14/02/2013 Daily Politics


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Welcome to The Daily Politics. Horsemeat infected with the anti-


inflammatory butte has entered the food chain. The food standards


agency has revealed that in the last few hours. We will bring you


the latest. Labour make their pitch for the squeezed middle, saying


they would hit the rich with a mansion tax and reintroduce the 10p


starting rate of tax. Will be speaking live to the Shadow


Chancellor. How many Bulgarians and Romanians will come to Britain when


employment restrictions are lifted later this year? The government now


admits they do have some figures, they just won't tell us. And it is


50 years since Harold Wilson became Labour leader, but it seems some


things don't change. They want to see this country standing. They are


getting a little tired of seeing Britain pushed around. Harold


Wilson's very romantic view. Jo and I will spend Valentine's Night


tonight watching five hours on the Parliament channel, that's how


romantic we are! All of that coming up in the next hour. With us for


the duration, the golden oldie of the year. Only one of the many


accolades that has gone to Michael Heseltine. The horsemeat scandal


canters on, so do all the bad jokes. This morning, the chair of the


Commons environment select committee has accused the FSA have


been caught on the back foot. Ministers were in the chamber this


morning to tell MPs of the results of the latest test. We can talk now


to our health correspondent, Fergus Walsh. What people will want to


know, is it safe to eat processed meat? The issue this morning is


about beauty in a horsemeat. I've come from a briefing at DEFRA,


where they have revealed that they've checked 206 horse carcasses


and found that eight tested positive for the drug. Horsemeat,


there are five abattoirs in the UK which are licensed to slaughter


horses. About 9000 horses are exported every year. They found


that eight were positive for phenylbutazone. Six were sent to


France and may have entered the food chain. Whether or not any of


those ended up in processed foods that ended up back on tables in the


UK, well, we don't know. But the really interesting issue is some


officials at the Chief Medical Officer's office have worked out


how much you'd have to eat to get one dose of phenylbutazone. You'd


have to eat between 500 to 600 horse burgers in a day to get a


single human does of it. That would suggest a health safety risk is


vanishingly small. That's an awful lot of burgers you'd have to eat.


So are the government saying to the public, we are not taking processed


meat off the shelves and are not going to ban imports from other


countries? Absolutely. The government has been saying from the


start that this is a food fraud, Amis labelling issue rather than a


food safety issue. Obviously consumers are understandably


suspicious if they can't trust what is on the labels. Is that stuff in


their safe? So far, the evidence would seem to suggest that in terms


of food safety there is not an issue here, not a serious issue.


Although it's worth pointing out that processed food, eating lots of


processed, cheap lasagne and Polonaise is not particularly good


for your health and the long term. It does have a known increased risk


of cancers. You really should be trying to steer clear of processed


meat in the first place. The issue is trust. And whether or not the


public is suspicious while tests are still ongoing. These are just


the results from the first sets of tests on these carcasses. Should


the government at an earlier stage have said, we are going to take


more dramatic action, perhaps taken processed food off the shelves?


don't think they should. The last point your commentator made, that


burgers on not that good for your health and the longer term. Excuse


me, are all these high salt, high- fat foods good for one's health?


His smoking good for one's health? There are a whole range of issues


that come in this category, in an advanced society balances have to


be struck. I don't have any personal knowledge of this


particular situation, although I do know that phenylbutazone is used to


Amelia make pain in horses and sentenced -- certain circumstances.


I listened to the food standards agency spokesman talking about a


comprehensive range of cheques they have introduced. There's always a


weak link in any change. Again, talking to a major retailer about


the problem, he explained there are so many people in the chain of all


these supply processors that trying to get 100 % certainty is extremely


difficult. But isn't that the problem, people will feel they


don't know what is in the food that they are buying because of the weak


link you have just outlined? I'm in favour, as the government is in


favour and the European authorities are in favour and the FSA are in


favour, of trying to get that sorted out. But what I don't think,


on any evidence I've seen, is that we have a panic, national scare on


our hands. D you think the government has handled it well up


until now? I think they'd been perfectly sensible, calm and


balanced. We've been through these scares before. Take them seriously


but, in my experience, none of them have proved to be anything like the


scale of the headline which first attended their announcement. If you


ate 600 hamburgers, you have a lot more to worry about than


phenylbutazone. Something would get too long before that! A few weeks


ago on the Sunday politics, I interviewed Eric Pickles, the


Community's Secretary. I asked him how Britain's communities might be


affected by an influx of Romanians and Bulgarians when restrictions on


their ability to move across the EU, including into the UK, are lifted


at the end of this year. Have you done any preliminary work on the


implications for our housing demand as a result of this extra


immigration? I know what number of borrowers are doing it. Have you?


