09/03/2017 Question Time


David Dimbleby chairs topical debate from Sunderland. On the panel are Karen Bradley MP, John McDonnell MP, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh MP, Polly Toynbee and Fraser Nelson.

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The Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley.


The Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell.


Kezia Dugdale, leader of the Scottish Labour Party.


The SNP's International Trade spokesperson, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.


The Guardian columnist, Polly Toynbee.


And the editor of The Spectator, Fraser Nelson.


We are very grateful for Kezia Dugdale filling in for John who


missed his flight. Let us have the first question tonight which comes


from Graham McElderry, please. Is breaking the manifesto pledge


justified when it's done in the name of science? Of silence? Fairness.


Right. Is breaking a manifesto pledge justified when it's done in


the name of fairness? Obviously referring to the self-employed and


the increase that was allegedly not in the manifesto. Karen Bradley, is


it justified to break a manifesto pledge? The first thing I would say


is that the manifesto pledge was enacted in legislation in the tax


lock, a piece of legislation that the Government passed in the summer


of 2015. In that, we were very clear that it was the headline rate of


national insurance paid by 85% of people in the country employed class


1 national insurance which is at 12%. What was announced yesterday in


the budget was measures to make or address the unfairness that there


may be between the 85% of employed people and the 15% of self-employed


people who pay lower national insurance. Even with those changes,


that rate of national insurance will still not be as high as the rate


paid by the employed. This funny line in your manifesto, we'll not


raise VAT, national insurance contributions or income tax, should


not have been read to mean we will not raise VAT, national insurance


contributions... We were clear this was the rate of class one national


insurance. Fraser Nelson's a Tory supporter and is shaking his head.


The first page. I've got it here, the Conservative manifesto and I


don't know if you can point us to the bit where it says class 1? We


had a debate in Parliament. Questions were raised. This was the


contract you guys made and you have broken it. It was agreed.




David Cameron tweeted that message out. That was the promise. This is


the pledge. And right now, people are wondering, do Tory promises and


tax mean anything. You are dodging the question, Fraser, because the


question Graham asked is, is breaking a pledge justified when


done in the name of fairness? He said silence, which is exactly what


we have been getting over the pledge. Now, there are some signs


that right now, for example, I would quite like the Conservatives to


break their pledge on the pension credible lock, it's too expensive.


You can go back and say, we made this promise but we are sorry, we'll


have to change it. You need to be honest and level with the country


about what you are doing and why. What we are getting now is, and


Philip Hammond is sneaking it into a budget, and pretending he isn't some


kind of Bill Clinton-style Jesuitical language that he hasn't


broken his pledge when it was there in black-and-white. It's more than


about bad economics, it's about hon city and politics and whether


politicians should be believed. Polly Toynbee? I think the problem


was, this was a ridiculous pledge to make in the first place and I hope


that no party will go into another election ever locking themselves


into things they can't be sure they are going to keep. It may be


necessary to raise taxes. After all, when this manifesto was written, we


didn't have Brexit, all sorts of things have happened. Who knows what


may happen in the next few years related to the world economy or


anything else. I don't think politicians should ever tie their


hands particularly on tax. The reason it was done by George Osborne


and David Cameron was to try to stick it to Labour by saying, look,


we've got this pledge, now you'll have to follow that, knowing that


Labour probably didn't want to spend more. I think that was a very, very


bad reason for doing it. For good economic reasons. The Institute for


Fiscal Studies has said so, lots of other experts have said, don't do


this. Leave yourself some leeway. If you do break a promise, then be


honest and apologise. I mean, this Jesuitical stuff about, well was it


this clause or that clause, absolute nonsense. Who would be a minister,


it's a hard job, you've got to beat the script and I feel very sorry for


you. You'll have to repeat it, but how much easier it would have been


for you to say, sorry, I got that wrong, it is a bad thing to break a


pledge but it's even worse to make an economic mistake. We'll come back


to you, Karen. You, Sir? Self-employed are paying less


national insurance. What about the multi-millionaires not paying their


tax? Please APPLAUSE.


And you, Sir? Regardless of the fairness of it, it's another U-turn


and I was reading yesterday that there was other Tories saying,


quick, let's make a U-turn from this to get past this so we don't have


another U-turn and this is the reason we have such a disconnect in


the country between people and politicians, we cannot trust what


people are saying because there are pledges and they get changed. People


get sick of it. APPLAUSE.


The woman there? Do you see a difference in this manifesto pledge


break to the one of the increase in student fees? Why is it different


and why is there less uproar. From the Lib Dems you mean? Yes.


APPLAUSE. Tasmina act head Sheikh? Thank you.


