19/05/2014 Daily Politics


19/05/2014

The latest news and debate from Westminster. Jo Coburn is joined by Maureen Baker from the Royal College of GPs and a panel of MPs.


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Politics. AstraZeneca rejects what Pfizer says is its last offer to

:00:44.:00:47.

splash its cash on its British rival, but will shareholders be able

:00:48.:00:49.

to resist the offer? family doctors in the driving seat,

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but will they be as good at running the health service as keeping us

:00:59.:01:06.

healthy? Ed Miliband says the minimum wage should be linked to

:01:07.:01:09.

average earnings, but what should the link bait?

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average earnings, but what should insist UKIP, the party is accused of

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harbouring homophobes and bigots and racists, but are the other parties

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any better? All that in the next hour, and with

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this for the first half of the programme today is the chair of the

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Royal Court of GPs, Maureen Baker. Let's start with the proposed

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takeover of AstraZeneca by its US rival, Pfizer. This morning the

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board of AstraZeneca has rejected what is described as a final offer

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that values the business at ?69 billion. Does that mean is this the

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end of the affair? Let's speak to Simon Jack, does it mean the end of

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the affair? Very probably yes, Jo. The shares have fallen very sharply,

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down about 13%, and that tells us most people think the deal is dead

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in the water. As you say, they offered ?55 per share, and it seems

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they got pretty close on price, because previous offers were

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described as woefully undervalued. This was just inadequate, so a

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little bit more might have got the board to talk to them, that it would

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be very unusual now for a company to come back, having said this was a

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final offer, to come back with more. The takeover panel would take a dim

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view of that. One possibility which remains is that shareholders who

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have seen that share price fall and are looking at a price which is

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about 25% lower than they were being offered by Pfizer have a week to

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think, do you know what? Maybe this is not such a bad a day after all.

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Imagine that they do reconsider the proposal, ultimately it is for the

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shareholders to decide. What is the analysis of Labour saying they would

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block the takeover if they were to win the next election and if they

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felt the deal was not in the country's best interest? Is that

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significant? I am not sure it is, because in the conversations I have

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had, that has not come up since Ed Miliband mentioned it. It could be

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the shareholders' fault, they do not tend to think politically, and it

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maybe it should have been on their agenda, but I do not expect it will

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make any short-term difference. What impact will it have on other

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businesses trying to take over British companies and, in terms of

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using Vince Cable's words, being open for business as a country? One

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thing that will be interesting is to see where the debate goes on the

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public interest test, because there was talk of introducing an extra

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limb to that public interest test. We already have it for national

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security, media plurality and competition. But if you were added

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to something like scientific jobs or key industries, he would have to go

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to the European Commission to get them to agree to it. That would be

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quite an interesting prospect, to see them deciding what the UK

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thought its own national interest was. It would allow some

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Eurosceptics to make mischief, but it won't make any short-term

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difference. In your mind, Maureen, should politicians intervene in

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cases where companies are trying to take over British companies? It does

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seem to me that if there is a legitimate interest in the country,

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and for the sake of the good of the population, that we have a

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particular industry or number of industries, then that seems

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reasonable, that politicians could take up on that. What about the

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public interest test? This phrase has been used particularly by

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Labour. If you were worried about a foreign company taking over a

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company here, what would you want included in that test? Well, the...

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Again, the difficulty is in the definition, isn't it? If we take the

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AstraZeneca case, this country has got a very considerable scientific

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and research infrastructure that provides a lot of jobs, brings a lot

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of income into the country, and it also helps support as being a good

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place to study. So there is a lot of ramifications in having a good

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scientific and research base, and therefore developments that

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undermine that space, I would think they do have a public interest

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ramifications. Will you be pleased if the deal is dead in the water?

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Personally, I will be. I think it is better for us to have UK-based big

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pharmaceutical companies. What about the issue of investment? Because

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that is what other politicians and business people will say that a

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company like AstraZeneca needs an awful lot of investment and money to

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continue developing drugs. Yes, and again this is a question for

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politicians, from whatever party - how can they best support UK

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business, UK interests? And therefore there should be ways in

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which governments can help support investment in key industries. OK,

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let's leave it there. Here on the Daily Politics we like to ask the

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difficult questions. How do you solve a problem like Maria? At what

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point does a pond become a lake? What was the best thing before

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sliced bread? But one question's answer has eluded us, what is the

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structure of the new NHS? Giles is here to help us understand.

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All of us have a sense of the health service, and most of us at some

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point we'll use it, which is why our governments, including the

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coalition, are careful to be seen to cherish it. But this Government has

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been keen to radically change the NHS. To some, it is a real

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revolution. To others, the destruction of the service before

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your eyes. But the idea had one very big focus - the Secretary of State

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wanted doctors in charge. Up until September 2012, Andrew Lansley,

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architect of the reforms and driver of them in government, looked hard

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at the NHS and diagnosed a Beijing case of bureaucracy, and it was that

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bad. Inclinations delivering the best care. -- it was that stopping

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clinicians. He wanted to put money into the hands of GPs. The problem

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for Andrew Lansley was the reforms were watered down in the face of

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opposition, consultation and eventually political surgery. Jeremy

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Hunt scrubbed up as the Secretary of State for help after the

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blood-letting of a reshuffle, and the new system he presides over is

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far more complex than the original idea. It is based on around 200

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clinical commissioning groups, CCGs, spending around 65 billion of

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the NHS's 100 billion budget. These are made up of GPs, nurses, hospital

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input and the public, who go shopping in approved marketplaces

