01/12/2011 Question Time


01/12/2011

David Dimbleby chairs Question Time from Dagenham. The panellists are Ken Clarke, Chuka Umunna, Mary Bousted, David Frum and Deborah Meaden.


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Transcript


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By strikes, economic gloom, germy Clarkson's jokes. Plenty to debate

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here in Dagenham, and welcome to Question Time. -- Jeremy Clarkson's

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jokes. With me, just a secretary Ken Clarke, should have Business

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Secretary, Chuka Umunna, leader of the teachers' union the ATL, Mary

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Bousted, American political commentator David from, a

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speechwriter for George W Bush, and businesswoman, star of Dragon's Den,

:00:39.:00:49.
:00:49.:00:57.

We have a lot of serious things to talk about, but let's start with

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something not so serious. Do the panel feel Jeremy Clarkson should

:01:01.:01:05.

be prosecuted for his comments about strikers, and if found guilty,

:01:05.:01:15.
:01:15.:01:17.

should he be taken outside and shot?

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Maybe skip the prosecution and just take him out and shoot him.

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Obviously, we have all been discussing this today and I think

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the truth of the matter is, I did not like what he said but I would

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hate to live in a society where somebody could not make that

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comment. All of us can say it was an awful thing to say. I do not

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think it was funny. Maybe some people did think it was funny. But

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he has apologised and that says it all to me. At the end of the day,

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he did not think it was the right thing either. He did not actually

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quite apologise, did he? He said, if it upsets people, he was sorry.

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If I caused any offence, I am happy to apologise. It is the kind of

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apology Ken Clarke made when he was attacked for what he said about

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rape. He said, obviously upset a lot of people by what I said, and

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I'm sorry if I did by the way I put it. That is about right, isn't it?

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We will come to you. I actually have been to a country where people

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are shot for being trade unionists, Colombia. It is most dangerous

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place in the world to be a trade unionist. Scores of trades

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unionists are killed, disappeared, tortured, murdered because they are

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trade unionists. I would simply say that Jeremy Clarkson, just

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translate strikers, public sector workers for another group in

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society who should be taken out and shot, and then see if it is funny.

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Did you see it? I have seen the replay. Did you see what he said

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first, because he says it has to be taken in context. First he said the

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strikes were wonderful. Then he said, this is the BBC and we have

:03:05.:03:10.

to be balanced. And you know where his real sympathies lie. It was

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unacceptable. If you say it about any other group in society, he

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would not be saying, I am sorry if I offended somebody. You could

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quite easily tell he was just taking the mickey. We do not live

:03:23.:03:26.

in Colombia. We live in England where you can get away with saying

:03:26.:03:31.

this sort of thing. There has been a big sense of humour failure on

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the part of the Labour Party and the unions.

:03:40.:03:47.

It was a bad taste joke. The questioner was successful in making

:03:47.:03:51.

a joke of it, and it was pretty silly. I think the indignation is

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mock. People are being po-faced, saying this is quite appalling. We

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ought to have a slightly better sense of humour. Jeremy Clarkson

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does say, he makes a speciality of bad taste and outrageous remarks.

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This takes the biscuit. But all of this po-faced business going on

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about it is trying to wrap it up a bit, really. I agree. My sister was

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on strike yesterday and I saw the programme and found it quite funny.

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It is a typical thing that Jeremy Clarkson would say and I cannot

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believe how out raged everyone is behaving. And your sister was not

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offended? She was, actually, but I wasn't. I am angry that we are

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discussing Jeremy Clarkson, because actually the issue, the industrial

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action yesterday, is far bigger than Jeremy Clarkson.

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He likes us to be talking about his latest contribution to public life.

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This is the latest in a series of, you know, offensive, unpleasant

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things from what seems to me to be a fairly unpleasant individual. One

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thing that I do not understand is, what is the big deal with Jeremy

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Clarkson? Where is the talent? Could someone else not do what he

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does? I do not see what he adds. What does he had? Why do the BBC

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seem to think that he has this amazing person? Because he has huge

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audiences and we have had more questions about this than any other

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subject. It must be something. not sure that is a determinant as

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to whether somebody has talent. Well, his lawyers can write to you

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themselves. I disagree. I am a fan of Jeremy Clarkson. I would say

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that he does his bit, he generates public support by saying

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controversial things. These controversial things obviously get

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discussed, so he is doing his job completely. He says these things

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just to annoy people, and he does his job well. But what is the point

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in that? What is the point in just a needlessly annoying and defending

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lots of people? If he had a heart attack tomorrow, the paramedic who

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would be picking him up in the ambulance is somebody who would be

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the subject of the satire he was engaging in. When he arrives in the

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hospital, the same would apply to the people wheeling him into the

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operating theatre. What is the point in annoying people in that

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:06:44.:06:45.

way you actually help society keep I think it is 50-50. Half of the

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population, he affirms. The Bath lock him. But -- defends them.

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wish I could say that I have never said anything foolish on television

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but I cannot. Because I cannot, I will be careful about condemning

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others who do. I am in your country so I do not want to meddle. You are

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here to medal! This industrial action that was launched yesterday

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has been described as not the first, more are to come. In the whole

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world, we are going to pass through a difficult economic times. The

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unleashing of this kind of strike at a time when sacrifices are going

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to be called on from every industrial country, depending on

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the decisions that are made on the Continent. Tough times are ahead

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that Britain and the United States did not self-inflicted. But what

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about the joke, was it just bad taste? People are going to say

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foolish things and I am going to focus on trying to make sure that I

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make as few foolish comments as possible, rather than being a

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negative review on the foolish comments of others. The woman with

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black hair and then you in a striped T-shirt. I agree that we

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should be talking about something else. Jeremy Clarkson is the Lady

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Gaga and Katie Price of the motoring world and he is building

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his brand in the way that he does and his programme in life itself.

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We should focus not on the stupidity of his comment, which he

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did not issue a heartfelt apology for, but what is going on in the

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world, the economy, the teachers and nursing assistants and everyone

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Do you not think it is a massive over-reaction to something that was

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said on the BBC? It is equally inappropriate for the deputy leader

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of Unison macro to compare him to Gaddafi. Unless it is their

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hairstyle. I think Clarkson has embarrassed

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himself enough and he should just drive off and be forgotten. He has

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gone to China so he will not be heard of Rideh or two. Let's go on

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to the stuff in hand. -- for a day or two. Were the strikes justified?

