12/05/2014 Daily Politics


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Good afternoon and welcome to the Daily Politics. Gary Barlow has been


ordered to pay back millions of pounds worth of tax, but should he


be stripped of his OBE for his involvement in a tax avoidance


scheme? Nigel Farage says his party is being


targeted by antifascist groups, but is there really a campaign of


violence against UKIP? We will bring the two sides together in the


studio. Roll over Das Kapitall. Is the new


bestseller Le Capital au Vingt-et-un Siecle a new manifesto for the left?


Come on, these are the issues I know. It is not a leader's voice, is


it? And it might make for a few laughs, but does it matter what


politicians look and sound like? All that in the next hour and with us


for the first half hour today is the comedian Matt Forde. You saw him in


the clip and he used to be an adviser to the Labour Party, so he


knows his political onions. And we won't be making fun of your voice.


Welcome. First the case of Lord Hanningfield who faces a ban from


the House of Lords until the next election and being ordered to pay


back over ?3000 worth of allowances which were wrongly claimed for. This


latest case comes after the once Conservative Peer was sentenced to


nine months in prison in 2011 for fiddling his Parliamentary expenses.


Let's speak to our political correspondent Eleanor Garnier. Let's


talk about the reasons for the wrongly claimed amount of expenses.


Lord Hanningfield was basically caught clocking on to the job,


claiming for his expensive, but not doing any Parliamentary work. This


has come about because of an investigation by the Daily Mirror


that followed the peer around. It wanted to find out how much time he


was spending in the house of lords. In essence you don't get a salary if


you are a peer, but if you turn up and clock in, you can claim ?300 a


day. The idea was to reduce fraud on expenses, make the system more


transparent and honest. But the Daily Mirror found out that


sometimes disappear was turning up for less than 20 minutes a day,


clocking in, turning round and going home. He has tried to appeal this.


But the house of Lords watchdog has said, no, the 11 days they


investigated Lord Hanningfield was only in the House of Commons for a


total of 40 minutes, not enough to make these claims. They asked him


what work he had done across those 40 minutes and he could not point to


any specific work he was meant to have done. They suggested he be


suspended for the maximum amount of one year and he pays back ?3300.


Once he has done that and it comes to 2015 he will be able to return to


the House of Lords? Is that right? That is right. Peers effectively


cannot lose their job in some respects. After the general election


he will be entitled to take his place back in the house of lords.


Today Lord Hanningfield said he admitted it was thoughtless to claim


for the full amounts on those 11 days, but he maintains he thinks the


allowance is basically a salary. He added he only claims for 100 claims


a year, but he says he works every single day of the year. He will


repay some money and go away for a little bit and he will be back in


2015. It was thoughtless, he said, but otherwise this is a salary he


can rightfully claim. If we all turned up, went on the Internet and


then went home, that would be the end of it. He has got a


constitutional role and he is messing about. We are talking about


getting rid of some MPs, why can't we do that with the House of Lords?