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for health services, but there are all sorts of bodies. They all help,

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advice or check the whole process. The reforms are very complicated,

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and a lot of people are having to learn new roles and

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responsibilities. Specialised commissioning turned out to be more

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complicated than people thought. We have just seen in the last few weeks

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the new chief executive of NHS England beginning to change the way

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that the commissioning for GPs services works, trying to get CCGs

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more on the page to help work out the best way to deliver primary

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care. Now, I could explain the system further, because it is

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usually complex, but it is GPs we are focusing on today, because the

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primary carers are still commissioned and paid for by NHS

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England, a body that was going to be smaller and more nimble but is

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actually still vast. Doctors do very well out of this arrangement. GPs

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are still, in many ways, at the heart of the system, but as bodies

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learn a new ways they interact, either GPs have complained too much

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is expected of them or other clinicians have said doctors simply

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do not have the monopoly on expertise. In government, there is a

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feeling it has become like a reverse doctor joke. Minister, Minister, I

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feel like an overworked cash! Sorry, doctor, you will just have to handle

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the change. Who better to discuss the NHS with

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us than our guest of the day, who has been a GP since 1985? It does

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look hideously complicated when demonstrated in that way, Maureen,

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GPs are now in the driving seat, in so far as the NHS in England, 66% of

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money is channelled through these new local health authorities, the

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commissioning care groups. Are you the ones that we should hold to

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account if it goes wrong? Well, GPs are the people to hold to account

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for the part of that for which they are responsible, so even issues of

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the 66 billion, there are large chunks of that money that are not

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negotiable, that come out as a tranche. And basically GPs and CCGs

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then get to try to do the best with what is left. So it is all a bit

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misleading. You have demonstrated how complicated it looks. It is at

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least as complicated as it looks! But an awful lot of money you are

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being entrusted with, a very large chunk of money that you are

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responsible for - if it goes wrong, GPs should be carrying the can. CCGs

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are comprised of GPs and others, and they are the statutory body, without

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their having been any choice in that. That is the way the

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regulations had worked. Would you rather not have had the

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responsibility? We would rather not, but having got it, my colleagues are

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trying to do the best they can in the system we now have. How

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reassured can we be by your comments? You are interested with

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the money, how do we know you will spend it wisely if you were

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reluctant to take on the responsibility? Indeed, but it was

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not a matter over which there was choice, so having been given the

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responsibility. In the interests of patients and the public, colleagues

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in CCGs are doing their best, and actually at the end of the first

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year, it does appear that, by and large, they are doing a pretty good

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job. Very few CCGs have gone into deficit, for instance, as opposed

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to, you know, many other parts of the NHS in other sectors. So they

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are doing a good job with the job they have been given. NHS spending

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per head is said to reduce by 9% per year, what should the NHS stop

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doing? The NHS needs to stop spending its money downstream, at

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the last end. Meaning? Meaning we spend too much money in the acute

:12:17.:12:23.

sector, where people don't want to be, where we are doing unnecessary

:12:24.:12:29.

interventions. We need to be much more downstream with the money, and

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use the money more appropriately across health economies. When you

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say acute, what do you mean, in the acute section? The acute sector is

:12:40.:12:44.

mainly hospitals and district General... So too much is being

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spent on hospitals? Too much on hospitals, but basically, if we are

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able to use the money better, we should be able to have better

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services for patients at or near home, and have less people in

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hospital for shorter times, therefore meaning they need less

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money. But when it comes to hospitals, part of the reason is

:13:08.:13:12.

that people are going to A, looking at another area of the NHS,

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because they cannot get appointments with their GP easily or when they

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want them. In fact, a few things there. The evidence shows that the

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pressure in A department is largely due to people being very

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ill, turning up, often in ambulances, and not being able to

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flow through the hospital. But there is a significant proportion as a

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result of, it is a weekend, there is no GP. Well, in fact, there are out

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of hours GPs... Not widespread. Every area in the country does have

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a GP out of hours service. There are a whole number of reasons about it

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not being well understood, people do not know the best way to go, it is

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too complicated, but putting that aside, there is a proportion which,

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by the way, has not changed over the last ten or 15 years, of patients

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who will go to A because they feel it is more convenient. But in terms

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of whether that is because of the acute pressure in A departments,

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no, it isn't. Let's have a look at the Labour promise to get an

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appointment at your GP within 48 hours. Do you support that? We

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support the aspiration. Getting back to this business people not being

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able to get an appointment, we believe it is really important that

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people have the access to the skills of their GP in that practice when

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they need. However, the... We have, in the last five years, in general

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practice, had a significant decrease in funding in actual terms, in cash,

:14:59.:15:03.

against a context of an increasing number of appointments delivered,

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and the demand for that. And the service is spread incredibly thin.

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GP's salary could give, they earn an average of ?105,000 per year, 600

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are on more than ?200,000 per year, a very big salary, just by general

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comparison. You could give on that. These are average salaries for

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partners. There are others who are not partners. The Royal College of

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GPs opposed the pledge by Prime Minister is to see surgeries open

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8am until 8pm and at weekends. We do not have enough GPs actually. Even

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the salaries you were talking about, GPs are leaving the service, they

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are going abroad, going into other careers. The biggest constraint in

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terms of delivering GP appointments is the number of GPs, and support

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staff in surgeries. That is the biggest problem which is why we do

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not believe a 48 hour access pledge can be achieved.

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Is it a headline, guaranteeing appointments? The Sun people it

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would seem like a legitimate aspiration.

