08/12/2013 Sunday Politics East


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The morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics. First, some Sunday


morning cheer, if you are an MP, that is. You are set to get an 11%


pay rise. The Chancellor has gone from zero to hero for some, who


credit him for turning the economy around. We will be taking a fine


tooth comb to his Autumn Statement. Should this man get a pay rise?


Complete denial about the central facts... And 11% pay rise for Ed


Balls? He was certainly working hard to be heard last Thursday. We will


be reviewing his performance. What about this man? We will be joined by


With me, three scruffy eternal students. They would celebrate if


they achieved a C+. But they are all we could afford and there will be no


pay rise for them. They will be glued to an electronic device


throughout the programme and if we are lucky they might stop there


internet shopping and tweet something intelligent. But don't


hold your breath. Janan Ganesh, Helen Lewis and Nick Watt. Last


week, storms were battering Britain, the East Coast was hit by the worst


tidal surge in more than a century, thousands of people had to be


evacuated and Nelson Mandela died. The downed the news agenda was the


small matter of George Osborne's Autumn Statement. His giveaways, his


takeaways and his first opportunity to announce some economic cheer.


It might be winter outside, but in the studios it is awesome. Autumn


Statement time. -- autumn. This is a moment of TV history. Normally when


the Chancellor delivers these statements, he has to say the


economy is actually a lot worse than everyone predicted. This time, he


can stand up and say the economy is better than everybody predicted. A


lot better. Britain is currently growing faster


than any other major advanced economy. Faster than France, which


is contracting, faster than Germany, faster even than America. At this


Autumn Statement last year, there were repeated predictions that


borrowing would go up. Instead, borrowing is down, and down


significantly more than forecast. But George Osborne said the good


numbers still mean more tough decisions. We will not give up in


giving in our country's debts. We will not spend the money from lower


borrowing. We will not squander the harder and games of the British


people. -- hard earned gains. In other news, further cuts to


government departments. The state pension age will increase in the


2040s, affecting people in their 40s now. There were some goodies, like


discounted business rates for small businesses, free school meals for


infants, favoured by the Lib Dems, and those marriage tax breaks below


that by the Tories. But, as with all big fiscal events, it takes a while


for the details to sink in. The marriage tax allowance is a


long-standing commitment that he could not abandon. It does help


those families were only one goes out to work. It does not go to


higher rate taxpayers, I don't think. Perhaps it does, I can't


remember. It makes me feel guilty, I am taking them very seriously,


but... Shall I give you them? There is the Autumn Statement. Have that,


a free gift from the Sunday Politics. Is there no limit to the


generosity of the BBC? In the meantime, Twitter was awash


with unflattering pictures of a red-faced Ed Balls giving his


response. Some pictures were more than flattering than others. Is Ed


Balls OK? Should we be worrying about him? He looks very stressed.


There is nothing to worry about in terms of Ed balls and his analysis.


He and Ed Miliband have been setting the pace in terms of the focus on


the living standards crisis. It was very telling that there was not a


mention of living standards last time, we got 12 mentions this time.


Never mind what he was saying, by now everybody has a copy of the


all-important paperwork. Time to hand over to number cruncher


extraordinaire Paul Johnson from the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Of


course it means that things are significantly better this year and


next than we thought they would be just nine months ago. That has got


to be good news. But it is also worth looking at the growth figures


a few years out. They have been revised down a little bit. The


reason is, the view of the office of budget response ability is that the


long run has not really changed very much. We are getting a bit more


growth now, but their view is that it is at the cost of a little bit of


the growth we will expect in the years after the next general


election. As the day draws to a close, the one place there has


definitely been no growth is the graphics budget of my colleague,


Robert Preston. It's as good as it gets these days, I don't think the


viewers will mind. It's very Sunday Politics, if I might say. That is


very worrying. Was this a watershed for George


Osborne? Was it a watershed for Ed Balls? We can all make the case that


it is the wrong sort of recovery, a consumer led recovery. People are


spending money they don't have. At the end of the day, it for George


Osborne, it is growth, the first time he has been able to talk about


growth. It allows him to control the baseline, the fiscal debate for the


next generation. For Ed Balls, nearly not a good performance. But


don't write this man off. Judging by Twitter, Iain Dale, no friend of it


all is, said he did a good interview this morning on a rival TV channel.


I feel the fact that the Tories hate Ed Balls so passionately is probably


a good reason that they should hang onto him, in that Labour sends his


effectiveness. May be the Tories hope that they hold on to him as


well? A lot of people shouting at someone and mocking their speech


impediment, that is politics that doesn't make me want to engage. The


takeaway will be lots of people thinking that none of these people


are people they like. Who is the main heckler on the Labour front


bench West remarked I suppose he can't cast any stones. It would be


easier to sympathise with him, if it were not that David Cameron went


through a similar situation and John Bercow did not step in to stop the


wall of noise. It was guaranteed a good happen to a Labour politician.