People will find it amazing that in this particular instance this man is


going to be able to come back into the house of lords after the next


election and presumably be able to claim that daily allowance again. It


is beyond ridiculous. But think of Lord Archer and others who have even


been to prison and two are still allowed to take their place in the


House of Lords. It would not apply to the House of Commons. The damage


this does to politics in general just reinforces the idea that it is


now in the trough. You would want him kicked out? Yes, if he had any


dignity, he would leave. What about reforming the House of Lords? If it


were elected, people would be able to have a say in it. I'm not


convinced about having an elected house myself, really. The time has


come to elect people in a different way, but the danger is you would get


one party dominating the Commons and also the Lords, so it would not


provide the function it is meant to provide. I can't understand how you


would get neutrality. What about the allowance? Would you keep this daily


allowance that you get literally for turn it up? Absolutely not. It


should be like an MP's wage. Pop star Gary Barlow found himself


taking a few hits rather than making them after a tribunal ruling that an


investment scheme he had put money into was actually used to just avoid


tax. Margaret Hodge, the chair of the Commons Public Accounts


Committee, called for a bit less take that and a bit more give back,


saying he should show some contrition and return his OBE. This


morning the Prime Minister was asked if he agreed. Margaret Hodge has


suggested Gary Barlow may want to give back his OBE as an act of


contrition, would you support that? I do not think that is necessary. He


has done a huge amount for the country and has raised money for


charity and I am not sure, because the OBE was in respect of that job


that he has done, but it is right they pay back the money. We're


joined by Mark Littlewood from the Institute of Economic Affairs, a


free-market think tank. The Prime Minister said he should pay back the


money. Why shouldn't people who abuse the tax system have the honour


is stripped from them? If he was refusing to pay the money, that


would be different. A lot of the problem is about how complex the tax


system is. I have been looking into what this tax dodge was. It is


because we have got an unbelievably complex loophole that allows you to


invest money in creative industries and right of those losses in tax,


that would encourage this behaviour, it is designed to encourage people


to make losses by supporting movies, and it seems that Gary Barlow and


others are only running losses. He has been found guilty in a court and


it has been found the system went too far, but the only reason the


system exists in the first place is the ridiculous complexity of the


British tax code. It is legal, and I know he has been told to pay back


the money, but this is not an issue of avoidance. What he is doing is


deliberately avoiding tax, he has deliberately run losses in order to


escape paying. Gary Barlow burns tonnes of money. In an era where we


have always had normal jobs and you cannot avoid tax when it is


compulsory to pay it. It is baffling. I avoid tax, I have got an


Isa. But you pay income tax in that. I put more money into my pension


than I otherwise would because of the tax benefits. I buy as much


tobacco as I legally can when I am abroad because it is cheaper to


avoid British tax. The problem is it is not about tax avoidance,


aggressive tax avoidance has not been defined. If you have ever


bought anything from duty-free, that is tax avoidance. It is different


getting the odd, little treat when you come back from holiday? Is it


the millions of pounds or the nature of avoidance? Both. Tax avoidance,


you think that I'd differences in the scale. You probably do the same,


you some of the Government ways of avoiding tax. There


you some of the Government ways of between aggressive tax avoidance and


those taxation is the Government encourages you to do. This was a


scheme the Government encouraged people to do, to encourage very rich


people to invest in the creative industries for a tax break. In a


scheme that is created or could only be created to avoid tax. Is that


right? I would scrap these tax loopholes. It is a deliberate act of


public policy to get rich people to invest money in the creative


industries so they can write losses against tax. So they can help


flourishing talent I'm sure was the incentive. They were set up with the


right principle, to nurture a flourishing, British talent in the


industries. People like Gary Barlow and his accountant realise they can


use it for something else. Barlow should have his OBE stripped for


crimes against music! I will not have a debate about that, put that


to one side. But why should he be stripped of his OBE? I think anyone


who wants one needs their head testing anyway. It is bizarre to


crave another level of status when he has already got so much heaped


upon him. The Prime Minister seems to be reluctant to say his OBE


should be taken from him because of the contribution he has made to


society. He has also failed to make a contribution to society. The


reason why we have a deficit and a Government cutting public services


is because people like Gary Barlow do not pay their fair share. It


would be colossal to our eyes, but it is a drop in the ocean compared


to the overall deficit. I find the honours system preposterous, but if


you are given an honour, you should only have that stripped away if you


are shown to have done your service fraudulently or if you are convicted


of a serious, violent, criminal offence like murder or armed


robbery. This was an extremely complex tax issue. I understand


Barlow and others will repay and that should be the end of it. The


Prime Minister is being accused of being inconsistent because with


Jimmy Carter he said it was morally wrong, but he has not said the same


about Gary Barlow, and critics would say he is a Tory supporter and their


poster boy. It is always a mistake for politicians to comment on


individual cases. I do not want the Prime Minister to decide whether


Gary Barlow is morally right or wrong. The court should decide that,


not politicians on the morality or immorality of tax affairs. Do you


think there should be laws to make some tax avoidance illegal and it


would be clearer, or just not get involved in these cases if they are


not legal? The problem is the law allows it. The only way you could


legally stop it is to effectively closed the loophole. We have got the


longest tax rule book in the world, about 14,000 pages long, seven times


longer than War and peace. If you are going to have a rule book that


long, people will find complex loopholes in it. I don't think you


can get it all onto 14 pages, but that should be the aspiration. When


you build well-intentioned incentives to help the creative


industries, and pages of complexity, you are opening the floodgates to


people who are using them not for the purposes for which they were


designed, but to minimise their tax payments. Let's make it simpler and


