15/04/2013 Daily Politics


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Welcome to the Daily Politics where MPs, like us, are returning from


their Easter break. Much of the week will of course be dominated by


the funeral of Baroness Thatcher on Wednesday. Early this morning a


rehearsal of the military ceremony took place in central London.


Hundreds of members of the armed forces lined the route of the


procession, from Westminster to Saint Paul's Cathedral. MPs are


this afternoon expected to approve plans cancelling this week's PMQs.


Campaigning for next month's local elections is under way. We will be


asking can any of the parties change the political weather.


A limit on the amount people can claim in benefits comes into force


for the first time today. We sent Giles out to test the national mood.


They want to go and find the drug users and take their benefits away.


And should Ed Miliband be shopping around for advice? Save your money.


Plenty of Blairites seem to be dishing it out for free.


All that in the next hour. We are joined for the whole of today's


programme by the former Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan, the former


Culture Ssecretary Tessa Jowell and the former Lib Dem leader Ming


Campbell. If you can find three MPs that bring with them more wisdom


and experience than this lot, then please give us a call. We will sign


them up! You can never over flatter any MP. So I have discovered.


Now, politics as normal is on hold this week for the funeral of Lady


Thatcher on Wednesday. The government is planning to cancel


PMQs, and preparations are well under way for the ceremonial


procession from Westminster to St Paul's Cathedral. As the sun was


coming up this morning, there was a full-scale military dress rehearsal


for the event, with regiments which fought in the Falklands


accompanying a coffin draped in the Union flag as it was carried first


by gun carriage and then by pall bearers to St Paul's. More than 700


members of the armed forces were involved, from all three services,


and the procession band played the funeral marches of Chopin,


Beethoven and Mendelssohn as it made its way along the deserted


streets for the rehearsal. Yesterday, the Bishop of Grantham


told the Sunday Politics that spending millions on the event was


a mistake. Police preparations are also under way to make sure that


activists do not disrupt the funeral. But tribal divisions have


been largely set aside and discussions about how to


commemorate her life have begun. I should start by asking, are you


going to the funeral? Yes. Former leaders and those who work in the


House when Mrs Thatcher was Prime Minister have been invited. I think


it will be a remarkable occasion and one which I am very honoured to


have been asked to take part in. far as I am aware, I shall be


attending. I think it is a special thing, particularly as she was the


first woman prime minister. The reason I am an MP at all is because


she encouraged me to stand. We will come to the legacy. What about you?


No. What about the fact that it is a state funeral in all but name? Is


it appropriate to that that level of commemoration is being set for


Baroness Thatcher? The last Prime Minister to have the funeral of


that time was Winston Churchill. You are right, the difference


between a state and ceremonial funeral will only be in the eyes of


those who hold themselves out to be experts in these matters. To the


average viewer watching, the distinction will make no sense


whatsoever. But I am an MP because I was very much opposed to the


policies of Margaret Thatcher and did my best to argue against them


in my own constituency. I was about to say, whatever you think of her


policies, the fact of the matter is it was a remarkable achievement for


a woman at her time to become leader of the Conservative Party


and to become Prime Minister. In addition to that, the courage which


she showed in relation to the Falklands, for example, was quite


extraordinary. It really was a gamble. If two more missiles had


hit any more British warships, the whole thing might have changed.


Although I disagreed with much of what she did, she won three


consecutive elections and has left her mark on British politics and


one way or another, she is entitled to be remembered. Do you think it


is the right way to be remembered? I think she is entitled to be


remembered. In what way? I think that what is obvious is that she


was heavily involved in planning her own funeral, choosing her music


and to she wanted to be there. The question this has thrown up is how


we honour a former prime ministers. I think this week is a week of


respect to the memory of a woman who was very divisive but by any


measure was an extraordinary politician. I think then after that


we have got to look at this broader question, so in a way the country


is not taken by surprise by the way in which a funeral for a former


Prime Minister is organised. The fact is, if you have heads of state


or senior politicians from countries around the world, it is


going to be expensive, because the security will cost a lot, so I


think this is a week for respect. The long-term issue is how to mark


this kind of moment but as a young woman, I went on more marches


against Mrs Thatcher's policies than I can count, I fought two


elections as a Labour candidate as she was about to become Prime


Minister. The politics were horrible, raw and divisive, but


that does not mean that I don't think, in respect of her family and


the people who worked closely with her, that she should not be


honoured in this way. So John Prescott is wrong to have


questioned the amount of money the taxpayer will pay? �10 million?