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It can't be achieved with the resources we have. You want more

:16:32.:16:38.

money? We want more staff. That does need to come with more money. It is

:16:39.:16:45.

not just salaries, it is what sits beneath that.

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Well, one, potentially controversial,

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way to cut costs would be to get people to pay to visit the GP.

:16:52.:16:55.

Our correspondent, Hugh Schofield, joins me now

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from Paris where a form of GP charging is firmly established.

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Talk us through the system operating in Paris?

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It is, as you say, a system where you bring out the cheque book to see

:17:12.:17:18.

the doctor. It is a generous system but this is not free at the point of

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access. I have a local GP I can go and see pretty much any day, he will

:17:25.:17:28.

even come and visit me at home. Every time he does, I write out a

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cheque. 23 euros for a visit to his office. ?18. I will then get all of

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that back, except one or two euros, which is to deter those who want to

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go willy-nilly. It is an insurance system, compulsory insurance

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system, which means you pay up and you get back.

:18:05.:18:06.

What are the benefits of that social insurance system? The benefits to

:18:07.:18:17.

you and the system there? Does it make it more efficient and

:18:18.:18:19.

cost-effective? I am not sure about cost effective.

:18:20.:18:25.

It certainly makes it efficient. The odd thing about the French system,

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bethink Britain is being this liberal, free market-based economy.

:18:31.:18:36.

Whereas France is more socialist. In fact, in the health system, it is

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the reverse. In Britain, we have the NHS set up straight after the war,

:18:43.:18:48.

with socialistic ideology behind it, free provision at the point of

:18:49.:18:54.

access. In France, we have a liberal system. You can set up as a doctor

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and as long as you are approved and authenticated, you will then be able

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to charge and get the money back, you will be part of the system.

:19:06.:19:13.

There are plenty of doctors, private individuals operating as doctors,

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surgeons, specialists. The French love specialists. A lot of people

:19:19.:19:24.

will bypass their GP and go to a specialist, endocrinology, brain

:19:25.:19:29.

problems. Because it is so generous, we have got to a point where it is

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not affordable. The prospect of raiding expenditure in is

:19:35.:19:36.

politically sensitive. -- reigning. Thomas Cawston is from the think

:19:37.:19:51.

tank Reform, and has authored How would it work? Many health

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systems are facing a challenge of finding more money to meet growing

:20:07.:20:11.

demand in health care. Around the world, many systems use charges as a

:20:12.:20:18.

supplement for the taxpayer. There are charges for prescription,

:20:19.:20:24.

optometry, dentistry, in the NHS, long-term care.

:20:25.:20:32.

It is a big difference, to put your money directly before the GP.

:20:33.:20:38.

In France, you pay and get your money back eventually.

:20:39.:20:42.

Is that what you are suggesting, you pay into a system, and claim it

:20:43.:20:51.

back, for your appointment? All options should be on the table.

:20:52.:20:56.

We need to find ways of getting money quickly with the least change

:20:57.:21:01.

to the system. You talked about how you need more

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money, and we talked about salaries as one way of looking at it. What

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about if you were to charge every patient who came through your door?

:21:12.:21:15.

We would be very concerned. We believe it would strengthen health

:21:16.:21:22.

inequalities. We already struggle, those people with the greatest

:21:23.:21:26.

health needs have the poorest provision. It did Jews and other

:21:27.:21:29.

barrier which would make matters worse. -- it would introduce. A

:21:30.:21:38.

large proportion of people who are on the incomes, they do not paper

:21:39.:21:43.

sketch and chargers. We are familiar with seeing people who are not on

:21:44.:21:48.

benefits but they are struggling on low incomes. You give them a

:21:49.:21:53.

prescription, and they will say there are a fewer items -- there are

:21:54.:22:00.

only one or two items they can afford.

:22:01.:22:12.

Do you reject it? Yes. You do not think it is palatable. Not

:22:13.:22:19.

palatable. What do you say to the idea, which is the obvious question,

:22:20.:22:26.

that the poorest, and healthiest people, they would suffer. Many

:22:27.:22:33.

people find it hard to see a GP at the weekends, in the evenings, there

:22:34.:22:38.

are already barriers to access. If you are on a low income, if you are

:22:39.:22:46.

on work shifts, it would cost you more to see your GP. What about that

:22:47.:22:55.

in response? If you open yourself up as a GP surgery, people would lose

:22:56.:23:01.

less having to take a morning of work.

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Contracted hours are already 8am until 6:30 pm.. Many practices to

:23:10.:23:14.

open more hours than that. Those hours outside, even though you say

:23:15.:23:20.

you can see a GP, it is not that easy. Would it work? If you are open

:23:21.:23:30.

until nine pm., at weekends, those people would be able to see you at

:23:31.:23:35.

less of a cost to them. If we had enough staff, then, yes, we could

:23:36.:23:43.

and we would want to have more extended and convenient hours for

:23:44.:23:49.

patients. Where you have got enough resources, it doesn't do anyone any

:23:50.:23:54.

good. It destabilises the service. Isn't it a bright product -- isn't

:23:55.:24:02.

it a by-product that everybody would go to accident and emergency? We

:24:03.:24:09.

want to use other forms of health care, pharmacists, going online.

:24:10.:24:16.

People to take care of themselves more.

:24:17.:24:24.

What about the idea of self-medicating? People do see their

:24:25.:24:31.

pharmacist for minor ailments. Pharmacists have terrific skills.

:24:32.:24:34.