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I knew you were going to come to me first. I could not support the

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action because I cannot support the disruption that it is going to

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cause and it did cause to lots of people I represent in my

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constituency. There were lots of parents who had to take the day off

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work. But let me say this. I have lots of close family and friends

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who took industrial action and I completely can understand where

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they are coming from, which is why I do not condemn them for doing

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what they did. It is not a decision that you take likely, to go on

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strike. There were a huge number of people who went on strike for the

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first time ever. And we have to ask why. What was it that caused them

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to feel they had no option but to do this? And what caused them to

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feel they had no option but to do this was a Government, if you like,

:10:08.:10:12.

seeking to adopt a divide and rule strategy in relation to a society

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they are supposed to be holding together, sitting up public against

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private sector workers, which is disgraceful. -- setting them up.

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And doing so in the context of saying that we have to reform our

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pension system. We do. Most people will accept that we are probably

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going to have to accept -- probably going to have to work for longer

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and contribute more. The problem is that the 3% surcharge that the

:10:36.:10:40.

public sector workers have been asked to contribute are not going

:10:40.:10:43.

into different public sector pension schemes. It is going to

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reduce the deficit and pay for the failure of the Government to sort

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:10:56.:11:00.

On your personal position, you are a trade union member. Yes. Did you

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vote? No, I did not. You abstained. I will tell you why, because our

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pensions are not affected by it. That is why I would not have

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participated, because I am not impacted upon by the changes that

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are proposed. I do not think that means that one cannot understand

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where others were coming from. is it loyal to say about a strike

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by two unions of which you are remember that you disagree with

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them and you think they were wrong in your position? I have explained

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my position. I do not support the disruption to my constituents.

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I congratulate him on clearly being against the strike, because I was

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not clear whether Ed Miliband was supporting it or not. He seemed to

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be supporting it. I also congratulate Chuka on at -- on

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actually saying that we have to reform pensions. I have not heard

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any proposal from anybody else yet about quite how we do that. It will

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affect MPs. The MP's salary scheme is unsustainable. It has not been

:12:10.:12:13.

negotiated in the same way. We will have to bring it in line, so it

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will affect MPs. But getting onto the main point, I understand that

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everybody in the public sector is completely cheesed off with the

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situation we are in. They have pay freezes and their pensions having

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to be changed, so their future expectations change. Most people in

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the country, including private sector people, are having to adjust

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to the very serious consequences of the financial crisis that we are in.

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We all know that the present public sector pensions are unsustainable.

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This should have been done 20 years ago. The Bill is racing up for our

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children and grandchildren. It does have to be addressed. And what is

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immediately being done is a very good scheme has been produced by

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the former Labour pensions minister, which, to my amazement, has kept a

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final-salary scheme in place, but a less generous one. You will have to

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work for longer. It is not. It is a career average scheme. Well, it is

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a salary-based scheme, much better than anybody would have expected

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him to recommend, much better than anything outside. Why did you not

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do anything about this when you were Chancellor? You said it should

:13:32.:13:37.

have been dealt with ages ago. the time, we assumed these pensions

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could be sustained. Most of the private sector had them. Most of

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the big private sector companies got rid of them about 10 years ago

:13:44.:13:48.

when it became obvious that these obligations were piling up.

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thought it would be all right. were not alerted to the problem. I

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was getting out of a recession but not as bad as this one. It should

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have been sorted out. Now they have had a day on strike, let's

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negotiate the details, scheme by scheme. We are getting the balance

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right between the taxpayer, paying for mounting deficits, and the

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members, paying for what they are going to get. And they are meant to

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be fair to everybody. The numbers are going to have to pay more

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because they are getting better pensions than the average member of

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:14:28.:14:34.

the population. The taxpayer has to No general secretary of any union

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will lead their members on strike unless there is a good cause. My

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union has not taken national strike action before this dispute in 127

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years. We do not lose our temper easily and throw our toys out of

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the pram. This is a real and serious issue. Let me just say that

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we have done everything in our power to get the Government to

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listen. 120,000 teachers have signed a petition. We lobbied

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Parliament in October, every MP was lobbied, thousands of teachers

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lobbied MPs. We have written to our MPs, we have done everything

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possible to get our point across. Ken Clarke says public sector

:15:18.:15:21.

pensions are unsustainable. Let's be clear, the National Audit Office

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said that the highest cost for public sector pensions will be next

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year. And that from that time, they will be declining from 1.9% to 1.4%.

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That is for a host of reasons, not least of which the new deal which

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we negotiated in 2007. Under that deal, if there were greater costs

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for living longer, the employees would pay for them, not the

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employer. So, we negotiated all of that, and that is part of the

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decline in public sector pensions. Of course, we are prepared to

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negotiate a deal. But negotiating with this government is like trying

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to do it in the dark. It took them until the 2nd November to come up

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with a proposal. They then said... But why are you prepared to

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negotiate if you say you did all of this in 2007 and there was no

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problem? If they show us the sums on longevity, we will negotiate.

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But you said there is no reason. union, if given the argument, would

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not be prepared to negotiate. Before the Hutton report, they're

:16:43.:16:52.

introducing a pension tax, taking 15% off the value of pensions, and

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then they say, we're going to introduce a reference scheme. We

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have not been able to negotiate, and nobody wanted the strike. My

:17:02.:17:07.

members are teachers and lecturers. The last place they want to be is

:17:07.:17:16.

on strike. I must have let Ken Clarke answer that point. Can you

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stick to the point about the money and what Mary Bousted said about

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all of this having been decided before. This is largely based on

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figures which it was assumed that the Government had put in place. As

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I said before, it is also how you share the cost. At the moment,

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we're trying to get down public expenditure. And the burden is

:17:43.:17:48.

shifting steadily to the general taxpayer, and they are really

:17:48.:17:54.

putting ever more in each year, even after the 2007 deal, and the

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members are trying to stay with their present contribution.