I think manifesto pledges are important because when a party are


presents themselves to be elected to Government, all parties should stand


and people should be able to rely on that. I agree with Polly, it would


have been better to come clean and say we have made a mistake and


changed our mind, rather than pretending that's not what they


meant in the first place. To follow on the point about self-employed


people and to have a level playing field. Self-employed people don't


have access to parental leave benefits and holiday pay and other


things and they're already finding it very difficult to keep their


businesses going and indeed employ other people. If we are talking


about fairness, I wonder why the Chancellor, if he wants to have a


level playing field, why he didn't hear the voices of the WASPI women


campaigning right outside the House of Commons chamber who wanted


pension changes. APPLAUSE.


Kezia Dugdale? It's very interesting, Tasmina's answer


because of course in Scotland the SNP have promised to scrap the


council tax the last ten years, won two elections on it and failed to do


it. I wish colleagues would take their pledges as seriously as you


do. This is a question that was fundamentally about fairness. I


agree that what the Government were trying to say, self-employed people


pay less tax than people who work for the Government because they


don't get the same rights, so if you are going to increase the tax level,


you should increase their rights as well, give them paternity leave and


sick leave. The important point is, what is happening here, is that the


Tories are forcing low-income and middle-income people in this country


to pay the price of Brexit. There is a simple bit of maths we can do. The


tax increase on businesses will generate ?2 billion of additional


revenue to spend on schools and hospitals. At the same time, the


Tories are going to spend ?70 billion by the end of this


Parliament giving tax cuts for the richest most well-off people in this


country. That's unfair and that's what we must challenge every step of


the way. APPLAUSE.


The man in the checked shirt in the second row? I think the problem here


is, and what we are learning, is that manifestos aren't really worth


the paper they're written on these days.


APPLAUSE. So if we go back to 2010 and the


debacle over the tuition fees and now this, and then what was alluded


to before with the SNP wanting to scrap council tax, was it? Yes Then


how could we possibly believe any political party and what they say in


a manifesto, should a manifesto come with small print attached?




2015 feels like a decade ago. I feel like people are making a big deal


out of nothing. I'm not really bothered, give them some wriggle


room. So you think it's a trivial matter really? It seems like a


farce, I'm not really bothered. So you are a friend of Karen Bradley? I


wouldn't say that, no. Briefly Karen, do you want to answer? You


have been told by Polly that it should never have been there in the


first place? . There are many, many points I could make. There are, but


do you think it's right - the point is, is it right for a Chancellor's


hands to be tied on an issue like national insurance and tax in a


manifesto because there is a thing, it was put in at the last moment,


they couldn't think of anything to say, stick it in, isn't that right?


The Tories never thought they would win a majority, they thought, it


doesn't matter what is in the manifesto, we'll go into a


coalition. Like the referendum indeed. Unfortunately they ended up


winning power. Theresa May can say, I didn't write


this manifesto. There is a case to be made for doing this. It was


tweeted about. Briefly from you? Karen Bradley said it was made


perfectly clear that the promise applied to 85%. Can you tell us how


it was made clear? Well, when we legislated for the tax lock, we


legislated that we would not increase the rate of national


insurance that's paid by 85% of employed people, class 1 national


insurance, 12%. I wanted to pick up on Fraser's point that he said, we


sneaked this out. This wasn't sneaked out, it was a budget where


the Chancellor stood up and said, we know we need to pay for skills,


schools and social care, these are things we need the pay for. We don't


want to burden our children with this. It was very open about that.


There were tax cuts for the richest people in society. Why force that


extra pressure on to low-income people. The point about the changes


is that actually, you have to have taxable profits at over ?32,000


before you'll be paying more tax. It's ?16,000. No, no, the overall


picture, you have to look at the budget in the whole. It's over


?32,000 so actually we are protecting the lower and middle


incomes. People in Sunderland who're working for themselves are people


who're going to be paying the tax. Not the people who work in the City


of London. APPLAUSE.


Jean Hellens? Is the extra ?2 billion funding over the next three


years for social care too little too late?


APPLAUSE. Polly Toynbee? Social care crisis is


quite appalling and the way it's tipping over into the NHS filling up


A departments, unable to get people into beds because other


people are stuck in beds because there are no social care places for


them and no care packages at home, the ?2 billion is over three years.


What the King's Fund says, who're the main auditors of this, they say


we need ?2 billion a year. What this might do is just about hold it as it


is, but as it is, between half a million and a million old people,


frail people, are not getting the care they would have had five years


ago. The crisis is in people's front


rooms, behind closed doors where people can't see it, people not


getting care who really need it, as well as the crisis that we can see


in the NHS and for there to be no money for the NHS is extraordinary.


We have been through six years where never before since the NHS was


founded in 1948 has it ever had such a low settlement. No wonder it's


bursting at if seems -- the seems. The wonder is how the incredible


people in the NHS all the way through have just about kept it on


the road. But it's not going to last and may not last until the end of


this year without us seeing many more people waiting on trolleys,


some who've already been dying in hospital corridors. I think this


Government is extraordinary that in this budget, ?9 billion were taken


off corporation tax for corporations and just think what that money would


have done for the NHS and social care.