did not see his piece, apparently he wrote it and the headline was


rather out of line was what he actually said. We do not know how


much this is going to cost. The Thatcher family are apparently


making a contribution. We need more transparency. People have got to


know what the plan Tsar. The police have agreed to allow an organised


protest. I think that is quite right. One of the things that is


for sure about Margaret Thatcher is that she believed in freedom of the


individual and the freedoms that we have in this country allow people


to protest peacefully and if people are going to mark their opposition


to a woman who has now passed on, then I hope they will do so and


remember the safety and peace of others who are coming to pay their


respects, because she was a game change in politics in this country.


She moved people from poverty into home-ownership, into wealth sharing


and wealth creation, and I do not want to go into her legacy...


will talk about that. I think it is fitting that we should mark the


longest serving prime minister for 150 years and the first woman to


hold that position. The Conservative MP and friend of


Baroness Thatcher Bernard Jenkin is on College Green. What is Margaret


Thatcher's legacy for you? Wednesday will be a global event.


This is not just for domestic consumption. The reason so many


heads of state and ambassadors will be attending his because Margaret


Thatcher was a global figure and therefore this non-state


occasion...! This is a fitting tribute to what most other


countries would recognise as an absolutely normal thing to do for a


former prime minister. Apparently there have scrim -- been reports in


some of the American press that they have been surprised by some of


the vitriol that has been expressed in the UK. But many parts of


Britain are still hostile to her legacy. One has the highest respect


for people who take a different view but it is a tiny minority who


are gloating over her death and indeed that is the kind of real


personal unpleasantness that she had to put up with so much of,


personalisation of the argument, blaming her. There was a protest in


Corby on Friday where apparently all the Labour councillors walked


out of a council meeting during a minute's silence, and the Labour


Party decided to close the steel mill in Corby, because Margaret


Thatcher had attracted the Investment, and by the time she


left office, unemployment in Corby was back to the national average!


That is the real record, not the distorted record. Do you agree that


the protests that have been agreed with the police should go ahead and


that there should be a balance for respect for the family and people


who want to protest peacefully? hope that protesters will respect


that a great majority of the nation do want to honour her memory in


this very fitting way. There is a balance to be struck. People


complaining about the money, she could have sold her private and


personal political papers to an American university and a few years


ago when she was offered tens of millions of pounds. She did not do


that. She gave them to Churchill College for the nation. That is the


kind of selfless person that she was. I think people protesting


about this funeral on undermining our country abroad. It will be


interesting to see the viewing figures. I suspect the world will


be watching this funeral and admiring the country and


remembering what an incredible political figure she was. What is


your view about a library in her honour? This is news to me. I think


it is tremendously good idea. If the money can be raised to set up


something like that in Westminster, I am sure it will receive an


enormous amount of foreign visitors, just as the Churchill Museum under


White will receive an enormous amount of visitors -- quite tall. I


think she will be a political figure that fascinates historians


both home and abroad for hundreds of years to come. Thank you. You


are dying to say something. It is interesting, in a way their


response illustrates the fact that she was a divisive figure. It is


veering between hagiography and hatred and I think it will take


some time before history allows us a proper perspective about the


contribution that Margaret Thatcher made. Cheryl Gillan rightly says


that she allowed people to buy council houses but at the same time


she did not allow money to be spent in replacing them and if you are a


constituency MP like me, you have had a parade of people in your


surgery who would otherwise be entitled to social housing but


because 60% of the council houses in my constituency have been sold,


they are denied that opportunity. A good policy, but not always with


the necessary mitigation. Are you comfortable with the idea of a


library in her honour being in the former Liberal Democrat


headquarters? I would certainly enjoy the irony of that. There are


a lot of good Liberal Democrat ghosts who would halt the


Conservative Party for some time in Downing Street! -- who would haunt.


You could argue in large parts of Britain the price of her revolution


has made the Conservative branch toxic. One of the benefits of


having a library and museum in her name, perhaps we can get some


balance into the debate because it is terribly polarised and there is


a lot of inaccuracies bringing up from this increased and intensive...


But on both sides. I think there will be exaggeration but I do think


it is important to remember she was a key figure in ending the Cold War.