It's painful to remove him because he had a Parliamentary following and


he will kick up a fuss. I think he's much more pragmatic on issues like


business than Ed Miliband. I'm told he wasn't keen on the energy price


freeze. The problem with Ed Balls, to have the first words that you


say, the Chancellor is in denial, after he is presiding over growth,


it means nobody is listening to you. Who would replace him? Certainly not


Alistair Darling, the side of the referendum and even afterwards. Ed


Balls did get a roasting in the press and on Twitter. He seemed to


disappear from public view following the Autumn Statement. But a little


bird tells me he managed one interview this morning before he


went off to an all-important piano recital this afternoon. Watch out,


Jools Holland, he could be after your job. How bad was his


performance on Thursday? Here is the Shadow Chancellor in action. The


Chancellor is incomplete denial about the central facts that are


defining this government in office. He used to say he would balance the


books in 2015. Now he wants us to congratulate him for saying he will


do it in 2019, Mr Speaker. With this government, it is clearly not just


the badgers that move the goalposts. No mention of the universal credit


in the statement. IDS, in deep shambles, Mr Speaker. Chris Leslie


is the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury. He is Ed Balls's deputy,


in other words. Why do more and more of your Labour colleagues think that


your boss is below the water line? I'm not sure I accept the premise of


your suggestion. I don't think my colleagues believe that George


Osborne has a superior argument. I think Ed Balls will certainly trying


his best, loud and clear, to make the case there is a cost of living


crisis in this country and the Chancellor doesn't understand this.


That was essentially the heat of the debate on the Autumn Statement day.


One leading Labour MPs said to me that Ed Balls is always looking


back, fixated with the rear-view mirror, that was the exact quote. A


Labour MP told Sky News, Labour has a strong argument to make,


unfortunately it was not made well in the chamber today. Quoting the


Daily Mail, this is two poor performances. A quote that I can't


use because it uses too many four letter words. Baroness Armstrong,


speaking at Progress, a former Labour Cabinet minister, we are not


sufficiently concerned about public spending, how we would pay for what


we are talking about. Quite a battering? There were two sets of


quotes you were giving. The couple were about the strategy for tackling


public expenditure. I think it's fair that we talk about that. The


rest were pretty unattributed, nameless sources. You have never


given and of the record briefing? We have conversations off camera, but I


don't think you have a wealth of evidence to say that somehow Ed


Balls's arguments were wrong. He was making the point that, ultimately,


it is a government that does not have its finger on the pulse about


what most of your viewers are concerned about, that wages are


being squeezed and prices are getting higher and higher. You have


had time to study the Autumn Statement. What part of it does


Labour disagree with? It is a very big question. I think the overall


strategy the Autumn Statement is setting out does not deal with the


fundamental problems in the economy. What measures do you disagree with?


A lot of it is the absence of measures we would have put in if we


were doing the Autumn Statement. If you are going to deal with the cost


of living crisis, you have got to get productivity levels up in our


society. One of the best ways of doing that is on infrastructure. We


believe in bringing forward 's investment and housing, getting some


of the fundamentals right in our economy. By planting, the business


lending we have to do. We have seen a lamentable failing. There are big


structural reforms that we need. Ultimately, the public are concerned


about the cost of living crisis. That has got to be childcare help, a


10p starting rate of tax. Above all, and energy price freeze, which


still this government are refusing to do. On Friday, you told me you


supported the principle of a welfare cap. But you change bling claim the


Chancellor's cap included pensions. You have now seen the figures, and


it does not include pensions, correct? We do want a welfare cap.


The government have said they are going to put more detail on this in


the March budget. But it does not include pensions? We think they have


a short term approach to the welfare cap. They put in some pension


benefits. The state pension is not in the short-term plan because, as


we believe, a triple lock is a good idea. In the longer term, if you are


talking about structural welfare issues, you do have to think about


pensions because they have to be sustainable if we are living


longer. I think that is about the careful management. Let me show you


what Ed Balls said on this programme at the start of the summer. As for


pensioners, I think this is a real question. George Osborne is going to


announce his cap in two weeks time. I don't know if he will exclude


pension spending or including. Our plan is to include it. Pension


spending would be included in the welfare cap? That is our plan,


exactly what I just said. Over the long-term, if you have a serious


welfare cap structural welfare issues, over 20, 30, 40 year


period, you can't say that we will not work and pensions as part of


that. Pensions would be part of the Labour cap? In the longer term. What


is the longer term? If you win 2015? We want to stick with the triple


lock on the pension, that is the Government approach to their


short-term welfare cap. In the longer term, for example, on the


winter fuel allowance, we should not necessarily be... There are lots of


benefits... I understand that, I am talking about the basic state


pension, is that part of your welfare cap or not? In a 20, 30, 40


year frame... Even you will not be around in government, then. You are


writing me off already. You have to focus on welfare changes, pensions


have to be affordable as part of that. It's dangerous to say, well,


if you are going to have a serious welfare cap, we should not look at


pensions cost. It would be irresponsible. Will pensions be part


of the cap from 2015 until 2020 if Labour is in power? In our long-term


cap we have to make sure... I'm talking about 2015-16. We haven't


seen the proposition the Government has put before us.


You claim people of ?1600 worse off under the coalition. That is true


when you compare to pay and prices. Can you confirm that calculation


does not include the ?700 tax cut from raising the income tax


threshold, huge savings on mortgages because of low interest or the


freezing of council tax? It doesn't include the tax and benefit


changes. If you do want to look at those, last year, the ISS said they


could be making people worse off. It might not include those factors. The


VAT increase, tax credit cuts, child benefit cuts, they all add up. My


understanding is that the ISS figures have said people are ?891


worse off if you look at the tax and benefit changes since 2010. You have


to look at wages and prices. The ISS confirmed our approach was broadly


the right way of assessing what is happening. The Chancellor was


saying, real household disposable incomes are rising. He is completely


out of touch. Can you sum up the macro economic policy for Labour?


Invest in the future, make sure we have the right approach for the


long-term politicking. Tackle the cost of living crisis people are


facing. Now, let's talk to the Financial


Secretary to the Treasury, Sajid Javid.