We have been looking into it. is the consequence, how many are


you planning for? That's not something that I think would be


helpful in terms of going through the numbers just yet. Why? Because


I think you'd have to have a degree of confidence in terms of the


numbers before I publicly state it. Inevitably what he said led to a


Freedom of Information request. His department had told me that the


figures Mr Pickles refers to do exist. Some reports had said they


haven't been any at all. Let's get the latest from our correspondent.


The request was from the New Statesman. Some ministers telling


us these figures don't exist. Mr Pickles telling me that they do.


He's just not going to tell us. What's the truth? It's all a bit


confusing. Home Office ministers have been telling the House of


Commons. The Home Office is clear, they say the figures on to there.


The New Statesman and Labour both submitted Freedom of Information


requests. Labour was pretty clear in a text of theirs, asking for an


assessment of potential immigration from Romania and Bulgaria. As you


mentioned, the communities department came back and said they


did have that information but that they might not release it under


freedom of information rules that allow them not to do so. I'm told


by one source that figures, although it's not quite clear which


figures, were discussed at a cabinet, a home affairs cabinet


committee meeting. I can tell you for a fact that there is an


independent assessment of the impact of this immigration. That


has been produced independently for the Foreign Office. I'm told it has


been knocking around white hope for some time. A draft was being read


in the Foreign Office as long as a month or so ago. But that does not


contain figures. It will not say a certain number of Romanians and


Bulgarians expected, so it is still something of a mystery. The Home


Office says there are no such figures. The Department of


communities says it does have that information. All of this against


the backdrop that when Labour tried to forecast how many new people


would come over when the rules were changed, they got it disastrously,


hugely and massively Bron. It is on that long list of things that Ed


Miliband thinks that the former Labour government got one.


According to the communities department, they verified what Mr


Pickles told me, that there are some estimates of how many may come


here but they are just not going to tell us. Is that the simple reply?


They have been formally asked for the assessment of potential


immigration from Romania and Bulgaria in a Freedom of


Information letter. And in a response... Do they have it and are


not going to tell us? They say, we hold it but we might not tell you


under an exemption. On the face of it, it doesn't sit easily with what


the Home Office says. None of this is going to make the questions go


away about what Mr Pickles was thinking of when he had a chat with


you. If these figures do exist, I'll come to whether they are any


use in a minute, but if they do exist, should they be made public?


The two issues are linked. Supposing they are rubbish. Should


you produce a lot of figures which you don't think have any validity,


get some headlines would create scares, or should you simply say,


nobody knows. Nobody knew last time... They got it hopelessly


wrong. But they know that now, Whitehall knows that, the


government machine knows that. Their forward and they make more of


an effort to get them rather more accurate this time? What I think


they would do is to try and put in place machinery in order to make


sure they anticipate the flows and tried to make sure they come within


the targets that they've set. They've got time to do that. These


targets, however you work it, they are but 2014. As a minister, and


this is why I have great sympathy for Eric's point, because he knows


that some London boroughs have been working on these figures, so he's


got some figures from perhaps a few London boroughs. But as a minister,


you can say to officials, look, what do you think? They will do


their best. It is their best good enough, can it be good enough? And


should you be forced, if you get presented with figures which are


somebody's opinion, someone with a slide rule making calculations are,


they may be right there may be wrong, should you be forced to put


that information in the public domain when you yourself as a


Minister regard it as highly doubtful, whether it's based on


Loch? I think it's perfectly legitimate for a minister to save


you don't know the answers to these questions. So why not going to put


out scare stories which will be grossly exaggerated by the media


and the parliamentary opposition. I'm shocked that you have revealed


to the British people today that they still use slide rules in


Whitehall. Look, this is the interesting thing. I don't they use


in Whitehall because ministers get bits of paper with conclusions.


do the assessments then? If ministers are so cynical about it...


It would be perfectly fair to do an assessment which says, look, there


could be this number, they could be that number. No one knows where it


is. But it gives you, as a minister, an indication that you should be


thinking about this problem, because they could be one, not


there will be. The Prime Minister clearly thinks it's going to be a


problem because he's asked his ministers to look at ways of


restricting welfare benefits to the people who come in, housing, health


services. The Prime Minister is dealing with the situation in the


round. But he called a meeting, we know this because Downing Street


briefed us, sparked by the prospect of Romanians and Bulgarians coming


here at the end of the year. you have to see that in the context


of the Government's immigration programmes, which are already


getting down the number of immigrants. They are targeting to


come down significantly further, including the Bulgarians and


Romanians. But surely it would go up against the whole spirit of the


European Union to have any restrictions on those coming in,


who are full European Union members. Real politics. You can't have


unbridled immigration without ministers being involved in the


contrast than conflict. But Green movement of labour is a fundamental


tenet, so how could you stop it? You can try to make sure I good


information, if there are no jobs, their housing, no social... You can


let people know that. The second thing about the whole Bulgarian and


Romanian thing, there may be some people coming, and in some cases we


might need them, if they got engineers then send them fast would


be my advice, but there's the whole of Europe they may go to. There's


probably more jobs in Germany than here. If you start looking at the


number of these people who are going to leave their country, why


assume they're coming here? I'm not, I'm saying if they want to come


here, as part of our membership of the EU, we have no way of stopping


them. As an obligation we let them in. Yes, I understand the policies.