Burn it is right in saying there are many people abroad that


actually think that she was an incredible leader for her time --


Bernard. There is no consensus on this. She certainly played a part


in the ending of the Cold War but to suggest it was of such pre-


eminence, as many people have recently, ignores the fact that the


Soviet system was bust and was failing and because it was failing


it had to consider alternatives, Gorbachev in particular. We have


not got that much longer. Let's talk about winning -- women. There


has been a lot of debate about what she did to further the cause of


women. She did break the ultimate glass ceiling. Beyond that, do you


feel she did much to further the cause of women? No. Her own


personal achievement was remarkable but she did not look at the House


of Commons and say, this place is unrepresentative of the country,


and take steps to introduce positive action as we did in the


run-up to 1997, and we saw a transformation in the number of


women MPs. No, she was not a feminist. She thought she had to be


a better man in a man's and what. - - in a man's world for. I think she


saw herself as the best person to do the job. When she was the leader


of our party, which was unusual, there were only 4% of MPs of any


party that will women and even with the positive discrimination, we are


only up to 22%. We have not made that much difference! Labour has.


I can only speak personally. She encouraged me personally, at that


dinner. Just briefly, before we move on - her legacy, and the


amount of time we spend talking about it, it is a difficult legacy


for David Cameron, is it not? very difficult for any Prime


Minister, following Margaret Thatcher, because she was such an


enormous, huge...! We are joined now from College green by George


Galloway, the Respect MP, who does not support the funeral


arrangements for Wednesday - why not? You have managed to gather


together the only three people in the country who think it is all


right that we are spending �10 million on the canonisation of this


wicked woman, a woman who laid waste to industrial Britain of the


North, Scotland and South Wales. have already had the recall of


Parliament last week, with MPs being paid up to �3,700 to fly back


from their Caribbean holiday, and then fly back to start their


holiday again, Jennie totally unnecessary fawning over this woman.


And now, they want to cancel Prime Minister's Questions. It is absurd.


She was Prime Minister for more than 11 years, she won three


general elections, surely she is a big enough political figure,


whether you like her or not, to merit such a ceremony? Mr Wilson


high of Ristic four general elections, Mr Atlee totally


transformed the country in the wake of the Second world War. Neither of


those had anything remotely like this, this tidal wave of guff which


the country is being forced to listen to, particularly on the BBC.


And when we had Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead, you censored it, it was


the only way of them expressing how they felt. It is utterly absurd. We


would be conducting this conversation in German if it was


not for Mr Churchill. He saved the very existence of this country.


Well, Mrs Thatcher did her best to destroy what was good about this


country, and did destroy more than a third of our manufacturing


capacity, reducing us to the state we are in now. People are very


angry in Britain, and it is not reflected in your studio, and it is


not reflected on the BBC. You want to reflecting it very clearly and


loudly... She died one week ago, hundreds of thousands of people


have been following me on social media, but I never got one


invitation to speak on the BBC. think you will find this is the


first programme back after the Easter break, and you are on it,


George Galloway. Those sentiments that you have expressed, is there a


different time to express those? This is the week that her funeral


is taking place, so is this not a time to rise above that? That is


what people said last Monday. Now, it is this Monday. How long have we


got to observe this fate silence on the record of a woman who caused


such destruction in this country? The the Tories were reduced to zero


MPs in Scotland. They are branded utterly poisonous in large parts of


the North. They lost her deposit against me in the by-election just


a few weeks ago. Is there a difference, George Galloway,


because Tessa Jowell and Menzies Campbell have stated very clearly


that they disagree with her policies, and Tessa Jowell went on


marches against a policies - is this a difference between the way


you express your outrage and disgust, whether it is done in a


more polite way just for this week, I am just asking, or whether you do


it in the way that you have expressed it? Was Mrs Thatcher


polite about the miners when she destroyed their communities,


leaving them in social slag heaps of vice and idleness? Was she


polite to the pit workers when she destroyed them? She laid waste to


this country. Spare me the centre many about politeness. There are


millions of people in this country who hate the very word Thatcher,


and Thatcherism continues until this very day. George Galloway, I


think we did try to get hold of you earlier for a programme, but thank


you for appearing today. Your response to that, Cheryl Gillan?


would take him more seriously if he appeared in Yes. More often. I


think he has voted in 13% of our divisions, so he does not use the


arena for which he was elected. seems to me, where George Galloway


has made an interesting point, but which may be challenged, is, why


was there not this amazing outburst when Mrs Thatcher stepped down?


