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
splash its cash on its British rival, but will shareholders be able
to resist the offer? family doctors in the driving seat,
but will they be as good at running the health service as keeping us
healthy? Ed Miliband says the minimum wage should be linked to
average earnings, but what should the link bait?
average earnings, but what should insist UKIP, the party is accused of
harbouring homophobes and bigots and racists, but are the other parties
any better? All that in the next hour, and with
this for the first half of the programme today is the chair of the
Royal Court of GPs, Maureen Baker. Let's start with the proposed
takeover of AstraZeneca by its US rival, Pfizer. This morning the
board of AstraZeneca has rejected what is described as a final offer
that values the business at ?69 billion. Does that mean is this the
end of the affair? Let's speak to Simon Jack, does it mean the end of
the affair? Very probably yes, Jo. The shares have fallen very sharply,
down about 13%, and that tells us most people think the deal is dead
in the water. As you say, they offered ?55 per share, and it seems
they got pretty close on price, because previous offers were
described as woefully undervalued. This was just inadequate, so a
little bit more might have got the board to talk to them, that it would
be very unusual now for a company to come back, having said this was a
final offer, to come back with more. The takeover panel would take a dim
view of that. One possibility which remains is that shareholders who
have seen that share price fall and are looking at a price which is
about 25% lower than they were being offered by Pfizer have a week to
think, do you know what? Maybe this is not such a bad a day after all.
Imagine that they do reconsider the proposal, ultimately it is for the
shareholders to decide. What is the analysis of Labour saying they would
block the takeover if they were to win the next election and if they
felt the deal was not in the country's best interest? Is that
significant? I am not sure it is, because in the conversations I have
had, that has not come up since Ed Miliband mentioned it. It could be
the shareholders' fault, they do not tend to think politically, and it
maybe it should have been on their agenda, but I do not expect it will
make any short-term difference. What impact will it have on other
businesses trying to take over British companies and, in terms of
using Vince Cable's words, being open for business as a country? One
thing that will be interesting is to see where the debate goes on the
public interest test, because there was talk of introducing an extra
limb to that public interest test. We already have it for national
security, media plurality and competition. But if you were added
to something like scientific jobs or key industries, he would have to go
to the European Commission to get them to agree to it. That would be
quite an interesting prospect, to see them deciding what the UK
thought its own national interest was. It would allow some
Eurosceptics to make mischief, but it won't make any short-term
difference. In your mind, Maureen, should politicians intervene in
cases where companies are trying to take over British companies? It does
seem to me that if there is a legitimate interest in the country,
and for the sake of the good of the population, that we have a
particular industry or number of industries, then that seems
reasonable, that politicians could take up on that. What about the
public interest test? This phrase has been used particularly by
Labour. If you were worried about a foreign company taking over a
company here, what would you want included in that test? Well, the...
Again, the difficulty is in the definition, isn't it? If we take the
AstraZeneca case, this country has got a very considerable scientific
and research infrastructure that provides a lot of jobs, brings a lot
of income into the country, and it also helps support as being a good
place to study. So there is a lot of ramifications in having a good
scientific and research base, and therefore developments that
undermine that space, I would think they do have a public interest
ramifications. Will you be pleased if the deal is dead in the water?
Personally, I will be. I think it is better for us to have UK-based big
pharmaceutical companies. What about the issue of investment? Because
that is what other politicians and business people will say that a
company like AstraZeneca needs an awful lot of investment and money to
continue developing drugs. Yes, and again this is a question for
politicians, from whatever party - how can they best support UK
business, UK interests? And therefore there should be ways in
which governments can help support investment in key industries. OK,
let's leave it there. Here on the Daily Politics we like to ask the
difficult questions. How do you solve a problem like Maria? At what
point does a pond become a lake? What was the best thing before
sliced bread? But one question's answer has eluded us, what is the
structure of the new NHS? Giles is here to help us understand.
