David Dimbleby presents topical debate from Maidenhead. On the panel are Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Richard Burgon MP, Nigel Farage MEP, Will Self and Louise Mensch.
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Welcome to Question Time, which tonight comes from Maidenhead.
And with us here tonight,
the Conservative chair of the health select committee, Sarah Wollaston.
Labour's Shadow Justice Secretary, Richard Burgon.
The former leader of Ukip who stepped down last week
and is now available
for any ambassadorial post he might be offered, Nigel Farage.
The novelist and New Statesman columnist, Will Self.
And the former Tory MP
who left British politics to live in New York, Louise Mensch.
And as always,
you don't need to feel left out if you're watching this at home.
You can join the debate - Facebook, Twitter,
or you can text us on:
So, let's get started with this question from Lewis Terry, please.
Is Donald Trump a worthy recipient
of Time magazine's Person of the Year?
Right, Time magazine, every year,
makes somebody the Person of the Year,
the person who's had the greatest influence, for better or worse.
Is he a worthy recipient?
Oh, yeah. I mean...
The whole point of the prize is whether Time magazine
think you're a force for good or a force for bad,
and there aren't many shades of grey
in terms of the way people look at Donald Trump.
Either way, he's made the most dramatic impact
on politics this year.
Everybody thought it was literally impossible
for him even to win the nomination, to get through the primaries.
And the day before the election,
you know, the New York Times said there was a 97% probability
that Hillary Clinton would win.
He stunned everybody.
He's taking over as president on 20th January.
And not only do I think he's a worthy recipient
of Time magazine's Person of the Year.
I think he will also, by this time next year,
surprise all of you
by just how popular and good a president he's going to be.
-It is influence, not a good influence or a bad influence.
-Hitler and Stalin were both chosen as...
-And Churchill won.
Yeah, no, no, but, I mean, he's been...
-You know, it is an astonishing thing...
-..that this man has become president.
I always think it's a bit of a paradox that Nigel Farage
subscribes to the great man of history view, really,
given that he doesn't quite shape up to that sort of stature himself.
And while I think that Trump, certainly,
is a personification of major changes in geopolitics,
I'm not so sure that it's the man himself
that's truly significant.
It's more what he symbolises.
And in terms of what he symbolises,
has he had the greatest influence on the events of the year?
Well, yes, undoubtedly,
but, I mean, as I say, it's what he symbolises.
As with Brexit,
it was a case that this was...
a political eventuality people didn't expect,
but that's because we've moved beyond the frame of politics
as it's been understood for a long time.
And Trump rode that wave.
To some extent, he kind of created it as well, that's true.
But he... You know, Trump?
This is not Churchill, Hitler and Stalin.
-Thank God, in the case of the two...
-Is that good or bad?
In the case of the two latter ones, undoubtedly a good thing, yeah.
So I think that that's kind of weird.
Step back from it a minute, people.
These are not great statesman or people.
What are they?
They're grubby little opportunists
who are riding the coat-tails of history.
I cannot believe that I am going to open this show by doing this
after so many years of vociferously opposing Nigel Farage,
but I have to say
that he is being a bit too modest here,
because he was one of the nominees for Time's Person of the Year,
and it was given to Donald Trump,
and he very generously didn't mention that
when he was commending Trump.
I do think it has to be Trump,
because nobody else has provided such an earthquake
as he has done in our politics.
And he is, after all, a consummate showman.
And the line I like, living in America and watching this unfold...
Hillary Clinton had an enormous victory in the popular vote,
but you can't cry about that,
you can't change the rules of the game
after it has been played.
Donald Trump won the electoral college, that is it.
However, the favourite comment I had from somebody
was that they said that
all the journalists took Donald Trump literally
with what he said, but not seriously,
whereas the voters took him seriously, but not literally.
They didn't care if this policy or that policy
was contradictory or whatever, they didn't care about that.
What they cared for was that
he stood for anti-political correctness.
They were so tired of being trodden on and sat on by the establishment
and not listened to
that they said, "Let's give the showman a chance,"
and that's what's happened.
And with... I will say that with one exception,
I think that Donald Trump
is appointing some very, very good people to his Cabinet.
The name may be Mad Dog Mattis, but this guy is a boss
and I am really encouraged by the shape of his Cabinet so far.
Any views from our audience?
Yes, the woman there in the fourth row on the right. Yes.
Hasn't Donald Trump legitimised locker room talk about women
on an absolutely unacceptable level?
He's also legitimised now saying one thing in politics
as long as it gets a vote,
and then doing something completely different.
So it's all right to say all of these things
if you're a politician.
Once you get elected, you can do whatever you want.
That's what he's legitimised.
Richard... Richard Burgon, what do you think of that?
Well, I was disappointed
when Donald Trump got given this award,
not least because of some of the things that he has said about women,
absolutely outrageous, misogynistic things,
not least because of some of the things he said about immigrants
and people of ethnic minority background.
He said, didn't he, that not one single extra Muslim
should be allowed in the United States?
But ultimately, I think the thing about Donald Trump is this.
He's raised people's hope through a fake anti-elitist approach.
I believe, unlike Nigel, that he will disappoint.
He railed against the bankers,
he railed against the current economic way of doing things,
but then appoints somebody from Goldman Sachs
into a top position.
So I don't think it's a welcome thing,
and I am surprised to see Nigel trumpeting Trump so much.
He's trumpeted him so much,
he's now in a situation where he has to decide his own future
whether to be a Tory Lord or Trump's butler.
-Is that the choice you face?
-No, I don't think it is.
No. I mean, the thing is, I do know Trump,
I did support Trump in the campaign, I spoke with him on a platform.
I completely accept, you know,
that he says things that shock everybody.
But he also apologises, which is interesting.
Very few people in politics ever apologise.
He rode back on that Muslim comment in quite a big way.
He apologised for locker room talk.
I agree with you. It was unacceptable.
But he has shown he's able to say, "I'm sorry. I went too far."