flatter. And you would still listen to Gary Barlow's music? I would


never listen to it. UKIP leader Nigel Farage says he's a free spirit


who hates having to be escorted by bodyguards. But he said he needs


protection because anti-fascist groups such as Unite Against Fascism


and Hope Not Hate are acting "violently" at UKIP meetings. Mr


Farage also said that the two groups receive Government money and have


ties to the Labour Party. UAF and Hope Not Hate deny using violence


and UAF say they do not receive taxpayer cash. Here's the UKIP


leader speaking to Andrew on the Sunday Politics yesterday. Sadly, we


have a couple of organisations out there headed up by senior Labour


Party figures who purport to be against fascism and extremism, who


received funding from the department of the communities, who received


funding from trade unions, who have acted in a violent way more than


once. You are saying the Labour Party is behind the threats? I am


saying that Unite Against Fascism and Hope Not Hate are funded. I am


happy for them to come to my meetings and have an argument with


me but it is not so much fun when they are banging you over the head


with banners. That was Nigel Farage and joining us is Weyman Bennett,


joint national secretary of Unite Against Fascism, and Suzanne Evans,


the UKIP communities spokesperson. Welcome. Have any of your members


acted violently or threateningly to Nigel Farage in public? That is


absolutely not the case. We have questioned him. Unfortunately that


is the reality. If you stand as a politician, the public are allowed


to question you. Some of the things he has said, we believe he has


defended homophobic comments as he did yesterday. They said there was a


problem with same-sex marriage. We also believe they are racist. If you


do unpopular things like that then people question you and that is what


has happened. As the questioning being in an intimidating way? Have


members acted aggressively to Nigel freeride? According to opinion


polls, 22% of people ain't UKIP is a racist party. That was not the


question I asked. When they opposed the legitimate questions, did they


do it in an intimidating way or a way which can be seen as aggressive?


I think no. People said they were gay and they were here, and maybe


Nigel finds that intimidating and I think that if the problem with


UKIP. What would you say to that, Suzanne Adams others? Would you like


to attract the allegation? No. The bodyguards tell me a very different


story. This man has been arrested on conspiracy for inciting violence in


the past. 58 of his supporters were arrested en masse last year.


Violence seems to follow this group around whether we like it or not and


I certainly don't like it. On Wednesday night I had seen it all


finally when supporters of this man and his organisation stood up and


assaulted verbally our speakers at a conference on Wednesday night. They


stood up and called a black, 60-year-old, Jewish woman racist.


They called her racist scum and had to be injected from the meeting. I


have seen it all. This group is not antifascist. It is trying to close


down free speech and democracy and does so in a violent way. Let's be


absolutely clear. I don't consider UKIP to be fascist but I believe


them to be pushing racist ideas and pushing the idea that if your


neighbours are Eastern European or black sometimes or Maslin, then


there is a problem with that. The candidates have made a statement.


One said that same-sex marriages have caused floods. Can I finish my


point? Firstly the idea of being verbally assaulted is being


questioned. That is what it is called. If you ask me a question,


that is not verbal assault. It is questioning the nature of my


organisation. I think the idea of pushing division is something we


have to reject and that is part of the problem. We have turned up, gay,


black, from different communities, and questioned Nigel and I don't


believe that his violent. We need to clarify. Verbal assault is not the


same as physical assault. OK, let's talk about physical assault. The man


that hit Nigel Farage over the head with a placard in Margate was a


supporter of Hope Not Hate, closely affiliated with UAF. The same as the


man on bail for a game Nigel Farage at the moment. A supporter of Hope


Not Hate. -- a throwing the egg. Nigel Farage is not as popular as he


would like to be. That is the same for every politician! It does not


mean he deserves that. Nobody has argued he should be assaulted. The


politics of UKIP are encouraging racism and division which I believe


leads to real violence. So why are 12% of the non-white population


voting for UKIP in the country? Why are you not attacking racist


candidates from other parties? We have BNP members in the Labour and


Conservative parties. You have kept silent on that issue. Let's be


clear, UKIP is the only party that has put forward the idea that the


biggest problem facing Britain at the moment is immigration and has


run on that policy to the point where I believe if you ask... Can I


finish? The poll that you reported was also reported that 22% of people


said that UKIP was a racist party. Right, but what about the non-white


candidates that are standing for the party? Why would they be in a racist


party? I believe it is possible, in some sense, and... They are


mistaken. They have made a mistake. Can I finish this one quick point?


When Nigel Farage says that Enoch Powell is his hero... He did not say


that. He never said that. I don't think he ever said that. While we


have the claim and counterclaim, what is your response to the fact


that Nigel Farage things he needs protection? He clearly needs


protection because it does get assaulted and he does need it. The


main problem the left has in campaigning against UKIP and that


UAF have, is they want them to be racist and they want to campaign


against the BNP. I would never vote for UKIP that they are not as


extreme as the people campaigning against them want them to be.


Reality is that you have to campaign against them as you would the Tories


or the Lib Dems and fight on their record. People are not agreeing with


what you are saying is because it does not chime with the reality.


UKIP are not a racist party. If you say that you find gay relationships


abnormal... That is bigoted and reactionary. Can I finish? But


people have questioned them in a non-violent way. You are picking out


individuals, tiny things, that do not represent the party. We have


made this very clear. The idiots who have criticised us... Let him


finish. Would you accept that you referred to another organisation


that attacked Nigel Swaraj, that your leader has explicitly said that


Unite Against Fascism has attacked people? -- Nigel Farage. You are


changing your point. Nigel Farage, as you yourself, has had to account


for people that you are calling idiots yourself. Do you understand


that that does provoke a strong reaction? Of course. But we don't


have a level playing field. Similar candidates in other parties have


said even worse things. The Tory candidate councillor who talked


about wanting to expel all Muslims from the country and destroy masks.