All of us have a sense of the health service, and most of us at some
point we'll use it, which is why our governments, including the
coalition, are careful to be seen to cherish it. But this Government has
been keen to radically change the NHS. To some, it is a real
revolution. To others, the destruction of the service before
your eyes. But the idea had one very big focus - the Secretary of State
wanted doctors in charge. Up until September 2012, Andrew Lansley,
architect of the reforms and driver of them in government, looked hard
at the NHS and diagnosed a Beijing case of bureaucracy, and it was that
bad. Inclinations delivering the best care. -- it was that stopping
clinicians. He wanted to put money into the hands of GPs. The problem
for Andrew Lansley was the reforms were watered down in the face of
opposition, consultation and eventually political surgery. Jeremy
Hunt scrubbed up as the Secretary of State for help after the
blood-letting of a reshuffle, and the new system he presides over is
far more complex than the original idea. It is based on around 200
clinical commissioning groups, CCGs, spending around 65 billion of
the NHS's 100 billion budget. These are made up of GPs, nurses, hospital
input and the public, who go shopping in approved marketplaces
for health services, but there are all sorts of bodies. They all help,
advice or check the whole process. The reforms are very complicated,
and a lot of people are having to learn new roles and
responsibilities. Specialised commissioning turned out to be more
complicated than people thought. We have just seen in the last few weeks
the new chief executive of NHS England beginning to change the way
that the commissioning for GPs services works, trying to get CCGs
more on the page to help work out the best way to deliver primary
care. Now, I could explain the system further, because it is
usually complex, but it is GPs we are focusing on today, because the
primary carers are still commissioned and paid for by NHS
England, a body that was going to be smaller and more nimble but is
actually still vast. Doctors do very well out of this arrangement. GPs
are still, in many ways, at the heart of the system, but as bodies
learn a new ways they interact, either GPs have complained too much
is expected of them or other clinicians have said doctors simply
do not have the monopoly on expertise. In government, there is a
feeling it has become like a reverse doctor joke. Minister, Minister, I
feel like an overworked cash! Sorry, doctor, you will just have to handle
the change. Who better to discuss the NHS with
us than our guest of the day, who has been a GP since 1985? It does
look hideously complicated when demonstrated in that way, Maureen,
GPs are now in the driving seat, in so far as the NHS in England, 66% of
money is channelled through these new local health authorities, the
commissioning care groups. Are you the ones that we should hold to
account if it goes wrong? Well, GPs are the people to hold to account
for the part of that for which they are responsible, so even issues of
the 66 billion, there are large chunks of that money that are not
negotiable, that come out as a tranche. And basically GPs and CCGs
then get to try to do the best with what is left. So it is all a bit
misleading. You have demonstrated how complicated it looks. It is at
least as complicated as it looks! But an awful lot of money you are
being entrusted with, a very large chunk of money that you are
responsible for - if it goes wrong, GPs should be carrying the can. CCGs
are comprised of GPs and others, and they are the statutory body, without
their having been any choice in that. That is the way the
regulations had worked. Would you rather not have had the
responsibility? We would rather not, but having got it, my colleagues are
trying to do the best they can in the system we now have. How
reassured can we be by your comments? You are interested with
the money, how do we know you will spend it wisely if you were
reluctant to take on the responsibility? Indeed, but it was
not a matter over which there was choice, so having been given the
responsibility. In the interests of patients and the public, colleagues
in CCGs are doing their best, and actually at the end of the first
year, it does appear that, by and large, they are doing a pretty good
job. Very few CCGs have gone into deficit, for instance, as opposed
to, you know, many other parts of the NHS in other sectors. So they
are doing a good job with the job they have been given. NHS spending
per head is said to reduce by 9% per year, what should the NHS stop
doing? The NHS needs to stop spending its money downstream, at
the last end. Meaning? Meaning we spend too much money in the acute
sector, where people don't want to be, where we are doing unnecessary
interventions. We need to be much more downstream with the money, and
use the money more appropriately across health economies. When you
say acute, what do you mean, in the acute section? The acute sector is
mainly hospitals and district General... So too much is being
spent on hospitals? Too much on hospitals, but basically, if we are