They are highly trained professionals in the system. We talk

:24:35.:24:39.

about making the most of the resources we have already got, then

:24:40.:24:44.

definitely pharmacists, community pharmacists have a big role. The

:24:45.:24:48.

days of free at the point of use, the old style of taxing people to

:24:49.:24:55.

pay to cover the NHS, that is fast running out of steam? Bearing in

:24:56.:25:00.

mind some people say we are looking at a ?30 billion deficit in the NHS.

:25:01.:25:06.

It is a question of what we are prepared to pay. In France, they pay

:25:07.:25:12.

11.7% of their GDP in health care. In the UK, we pay 9.4% of our GDP.

:25:13.:25:20.

These are decisions the citizens need to make, about what they are

:25:21.:25:23.

willing to pay, and in what ways they are willing to pay. If we spend

:25:24.:25:31.

more as a proportion of GDP, would that be a more effective way?

:25:32.:25:38.

Remember, the last ten years, health funding doubled in real terms.

:25:39.:25:43.

Parliament has been fenced that budget. We have seen cuts to the

:25:44.:25:49.

police force, local government, services which individuals need as

:25:50.:25:54.

much as health care. Going forward, there is still a challenge with

:25:55.:26:01.

rising demand. To ask the taxpayer to continually fund the NHS, we need

:26:02.:26:06.

to look at other ways. That has to be considered right now. If doctors

:26:07.:26:13.

can encourage patients to use other services. Here is a reminder of what

:26:14.:26:35.

happened with the last elections. A very happy New Year 2009.

:26:36.:26:43.

The UK is in recession for the first time since 1991.

:26:44.:26:46.

An implement has risen above 2 million.

:26:47.:26:50.

The biggest rise in the dole queue since records began.

:26:51.:26:57.

Jobs should not be lost needlessly. The interest rate has been cut once

:26:58.:27:00.

again and is at an all-time low. Lots of people are suffering through

:27:01.:27:15.

lack of money at this moment, why should MPs get away with it will

:27:16.:27:19.

stop I rarely meet anyone who wants to be a member of Parliament.

:27:20.:27:24.

Things have been done which may be feel ashamed to be a member of

:27:25.:27:31.

Parliament. This morning, the Communities

:27:32.:27:35.

Secretary resigned from the cabinet following yesterday 's announcement

:27:36.:27:39.

the Children's Minister is standing down, the Minister for the Cabinet

:27:40.:27:42.

Office is leaving, the Home Secretary is resigning. Why doesn't

:27:43.:27:45.

the prime Minister accepts his ability to command his cabinet has

:27:46.:27:49.

simply disappeared? James Purnell, he is resigning from

:27:50.:27:54.

the government in order to force a leadership ballot.

:27:55.:28:05.

This time, we have come second. We are very pleased. The Labour

:28:06.:28:15.

Party have come third, behind UKIP. Nick Griffin from the BNP.

:28:16.:28:23.

Two BNP MEPs have been elected, or the other parties have been

:28:24.:28:27.

condemning this, and blaming themselves.

:28:28.:28:34.

A reminder of the 2009 European elections.

:28:35.:28:36.

But which parties will prosper this time round?

:28:37.:28:38.

Well, amongst the parties putting up candidates is the

:28:39.:28:41.

I'm joined by one of their number, Danny Lambert.

:28:42.:28:51.

You wrote, parties promising to do things for others is not my idea of

:28:52.:28:57.

politics, so I am not making any promises to do anything for anyone.

:28:58.:29:03.

What is the point of standing? We are a Democratic party, one of the

:29:04.:29:08.

most democratic organisations in the world. Because we have no leaders.

:29:09.:29:16.

In a real democracy, we hold all socially relevant information should

:29:17.:29:19.

be available to everybody. The more people taking part in the democratic

:29:20.:29:25.

process, the more chance you have of getting the best result. So how did

:29:26.:29:29.

they decide you should come on the programme today and not another

:29:30.:29:31.

colleague? I am on the list. You are not the

:29:32.:29:38.

leader. We don't have leaders. Leaders need followers, and

:29:39.:29:42.

followers do not know where they are going. If you are a prospective

:29:43.:29:46.

voter looking at policies you may have, why would they vote for you?

:29:47.:29:51.

You would be voting for yourself. We hold that the National industrial --

:29:52.:29:59.

natural industrial resources of this planet belong to everybody. All

:30:00.:30:05.

production is socially carried out, so it should be socially

:30:06.:30:08.

administered in the interests of the whole community.

:30:09.:30:19.

their real identities as human beings, when they abandon these

:30:20.:30:24.

periods identities of colour, nationalism, all this nonsense that

:30:25.:30:31.

only exist in our imagination. -- these spurious. Now, in a family

:30:32.:30:35.

that functions, if it is to be a real family, the ethic, the

:30:36.:30:38.

socialist principle, is followed, from each according to ability, to

:30:39.:30:43.

each according to need. The great thing about having a common identity

:30:44.:30:47.

with a common interest is that you cannot abuse or exploit or oppress

:30:48.:30:51.

those you have identified with. All you can do is cooperate, we are so

:30:52.:30:57.

much better when we go operate than when we compete. I dispute some of

:30:58.:31:02.

your views about human nature, you say that some people might choose to

:31:03.:31:07.

drive a bus or train, or become a scientist. What if the doctors and

:31:08.:31:11.

engineers decide they only want to work a few hours a week? Well, I

:31:12.:31:17.

mean... The thing is, we have been listening to all these problems that

:31:18.:31:21.

face... Let me finish, you know, with the health service, funding,

:31:22.:31:26.