Discovery, underpinned by rising house prices, increasing personal


debt, do you accept that is unsustainable?


I accept the OBE are also said the reason why this country is facing


more these challenges -- OBR. That is because we went through a


Labour recession, the worst we have seen in 100 years. But do you accept


that a recovery underpinned by these things I have just read out isn't


sustainable? We set out a long-term plan for recovery, and again this


week. We have shown with the tough decisions we have made already, the


country can enjoy a recovery. There are still a lot of difficult


decisions. The biggest risk are Labour's plans. The March


projections work at for those -- for both business investment and


exports. Suddenly it is expected to rise 5% next year, a 10% turnaround


in investment. How is it credible? I have been in business before


politics. Any business person listening will know, when you have


gone through a recession, the deepest in 100 years, it will hit


investment, profits, you can't make plans again until you have


confidence in the economy. That is what this country is seeing now


under this government. This is an assumption made independently. The


fall in business investment is because of the recession. The


forecast increases, 5% next year, and so on, it is based on the


independent forecast. Based on fact. If you look at the investment plans


of companies, this week, the Chancellor went to JCB, Jaguar Land


Rover has plans to create more jobs, these investment plans are


coming through now because of the confidence generated by this


government, such as the cut in corporation tax which Labour would


increase. Are the export forecasts more credible? The 15 years, our


share of world trade decline. Suddenly starting next year, it


stops falling. That's not credible. I worked in finance the 20 years. I


have yet to find any forecast which is fully right. Under Labour, we


would have forecasts made by Gordon Brown who would announce he would


hit all his targets. Now we have an independent system.


Do you accept, if exports or business investment do not pick up,


then a purely consumer led recovery is not sustainable? We need more


than a consumer led recovery. We need consumer investment to go up.


On Xbox, it is noticeable that experts are primarily down because


the markets we trade with, the eurozone markets, are depressed.


Many have just come out of recession. Or they are still in


recession. If you look at exports to non-EU countries, they are up 30%.


120% to China. 100% to Russia. Will you keep the triple lock for


the state pension beyond 2015? Yes, long term. That's why it is not part


of our welfare cap. Chris Leslie cannot answer that question. It is


straightforward. House prices are now rising ten


times faster than average earnings. That's not good. House prices are


rising, partly reflecting recovery. Ten times faster than average


earnings, how can people afford to buy homes if it carries on? What you


would hope, this is the evidence, if you look at the plans of the month


companies, they are planning new homes which will mean that, as this


demand spurs that investment, more homes will come about. We need to


give people the means to buy those homes. We have introduced the help


to buy scheme. I accept the OBR says it will start rising again but as


household debt rises again Petr Cech reduces, -- as household debt


reduces, we need to make sure there are checks in place. Wages have not


been rising in real terms for quite some time. Over the next five years,


even as the economy grows, by about 15% according the OBR to the OBR --


but people will not benefit. These hard-working families will not share


in the recovery. What is the best way to help those families? The


government doesn't set wages. What we can do is influence the overall


economy. We don't have a magic lever. Wages have been stagnating


for five years. When will people get a proper salary? The best way for


wage growth is a growing economy, more jobs. We have more people


employed in Britain today than at any time in our history. The biggest


risk to recovery is if we let Labour into the Treasury with more spending


and more debt. Which got us into this trouble. By whatever measure


you care to choose, would people be better off come the 20 15th election


than they were in 2010? Yes, they will be. Look at jobs. Already more


people employed than at any other time in history. Will they be better


off? The best way for anyone to raise their living standards is


access to a growing job market. But will they be better off? I believe


people will be. Compared to 2010. Yes. In terms of take-home pay. This


is a credible measure. Now, what do you think the Education


Secretary, Michael Gove, was like at school? Hard-working? Hand always


up? Top of the class? Well, if he wasn't passionate about education


then, he is now. In fact, since he took office, it seems he hasn't


stopped working very hard indeed. When the coalition came to power,


Michael Gove evoked Mao, saying they were on a long march to reform


education. Just like Mao, they faced a baby boom, so pledged ?5 billion


for new school places. They extended Labour's academy programme. There's


now about 3,000 in England. But then, they marched even further,


creating free schools run by parents, funded by taxpayers. 174


have opened so far. The schools admission code was changed, to give


parents more choice. And a pupil premium was introduced,


currently, an extra ?900 funding for each disadvantaged child.


An overhaul of the national curriculum provoked criticism.


Chairman Gove mocked detractors as "bad academia". But exam reforms


didn't quite go to plan. Although GCSEs got harder, plans to replace


A-levels had to be abandoned. Ultimately, the true test of these


reforms will be what happens in the classroom. The person in charge of


making sure those classrooms are up to scratch in England is the Chief


Inspector Of Schools, head of Ofsted, Michael Wilshaw, who joins


me now. Over the past 15 years, we have


doubled spending on schools even allowing for inflation. By


international standards, we are stagnating, why? I said last year


that mediocrity had settled into the system. Too many children were


coasting in schools, which is why we changed the grading structure, we


removed that awful word, satisfactory. Saying that good is


now the only acceptable standard and schools had a limited time in which


to get to that. We are seeing gradually, it is difficult to say


this in the week we have had the OECD report. Things have gradually


improved. I will come onto that in a minute. Explain this. International


comparisons show us flat-lining or even falling in some subjects,


including science. For 20 years, our domestic exam results just got


better and better. Was this a piece of fiction fed to us by the


educational establishment, was there a cover-up? There is no question


there has grade inflation. I speak as an ex-headteacher who saw that in


examinations. Perceptual state is actually doing something about that.