able to use the money better, we should be able to have better
services for patients at or near home, and have less people in
hospital for shorter times, therefore meaning they need less
money. But when it comes to hospitals, part of the reason is
that people are going to A, looking at another area of the NHS,
because they cannot get appointments with their GP easily or when they
want them. In fact, a few things there. The evidence shows that the
pressure in A department is largely due to people being very
ill, turning up, often in ambulances, and not being able to
flow through the hospital. But there is a significant proportion as a
result of, it is a weekend, there is no GP. Well, in fact, there are out
of hours GPs... Not widespread. Every area in the country does have
a GP out of hours service. There are a whole number of reasons about it
not being well understood, people do not know the best way to go, it is
too complicated, but putting that aside, there is a proportion which,
by the way, has not changed over the last ten or 15 years, of patients
who will go to A because they feel it is more convenient. But in terms
of whether that is because of the acute pressure in A departments,
no, it isn't. Let's have a look at the Labour promise to get an
appointment at your GP within 48 hours. Do you support that? We
support the aspiration. Getting back to this business people not being
able to get an appointment, we believe it is really important that
people have the access to the skills of their GP in that practice when
they need. However, the... We have, in the last five years, in general
practice, had a significant decrease in funding in actual terms, in cash,
against a context of an increasing number of appointments delivered,
and the demand for that. And the service is spread incredibly thin.
GP's salary could give, they earn an average of ?105,000 per year, 600
are on more than ?200,000 per year, a very big salary, just by general
comparison. You could give on that. These are average salaries for
partners. There are others who are not partners. The Royal College of
GPs opposed the pledge by Prime Minister is to see surgeries open
8am until 8pm and at weekends. We do not have enough GPs actually. Even
the salaries you were talking about, GPs are leaving the service, they
are going abroad, going into other careers. The biggest constraint in
terms of delivering GP appointments is the number of GPs, and support
staff in surgeries. That is the biggest problem which is why we do
not believe a 48 hour access pledge can be achieved.
Is it a headline, guaranteeing appointments? The Sun people it
would seem like a legitimate aspiration.
It can't be achieved with the resources we have. You want more
money? We want more staff. That does need to come with more money. It is
not just salaries, it is what sits beneath that.
Well, one, potentially controversial,
way to cut costs would be to get people to pay to visit the GP.
Our correspondent, Hugh Schofield, joins me now
from Paris where a form of GP charging is firmly established.
Talk us through the system operating in Paris?
It is, as you say, a system where you bring out the cheque book to see
the doctor. It is a generous system but this is not free at the point of
access. I have a local GP I can go and see pretty much any day, he will
even come and visit me at home. Every time he does, I write out a
cheque. 23 euros for a visit to his office. ?18. I will then get all of
that back, except one or two euros, which is to deter those who want to
go willy-nilly. It is an insurance system, compulsory insurance
system, which means you pay up and you get back.
What are the benefits of that social insurance system? The benefits to
you and the system there? Does it make it more efficient and
cost-effective? I am not sure about cost effective.
It certainly makes it efficient. The odd thing about the French system,
bethink Britain is being this liberal, free market-based economy.
Whereas France is more socialist. In fact, in the health system, it is
the reverse. In Britain, we have the NHS set up straight after the war,
with socialistic ideology behind it, free provision at the point of
access. In France, we have a liberal system. You can set up as a doctor
and as long as you are approved and authenticated, you will then be able
to charge and get the money back, you will be part of the system.
There are plenty of doctors, private individuals operating as doctors,
surgeons, specialists. The French love specialists. A lot of people
will bypass their GP and go to a specialist, endocrinology, brain
problems. Because it is so generous, we have got to a point where it is
not affordable. The prospect of raiding expenditure in is
politically sensitive. -- reigning. Thomas Cawston is from the think
tank Reform, and has authored How would it work? Many health
systems are facing a challenge of finding more money to meet growing
demand in health care. Around the world, many systems use charges as a
supplement for the taxpayer. There are charges for prescription,
optometry, dentistry, in the NHS, long-term care.