As far as our relationship with him is concerned,
-just remember this...
-Our or your?
-As a country?
-As a country.
This is a strong Anglophile president of the USA.
He likes this country, he admires this country,
he wants us to get back to having...
well, not just a special relationship, an even better one,
starting with a free trade deal,
and I think this government, having been so rude about him...
Virtually every Cabinet member was rude about him during the campaign.
I think they need to eat some humble pie,
go and see him as quickly as they can,
and let's get cracking with a new relationship.
He also likes Russia quite a lot.
-Well, it's interesting...
-And Putin's politics.
He doesn't want to go to war with Russia.
And it's very interesting that we have Hillary,
we have the European Union,
we have the political class in this country,
all want Putin to be the enemy.
Very keen to go on provoking Putin.
I wouldn't want to live in Putin's Russia any more than you would,
but I do think Trump's idea,
he'll get on a plane - well, his plane, of course -
and he will go to Moscow and sit down and talk with people.
That is a much better way to deal with international affairs
than to provoke Russia
by trying to get the Ukraine to join the EU...
WOMAN SHOUTS OUT OK, all right, all right.
I think we've made some very bad mistakes...
Nigel, thank you very much. Sarah Wollaston, I want to bring you in.
Nigel just said almost every politician in this country
made the great mistake of insulting him.
Would you agree with that?
I was one of the people that felt that if you are going to exclude
all Muslims from this country from the States,
why should he be allowed a free pass here?
And I'm glad he apologised for that.
Did he apologise for stereotyping
all Mexicans as rapists, for example?
I think some of his divisive, nasty politics,
it's really depressing.
And isn't it terrible that we're starting from such a low baseline
that what we're hoping for
is that he doesn't carry out any of his promises?
OK, and you, sir.
Just bringing it back to the locker room talk
and everything like that.
Yes, Trump has said one thing and he's done another.
Politicians have been doing this for hundreds of years.
They always will. The difference with Trump
is that he's honest about it and, like Nigel just said,
he apologises when he gets it wrong.
OK. And you, sir, and then we're going to go on,
because we can't...
Yes. Yes. You, sir?
Don't the extreme results and characters that we've seen this year
reflect the lack of ability of mainstream politics
to provide a moderate response to genuine concerns of many people?
Will Self, do you agree with that?
I think things are changing very, very fundamentally
and, yes, I think that in a way,
our politics hasn't been responsive enough
to the popular will in the past.
There's no question about that.
But whether the solution to that is to start electing people
who have the views that Trump has,
I'm not quite so sure that that's the case.
And you, in the front.
I personally feel that everyone in the world, now,
is getting so disillusioned by what's going on.
Everyone needs some sort of change,
and I think people like Trump and yourself and all that
have stirred it up.
That's the wrong word to use.
Because everyone is so confused about what's going on in the world,
with Brexit and what's happening in China and Japan
and all those sort of places,
and I just think we need to have someone
that's there to, sort of, kind of, be a central point,
to try and...even out.
OK. Yes, Sarah?
There are other voices.
This year, we heard someone say
that we have far more in common with each other
than that which divides us, and that person was Jo Cox,
and frankly, she should have been Person Of The Year.
Ten minutes on Trump is enough, I think, for tonight.
Just a word - we're going to be back after Christmas with Question Time
in Solihull and Peterborough, or So-li-hull, if you prefer.
If you'd like to join the audience, the address is there.
I'll give it again at the end, make a note if you want it.
Let's go on to the other topic of the year. Oscar Huxley?
Do you think a deal for Brexit
could realistically be achieved in two years?
Can the deal be achieved in two years,
which is what the leaders of the negotiations in Europe
are saying it has to be?
Is it too complicated?
Well, in order to get a deal in the first place,
what we need is a plan,
and that's why I was so pleased that yesterday, in Parliament,
Labour MPs forced the agenda so that, at long last,
Theresa May has agreed to put a plan before the British people,
and that's really, really important.
It's taken a long time,
but they're going to publish a plan before 31 March.
Of course, it's complicated.
A binary choice was given in the EU referendum.
48% of people, of course, voted to remain.
52% voted to leave. But what we need now is a plan.
Britain should leave the European Union,
because Britain voted to leave the European Union.
Labour will vote to trigger Article 50.
We will hold the government to account, not to ransom.
But what we need to do is stop talking,
like the Liberal Democrats are, about the 48%,
stop talking, like Ukip are, about the 52%,
and let's bring people together.
Let's talk about the 100% and move forward as a country
for a post-Brexit Britain
that works in the interests of everyone in the country.
That's fine words, but can you get that by October 2018,
in your view, in a way that you want,
when the House of Commons may well be divided over what is negotiated?
Well, it is possible, but nothing in politics,
and nothing in economics, is certain.
Of course it's going to be complex, but what we need is a situation
where a blank cheque isn't given to Theresa May,
an unelected Prime Minister, to do what she wishes.
People have voted by majority to leave the European Union,
therefore, we need to leave the European Union.
But I think voices from all sides of the House of Commons,
and voices from right across the country,
both from the 48% and the 52%, need to be heard
if we're going to get any kind of deal
that keeps this country together.
Sarah Wollaston, what's your view of the politics of this
and whether it'll all be achieved within the two years?
It's immensely complex. I think it will take two years.
But there are things that we need to get on with straightaway.
We need to get on with sorting out status of the EU nationals
living in the UK already and British nationals living in Europe,
and I hope that that will be the first priority.
But also, we've got to keep the tone friendly.
I think that having a belligerent tone
against our European partners isn't helpful
and we need to keep the tone right and positive,
because it's in all of our interests
for this to be a friendly separation.
We want to be good neighbours.
But do you think that Conservative and Labour will come together
to agree what's on offer?
-Or is there...?
-Well, I'm an optimist.
Two years from now, are we going to be divided on it?
I'm an optimist, but people will see,
on both sides of the Channel and across political parties,
that this is too serious for it to become a divisive issue,
and we must work together in the national interest.