APPLAUSE. Fraser Nelson. Because the economy


is going a lot better than people thought this time last year, there


is ?2 billion more to give to help solve the care crisis, but that is a


sticking plaster, only therefore three years. We will have a huge


problem though one has come up with a solution for. The Government has


said it is thinking radically about this and it has to because nothing


seems to be working right now. My hunch is that what you will have to


do is look carefully. For example, the Government has said nobody


should have to sell their homes to pay for their care, but you do get


some people who get care who basically could borrow against the


value of their house. You get people who have greater assets that are not


counted when it comes to what they qualify for. For example, in the


NHS, I do not see that I should get a free GP appointment if I can


afford to pay for it, nor subsidised medicine. So you would have a means


tested NHS? More than right now. The NHS' needs are huge and the


Government's ability to fund it is running out. Those who can afford to


pay more should be asked to and would be happy to. I don't see why


people like me are funded by the NHS, when we can afford to pay ?10


for the NHS. The end of a free at point of use NHS is the end of the


principal. Karen Bradley, Fraser just said nothing is working right


just now. Do you agree? I am not sure I agree on paying for services


on the NHS, which is free at the point of need and the point of


delivery and will remain so. Just to pick up, why do you object to what


he says, that rich people could help the NHS by paying? I agree with


Polly that it would be the end of the NHS because that would be a


fundamental change to the way the NHS works, which I want to protect.


On social care, some areas get this right but 50% of all discharges from


hospital are down to 24 local authority areas. So we know there


are places this is working, places this is right, but there are places


where it is not. The Chancellor has announced ?1 billion up front so


that care packages can be put in place and we can make sure we get


this right so we do not have a crisis next winter. Also over the


summer we will look at what we need to do, fundamental reform, so we can


look at where this is working and replicate that in those places it


simply isn't. In the second row from the back. Why has the Government


decided to stop nursing bursaries? Who is going to deliver this social




Do you want to take that point? We want to professionalise nursing


and have it with the same degree courses as other students. But it is


very, very important to make sure we get social care right. Police said


there was no money for the NHS. There was. There was money for GP


triage at A, and there was money for the sustainability and


transformation plans, so we can get those right, too. Well, it's not


enough money. Last weekend we saw over 200,000 people marching to save


our NHS in England, because the system is in disarray. Fraser speaks


about a lack of money. It is about priorities. The Government has money


to spend and it is up to them to decide what is most important of


them. I believe a National Health Service, social care packages are


part of the social contract that government has with its people. You


are all paying into it, we are all paying into it, so we need it and it


should be there. Today we have the A times which have been released,


which show massive problems in the NHS, and the NHS needs to be saved


but that does not seem to be a priority. In terms of the Budget,


how are people feeling about this Budget? If you are in receipt of


benefits, if you are having ?30 cut each week, do you feel better off


after this Government's decisions? A Budget and Chancellor that does not


mention Brexit when this is what it is all about? We know that the


Chancellor is amassing what has been called a war chest of money to


protect from the impact of Brexit. What the Chancellor should be doing


is spending on the people of this country in need, who need that


support now. That is his responsibility, and he is letting


the country down. APPLAUSE


You, sir, in the fourth row. Until we take politics out of the


National Health Service, we will never find an answer.


APPLAUSE We need some fresh ideas.


I totally agree that at some point, somewhere, we will have to start


paying for the service we get. It is a fantastic service but we need to


be real and take the politics out of it and get it sorted out. What do


you mean exactly, that politicians can't solve it? It is like tennis,


from one side of the court to the other. We need to take the politics


out and have a proper, grown-up talk.


The ?2 billion for social care is less than they spend treating


illnesses caused by obesity. Because people are too reliant on the NHS,


does that add unnecessary stress to an already overcrowded service?


Kezia Dugdale. That last point is about preventative spending, what


can we do to reduce demand on the NHS. To answer the original


question, ?2 billion is welcome but not nearly enough. Over the last


parliament, the Tories cut 4.6 billion out of social care. They are


putting back in half of what they took out previously. The fundamental


tragedy about this is how short term it is in its thinking. We are


talking about the money that we spend helping largely elderly people


living in their own homes safely for as long as they possibly can, to


keep them out of hospital. When we get a bit scrimping with this cash


and do not put enough in, we are putting more pressure on the NHS. It


means an elderly person is more likely to get ill, to sit in A and


wards for weeks on end. Investing is actually saving our NHS money and


that is what is so wrong with the Tory attack on social care. Karen, I


work in the NHS, I look after old people, have done for 20 years.


Everyday I the effects of your government's cuts on the service


that we so desperately wants to deliver for our older persons.


Hospitals should be able to admit older persons straight and welcome


them, not have them waiting for 14 hours on trolleys like your


government does. When it's time for them to be discharged from hospital,


we should be able to do that safely. Your government doesn't get it.


Elderly people, care of the elderly need more resources.


APPLAUSE I don't think anybody in the


government has said we don't need to address this problem.


