decided to junk this idea of a return to a two-tier exam
system like the old O-levels. Now you might remember right back at
the start of the summer, leaked documents from the Department for
Education suggested that's what Michael Gove wanted to do. Nick
Clegg read about that in the Daily Mail and was furious and took a red
pen to that idea and Number Ten were surprised by it too. That
queued through or four months of wrangling and that's led us to this
point today. Having said that, there is not going to be a two-tier
system, there has been hints there will be some differentation by
ability in the new exams. We don't know what form that will take. We
will have to wait until Michael Gove, the Education Secretary
stands up in there at 3.30pm to outline his plans.
Does This have the hallmarks of a prom pro mice that doesn't --
compromise that doesn't please either side. The Lib Dems wouldn't
have gone back to an O-level system and if Mr Gove got his way he would
be introducing two new exams? the Lib Dems are happy this lunch
time and they are pointing to two things as they see as victories,
one, the stuff we were talking about. They are going to use this
catchphrase, they will have an exam system where no child is left
behind. The other thing they are happy about is the timetable for
this because bear in mind pupils will not start studying for the
exams until 2015 which means they won't be sitting them until 2017.
In political terms that's years away in case there are problems
with the introduction of this new system. Coalition Coalition sources
think this is an example. Example of the way the the parties are
working together. Two new words Prolition and colicios!
We are joined by Kennet Baker who still keeps a deep interest in
matters education particularly in schools. Were you the architect of
the GCSEs? Keith Joseph was. He started them. I implemented them. I
think they have they have watered down over the year. They became
less rigorous, I took a thing called the school certificate. It
was really tough. But it was a certificate that ended education at
16 16 because then you went to work. The first question - why have an
exam at 16 when you are extending the school leaving age to 18?
you keep people in school until 18 who were only doing O-levels? If
you do well at 16, you go on to do A-levels? The real age of transfer
is 14. Test them at 14 and provide the sort of schools that are nooded
for young -- needed for youngsters. This is an academic driven reform
and I welcome it. I guess is... is a radical idea if you are going
to learn a foreign language you should have to translate something
from English into that foreign language? Well, many youngsters in
our schools will not do that. You can forget that.
This is very much a grammar school approach to life. You have got to
remember there are millions of youngsters in our schools who at 14
want a practical vocational, hands on learning. Learning by doing as
well as studying. That's why I'm setting up the university technical
colleges and we are finding by mixing the engineering and maths
together, their maths shoots up. I know you are doing that work in
setting up schools which are more vocational than academic. Are you
sad to see the end of GCSEs are have they become so devalued that
it is time for something new? have to revise the exam system.
They had become devalued, but they are welcome by lots of youngsters.
They are They are proud of achievement, but if you have, you
can't just test at 16 by a three hour exam in every subject. If you
are you are doing a practical subject, you have done project work
and created working together. You have modules. You have got to have
that build in. I don't want vocational qualifications put in
the back yard. They should be there in the front, on the front stage.
I am unclear. Are you in favour of Mr Gove's reforms or not? I am in
favour of the greater rigour in the basic subjects in English, maths
and science. Could that not have been done with
the existing GCSEs? You have to change the syllabus. It takes three
or four years to do that. In trigonometry, how far do you go?
How far do you go? That requires a lot of study and examination and
the syllabuses have to be approved and the teachers have to learn to
teach them. When you want to improve an exam system it is not
like turning up the gas on a cooker to get it hotter. It takes longer
than that to do. And in this change do you fear that
the need for vocational education with rigour? Is not high up enough
in the agenda? Yes, I don't think it is high enough. I am fighting
for it to be high indeed. That's why I am starting these colleges
with Michael Gove's support. I want to make them - look all of Europe
is change to go 14 and America is changing to 14. You have four types
of colleges, liberal arts college, a technical engineering college, a
vocational college and a performing arts college. That's what Austria
does and on Ontario. Is it your under standings that
when the new O-levels came in you would be able to do vocational O-
levels of rigour or will the O- levels be of an academic nature?
There will Be vocational O-levels. I introduced the National
Curriculum in 1998. The National Curriculum should stop at 14 and
you should have a variety of different schools.
This idea that there will be one exam system for each subject,
rather than competing exam systems, providing a range of subjects?