:17:59.:18:02.

you're not putting it into the scheme, it is going back into the

:18:02.:18:06.

general pot. The burden of maintaining the scheme, which is

:18:06.:18:11.

going to be going up by �7 billion over the next five years, if we do

:18:11.:18:16.

not do anything, is to be shared more by the members, than it to

:18:16.:18:21.

keep falling on the taxpayer. It is because of longevity that the whole

:18:21.:18:26.

thing is going to be more expensive. We're making sure that the

:18:26.:18:30.

unfairness, as well as the un sustainability, is actually

:18:30.:18:37.

addressed. We have been trying to make it all party. We have got a

:18:37.:18:47.
:18:47.:18:47.

Labour minister in. You do not believe nothing needs to be done...

:18:47.:18:50.

The point is that there will have to be give and take on both sides,

:18:50.:18:54.

but for that, there has to be a negotiation. Ministers have not sat

:18:54.:19:00.

down in a room with... You think there is a problem? Of course,

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that's why there needs to be negotiation. When did you last sit

:19:08.:19:16.

down? I have said, if there is a problem, show us the sums, and we

:19:16.:19:20.

will negotiate. We have not been able to do that. One more point

:19:20.:19:24.

from you, then we must go to the audience. Is the problem nothing

:19:25.:19:30.

like as big as the Government is claiming? In my view, we obviously

:19:30.:19:34.

need to look at the sustainability of pensions going forward, but you

:19:34.:19:40.

have got to have a discussion about it. So, there is a problem? There

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is an issue that needs to be resolved, yes. We have heard about

:19:45.:19:51.

this for such a long time, why are we only seeing it now? Secondly, we

:19:51.:19:54.

know that the public sector are striking, but the private sector

:19:54.:20:00.

are not. We need to think about the success of the economy. Going back

:20:00.:20:03.

to the question about whether or not it is justified, I completely

:20:04.:20:08.

understand why those in the public sector are feeling a bit hat. Apart

:20:08.:20:13.

from the fact that promises and contracts were made, I get that. On

:20:13.:20:19.

the other hand, I think there is not enough money. And sometimes in

:20:19.:20:24.

life, you just get faced with decisions which are not just right

:20:24.:20:27.

decisions which are not just right or wrong, they are, what is the

:20:27.:20:30.

deciding factor? And here, the deciding factor is, there is not

:20:30.:20:40.
:20:40.:20:40.

enough money. Really, it is not what we want, it is not how we feel.

:20:40.:20:44.

Of course we want our nurses and teachers, of course we want them to

:20:44.:20:50.

be well paid and live well in their retirement. But there is not enough

:20:50.:20:56.

money. You're going to tell me there is, because, as a percentage

:20:56.:21:01.

of GDP going forward... Trust me, in the time that we are talking, we

:21:01.:21:07.

have no idea, we are in very uncharted territory, we have to

:21:07.:21:10.

protect our position. And we cannot make contracts that at some point

:21:10.:21:14.

in the future we are going to really regret, because we're going

:21:14.:21:19.

to burden the young people of today with those contracts, paying for

:21:19.:21:29.

them, when it is all long gone. sir. There is always taxes, Deborah.

:21:29.:21:34.

One thing which has not been mentioned so far is the increasing

:21:34.:21:37.

contributions, and the threat that will pose to the viability of the

:21:37.:21:42.

scheme, with disastrous consequences. You think taxes

:21:42.:21:52.
:21:52.:21:52.

should go up to pay for it? That would be my view. I thought the

:21:52.:22:01.

second last questioner put it very well. People have been exposed to

:22:01.:22:07.

the severest economic shock since the Great Depression. There is no-

:22:07.:22:10.

one to strike against. You dealing with huge, imponderable global

:22:11.:22:15.

forces. If you say, not only is that person going to be out of work,

:22:15.:22:19.

not only is that business going to close, not only do they face a

:22:19.:22:22.

higher taxes which will be coming everywhere in the future, but in

:22:22.:22:28.

addition to that, that there is to be a sector of the society which is

:22:28.:22:33.

going to be held harmless, while the society which pays the bills is

:22:33.:22:39.

contracted, that's not very reasonable. It is not just about

:22:39.:22:44.

the cost on future generations, it is the fact that they are staff in

:22:44.:22:49.

our services in order to pay for pensions. You have towns in

:22:49.:22:53.

California where, in order to pay the pensions for the Retired

:22:53.:22:57.

firefighters and nurses, they are laying off present-day firefighters

:22:57.:23:07.
:23:07.:23:10.

and nurses. The past is devouring the future, and this cannot be.

:23:10.:23:15.

There were several objectionable things in that answer. One of them

:23:15.:23:19.

was the wealth creation. We were told going on strike, we were

:23:19.:23:24.

losing �500 million. Public sector workers create wealth. I did not

:23:24.:23:29.

use that phrase. You did. Also, it is dangerous jobs and jobs which

:23:29.:23:35.

many people do not want to do. You're right, the Chartered

:23:35.:23:42.

Institute for Personnel Development have said that it would take a 20%

:23:42.:23:47.

opt-out for that deficit to be lost. Low-paid workers will opt out of

:23:47.:23:53.

their pensions. New teachers starting in 2015, with 9% of their

:23:53.:24:01.

wages going to pay off their other debt, and another 9% for pensions,

:24:01.:24:04.

80% of their salary before you even begin, what you think they will do?

:24:04.:24:11.

They will opt out. If they do so, this country will have people who

:24:11.:24:14.

will be relying on nothing other than means-tested benefits in their

:24:14.:24:20.

old age. The gentleman says, higher taxes, is that what you would like

:24:20.:24:28.

to see? Yes, there is a range of things which can be done. Should

:24:28.:24:32.

the taxpayer pay for it? taxpayer pays for private sector

:24:32.:24:38.

pensions. �37 billion in 2000 and they spent on private sector

:24:38.:24:42.

pensions, in tax relief, which was �12 billion more than was spent on

:24:42.:24:48.

public sector pensions. completely agree with you, I really

:24:48.:24:53.

do not like this division between public and private. The private

:24:53.:24:58.

sector cannot survive without the public sector. And the other way

:24:58.:25:02.

around. Absolutely, we are completely in this together.

:25:03.:25:07.