That's why the money was put in in the Budget. We do need to make sure


we get this right but it's not just about money. When we know that 50%


of delayed discharges are down to 24 local authority areas, we know there


are places getting this right. We need to learn from them and get it


right across the board. Because I agree with you and I want this for


my constituents, too, that when they leave hospital... First, frail and


elderly can go into hospital and be admitted quickly and appropriately.


That is why GP triage at A will make such a difference. But also


that there are care packages and places for them, because nobody


wants to be in hospital longer than they have to be. Which of these


councils are you referring to? 24 councils are responsible for 50% of


delayed discharges. And yet councils have all had their budgets cut by


40% on average. APPLAUSE


Some councils, we are seeing this working, for example in Salford.


It is working because health and social are working together. We know


it can be done and we can get it right. The situation is very


different in different parts of the country, different in terms of the


consideration of the NHS and in terms of the councils. It is not


just a question of some councils are wonderful. 40% cuts to councils,


another 20% cuts to councils in this Budget. And today, figures revealed


devastating delays in April waiting for cancer care, the longest delays


for most people since the targets were first put there. I would like


to take up that point, why can't we take politics out of the NHS? The


thing is, the NHS is at the heart of politics. There are a lot of


Conservatives, maybe not Karen, but maybe Fraser, there are a lot who


really don't believe in it, who think people should pay for


themselves. Because we want to reform it? Reform always means


privatisation, insurance systems, going the American way. So it is


political and we have to fight for it very hard to keep it as it is, as


it was founded. And we know, because when Labour was in power they did


manage to get the funding right up to the level about equal to


comparable countries in Europe, the results absolutely soared and


waiting lists dropped. APPLAUSE


Nathan Cinnamond, if you would stand by for your question.


We're in Bognor Regis next week, the week after we'll be in Bangor.


And for a Special Question Time on Brexit we'll be in Birmingham


on Monday 27th March where our audience will be able


to put their questions about what Brexit might mean


for Britain to some of the leading politicians


That's from 8.30 to 10pm on Monday March 27th.


Come and join our audience for any of those programmes.


Nathan Cinnamond, your question. Should a snap election be called to


give the Government a Brexit date? What William Hague was calling for


this week, to give the Government a mandate for Brexit. Kezia Dugdale.


No. My reason for thinking that is that Brexit has caused a tremendous


amount of instability and insecurity across the country. As I speak to


people and businesses, what they want is a period of peace and calm,


time to understand what is happening, to digestive and move on


from there. If we had a general election now it would, dare I say


it, bring out the worst in politics and politicians, back to manifesto


drafting, not doing what was in the interests of the country. How do you


think Labour would fare? Brilliantly. Is that why you are a


bit off the idea? I wonder why you would think that, David. Honestly, I


have gone through a Scottish parliament election and a Scottish


general election in recent times and a referendum, too, so I do not fear


elections. I have experienced them, and experienced bad results. That is


not my motivation for being opposed. I think it is bad for the country,


and I will do what I think is in the interests of working people and that


is why I don't think it is time for a general election. Are you in


favour of an election? Yes, I am a Labour supporter and the reason I


want a general election is because it would get rid of Jeremy Corbyn.


APPLAUSE Who would you have instead?


There are several leading... Chuka Umunna. I would love to see him as


leader of the Labour Party. There are people out there that can offer


credible opposition to the Conservative government, which it


needs at the moment. Almost anyone. Yes, perhaps. Polly Toynbee. I find


it extraordinary that Theresa May would not be very tempted, because


if she had an election now, she would absolutely wipe the floor and


get a stonking great majority. Labour is sadly 16 points behind.


Worse than that, the underlying figures, a poll today, shows that


John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn are 31 points behind on who do you most


trust on the economy. As this Budget comes out, which is profoundly


unfair to ordinary working families, who Theresa May is supposed to be


supporting, despite the injustice of the Budget, despite the fact that


there are lots of alternative ways of doing it better, even so, Corbyn


and McDonnell, and I am sorry he is not here today because I intended to


direct it at him, not at Kezia Dugdale, who did not support Corbyn


in the last election, I think it is a tragedy. I think Labour has to


come to its senses. When you look at the prospect of what would happen if


there was an election now, you might get rid of Corbyn, but you would get


rid of 100 Labour MPs, good people, at the same time. I agree it is a


pity he is not here, but what is it that you have against Jeremy Corbyn


and John McDonnell? Well, you know, he won with a great success in the


beginning and a tremendous coterie of people who flocked to Labour, who


were not really Labour people, and you thought, let's see if he can


work his magic? Can it work? Can you affect a wider part of the


population, enough voters to rally to his flag? He has had plenty of


time to try, and after Copeland, after a by-election, a ward


by-election here, lost to the Liberal Democrats... Are you taunted


by your old SDP party and a revival of that? No, been there, done it and


it didn't work. What do you make of William Hague and Andrew Lansley


also said there should be an election? You can see why the Tories


find it attractive because never have they been more confident of


winning a general election. The polls suggest they would get a


majority of over 100. It is difficult to think of the Labour


Party getting any weaker, although Jeremy Corbyn always astonishes in


his ability to make it worse. Theresa May said she wouldn't do it,


and we know she keeps her promises. She says rightly that we need


stability. She does not really need a bigger majority because right


now... Hang on a second, the point William Hague is getting at is that


she wasn't, I know we don't elect prime ministers, but she never had


an election with her name as Prime Minister, and she has Brexit


negotiations to conduct which will be tough. Those are his grounds, to


give her a mandate to go to other countries and say, I have the conch.