All right. Well, Nigel Farage,
do things that are too serious not become divisive?
I mean, six months have nearly gone by since the referendum.
We've wasted all this time already.
Had the Prime Minister shown real leadership,
triggered Article 50, we wouldn't be going through court cases.
We'd actually be getting on with the process
and my concern is that we trigger Article 50 in March -
that's what the House of Commons agreed to do -
and if we spend two years negotiating this,
that'll be another net £20 billion we've paid away.
It'll be another, at current rates,
at least another 500,000 people who come to settle in this country, net.
But, more crucially, it'll be lost opportunities.
I talked about America earlier.
There are 24 countries, since we left the EU,
that have come to us and said,
"We want to have a trade deal with the United Kingdom."
It's very difficult for us to do any of that
whilst we are going through this process.
So, I would say this - if we wanted to,
we could leave in two weeks.
If we wanted to.
We could just say, "That's it, we're leaving,
"we'll trade with you on WTO rules."
The reason it's going to take a long time
is because my impression is that this government
and most people in Parliament want us to stay in the single market,
and I think we're going to finish up in the spring of '19, effectively,
with a Norwegian-type deal,
which is not what the people of this country voted for.
But that, I think, is where it's going to go.
So, Nigel Farage, when you said, as you did,
that a 52/48 result would be unfinished business...
I didn't, for me, no.
I said, within the Conservative party,
it would be unfinished business. What was clear...
Sorry, no. My question is...
Maybe you did or didn't say that, but the question is whether,
if that's so, what you're saying now,
which is that it's going to be a Norwegian-style deal,
which is not what we wanted, what's going to happen then?
Well, I think that if we don't get our fishing waters back,
we don't get our passports back,
we don't get away from the European Court Of Justice,
having the ability to rule on our businesses, our industries,
and if we don't get the ability to make our own trade deals,
then I think the 2020 general election
could well be a very big replay of this referendum, because I think...
The one thing I do know - and, yes, of course,
there were all sorts of things said on both sides of the argument,
the temperature got raised to a level
we've never seen in this country -
what I do know is that the 17.5 million people
that voted for it, despite being told we'd fall off a cliff
and terrible things would happen to us,
they voted for it because they meant it
and I think they are not going to change their mind on this.
So I hope that the local MP here gives us some real leadership,
because frankly, in the first few months,
we've had precious little, and if she tells us, clearly,
that we're not just leaving the European Union,
we're leaving the single market,
because that's what people have voted for,
I would then be very reassured and the next general election
would be more or less business as usual.
But that's not where I think it's going.
I said we were in Maidenhead, which is, of course,
Theresa May's constituency. Will Self?
Yeah, I think Nigel's analysis is probably right, actually.
The Cabinet is clearly divided, there isn't an agreement
on whether to go for a hard or soft Brexit.
I think what people voted for was a variety of things,
who voted for Brexit.
They voted because they felt their livelihoods under threat,
they felt, in some sense,
that they were losing a kind of control in their communities.
If they were feeling very, very immiserated,
they perhaps were being thrust into bigotry
and looking around at society
and reacting against our immigrant communities,
and all of that was pretty unsavoury.
But I don't think what they actually voted for
was to suffer the kind of catastrophic...not recession,
but, I would wager, depression that will occur
if we go straight to WTO rules.
You know, why on earth wouldn't the Europeans, for example, Nigel,
bring back the denomination of Eurobonds from the City
to Frankfurt or wherever they choose to do it?
I have to say, you know, I think a lot of the Brexiteers
are still living in a bit of a weird kind of, you know...
You hear them saying, "Bring back this, bring back that,
"bring back the birch, bring back bicycles,
"bring back spinsters,
"bring back Two Way Family Forces Favourites."
What else are you going to bring back?
Bring back democracy. Bring back democracy.
Bring back self-government. That's what we voted for.
That's what we want.
That's what you say people voted for.
But actually, Nigel, I think a rerun of...
A rerun of the issues
within the context of the political system we're used to
is far more democratic than a winner-takes-all referendum.
And all of this kind of talk that the politicians are doing,
now, because they're desperately worried about their vote,
is to say, "Oh, no, we'll respect the will of the people."
The will of those incredibly politically committed people, Nigel,
who you now have summoned into a great civil society.
We're all going to be working away, aren't we?
Well, he says we are going to end up with a solution like Norway,
and that isn't what people want.
Yeah, well, I like Norway.
LAUGHTER OK. Let's just silence, if we can,
our panel just for a moment - I'll come to you, Louise -
and hear what do you think here in Maidenhead.
The woman there - how you voted, I don't know.
-But what did you want to see happen?
-I voted to remain.
But I feel people were misled by politicians,
saying the 350 million we are paying to Europe will go to the NHS.
The same politicians changed their mind next day,
saying, "Oh, no, we haven't got any money now."
-What do you want to see happen now?
What do you want to see happen now?
Well, we have to trade with Europe.
-We'll still be paying money to Europe, to trade with them.
If we want to do business with them.
All right, let's go to some other people.
The woman there, in blue, or purple, is it? There.
Um...I think the Westminster cartel are a bit slow to realise
that politics are being done differently, now,
and I think the basic problem that we've got at the moment
is that we've got a Parliament that doesn't really represent the people.
And what do you mean by "done differently"?
Um...I think it's the grassroots that put Trump where he is,
the grassroots that put Jeremy Corbyn where he is,
the grassroots that caused Brexit to happen,
and I think they're still living in a world
where they haven't realised
that, with the advent of the internet
and the ability of people to be able
to communicate with each other a lot more,
that politics is being done differently.
All right. Louise Mensch, I'll come to you. Louise Mensch.
I think there's a lot to what that lady just said, actually.
One of the things that annoys me, watching from afar,
is the sort of Mystic Meg that goes on -
"Well, we voted for this and we voted for that,
"people really think this and they really think that."
I think the only thing you can take from it
is the question that was on the ballot paper.