It is a big difference, to put your money directly before the GP.
In France, you pay and get your money back eventually.
Is that what you are suggesting, you pay into a system, and claim it
back, for your appointment? All options should be on the table.
We need to find ways of getting money quickly with the least change
to the system. You talked about how you need more
money, and we talked about salaries as one way of looking at it. What
about if you were to charge every patient who came through your door?
We would be very concerned. We believe it would strengthen health
inequalities. We already struggle, those people with the greatest
health needs have the poorest provision. It did Jews and other
barrier which would make matters worse. -- it would introduce. A
large proportion of people who are on the incomes, they do not paper
sketch and chargers. We are familiar with seeing people who are not on
benefits but they are struggling on low incomes. You give them a
prescription, and they will say there are a fewer items -- there are
only one or two items they can afford.
Do you reject it? Yes. You do not think it is palatable. Not
palatable. What do you say to the idea, which is the obvious question,
that the poorest, and healthiest people, they would suffer. Many
people find it hard to see a GP at the weekends, in the evenings, there
are already barriers to access. If you are on a low income, if you are
on work shifts, it would cost you more to see your GP. What about that
in response? If you open yourself up as a GP surgery, people would lose
less having to take a morning of work.
Contracted hours are already 8am until 6:30 pm.. Many practices to
open more hours than that. Those hours outside, even though you say
you can see a GP, it is not that easy. Would it work? If you are open
until nine pm., at weekends, those people would be able to see you at
less of a cost to them. If we had enough staff, then, yes, we could
and we would want to have more extended and convenient hours for
patients. Where you have got enough resources, it doesn't do anyone any
good. It destabilises the service. Isn't it a bright product -- isn't
it a by-product that everybody would go to accident and emergency? We
want to use other forms of health care, pharmacists, going online.
People to take care of themselves more.
What about the idea of self-medicating? People do see their
pharmacist for minor ailments. Pharmacists have terrific skills.
They are highly trained professionals in the system. We talk
about making the most of the resources we have already got, then
definitely pharmacists, community pharmacists have a big role. The
days of free at the point of use, the old style of taxing people to
pay to cover the NHS, that is fast running out of steam? Bearing in
mind some people say we are looking at a ?30 billion deficit in the NHS.
It is a question of what we are prepared to pay. In France, they pay
11.7% of their GDP in health care. In the UK, we pay 9.4% of our GDP.
These are decisions the citizens need to make, about what they are
willing to pay, and in what ways they are willing to pay. If we spend
more as a proportion of GDP, would that be a more effective way?
Remember, the last ten years, health funding doubled in real terms.
Parliament has been fenced that budget. We have seen cuts to the
police force, local government, services which individuals need as
much as health care. Going forward, there is still a challenge with
rising demand. To ask the taxpayer to continually fund the NHS, we need
to look at other ways. That has to be considered right now. If doctors
can encourage patients to use other services. Here is a reminder of what
happened with the last elections. A very happy New Year 2009.
The UK is in recession for the first time since 1991.
An implement has risen above 2 million.
The biggest rise in the dole queue since records began.
Jobs should not be lost needlessly. The interest rate has been cut once
again and is at an all-time low. Lots of people are suffering through
lack of money at this moment, why should MPs get away with it will
stop I rarely meet anyone who wants to be a member of Parliament.
Things have been done which may be feel ashamed to be a member of
Parliament. This morning, the Communities
Secretary resigned from the cabinet following yesterday 's announcement
the Children's Minister is standing down, the Minister for the Cabinet
Office is leaving, the Home Secretary is resigning. Why doesn't
the prime Minister accepts his ability to command his cabinet has
simply disappeared? James Purnell, he is resigning from
the government in order to force a leadership ballot.
This time, we have come second. We are very pleased. The Labour
Party have come third, behind UKIP. Nick Griffin from the BNP.
Two BNP MEPs have been elected, or the other parties have been
condemning this, and blaming themselves.