Her authority in Parliament is strong. Everybody knows she could


put to the sword quite a few Labour MPs and Labour TSB had enough


misery. It would be unfair to inflict more on it. The one thing


that makes me change my mind on this, if the Tories are going to


think we are not bound by the last manifesto, they are honour bound to


get a new mandate. They are not going to be too happy about things


in the document, so really under the system you need to be bound by a


manifesto. If you don't want to be, you need to ask for a new mandate.


Even even over the issue in the budget? If she thinks the last


manifesto is rendered null and void by Brexit and her leadership and


there's a fair argument for that, that doesn't make the case for get


ago fresh mandate. Nathan what do you think? Are you in favour of an


election? Political circumstances change and it's not the ideal


situation but I think the Conservative Party did say, we will


have a referendum, presumably with the intention of delivering on it


soiful like we should continue as we are, let Jeremy Corbyn sap the soul


out of the Labour Party and let those who believe in the will of the


people continue. APPLAUSE.


You on the gangway? In regards to the general election, I don't


believe it should happen because the last thing we need is to split up


the country again when we are going through a Brexit. We need to ensure


that we are showing a united front for all of Europe and all of the


rest of the world. Secondly in regards to Jeremy Corbyn, it's not


such Jeremy but it was the ideas that he brought forward, he went


back to the original reasons that the Labour Party was actually


created to ensure that the working class people had a voice and that's


what people went back for and voted for. It wasn't the man, it was the


ideas. APPLAUSE.


So you believe he should stay there and fight his corner whenever the


election comes? I don't think we should have an election yet. Whether


it's the time that he's there at that point, but we do need to change


how Labour is working because the middle of the road doesn't work any


more. OK. And you, Sir? You on the


gangway? About Brexit, I can't understand when in 1973 when it was,


we only voted for Common Market for trade. You look at it at the end of


the day, why did the British people not get a vote on the other six


treaties that was passed? Well they've had it now haven't they, the


vote, and they're leaving, so it's all done and dusted.


APPLAUSE. Let's go back to the election.