That's good. The big change that Michael is going to do is take out
the exam boards competing with each other. That's been the do you think
grading. That's encouraging the race to the
bottom? That's what happened. It didn't happen in our time,
Andrew. When children took O-levels they were easy.
I I didn't only take O-levels! Isn't the real criticism of Labour
is they spent a lot of money on education and made it a priority of
Government, Mr Blair's famous, education, education, education,
but they seem content to dine out on improving results, even as the
evidence showed that the exams were being devalued. They were becoming
easier to sit? I'm not sure about that. You don't think they were.
a day when we are talking about reforming the qualification for
GCSEs, I think we should remember there are thousands of young people
who have got very good GCSEs grades this year nain previous years, they
deserve them and have worked hard for them. -- this year and previous
years. There is thast' not the issue. There is an issue about the
integrity of the system. I think the point about the competition
between exams boards needs to be addressed and the regulation of the
exam system which again I think the Government will be addressing,
which is welcome. The essential question, which Lord Baker
addressside the question about what is the purpose of GCSE and what is
the purpose of testing people at 16. The crucial question we have to
address as this university technical colleges address, is what
is the route for people who don't want to go on to university but who
nevertheless deserve a hi-quality prestigious alternative pathway. We
don't have that at the moment. Labour may have to implement this
reform and if it gets into power at the next Government, should it or
should it not? I think there are aspects of the package being
proposed that Labour needs to look at. We don't know what Michael gef
is precisely going to introduce but there are aspects that ought to be
looked at by Labour. -- Michael Gove. The original Michael Gove
criticism is you can't have one exam for everybody, one exam for
people who like me read the auto cue and other people who are going
to be nuclear physicists and brain surgeons but we end up with one.
Lord baker is right. We need a system which is more diverse than
what we have. Extra what is extraordinary is the Government has
decided and expended so much political capital in this idea of
just tackling the credibility of our GCSE system. When you look at
the British education system there are far more fundamental issues
which need tackling long before people get through to 16. Looking
at basic skills in things like maths and reading and if you look
at the latest OECD studies we are failing miserably on all of those.
One nice thing is the head boy got a place at Russell university. He
turned it down to do an apprenticeship with Rolls Royce,
because he will get work and probably do a degree afterwards. I
want different pathways for youngsters responding to their
needs. Always good to talk to you on these matters. You may not have
heard for them, su certainly didn't vote for them but the men and women
who work for what we call think- tanks will almost certainly have
had an effect on your life. Why? Because these so-called policy
wonks, who dream up the bright ideas which sometimes form the
policies of our political parties, so they have an influence. Does
that make them a vital part of our democracy or a bnch of theorists
who really should get out into the real world -- bunch of theorists.
As Ken Baker has been saying. Most twopbt Oxbridge. David went to find
This is the natural habitat of the think-tank. It might not look very
exciting but people like these on both the left and right of politics
come up with the ideas which ministers turn into policies which
they use to govern Britain. It's a bigger deal than it looks.
Nick paerdz is one of the kings of the think-tank jungle and a living
example of how xected to Government they can be - nick Pearce. And an
example of how connected to Government they should be. You want
to give ammunition to look into the future. Things that are innovative.
Helping you to think where will we be in two, three, four years' time
and they should be doing things that politicians with their busy
schedules, can't themselves easily do. So it is important for think
tanks to be staying ahead of the curve, and thinking about things in
creative innovative ways, politics is a hard place to do that in.
there are those who believe that governments of whatever colour
could do with a bit less blue-sky thinking and be a bit more real
world. Do I not rely on them to give me ideas and I don't think my
colleagues do. If they need to know something, they go out and find it.
We need to restore our trust with the public. The way of doing that
is to listen to what they have to say and put forward policies they
want. Then there is the question of independence. Think-tanks need
money and it has been suggested one of the best ways to lobby
Government is to sponsor a think- tank event and get them to invite a
sympathetic minister along. There isn't as much money going into
think-tanks so they are having to fund-raise. It is important, if you
do fund-raise to be absolutely clear where you are getting your
money, from what research projects are being funded and you are
transparent and above-board about it. Here is an idea. How about the
people we pay to run the country doing a bit of their own thinking
for a change. If I went out on to the streets of Redditch tomorrow
and asked people what they, were I think I'd get a view blank stares.