That was the time when it was proper to have reflect on the


political consequences of her prime ministership. I have already said


that I think history will give us a much better impression of the


success or failure of her policies. But for the moment, in this


particular week, I think it is legitimate to expect that there


should be a degree of respect provided to someone who was,


whatever you think of her policies, a dominant political figure. I take


issue with some notion that she ended the Cold War, and everything


that happened after and during her time, but the fact of the matter is


that like it or lump it, she was a dominant figure for a long time in


British politics. Done well do you understand the anger expressed by


George Galloway...? Of course I do, but I think Mrs Thatcher did divide


the country. She governed for the south, she did not govern for the


north. In that respect, the communities that were laid waste,


and some of which have never recovered, are shown in the faces


of those older people, who have come down to London to take part in


demonstrations over the weekend. But the fact is, you do not have to


pretend that you agreed with her, or you do not have to pretend that


there is still anger about what she did, to say that this is a week in


which you honour and pay respect to a leader of our country who has


died. I think that is absolutely right. There is so much I disagree


with with Tony Blair and about the policies of the last Labour


government, but I have respect that the man was our last prime


ministers, and that Labour were in power for that time. I just think


that she has been wilfully misinterpreted in many areas. She


said that we have to look at jobs for the future, which I think is


genuinely what she was trying to do. As we have been hearing, MPs are


back for their -- from their Easter break. They are gearing up for a


big event next month, the local elections, on the 2nd May. So, what


is happening? There will be elections for 27 county councils,


elections for 27 county councils, seven unitary authorities, and two


mayoral elections. Altogether, almost 2,500 seats are being


contested. It is one of the last major tests of the political


weather ahead of the general election in 2015. The last time


these seats were up for grabs was in 2009, when Gordon Brown was


Prime Minister. Then, the estimated national equivalent share of the


vote had the Conservatives on 35%... Four years on, and a change of


government later, how will each of the party's Fair? And what of UKIP?


They come second at the Eastleigh by-election. -- parties fare? We


can now speak to Professor John Curtis, who knows everything there


is to know about local elections. - is to know about local elections. -


- Professor John Curtice. The warning about losing 500 seats, is


that a realistic estimate? I think that is probably a realistic


estimate, although possibly a bit on the high side. One thing to bear


in mind is that these seats, before 2009, they were fought on general


election day in 2005, which gives us a clear baseline. In 2009, the


Tories won around 350 more seats than they did in 2005. And of


course, in 2005, they lost the general election. So, losses on


that scale are not to be unexpected. But bear in mind that for the most


part, the Conservatives will be facing primarily the Liberal


Democrats as their opponents, not Labour. Given that the Liberal


Democrats are doing relatively badly in the polls as well, the


scale of the Conservative losses probably should not be as high as


500. But certainly losses around the 350 mark would not be


unexpected. That does not mean to say that the Conservatives are


doing well if they lose 350 seats, it will simply confirm the message


of the opinion polls that they are not terribly popular Ronnie Moore.