And what went on the ballot paper was,
"Should we leave the European Union?"
And the answer was yes. Beyond that, there was no detail.
It wasn't on the ballot paper.
If people had required all the detail in advance,
presumably, they would have voted no.
So somebody has to do those negotiations,
and I don't agree with Nigel.
I think that here, in Maidenhead, Theresa will go into Europe
and she will swing her handbag pretty hard.
There was a study out recently
that said optimistic women live longer,
so that's good for me, because I'm very optimistic!
And I actually believe that we hold all the cards,
and I'm sick and tired
of being...Britain being pushed around when there is no need.
There is a deficit, a trade deficit, from the EU to us.
Germany, the breadbasket of the EU, sells most of its cars in Britain.
They desperately need to trade with us.
So all I think we need is a bit of firmness,
a bit of friendliness, a bit of politeness -
we're leading the EU, we're not leaving Europe -
and we should be able to get a good deal
and get a good deal quickly.
And as for Theresa delaying and wasting time,
I don't think that's what's happening at all.
What she's doing is she's stacking her hand,
like a good negotiator.
She went to India and she did some trade deals in advance.
It's true that we can't sign them until we leave the EU,
but we can line them up.
And that is what she's doing,
and I think she's playing it very well, very cleverly.
She went to India and did a trade deal,
but she had to agree for the free movement of workforce,
around the world.
That is a lot of Mickey Mouse crap.
Sorry! It really is,
because nobody is going to give you something totally...
"Come in", like that.
They're going to want to trade and they want to trade with their people
and they want to trade with their technology.
It's not as straightforward as anyone makes out.
If you go with the referendum, in the North,
I can take you to towns where the real reason was immigration.
Without a shadow of a doubt.
And everybody believed that we were going to not have
the free movement of people,
we weren't going to have immigration.
But if we don't have immigration in the South,
who's going to wipe my backside when I go into a nursing home?
Because I can tell you, categorically,
there is not one, if you like, English national
working in most of our nursing homes.
They're Filipinos, they're from Asia...
-I very much doubt that.
-That's not quite correct.
Sorry - so, you are Theresa May. What would you do?
If I was Theresa May,
I'd go back to the country, because I tell you...
Well, that is the whole point. You don't accept the result.
You do not accept the result of the referendum and,
if I may say so, there is a complete difference
between open, free movement
and having a fair, free immigration policy.
Brexit, I was for Brexit. It's not anti-immigration.
It's saying that somebody from Belgium shouldn't have
special privileges over somebody from Bangladesh.
She wants to trade, that's a good thing.
Hold on. Let's pick up the point you made.
Richard Burgon, do you think she should have an election
to clear the air?
-You do. What do you think?
-Explain all the facts to the country
and actually explain it.
Because we don't know. I could have changed my mind.
I could have really changed my mind if I thought it was right,
but I voted Remain, because I didn't really know what I was going into.
OK. Richard Burgon.
All this talk of will Theresa May hold an election...
-He wants one.
-All this talk of whether Theresa May
will or will not hold an election before 2020 -
if she can't govern, if she's that weak,
then she'll have to hold an election,
so we'll see what happens.
But I do want to pick up the point that the lady over there made
about politics been done differently,
She made a really important point.
When you talked about
the, surprising to many, election of Trump,
when you talked about the,
surprising to the Conservative government, Brexit vote,
and the, surprising to political figures from past and present,
election of Jeremy Corbyn twice as Labour Party leader.
What we've got now is a questioning of the old way of doing things.
That's what happened in the United States.
In essence, that's what happened with the Brexit vote.
People don't want the status quo to continue,
but the dangerous thing at this point
is the fake antiestablishment politics.
I don't believe that billionaire Donald Trump is antiestablishment.
I don't think he will deliver for the rust belt communities
that voted for him in the United States,
and I don't believe that Ukip now, with a lesser leader,
will deliver on an antiestablishment basis, either.
The NHS, by the way, is Britain's proudest peacetime achievement.
The new leader of Ukip, Paul Nuttall,
wants to privatise it.
There's nothing antiestablishment about that. These...
Is Jeremy Corbyn antiestablishment?
He is. Labour is the antiestablishment party.
That's why the media don't like Jeremy Corbyn.
-Because he is antiestablishment.
That's why the Westminster bubble doesn't like him -
because he is antiestablishment.
OK. We've got a lot we want to talk about.
Does anybody else want to make any points about the way
that Brexit, post the vote, is being handled from the audience?
Yes, you, and then we'll go on,
because we've got lots of other things
that people want to talk about,
and we've covered it regularly and at some length.
-I voted Leave, OK?
It doesn't matter what politician was out there,
I did not want to be part of the EU any longer.
I don't like dictatorship. I think we should make our own decisions
and we should trade with whoever we like
and allow them to trade with us if we accept them.
Roy Horne, let's have your question. Roy Horne.
Is it time to raise basic rate income tax
to improve the NHS and our public services?
I certainly need think we need to raise more money for our NHS
and social care, particularly for social care,
and I very much hope that next week,
when we have the local government settlement,
that we do see a fair settlement for social care,
because the gentleman in the front row here
is going to need some care, hopefully, at some point...
I said that wrong.
But if the gentleman in the front row does need care,
I hope it will be available to him, and unfortunately,
in many parts of the country now,
we're seeing that social care is in a state of collapse.
How do you do it without increasing taxation?
Well, I think that there have been a number of...commissions
that have looked at this,
and I think there are some very interesting proposals
in something called the Barker Commission.
She looked, for example, at whether or not
we could put an extra penny on National Insurance.
-That is tax, isn't it?
-But the time has come...
Hang on, that's being very, very political.
Actually, no, can I explain in one way that I think it isn't?
That is that I think we need to bring in
some intergenerational fairness, here,
and I think one of the proposals was that wealthier people over 40
could contribute more,
because we're the generation that didn't have to pay university fees,
that rode the property boom, and I think that now,
what we're seeing is a shift away from younger people to older people.