I think the people of Redditch expect me and the Government to put
forward policies. That's who they letted to do that sort of thing.
This might look detached from the real world but these people do at
least give politicians something to work, with and you could be
forgiven for thinking they could do with all the help they can get. My
two guests here, Patrick Diamond and Ruth Porter, they are hi-tank
policy wonks themselves, a very weird Westminster breed. Is it
right you should have so much influence on the policy process?
Being -- it's been the way for a long time. I think it is wonderful.
The fundamental principle behind a think-tank is ideas matter. If you
go back that lovely story of Margaret Thatcher throwing down on
the table a copy of skaf constitution of Liberty and saying
this is what we believe in. You have an interesting example at the
moment with Ed Miliband talking about the idea of pre-distribution
and that's clearly going to be something which, whatever name it
ends up with, which is going to influence Labour's thinking over
the months and possibly years to come and the origins and the seeds
for that were in a lecture that was delivered at Demos two years ago by
one of the world's leading political thinkers. I think it is
important. Ideas do have consequences for all of us in the
nitty gritty of our lives. We need it take them seriously. But the
problem is who is coming up with the ideas, the think-tanks, and
there are lots within a stone's through of here. They straight out
of university, wet behind the ears, never had a proper job, never had
to meet a pay bill or done a union negotiation and yet they are coming
up with the way to run the country. Well that's a approximatelyite
description. An extraordinary bit of charm. There are lots of people
working this n think-tanks that come from different backgrounds.
There are people increasingly in think-tanks that come from a jk
ground of having worked in organisations whether they have
delivered things on the ground, whether it is charities or
political enterprise. There is an issue, I think about the proximity
of think-tanks to the political parties. I think where you see
think-tanks making a difference to the debate about the ideas in
politics, it is where they are able to have some critical distance to
what political parties and politicians are saying. When we
have lived through an era in which they have been fundamental
questions asked about our banks system and financial secondor and
fundamental questions asked about how we can fund our public services,
we need think-tanks that have independence from politics and have
the courage to ask more difficult questions than those that are
perhaps asked every day in political debate. In one way you
are not independent, because to get your money, you go to big companies
or vested interests, lobby groups and they finance your seminars in
return for you, because you can attract ministers and shadow
ministers. You give these vested interest of Government ministers.
think there is a difference between think-tanks that do money for
specific research reports. And just having seminars paid for by the
energy industry or the green lobby. Point of independence which Nick
Pearce made in that film, which is very interesting, I think is when
MPs get into Parliament, they are so busy with the day-to-day of
things that they can't take a step back from that and actually ask
questions, genuinely bwhat policies are going to be, not in the
interests of a particular industry, like a trade association, but what
policies are going to be in the interests of the country as a whole.
I think that's the unique space that think-tanks occupy.
I'm still puzzled you can afford to work for a think-tank and live in
London. Because they don't pay very much.
Before you leave, Ruth and Patrick, we need to find out the answer to
our quiz. The question was: which was the odd-one-out, George Osborne,
Alex Salmond, Theresa May or Boris Johnson. Patrick, I think you were
a little bit more sure. I'm going to take a punt at Boris Johnson.
Because... Because he was the only one not to be booed at the medal
ceremony at the Olympic or Paralympic Games. You are almost
right. He was the only one not to be booed but Mr Salmond was booed,
but not at the Olympics. Let's hear a bit of what happened
at the weekend. It was before the weekend, I think. It was in George
Square in the heart of Glasgow. word with the First Minister at the
end here. A proud summer as well. BOOS.
Come on, folks. I think we should say firstly from Glasgow and
Scotland that Colin and his committee in London set the bar
very high indeed. Did a wonderful job. That was at the Olympic
ceremony for the Scottish Olympians and medal winners there. There were
cheers there. It wasn't as quite as clear-cut as Mr Os Gordon Brown.
But we can speak to Torcuil Crichton from Scotland's daily
newspaper. Were you surprised he got booed
even by only part of the audience? Well, you take George Square in
Glasgow where they fly red flags and you take them celebrating the
Olympics and you take a national leader who was disparaging about
the Olympics for seven years, and you just add water. Or maybe oil.
Perhaps. It must have been vicious bus you could tell from the delight
of the reaction from Labour politicians that it had been effect.