Awful things. Did that appear on the Unite Against Fascism website?


Never. Does your group have ties to the Labour Party and trades unions?


Yes, we have ties to trades unions, to mosques, churches, groups, and we


are opposed to Fascism. We don't consider UKIP to be a fascist party


but we are part of a campaign that says we should live in a society of


tolerance and equality. Thank you for that note of agreement at the


end! Politics is showbiz for ugly people


according to the saying but only some politicians attain celebrity


status. So what have they got that others have not?


Actors playing politicians are of course trained to capture the


audience. If you want something done, ask a woman. But there are


some politicians like the late Margaret Thatcher who mastered the


art of holding our attention so well, they seemed to transcend


politics altogether, reaching a certain celebrity status. There are


mishaps and plenty of missed mixed metaphors. My leadership chances, as


I may have told you before, are about as good as my chances of being


reincarnated as a baked bean. Whatever the London Mayor gets up


to, there always seems to be a lot of love for Boris. Would you like to


see him elected? I love Boris. And there is a certain something about


the fellow public schoolboy and former banker now UKIP leader Nigel


Farage, and his charismatic character. Scotland's first minister


Alex Salmond has certainly got the hang of it but is there something


that successful ones all share? Politics is largely an art form and


therefore to really succeed in politics you have to be an artist,


and that means being a great communicator, a great actor. Even


when you are being completely fake and not authentic, you have to


convey the sense that you are being utterly sincere and authentic.


Putting on a show and doing a bit of acting is not easy. So what tricks


to politicians have two win us over? British eccentricity. It have to be.


Something quirky and different to what we are used to. Bull Garrity


maybe could be one explanation. Charisma could be another. --


vulgarity. Another master to add to the mix, Tony Blair. Here at his


last Labour conference as Prime Minister, diffusing tension between


his wife and Gordon Brown. At least I don't have to worry about running


off with the bloke next door! In a way that I think is still


underestimated, Tony Blair was a mesmerising orator. I used to get


his speeches before he delivered them when he was leader of the


opposition and read them and think what total rubbish. We are going to


be a young country, a country reborn. And then he would stand


there on the stage and say, we are going to be a young country, country


reborn, and you would believe it. You would be utterly spellbound. How


much of this is taught and how much is natural talent? You have got it


or you haven't. The great artists just have it by instinct. They know


how to communicate. They know how to appear sincere and to be funny. And


they have just got it. And if you have got it, flaunt it. The longer


politicians manage to keep the audience entertained, the longer


they can stay in the limelight. Eleanor Garnier reporting. With as


is the journalist and author Peter Hitchens. You are a big fan of Tony


Blair. Why? Not only because office record but what they touched on


there. Politicians make people excited and Tony Blair did that.


What was wrong with Tony Blair? He was a great communicator and a lot


of people believed that I voted for him over three elections. That


cannot be delayed. Well, I don't know whether it can be denied or


not. They did not do much for me. What is he a communicator off? He


seems to be a communicator of drivel and vacuousness. Almost everything


he said qualified as one or the other if not both and every speech


he made, I wondered why people were taking it seriously. There was


nothing there. I think the magic of Tony Blair was, and David has proved


this, he was so vacuous that anybody who wanted to manufacture an image


could have anything into him and have it come at the other end. David


Cameron is considerably more intelligent and so his attempt to be


a second Tony Blair has not really work because he has the intelligence


to block the drivel valves. But he has not won on election, has he? No,


he hasn't, but that is to do with Conservative Party debt which is not


he hasn't, but that is to do with something we can do anything about.


Not even David Cameron. Listening to that, he said he was vacuous and


Not even David Cameron. Listening to not say anything, and therefore it


was easy for everybody to project what they wanted to hear. Do you


think it was true or was there a narrative, a passion, and he did


believe in something? I think you did. If you looked at his vision for


the country which was for the Labour Party to embrace the markets. That


was significant. David Cameron may well be better educated and with


better results... They are equally well educated. Both Oxbridge public


school boys. If you have got vision, the only vision that Tony


Blair had was the vision of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq which


were not there. Beyond that it was slogans, the kind of thing you have


just come out with. Klaus four was dead before you were born. It was


killed off by Harold Wilson and it did not matter. Anyone who knew


anything about British politics knew that it meant nothing. It is


personality we are talking about. Steve mentioned having an instinct,


a likeability. Tony Blair said you have to be a member of the human


race before you get into the political class. Wouldn't it be fun


to have politicians that you dislike that have knowledge of what is going


on? Who do you like and rate? Thinking back there was the


generation that came to the Second World War, whichever side they were


on, who knew something. Denis Healey is a good example. You can listen to


him and you can hear there is some experience and knowledge of reality


in this person. He has seen people killed and he knows what war is


like, which so many of these buffoons do not, which is why they


want to start them. I don't want to make that link directly to Boris


Johnson but he does have personality and appeal. Does he have substance?