Actually, I have been publicly on record to say, I agree with

:25:07.:25:12.

taxation. What I worry about is, I do not mind handing my money over,

:25:12.:25:16.

providing I am happy with what is done with it. However, Thaksin is

:25:16.:25:20.

not always the answer, because there is one answer to this, and it

:25:20.:25:24.

is economic growth. Because if we had economic growth, we would not

:25:24.:25:29.

be having this debate. So, what we cannot possibly contemplate is a

:25:29.:25:35.

taxation system which hinders economic growth. Let me bring in a

:25:35.:25:39.

number of people in the audience. Just with your comments, if you

:25:39.:25:45.

would, because we have got a lot to talk about. I'm pleased to hear a

:25:45.:25:48.

slight change in rhetoric from the panel, and that there should be no

:25:48.:25:52.

division between public and private. Let's also acknowledged public

:25:52.:25:57.

service workers, of which I am one, and I was on strike yesterday, we

:25:57.:26:04.

are taxpayers, let's not forget that. And you, sir, with the

:26:04.:26:10.

spectacles. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

:26:10.:26:13.

Equitable Life went bust, the public sector pension scheme is

:26:13.:26:18.

bust. Private sector taxpayers are bussed enough already, give us our

:26:18.:26:26.

money back. The woman in the second row. I wanted to congratulate and

:26:26.:26:31.

thank everyone who went on strike for exercising their rights to

:26:31.:26:38.

protest. To protest against this horrible government, which was not

:26:38.:26:46.

elected, and we should not forget that. Rather than encouraging

:26:46.:26:52.

divisiveness in the population, senior politicians should be clear

:26:52.:26:56.

about conditions of work and the dangers involved in certain jobs,

:26:56.:27:02.

and not be simplistic and divisive about it. You think the argument is

:27:02.:27:07.

over-simplified? Over-simplified, divisive, and putting the public

:27:07.:27:15.

and private sector against each other. As Deborah Meaden, a

:27:15.:27:21.

beautiful, successful woman rightly says, there is not enough money,

:27:21.:27:29.

would she care to lend us some? don't know whether this is so, but

:27:29.:27:35.

you have already lent �1.6 million to 26 different organisations.

:27:35.:27:41.

than �2 million. How much have you made back? It is not that simple,

:27:41.:27:46.

because these are ongoing businesses, but they are great

:27:46.:27:51.

success stories, they make money, and they make me feel good. I

:27:51.:27:57.

avoided the question nicely, didn't I? We will come back to it! At

:27:57.:28:02.

I? We will come back to it! At first, if you're tweeting, our hash

:28:02.:28:12.
:28:12.:28:25.

The next question, from Amish Patel. Has George Osborne's economic plan

:28:25.:28:28.

failed? Has it succeeded, perhaps, failed? Has it succeeded, perhaps,

:28:28.:28:35.

is another way of looking at it? think we are one of the very few

:28:35.:28:37.

governments the monks Western democracies which has actually got

:28:37.:28:42.

a plan, and one which is still carrying confident. It is shown by

:28:42.:28:52.
:28:52.:28:54.

the fact that we have got such a low interest rates. If you started

:28:54.:28:58.

putting up taxes to pay for public sector pensions, you wait and see

:28:58.:29:04.

how long public confidence would last if you started doing that.

:29:04.:29:09.

is it a plan which is succeeding? If people look at the Western

:29:09.:29:13.

economies, we probably have had one of the deepest recessions. We have

:29:13.:29:18.

a deficit on Greek proportions, we have a mounting stock of debt, we

:29:18.:29:21.

are in an identical situation with a great number of European

:29:21.:29:26.

countries. We had a government which just borrowed during the boom

:29:26.:29:30.

times on the basis that it was easy money, and we now have a staggering

:29:30.:29:34.

level of debt. This is one of the few countries where the outside

:29:34.:29:39.

world generally believes we have a government, we have institutions,

:29:39.:29:44.

we have a society which is capable of sorting this out. We do have a

:29:44.:29:48.

plan. We are remaining in control of events. We now have to respond

:29:48.:29:53.

to events, which have worsened in the world, because commodity prices

:29:53.:29:57.

have soared, and because the sovereign debt crisis is casting an

:29:57.:30:02.

immense shadow, and we are responding, and we do have a plan,

:30:02.:30:06.

the plan is to stick where we are, and to get on top of the problem,

:30:06.:30:10.

which is debt and deficit. You need a tough government at a time like

:30:10.:30:15.

this. You have to ask for some of the sacrifices which we are asking

:30:15.:30:17.

of public sector workers. You look around the rest of the Western

:30:17.:30:21.

democracies, and, with the greatest of respect, and several have

:30:21.:30:25.

already fallen, they are bobbing in the water. That's what's worrying

:30:25.:30:31.

everybody, they cannot cope with it. We must deliver this, and it is

:30:31.:30:38.

going to take a few years to get back to normality. But if you had a

:30:38.:30:44.

change, a government which said, a bit tough fiscal easing is what is

:30:44.:30:47.

required... I don't think Ed Balls believes what he is saying, because

:30:47.:30:57.
:30:57.:30:58.

he knows he will not be in Ed Balls said, we're going to cut

:30:58.:31:01.

taxes to boost consumption and we're going to borrow a bit more.

:31:02.:31:06.

It is getting awkward so we are going to make ourselves popular by

:31:06.:31:09.

borrowing from foreigners. I don't know what interest rate he things

:31:09.:31:13.

we would be paying in order to get that money, but it would look like

:31:13.:31:16.

the kind of interest rate the Italians are paying and the Greeks

:31:16.:31:24.

are paying, and that really would put us in the mire. How many people

:31:24.:31:29.

in your constituency, according to the latest figures, Ards GSA

:31:29.:31:35.

claimants? -- JSA claimants. It is quite low, below the national

:31:35.:31:44.

average. How many? I do not know the exact number. 1287 people are

:31:44.:31:50.

claiming that in your constituency, up by well over 10%. In this

:31:50.:31:55.

constituency here, long-term youth unemployment has risen by 50%. In

:31:55.:31:59.

your constituency, five people are chasing every vacancy. In mind, 20

:31:59.:32:04.

people are chasing every vacancy. Are you seriously looking at all of

:32:04.:32:07.

these people in his audience and all of our constituents and saying,

:32:07.:32:17.
:32:17.:32:23.

everything is fine, the plan is I am not saying everything is fine.

:32:23.:32:26.