A reminder of the 2009 European elections.
But which parties will prosper this time round?
Well, amongst the parties putting up candidates is the
I'm joined by one of their number, Danny Lambert.
You wrote, parties promising to do things for others is not my idea of
politics, so I am not making any promises to do anything for anyone.
What is the point of standing? We are a Democratic party, one of the
most democratic organisations in the world. Because we have no leaders.
In a real democracy, we hold all socially relevant information should
be available to everybody. The more people taking part in the democratic
process, the more chance you have of getting the best result. So how did
they decide you should come on the programme today and not another
colleague? I am on the list. You are not the
leader. We don't have leaders. Leaders need followers, and
followers do not know where they are going. If you are a prospective
voter looking at policies you may have, why would they vote for you?
You would be voting for yourself. We hold that the National industrial --
natural industrial resources of this planet belong to everybody. All
production is socially carried out, so it should be socially
administered in the interests of the whole community.
their real identities as human beings, when they abandon these
periods identities of colour, nationalism, all this nonsense that
only exist in our imagination. -- these spurious. Now, in a family
that functions, if it is to be a real family, the ethic, the
socialist principle, is followed, from each according to ability, to
each according to need. The great thing about having a common identity
with a common interest is that you cannot abuse or exploit or oppress
those you have identified with. All you can do is cooperate, we are so
much better when we go operate than when we compete. I dispute some of
your views about human nature, you say that some people might choose to
drive a bus or train, or become a scientist. What if the doctors and
engineers decide they only want to work a few hours a week? Well, I
mean... The thing is, we have been listening to all these problems that
face... Let me finish, you know, with the health service, funding,
and the problem with our society, because it is a commercial society,
we are so busy taking care of business, we don't have time to take
care of ourselves. William Morris pointed out it is more expensive to
sell something than it is to make. If we had a society where production
was only carried out to meet human need, we wouldn't need all the
banking, insurance, taxation, advertising, the military-industrial
complex... But it hasn't worked, has it? That form of socialism has never
worked. Well, you The problem is he's not going to put a figure on
it, he is going to take a percentage of other peopleearnings. What about
those people on the minimum wage? If he finds a way to explain it, it
could be quite powerful. Lots of people feel their wages have lagged
behind inflation. Do you think this will be popular
with voters, not just ahead of the European elections, but in general?
I am not sure how much traction it will have with people. It does fit
in with Ed Miliband's message. We want a decent minimum. Maybe a
stronger message would be ensuring proper enforcement to stop employers
illegally paying exploitative wages. To get people back into work. I am
not sure it is a big offer in the way Ed Miliband says.
And what about the UKIP bandwagon? And what about the UKIP
UKIP is appealing to two different type of voters, the core UKIP
support who feel enthusiastically politicians of all types can let
them down and Nigel Farage is their man. This kind of person will not be
swayed by him getting attacked on LBC or the BBC or mainstream
broadcasters. That plays into the broadcasters. That plays into
feeling that they are a bunch of renegades. What Nigel Farage has
managed to do recently is broaden his appeal beyond that group, to
people who might be otherwise be floating voters. Those people might
look at what he has said, at the coverage in the newspapers, there
will be readers thinking of voting UKIP but they may think, you know
what, he is still too dangerous for me.
parties, if they were minded to exploit this further ahead of the
European elections, this will only come into play looking ahead to the
general election? I think they would have loved this particular row to
happen two weeks ago, I think he is right about the floating voters. I
think it will energise the main party machines to get the vote out.
There are postal votes, of course, they have already gone in. I
personally love the romance of the ballot box, I'm not being sarcastic,
but a lot of people do not. So they have posted in their vote, and a lot
of people may have chosen UKIP, if they have organised their postal
voting campaign well. That will have made no difference at all. Thank you
to both of you, have a good week, enjoy the elections.
As we were hearing, UKIP leader Nigel Farage has had to fend
Let's take a look at what some Conservatives have been up to.
In February, a councillor had to apologise
after using racist language in an interview on BBC radio Bristol.