So over 40s would pay more in National Insurance.
-That was one of them.
-What do you want to see happen?
You're an expert on this.
I would like to see... Well... I would like to see that we
actually have a national debate about how we do this.
I would like to see our NHS and social care remain free at
the point of use, based on need and not ability to pay.
But because - and happily - we are living so much longer,
we have a 31% increase in the number of people who are
living to 85 and over now, but we need to plan for that.
I think it's great news that people are living longer.
I wish people would stop talking about it in gloomy terms,
but we need to plan for it. It's a success.
But it means that the scale of the increase on demand is enormous and
that means we've got to debate how we're going to raise that money.
And I think it is time now to have a national debate about doing
that on a fair basis and I think an increase in national insurance
and various other mechanisms that have been proposed
by the Barker Commission, and we need to have cross-party consensus.
But do you want us to get up to the level of spending that other
European countries have? We're below France, below Germany,
fewer hospital beds than France, fewer hospital beds than Germany,
and yet we say that the NHS is the only religion left in Britain.
But we have to think of the NHS and social care together.
So if you look at the way the OECD now measure this,
actually we're only slightly below the European average but we're
well below what we should be spending on social care and
-we've got to stop thinking of health and social care as separate...
-..and we need to look at them together.
-The woman there.
I completely agree with your point about health and social care
being together. That's definitely not what's happening at the moment.
It's all very well looking to how we're going to invest
in the future, for when I'm needing care, but my grandma has just
passed away and she didn't get the care that she paid
her whole life for, so I want to know what investment we need to see
immediately to help the most vulnerable people
in our society at the moment.
Will Self, time to raise basic tax to pay is the question.
I don't know about basic tax but, you know, the Gini Coefficient,
which is how you measure
the disparity between the poor and the rich,
has grown wider and wider in this society
since the 1970s while, since the Thatcher regime of the '80s,
our overall levels of income and taxation generally have been low
so, you know, progressive taxation is the sign of a civilised society.
We should raise the top rate of tax, not the standard rate of tax.
You don't have to be a mad Corbynista to understand that.
Trouble is, it's very difficult to do things like this in
the globalised world which Nigel and his merry band are going to shove
into the dustbin of history,
or perhaps throw like a basketball player, because you can't...
You know, you mess around with taxation rates,
money sucks its way out of the city.
You know, national governments have difficulty.
You asked for a national debate on it.
You'd be better off asking for
an international debate on taxation, frankly.
-It doesn't work like that, Roy.
Just because you pay tuppence extra on whether it's the low rate
of tax or ten pence on the top rate of tax,
does not mean that money will go directly
to the National Health Service or social care.
The way it works is the money goes into the middle,
it comes out and, at the minute,
we still have a gap of between £70-80 billion every year.
One of the most uncommented things in British politics
over the last few years is that in the five years
of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition, our national debt -
that's the thing we've been building up ever since we fought Napoleon -
our national debt doubled in those five years,
so are there things we can do?
Well, we could cut taxes, we could cut corporation taxes and get
a lot more companies relocating here.
It sounds today like McDonald's may well be relocating to this country.
-So things we can do...
-Great jobs. Great jobs for everybody.
Mine's a Big Mac.
Do you want them paying their corporate taxes in Switzerland,
in Luxembourg, in Dublin, or in this country?
The answer is let's get those big firms to pay taxes here.
That's been the whole policy we've followed for years and
that's why we've got seriously poor and voted for you, weirdly.
We haven't done that. We haven't done that.
We haven't done that.
We ceded tax sovereignty and we allowed big corporations to
pay tax in Ireland or Luxembourg
and what we ought to be doing is being competitive.
But honestly, the real answer to the question is that I don't
think anyone knows how to deal with this.
You know, Blair, back in '97, thought...
AUDIENCE MEMBER HECKLES
..think the unthinkable about pensions, about health provision.
He ducked it and the truth is we're living longer,
we're all living healthier lifestyles, I'm told,
and I don't think anyone really has got a clue how on earth we're
going to give people pensions and health care 50 years from now.
Your party, you flirted with the idea of an insurance-based
system originally and then you went off it, didn't you?
I looked at what the French are doing and the French were definitely
getting better bang for their buck
with their health system so I think, you know,
there are lots of things about Europe that are wonderful and
we could perhaps learn from, and maybe if other health systems are
better than ours in terms of delivery, we should learn from it.
We'll hear from Louise about the American one.
I want to hear from the woman at the back there.
Yes, the woman with spectacles at the very, very back. Yes.
I just wanted to take Nigel Farage up on his corporation tax point.
-I run a business, I would happily pay more corporation tax
and I think the rich should be taxed more.
It's completely bonkers that you want to make it easier for
people to get rich instead of harder.
I don't like these big companies doing business in this country
but not paying their taxes in this country because they've been lured
away to other parts of Europe. I want them to pay here.
But we don't want those people in our country.
If people are going to leave the country because they're not
going to pay our taxes, let them go.
-Well, we are living...
-They're not civilised.
We are living in this...
Will said we're living in this global world, we have to compete.
-Simple as that.
-I want to go to the hand there,
with spectacles attached, I think. Yes.
Oh... Why does it have to be political?
I would like to see the NHS and education system taken out
and not be a political football all the time.
The money wasted by every government doing different things and
bringing in different aspects of it is horrendous, the money wasted.
Why can't we have two panels of experts
that run these two very important...?
-Oh... You can't have experts.
They're not allowed any more.
Richard... Richard... Richard Burgon.
I think it's really important that people have raised this issue
and I'd like to congratulate the woman at the back who runs
her own business for saying what a lot of people think
but a lot of people think that no-one else agrees with,
that businesspeople, some businesspeople realise that
it was wrong for the Conservative government to cut corporation tax.
It's not good for the NHS,
corporation tax in the United States even is much higher,
it's not good for our public services and, in the long run,
it's not good for the economy in which our businesses operate.