Tasmina? I fail to see what the point of a snap election would be,


apart from just to demonstrate the further arrogance of the Tory party,


because I find it distasteful when the Chancellor at the despatch box


talked about the last Labour Government as if there was never


going to be another Labour Government ever in Consigning the


Labour Party to history which of course isn't good for democracy. But


clearly, those that want a snap election would want to install even


more Tory MPs at Westminster and that's not good for the whole of the


country. I think what the most disturbing thing out of all of this


is, is that the Labour Party have allowed themselves to get into a


position where the Conservative Party know they can do what they


want now and conceivably for the next five years in advance of


another election because there's no prospect of the Labour Party winning


that election. That's not good in times right now when there needs to


be a really strong and united opposition to stand up to the cuts


that are coming from this Government and also to stand up in terms of the


Brexit deal. Now, whilst I understand that the people of


Sunderland voted to leave the European Union, the terms upon which


you leave and ensuring that your jobs and your industries are


protected once you leave should be of paramount importance to the


Government. But what it appears to me to be the case, is that having a


snap election or increasing the number of Tory MPs, is because, as


is always the case, the Conservatives want to ride rough


shot over everybody and get everything their own way without


having to seek further recourse to the opposition. That's why those


Brexiteers in the Tory party wanted Brexit in the first place because


they didn't want anyone to have any involvement in all of their


decisions. You say it's arrogant to want to win an election? It's


arrogant to suggest there wouldn't be another Labour Government. He


said at the despatch box, the last Labour Government. On the topic of


should there be another snap election, there shouldn't be. There


is work to be done on building a stronger country, and delivering the


vote that the British people had last year and so decisively voted to


leave the European Union. What about getting a mandate to negotiate in


the way that Theresa May wants to negotiate because we don't know what


she wants to do. We have that mandate. The people said they want


to leave the European Union. But how to leave is another question. The


British people said they want to leave the European Union. They


didn't define how, and if there was a general election, she could


explain how she wanted the relationship with the rest of the


world to be. There is a process of negotiation and we have to get the


best and right deal for Britain. But I think on elections and referendum,


I think to be honest with you, we've all probably had enough of them and


I could do with a little bit of time to get on with the job. No more


elections. You, Sir? The fourth row? Just to the original question,


surely the vote on the 23rd June was enough of a mandate that the people


of the UK wanted to leave the European Union. But what if it


doesn't come out the way, I mean you presumably have a view about how you


wanted to come out, if it doesn't come out the way you want? The way


that we want it, it's gone through the House of Commons where they've


got the debate, they're trying to say there's going to be a vote after


the negotiations, so that surely is enough for the elected members of


Parliament. You, Sir, on the left? Just going back to the point on the


Labour Party, as weak as the Labour Party is today, they also lost a lot


of votes and a lot of seats during the back end of Tony Blair's reign,


during the Brown years, the Miliband years. During the Miliband years, I


remember leading up to the last general election, one of the pledges


that they put out to try and inspire voters like me to try and


differentiate themselves from the Tory party was, we are not going to


keep university fees at ?9,000, instead we are going to lower them


to ?6,000. That to me summed up the Labour Party at the time, they were


an, I can't believe it's Tory, Tory light. We do need an opposition but


we need an opposition that is different, OK, we need choices in


the political spectrum in this country. You agree with the woman on


the gangway? Absolutely. Even if not enough people are choosing it, what


do you say? Tony Blair disillusioned a lot of people from politics, a lot


of long time Labour voters. APPLAUSE.


OK. A brief point from you, Sir, then another question? I think that


the problem Jeremy Corbyn's got is, he's got to unite staunch remainers


mainly down south and staunch levers, Brexiteers in the north and


I just don't think any leader is capable of doing it for Labour.


We have got a question, I'm tempted to come to this question in a


moment. I think we might come to this question. Debra?


Should Scotland be given a second referendum?


Tasmina you start this because it's tied up with Brexit? After the


referendum vote, it's clear, Sunderland, the votes to leave are


the same but in the opposite direction in terms of how Scotland


voted to remain. The First Minister was were scleer that she wanted to


discuss and agree with Theresa May as far as possible a solution that


would make sure that the views and aspirations of the people of


Scotland were also taken into account. So she presented a plan.


Scotland's place in Europe to the Prime Minister. That included three


points, first one being, could we all stay part of the single market


because we think that's best for the whole of the UK. Helpfully, Fraser's


brought the manifesto here which says yes to the single market. It's


all in there in terms of what the Conservative Party were elected on.


The second point and, as we all know, the Prime Minister's ruled


that out, I don't think that was a particularly wise thing to do before


going to the negotiating table at Brussels. The second point in the


First Minister's plan was for there to be a differentiated agreement for


Scotland much like you're hoping and anticipating that a differentiated


agreement would be in place for Sunderland and your car


manufacturers here also. We are waiting for the Prime Minister to


confirm whether or not she's going to find such an arrangement


acceptable, an arrangement which has the support of the Scottish


Parliament. So hang on a second. You are not asking, as I thought your


leader was, for a referendum next autumn? I'm just getting to the


third point, David. Thank you. The third point is if the Prime Minister


doesn't agree, the First Minister has a mandate to call another


independence referendum because her manifesto detailed that if we were


to be taken out of the EU against our will, that should be the case.


The people of Scotland voted in their numbers, 62-38 to remain in


the European Union and the Scottish Parliament also gave her a mandate


to negotiate the best deal for Scotland. Polly Toynbee, do you


think there should be a second referendum and do you think there


will be one, more to the point. We were talking about a general


election not being necessary? I think the Scots should be able to


have referendums whenever they want them. Any old time? Why not? Until


one side wins? Or until the SNP wins? Thai got their own Parliament.


If the Scottish people feel they are having too many referendums, they'll


start saying no. I think what is very depressing is the extent to


which Theresa May has done so little to woo the Scots to keep them in the


union. This is the Conservative and Unionist Party. She went the other


day, it was very odd and said to them, it's senseless for you to want


to leave your biggest market. You thought hang on a minute, she's just


taking us out of her biggest market, out of the biggest single market.


She doesn't have very good arguments. On the other hand, the


Scots are saying, we want to stay in the EU, a good market, you know, and


yet they're wrenching themselves away from us. All of this disunity


is a terrible disaster for all of us. I desperately want Scotland to


stay in the union and want Britain to stay as close to Europe as


possible in the single market which is in your manifesto and in the


customs union. Otherwise I fear disaster and for places like


Sunderland, more than anywhere, more than the south, which is curby, it's


here that we'll be hurt most if we go right out. There are many points.


The gentleman up there said as if there was on the one kind of out,


there are many. I think we should have a question on the deal she gets


at the end as to whether we all agree with it.


APPLAUSE. The woman there. In relation to the


original question. Absolutely not should Scotland have another


referendum. We opted as a United Kingdom to vote to leave or to stay


with the European Union, so therefore we should all just deal


with... No, Tasmina, you spoke at great length and I've got to crack


the whip so we get fourthth further down the line. Fraser Nelson? There


was appetite in Scotland for a referendum. Three in four Scots


don't want it, something like that. Nicola Sturgeon does sign to be in a


hurry, she saying 2018 -- does seem to be in a hurry. You would think


you wanted to wait until at least we left the EU. The Prime Minister


wants... Tasmina. We had a compromised document. We had that on


agreed terms. You've had your stay, you've spoken at some length.