The Governor of the Bank of England has come out with remarks today

:32:26.:32:30.

which I agree with. Of course I am not saying everything is fine. If

:32:30.:32:35.

everything was fine, I would be trying to do... But you are

:32:35.:32:40.

saying... It is caused by deficit, by global crisis, commodity price

:32:40.:32:45.

inflation. That -- the problem we have at the moment is that we have

:32:45.:32:49.

not had any growth. Since the Comprehensive Spending Review your

:32:49.:32:53.

Government announced at this time last year, confidence fell, demand

:32:53.:32:58.

plummeted and we have had, what? Growth revised down for this year

:32:58.:33:03.

to 0.9% and 2.6 million people out of work. And the problem is that

:33:03.:33:08.

you do not get growth, you cannot reduce your borrowing. 2.6 million

:33:08.:33:14.

people we are paying benefit to and who are not paying income tax.

:33:14.:33:20.

is your solution? Of course we need growth, that is a platitude. It is

:33:20.:33:27.

a fact and we have not had it. question is of how you get growth.

:33:27.:33:33.

As we said, there are a range of measures. How do they compare with

:33:33.:33:37.

what has been described as the problem, will prices, inflation,

:33:37.:33:41.

the American economy and the other things. Do not go through them,

:33:41.:33:45.

because we have heard, but how do they rate? They are based on

:33:45.:33:51.

borrowing more money. We will not take a lecture on borrowing from

:33:51.:33:56.

you. I will not take a lecture on borrowing from you. You left the

:33:56.:34:05.

borrowing behind. In a Thermos, -- in fairness, I think when you

:34:05.:34:08.

ceased being Chancellor of the Exchequer, how debt as a percentage

:34:08.:34:13.

of GDP was 46%. Before the global financial crisis, it had come down

:34:13.:34:19.

by about 6%. The It was falling like a stone for the first three

:34:19.:34:27.

years. Your record is not necessarily a beautiful one.

:34:27.:34:30.

record is getting better growth with low inflation and stable

:34:30.:34:37.

finances. Where is the growth? 1997, the economy was growing and

:34:37.:34:40.

we were becoming one of the strongest in the Western world. And

:34:40.:34:44.

then a man called Gordon Brown took over. He stuck to my figures for

:34:44.:34:47.

three years and after that he behaved recklessly and

:34:47.:34:51.

incompetently. This is becoming a Joule and we have three other

:34:51.:34:55.

members. What do you say to the argument about interest rates going

:34:55.:34:58.

up if you borrow and that would be devastating, George Osborne's

:34:58.:35:03.

position and the coalition's position? You are prepared to risk

:35:03.:35:10.

that? There is the base rate, and the Bank of England base rate is

:35:10.:35:14.

lower at the moment because we have not had growth. In terms of

:35:14.:35:16.

financing government borrowing, everybody knows that the reason we

:35:16.:35:19.

are in a different position from other countries on the Continent is

:35:19.:35:23.

that we have the ability to set monetary policy. Historically,

:35:23.:35:28.

therefore, we have had lower interest rates. So you do not see

:35:28.:35:33.

it as a problem? What do you mean? If you borrowed money, interest

:35:33.:35:38.

rates would rise and we would be likely to leave. If you look at the

:35:38.:35:42.

countries in the eurozone area which have had problems, the term

:35:42.:35:45.

payment on our debt is longer and we can set our own interest rates

:35:45.:35:51.

and the markets take that into account. I completely agree with

:35:51.:35:56.

Ken Clarke because that is the way it works. The truth is, if other

:35:56.:35:59.

countries lose confidence in us, we pay more money and it is as simple

:36:00.:36:04.

as that. I think the Government have got things wrong, but they

:36:04.:36:08.

have got one thing right, and that is sticking with Plan A, but with

:36:08.:36:13.

imagination. Because it is a very unimaginative plan. I think it is

:36:13.:36:17.

like running a business, but just a lot bigger and the output is

:36:17.:36:21.

slightly different. In difficult times, what tends to happen is we

:36:21.:36:25.

close down and think, I cannot spend any more money. I think we

:36:25.:36:29.

have done that. What I would like to see now is a bit of imagination

:36:29.:36:33.

about how we are going to get out of it, because that is the sense

:36:33.:36:37.

that I do not get. I get that we are going to stop spending, we are

:36:37.:36:42.

going to cut and reduce, but no imagination. What do you call

:36:42.:36:47.

imagination? I talk about business, unsurprisingly. It is very

:36:47.:36:50.

difficult at the moment to do business, to borrow money. The

:36:50.:36:53.

Government has done something about that but within the current

:36:53.:36:57.

confines. We look to the banking system and the banks and we try to

:36:57.:37:01.

stimulate them. There are fantastic things going on - crowd funding.

:37:01.:37:04.

People are saying, I am going to take the bank's art of the picture

:37:04.:37:09.

and I want to lend that person money. -- out of the picture. That

:37:09.:37:14.

is imaginative, getting cash into the system quickly. And he gets

:37:14.:37:17.

people like me, who know how to help businesses, lending to

:37:17.:37:20.

businesses that need cash and help. I think the Government should spend

:37:21.:37:24.

more time looking at more imaginative ways of stimulating the

:37:24.:37:34.
:37:34.:37:36.

economy, not just... The man with the spectacles. As an ex Chancellor,

:37:36.:37:39.

I think you need to concede that the low borrowing costs, of course

:37:39.:37:43.

while we need a credible deficit reduction plan, the low borrowing

:37:43.:37:46.

costs are due to poor prospects for economic growth for this country

:37:46.:37:51.

for years to come. George Osborne is like a medieval Dr bleeding this

:37:51.:38:01.
:38:01.:38:05.

country, and when he sees it is not Going back, I am a member of the

:38:06.:38:08.

Youth Parliament for this area and I represent the young people of

:38:09.:38:15.

this area. Not only have they been discouraged to go to university,

:38:15.:38:22.

but how can the economy grow when there is no confidence at all?