Most good heads will say that is about time. We have to be credible.


Do politicians and educationalists conspire in this grade inflation? It


might suit politicians to say things are going up every year. As a head,


I knew a lot of the exams youngsters were sitting were not up to scratch.


The latest OECD study places us 36th for maths, 23rd reading, slipping


down to 21st in science. Yet, Ofsted, your organisation,


designates 80% of schools as good or outstanding. That's another fiction.


This year, we have. If we see this level of progress, it has been a


remarkable progress over the last years since we changed our grading


structure, then... In a year, absolutely. We have better teachers


coming into our school system. Better leaders. Better schools. The


big challenge for our country is making sure that progress is


maintained which will eventually translate into better outcomes.


These figures are pretty much up-to-date. Are you saying within a


year 80% of the schools are good enough? All of the schools we


upgraded have had better grades in GCSE and grade 2. We have to make


sure that is maintained. The Government has based its reforms on


similar reforms in Sweden. In opposition they were endlessly going


to Stockholm to find out how it was done. Swedish schools are doing even


worse than ours in the tables. Why are we copying failure? The


secretary of state believes, and I actually believe, as somebody who


has come from an academy model, that if you hand power and resources, you


hand autonomy to the people on the ground, to the people in the


classroom, in the corridors, in the playgrounds, things work. If you


allow the great monoliths that used to have responsibility for education


in the past to take control again, you will see a reverse in standards.


You have got to actually empower those people that make the


difference. That is why autonomy and freedom is important. We spent a lot


of money moving what were local authority schools to become


academies and new free school czar being set up as well. When the


academies are pretty much the same level of autonomy, the free school


is maybe a little bit more, the evidence we have had so far is that


they don't really perform any better than local authority schools?


Indeed, Encore GCSE subjects, they might even be doing worse? These are


early days. We will say more about this on weapons they when we produce


the annual report. The sponsored academies that took over the worst


schools in the country, in the most difficult circumstances, in the most


disadvantaged communities, are doing much better now. What about GCSE?


They are doing GCSE equivalents, the lass academic subjects question my


cull OK, but they are doing better than previous schools. If you look


at the top performing nations in the world, they focus on the quality of


teaching. The best graduates coming to education. They professionally


develop them. They make sure they spot the brightest talents and get


them into positions as soon as possible. We have got to do the same


if we are going to catch up with those jurisdictions. This isn't just


a British problem. It seems to be a European problem. The East Asian


countries now dominate the top of the tables. What's the most


important lesson we should learn from East Asia? Attitudes to work.


We need to make sure that we invest in good teachers, good leaders. We


have to make sure that students have the right attitudes to work. It's no


good getting good people into the classroom and then seeing them part


of teaching by bad behaviour, disaffected youngsters and poor


leadership. We see young teachers doing well for a time and then being


put off teaching and leaving from that sort of culture in our schools.


Are you a cheerleader for government education policy rather than


independent inspectors? I am independent, Ofsted is independent.


I believe we are saying the right things on standards. The Association


of teachers and lecturers say you are an arm of government. The NUT


has called for your resignation. Another wants to abolish or


Inspectorate. Have you become a pariah amongst teaching unions? If


we are challenging schools to become better, that is our job, we will


carry on doing that. I am not going to preside over the status quo. We


will challenge the system to do better, we will challenge schools


and colleges to do better. We will also challenge government when we


think they are going wrong. Many people in the education


establishment think your primary purpose is to do the Government's


bidding by shepherding schools into becoming academies. Not true at all.


You are a big supporter of academies? Yes, I believe the people


that do the business in schools are the people that are free to do what


is necessary to raise standards. I am a big supporter of autonomy in


the school system. But where we see academies Vale, where we see free


schools fail, we will say so. The study does not find much evidence


that competition and choice raise standards, but it does go with you


and say that strong school leadership, coupled with autonomy,


can make a difference. Can somebody with no experience in education be


in charge of a school? A lot of hot air has been expounded on the issue


of whether teachers should be qualified or not. If qualified


teacher status was the gold standard, why is it that one in


three teachers, one in three lessons that will observe are not good


enough. Taught by qualified teachers. I've not yet met a


headteacher that has not appointed by qualified staff when they cannot


get qualified teachers. Their job is to make sure they get accredited as


soon as possible and come up to scratch in the classroom. Do you


support the use of unqualified teachers? I do. I have done it. If I


could not get a maths, physics or modern languages teacher and I


thought somebody straight from university, without qualified


teachers start this, that they could communicate well with youngsters, I


would get that person into the classroom and get them accredited if


they delivered the goods. If we are going to allow schools to have more


autonomy and not be accountable to local authorities, free schools


academies, don't you have to do... New entrants will be coming into the


market, the educational marketplace. Do you not have to act more quickly


when it is clear, and there has been examined recently, where it is


clearly going badly wrong and children's education at risk?


Absolutely. I made a point to the secretary of state and it is


something I will talk more about over the coming year. We need to be


in school is much more often. If a school fails at the moment, or


underperforms, goes into this new category, Her Majesty 's inspectors


stay with that institution until it improves. Sometimes we don't see a


school for five or seven years. That is wrong. My argument is that Ofsted


should pay a much greater part in monitoring the performance of


schools between those inspections. Are you enjoying it? It is a tough


job. Are you enjoying it? This is a tough job, but I enjoy it.


Sometimes. You are watching Sunday Politics.