In March a councillor in Enfield was suspended after posting alleged
And only last week, another of their candidates in Enfield was revealed
to have had a previous suspended prison sentence for benefit fraud.
And Lib Dems haven't been much better at staying out of trouble.
In March, one of their councillors was convicted
of racially aggravated assault, after telling a migrant barman to
Also in March, a councillor in Somerset was given
a community sentence, after stealing over ?1,200 from his local
And this is what some Labour politicians have been up to.
In January, two Labour councillors in Luton were suspended
by the party for allegedly posting racist comments on Facebook.
And five Labour councillors in Middlesborough resigned
from the party earlier this month, citing issues with the selection
Even the Greens aren't immune from this.
In 2011, a candidate in Ilford was suspended
In 2012, a Green Party councillor in Norwich was jailed for arson.
And, last year, a Green candidate in Blackheath was
criticised after posting offensive comments on Twitter, following
So, are the mainstream media unfairly
singling out UKIP candidates for criticism, with the established
Or, has the balance been about right?
I'm joined now for the rest of the programme by Conservative MP
Tim Loughton, Liberal Democrat Tom Brake, Labour's David Lammy,
Having listened to that list of offences, a counsellor in Enfield
for the Conservatives, suspended. Another candidate accused of benefit
fraud. Is it a case UKIP is worse than the other parties?
All parties are made up of ordinary people, and there are unsavoury
people in them. The important thing is what the parties do about them.
In all those cases, we acted resolutely with those people. With
UKIP, now, they are much more a national force, a prospect of
scoring well in the forthcoming elections, they are being put under
scrutiny. Not just individual members but senior people are
standing for election, and Nigel Farage actually saying some
unsavoury things, which are deeply worrying. Which is the worst party?
Recent evidence has shown that they are. You would deny using some of
the language David Cameron has used about UKIP, fruitcakes, loony,
closet racists, cranks, there are plenty of those within Tory ranks.
That terminology is not useful. We need to make sure people who are
tempted to vote UKIP, come back or state in the Conservative fold. It
is the people who run these parties making these offensive comments that
we need to target, including Nigel Farage.
Ed Miliband said the comments about Romanians amounted to a racist slur.
He refused to call Nigel Farage a racist directly.
Doesn't that make him a racist? Let us be clear. My parents arrived here
as immigrants. I remember a context in which some people said, you don't
want these people living next to you. That was racist. What Nigel
Farage said at the weekend is racist. I am clear, he is a racist.
Ed Miliband should be brave enough to say he is a racist.
It is not helpful to get into a pedantic discussion of the
difference between racial slur and racism. He is leader of a national
party. He should not be slurring whole communities, Romanians who
come to this country, describing them as bandits. It is deeply nasty,
the sort of thing we have seen in Europe, in times of recession and
depression. We must take that kind of slur extremely seriously.
Do you agree he a racist? I agree with David, the difference between
Nigel Farage and the other cases in the other parties, Nigel Farage is
the leader of the party. The head of their party, so when he says
something, it does represent the wider views of the party. I think he
was right to apologise for what he said about the Romanians but the
problem is the written apology he has provided simply reinforces what
he had to say about Romanians and their criminal activities. A strange
apology. UKIP claims that all of the other
parties have exactly the same sort of problem.
Do you accept that? I accept in one particular instance, you quoted a
Liberal Democrat, the immediate action we took was to withdraw his
membership. UKIP have taken action as well about their candidates.
You cannot imagine Nick Clegg or David Cameron saying the sorts of
things Nigel Farage said on air. For everyone to hear.
I do not want to dismiss the 2.5 million people that voted UKIP last
time, as racist. But it is clear that UKIP are revelling in some of
this stuff. They are stirring up those who are, rightly, discontented
with Britain. A look at the political parties and feel, they
leave us cold. They are stirring that up with a degree of prejudice,
and racism. That is in their electoral interests. Are they saying
what people generally think is the case.