and the problem with our society, because it is a commercial society,

:31:27.:31:31.

we are so busy taking care of business, we don't have time to take

:31:32.:31:34.

care of ourselves. William Morris pointed out it is more expensive to

:31:35.:31:38.

sell something than it is to make. If we had a society where production

:31:39.:31:42.

was only carried out to meet human need, we wouldn't need all the

:31:43.:31:49.

banking, insurance, taxation, advertising, the military-industrial

:31:50.:31:55.

complex... But it hasn't worked, has it? That form of socialism has never

:31:56.:34:00.

worked. Well, you The problem is he's not going to put a figure on

:34:01.:34:05.

it, he is going to take a percentage of other peopleearnings. What about

:34:06.:34:13.

those people on the minimum wage? If he finds a way to explain it, it

:34:14.:34:19.

could be quite powerful. Lots of people feel their wages have lagged

:34:20.:34:24.

behind inflation. Do you think this will be popular

:34:25.:34:30.

with voters, not just ahead of the European elections, but in general?

:34:31.:34:39.

I am not sure how much traction it will have with people. It does fit

:34:40.:34:56.

in with Ed Miliband's message. We want a decent minimum. Maybe a

:34:57.:35:06.

stronger message would be ensuring proper enforcement to stop employers

:35:07.:35:20.

illegally paying exploitative wages. To get people back into work. I am

:35:21.:35:31.

not sure it is a big offer in the way Ed Miliband says.

:35:32.:35:34.

And what about the UKIP bandwagon? And what about the UKIP

:35:35.:35:41.

UKIP is appealing to two different type of voters, the core UKIP

:35:42.:35:47.

support who feel enthusiastically politicians of all types can let

:35:48.:35:51.

them down and Nigel Farage is their man. This kind of person will not be

:35:52.:35:56.

swayed by him getting attacked on LBC or the BBC or mainstream

:35:57.:35:58.

broadcasters. That plays into the broadcasters. That plays into

:35:59.:36:03.

feeling that they are a bunch of renegades. What Nigel Farage has

:36:04.:36:09.

managed to do recently is broaden his appeal beyond that group, to

:36:10.:36:15.

people who might be otherwise be floating voters. Those people might

:36:16.:36:22.

look at what he has said, at the coverage in the newspapers, there

:36:23.:36:28.

will be readers thinking of voting UKIP but they may think, you know

:36:29.:36:35.

what, he is still too dangerous for me.

:36:36.:36:46.

parties, if they were minded to exploit this further ahead of the

:36:47.:36:50.

European elections, this will only come into play looking ahead to the

:36:51.:36:55.

general election? I think they would have loved this particular row to

:36:56.:36:59.

happen two weeks ago, I think he is right about the floating voters. I

:37:00.:37:06.

think it will energise the main party machines to get the vote out.

:37:07.:37:12.

There are postal votes, of course, they have already gone in. I

:37:13.:37:16.

personally love the romance of the ballot box, I'm not being sarcastic,

:37:17.:37:22.

but a lot of people do not. So they have posted in their vote, and a lot

:37:23.:37:27.

of people may have chosen UKIP, if they have organised their postal

:37:28.:37:31.

voting campaign well. That will have made no difference at all. Thank you

:37:32.:37:36.

to both of you, have a good week, enjoy the elections.

:37:37.:37:39.

As we were hearing, UKIP leader Nigel Farage has had to fend

:37:40.:38:55.

Let's take a look at what some Conservatives have been up to.

:38:56.:38:59.

In February, a councillor had to apologise

:39:00.:39:01.

after using racist language in an interview on BBC radio Bristol.

:39:02.:39:04.

In March a councillor in Enfield was suspended after posting alleged

:39:05.:39:07.

And only last week, another of their candidates in Enfield was revealed

:39:08.:39:11.

to have had a previous suspended prison sentence for benefit fraud.

:39:12.:39:14.

And Lib Dems haven't been much better at staying out of trouble.

:39:15.:39:17.

In March, one of their councillors was convicted

:39:18.:39:19.

of racially aggravated assault, after telling a migrant barman to

:39:20.:39:22.

Also in March, a councillor in Somerset was given

:39:23.:39:26.

a community sentence, after stealing over ?1,200 from his local

:39:27.:39:29.

And this is what some Labour politicians have been up to.

:39:30.:39:33.

In January, two Labour councillors in Luton were suspended

:39:34.:39:36.

by the party for allegedly posting racist comments on Facebook.

:39:37.:39:39.

And five Labour councillors in Middlesborough resigned

:39:40.:39:41.

from the party earlier this month, citing issues with the selection

:39:42.:39:45.

Even the Greens aren't immune from this.

:39:46.:39:49.

In 2011, a candidate in Ilford was suspended

:39:50.:39:53.

In 2012, a Green Party councillor in Norwich was jailed for arson.

:39:54.:40:00.

And, last year, a Green candidate in Blackheath was

:40:01.:40:08.

criticised after posting offensive comments on Twitter, following

:40:09.:40:10.

So, are the mainstream media unfairly

:40:11.:40:13.

singling out UKIP candidates for criticism, with the established

:40:14.:40:15.

Or, has the balance been about right?

:40:16.:40:19.

I'm joined now for the rest of the programme by Conservative MP

:40:20.:40:22.

Tim Loughton, Liberal Democrat Tom Brake, Labour's David Lammy,

:40:23.:40:25.

Having listened to that list of offences, a counsellor in Enfield

:40:26.:40:45.

for the Conservatives, suspended. Another candidate accused of benefit

:40:46.:40:53.

fraud. Is it a case UKIP is worse than the other parties?