I'mancing Fraser's point -- I'm answering Fraser's point. I suspect


Nicola Sturgeon is in a hurry because her own rating is tanking


her approval rating which is going down, she knows she might not get


control of the next Scottish Parliament so she's only got a small


window to play havoc with the union once again. Kezia Dugdale, as leader


of the Labour Party in Scotland, would you welcome one? The question


was should Scotland be given one. The question should be, does


Scotland want one and Fraser's right. The country is divided


enough, we do not want to be divided again. And can I say to you very


clearly, I spent two-and-a-half years of my life campaigning for a


no-vote and it was an active referendum, the talk of the pubs, on


the buses, all the time for two-and-a-half year, 85% voted no,


and I understand there are some people now who're angry at Brexit,


angry at the Tories and think it's time to go again, but the harsh


reality is this, the economic case for independence is weaker now than


it was a few years ago and what the SNP are arguing for is false hope.


They're saying to the poorest people in this country that it can be


different. They'll be faced with a ?15 billion deficit if we were


independent meaning less money for education and NHS, that's why I


always oppose independence. APPLAUSE.


As a member of the Conservative and unionist party, I want Scotland to


remain part of the UK. Even though I will be at the England- Scotland


Calcutta rugby match, I still want Scotland to be a very important part


of the union. And I just think, in the same way that I respect the


decision the British people made on June the 23rd, I respect the


decision that Scottish people made to stay in the union. If Parliament


asked for a referendum, would you think they should be given a second


referendum? The people of Scotland do not want that. If the Scottish


Parliament said they want a referendum, as suggested, do you


think the British government should stand in the way? We should do what


is right for Scotland and the UK. Let's get it clear... Your party, at


the point when we are taking power back from Brussels and giving them


to Westminster and Edinburgh, you want to... No, wait, let's not get


into that argument. You just said you think if the Scottish Parliament


asked for a referendum, the Westminster Parliament, under


Theresa May, should deny them that right. The people of Scotland do not


want another referendum and I respect that decision. This will


rumble on. A question about education from David Russell. Why


are so many politicians, mostly but not exclusively from the left, so


violently opposed to grammar schools? Are you violently opposed


to grammar schools? I am all for them. Fraser Nelson. I am going to


let you down here, I am afraid, I am not a fan of grammar schools either.


I am against academic selection. We have done some incredible things


with education in England. Wider you think you are letting me down? The


thing is that grammar schools, for a while they did really good at


getting people from poorer backgrounds, bright people, into


places they would otherwise not be. But now we have far better tools


than that. We have academies, free schools. So many more devices to get


people from all abilities and to put the resource into educating kids


from all abilities. If you allow new schools to take the smartest kids,


that's probably what they will do. They should not have that option. We


should have all community schools. We are seeing new schools like Moss


born Academy, once one of the worst schools in England, which is now one


of the best performing in England. The Conservatives should build on


their success, rather than go back to grammar schools, which I think is


a bit of a trap. APPLAUSE


The Chancellor said they were raising money for 148 new free


schools, which would be free to select pupils based on academic


ability, which is a grammar school, in effect.


I think the point is that previously it has been against the law for


selective schools to expand to open new free schools. I think we should


have the maximum amount of choice in our education system. There is


nothing wrong with wanting the best for our children and the most


appropriate school place for them. That means some selective schools,


but also faith schools, specialist mathematics schools, schools that


specialise in the things that are right for our young people. Grammar


schools is the question, not faith schools. The funding announced


yesterday is for all schools, and we should have that choice. There is


nothing wrong in my view in wanting to make sure that every child has


the chance to have the best school place they possibly can. How can the


government justify spending 320 million on new free schools, new


grammar schools, when currently state schools are really struggling


to make ends meet? Surely you are just papering over the cracks.