Coming up in just over 20 minutes, Diane Abbott will be joining us. And


we will Hello and welcome to the part of


Sunday Politics that's just for us. Here in the East. I'm Etholle


George. Coming up: The government investigation into the running of a


chain of academy schools. And want to choose the candidate to


stand as your MP? If so, open primaries are the way to go. And


we've had two this weekend. It is important that we all have a


say. It's very helpful, I hope. But first, let's meet this week's


guests. Therese Coffey is the Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal.


And Stuart Agnew, from the UK Independence Party, is one of the


Members of the European Parliament for the East of England. Welcome to


you both. Let's talk first about one of our biggest political stories


this week. The government's decision to scrap


tolling on the new A14 scheme in Cambridgeshire. It was widely


attacked as a tax on the county of Suffolk, because drivers would have


had no choice but to use the toll road to get in and out of the


county. Therese Coffey, you led the campaign


to stop the holes. You must feel vindicated? `` de tolls.


I am really pleased. I think, together, we did a very good job. We


put across the argument that this would be bad for our county.


Why did it take so long for the government to realise there would be


no alternative to the toll? I have been working on this for some


time, trying to put across a case. But the consultation helped us to


get the voice of many groups about why this would be the wrong thing to


do. Stuart Agnew, it sounds a bit


European, this idea of tolls. Would this have been right?


Our group in our counsel put forward a motion that this was the wrong


thing to do, but we were last at. I am pleased that we have been shown


to be right. Many people would have just gone on an alternative route to


avoid the tolls, which would lead to queues in other areas. But there are


other interests than the A14. We are planning to ills a town of 20,000


people somewhere near Cambridge `` built a town. They have said that it


is not currently the right infrastructure to build a town. And


it forms part of nine high`speed routes in Europe. We saw HS2 facing


some barriers. There will be perhaps be NHS three and a number four, as


well. Have we not had three wasted years?


I did not think there was much money left when the last Labour government


said that. What is different is the extra widening of the roads to


support the new town. But I think it is critical to say that we need to


press on with it and make sure that everything is done as quickly as


possible so that the diggers can start in 20 16.


If you follow politics in America, you'll have heard of primaries, the


local elections where the parties choose their presidential


candidates. The day many of them are held is known as Super Tuesday. And


you could say that here we've just had Super Saturday. The


Conservatives held so`called open primaries yesterday in both South


East Cambridgeshire and Northampton South.


They're open because anyone from the constituency can turn up and vote,


whether or not they're Tories. The party was once very keen on the idea


but very few open primaries have actually taken place.


You know how it is. You wait ages for an open primaries to occur, and


then to happen at once. This was Northampton South, where memory ``


many of the people who are voting were not party members.


I think it is good that we all take part.


I think it is democratic. The process was not entirely open,


there was a short list. But it was up to the four candidates to win


over the rumour. Open primaries was the big idea


after the expenses scandal. The Conservatives say that this is


democracy in action, a chance to connect with the public.


Deciding who should be your next MP should be up to the ordinary public


instead of just Parliament. If we let ordinary people decide to what


the next candidates, we will have a proper new mass party organisation


and real ideas of who should be the MPs on safe seats.


It also gives the chance to elect a local candidates.


People like to have a local candidates. How do you do that if


there are hardly any party members to do that? The temptation is for


the national parties to bring someone in from the outside, who do


not have local routes. When the first one of the open


primaries was held in this region for the mayoral election, more than


20,000 people attended. The party chairman was delighted.


I think that the days where the party choose the candidates behind


closed doors are long gone. The electorate should decide.


However, despite his enthusiasm, the idea has not really taken off. The


party are wary of candidates who are chosen by the public.


Boris Johnson was the first one to be chosen by the public. Both of


these people are outspoken and tend to be their own brand. That is what


the party hierarchy does not like. And the region's other primary,


Cambridgeshire, they picked one of the youngest barristers in the


country as the local Conservative candidates.


She comes from the local area. I have been selected in a local


primary, where people are from different parties. I will be putting


forward my constituents when I hopefully represent the area.


Back in Southampton, David McIntosh celebrated his primary win. Neither


candidate had a very large turnout, but they were chosen by more than


just the Conservative Party. Will that make a difference?


After that, let's hear from the winner, David McIntosh. Thank you


for joining us. What was it like to be chosen in an


open primary? I think it was very brave of the


local party to take this decision, and we need to allow them to take


their party democracy, because, when you do have candidates being chosen


behind closed doors, people feel left out of the process. When we see


people wanting to see the decisions taken by people who understand local


communities, it is right that the local people have a decision in who


the people are. Does it matter that only 165 people


voted? It is not exactly mass participation?


I think it would have been a smaller number if it was only open to party


members. It is stimulated debate. People really got involved in it.


People turned up, and the majority of people voted for me.


Half of those who did turn up will not party members. Does that concern


you? No, I think it is great. People look


to local politicians to make decisions. They want to see local


politicians who reflect them. I was born and grew up in Northampton. I


am very proud to serve that leader of the council. I hope that people


will elect me to Westminster in two years time.


This is a marginal seat. You have won the battle, but not the war? The


Labour Party have selected someone from London, who cannot understand


the issues of Northampton in the same way as someone who has lived


here. The former councillor and I have


worked very closely. I am looking forward to working with Ryan to


convince the people that they need a local man.


Therese Coffey, you have had experience in one of these open


primaries in Surrey three years ago. Do you think it makes a difference


to the kind of candidate you get? How was the experience for you?


I think it is a way that you can welcome the candidates. Many places


have now been selected by open primary is in our party. It is good


to open up that selection. I was speaking to a Labour candidate, and


they were intrigued about the idea of allowing people who were not


members of the party to select. We hope that they will vote for us in


the general election. Anyone could turn up. People could


fill the room with those who are trying to ruin the Conservatives


chances? That is always the downside. People


worry that they will fill the room with people voting against them.