Equally, there are ways in which government, by education,


advertisement, knowledge, local information... Don't come to


Britain, we are rubbish! No, just we don't have a job for you.


having a job in Britain may be better than not having a job in


Bulgaria. But you've got to make sure they don't come for social


security reasons. Under European rules they are entitled to. They


are almost certainly more generous than their own. We can be sure of


that. This is politics, you've got to deal with it, you've got to deal


with the public opinion David Cameron's speech last month


on Britain's relationship with the EU was seen as one of the defining


moments of his premiership. Its commitment to a referendum on a new


deal with Europe delighted the Euro-sceptic wing of his party. But


a new group of Conservative MPs launches today and are using the


other part of the speech, the prime minister's commitment to the EU, as


a rallying cry for the pro-European wing of the party to finally find


its voice. All Conservatives agree on far more


things in the European Union than we ever debate. Kenneth Clarke


believes in fighting for Britain in Europe. Two men who could have led


the Tory party, passionately arguing the case for Britain in


Europe. A generation later, the present incumbent, trying to lead a


party which increasingly looks like it could be heading in the opposite


direction. There was a time when the Tory party was full of big


beasts roaring the case for Europe. These days, it is the Euro-sceptics


making all the noise and they may cause the withdrawal from the EU.


But there are still Conservative MPs who think Europe is a good


thing. They have been keeping their heads down, but now they are ready


to rumble. We feel strongly that our voice has not been heard for


many years. There are new people who have come into Parliament who


want to ensure that we have a stronger focus. So we are setting


up a group called the European Mainstream. It will be looking at


ensuring that the Prime Minister's speech, the Bloomberg speech, is


taking forward, and that the tone he struck will be sustained within


the parliamentary party. The at Bloomberg speech was cheered to the


rafters by Euro-sceptics, but the pro-Europeans were also inspired by


David Cameron's commitment to the EU? How many of them are there?


the past, only 20% of the party would be prepared to stick their


head over the parapet. But after the Bloomberg speech, you will see


more people coming out. I suspect there is actually a majority in


favour of continuing membership of the EU. Here is one of them, Ben


Wallace, Ken Clarke's parliamentary aide. He is ready to take on the


party Euro-sceptics. They are good at getting their message across. I


do not think it is accurate. They are clever at making the case that


it is always somebody over the horizon's fault. We need to


challenge that and say, you are wrong. We need to let the public


make a clear decision based on the facts we put before them. The last


Tory prime minister had a word for the other lot, one we can't use on


a family show. But why have the pro-European wing of the


Conservative Party let the Euro- sceptics drive the debate so far?


With you have an emphatic Euro- sceptic calling for us to leave the


European Union, it is wearing to get involved in an argument with


him. But it has now got serious. This is a group of people who have


arrived on the battlefield to are going to argue the case for


continuing membership of the European Union. I believe


progressively, we will be heard more and will win. Just as the


Euro-sceptics welcome David Cameron's commitment to a


referendum, European Mainstream will hold on to his promise to


attempt to reform the EU from within. The wood we walk away from


any other international organisation because the


relationship was not absolutely as we would like? Relationships are


difficult internationally. It needs courage, a brave vision and


determination to get what we need for this country within Europe.


Europe has done for even the most iconic of Tory leaders. To avoid


the same fate, David Cameron must appease both sides in a fight which


may be about to get more finely balanced.


Joining me are two backbench Conservative MPs, Laura Sandys, we


saw in the film, and Conor Burns, and Lord Heseltine is still with us.


Laura Sandys, what exactly will the group do? Well, as the Prime


Minister outlined, we need a clear vision for Europe. And that is with


Britain at the heart of Europe. In the last six months, we have


already achieved, whether it be the Chancellor making a case when it


comes to banking decoration or last week, with the Prime Minister


reducing the budget, we underestimate our voice in Europe.


We as Conservatives, who have a clear view about Britain in Europe,


want to make that case. You say your view is European Mainstream.