Ultimately what unites politicians like Boris and Tony Blair is they


have an amount of personality but ultimately you judge somebody on


their record. The reason Boris was re-elected was people asking if


their life was better or worse and Boris has been quite successful in


London and that is why he was re-elected. What is your view on


Boris? He is quite a good performer but something like Monty Python.


People will wonder what they were laughing at. An engaging person and


likeable, but he's not what he appears to be. Conservatives think


he is hostile to the European Union and they would be quite surprised if


they studied and thought about it. He is not what he appears to be,


which may be the trick as well. Do we want that? Regular disappointment


of the electric discredit the whole system. You do a good impression of


Ed Miliband. What the hell is that voice all about, make? It sounds


like Tony Blair with a cold. He would talk like that. Let's talk


about it. As the years go by and his nose gets more bunged up it has come


on. I want to talk about what is going on. Come on. These are big


issues I know. It is not a leader's voice. Does it matter about the


voice? A bit. William Hague was seen as a pipsqueak and a bit of a drip


and he would talk at the top end of his vocal range and now he is


Foreign Secretary, he talks in a deeper voice and it gives him real


gravitas. Does that mean he would be more likely to be leader now with


that voice? Argued bully, yes. If you are not doing so well and you


are perceived to be a bit of a drip, having a silly voice helps you be


lampooned. Is he being lampooned and hampered? He is always caricatured


in particularly unflattering ways and the question is not whether he


has got a different or unusual voice, the question is should it


matter? It ought not to matter, but if it does, it is surely the duty of


anybody who has got any role with politics and the public to make sure


it does not matter. What matters is what he says and what he thinks, not


whether it comes through his nose or mouth. Are you ever going to get


away from the image, the look, the sound of a politician? Television


infantilised as all who watch it. It does that and it is a terrible


danger to freedom of thought. It makes people tremendously


conformist. You can dismiss quite a substantial person on triviality and


it is a tool by which you can destroy real politics. Are you


guilty of trivialising politics? There is a right to mock


politicians. Mocking somebody for their voice is not trivialising


politics? Of course it is. Spitting image did that. It also did a lot of


harm. Political discussion in this week has been the sense of a public


schoolboy in 1958 dominating what we think. Nobody studies what they say


or do. We have an infantile, political culture. Is that the fault


of satire? Some people would say it engages people in politics. But if


it engages people, but lessens the standard, it is not doing that. One


of the reasons why this country is so badly governed is because of this


childish attitude. If you compare British democracy took a lot of


countries in the world, we have a vibrant democracy. Politicians know


they will be scrutinised. We are one of the most indebted countries in


the world, we make nothing, or our political statistics are fiddled,


this is a bigger problem than what comes out of Ed Miliband's knows. I


have studied Ed Miliband's voice for hours and hours, and I listen to


what he says, and that is a good way to characterise someone. Thank you


for being our guest of the day. In a moment we will get a beginning of


the week briefing from two of Fleet Street's finest. They are waiting


for us just outside Parliament. Now a look at some of the events taking


place later this week. On Tuesday the Business Select Committee will


scrutinise Pfizer's proposed takeover of AstraZeneca when bosses


from both firms appear before the Business Belect Committee. On


Tuesday MPs get a chance to grill David Cameron who appears before the


Commons Liaison C ommittee. The Prime Minister will face Ed Miliband


across the dispatch box for what could be the last PMQs of this


session of Parliament. On Thursday Parliament could prorogue, which


would give MPs a 19-day break. They would not return until the Queen's


speech next month. Emily Ashton from the Sun and Andrew Grice from the


Independent are standing by for us on College Green. The coalition row


over education, how serious is it? This is not your typical row, this


gets a bit personal. This is between Michael Gove who causes divisions


quite a lot, and between David Laws. It is about how much funding


is going towards free schools. Because the Lib Dems accused the


Tories of diverging millions to free schools away from local authority


places, they accuse Michael Gove of being ideological and obsessed with


free schools. This gets to the heart of the hatred for Michael Gove


amongst Lib Dems, but it is symptomatic of coalitions in general


ahead of an election and it will get more bitter. Do you think this is a


limited domestic row between the two coalition partners, or does this


potentially risk more damage in a widespread way to the Government? It


is a risk. The education Department and the Treasury, which is now


getting involved, were the two departments in 2010 that worked very


well together in coalition. That is a setback to the Lib Dems' desire to


show coalition works. They have got to come out of the coalition next


year and say the last five years have been good for the country and


it is not easy to say that when it looks shambolic. Who wins this row?