However, you are selecting from a series of pretty good people. One


has to remember that. There can be a cynical element, where the Tory high


command says that here is a short list of six people that they have


decided, aren't you so lucky to have a choice?


But that is not what happens. Any of the four people in Northampton would


make a good MP. Has this been dropped as a promising


smack `` a policy? I do think that the idea of having


all postal open primaries has been possibly dropped, because they are


expensive. Perhaps they decided it is not the best use of money at the


moment. What is the point of joining a party


if one of the best things about membership is getting a vote in


these events? You are more likely to become a


person in Westminster if you join a large party, which gives you a


privileged position. I think it is only right that you should put


yourself open to everyone in your constituency, not just the small


committee of that party. Does this threaten a party


politics? Does this threaten the membership that funds the party?


No, I don't think it does. I was selected by a members only meeting,


because we had a membership of 800 people. But the reason that people


join parties is because they want to support that party to get into


government. By contributing through a membership fee, they do their bit,


rather than state funding. A group which runs several academy


schools and colleges in Bedfordshire is under investigation by both the


Department for Education and the Skills Funding Agency. Allegations


against the Barnfield Federation include grade manipulation and


bullying, all of which they strongly refute. Labour says it highlights


the lack of accountability in the academy and free school system. The


findings of the investigation should be published before the end of the


year. It's a set of schools that's been


held up as a shining example by the Education Secretary. But the


Barnfield Federation, which comprises more than half a dozen


schools and academies, is now the subject of an official inquiry.


Barnfield staff are made to sign confidentiality agreements. These


former teachers want to remain anonymous.


It was demanded of them to spoon`feed students to get the


grades. They would be continually be rewriting pieces of coursework.


They'd take the students off timetable, for core subjects in


particular, and then spend a week making sure they rewrote it, rewrote


it until they achieved those grades. The young people with special needs


felt extremely stressed by Barnfield. It caused a lot of


emotional trauma for them. Some students in particular would cry. We


had autistic boys who would rock a lot in the classroom because their


targets were unrealistic. A lot of their mentoring was cut.


There are five campuses already in Luton where 20% of the town's


children are taught. Three other academies in Bedfordshire are on


hold and it wants to expand even further. There are plans for free


schools in Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire.


By these gates is St George's Lower School in Leighton Buzzard. It's


next on the list to be converted into the family of Barnfield


academies. However, that's was supposed to be December first, but


it has now been put on hold until the results of the investigation are


known and the same goes for two more in Bedfordshire.


A separate application for another free school in Mid Beds, which


failed at the eleventh hour, prompted the local MP to raise the


matter at Prime Minister's Questions.


Would the Prime Minister please use his good office to ensure that the


application in mid`Bedfordshire is incorporated into this inquiry?


Gavin Shuker, the Labour MP for Luton has written to the Department


for Education, raising his concerns with the Barnfield Federation.


I'm aware that for many people they've tried to raise the the


concerns with the Department for Education directly and were


misdirected into a route where they couldn't do so. That is a really


serious concern. Have you tried to take your concerns


to the Department for Education? I did try to ring and it was very


difficult. The person at the end of the phone said they didn't know who


I needed to speak to I felt I was going round and round in circles, so


I gave up. Ed Miliband, on a recent visit to


Luton, said the investigation highlights the lack of


accountability of the academy model. I think is an illustration of the


wider problem that there is, which is that Michael Gove thinks that you


can run all of Britain's schools, academy schools and free schools


from central government. That's thousands of schools. Actually, what


you need is local accountability as well, because that is really, really


important for holding schools to account.


In a statement, the Department for Education told us: We have received


allegations relating to Barnfield College and the Barnfield


Federation. We are taking these seriously and


are investigating. The investigation is due to be


published in the next month. The women we've spoken to don't feel


this report will go far enough. I know colleagues that, you know,


sort of raised concerns or raised questions and they'd be demanded to


attend a meeting and would be told off. Basically they had no voice.