But arguably, you could say that the dominant voice in the


Conservative Party is Euro-sceptic. Would you agree? There are many


views, but what we have had in the past is a passive pro-European


voice. I would accuse myself of being complacent in many ways in


making the case for Britain within Europe. That is now starting to


emerge. We have a clear objective of a referendum, and I think you


will see more Conservatives making the case for our role and


leadership within Europe. But 30 MPs out of 304 Conservative MPs is


about 10%. There are about 100 supporters of the fresh Start group,


with that list of demands to be repatriated. So yours is still not


be popular position within the party. I think it is growing, and


it is 30 backbench Members of Parliament. If you look at


ministers, you will see people who have been exposed to Europe who


have achieved two things in Europe and would be of our view. Do you


feel threatened by this new group emerging? Not in the slightest. I


feel excited that we are having a debate about the future direction


of Europe and Britain's place in it. The Prime Minister showed that far


from being the heir to Blair, he was the heir to Bruges, the speech


that Mrs Thatcher made. Europe is changing because of the failure of


the single currency and France and Germany getting closer together.


That will change Britain's relationship with the other


countries. If David Cameron fails to negotiate a new deal that is


good for Britain, you would advocate pulling out of the EU?


do not think the Prime Minister will fail. The budget negotiations


show that the dynamic is changing. The House of Commons sent a clear


message. The Prime Minister achieved the cut in the Budget that


people said he could not blow. there is a risk. If he can't


renegotiate the deal, will you advocate that Britain pulls out of


the EU? There is a risk to any negotiation. Michael Heseltine


warned us that it would be calamitous not are going the single


currency. Thank goodness we didn't. What would you say to those Euro-


sceptics who say Britain should look for the exit if a deal cannot


be renegotiated? There is nothing new in this European debate, and


there are no new arguments. All the arguments I have listened to are


the same ones I have listened to since the '50s. Except that there


is an offer now that you can vote to come out. But the Prime Minister


will argue to stay in, as will the other parties. And that will be the


outcome. John Major has made a brilliant speech today in which he


outlines the detail of the argument. It is good news about the battle


being joined. And the official Conservative position, I think,


will be one of support for broad European membership. If there was a


symbolic event of the last few weeks, it was the fact that the


prime minister, rightly, said, we will not increase the budget. That


meant that the national leaders, not the commission, made a decision


as to what should happen. That is the reality of Europe, and that is


the point I have always believed. Britain is in Europe for Britain's


self-interest. Howard you rage David Cameron's chances in terms of


repatriating the long list -- how would you rate David Cameron's


chances in terms of repatriating the list of demands? I have not


seen the list of demands. But any demands? Many have said we cannot


have a pick and mix membership. it is Alan Carr. It always has been.


-- it is and a carte menu. I can remember when the French were not


members of NATO. Europe has always taken a pick-and-mix position. My


view has always been that it is in Britain's self-interest to


influence what happens on the Continent, so we have to be part of


its institutions. And threatening an exit is a good part of that


strategy? That is not the Prime Minister's strategy. John Major


dealt with is clearly in his speech. The Prime Minister said, we want to


stay in, but we need to change things. He has done one with the


Budget. I could name other things he could put on the agenda. A Laura


Sandys, when it comes to the call for repatriating powers, do you


think, that if Britain fails to get those, we should still stay in the


EU? The point is that Europe is not static, it is moving all the time.


These deals are done on a daily basis. When re-engage with other


countries and build alliances, we can make it happen for our national


interest. I think actually, Michael, things have changed. The rest of


the world is organising in regional bodies, whether that be south-east


Asia, East Africa, West Africa. If we are not part of Europe, we are


at the bottom of the list when it comes to trade negotiations and


international engagement. I agree with that, but what you saw with


Mrs Merkel on the budget, is that we have a new form of realpolitik


in Europe. They want us to stay, but they understand that the


relationship must change. That is why I am confident that the Prime


Minister will get what he asks for and will be able to put the case


for changing on the basis of a changed relationship with Europe


and be successful. What about the group within the Conservative Party


who will not be satisfied with that? They feel that the


Conservative Party should need some sort of exit from the EU, that we


would be better outside. How does David Cameron deal with such a loud


voice in the Conservative Party? They are a loud voice, but a small


number. The Prime Minister has to negotiate a better arrangement for


Britain within Europe. He will bring the majority of the


Conservative Party with him if he does that. The dynamic has now


changed. We should not underestimate the significance of


the Prime Minister going in and achieving that budget cut. It will


change the nature of the relationship.


Bismarck * realpolitik. You would not get that on Question Time.


Among the powers the Government would like to wrest back from the


EU are some of the 130 European crime and policing measures we are


currently subject to. Yesterday, the Lords EU committee questioned


the Home Secretary and the Justice Secretary about their plans for


those opt-outs and what support they had for them.


The Government put in their evidence. Dominic RADA was in


support of the government. And there was the United Kingdom


Independence Party. That is the total of those who support the


government. All the others are against your proposal. Are you


troubled by this? It is not the case, in the discussions we have


had, that those parties are saying that every measure with in this


list are ones that we have to opt back into and therefore should not


go down the route of opting out. The of course we were having


discussions about how useful certain measures are and what


alternatives would exist if we did opt out of certain measures. Could


we achieve the same names in other ways? By bilateral discussions?