Do you think he was surprised by it, he is not used to being booed?
He has been booed in the past. He was booed in Hampden stadium and I
heard at the Military Tattoo. He is a popular politician, he is a
Marmite politician, some like him, some don't, but he has personal
popularity opinions that George Osborne would sell the Crown Estate
for. Don't give him that idea. is satled to this unpopular policy,
independence -- sadled. He is Alex Salmond first leader, associated
with independence. His strategy now has to somehow decouple the
unpopular policy and have a referendum or not and decouple that
from the idea of a popular SNP Government and a popular
nationalist leader because win, lose or draw the referendum, the
SNP will want to carry on governing in Scotland so he has to try to
keep these two, somehow, although it will not be easy, keep these
ideas apart. Is there something significant by the fact that this
happened in Glasgow, which is Scotland's biggest city and the
surrounding area contains about half of Scotland's population and
it is still, as I understand it, quite a tough nut for the
nationalists to crack. It is not national -- natural nationalists
territory and maybe because of Rangers and other things, parts of
it are quite strongly Unionist. because of the working class
protestant inheritance of unionism. Politically Labour, although this
high tide of nationalism, we saw the Scottish Government elections
meant that the SNP now have constituency seats in the Scottish
Parliament in Glasgow. Nonetheless, when they tried to storm Glasgow in
the local government elections, which would have been that next
step towards a successful referendum campaign, Labour stopped
them at the gate. It was a Stalingrad scenario where Labour
had to pile everything into Glasgow to save the day, which they zand
that may well have been the high tide of Alex Salmond's SNP may have
been May 2010 when they won that amazing majority in the Scottish
Parliament. Glasgow has been hard for the SNP.
George Square is where they raise red skies. Thank you for joining us.
A beautiful view of Westminster behind you there.
Thank you for joining us. Patrick and Ruth thauve thank you also for
being with us today. -- Patrick and Ruth. Thank you also.
We have a busy week, today sees the Second Reading of the
infrastructure Bill which gar which allows the Government to guarantee
infrastructure works. And tomorrow Michael gef will
announce the exam restructure. And on Wednesday, Parliament goes into
recess, again, well it has been there for two weeks, there will be
no Prime Minister's Questions. On Thursday, former Liberal Democrat
secretary, Chris Huhne appears in court. That could be worth the
price of admission, accused of perverting the course of justice,
on a speeding offence, a charge he denies.
And the UKIP conference starts in brum on Friday and on Saturday, the
Liberal Democrats begin their autumn skin dig in the delights of
Brighton. To give us more detail we have Westminster insiders, -
actually they are outside Westminster at the moment - and
they may not be allowed back in again. Helen lies of the New
Statesman and Andrew Pierce of the Lots of talk about leadership
threats or unhappiness for Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg. Do we take
any of it seriously? Yes, I think we do. The Tory MPs are very, very
unhappy and unless John Major is right and the green shoots of
recovery are underway I think Mr Cameron Cameron could be in trouble,
but not yet. They will give him a year. The leader who is in most
trouble is Nick Clegg. I think it is inconceivable he will lead the
Liberal Democrats into the next general election. So keep - most
most people are putting their money on Vince Cable. Don't forget Tim
Farran, and he is not a Cabinet Minister so he can speak up for the
Liberal Democrat activist who are fed-up. What have they got out of
the coalition? They didn't get AV or House of Lords reform. They
might get may marriage, but that wasn't in their manifesto.
Helen, do you think David Cameron is not under any immediate threat,
it is the medium-term nonsense? Do you think Nick Clegg is under more
threat? Well, I think Nick Clegg is a useful sponge for the Lib Dems.
There is a testimony temptation that you can pin the unpopular
things on him. But I think David Cameron will be watching Boris
Johnson's conference speech with apprehension.
We all will! LAUGHTER
But more so than anyone else. We know he is a fantastic or ra tor.
He has the freedom of not being in the Cabinet to say the things he
wants to say and he can throw red meat to the Tory faithful.