The Barnfield Federation said they didn't want to talk to us until


after the investigation, but sent us this statement: We do not recognise


the picture being painted by these accusations and strongly refute


these claims. Our students are our lifeblood and


follow a personalised learning programme suited to their individual


needs and aimed at developing rounded young people who will reach


their potential, prepared for the world of work. The current


investigation is not about education standards. It's about operational


issues. And any lessons about how things were done in the past will be


learned, implemented and adhered to. Last week, the Education Secretary


Michael Gove visited this region and we asked him about the Barnfield


investigation. Was the system of reporting problems to his department


really working? I think our system is working. At


the moment, we are investigating some allegations that have been made


about a variety of things that happened at Barnfield. Until that


investigation concludes, I don't think I can comment on it. It


wouldn't be fair to any of the people involved. One of the things


that we have found, though, is that when other complaints have been made


about things that have been going wrong in other schools, that the


department and its agencies have been as quick to investigate them,


if not quicker, than other the local authorities. But obviously, if there


are people who feel that their attempts to blow the whistle or


register complaints haven't been handled properly, then I am


concerned about it and I want to make sure that they get a proper


answer. We are making sure that we put new


systems in place in order to ensure that academies and free schools are


more accountable than ever before. But they're already more accountable


than local authority schools. It's not just me they're accountable to,


there's an organisation called the Education Funding Agency that


scrutinises their accounts line by line. There's also the case that


because all academies are charities ,that the Charities Commission is


there to make sure that if there is any jiggery`pokery that people face


the music. Therese Coffey, since we spoke to


Michael Gove, people are saying that they tried to contact the Department


for Education, using the relevant e`mail address, but they have not


had a reply. That does sound frustrating and


concerning. I would be happy to try and direct any e`mails that come to


me directly to the appropriate people who are in charge of the


area. If this system is not working, that


is a serious issue, isn't it? I understand that. I am trying to


offer another route, that will be able to identify why the system is


not working as well. We will get the issues recorded and work out the


process of why it has gone wrong. I understand why people want to report


certain schools. That is the right thing to do. I have been working


with other MPs from across the region about another chain of


academies. We have taken our ideas to Lord Nash, and we have been


getting some response from that. Do you feel that the local authority


has a role to play? We background in schools. This is


what we want for social mobility. `` grammar schools. I am disappointed


that there has been trouble in Luton. It originally looked so good


with the original Barnfield college. But there is an ongoing


investigation. I haven't had any representational


letters at all about this. At the start of this academy


programme, we have exonerated it. But how come Michael Gove has so


much information on his desk, thousands of schools. He cannot know


what is going on? The main way that schools are


accountable is to their parents. I think that the Department for


Education is building up extra teams. I think it is disingenuous


for the Labour Party to be asking for accountability when they removed


that accountability. Are you opening up the schools to


more... There has to be a good set of


inspectors. In one year, a school can change dramatically. You can


never rest, because there is a high turnover of pupils and staff. You


must have reporting and inspections. Time for some of the other political


stories in the news this week. From immigration to dancing, it's our 60


second round`up. In less than a month, migrants from


Bulgaria and Romania can come to work here without restrictions. In


Luton, there's already a Roma community of 500. But Peterborough,


says its MP Stuart Jackson, is already bursting at the seams.


Frankly, Peter Brett is full, and we cannot take any more immigration.


That is the message that I have been giving ministers. `` Peter borough.


In the Commons, a plea from MP Philip Hollobone for a new Kettering


junction on the A14 to help congestion and business. But did he


expect these responses? I do not want to see the town going


to a halt. We want to be able to get to the places of work.


The continuing presence of the gentleman on a daily basis is


important. And we know Therese Coffey's


delighted the new A14 in Cambridgeshire will not be tolled.


She tweeted ` I'm so happy I could do a conga down the A14 to


celebrate! And if you do do the conga down the


A14, Therese, please could you let us know. So we can film it! Thank


you for joining us. Thanks very much to both of you.


Therese Coffey and Stuart Agnew. And that's our final Sunday Politics of


2013. We'll be back in the New Year, on January


work... That's all we've got time for. It's back now to Andrew.


Tomorrow, the House of Commons will pay its tributes to Nelson Mandela.


Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.


The first thing I ever did that involved an issue or policy, or


politics, was protest against apartheid.


I think his greatest legacy, to South Africa and to the world, is


the emphasis which he has always put on the need for a conciliation, on


the importance of human rights. He also made us understand that we can


change the world. We can change the world by changing attitudes, by


changing perceptions. For this reason, I would like to pay him


tribute as a great human being, who raised the standard of humanity.


Thank you for the gift of Madiba. Thank you for what he has enabled us


to know we can become. We are joined now by the Labour MP


Diane Abbott. You met Mr Mandela not one after he was released from


prison in 1990. He went as an election observer for the first one


person, one-vote in South Africa. I would guess, of all the people you


met in your life, you must have been the most impressive and biggest


influence? He was extraordinary. He had just come out of prison, 28


years in reason. He had seen a lot of his colleagues tortured, blown up


and killed. He was entirely without bitterness. That is what came


across. That was key to his achievement, to achieve a peaceful


transition. Everybody thought that if you have black majority rule, you


might have a bloodbath. It's down to Nelson Mandela but didn't happen. I


remember FW de Klerk saying that Mandela was the key to getting a


peaceful transition. Absolutely the key, an amazing man. London was one


of the centres, people talked about it as being the other centre of the


anti-apartheid struggle. That anti-apartheid struggle in London,


it had an effect on black politics in Britain? Oh, yes. If you were


black and politically active at the time, the apartheid struggle, the


struggle against white supremacy in South Africa, was very important.


Whatever your colour, the anti-apartheid struggle, for our


generation, was the political campaign. We have the 50th


anniversary of Kennedy's assassination. Mr Mandela's death.


We are kind of running out of people that inspired us? I will never


forget where I was when I saw him come out of prison, hand-in-hand


with the women, I might add. If you have spent your whole teenage years


and 20 is boycotting, marching, picketing, to see him actually come


out was amazing. Do you think it was more exciting to meet you or the


Spice Girls? I think the Spice Girls. What did the Labour


backbenchers think about Ed Balls's performance after the Autumn


Statement? Luck, Ed Balls is a brilliant man, but I think even he


would say that it was not his best performance. But if you look at the


polls, the public liked the points he made. The backbenchers were


quiet, there was something wrong? I noticed that. It was like a wall of


sound, deliberately. They know that under pressure his stamina might


come back and it is difficult for him. That is what they were trying


to incite. I have had experience first hand, a look at all of these


anonymous and sometimes not anonymous quotes in the media. The


spinning has begun against him? This is the party of brotherly love, no


matter what the Tories say, we can say worse about each other. How


could it be that two former aides to Gordon Brown do not like each other?


Far be it from me to say. If he wanted to do it, and I'm not saying


he does, is Mr Miliband ruthless enough to get rid of Ed Balls? I


mean, he got rid of you, he got rid of his brother? One thing you should


not do is under estimate Ed Miliband's capacity for


ruthlessness. If he feels it is the right thing to do, he will do it.