Potentially. There are areas where practical co-operation takes place


today, not on the basis of a piece of EU legislation. Which measures


do you say are directly detrimental to the interests of the UK?


All of these are still subject to negotiation. The discussions that


are taking place with other member states and the commission are not


at the level of us got into a list of items and saying, this one and


that one. We are developing the process we have to go through. We


are having those conversations. But we have to produce ourselves,


before we get involved in a serious set of the decisions about the list,


we will have to complete our own decision-making process. I'm afraid


I can't give you a firm indication as to when we can basenji with such


a list. Are you telling me you don't know what kind of lists?


government has yet to take a final decision about what is on its


initial list. The Justice Secretary and the Home Secretary before a


Lords committee. We've got Michael Heseltine with us. 130 of these


measures, and as I understand it become as a package, you have to


get out of all of them, you can't just cherry-pick. Would this, in


your view, ha Mark Bower ability to deal with crime across European


laws? No, this is a technical issue. You have to opt out of the whole


lot in order to start looking at what you want back-in. If you


wanted to opt back into 139 of them, you still have to opt out of the


140. It's a really technical thing. The issue, you then ask the


substantive question - what our self-interest? Detecting crime,


catching criminals. I'm not party to any of these dialogues but my


certain knowledge is that the government will be sitting there


and saying, how do each of these 140 help us in co-operation with


our European colleagues to make the place say four or more lawful? My


guess is they will come up with a conclusion that crime today is


International, that criminals are overseas and that you've got to be


able to get at them. Are we able to say, all right, we are coming out


of the lot and then we will choose... Yes, we'll come back into


that one and that one and that one. You can negotiate that. So the


Commission could say, actually, you can't. My guess is it won't be the


commission. This is not the Commission. This is ministers,


sovereign, elected ministers making these decisions. They think it is


churlish a bus to cherry-pick and therefore not be very helpful.


might. But they've made themselves have a system where things could be


improved. The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, has just finished making


a speech in Bedford. With the 0NS, the Office for National Statistics,


figures released this week showing that British workers are now


earning no more in real terms than they did 10 years ago, and Labour


are 12 points ahead in the latest opinion polls over the


Conservatives, the Labour lead firming up in recent weeks. Have


they therefore now got a winning message on living standards?


Ed Miliband is promising to make the 2015 general election in living


standards election. Asking people whether they feel better off than


they did when the coalition government came to power. And


trying to appeal to the squeezed metal. Yesterday, the Governor of


the Bank of England said there was cause for optimism and that a


recovery is in sight. But he warned that inflation was likely to remain


stubbornly above its 2% target rate, putting further pressure on


household budgets. The Governor pointed the finger at the


government policies, saying that increases in university tuition


fees and domestic energy bills are going to make it harder to bring


inflation down. So Ed Miliband has chosen this moment to go to Bedford,


the sight of Harold Macmillan's famous "we've never had it so good"


speech, to argue that now voters are worrying they will never have


it so good again. A one-nation Labour government led by me well


put a fairer tax system at the heart of its new priorities. It is


a crucial part of how we build an economy where everyone can play


their part. A One Nation Labour Budget next month would lay the


foundations for a recovery made by the many Qabun not just a few at


the top of society. And let me tell you about one crucial choice we


would make, it's different from this government and different from


the last government. We will tax houses worth over �2 million. And


we will use the money to cut taxes for working people. We will put


right a mistake made by Gordon Brown in the last Labour government.


We would use the money raised by a mansion tax to reintroduce a lower


10p starting rate of tax. With the size of the band depending on the


amount raised. This would benefit 25 million basic rate tax payers.


And it would move Labour on from the past and put Labour way it


should always have been. On the side of working people. The shadow


chancellor, Ed Balls, joins us now from Bedford. Tell me, is the


mansion tax a manifesto commitment? I think it is a very clear signal


from us today that this is what we intend to do in government. You


know that we've had a very clear rule, that we are not going to make


our manifesto decisions until our manifesto. You only have to see


George Osborne this week finally dropping a commitment he made in


2007 on inheritance tax to know the dangers on hard manifesto


commitments made two years before. We will not make commitments until


the manifesto. The question you are asking is, does Labour want in


government to reintroduce the 10p tax rate paid for by the Match


Attax? Yes, they should do it now. In government we would do it now


when it's what we want to do after the next election. At the risk of


spelling out the obvious, you are not in Parliament at the moment.


Are you pledging... Are you pledging to introduce a mansion tax


if Labour is elected in 2015? answered the question very clearly.