You have mentioned that they will be a pop -- up against the Liberal


Democrats in the county council elections, but will a certain


number of votes go to UKIP? We will be looking at how far the


Conservatives are losing to UKIP, as you say. There has already been


a substantial UKIP intervention in local elections recently. This is


the first time where UKIP will be fighting effectively on a


nationwide scale. We have been seeing surprising support for UKIP,


going above 10% in the opinion polls, and it seems to becoming


disproportionately from the Conservatives. That said, UKIP have


a bit of a problem, which is, because the last elections were in


2009, it was on the same day as the European elections, when UKIP did


extraordinarily well. And they did rather well in the 2009 local


elections as well. So, where UKIP stood last time, the extent of the


progress they make this time might not be as great as you might


anticipate from the opinion polls. But the Conservatives will


certainly have reason for concern. One thing we may well not get from


the headline results on the night is the degree to which UKIP


actually manage to make an advance. Their problem is that there vote is


so geographically unevenly spread, that they struggle to turn thugs


into seats. Even in 2009, they were getting 15% of the vote on average,


but they only won 15 seats. -- evenly spread. Just briefly on


Labour, a disaster has been forecast for them... Yes, given


that they won 350 more seats in 2005 than they did in 2009, and


given that the Liberal Democrats are now in trouble as well as the


Conservatives, frankly, it is the Labour Party whose advance should


be towards the 500 mark, even if the Conservative losses are not on


that scale. I think Labour have been vastly underselling what they


might manage to achieve. UKIP's Councillor Diane James, who came


second in the Eastleigh by-election, joins us now. First of all, coming


to you, Cheryl Gillan, any loss of 500 seats would be dreadful, would


it not? It is worth remembering that we were at 42% in the polls


last time, defending virtually every single council which is


coming up. I think Labour is defending one. So we would expect


Labour to do well. I think midterm, with the kind of press and issues


that have been surrounding the Government and the coalition


government, we are not expecting to do brilliantly. When you say the


press, you mean the message is not getting through, people are not


convinced by the economic policies? Yes, I think there is a great deal


of frustration with the fact that the economy has not been recovering


as fast as we expected.. And people have been blaming you... I think


people will speak in the ballot box. But don't forget, you are moving


from being at the height of your popularity, at the top of your tree,


and Labour has only got 255 seats to defend. On the Liberal Democrats,


we know what the polls have been saying for the last year or so, but


of course, Eastleigh... You took the words out of your mouth -- out


of my mouth. What is going to be a good result for you? I am not going


to hazard a guess about that. People oversell losses and


undersell the gains, it is part of the tradition. So, are you going to


oversell the gains for us?! We have to do a bit of analysis regarding


Eastleigh. It was won by a local candidate, with a very strong


record as a local councillor, and why, because he got things done.


The point is that where the Liberal Democrats are not closing libraries,


for example, they are representing local people in a way which local


people find attractive, and doing their best to maintain services, to


maintain the environment, things have that kind, and these are local


elections, and people tend to vote for local issues. Sir, you are


quite optimistic. It is always qualified optimism, because


otherwise people think you're being complacent. I am not. But if our


councillors get out and knock on the doors as is necessary, then I


expect them to do well. That could be worrying for you, because UKIP


are hoping to capitalise on these local elections, and you need to do


so, to make some kind of breakthrough in terms of the


numbers of council seats that you have, but if the Liberal Democrats


are feeling a bit gung-ho about their prospects, then it could be


The Liberal Democrats brought in people from all across the country


for that by-elections. We were understanding that 1,000 Liberal-


Democrats were there on the doorstep. That is fine. If you look


at the fact that only the postal vote won the Liberal Democrats...


The point is the Lib Dems do not have that level of resources to


deploy right across the country. When it comes down to it, UKIP has


shown a 40% increase in membership, we have tripled the number of


candidates we are fielding and we have had a series of consecutive


very good results in by-elections. But there is a difference in


translating that into actual seats, actual winning. OK, but still the


voters were saying, they've voted for instance the Liberal Democrats


in the general election, they got a Conservative-Liberal Democrat


coalition, and they do not like its. For them, the one party that has


been clear and consistent with its messages, listening to people, it


is UKIP. How worried are you about UKIP? I have always said you need


to take them seriously. When they have 16% of the vote, any party


with that percentage you need to take seriously. But if we take


their local campaign in Amersham, they are saying to everybody they


can stop the high-speed railway that is about to drive through my


constituency, which is actually quite wrong. They do not stand a


hope of stopping it. They will win some votes because of that, I am


sure, because people will be taken in by that message. I think that is


the opportunity -- opportunism that UKIP are grabbing on to. UKIP is


trying to capitalise on something locally but quite dishonestly in my


view for the simple reason that in their own manifesto they were


backing high-speed rail two years ago. We have said a number of times


we are against high-speed rail... Hold on, please. I had been asked a


question. We want to see the economics. None of that is there.


We have an MP that on one hand said she was going to vote against


something and we then resigned as an MP, did not do that, is taken...