The Lib Dems are the Tories? It is tricky. The free schools are going


ahead and I do not know if there are any winners. The Lib Dems still


support free schools. I am not sure it is a debate to be one. It is more


about hoisting the flag up the mast and saying, we don't like you


becoming obsessed with free schools. Labour are due to make an


announcement on the NHS. Tell us more about it. Ed Miliband is making


a speech in Manchester tonight where he will address some of the


problems, like waiting time appointments for GPs. It has work to


do our economic credibility, but the NHS is an issue where Labour has


always been strong and Ed Miliband will start with Labour's plan to


rescue the NHS. They will be warning another five years of the Tory and


Lib Dem Government would not leave the NHS in safe hands. There will be


a major cash crisis by the NHS after the election and so Labour is trying


to get that up in lights before the year's time. You could argue the


Government is running out of things to do if they are going to break up


on Thursday. What do you say? We do not know for sure, but that is the


general speculation. The Commons office will not announce it until


the business statement on Thursday morning. But if they do rise, that


is 19 days before the Queen's speech and that comes two weeks after a two


week Easter break and two weeks in February. A lot of people will say,


we elect them to the House of Commons to debate laws and policies


and they are not here. There is this claim of a zombie parliament that is


running out of things to do because of a five-year fixed Parliament. And


what about Pfizer and AstraZeneca. Talks of a public interest test


being passed. Even if that was not passed, and Government block a deal?


It is difficult. They want to put a bit of political pressure on Pfizer


and Pfizer is talking about having a legal opinion, showing its


guarantees about keeping jobs in this country would be legally


binding. There is usually something in the small print saying if


circumstances change, the company doing the takeover can change its


position. MPs will be looking for long-term guarantees about jobs in


this country. Pfizer has spoken about a five-year guarantee of


keeping research and development jobs. I think the MPs will be


looking for ten years. Thank you. Now, let's get back to that


coalition row. It's over funding for school places that pitches the


Deputy Prime Minister against the Education Secretary. Insults being


traded include Michael Gove being accused of "lunacy" while


Conservative sources have accused Nick Clegg of being "pathetic" of


all things. So how did this latest verbal bust up begin? Well the Lib


Dems are unhappy at what they see as Mr Gove's ideological obsession over


free schools which they claim could lead to the loss of 30,000 local


authority places in England as money is diverted to the free school


programme. In fact it was the unlikely figure of Malcolm Bruce who


landed a big punch on the BBC over the weekend when he said the budget


for free schools was completely "out of control" and that Michael Gove


needed to be "reined back". The Liberal Democrat deputy leader is


unhappy at the Education Secretary for supposedly diverting ?400m from


the department's basic-need funding to bolster his free schools


programme. But the Tories have fought back, accusing their


coalition partners of being "pathetic", saying that more school


places were being created overall. In fact, the blue half of the


coalition are accusing the Lib Dems of sour grapes after leaked e-mails


showed senior officials within the Department for Education were


concerned that Nick Clegg's policy of free school meals amounted to "an


abuse of taxpayers' money for his personal ends". While it's not the


first coalition row, this one seems particularly vitriolic as both


parties look to strengthen their support base ahead of next week's


local and European elections. I'm joined now by a panel of


Westminster's finest, or at least the best we could muster together on


a Monday lunchtime - Paul Uppal, Lisa Nandy and Julian Huppert.


Welcome to you all. Is providing free school meals to infants and


abuse of taxpayers' money? We have to look at the whole round. One of


the things I have picked up over the debate, it is not just about the


number of places, it is the quality of places. I have a free school in


my constituency and that will provide a ladder of social mobility


for many youngsters and it is providing a solution for so many


meet youngsters. Do you accept free schools do not have to be set up in


areas where there is a shortage of places? They can be set up anywhere


and there is a shortage of places in certain parts of the country and


money has been taken away to fuel this ideological obsession? There is


more than adequate provision for need of places. Why is there a


shortage of places in certain parts of the country? I have seen in my


own constituency a free school that has been established there. In


providing a number of places and the quality of places, it is paramount


to meeting the need. Is Michael Gove obsessed with free schools? No, he


is obsessed with providing a social ladder of mobility to help children


meet the skills gap and escape from poverty. The Lib Dems were fully


signed up, what is the problem? I think having more of that money


towards basic needs is the right thing to do. There are people who


are looking for more places and we need those to happen. Equally I am


proud of the policy of providing free school meals at infant schools.