Pledges and manifestos wait until closer to the election. We are not


going to make the mistake of past oppositions and make cast-iron


pledges on tax spending until the manifesto. But we want to do this,


we intend to do it, it's our plan to do it. In government we would do


it now. If we had a manifesto it would be there. We intend to have


this in our programme for the next government. Is the new starting


rate of tax the manifesto commitment? Is the new 10p rate a


manifesto commitment? As I said, we are saying today we want to put


right the mistake of 20 -- 2007. We want to reinstate the 10p tax rate.


We think that is fair and would help the economy and working people.


We think it contrasts with David Cameron's top rate tax cut. We want


to do this in government. We want to do this in government. We are


going to wait until our manifesto until the manifesto. But we want in


government in 2015 or sooner, to have a man to tax on properties


above �2 million, to pay for a new starting rate of tax at 10p. When


you were at the Treasury, you looked at the mansion tax and


rejected it several times. Why, what's changed your mind? I'm not


sure whether we ever looked in detail at the mansion tax. I'm not


sure if that is right. I'm trying to think back to those days. We


rate stamp duty on high-value properties. But the idea of a


mansion tax on the value was first proposed by the Liberal Democrats


in the 2010 manifesto. We said last year a number of times that we'd


like to do that. I've got some shadow Treasury work going on


looking at that. I've said that Vince Cable and George Osborne,


we'd like to work with you to do it. George Osborne has ruled it out at


the Liberal Democrats still have it in play, but it's what we are


working on. We think if you went for properties above �2 million,


which is sensible and, by the way, half of them, about 70,000, they


are second homes, not main residences, we think you could


raise, the look or Democrats said 1.7 billion, which the IFS said was


reasonable, I think it would be closer to 2 billion now. If we were


to use 2 billion now for a mansion tax, that would allow us to do


close to �1,000.10 pence tax band for basic rate taxpayers, that


wouldn't apply to higher rate taxpayers. 25 million taxpayers


would get the benefit of the 10p tax cut from Labour. And that would


amount to an extra �2 a week. Is that what Labour means, being on


the side of the working poor? said, don't do the top rate of tax,


don't hit working families with a tax credits cap. It's �2 a week.


Andrew, �2 a week may for you not be a huge amount. For struggling


families at the moment, seeing their Petroc, their bills up, with


all people in work going to food banks, are really struggling, any


help is worth having. But that's it, �2 a week. To be honest, I think


you'd be unwise to skier. -- smear. You can either answer yes or no.


gave you a very clear answer. �2 billion from the mansion tax would


allow you to do �1,000... Up to almost �1,000, 10p band, 10 % on


�1,000 would give you about �100 a year, �2 a week. It is a clear


signal from Labour that our tax- cutting priorities, and of course


we'd like to do more if we could, would be focused on middle and


lower income families. We would not be cutting the top rate of income


tax, that is David Cameron's idea. We want to start from hard-working


families. When you were a Treasury minister, Labour abolished the 10p


rate. Why have you changed your mind? We were all part of a


government which did this, and therefore we all defended it... I


was in the Treasury and I have defended it. As I've said to you


during this programme since, both Ed Miliband and I said to Gordon


Brown at the time it was the wrong thing to do, a mistake. But he was


the Chancellor and he made that decision. He thought by cutting 10p,


he would be able to cut the basic rate and people would understand


that. As he discovered and, to be honest, George Osborne has


discovered in the last year, trying to play off one group of working


families against another, the strivers and the shirkers, that


backfires. It backfired badly for Labour because people didn't see


the basic rate cut... You'd told Gordon Brown, don't do it -


correct? Yes. His closest adviser in these matters and he ignored you.


Yes. Why didn't you resign in protest at this attack on the


working poor? At that time there was a debate about the 10p tax cut,


the basic rate tax cut, tax credits went up to compensate. There was an


attempt to put together a package to prevent the losers. It didn't


work. We said to Gordon Brown that it wasn't going to work. Not only


did we get that wrong, but we're going to reinstate it. The thing in


politics is, can you admit when you make big mistakes? We are saying


let's change it now. Labour are saying change it for the future.


Another question, it's also not to spend the same money twice. In


March of last year you told Nick Robinson that the proceeds of any


mention tax would be used to reverse the cuts to tax credits.


Now you are saying it will be used to introduce a 10p rate. What's it


to be and are you spending the money twice? No. I have to say,


today the Conservative Party are obviously pretty desperate with


their attempt to come up with these flaws. I did an interview with Nick


Robinson. I said, we would like to have a mountain tracks. We would


work with the Liberal Democrats or the Tories on it. If they wanted to


use that for cutting the top rate of tax, no way. But we said if they


were to make a proposal, for example to help working families by


cutting taxes, like tax credits or any others, we would support them.