You need to check your facts. are the MP for an airy yet got a


book I have consistently stood Against this, as have every single


one of our candidates. -- You are the MP for this area. It is


dishonest for UKIP. To try to come and give false messages in my area


is quite wrong. It is more disappointing that the


Conservatives say one thing and you have a group within your own party


that will not support it. Tony Blair has told the party it needs


to get out of its comfort zone. Is that helpful just before local


elections? It is what Labour is doing. Why did Tony Blair need to


say it then? We will come on to that. He is making a contribution


to the debate. Maybe the manner was not ideal but there was a real


substance in what he had to say and I hope people will take that


seriously in a constructive spirit in which it is meant. Labour is not


in a comfort zone. We are not a party of protest. We have a


vigorous campaign in these local elections. UKIP is capturing the


anti-politics mood of the moment, which is why Labour MPs are going


around the country and listening to what people have to say and


ensuring that our election campaign for the County Council elections


response to the bread-and-butter issues that people are concerned


about. Thank you. It is the start of another political term. Let's


have a look at the week ahead in Westminster. A new cap on benefit


payments begins today, initially in four London boroughs and then


across Britain over the summer. The government hopes it will save �110


million a year. Also today, we are expecting the writ to be moved for


the South Shields by-election, which is now likely to take place


on May 2nd. It was triggered by the departure of former Labour Foreign


Secretary, David Miliband. On Tuesday, the coalition faces a


revolt by MPs from both halves as they vote on the relaxation of


planning rules in the Growth and Infrastructure Bill. If passed, it


would make it easier to build conservatories and extensions. On


Wednesday, the funeral of Lady Thatcher takes place at St Paul's


Cathedral. It is expected that PMQs will be cancelled. And on Friday,


the Conservative Party's local election campaign begins. Joining


me to discuss the week ahead are Pippa Crerar from the London


Evening Standard and the Mirror's James Lyons. A different week, a


different feel. They retrieved. Westminster seems to be very sombre


-- that is very true. Lots of people in the country do not seem


happy with the fact that �10 million will be spent on Lady


Thatcher's funeral. I was in Glasgow at the weekend, and


although the streets were not packed with anti-Thatcher protests,


the overwhelming majority of people felt this was not the best way to


commemorate her. David Cameron would do well to recognise that. He


seems to be suggesting that everyone lit in her shadow, for and


against. He should be aware of how toxic her memory is in large parts


of the UK. She was extremely divisive but where I would part


company is the idea that the Prime Minister is being measured in his


remarks. We have seen him claiming that she rescued Britain. A lot of


people would disagree with that. It is understandable there will be


protests when the funeral is put on. In terms of welfare, that will


obviously be one of the hallmarks of this government. We have this


pilots -- pilot scheme that is starting. The government argues it


is on the right side of the argument of the public. Certainly


talking about this, the Conservatives recognise this is a


divisive issue in the public and there does seem to be a lot of


public support for the welfare cap in particular. It has only just


come in today. Four London boroughs, so time will tell what impact it


has on the ground. 4,000 households in London will be tested as it were


so we will be watching very closely to see its families with children


are particularly targeted and whether you end up having families


having to move out. For many Conservatives, this is a touchstone


issue and one where they can stand out from Labour, who have not


really taken the same view. They are obviously opposing the welfare


changes. That could be very difficult, James, For Ed Miliband.


George Osborne seems -- sees welfare as a trap to put Ed


Miliband into, rather than something that affects millions of


ordinary people. He claims that welfare only goes to the shirkers,


and this claim has fallen apart already. Most of the pain of these


benefit cuts will be falling on working people. We have a real


problem in this country. The government says it wants to make


work pay but today it put the minimum wage up by 12p which is a


real terms cut. I would like to see them do something where they


actually do make work pay without inflicting pain on working for


families. But Labour also is upset about the amount spent on welfare.


They agree it is not working. have to be careful at taking the


government at face value. We have seen over the weekend that Iain


Duncan-Smith has been claiming that the benefits cap is already working.


In fact, the government's own analysis shows no such thing and he


has been reported to the statistics watchdog today. We have to be


careful about falling for these ploys put out by the government.


There will be stories a great injustice once the pilot is under


way and once it is rolled out. There will be people who were


genuinely fine things difficult. course. -- find things difficult.


The vast majority will impact on people in work and even those who


are not to be this safety net and if it is not there, there will be


people slipping through. We saw extreme examples of welfare abuse


in the run-up to this, at which are not widespread at all, but now we


will also see extreme examples of where poverty has been inflicted on


people. The reality for most is probably somewhere in the middle


but we cannot ignore the fact there will be thousands and thousands of


people who want to work or who are in work who will find it very hard


from now on. So, as we have been hearing, the


government's cap on benefits starts in four London boroughs today


before being rolled out across England, Wales and Scotland over


the summer. 40,000 households will see their benefits cut as part of


the drive to reduce public spending. The debate about benefits dominated


much of the Easter recess. So we decided to send Giles out with some


multi-coloured balls to test the mood of the nation.


Politicians seem keen for us to have this welfare debate, so why


not have it now, in Gravesend. Is the benefits system OK or a soft


It seems to be that everybody is getting benefits apart from me!