There is 14 Tory MPs ready to plunge the sword into Mr Cameron. I
suggest to you Andrew there is always in the history of the Tory
Party 14 MPs ready to plunge the sword into their leader? That's
right. You need 46 and that's a long way off, but it is interesting
that one has been publicly outed, Patrick Mercer. He was sacked by Mr
Cameron. Some of the 14 will be people who have been overlooked for
a job and there will be an awkward squad. But there is no doubt behind
the scenes in the House of Commons people are very, very uneasy. They
see how far Labour are ahead in the opinion polls and remember this -
they have not really forgiven David Cameron for not winning the general
election against Gordon Brown who really should have been a walk over.
Helen, what do you make of the love affair now between Mr Clegg and Mr
Gove? They are not out together, indeed we had one description that
now the reform of the GCSEs, that it is a new word colicious? Well,
it it is in the Nick Clegg's interest and the dumping of the
two-tier system. I can't imagine the two of them will be having
country suppers any time soon! They are unlikely bedfellows. I
think David Cameron is - sorry escape Michael Gove is comfortable
working alongside David Laws, it is one of the orange book Lib Dems. A
Lib Dem that most Tories think is in the wrong party.
OK, Helen, Andrew, we will leave it there. Good luck trying to get back
into Westminster. I have spoken to security!
We have been joined by three MPs, the Conservative Chris Skidmore,
labour's representative. Michael Gove and NEC are announcing their
plans to scrap GCSEs. Let's talk about. Is there a concern among
parents and teachers that the exam system in some ways seem to change
every year? Well, for somebody who has taken GCSEs, the real change
that happens is each year that the standards go up and yet, at the
same time, we see from businesses, from universities, they are not
happy with the the results and you have got to take GCSEs in an
international context. You are seeing grade inflation taking place
year-on-year on year and to be fair politicians of all political
parties previously hold your hands up, we have not been honest and we
have not said, "Hang on a second, we have seen past grades going up
from 40% to 70%." And that's what we need to look at. If we are to be
fair on the pupils, if they need to get into university, we need to be
rigorous in our approach to educational stoondz.
-- standards. Did Labour allow the exams to get
easy? No. You have to look at what has been taught at school and the
quality of teaching and I think it doesn't really matter at the end of
the day about the exams. GCSEs are fine and if the Conservatives want
to go back to the old-fashioned system which had a two-tier
system... But they are not going back to that? It might not be the
same. But they are messing up the exam system. If exams didn't get
easier so more and more people get higher and higher marks, how come
more and more people get better and better at exams and yet in every
major international league table we fell down the league tables?
reason people did better because there has been real investment by a
Labour Party Government for 13 years.
Why did they fall down the league tables? Well, they are measured in
different ways. Every one we fell down. Something
is clearly wrong when our exam results showed us getting better
and better and by international international comparisons we were
getting worse and worse, we were below Albania on some things?
mean that's not the real question here. The real question is about
investment in education and about making sure that what has been
taught is being taught well. The children are learning it well and
not messing around with an exam system... Why doesn't that show up
- you are not answering the question. Why doesn't that show up
if we had done this investment and our pupils are getting brighter and
brighter because teachers are getting better and better, why did
we tumble down the international comparisons? Well, there are many
different factors why you can have the comparisons, but to pin it down
to the fact that it is the exam system that has got easier is the
wrong comparison. Why? I am asking you? I am saying
that's the wrong comparison to make. The fact is for some reason we want
to denigrate our young people because they are doing better -
they do. I thought you were against this?
no,, what we are against is having a two-tier education system and
leaving children behind, deciding at age 14 that some children were
less able than others. We have managed to make sure that isn't
what is going to happen in the education system going forwards. We
have problems in the education system. I think the problems we
have is far earlier in the age three to five which is why we have
been pushing the pupil premium, �2.5 billion per year will be going
into educating early years. If Mr Gove hadn't proposed them in
the first place, this is not a route you would have gone down?
is not. But it is a coalition Government.
You don't really believe in it? looked at the proposals. We made
them better. We made sure that no children are left behind.
Children are left behind every day? Well, yes they were.
They have been left behind in the past and they will be left behind
in the future. Look at the number of kids who go to our top
universities who are on free school lunches? The reason that that is
because our children are not getting the basics right at age
three to five. By age five, too many of our children are already
left behind and they never camp up and that's why -- catch up and
that's where we need to be investing most money to turn that
around. I would love to talk more about
this because I am interested. This afternoon the welfare secretary,
Iain Duncan Smith, will be questioned by MPs about his
flagship benefits policy. It is called the Universal Credit. Mr
Duncan Smith wants this to replace other benefits. Reports emerged in
the papers over the weekend of senior politicians against it. The
Social Market Foundation published a report saying that Universal
Credit will lead to increased hardship for benefit claimants.