We made no proposal at that time for any tax cuts, including tax


credits. And today we are saying use it for the 10p rate. They are


not tax credits. Let me ask you this, will you need to do, will the


Manton tax be part of a general council tax re-evaluation? --


mansion tax. It depends how you do it. There's a range of options. We


are working on the different options. We would need to find a


way to get that valuation and applied the tax in a way which is


sensible and fair and cost- effective. It's something we are


working on. I've offered to go and have cross-party talks with the


Liberal Democrats and the Tories, to try and find a way in which we


can do this. It can definitely be done. George Osborne set his face


against that. The Liberal Democrats are more open. If they want to join


our discussions, that would be great. In politics, you should that


make your big mistakes. George Osborne is making big mistakes on


the economy at the moment, flatlined ing at the top rate of


tax. If I was interviewing Mr Osborne I would ask him about his


mistakes, but I've Got You and then running out of time. It seems to me


you'd decided how to spend the proceeds of the mansion tax but you


haven't got any idea get how you are going to raise it. Do you


accept that if there is a council tax re-evaluation, everybody's


council tax could go up? There's a range of different ways in which


you could do this. We've been working and looking at the


different options. It can definitely be done. There is work-


in-progress, but we could raise 1.7 to �2 billion on the Manton tax to


cut the 10p. -- mansion tax. We are still working on that. We'd like to


work with the government if they wanted to. If George Osborne would


finally, the programme... It's your idea, you tell us. Why would to


come on your programme? -- why Joining us is the Liberal Democrat


peer Susan Kramer. The next government will be decided by the


voters. On mansion tax, we are always pleased when somebody


finally comes on side. As you know, it was in Power 2010 manifesto. We


would like the current government to take this on board and implement


it. One of my arguments with Ed Balls is, he will apparently used


this to cut at the lowest rate of income tax. But what we have been


doing in government is raise the starting point of tax. So people


who are on standard rates are now some �600-�700 better off. As


Liberal Democrats, we would want to keep raising VAT threshold until


you get to the minimum-wage. That is much more significant than the


programme Ed Balls discussed. we know there are talks going on


between senior Liberal Democrats and Labour about the future. There


would have to be, as we don't know what will happen post 2015. Would


you like to go into coalition with a party now that is stating clearly,


we will introduce a mansion tax, the exact policy the Liberal


Democrats have been talking about? We will fight for our policies. We


have a lot of areas where we agreed a coalition agreement. There are


crucial things like raising the starting point of tax, something


Labour never looked at. It has been a revolutionary approach with a


real impact not just on the people taken out of tax, 3 million, but


everybody else on the standard rate. What the Government looks like is a


decision for voters. Help us where Ed Balls could not help us - how


would it work? Would you have to do a full evaluation? We looked at


doing it as a separate tax, precisely because of the issues you


raced. It is complex to try and approach it through the council tax


mechanism. But we are willing to look at workable solutions. So you


still can't tell us how you would do it? Andrew, you know perfectly


well that there is a viable way to do this. That is to do it as a


separate tax. How would that work? To be honest with you, it is a long


time since I have read the detail. But I can refer you to all our


website. But this is central to party policy, and you come on this


programme and can't explain it? That is an insult to the viewers.


At least Ed Balls has the excuse that he has only just thought of


the idea. You thought of it years ago and you still can't tell us?


call me guilty for not knowing the granular detail. But I will tell


you the fundamental principles. We had a mansion tax in 2010. We have


stood by that and are pressing for it and the current government.


people will be worried about a full re-evaluation. Which is why we have


chosen not to go in that direction. My God Heseltine, the Conservatives


have a problem now -- Michael Heseltine, the Conservatives have a


problem in terms of standards of living. In 2015, people will be


asked whether they feel better off than in 2010, and even the Governor


of the Bank of England said we will not. How do the Tories combat that?


I can't remember an election going back to the '50s in which living


standards were not the determining factor. So are trying to say we


will fight an election on living standards is simply to say they are


going to fight an election. being able to say, backed up by the


fact that wages have not come up with inflation, it will be


difficult. I have also read the Governor's speech, and we all know


there is a great deal of uncertainty. We have an economic


crisis. But this programme is interesting. As a pre- one to the


full 2015 election, you have an architect of the crisis, the guy


who sat with Gordon Brown, creating the mess. Under croppers -- under


cross-examination from Andrew, simple questions, there were no


answers, except one. We will have a mansion tax. That is easy, because


it is rich people and no one cares. They mention a mansion tax because


they are fighting a by-election when they want to roads from the


Lib Dems. Overnight, they have picked one of the Lib Dem policies.


But you have still not answered this question about what the Tory


line will be. I will tell you. We have saved the national economy.