They want to get out of the office, find the drugs and the drug users


and take away their benefits. you think a lot of scrunching?


few. But the few makes it worse for the ones who really need it.


think we just saw one of the few, don't you? Yes! This country should


come first. Put their own before others. People get offered too much


too early. They don't have to work for it. It is clear in Gravesend


which way the wind is blowing but what is interesting is the reason


why. It is going to the wrong people but not me or it is given to


others, and by that I mean foreigners, that is definitely


coming through. They are targeting us. It is like one naughty child in


their class and everybody gets punished. It is too easy for people


to get benefits but we have to pay for it all. To say that somebody


does not want to work is too simple. Do you feel better that your


husband goes to work? Yes, he provides us with an lot. I would


rather that than going out on benefits. Now to Chatham. Different


town, same question. Different answers? People that are built and


stuff, it is fine as it is. -- people that are built. We do not


normally do this! My son is an unemployed graduate. I have another


unemployed graduate child. Why is it a soft touch? I genuinely have


no idea. You just voted without knowing what it was about? Yeah!


is a soft touch because my heart and money is going to people who


just sit at home. -- hard-earned money. A some people have to take


responsibility. The majority of people on benefits do use it


properly and they do get a sit in the end. It is a negative


stereotype at the moment. People just assume it as being correct.


have been asking people and the verdict is clear. Most people in


Gravesend and Chatham think that the benefits system is as soft


touch. Clearly, too many people think that too many benefit


With us now is the Labour MP Simon The people in Rochdale are quite


clear that the trust in the welfare system has broken down. They see


people on a daily basis who are perceived to be swinging the lead,


which is probably true. There are people on benefits who should be in


employment, and we need to talk more about the world of work, and


less about the issue of simply making cuts to benefits. So, his Ed


Miliband out of touch? No, I think he is doing an excellent job, as is


Liam Byrne. We are two years away from a general election, and what


Labour needs to do is to talk more about the world of work, to talk


more about the aspirations of people in terms of work, and talk


more about getting people into work. I have seen the lives of people


getting transformed through the world of walk. I have never seen


people's lives transformed through the welfare state. That's why we


need to talk more about the benefits of working. But the Labour


Party is struggling to decide its stance on the benefits system.


but they have disagreed with the level of the cap, they have not


supported the Government in its policies on welfare, so, I ask you


again, has Ed Miliband got it wrong? There is no doubt, there is


a distinction between what the current government is doing and


where Labour stand on this. The Tories are very keen to push people


into poverty, and cut benefits. They are not talking about getting


people into work, their work programme is failing. I think it is


getting about 3.6% of people into employment. It is clearly not


working. What we need to do as a party is to devise policies, and we


have got two years to do this, which talk about why work is


important to people dot dot dot -- important to people... Do you think


so far, the Labour Party has been talking about grievances too much,


without coming up with positive solutions? Some time ago, Ed


Miliband said we needed to have an adult conversation about it. What


is going on in the Labour Party is that adult conversation. People are


making it quite clear how they want a policy to go in the Labour Party,


with regard to benefits. I am saying that we need to talk more


about aspirations, more about getting people into employment. The


Government has clearly failed to create the jobs that people need.


Thank you very much, Simon Danczuk. Tessa Jowell, as Simon Danczuk says,


Labour has not been focusing enough on getting people back into work,


they have just been focusing on grievances, what do you say to


that? I think we have focused a lock on work as the best route out


of poverty, the best route out of welfare, and also as the driver for


economic growth. Let me ask Cheryl Gillan a question - the �100 job


grant, for somebody leaving benefits and moving into work, has


been discontinued. Also, the �250 deposit on child care, to enable


people to pay for child care when they first start work, and thirdly,


the howling -- the housing benefit rollover, to cover the transition


from benefit to work. This is where this kind of policy is tested


against the rhetoric. We know that getting people into work is the way


to reduce the welfare bill and the way in which we can get the economy


growing. But what the Government is doing is to rely on heavy rhetoric,


without looking at the impact on individual cases, and without


putting in place the detailed mechanisms to actually enable


people in the JobCentre to make that transition. Is �26,000 a year


enough for a family to live on? broader problem is that 49% of the


families affected by the benefit cap our family is in London, where,


as everybody knows, housing is other costs, like travel, are


higher. Would you back that cap? Yes, we would, but we argued


strongly for a differential level to reflect the additional cost of


living in London. What do you say to that? First of all, Tessa Jowell,


like me, agrees that the best way off benefits, for people to get


self-respect, is to get them into work. To be fair, business and


industry in this country since we have come in has created more than


1.2 5 million jobs on top of what we inherited. Largely part-time.