It's not just a matter of... Ed Balls is a big, powerful


personality. He's great to interview because he is across his subject,


you can have a really good argument with him, a man that knows his


brief, his facts. But it's not just about the personality. There is a


kind of sense that Labour needs to look forwards more on economic


policy. Of course, the standard of living has been hugely successful


for Labour. But it needs more than that on economic policy? I think he


has been one of the most effective member 's Shadow Cabinet, and he's


always associated with the Brown years, where there is always an


element about, you were the guys that got it wrong. I think Ed


Miliband will be very tempted to replace him with Alistair Darling.


The scenario goes like this, Alistair Darling saves the union and


then in September he saves the Labour Party. Ultimately, I don't


think he would do it. Talk about shifting tectonic plates, it would,


wouldn't it? But it is a step too far. Ed Balls would not be too


happy. It is not something you would want to do lightly. That sounds a


bit of a threat. Not from you. I can't see Ed Balls magnanimously


retreating and say, go on, Alistair Darling, take the job I have been


after all career. Where do you put him? Do you make him a middle


ranking business or welfare secretary? He wouldn't do that. If


you sack him, he would retreat to the backbenchers. He might take up


knitting and practices piano scales, or he might have a blood feud with


Ed Miliband. I don't know which could be. You look back to when he


was schools Secretary, you could feel he was constantly fuming. I


think he is better inside the tent, looking out, than the other way


around. The thing one Labour strategist said to me was that he is


too much looking into the rear-view mirror, when it comes to economic


policy. He needs to look ahead through the windscreen. That had


some resonance? He was at the centre of Labour's economic policy-making


from the mid-90s. So it's hard for him but he has to look forward.


There is an interesting comparison with 2009. Gordon Brown got in


trouble when he said the choice is between Labour investment and Tory


cuts. Everybody knew it was between Labour cuts and Tory cuts. In other


words, he was not acknowledging reality. With Ed Balls, OK, we can


say it is the wrong sort of recovery, but there is a recovery.


Does he not need to absorb that punch and say there is a recovery,


then people will listen to him? Possibly. We know that the


macroeconomics are looking better. We also know people are not


experiencing it as a recovery in living standards. No one, not even


Tories, really believe that David Cameron knows what it is like for


middle-income people to live normal lives. Living standards is


particularly powerful because of the composition of the government? Don't


go away. This time last year we ambushed our political panel with a


quiz. They didn't come out of it smelling of roses, but they did come


out rather smelly. Will the coalition still be in place


a year from now? Yes. Definitely. I say definitely as well. From now,


one year, will we know the date of the European referendum? Yes. No. I


say no as well. How much growth will there be? Less than 1%. Father


Christmas is less qualified than me, but I will go for one. I will go for


a quarter of that. 0.4%. Sorry, a third of that. I am with you, and


1%. We didn't do too badly. What will growth be next year? I will


remind you, the OBR has upgraded to 2.4%. Better stick with the OBR, got


it wrong last year. Well, they went down in March and then went back in


December. I'm going to go under and claim credit where it's higher. I'm


going to say 1%. Deliberately get it wrong. Given our record, if we say


there is going to be spectacular growth, does it mean we're going to


go into recession? There is incentive to be cautious. 2%. 2.4%,


because the housing market in London is rocketing. It would be closer to


3% and 2.4, mark my words. We'll Ed Balls be Shadow Chancellor by this


time next year? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes, I value my life. Will UKIP mean the


European elections, by which I mean have the highest percentage of the


vote? Yes. Second behind Labour. Second behind Labour. Will Alex


Salmond win the independence referendum? No, but it will be


closer than we think. No, unless they do something catastrophic like


let Cameron debate him. Too close to call. Controversial. How many


Romanians and Bulgarians will come to Britain in 2014? Far fewer than


anyone thinks. The entire population of Romania and Bulgaria, like Nigel


Farage thanks. I'll go with that, I'm confident. A change of tone for


your magazine. Not many will come, but a lot here already will


normalise and be counted into figures. Too many for most


right-wing commentators. I think quite a few will come, but not the


kind of numbers that made such a huge difference. This time,


everybody is open. They do like to speak English, that is the reason


they want to come. We'll all three of you still be here by this time


next year? Yes. Would you recommend that? Yes, keep them. And he has


lovely boots. Shiny red boots. If you can keep affording me, I will be


here. I hope so, it sounds like you have a firing squad outside. I hope


so, maybe you will find some true talent. Very pragmatic, aren't they?


Let me put this to you, I think you will agree. The coalition will not


break now, this side of the election next year? There will not be... They


will not go their own ways by this time next year? Of next year, maybe


just after. Early 2015. This side of the election? What is the UKIP view?


I don't think there is an advantage to either of them. If the Lib Dems


pulled out, they would look like there were a lodger in the Tory


house of government. I think it would suit the Lib Dems to break


just before the election. I think that is what Vince Cable wants to


do. I don't think it is what Nick Clegg would like to do. The Tories


would love it. They would have all of the toys to themselves. Yellow


marker they would look like the grown-ups. The problem for Vince


Cable is that he's not the force that used to be after his temper


tantrum at the Conference. I will be back with the Daily


Politics next week. If Santer gives you a diary in your stocking, pencil


in Sunday the 20th of January, the first Sunday Politics of 2014.


Remember, if it is Sunday, it is the Sunday Politics. Unless it is


Christmas. And New Year.


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