Even if people are worse off? you really want to put the


architects of the disaster are back in the driving seat? Do you really


think that Ed Balls, who could not answer the questions, he would not


even tell you whether it was a certain policy, do you really think


that that guy has got a grip on how we deal with the worst modern


economic crisis we have ever been through? This programme was a real


one, or a pre- rom-com of 2015. That is why David Cameron will win.


What would the Liberal Democrat answer be to that? Ed Miliband


would say living standards it still feel lower to voters than they were


in 2010, and it is a result of the coalition government. Voters are


not so easily fooled. They have had five years of austerity, with the


promise of more austerity. And the Lib Dems themselves have said we


will have a few more years of austerity. The because it is


important to not create false rainbows. He the Labour Party say


there will be austerity as well. But they will argue that under


their policies, are rightly or wrongly, they would not be in this


position. By have they got us into this position. You have to accept


that the crisis we have was not just some meteor from the collapse


of the financial system, it was an underlying crash of our entire


economy, very much fuelled by the spend and borrow a pattern to which


Ed Balls is still addicted. interestingly, the Poles are now,


for the first time, beginning to show that Ed Balls and Ed Miliband,


are beginning to level with George Osborne and David Cameron in terms


of trust over the economy. It this was normal politics, the coalition


government would be 20 to 25 points behind in the mid-term blues of any


government. Actually, they are 10 or 11 points behind. Unemployment


is falling. The economy is probably on the turn, and there are another


two years before the election. All right, before I have a turn!


You have had a few. Now, what day is today? No, not


that one. We don't go in for that mushy love stuff at the Daily


Politics. Today is actually the 50th anniversary of two-time Prime


Minister Harold Wilson becoming leader of the Labour Party. The


following year, in 1964, he won, by a small majority, the first of four


elections. He was arguably the first prime minister of the


television era, so much so that the Tories panicked in 1964 and said,


we need a leader who knows how to do TV as well. Tonight, BBC


Parliament are dedicating an evening of programmes to the man


who once described himself as an optimist, but an optimist who


carries a raincoat. Here is a REPORTER: Mr Wilson, many wonder


whether you would make a good Prime Minister. What issues do you think


are uppermost in their minds? think the first thing is that they


want to see this country standing in the world restored. They are


getting tired of seeing Britain pushed around. The Liverpool crowd


has a sharp eye and a distinctive voice for victory. But early on


Friday morning, they were convinced their man had won. What kind of


Prime Minister do you most admire? A number of those I admire were


wartime prime ministers, such as Churchill. And in certain aspects,


Lloyd George. Among the peacetime ones, I was always impressed by


Robert Peel, especially his great Those were the days when first-


class seats on British Rail were very comfortable. Joining me,


Bernard Donoughue, who was head of Wilson's Downing Street policy unit


during the 1970s. In 1963, when Labour chose Harold Wilson as their


leader, it was a watershed. The previous Labour leaders like Hugh


Gaitskell had been public-school Oxbridge types. They were not that


different from the Macmillans of the Tory side. But here was this


chap with a pipe and a Yorkshire accent, grammar-school boy. It was


a new era. Absolut Klee. Harold was classless. Well, he was really


middle-class, but he was not clearly of the ruling class. He was


provincial, from the north. Completely meritocratic. This was


one of his strengths. To the public, they felt they could identify with


him. He was not from the old ruling regime. And of course, after him,


the Conservatives followed this and did the same. Very much the same


point could be made about Ted Heath. And John Major. And Margaret,


actually. And he was prime minister during the most significant part of


the '60s, if you accept that the '60s did not really start until


1963. Then he came back in the early '70s with the Ted Heath


interregnum. But looking back, is he regarded as a great prime


minister or a disappointment? regarded as a great political


leader and party manager. And he is regarded much more highly in the


Labour Party than in the country at large. I think he raised


expectations too high before he came into power of being able to


modernise Britain in his own image. Of course, he was not able to do


that. It was an impossible task, and he suffered from raising


expectations too high, to the point where many people came to say after


he went that he achieved nothing has Prime Minister. That is totally


untrue. In terms of transforming the social values of the country


and changing the laws, legalising homosexuality, abolishing theatre


censorship, abolishing hanging, dealing with gender inequality and


racial inequality, he achieved a lot. But not as much as he led


people to believe he would. Do you miss him? I miss his style and the


fun of being with him. There are other negative sides to him. Is it


true that he had brandy and cigars in public and the pipe and the beer


were for public? Not always. But he certainly smoked his pipe a lot in


public. I never saw him smoke it in private. It was very useful,


because if you asked him a difficult question, he would light


his pipe and blow a lot of smoke. You can enjoy a whole evening of


programmes looking back at your life and times of Harold Wilson


tonight on BBC Parliament from 6 o'clock. That is it for today.


Thanks to all our guests, especially Lord Heseltine. The One


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