The Government are trying to prepare families for work and to
simplify the system, but this this single monthly payment is a big
gambling. It is handing overall responsibilities to family and our
research with low income families show many are concern dha concerned
that many will run out of money by the end of the month and it could
cause havoc. Chris Skidmore, the Universal
Credit, what is it? Well, it is a single wrap around payment that
will merge the benefits together. At the moment we have 55 different
types of benefits within the DWP. With that will come a measure where
we will have a tapering system because there is great unfairness
that you can want be in work, but at the same time you haven't got
that cushion because you lose your benefits.
But will it be universal? We don't know what will happen to council
tax benefit? You have got to take that in the context that we have
the highest benefits bill in the whole of Europe and it is
unsustainable. Really? We pay more benefits than
Sweden or France? Yes. Do we? Yes.
Where did you get that from? Western Europe.
Well, Sweden and France are in Western Europe.
More people maybe on it, but that doesn't mean we have the highest
bill? Well, the proportion. We'll look at that. It is not, it
is probably not quite Universal Credit would be a more accurate
name for it, but explain Mr Cameron tried to move Iain Duncan Smith,
but this is very much his baby. The Cabinet Secretary seems to be
against it and the Lib Dems are lukewarm about it. Is the
coalition's heart really in the change? Well, speaking to
constituents particularly at Jobcentre, they think this is a
radical change change that's needed. I don't know, but speaking to other
MPs here, but the number of people I get who have a problem with the
system and the complexity of the system, the number of loopholes and
issues with that needs to be simplified and sorted out. We can't
carried on with the status quo. We can't carry on with the rising
benefits bill. Is Labour, I know you can argue
about details and say you do things in different ways, but a general
proposition, is Labour in favour or against the Universal Credit?
principle Labour said they are in favour of the Universal Credit, but
it depends on how it is put into place. And the fact that you also
have to recognise the fact that there is no one single formula for
each family and what the current proposal doesn't do is take those
into consideration in a Freedom of Information Request about the
Universal Credit to the department which was refused. It seems that
the whole scheme has gone over by �100 million. �100 million wouldn't
be much in a welfare bill of �130 million... �156 billion.
Leaving that aside. More people would go back to work, but that
proposals shows because of the changes to working tax credit,
increasing the hours from 16 to 24, what you are going to have is more
working families lose out on working credits and as a result end
up going into the benefit system system which they are out of.
If Labour wins the next election will you keep the Universal Credit,
or change it in ways you are talking about or scrap it? I think
it will be changed in certain ways. So you will keep it? There are good
things about it. Some things about it are good, but the way it has
been impla thed -- implemented is wrong. Disability benefit benefit
for young children is going to go down. People with young families.
Those are the things we would make sure wouldn't happen.
Would you cut the welfare bill? Some aspects would be cut. What
aspects would you cut? What bits would you cut? Cut down on some of
the benefits. In terms of, for example, we have said that we will
see what the state of the economy is when we get in and then
according to that make an adjustment, but we will not hit the
vulnerable. No, no, you said that. I wonder
Has this policy still got legs? People seem to be undermining Iain
Duncan Smith within the coalition? I don't mean the Liberal Democrats,
I mean the cabinet secretary. It was quite remarkable that Mr
Cameron should try to move Iain Duncan Smith. He has told me both
privately and publicly that this is the one thing that he is in
politics to do, he said to me once - I don't want to do anything else
after this is done. Absolutely and probably the they are probably the
team, in coalition terms that are working best together. Steve Webb
is in there doing the pension side of things and he wouldn't want to
be moved. But they are working well together. All parties would agree
the principle behind this is about making work pay. It's actually how
we do that best. And I think that there are far too many
disincentives in the system as it is at present, as Chris has said,
when you gain work you immediately lose some means-tested benefits and
have to apply for other benefits. By removing a lot of that, it makes
it easier for people to move into work, the taper is far better, so
we can have people working five hours, ten hours, and it still be
worth their while, whereas at the moment it isn't. Is your party
united in this? Only earlier this year, Paddy Ashdown spoke out
against welfare reform and he was against the benefit cap, even
though that will only be reduced to �26,000, which is the average wage
people get when they go out and work, and yet you will still get
benefits equal to the average age of people working, why speak
against it? It is an enormous reform, one of the biggest the
Government has ever tried to undertake which presumably is why
Labour just avoided it for the last 13 years. There will be elements of
Tha'ir lots of people will have issues with. I had issues with some
of the welfare reform as well. You know, I voted against some of the
proposals on under-occupancy, I don't think they are workable in
the present form. But the general thrust of the welfare reform
package, and bringing in Universial Credit, is, without doubt, the
right direction to be going and all parties I think, agree on that.