:40:54.:40:57.

All parties are made up of ordinary people, and there are unsavoury

:40:58.:41:01.

people in them. The important thing is what the parties do about them.

:41:02.:41:06.

In all those cases, we acted resolutely with those people. With

:41:07.:41:16.

UKIP, now, they are much more a national force, a prospect of

:41:17.:41:19.

scoring well in the forthcoming elections, they are being put under

:41:20.:41:26.

scrutiny. Not just individual members but senior people are

:41:27.:41:30.

standing for election, and Nigel Farage actually saying some

:41:31.:41:35.

unsavoury things, which are deeply worrying. Which is the worst party?

:41:36.:41:41.

Recent evidence has shown that they are. You would deny using some of

:41:42.:41:45.

the language David Cameron has used about UKIP, fruitcakes, loony,

:41:46.:41:53.

closet racists, cranks, there are plenty of those within Tory ranks.

:41:54.:41:59.

That terminology is not useful. We need to make sure people who are

:42:00.:42:06.

tempted to vote UKIP, come back or state in the Conservative fold. It

:42:07.:42:11.

is the people who run these parties making these offensive comments that

:42:12.:42:15.

we need to target, including Nigel Farage.

:42:16.:42:22.

Ed Miliband said the comments about Romanians amounted to a racist slur.

:42:23.:42:27.

He refused to call Nigel Farage a racist directly.

:42:28.:42:34.

Doesn't that make him a racist? Let us be clear. My parents arrived here

:42:35.:42:38.

as immigrants. I remember a context in which some people said, you don't

:42:39.:42:42.

want these people living next to you. That was racist. What Nigel

:42:43.:42:48.

Farage said at the weekend is racist. I am clear, he is a racist.

:42:49.:42:52.

Ed Miliband should be brave enough to say he is a racist.

:42:53.:42:57.

It is not helpful to get into a pedantic discussion of the

:42:58.:43:01.

difference between racial slur and racism. He is leader of a national

:43:02.:43:07.

party. He should not be slurring whole communities, Romanians who

:43:08.:43:11.

come to this country, describing them as bandits. It is deeply nasty,

:43:12.:43:16.

the sort of thing we have seen in Europe, in times of recession and

:43:17.:43:22.

depression. We must take that kind of slur extremely seriously.

:43:23.:43:28.

Do you agree he a racist? I agree with David, the difference between

:43:29.:43:34.

Nigel Farage and the other cases in the other parties, Nigel Farage is

:43:35.:43:39.

the leader of the party. The head of their party, so when he says

:43:40.:43:43.

something, it does represent the wider views of the party. I think he

:43:44.:43:48.

was right to apologise for what he said about the Romanians but the

:43:49.:43:51.

problem is the written apology he has provided simply reinforces what

:43:52.:43:57.

he had to say about Romanians and their criminal activities. A strange

:43:58.:44:03.

apology. UKIP claims that all of the other

:44:04.:44:06.

parties have exactly the same sort of problem.

:44:07.:44:13.

Do you accept that? I accept in one particular instance, you quoted a

:44:14.:44:16.

Liberal Democrat, the immediate action we took was to withdraw his

:44:17.:44:21.

membership. UKIP have taken action as well about their candidates.

:44:22.:44:28.

You cannot imagine Nick Clegg or David Cameron saying the sorts of

:44:29.:44:32.

things Nigel Farage said on air. For everyone to hear.

:44:33.:44:38.

I do not want to dismiss the 2.5 million people that voted UKIP last

:44:39.:44:45.

time, as racist. But it is clear that UKIP are revelling in some of

:44:46.:44:51.

this stuff. They are stirring up those who are, rightly, discontented

:44:52.:44:55.

with Britain. A look at the political parties and feel, they

:44:56.:45:00.

leave us cold. They are stirring that up with a degree of prejudice,

:45:01.:45:05.

and racism. That is in their electoral interests. Are they saying

:45:06.:45:11.

what people generally think is the case.

:45:12.:45:19.

I think this has been bad things, if you look back over the past few

:45:20.:45:23.

months and years, you will see a conscious creation of this

:45:24.:45:29.

difference. Of using migration, free movement, as a way of attacking the

:45:30.:45:33.

European Union. What this has done for the lives of a lot of people on

:45:34.:45:39.

the ground has made them profoundly uncomfortable, and fearful of their

:45:40.:45:47.

place in the UK. That is not just restricted to these instances.

:45:48.:45:58.

If you look at this, it isn't just UKIP, we have seen this with other

:45:59.:46:02.

political parties. When they start using this, you begin to get... You

:46:03.:46:09.

are talking about the Conservatives? Other parties as well. You see a

:46:10.:46:13.

legitimisation on the ground of people feeling, somehow, this sort

:46:14.:46:24.

of activity and language... The go home fans around London telling

:46:25.:46:29.

illegal immigrants to go home, is there such a difference?

:46:30.:46:34.

That was about people who are not supposed to be in this country. Not

:46:35.:46:42.

about immigrants per se. To go back to your point, no other party leader

:46:43.:46:46.

has had to take out a full-page advert in a national paper to say

:46:47.:46:54.

they are not racist. The mistake we are making is to move away from the

:46:55.:46:59.

crucial issues. Local council services, who is best able to

:47:00.:47:04.

provide those. Rest able at an EU level to fight for Britain in the

:47:05.:47:07.