I think this has been bad things, if you look back over the past few
months and years, you will see a conscious creation of this
difference. Of using migration, free movement, as a way of attacking the
European Union. What this has done for the lives of a lot of people on
the ground has made them profoundly uncomfortable, and fearful of their
place in the UK. That is not just restricted to these instances.
If you look at this, it isn't just UKIP, we have seen this with other
political parties. When they start using this, you begin to get... You
are talking about the Conservatives? Other parties as well. You see a
legitimisation on the ground of people feeling, somehow, this sort
of activity and language... The go home fans around London telling
illegal immigrants to go home, is there such a difference?
That was about people who are not supposed to be in this country. Not
about immigrants per se. To go back to your point, no other party leader
has had to take out a full-page advert in a national paper to say
they are not racist. The mistake we are making is to move away from the
crucial issues. Local council services, who is best able to
provide those. Rest able at an EU level to fight for Britain in the
European Union. It is not UKIP. UKIP are on course
to top the European poll, most polls seem to say that. On the basis of
that, what has gone wrong? Why is UKIP doing so much better?
We have to wait for the results. If people want representatives to fight
them in the European Parliament and achieve change, reform, Liberal
Democrats will do that. UKIP do not take part in most of the votes, are
mainly absent, have not voted for some job creation measures. Do not
invest your vote in them if you think they are going to deliver
reform. Even your party has lost some
support. You haven't made headway hoped for.
Some of that to UKIP. It is true we haven't made headway. But the polls
are looking quite good for us in a number of seats. I would agree in
terms of the issues we have discussed during this campaign, a
lot of them which are relevant to European level, financial
regulation, job creation, have not been on the table at all because the
whole agenda has been captured by one political party. It is a real
shame we haven't discussed the issues that really matter at
European level. That's also what people will be voting for. But UKIP
do not participate. They often vote against.
Regular viewers will know that we've commissioned a series of polls
of voters in England, getting their impressions of the parties ahead
The polls mimic the techniques used by parties,
of segmenting the electorate into distinct groups, which can be
Each respondent was asked the same series of questions
about the values of each of the main political parties.
The poll suggests that the public see the Tories as tough
and capable, with well over half saying they are "willing to take
And 44% saying they are "competent and capable",
But less than a quarter think Cameron's party
The good news for Ed Miliband is that people see them as
well-intentioned, and standing for normal folk, with the highest number
saying that Labour "wants to help ordinary people get on in life."
And the majority saying, "its heart is in the right place."
But there's trouble at the top for the red camp,
with less than a third saying the party "has a good team of leaders."
The Lib Dems are also all heart, according to this survey.
But only around a fifth think they are up to the job.
And there is a trust problem, with even fewer saying Clegg's
Nigel Farage's popular touch means that 35% say he is on their side.
But the party may be divisive with less than a quarter saying UKIP
And again, only 23% say that UKIP is "competent and capable."
And Lawrence Stellings of Populus joins me now.
Let us talk about those polls, what are the headlines?
A picture of two different halves. The Conservatives have a good score
for the hard measures. Good team leaders, competent, capable, taking
the right decisions. Labour have done well on the softer
measures, fairness, understanding concerns, sharing normal people's
views. Are you surprised by those results?
Not to a huge extent. Labour spent a lot of time talking about the cost
of living crisis, building one nation. The Conservatives, as the
government party, it is easier to be seen as a party that is good at
governing, making tough decisions. When we talked to ordinary voters,
there was evidence Labour do enjoy an advantage as well.
What are the different segments of the electorate saying?
Traditional Conservative voters have given UKIP excellent scores. We see
the same with hard-pressed anxiety, a group of voters who have struggled
with the economy, feel left out they are giving UKIP good schools.
But people like the cosmopolitan critics, traditionally Liberal
Democrats, labour, younger and more urban, they have given tough scores.
And the largest group sitting in the middle, the swing voters, their vote
is split between the parties. With a year to the election, it is
interesting this group cannot make up their mind.