We've also got to look at the facts,
not just at what the tax rates are at the top and elsewhere,
but also the fact of are we collecting the tax?
There have been cuts to tax collection in terms of the staff
in charge of dealing with tax avoidance and tax evasion.
And with the super-rich. I'm not even on about MPs.
I'm on about the super-rich.
There is tax avoidance and tax evasion on an industrial
scale and we need determination to tackle that.
It's the most unpatriotic thing
because when those people don't pay their tax,
they are stealing from every person in this audience, they're
stealing from your schools, they're stealing from your hospitals.
Let's stop praising these people
and electing them as President of the United States
and let's start collecting their tax.
And you think that would fill the gap?
That'd be part of the way to filling the gap.
But we also need a strategy for economic growth.
All right. And Roy Horn says income tax... Dr Horn, I think, yes?
You think a basic rate of income tax should be increased?
I don't think it's just basic rate tax. That brings in a huge tax take.
I think it is the higher rate of taxes as well.
And I accept all the points the panel have made
regarding the evasion of tax.
And the fact you actually need a new tax to deal with corporations,
a sort of tax which they can only set against UK corporation tax.
But I must say the only person on your panel tonight who can
change this is Sarah Wollaston,
and she is crying a lot of crocodile tears over the NHS.
The NHS needs money. Stop giving us this sort of rhetoric.
Start finding more money.
What are her crocodile tears?
-Wait a minute.
-You accuse her of hypocrisy by saying she's...
She will sit there and tell us how difficult it is for the NHS
to be run and how many people need to be treated.
We know the demand of this equation.
The Tories - Sarah Wollaston is in that group -
are not providing the cash to meet that demand.
It is as simple as that.
I will answer your point because it is something... Cos I chair
the Health Committee and this is something that we have looked at.
We're there to hold the government to account and I agree with you
that we're not putting enough in and that I think we have
increased the amount of spending on the total health spend.
Then what are you going to do? You are the government of today.
I think where you misunderstand, sir, is that I'm not government,
that there is another part of Parliament which holds
government to account and that is the Select Committee system
and these are cross-party committees which are there to scrutinise
what the government is doing and actually to hold them to account,
to ask the questions that you're asking,
and I think it's a good thing that there are more politicians
now who come from backgrounds from health, from all sorts of
other backgrounds, who can use the experience that they have to
come in and try and advise government and hold
government to account, and that's the role I have and I think
a lot of people assume that the Select Committees are part of
government but they're not, they're part of Parliament.
-But I understand...
-There are more politicians talking about it
but the Tory government is doing nothing about it.
And what you need is a mechanism in Parliament to hold government
to account to make these points.
-I know it...
-It might be a Tory majority, mightn't it,
in the House of Commons? Which is what you've got.
The one people who can do something about this are doing nothing.
You say you want a mechanism, he says you're doing nothing,
but you do have a majority, as you've just said.
You could just change it tomorrow.
Indeed, and so my role in Parliament is to hold the government to
account and say I think there is more that we could be doing
to make our NHS and social care work better and to suggest
-mechanisms by which they could do that.
-All right. Pause that.
-Louise... OK, doctor. Louise Mensch.
-It might be...
-No, hold on.
..your ideology that's holding you back.
-I want to start off by apologising to Sarah Wollaston.
During the Brexit referendum, I said that for narrow political gain
she had changed her vote and I am sorry, Sarah,
that I said that, because I was completely wrong.
You are one of the best MPs that we have seen in a long time
and this is a doctor who served the public all her life as a GP,
working in rape crisis centres before she was elected
in an open primary and came into politics and when I hear
this level of cynicism I do get slightly annoyed because when
people are doing their best to stand up for the public and they're
just treated like random liars, that is wrong.
Let me say though to the question that was asked in terms of
shall we raise tax on basic ratepayers?
Shall we raise it on corporations? Shall we raise it on the super-rich?
Let's just have a big tax party and raise the tax on everybody.
I don't think that there is this perfect balance between
throwing money at the NHS in the state that it is in,
and receiving the best care.
The question shouldn't be how can we spend more money on the NHS?
The question should be how can we get the best possible care
across disciplines for people that is free for the point of use?
How can we get the best possible NHS?
And the answer isn't just to raise taxes. That makes our economy worse.
Socialism has never succeeded
anywhere in the world that it has been tried.
Capitalism is what makes these things grow.
And we saw in Dfid, the Department for International Development,
they had some openness.
They published where the money went and journalist people were able to
look at it and see all the waste, all the consultants,
all the corruption, all the stuff that's not going to the front line.
I'd like to see some openness in what's spent in the NHS and
see if we can improve our NHS for everybody in this country
without just throwing money at it and that's the answer.
Yes, the woman up over there. I'll come to you in a second. Yes.
I'm glad that you mentioned Dfid, actually,
cos what I think would be important is...is not to look at
increasing taxation but looking at where our budgets are at
the moment and perhaps looking at reducing foreign aid for this
reason, that a lot of the illegal immigrants in this country
are using resources, and we discussed last week that you
can't turn them away from hospitals and you can't turn them away
from schools, so why can we not treat these people,
give them the resources that people who are legal here are
entitled to, but get reimbursement from the foreign aid budget?
So to shuffle the budgets we have, rather than increase taxation.
Use the Dfid budget for people who have arrived here as immigrants?
No, illegal immigrants here, and we can't turn them away,
they're effectively foreigners in this country,
so treat them with the same budget that the foreign aid would
have given them in their countries.
All right. What do you think of that?
What do you think of that particular proposal?
Well, I do want to make the point, by the way,
that our NHS is kept running by migrants who work in our NHS
and we do need to look at increasing training
so we're training more doctors, so we're training more nurses.
But on the point that Louise raised...
On the point she was making, can you just do that one?
-You heard her point?
-I was talking about the budget,
how you pay for it, how you get money,
and it's not so much increasing taxation but looking at
where our budget, our national budget is spent.