:38:22.:38:26.

issue about the triple-A credit rating is that it is likely to be

:38:26.:38:31.

imperilled if our borrowing requirement goes above a certain

:38:32.:38:36.

level. If tax receipts carry on being so low because so many people

:38:36.:38:41.

are not in work - and remember, another 310,000 public sector

:38:41.:38:46.

workers will be put out of work - if you put people out of work, or

:38:46.:38:50.

into low-paid work, the tax receipts go down and you have to

:38:50.:38:53.

increase your borrowing requirement which will in peril your triple-A

:38:53.:38:57.

rating. Do not tell me this is a really good idea and we are keeping

:38:57.:39:00.

the triple-A rating because we are doing these difficult measures. As

:39:00.:39:04.

you said, this medicine, you bleed the patient until there is no more

:39:04.:39:12.

blood left and then they are dead. America lost its triple-A rating in

:39:12.:39:16.

the summer. I think you need to lift the level of the camera. In

:39:16.:39:20.

2008, the US elected a left-of- centre government that tried the

:39:20.:39:24.

stimulative response and we are also having no economic growth.

:39:24.:39:27.

Britain has done the opposite course and is getting the same

:39:27.:39:31.

result. You do not have a British problem, we do not have an American

:39:31.:39:37.

problem. This is a global problem. The question was, his George

:39:37.:39:44.

Osborne's plan obsolete? Have a lot of respect for George Osborne. But

:39:44.:39:47.

if this euro crisis continues to unravel, everybody's plans are

:39:47.:39:51.

going to be obsolete because we are about to be confronted with the

:39:51.:39:54.

second shock in a double shock that is the worst shock to the global

:39:54.:40:01.

economy since the 1930s. When people are suffering in a

:40:01.:40:04.

particular locality, and people are suffering a lot in Britain, as they

:40:04.:40:07.

are in the United States, it is hard to understand that it is not

:40:07.:40:14.

just happening to you but is happening worldwide. We have had

:40:14.:40:17.

this extraordinary accumulation of indebtedness. It will express

:40:17.:40:21.

itself in different ways and in different places, but it is the one

:40:21.:40:24.

common global problem and it is now going to have what may be the worst

:40:24.:40:30.

shock of all yet. That is why things like this strike are so

:40:30.:40:34.

misplaced, because you're not going to be able to escape this gathering

:40:34.:40:38.

global crisis by saying, we are going to take this sector, however

:40:38.:40:44.

worthy and important, and they will be fenced off from this flood.

:40:44.:40:52.

Everyone is going to... We need concerted global action, concerted

:40:52.:40:56.

global anti-inflation. Right now, the scene is not Westminster, not

:40:56.:41:00.

in Washington, but the Continent of Europe. So there is nothing

:41:00.:41:03.

Washington and Westminster can do except watch what happens in

:41:03.:41:08.

Europe? Up we have a right to make our voices heard. Good and bad

:41:08.:41:12.

decisions on the Continent of Europe have an impact on all of us.

:41:12.:41:16.

In this incredible alliance that we have, we have these institutions

:41:16.:41:19.

that bring finance ministers and heads of government together and

:41:19.:41:24.

they are supposed to talk and co- ordinate. We all need to be saying

:41:24.:41:27.

to the people on the Continent, the Euro was not a good idea to start

:41:27.:41:32.

with but allowing it to collapse would be a worse idea. Are you

:41:32.:41:36.

saying that the arguments between Labour and the coalition Government

:41:36.:41:39.

in this country are really, in effect, irrelevant because the

:41:39.:41:44.

problem is much bigger than the things they talk about? If your

:41:44.:41:48.

election had gone in a different way, I think he would be having the

:41:48.:41:54.

same arguments with the opposite people saying the opposite lines.

:41:55.:42:00.

There are various different ways it could have gone. I would just say

:42:00.:42:04.

one thing of the back of what David has said. It is not correct to say

:42:04.:42:07.

that everyone has been in the same boat. Our economy is growing slower

:42:07.:42:11.

than any other economy in the G7, apart from Japan, which had an

:42:11.:42:17.

earthquake. Your economy grew 1.5% in the last 12 months, hours only

:42:17.:42:23.

grew by 0.5%. I agree that the eurozone is a big issue, but do you

:42:23.:42:26.

provide foundations with which you can withstand the storm, or do you

:42:26.:42:30.

tear them out, leaving us defenceless, which is what our

:42:30.:42:33.

Government has done? That is why there is such a debate going on

:42:33.:42:39.

right here. Are the coalition missing an opportunity for

:42:39.:42:46.

imaginative growth by ditching the Green economy?

:42:46.:42:49.

If there is anything we can say with certainty over the last few

:42:49.:42:53.

years in terms of economic plans, it is that the people who say that

:42:53.:42:58.

they know do not actually know. Really, the whole point is that,

:42:58.:43:02.

why not get people who know what they're talking about, people like

:43:02.:43:05.

Deborah Meaden, who have made money, to help with economic plans,

:43:05.:43:10.

because this is the blind leading the blind? The economists do not

:43:10.:43:18.

know, but Deborah Meaden does? has made money. We are taking some

:43:18.:43:26.

of her advice. You have never asked me for any advice! I take your

:43:26.:43:30.

advice, I am doing something to help business. It is not as popular

:43:30.:43:33.

as putting up taxes to keep pensions in tax but is a sensible

:43:33.:43:36.

way of building foundations for future growth, which requires

:43:36.:43:43.

stability first and a freedom from debt to really take off. The UK are

:43:43.:43:49.

missing a big opportunity in Africa, because China are going in. They

:43:49.:43:54.

are going into a different situation, bartering. They have

:43:54.:43:59.

offered Nigeria 5 billion for three oil plants. They are also putting

:43:59.:44:03.

in infrastructure, which the UK are brilliant at putting in

:44:03.:44:06.

infrastructure, better than the Chinese material that comes out.

:44:06.:44:13.

The one thing that England are truly missing is Africa. Africa has

:44:13.:44:18.

a 100 billion export industry. you are not talking about the aid

:44:18.:44:24.

which the government is hitting its targets on? Despite that, it is

:44:24.:44:29.

infrastructure that Africa is missing. These are dark days this

:44:29.:44:33.

week, after the Autumn Statement. Inevitably, the questions are about

:44:33.:44:43.

the economy and jobs. Why do British teenagers find it so

:44:43.:44:47.

difficult to find jobs when eastern Europeans seem to be quite able to

:44:47.:44:57.
:44:57.:45:05.