they are not largely part-time. Labour said they agreed with the


cap. And I agree entirely that if you are going to be earning the


equivalent of �35,000 before tax, I do not know how many staff you have


got on your Parliamentary Staff under 25,000 -- under �35,000, but


that �26,000 cap on benefit would be reasonable. Labour have also


said that they believe in a regional cap. This means that


people in Rochdale, under Labour policies, would have even less.


Apart from the principle that the values of welfare are universal


across the country. But are they enough for a family in London to


live on? You have got to look at it as being equivalent to �35,000. A


lot of people in my constituency would be delighted to believe that


they could take home �25,000, because at the moment, they do not.


Unfortunately, like everybody else, they have to take alterations, cuts,


even, in their standard of living. Tessa Jowell's position, that of


the Labour Party, would be rather better if they had not voted


against every proposal. Name one that they have voted in favour of.


8 comes back to the initial question, that Labour is just


voting against everything which is proposed, and is not coming up with


its own proposals. For instance, why did we vote against the one%


increase in benefit payments? -- the 1% increase. If you are a young


person aged between 18 and 24, and your benefit is going to go up from


�54 to �55, at the same time that you are reducing the top rate of


tax for millionaires, it is just not fair. You have got to make


these reform as practicable and workable. But you want the welfare


bill to come down. Of course. One way to do that is to increase the


number of people in work, and the other way is to increased towards


an amount, a living wage, which people can have coming in. Do you


agree there are people on benefits who could be working? I'm sure


there are, but I believe they are a minority. What I think has happened


is that there has been an extremely successful campaign of denigration


of people who have relied for a period of time on benefits, but


really want to get into work. Health, education and defence total


less than the total welfare bill. The welfare bill... We have done


very well by pensioners, because they are perceived, with


justification, as among the most vulnerable. I wish we could go on


paying as much as we do at the moment, but the factor of the


matter is that there has to be a reduction in the welfare bill. If


Labour was as enthusiastic about bringing it down as it appears to


be, then it would be coming forward with positive solutions. Now, spare


a thought for poor Ed Miliband. He was probably hoping for a quiet


Easter holiday, but he broke his wrist, and he is probably suffering


from earache, because it seems everybody has been offering him


advice about how to govern the Labour Party. First, Tony Blair


popped up, in the New Statesman, to say that the guiding principle


should be... Then, former Home Secretary John Reid chimed in...


Meanwhile, another former Home Secretary, David Blunkett, also


waded in... Alan Milburn, Peter Mandelson, and even our guest Tessa


Jowell have jumped on the bandwagon. Is this advice right? Back-kick


this is the march of the old lags. Tony Blair won three elections, and


he published what I think lots of people think was a very good


analysis of the way forward for Labour. But if you're a former


Prime Minister, you cannot blind side. And if you are a former Prime


Minister who packs the punch that he does, then, the important thing


is to be part of the solution, never to become part of the problem.


I think he would accept that. It is also wrong to suggest that we are


simply a party of protest. In a sense, we have to engage with the


anger that people feel, as we knock on doors day-in, day-out. Solutions


are being put forward. I have offered you some this morning. And


there are many more in the locker. Did he need the advice? Ed Miliband


is a very open-minded person, the talks to Tony Blair, and values


what he has to say. But ultimately, Ed Miliband is now the leader of


the Labour Party, and he will take his own council. -- counsel. Ed


Miliband is actually the product of the unions. You cannot say that!


think he will always be slightly unpopular with the rest of his own


party. I knew he was going to talk to me privately. Former leaders and


former prime ministers, former ministers, they have got a duty to


the party, which allows them to occupy these positions. One way in


which they can do that is by offering advice in private, and


every now and again, you can have a chat with your former leader. But I


would certainly not be writing an article which, by implication,


perhaps not explicit, but by implication, attacked the direction


in which he is leading his party. He has got a point, was it right


for Tony Blair, and the others, to be tears of -- to be so public?


think Tony himself would expect that it could have been handled


better. But that does not mean that we should back away from the


wrote, the questions that he asked, to which there are answers. It is


not true that there are not answers. They will meet and talk this week.


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