We have a huge foreign aid budget,
which is actually quite a lot more than other countries,
and where we're looking after the interests of illegal immigrants
who shouldn't really be here but we don't want to
turn them away from our hospitals and our schools and our housing,
indeed, our prisons, and invoice that back to the foreign aid budget
and get it back in.
The reason for the crisis in our NHS is not the amount of money
that the Conservative government spends on foreign aid.
What I would say is that I do agree that the NHS should be properly
funded but it's not only proper funding that will solve the problem.
I think we have, in Jeremy Hunt, a Health Secretary that is failing.
Guess what - with the exception of Sarah,
none of us have been a doctor.
I think that Jeremy Hunt shouldn't be looking for politicians to
just to give answers on the NHS.
Perhaps he should listen to the professionals who work
in the NHS rather than picking fights with them.
But on the final point, Louise says that socialism has never worked.
-Socialism has worked.
The NHS is a pocket of socialism in our country,
set up by a Labour government, which ensures that we don't have
a situation like we do in the United States
where people feel for your wallet before they feel for your pulse.
I'm really proud of that and so should you be.
I want to... APPLAUSE
I'll take just one more point, from the woman in green there,
then I must move on, I'm afraid.
Hi there. I just wanted to say that although we can put more money into
the NHS, for sure, from tax, but actually how are we going to
be sure that that money is spent wisely?
There's so much bureaucracy going on and it's not necessarily
going into the services that it needs to.
For example, there's a report that came out last week which
showed that suicide is the main cause of death of new mums.
That's something that in perinatal mental health,
you know, we are not saving women who have just had babies.
I've had postnatal illness for 13 years.
Hold on. Just start again. Start again.
I had postnatal illness for 13 years.
No help. OK, and I'll take one more point.
You, sir, in the checked shirt there. Yes.
I do work in the NHS.
-Yes, what as?
-I'm a manager.
It's the only organisation I've worked in where everybody
I've come across is genuinely focused on delivering the objective
of that organisation.
I've served in the Army and that was mostly the case in the Army,
but not universally. In NHS, it is.
With 98% of trusts in deficit, or I forget the exact number,
that's not simply a question of bad management.
There is not enough money and I spend all of my days trying
to work out how we can deliver the care that we need to deliver
with what diminishing amounts of money we have.
-We need more money.
And how do you think that more money should be got?
By increasing taxation or by taking it from other budgets?
I don't know enough about tax mechanisms but there are two people
on the panel that are in a position to change it.
-Once we've left the European Union...
-You're not one of them.
A new hospital every week wouldn't be a bad start, would it?
Let's get on with Article 50 and then we can build more hospitals.
Nigel Farage, were you a supporter of the 350 million thing?
I certainly wasn't. It was stupid.
They should have put 200 million a week,
which would have been factually absolutely correct
and big enough to persuade people there were big savings to be made.
Why did the people wanting Brexit exaggerate?
They didn't need to.
-Why did they?
-Oh, don't ask me.
Inside the mind of Tory politicians, I don't quite get it.
But it was a big mistake.
As I say, whether it was 350 or 200 was irrelevant, really.
It was to say to people we'll make big savings.
But it was a mistake, yes.
-It was a lie.
-A lie, somebody shouts out.
You in orange there, the woman in orange just there on the corner.
Thank you. Yes, I think this is an important debate
but we've always focused on NHS
and yet the real problem, as Sarah pointed out, is it's actually
funding social care, and that is funded by the local authorities.
Until we actually accept that,
we're always going to have pressure on our NHS because it's
shifting what should be something that could be managed quite
effectively and quite locally into very, very expensive centres,
putting real cost pressures on those centres,
so we really do have to get the balance right.
Do you think we expect too much social care to be provided and not
enough to be provided by families and individuals for their families?
I think that's an interesting point because I think most people
think the NHS was there to provide care but increasingly care is
being shifted out of the NHS into families, into social care,
into care homes,
and not being provided directly by the NHS and I think that is
a balance that we need to look at and understand a bit better.
OK. And you, sir, in pink here.
I work as a part-time carer but I just wanted to pick up on what
Louise said earlier when she apologised to Sarah because I
thought it was only Donald Trump had the gall,
or had the ability to apologise.
-What Nigel Farage said at the beginning.
-Thank you, Nigel.
I didn't say only Donald Trump. I said very few.
And she's not in elected politics.
-If she was a Tory MP still, she wouldn't have apologised.
Let's go on. We've only a few minutes left tonight.
-Deborah Dibb, please. Deborah Dibb.
Is Boris Johnson too much of a loose cannon to be Foreign Secretary?
So, we've seen him being reprimanded by Number Ten today
for what he said. Will Self, is he too much of a loose cannon?
Yes, basically. Yeah, he is.
I mean, there was a feeling at Chez Self that perhaps Mrs May had
appointed him deliberately in order to humiliate him but of course,
such is the closeness of our relationship with the House of Saud,
who are our besties, that anything we can do to keep
the House of Saud onside, we're prepared to do.
I mean, after all, you mustn't be too hard on Boris.
He did say the weird thing about the proxy wars, referring to this rather
horrible thing where these people called Houthis are being killed in
Yemen, but what he didn't say,
which would have been much, much more worrying,
was that of course the proxy wars are between...
It's really a family argument
between two sides of our dear friends the House of Saud,
who at any opportunity we like to give arms to.
We actually have a British Army unit in Riyadh at the moment
helping them plan to kill Houthis.
So Boris was really being quite restrained, I think.
And can you have somebody as Foreign Secretary who says things
that are immediately countermanded by Downing Street?
Is this the new politics? Healthy arrangement?
-He's going to go, isn't he? He's toast, isn't he?
Doesn't she need him for the Brexit bit?
Well, I think she can probably come up with something better than that.
But I mean, the whole show may be
about to hit the end of the pier, David.
-No, I don't think he is.
You're saying is Boris too much of a loose cannon to be Foreign Secretary
when Donald Trump has just been elected
President of the United States. I mean, come on.