Have you got a plan B for when the IT system doesn't work? It probably
won't, will it? We have had problems. It won't work. But if you
look at the system currently it is boosted off BBC micro-s. We have to
march forward with this and regardless with technology we will
get there in the end. It is an interesting, huge, reform. Now what
did you read over the summer? That twepbtyi shades of whatnot nonsense
or whatever it was called -- 20 shades. How about Britannia
Unchained. It sounds like it could be written by the same author but
it is a series of essays by proud young Tory MPs who have come up
with solutions for nearly all of the country's problems. They are so
bright, that's what they have done. One of the authors is even sitting
with me here in the studio. But do these books ever change politics?
Adam has been reading between the lines.
Have you got a book called Britannia Unchained? It's by truss
truss truss. -- Liz Truss, Kwasi Kwarteng, Dominic Raab, Chris
Skidmore, Priti Patel. No. They are very up-and-coming.
I'm very sorry. There it is. Now this is a series
of essays about things like the competitiveness of UK industry. How
to cut the deficit, good Tory stuff like that. But it hit the headlines
after the authors accused British workers of being work shy. It's the
latest in a very, very long shelf of political cook books filled with
recipes for policies. Now this is one of the granddadies. The Future
of socialism by Anthony Crosland. Gordon Brown says in the foreword
"It was a wick-up call to a post- war Labour Party. He was a
moderniser before the word became current." Then there is compassion
able Conservatism by Jesse Norman, now an MP. In the mid-2,000s this
is one of the books you reached for if you wanted to know what this new
guy, David Cameron, was all about. And about the Orning Book written
by Nick Clegg, Christopher Huhne and David Laws. Even now, the
Liberal Democrats is split between these guys, who are much more
market-friend lip and those who are much more left-wing. But political
publisher Iain Dale says no MP writes them for the money because
they don't make any. You really write books it make your own rep
pew traigs. Over the past few years you have had a few Conservative MPs
who got in in the 2010 election who are looking it make their names and
stand out from the crowd because there are what, 150 new Tory MPs.
The book-buying public has propelled Britannia Unchained in
7,000-and-something position in the best seller list of a well-known
online retailer but do tomes like this prove more persuasive at
Westminster? What has influence is the ideas of being advanced.
Remember the books are only one aspect. They do it by newspaper
articles, by blogs and interviews on radio and TV. The books by
themselves, no, not many will read them. The view among Parliament's
bibliophiles is that they mark out people who want to get on. It is
not the plot that matters, it is the author. Do you have Full
disclosure by Andrew Neil? You do, and it is only 50p. I'll be
straight around to do it. Thank you very much.
50p. He was robbed. You can get it for 20 on another online list. 20p
that is. So, Chris, what is it like to be 7,430 on the best-sellers
list? It is an honour for a political book. I'm surprised it
got that high so, far. It has only come out. I appreciate the plug.
It'll zm now. You call for - it is a libertarian, Europe sceptic pro-
reform of welfare, further than Mr Duncan Smith could go. There is no
chance that any of this can be done before the next election, in a
sense this is your manifesto for the next election. It is very much
trying to get ideas on the table. There is nowhere on in book that
says this is what the Conservative Party should do to win a general
election. This is about getting ideas out to be debated and
discussed. Very much in the model, - we are now in the 21 century,
looking forward 20 to 30 years. It is an optimistic book. Well there
are two parts, we can keep the stpait us quo or how can we compete
with India and China and the other nations becoming industrialised, in
order to ensure that we continue our place... Are you read this
book? Written one, this one? Written one. No. What political
book influenced you? Well I actually found that the Capital by
Marx and others interesting. There is a bit I particularly liked, but
competition is the last - business people or capitalism needs
competition like it needs a hole in its head. I thought that was a very
good expression. Adam Smith put it much better. When a group of
businessmen get it better, their purpose is to conspire against the
public. He wrote better than Marx. Have you written a bok? I have read
a few. Would you like to do one? Are you going to readbury tan why
unchained? I have to admit I looked it up on a well-known online
retailer. I can get it for �6.28. It'll soon be cheaper than that.
might hold on. But the Purple Book about �6.50. What is that?