Surely we should not be taking an elitist approach to this and should


be funding schools on the whole, investing in children who don't have


the opportunity to get to a grammar school. Do you think these 140 new


schools will all turn into grammar schools, selective schools? We can't


predict the future, but it's very likely. In Scotland, we do not have


grammar schools, free schools or academies and we look at you in


England and think you are a bit odd. White whose system works best? I am


well up for debating that. Why are Scottish standards of education


falling? That is the SNP's fault. Really! I could tell you why that is


at great length, or I could just tell you the SNP have cut ?1.5


billion from local services in five years, and if you do that local


councils, schools will suffer as a consequence. Let's stick with the


idea of grammar schools. The reason I am so opposed to grammar schools


is that I can't stomach the fact that you might right of someone's


life chances at the age of 11, or indeed the age of 14. -- you might


write them off. Do you mind being a Standard Bearer? Like Kezia, I am


Scottish so we never went through the grammar school thing. However,


if you failed your 11 plus, you had years and years to catch up and move


forward. I had a guy in my Scottish Highers class, who started in the


medial and worked his way year. He was only able to do that because he


was selected according to his ability. You are in favour of


selection as it goes along. Absolutely. Karen talks about


choice, but whose choice? The trouble with these 140 new schools


is that it is the schools who will be choosing, not the parents


choosing the schools. That seems the wrong way round. If you have a lot


of selective schools, and a lot of faith schools are pretty selective,


if you have a lot of selective schools and a lot of them


increasingly under the Conservative government have become undercover


selective schools, it means the schools next door becoming de facto


secondary modern. Very few people choose the secondary modern. You


might choose a compensate. So the mud -- the notion of choice seems


wrong. And the question of money, exactly as you were saying, is that


1 billion has been put into capital for schools but nearly all of it is


going to this handful of hand-picked new free schools, and very little to


schools that desperately need capital funding.


APPLAUSE The woman in green.


I am a school governor, and if the Government's position really is to


give every child the best opportunity in education, why are we


seeing such drastic cuts that are going to mean redundancies and


bigger classes? It does not stack up. It doesn't. You have not spoken


on this. Are you going to remove my gag for this question, David? I


never tried to gag you. It is more than I could manage. Is that an


invitation to speak. But not too long. Education is always a work in


progress. Always we have to continue to work to improve our standards.


Karen mentioned grammar schools gave every child a chance. They don't.


They give a chance to those children whose parents can afford the tuition


for the exams to get into those schools in the first place. I have


to pick up on Kezia's point about the Scottish education system. Of


course there is work to be done, we can agree on that. But we have


record levels of attainment in Scotland. Not true. 93.3% of young


people are going into education, training or employment when they


leave school, and that is fantastic. 55% of young people are going to


university, where we have free tuition. The rich and poor gap is


absolutely disgraceful. There is work to be done on improving... You


are less likely to get into university if you are poor and


Scottish. The work is being done but we should not take away from the


success of the education system, nor the fact that you give every child a


chance by giving them access to free education, the pinnacle of Scottish


education. We are in Sunderland, so let's go back to Sunderland and take


a question from you, sir. I am all for grammar schools and it sounds


like it is the left that is trying to bring everyone down while the


government is trying to give everyone an opportunity to go to


where they need to go. The left does not like school choice. They don't


like toys in the NHS as well. Last question from Linda Wood. Should MPs


be allowed to do paid work outside of Parliament? I suspect that was


provoked by the news that the former Chancellor is getting ?650,000 a


year, is that right, as an adviser to Blackrock, on top of his salary.


Should that be allowed? Polly Toynbee, you first. No, and I think


it has pretty much done in any chance he has for the future. That


will be held against him. It is a huge political blunder. He says he


is only doing four days a month. I would not have anybody investing in


Blackrock if that is their idea of value for money. If you look at what


he did to the economy, to the country, when he was in control


himself, who would pay him that amount of money to advise anybody's


company? APPLAUSE


Karen Bradley, briefly, if you would.


We should have people from all backgrounds and experiences in


Parliament, and if that means they are earning additional money, as


long as it is declared and the voters know about it, it is down to


them and their voters at the election, as to whether the voters


support them. And 650 grand, that is his affair. If it is declared and


clear and open, we want people from all backgrounds. He is doing what?


He is taking one day off work, isn't he? Kezia. I represent Edinburgh and


the Lothians in the Scottish Parliament, 450,000 people I am


supposed to give voice to. That is a full-time job. The Labour Party in


Scotland is clearly opposed to second jobs, so much so that we are


about to legislate against it. APPLAUSE


Tasmina, are you in favour of legislation against second jobs?


Our MP work is our primary job and I don't know how you could do your job


properly if it was not a full-time job. Fraser Nelson. It is good to


let politicians get out of it, but he is being paid as much as a


premiership footballer. If he was one, that would be all right. Maybe


you should cap it, you can't more than double your salary.


And a reminder, we'll be in Birmingham for


a Special Question Time on Monday March 27th,


between 8.30 and 10pm, looking at Brexit when our audience


will be able to put their questions on what Britain after Brexit might


look like to some of the politicians at the heart of the process.


To come and take part in our audience in Bognor Regis,


Bangor or Birmingham go to our website, or


If you are listening tonight on Radio 5 live, the debate goes


Thanks to our panellists, particularly to Kezia, who nobly


drove down from Edinburgh. We are grateful to you, and to all of you


who came to Sunderland to take part. Until next Thursday, good night.


The 24-year-old man has been charged with murder.


You made sure an innocent man is charged!


What gives you the right to say that he's innocent?


David Dimbleby chairs topical debate from Sunderland.

On the panel are culture secretary Karen Bradley MP, shadow chancellor John McDonnell MP, SNP international trade spokesperson Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh MP, Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, and Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator.

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