I don't think that Boris was hard enough on the Saudis and
instead of just saying it's a family war between two sides,
Shia and Sunni, I wish he'd said, "Why are we giving money to this
"hideous nation that is Isis with an embassy,
"that treats women as slaves and chops off their heads in car parks
"and calls them terrorists if they drive?"
We shouldn't have any kind of relationship with Saudi Arabia,
far less have the Foreign Office mandarins sucking up to them
as their ally. And I like about Boris is he speaks his mind and
he is an intelligent man. You may joke but he is clever.
And he will stand up to Putin,
as it's been a bit too much of a lovefest tonight.
I'll say to Nigel Farage, I think your sucking up to this
genocidal tyrant is absolutely disgusting.
This is the man that killed 20-year-old Richard Mayne
and ten other Britons, that shot down MH17,
and the level of sucking up to this disgusting dictator
is something that I hope Boris Johnson will put a stop to
and if he can stand up to the civil servants at the Foreign Office
he'll be doing us all a big favour.
Well, I'm feeling as confused right now as Boris is most days.
I find myself in total agreement
with Will Self and Louise Mensch about Saudi Arabia.
Just back in October, Boris was saying what wonderful trade
we heard with that Saudi Arabia and the other point that wasn't made
is that during all the terrible things that have been happening
in the Middle East, the refugee crisis,
the displaced peoples crisis,
do you know how many people Saudi Arabia have taken?
Not one. And yet they're about to fund 200 new mosques in Germany.
You may say that's fine but when you realise that the Saudis that
have pushed Wahhabism, it's the Saudis that have pushed the burqa,
it's the Saudis that have pushed the extreme form of Islam that is
causing the problem, so I agree with you on that.
-And you might just answer about Putin.
-Look, the point is this.
I said already in this programme to the lady up there,
I would not want to live in Putin's Russia.
I completely understand that, you know, journalists like you
who tweet a lot, I mean, you wouldn't last long over there.
You know, I get all that.
But what I am saying is I do think
our foreign policy provoking him has been a mistake.
We're not provoking him. He's bombed hospitals in Aleppo.
He's killing children right now and you're sucking up to him.
No, no, no. No. Obviously not doing that.
-What I am saying...
-Yes, you are.
..we made a major strategic error with Ukraine.
We helped to topple a democratically elected leader by trying to draw
Ukraine into our orbit and I think we should stop
provoking Putin, start talking to him.
You know, I don't want him as a friend,
but neither do I want to go to war with him.
But the question, is Boris Johnson too much of
a loose cannon to be...? Well, as an individual, clearly he is.
But what I'd like to know is what does he stand for?
What does he stand for?
We haven't really heard, other than encouraging people to protest
-outside the embassy, the Russian Embassy.
Did he stand for Brexit?
I saw him getting off the Eurostar this week
and he looked a bit bewildered, I've got to tell you.
Did he stand for Brexit during the campaign
or are you saying he didn't really stand?
He did stand for Brexit in the campaign and now we hear
he's briefing embassies that he supports free movement.
You're saying we'll deal with some dictators but not with others,
because I don't like Saudi Arabia but I like Putin.
-No, no, no.
-Hold it. Hold it, ma'am. I will go to the man up there
in the pink shirt. You, sir, yes.
Nigel's been after a job as an ambassador for some time.
Perhaps he should be the ambassador to the House of Saud.
And you on the far... Yes.
Earlier Nigel Farage said that the Saudis were funding mosques
in Germany and then straightaway talked about Islamophobia.
Isn't blase comments like that the reason why people are feeling
ostracised from society and moving towards extremist groups?
No. No. No.
I have never, ever, ever wanted, and there are some politicians in
Europe that do, I do not want us to go to war with Islam. Far from it.
I want us to get on in this country.
The damage that has been done by the Saudis pushing a very extreme form
of Islam has done more harm than anything else. I promise you.
A quick point if you would because we're coming to the end. Yes.
You'd said obviously that you don't support or...
You support Donald Trump, don't you?
And he obviously doesn't like Islam, for whatever reason.
OK, I can't go back to Mr Farage
cos we've head quite a lot from him.
-Far too much.
-Richard Burgon. You said it, I didn't say that.
On Boris Johnson,
Boris Johnson is, I'm afraid, an actor and a rank opportunist.
One day he was for Remain,
the next day he was for Leave cos he wanted to be leader
of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister,
then his position on Saudi Arabia,
what can we believe?
Just two or three weeks ago in the House of Commons,
Labour brought a motion calling on a halt on arms sales to Saudi Arabia,
pending an investigation into whether or not
those weapons are being used for war crimes in Yemen.
Boris Johnson stood at the dispatch box and said,
"Nothing to see here, don't worry about it,"
and he voted against the motion.
Then we find he's saying these other things when he's abroad.
He's not a safe pair of hands, he's not responsible,
and who knows what he actually believes in, apart from himself?
He's your man, Sarah Wollaston, your Foreign Secretary.
He absolutely shouldn't lose his job. He spoke the truth.
He called for leaders in the region to stand up and
stop the sectarian bloodbath and that starts a debate and starts us
in that direction, I'd say he's done us all a favour.
OK, thank you.
Time's up. We're back in the New Year
in Solihull, and the week after that in Peterborough,
so come and take part. I can't remain what date it is in Solihull.
It's about two weeks into January. The 12th, I think, of January.
So 12th of January just outside Birmingham
or Peterborough the week after that.
You can go to our website, you can call 0330 123 99 88.
If you're listening on 5 Live to this but not seeing it,
you know the debate goes on, on Question Time Extra Time.
But my thanks now to our panel here and to all of you who came
to take part in this last programme before Christmas.
So, from Maidenhead, until the New Year,
a very Merry Christmas, everyone, and good night.
David Dimbleby presents topical debate from Maidenhead.
On the panel are Conservative chair of the Health Select Committee Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Labour's shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon MP, former leader of UKIP Nigel Farage MEP, novelist Will Self and author and commentator Louise Mensch.