Deborah Meaden... I'm so glad you asked this question, this is a real

:45:05.:45:09.

issue for me. I think that in the UK we made a decision quite a while

:45:09.:45:13.

ago to become a very service- oriented country. We were happy to

:45:13.:45:17.

give up our manufacturing base and we talk to our children, the whole

:45:17.:45:21.

school curriculum, it was all about, academia, go to university, and if

:45:21.:45:25.

you don't, just get yourself a job in manufacturing or something like

:45:25.:45:29.

that. We have been letting our young people down, so that reaching

:45:29.:45:35.

the moment where they're actually going to choose jobs, they are

:45:35.:45:39.

not... The jobs that they have been educated for, they're just not

:45:39.:45:47.

there. It is not good enough. I hear a lot of really good stuff

:45:47.:45:51.

from the Government, I have to be honest. I think the appendage game

:45:51.:45:54.

and all of those things are fantastic, but they tackle it at

:45:54.:45:59.

the wrong end. -- the apprenticeship scheme. Because at

:45:59.:46:04.

16, these young people are thinking, if I cannot go to university, I am

:46:04.:46:09.

a failure. How come people from the EU are taking 90% of the new jobs

:46:09.:46:15.

which were created last year, for instance? I don't know what they

:46:15.:46:20.

are trained for. But if it is in manufacturing, that is exactly what

:46:20.:46:24.

I'm talking about, because our young people do not think

:46:24.:46:29.

manufacturing is a credible job. How important is manufacturing?

:46:29.:46:32.

They do not get to learn in school, they do not get to make things in

:46:32.:46:37.

school, or do things with their hands. And if they do do those

:46:37.:46:41.

things, it is not valued, because the value is all placed on academia.

:46:41.:46:44.

We have got to correct that, because we have made promises to

:46:44.:46:50.

them which we're completely failing on. We are in Dagenham, maybe we

:46:50.:46:53.

will hear something about employment here. What do you say,

:46:53.:47:00.

as a member of the teachers' union, about this, Mary Bousted?

:47:00.:47:04.

completely agree with Deborah Meaden, we have had an academic

:47:04.:47:09.

curriculum for far too long. Successive governments have said

:47:09.:47:11.

that the curriculum is about academic subjects and reading and

:47:11.:47:16.

writing. Of course, those are important, but we have completely

:47:16.:47:24.

downgraded other things. That means making things, and the practical

:47:24.:47:30.

application of theoretical subjects. You learn a lot about the practical

:47:30.:47:32.

application of maths and science through actually doing thing. I

:47:32.:47:36.

have to say, this government is revising the national curriculum,

:47:36.:47:39.

and we're going to end up with a much more academic, theoretical

:47:39.:47:43.

curriculum. The Government has actually said, the new curriculum

:47:43.:47:47.

should not include skills, because skills just happened. They have,

:47:47.:47:51.

they have said that, I have spoken to the Secretary of State about the

:47:51.:47:54.

new curriculum. It is clear that you do not include skills, skills

:47:54.:48:00.

just happen. We have done that for far too long. We have to educate

:48:00.:48:04.

our young people. Even the most able academic young people need

:48:04.:48:08.

experience in making and doing. We need a broad curriculum for all.

:48:09.:48:18.
:48:19.:48:19.

And we have not had that for far too long. I was just going to say,

:48:19.:48:23.

I could not agree with Deborah Meaden more. As a teenager and a

:48:23.:48:27.

student, I am lucky enough to have a part-time job. We are being

:48:27.:48:31.

encouraged to go to university and everything, but how can we do that

:48:31.:48:36.

when we have not got any opportunities? Has there been any

:48:36.:48:39.

suggestion of you learning trades, or apprenticeships or engineering

:48:39.:48:46.

skills? Or is it all targeted at getting to university? We are

:48:46.:48:50.

encouraged to do so, but we have to do it off Arran back these days. It

:48:50.:48:57.

is a lot harder to get a job. somebody who's from Dagenham, who

:48:57.:49:01.

understands this area very well, I have set up my own recruitment

:49:01.:49:06.

agency, the question was asked about young British youngsters, as

:49:06.:49:09.

opposed to Eastern European youngsters, we have got a situation

:49:09.:49:13.

whereby a there's a lot of young British people who seem to have the

:49:13.:49:17.

attitude of, the world owes me a living. A lot of them do not want

:49:17.:49:23.

to work. A lot of people do not want to work. I do not like that at

:49:23.:49:33.
:49:33.:49:33.

all. I think young people get brought to a point. It is very

:49:33.:49:37.

populist to talk about good for nothings, layabouts, and I have

:49:37.:49:41.

seen them, they come to work for me, they look like they are not

:49:41.:49:45.

interested, and they're disengaged - what took them to that place?

:49:45.:49:50.

That's what I am talking about, it is the whole system that makes them

:49:50.:49:56.

feel disengaged, makes them feel... Do you know, it is really confusing

:49:56.:50:00.

to be a teenager, you don't know what you want, you do not know who

:50:00.:50:03.

you're off. On top of that, we are not leading them to a place and

:50:04.:50:10.

giving them their options. So I do not go with that populist you. I

:50:10.:50:13.

have got some very difficult young people working for me, and frankly

:50:13.:50:18.

at times I have thought, for goodness sake! But doesn't a lot of

:50:18.:50:23.

that come from the parents as well? We're putting our arms around them

:50:23.:50:31.

too much. I agree, I'm not pointing fingers, I do not like blame. The

:50:31.:50:34.

only point of looking back for blame is to make sure we do not do

:50:34.:50:39.

it again. I'm not pointing fingers, I'm saying that it will be in

:50:39.:50:43.

everything, parenting, education, but somehow, we have brought our

:50:43.:50:47.

young people to a point where I think they are very confused, they

:50:47.:50:52.

have lacked guidance, they have not been educated for the life they are

:50:52.:50:56.

about to get, and we have failed them. American culture is very

:50:56.:50:59.

different, they have a very different structure, and yet we

:51:00.:51:08.

have exactly the same youth unemployment problem. I think if

:51:08.:51:12.

you're having the same disease showing up in a range of patients,

:51:12.:51:15.

with different life histories, living in different places, then

:51:15.:51:19.

you need to stop looking for patient specific causes of the

:51:19.:51:22.

disease. The disease that you have in Dagenham is the same disease

:51:22.:51:28.

that you will find in Cleveland, Michigan, it is a global problem,

:51:28.:51:34.

with youth unemployment. They are the new entrants to the market. It

:51:34.:51:43.

happens in Europe, where people make things very comfortable for

:51:43.:51:47.

incumbents. Britain is in the middle. But in the United States,

:51:47.:51:54.

we do not make things comfortable, it is very easy to fire. I think

:51:54.:52:00.

the curriculum is very powerful, but one thing, if I were making

:52:00.:52:05.

decisions in Britain about education, I would say, as part of

:52:05.:52:10.

the EU, you have to emphasise languages. One reason the Eastern

:52:10.:52:12.