Looking at polls in general, basing to be rather erratic, two have put
the Tories ahead, one has put UKIP third, whereas the majority had put
UKIP at the top or second, with Labour just behind. What is going on
here? The European election is very difficult to call, most people do
not vote, and my colleagues, you have to try to conduct polls for
people who do not know what the European elections are about, when
they are, or how the voting system works. There is an awful lot of
interpretation to do for those polls. Thank you very much, we are
joined now by Tim Aker of UKIP. Before we come to you, the
information we have just been looking at, the verdict from this
poll is broadly, Labour, nice people, badly led, a fair summary?
No, because the verdict is... The verdict is actually that we are on
the side of ordinary people. I have said that, but leadership is down.
One in five young people are unemployed, we are on their side. 4
million people renting in Britain, Ed was talking about rent. 5 million
people on low wages, Ed was talking about them, we are on their side.
That has got to be good. I grant you, that is good, but that is the
problem for you, you seem like the nasty party still. I would not go
that far. There is an issue of perceptions being on your side, but
what is really encouraging is you need to show leadership and
competence, and you need the right plan to make sure that those people,
whether you are on their side or not, going in right direction. All
these polls showed that, actually, people have agreed that we have done
the right thing and got the right team leading the country. That is
what leadership in politics is all about. It is always the case for
opposition that, out with of an election, it is hard to get the
visibility that you want, particularly for shadow members of
the Cabinet. As we get closer, and we are seeing now week after week
new announcements, and you see members of the Shadow Cabinet
getting that in, people start to focus. And your ratings come down!
For you, it doesn't make great reading, only a fifth consider it
you confidence or trust you to keep your promises. If you look at our
score in terms of representing ordinary people, if you look at the
score in terms of covering the whole of the country, actually, we have
got quite high poll ratings, slightly ahead of the Conservative
Party. We can take some comfort there. I think there are some
strange things there. The Conservative Party does well in
terms of being able to take our decisions, and of course we have
shared with those decisions but our poll rating seems to be lower. I am
not reading too much into that. You would if they were better! Tim Aker,
broadly, UKIP seem to have combined the worst attributes of both the Lib
Dems and the Tories, divisive and unrepresentative, incompetent and
incapable. And leading in the polls! That last segment, I found that
outrageous. You should all be the same, sniping. Your election
campaign does not even mentioned the EU, the fact that you are signed up
to the whole project, that you will not give us a referendum. For the
Liberal Democrats to say anything to do with trust after tuition fees, we
know exactly where you stand, the public knows. Nick Clegg got
trounced in those debates. We are actually talking to people about the
issues that they care about, and in some areas where people are hard
pressed, feeling the pain, they are coming to us and not to Labour.
David Lammy says Nigel Farage is racist, what do you say to that?
Absolute nonsense. How is he not racist with relation to Romanians?
We have got a problem with an open door to the other 27 countries of
the European Union union. Why is it OK for an open door for Nigel
Farage's wife, but not for the Romanian that comes here? We are
talking about criminals. Do you want an open door to criminals?! Criminal
gangs? Absolutely not! We have said that we want a system like
Australia, where they decide who comes in and who doesn't. You are
happy for an open door, and for Labour to say anything about
immigration is atrocious. Should we call back the thousands of Brits in
Spain at the moment? Should we call them back to this country? The Brits
in France, come back to Britain, should we be doing that? Why don't
we have a sensible relationship? That is a matter for the French
government. What is the difference, in your mind, between the group of
Romanians and a group of Germans? Nigel clarified its today, it is a
matter... No, we are not racist. We are not racist, but 92% of cash
machines... This would be a foreign land if Labour took over, where was
all the criticism then. What is the difference between the
remaining is moving in... The quote is about a group of Romanian men
moving in, it is about community spirit. The rates of immigration
over the past ten years, over the past ten years have seen communities
change, and people are concerned about that. Why do you think
immigration has overtaken the economy as the number one issue?
Would you like a group of Ukrainian tent are moving in? I don't judge
them! Thank you for joining us. The one o'clock news is starting an BBC
One, I will be back tomorrow, bye. A new era blooms
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