Labour Party's equivalent of the Orning Book. You can get it for
�6.50 but you have to pay �10 for the Orange Book. Orange Book must
have been the most talked about Liberal Democrat book of modern
times. People define themselves to it. It is portrayed as being a
left-right split, where your reporter mentioned a number of
people who contributed to it but one of the main contributors was
Vince cable. Nobody would say that the Conservatives look upon him -
well they would say he should be in another party - but not the
Conservative Party. Didn't David Laws call in it for an insurance-
based system of health care. What happened to that? It's ideas. All
out there for ideas. Have you read it It is radical and far-reaching
stuff. Some of the stuff on top-up fees, if we ever get there, will be
welcome. We need to move on. We have an important contemporary
story to do. Very up-to-date. Britain could see a full-scale
state funeral. Oh, yes, for king Richard III. Chris Skidmore here
thinks so, but only if a set of bones that were nound a car park in
Leicester turns out to be the remains of the 159 century king. -
were found. Lin Foxhall is head of the
University of Leicester's School of Archaeology. Does it look like
these are the bones of King Richard III? Well we have a pretty likely
candidate for the body of King Richard III, but at the moment it
is only circumstantial evidence. We have a skeleton, male, clearly
killed in battle and with severe scoliosis, that is curvature of the
spine, buried in a place in the grey friers' Church, where some
historical sources suggested he ought to be buried Grey Friarss
Church. But we need to do more testing to make sure this is really
the right individual, including genetic testing. When skilled
professionals like yourselves and others get to grips with this, will
you be able to tills, reasonably defintively, at some stage, whether
or not this is the king? Well, we hope so. Again, it depends on the
results of the DNA testing. And there are many things that could go
wrong with that. I mean we hope, we're pretty hopeful that we'll get
some good results out of that, but at this stage we can't be certain
and that's going to take about another 12 weeks. I mean it is very
unusual for archaeologists to be able to identify individuals in the
archaeological record. This is extraordinary. And that we have got
this close to even suggesting we have a famous individual is pretty
remarkable. All right let me bring Chris Skidmore in. Why - let's
assume this is the king - why should he get a state funeral?
I think it's followed the traditions of every single anointed
English king or Queen that they are afforded a state funeral at the end
of their lives. We have not dug many up. No but everyone buried has
been given a state funeral. Who is going to pay for the cost? Well it
is something to be debated. I put down the motion to discuss it.
There are interesting things, whether Richard should be buried in
a Catholic orangely cancer mony. would have to be Catholic, he
wasn't Anglican. Well there is a debate. How can you do that in the
modern world, how can you have a Catholic state funeral? Well there
may be Catholic rites so you could have a state funeral wrapped up
within that. But it is worthwhile having a discussion. It is a
remarkable find. Isn't this the chap that killed the Princes in the
tower. Well that's certainly debatable. Tudor propaganda. I am
have written a become about the Battle of Bosworth. I'm having to
rewrite it because of the findings. People went missing. He Boss the
Battle of Bosworth. Professor you must be excited about this, whether
or not the bones should get a state funeral, it is a great find. It is.
This is a debate we need to have further down the line. We're
following, as all archaeologists should, the English Heritage and
the Code of Ethical Practice for dealing on burials. And English
Heritage's view on Christian burials is when you reinter the
bones, where they get reinterred is a matter for discussion between all
the relevant interested parties. Now in the case with a remarkable
situation and a remarkable individual like this, there are
some very important interested parties, including the Church of
England and possibly the Palace, certainly possibly Parliament. So I
think we're going to have this debate later. All right, professor.
I'm sorry I have to interrupt. You will need the professor of
diplomacy when it comes to all that. Thank you for joining us. People