European Union. It is not UKIP. UKIP are on course

:47:08.:47:15.

to top the European poll, most polls seem to say that. On the basis of

:47:16.:47:22.

that, what has gone wrong? Why is UKIP doing so much better?

:47:23.:47:28.

We have to wait for the results. If people want representatives to fight

:47:29.:47:31.

them in the European Parliament and achieve change, reform, Liberal

:47:32.:47:38.

Democrats will do that. UKIP do not take part in most of the votes, are

:47:39.:47:45.

mainly absent, have not voted for some job creation measures. Do not

:47:46.:47:48.

invest your vote in them if you think they are going to deliver

:47:49.:47:54.

reform. Even your party has lost some

:47:55.:47:58.

support. You haven't made headway hoped for.

:47:59.:48:05.

Some of that to UKIP. It is true we haven't made headway. But the polls

:48:06.:48:09.

are looking quite good for us in a number of seats. I would agree in

:48:10.:48:13.

terms of the issues we have discussed during this campaign, a

:48:14.:48:18.

lot of them which are relevant to European level, financial

:48:19.:48:24.

regulation, job creation, have not been on the table at all because the

:48:25.:48:29.

whole agenda has been captured by one political party. It is a real

:48:30.:48:33.

shame we haven't discussed the issues that really matter at

:48:34.:48:37.

European level. That's also what people will be voting for. But UKIP

:48:38.:48:51.

do not participate. They often vote against.

:48:52.:48:56.

Regular viewers will know that we've commissioned a series of polls

:48:57.:48:59.

of voters in England, getting their impressions of the parties ahead

:49:00.:49:02.

The polls mimic the techniques used by parties,

:49:03.:49:05.

of segmenting the electorate into distinct groups, which can be

:49:06.:49:08.

Each respondent was asked the same series of questions

:49:09.:49:12.

about the values of each of the main political parties.

:49:13.:49:15.

The poll suggests that the public see the Tories as tough

:49:16.:49:18.

and capable, with well over half saying they are "willing to take

:49:19.:49:21.

And 44% saying they are "competent and capable",

:49:22.:49:32.

But less than a quarter think Cameron's party

:49:33.:49:36.

The good news for Ed Miliband is that people see them as

:49:37.:49:41.

well-intentioned, and standing for normal folk, with the highest number

:49:42.:49:44.

saying that Labour "wants to help ordinary people get on in life."

:49:45.:49:47.

And the majority saying, "its heart is in the right place."

:49:48.:49:52.

But there's trouble at the top for the red camp,

:49:53.:49:55.

with less than a third saying the party "has a good team of leaders."

:49:56.:49:59.

The Lib Dems are also all heart, according to this survey.

:50:00.:50:02.

But only around a fifth think they are up to the job.

:50:03.:50:06.

And there is a trust problem, with even fewer saying Clegg's

:50:07.:50:10.

Nigel Farage's popular touch means that 35% say he is on their side.

:50:11.:50:22.

But the party may be divisive with less than a quarter saying UKIP

:50:23.:50:26.

And again, only 23% say that UKIP is "competent and capable."

:50:27.:50:31.

And Lawrence Stellings of Populus joins me now.

:50:32.:50:38.

Let us talk about those polls, what are the headlines?

:50:39.:50:45.

A picture of two different halves. The Conservatives have a good score

:50:46.:50:49.

for the hard measures. Good team leaders, competent, capable, taking

:50:50.:50:53.

the right decisions. Labour have done well on the softer

:50:54.:50:59.

measures, fairness, understanding concerns, sharing normal people's

:51:00.:51:05.

views. Are you surprised by those results?

:51:06.:51:11.

Not to a huge extent. Labour spent a lot of time talking about the cost

:51:12.:51:15.

of living crisis, building one nation. The Conservatives, as the

:51:16.:51:19.

government party, it is easier to be seen as a party that is good at

:51:20.:51:25.

governing, making tough decisions. When we talked to ordinary voters,

:51:26.:51:32.

there was evidence Labour do enjoy an advantage as well.

:51:33.:51:37.

What are the different segments of the electorate saying?

:51:38.:51:46.

Traditional Conservative voters have given UKIP excellent scores. We see

:51:47.:51:58.

the same with hard-pressed anxiety, a group of voters who have struggled

:51:59.:52:04.

with the economy, feel left out they are giving UKIP good schools.

:52:05.:52:10.

But people like the cosmopolitan critics, traditionally Liberal

:52:11.:52:15.

Democrats, labour, younger and more urban, they have given tough scores.

:52:16.:52:22.

And the largest group sitting in the middle, the swing voters, their vote

:52:23.:52:27.

is split between the parties. With a year to the election, it is

:52:28.:52:32.

interesting this group cannot make up their mind.

:52:33.:52:42.

Looking at polls in general, basing to be rather erratic, two have put

:52:43.:52:50.

the Tories ahead, one has put UKIP third, whereas the majority had put

:52:51.:52:55.

UKIP at the top or second, with Labour just behind. What is going on

:52:56.:53:00.

here? The European election is very difficult to call, most people do

:53:01.:53:05.

not vote, and my colleagues, you have to try to conduct polls for

:53:06.:53:08.

people who do not know what the European elections are about, when

:53:09.:53:12.

they are, or how the voting system works. There is an awful lot of

:53:13.:53:16.

interpretation to do for those polls. Thank you very much, we are

:53:17.:53:22.

joined now by Tim Aker of UKIP. Before we come to you, the

:53:23.:53:25.

information we have just been looking at, the verdict from this

:53:26.:53:29.

poll is broadly, Labour, nice people, badly led, a fair summary?