European teenagers are here is because your teenagers are not

:52:12.:52:17.

there. The Polish economy is growing, how many young British

:52:17.:52:24.

people speak Polish? German, French, if you're going to have a

:52:24.:52:27.

continental economy, and be participants in it, you cannot say

:52:27.:52:31.

that because Britain won two world wars, therefore British people

:52:31.:52:38.

never have to learn the language of their customers. And by the way,

:52:38.:52:43.

Americans are as guilty, or worse. And you as a Canadian can speak

:52:43.:52:52.

French? I actually teach here in Dagenham, and the young people I

:52:52.:52:57.

teach are bright, polite, hard- working, personable teenagers,

:52:57.:53:00.

regardless of their background. The problem is, when I talk to them,

:53:00.:53:03.

they're scared of going to university because of the debt, and

:53:03.:53:06.

they look at what jobs are available and they simply say,

:53:06.:53:10.

there is nothing for us to go to. It is a real push in schools just

:53:10.:53:14.

to get grades up, for the league tables, but what about the actual

:53:14.:53:23.

students, that's what the schools are for? Do you agree with what

:53:23.:53:27.

Mary Bousted was saying about the curriculum being tipped too much

:53:28.:53:32.

towards academic success? We're going back to the grammar school

:53:32.:53:37.

system, how is that a forward step, if we're going backwards. We need

:53:37.:53:43.

to adapt to the times. Can we deal with this, Ken Clarke, because

:53:43.:53:49.

obviously the curriculum is changing, but specifically on what

:53:49.:53:57.

Mary Bousted said about it being too academic. Manufacturing is not

:53:57.:54:01.

people on conveyor belts, it is all about high-tech manufacturing,

:54:01.:54:05.

which we are quite good at at the moment. What Michael is trying to

:54:05.:54:11.

say is that you do need literacy and numeracy. It is not just...

:54:11.:54:16.

you need the practical application. We also have a massive

:54:16.:54:22.

apprenticeship which came under way as well, which has been praised. --

:54:22.:54:26.

apprenticeship scheme. But the apprenticeships to require a good

:54:26.:54:30.

basic level of education. It was all about rebalancing the economy,

:54:30.:54:33.

and then you're talking about education reform, we're talking

:54:33.:54:36.

about work programmes which the Government is bringing in. You are

:54:37.:54:40.

talking about welfare reform, because you have got to combine

:54:40.:54:43.

making it more attractive to work and to be on benefit with giving

:54:43.:54:48.

help to people who are stuck and getting disillusioned, to get

:54:48.:54:51.

themselves into work. There is a massive effort going on. It has hit

:54:51.:54:56.

the whole world, as you say. It has not just started, our youth

:54:56.:55:00.

unemployment has been going up for several years. It is worse in Spain.

:55:00.:55:04.

It is across the Western democracies. At the moment, we have

:55:04.:55:08.

a range of things for tackling that, very radical reforms in education

:55:08.:55:12.

and training and work programmes and apprenticeships. Unfortunately,

:55:12.:55:17.

it will take some years. But if you wreck the economy, you're going to

:55:17.:55:21.

get nowhere. It goes back to having a strong hand guiding the economy

:55:21.:55:30.

so that you can get growth. My fear is that a lot of the services that

:55:30.:55:34.

the young people here in Barking & Dagenham rely on, which might help

:55:34.:55:39.

them get a job, are being cut. Charities which might be able to

:55:39.:55:42.

advise young people, these services are being cut because of the

:55:42.:55:45.

climate that we are in, and local authorities are really struggling

:55:45.:55:51.

to offer that support to young people. Things like Connections are

:55:51.:55:56.

being cut. So, you think the prospects are getting worse at the

:55:56.:56:03.

moment because of this lack of support? We're putting support into

:56:04.:56:09.

the job centres for young people. think the saddest thing is that

:56:09.:56:13.

this is probably the first generation of young people where I

:56:13.:56:15.

think families are wondering whether their young people will go

:56:15.:56:19.

on to do better than them. I think that is incredibly sad. We have got

:56:19.:56:24.

to be very careful about the way we talk. I appreciate what you said

:56:24.:56:27.

about young people. I think in this country we have the most talented,

:56:27.:56:31.

energetic, fantastic young people, and we have really got to talk them

:56:31.:56:37.

up. Because God, there are going to be faced with a far more difficult

:56:37.:56:47.
:56:47.:56:47.

climate than we are having to deal with. But I do not think it is a

:56:47.:56:53.

zero-sum game, vocational on the one hand or University, it is both.

:56:53.:56:59.

We need to be good at both of those things. Apologies to those who have

:56:59.:57:04.

had their hands up for some time. Particularly you, sir. I will give

:57:04.:57:14.
:57:14.:57:14.

you a quick last word. Oh, you have spoken already? She was right about

:57:15.:57:18.

the curriculum, Michael Gove's English Baccalaureate means that

:57:18.:57:22.

things like technology will be squeezed. One of the biggest drops

:57:22.:57:25.

in teacher vacancies is in in teacher vacancies is in

:57:25.:57:29.

technology. We have to stop because our time is up. Next week we will

:57:29.:57:37.

be in Stoke-on-Trent. Among those on the panel will be the boss of

:57:37.:57:44.

Next. Then there is a break for Christmas, and we will be back, in

:57:44.:57:54.
:57:54.:57:55.

David Dimbleby chairs Question Time from Dagenham. The panel includes: Ken Clarke, Justice Secretary; Chuka Umunna, Shadow Business Secretary; Mary Bousted, head of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers; David Frum, former speechwriter to President George W. Bush; and Deborah Meaden, businesswoman.


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