There is evidence that shows it helps everybody, particularly those


from lower backgrounds. Is It good we articulating what we would like


to see happen. Malcolm Bruce said the education department is out of


control. Is he right? Loo-mac this is nothing like as much as we saw


with the Blair - Brown battles. We are two separate parties. But you


have now completely fallen out. Lunacy on one side, and pathetic on


the other. The free school meals policy was written on the back of a


piece of scrap paper. There have been some bizarre comments. There


has been a lot of research about free school meals policy. It helps


people who are in particular are already getting free school meals.


We should help people from poorer backgrounds catch up and not fall


behind. But do you recognise the Tory charge your school meals policy


is leading to a cut in school places as council funding has to go into


providing school meals rather than places? It came from other money and


the Treasury and the Treasury announced extra money for this


policy. Do free schools not provide school places in the fairway local


authority schools do? We should focus on the experience a child is


going to happen. Do you match need with where people want to open a


free school? I am sure in some areas free schools are dealing with the


need there, but in other places they will not be. We should be supporting


pupils and their education where the need is. Is no doubt Labour is


watching this with great amusement but there is a serious point here.


If there is a shortage of places, which there is in some parts of the


country, is it being met? I don't find what has happened in education


policy funny at all. We have the free schools programme which is out


of control. 1.5 billion so far. 40 brand-new schools in areas where


they are not needed when we have a real crisis of school places. 90,000


places will be needed in London by 2016. What about quality as well?


They are not the schools that parents want to send their children


to? There is another problem with this because free schools have had


mixed results because they are frankly an experiment. They don't


have proper oversight so we have seen real catastrophes. They don't


outperform other schools. The question is this. The education


secretary has been focused on a small number of schools and


children, some of whom have done very badly and some have done OK,


but the rest of the country is waiting and wondering what the


education secretary has two say to them. We need a policy that speaks


to all schools and all children. I think we can do better than we do at


the moment. Are you happy to defend the experiment of free schools when


only 22% of people support them according to a survey. And some


schools have not got proper oversight according to Lisa Nandy.


We are planting a seed and it will take time. Is it across-the-board?


Two thirds have been excellent or outstanding in Ofsted. Why am I


Conservative? The two years I was in a state school where because of the


colour of my skin my teachers thought I could not speak English.


One teacher engaged with me and provided a ladder of opportunity. I


passionately believe these free schools can give this. Are you


seriously arguing that state schools cannot give a ladder of opportunity?


They have outperformed free schools in the Ofsted ratings. In the state


system we have three boys in the state system getting five A stars.


That is failing children. I am saying that the status quo is not


good enough. There is plenty of money being spent. We have to


produce academic excellence. This is not the answer, to squander money on


a number of schools who have been proven to fail over recent years


because there is not proper oversight. Anybody can walk into the


schools and teaching them. We rely on whistle-blowers to know when


things are going wrong. That is not raising standards. Would you like to


see more money diverted to the free schools programme? This is a


long-term project. Sure, but would you like to see more money diverted


into the programme? I think any money that is providing those


children with the right ladder, then that is absolutely crucial. So


taking money away from local authorities and putting it into free


schools. Do you agree with that? We should focus on providing the


education that people need. So where you run to sign up in the first


place and do you regret it? Some of my constituents have set up a school


affiliated to the University of Cambridge so there are good things.


You could criticise the Blairite academy programme, where there were


similar concerns. We should talk about pupils and not just the


organisations. There is grossly unequal funding across the country.


Why should people in Cambridgeshire get a quarter of a million pounds


per year for a typical primary school less than the English


average? Why does a pupil in Cambridge deserve so much less? That


is something the last Government did nothing about, leaving us at the


bottom. Labour left us right at the bottom of funding for many years.


Their 13 years we did not get the extra money and that has caused real


problems. We need a fairer funding problem so that -- fairer funding


solution. We will leave it there. Thank you.


The CBI has warned that political uncertainty could pose a major risk


to economic recovery. The revised up their prediction for greatest year


but they also forecast an increase in interest rates in 2015 and said


that politicians need to be aware of headline grabbing policies that we


can investment opportunity and jobs. Whatever could they mean? Could they


be talking about the policies that Ed Miliband and the Labour Party


have been spouting recently? Intervention in the market at


various levels, like capping rent and in the energy market. That poses


uncertainty. Reading the CBI report this morning, they were saying the


opposite. One of the problems with the growth we have seen is that it


is potentially unsustainable and relies too much on a housing bubble.