:53:30.:53:38.

No, because the verdict is... The verdict is actually that we are on

:53:39.:53:42.

the side of ordinary people. I have said that, but leadership is down.

:53:43.:53:46.

One in five young people are unemployed, we are on their side. 4

:53:47.:53:51.

million people renting in Britain, Ed was talking about rent. 5 million

:53:52.:53:58.

people on low wages, Ed was talking about them, we are on their side.

:53:59.:54:01.

That has got to be good. I grant you, that is good, but that is the

:54:02.:54:08.

problem for you, you seem like the nasty party still. I would not go

:54:09.:54:12.

that far. There is an issue of perceptions being on your side, but

:54:13.:54:17.

what is really encouraging is you need to show leadership and

:54:18.:54:19.

competence, and you need the right plan to make sure that those people,

:54:20.:54:23.

whether you are on their side or not, going in right direction. All

:54:24.:54:32.

these polls showed that, actually, people have agreed that we have done

:54:33.:54:35.

the right thing and got the right team leading the country. That is

:54:36.:54:39.

what leadership in politics is all about. It is always the case for

:54:40.:54:44.

opposition that, out with of an election, it is hard to get the

:54:45.:54:49.

visibility that you want, particularly for shadow members of

:54:50.:54:55.

the Cabinet. As we get closer, and we are seeing now week after week

:54:56.:54:59.

new announcements, and you see members of the Shadow Cabinet

:55:00.:55:03.

getting that in, people start to focus. And your ratings come down!

:55:04.:55:09.

For you, it doesn't make great reading, only a fifth consider it

:55:10.:55:13.

you confidence or trust you to keep your promises. If you look at our

:55:14.:55:18.

score in terms of representing ordinary people, if you look at the

:55:19.:55:22.

score in terms of covering the whole of the country, actually, we have

:55:23.:55:26.

got quite high poll ratings, slightly ahead of the Conservative

:55:27.:55:30.

Party. We can take some comfort there. I think there are some

:55:31.:55:34.

strange things there. The Conservative Party does well in

:55:35.:55:38.

terms of being able to take our decisions, and of course we have

:55:39.:55:40.

shared with those decisions but our poll rating seems to be lower. I am

:55:41.:55:47.

not reading too much into that. You would if they were better! Tim Aker,

:55:48.:55:51.

broadly, UKIP seem to have combined the worst attributes of both the Lib

:55:52.:55:57.

Dems and the Tories, divisive and unrepresentative, incompetent and

:55:58.:56:01.

incapable. And leading in the polls! That last segment, I found that

:56:02.:56:05.

outrageous. You should all be the same, sniping. Your election

:56:06.:56:10.

campaign does not even mentioned the EU, the fact that you are signed up

:56:11.:56:14.

to the whole project, that you will not give us a referendum. For the

:56:15.:56:18.

Liberal Democrats to say anything to do with trust after tuition fees, we

:56:19.:56:24.

know exactly where you stand, the public knows. Nick Clegg got

:56:25.:56:28.

trounced in those debates. We are actually talking to people about the

:56:29.:56:32.

issues that they care about, and in some areas where people are hard

:56:33.:56:36.

pressed, feeling the pain, they are coming to us and not to Labour.

:56:37.:56:40.

David Lammy says Nigel Farage is racist, what do you say to that?

:56:41.:56:45.

Absolute nonsense. How is he not racist with relation to Romanians?

:56:46.:56:52.

We have got a problem with an open door to the other 27 countries of

:56:53.:56:59.

the European Union union. Why is it OK for an open door for Nigel

:57:00.:57:06.

Farage's wife, but not for the Romanian that comes here? We are

:57:07.:57:11.

talking about criminals. Do you want an open door to criminals?! Criminal

:57:12.:57:17.

gangs? Absolutely not! We have said that we want a system like

:57:18.:57:21.

Australia, where they decide who comes in and who doesn't. You are

:57:22.:57:25.

happy for an open door, and for Labour to say anything about

:57:26.:57:31.

immigration is atrocious. Should we call back the thousands of Brits in

:57:32.:57:35.

Spain at the moment? Should we call them back to this country? The Brits

:57:36.:57:39.

in France, come back to Britain, should we be doing that? Why don't

:57:40.:57:44.

we have a sensible relationship? That is a matter for the French

:57:45.:57:49.

government. What is the difference, in your mind, between the group of

:57:50.:57:54.

Romanians and a group of Germans? Nigel clarified its today, it is a

:57:55.:58:02.

matter... No, we are not racist. We are not racist, but 92% of cash

:58:03.:58:08.

machines... This would be a foreign land if Labour took over, where was

:58:09.:58:12.

all the criticism then. What is the difference between the

:58:13.:58:18.

remaining is moving in... The quote is about a group of Romanian men

:58:19.:58:22.

moving in, it is about community spirit. The rates of immigration

:58:23.:58:28.

over the past ten years, over the past ten years have seen communities

:58:29.:58:31.

change, and people are concerned about that. Why do you think

:58:32.:58:35.

immigration has overtaken the economy as the number one issue?

:58:36.:58:43.

Would you like a group of Ukrainian tent are moving in? I don't judge

:58:44.:58:49.

them! Thank you for joining us. The one o'clock news is starting an BBC

:58:50.:58:50.

One, I will be back tomorrow, bye. A new era blooms

:58:51.:59:10.

at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, with a fresh crop of exciting

:59:11.:59:14.

young designers.

:59:15.:59:18.

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