They are calling for what we are calling for, investment in


infrastructure, building new schools, roads, homes and hospitals,


but particularly house-building. Increasing the supply so that house


prices do not continue going up and then far too many families cannot


afford to own or have stability in their own homes. That is why we have


said we want to intervene in the market and increase the supply and


make sure people can get onto the housing ladder in a sustainable way


if they want to, but also to boost jobs and growth this country not


just in London. Do you support your party's policy for capping the


increase in rents? We want to make sure people have stability in their


homes so that when you sign up to a contract, that read that you have


agreed to remains for the duration of the contract. -- that rent. We


want the contracts to be longer. As someone who has rented for many


years with many friends with families in rented accommodation,


that stability is the basis of a decent life. I cannot understand for


a moment why the Conservatives are so opposed to it. Why are you? I


have worked in the centre for 20 years and lived through this. For


those that remember the regulated tenancies, we have been here before.


It actually decimated the rental sector completely in terms of


investment. It had the opposite effect. There are unintended


consequences. It is very easy for politicians to say, look, if it


scores high on opinion polls, let's follow it, but it is short-term and


does not fix the long-term problem. That is having enough houses to meet


supply. All right, we will leave that there. You have heard of Das


Kapital but what about Le Capital Au XX1e Siecle? Apologies for my French


accent. That is capital in the 21st century. It has been written by


Thomas Piketty, a Frenchman, and the 640 page tome has been sitting at


the top of the bestsellers list and some people who bought it have


actually read it! This is Adam Fleming.


Reading Le Capital Au XX1e Siecle takes a seriously long time but


don't worry. Here is a quick summary. Thomas Piketty has analysed


centuries worth of economic data. His conclusion? Inequality is


increasing. But not just that, it is hard-wired into capitalism. The only


times things get more equal is one was destroy inherited wealth or


governments do serious redistribution. -- when governments


destroy. The rich are destined to get richer while the rest of us stay


the same. The author sums it up in a now infamous equation. R is greater


than G. It was briefly in the Amazon top ten, selling better than the


diet books but not as well as beriberi. -- Mary Berry. It is doing


well in London. This think tank had to find a bigger venue to


accommodate all of his fans. I think it will stand up well with Karl


Marx's Das Kapital. It will change how we view capital in mainstream


economics and politics, yes. And it shows changes in intellectual


thought in this century. It is that big a deal? Yes. So how do I say his


name? Thomas Piketty, I think. We hope! If you get to the end, you


will find the professor advocating a new tax rate for the rich of 80%.


But won't that make it harder for them to buy the book? Look how much


it costs! We will leave the big question of how to pronounce the


man's surname. We will say Thomas Piketty. Do you agree with the main


thrust of his economic thesis, which is that if there is more growth in


capital assets than what you earn, income, then inequality will become


greater? There is a lot to that, but I don't agree with his conclusions


like the 80% tax rate. OK, but in recent years if you have been


sitting in a house in London that has grown a huge amount in value,


outstripping what people can earn in a day... Yes. We tax income more


than wealth for many years in this country and we have argued that


should change for many years. They have done things like changing stamp


duty for example. But we would also like to see a mansion tax, which we


have pushed Bob. You're not going to get that in coalition with the


Conservatives. No, but I still think it is the right thing to do. Out of


Government you were suddenly more interested in it. But he would not


back it. I hope it can happen because we need to rebalance it and


focus on wealth. That is a fairer way to run public services. Whenever


Labour decide to sign up to mansion tax, they have taken that half of


the equation. But you still want higher tax rates. You want people to


keep their earned wealth and tax the inheritance or their property. We


don't want higher tax rates for the many. We want the 50p rate of tax


restored. This is what Thomas Piketty, however you pronounce his


name, is actually saying. In Britain there is an astonishing fact. 50% of


people only three to 4% of our wealth. That cannot be right. One of


the solutions to that is taxed but there is another solution which is


to make sure that people are enough in the first place to have a decent


standard of living, which is one of the problems we have got in this


country. -- earn enough. But people earning ?10,000 a year need that 750


quid. They are desperate for it. Let me explain it to you. If you raise


the minimum allowance before people pay tax, the threshold, it helps


people like me and Hugh who pay ?65,000 a year as much as it helps


them. There are better ways of doing that. No, it is less progressive.


Independent studies have shown it is less progressive. Would you ever


look at a mansion tax? I actually don't think it would work. I am an


East African seek. If you follow this argument through logically. And


we have business in Kenya, then this is about compensatory taxation. We


lost everything and came to the UK. The same Government who asked us to


leave asked us to come back in 1980 and we said not ready. We are happy


where we are. Can you use that example in terms of rejecting a


policy that would tax wealth here? I think in some elements of the book,


if you look at the US, there is some resonance. But if you look at the


UK, and Allister Heath has written about this extensively and I will


not recited Verbatim... No! You jumped to that quickly! The


discrepancy between dividends and rental income has not happened over


the last 70 years. That is a good point to leave it on. Thank you for


joining us. The News At One is starting on BBC One now and I will


be back tomorrow at midday. Goodbye. MUSIC: "Mas Que Nada"


by Sergio Mendes


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