25/03/2012 Sunday Politics West


25/03/2012

Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, interviews and debate, including an interview with Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls.


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Transcript


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In the West: It's day 18 on the picket line at

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Swindon's Great Western Hospital. As more private firms take over

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1832 seconds

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public sector contracts, is this a On the Sunday politics here in the

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West: The strike that is disrupting housekeeping at Great Weston

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Hospital. It is day 18 on the picket line and

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these workers say they will keep striking as long may as they are

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winning. As more private companies take on the running of public

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services, is this a sign of things to come?

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Here, sharing their views on the picket line are to local

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politicians who will help us throughout the programme. They are

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Duncan Hames from Chippenham who was representing the coalition. On

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the opposite side of the Liber, flying the Labour flag is their

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leader in the House of Lords. She is a member of unite. This week the

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budget and the decision to cut the 50 pence rate of tax. What do you

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think? Complete the ideological. It meant that 14,000 of the richest

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people in this country gain over �40,000 a year. Her family on

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�20,000 is going to lose �250. Nationally it was peanuts, the

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money raised. It said it was a deterrent and there was also a lot

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of tax avoidance. But somebody is avoiding tax because they are

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paying 50 pence in the pound, are they really going to change their

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ways if they are paying slightly less? Are you comfortable with

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this? The most substantial thing in the Budget was raised in the

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personal allowances so ordinary working people got a tax cut. That

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was our priority. You gave way on the 50 pence because of that?

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Because there were other tax measures on the rich that will

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raise five times as much. Like what? Like measures on stamp duty

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for instance. There is not have evidence of people with large

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properties who have been putting them into foreign-owned companies

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to avoid paying stamp duty. They will be really whacked now. It says

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there is at about �100 million cost to give the rich their tax-break,

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that money is raised by putting tax on hot takeaway food like sausage

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rolls. Can you understand the logic? Why it bothered taxing hot

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food? We were a lot more concerned to see substantial taxes raised

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from the wealthy if the 50 pence rate was going to go. As you say,

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these sums are all far smaller than are the biggest change that will be

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affecting people... In Wiltshire and Swindon, a quarter of a million

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people will see their tax bill go down. We will talk about the Budget

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a bit more later on but no sausage rolls for you today it! This week

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MPs gave the final not to controversial plans to overhaul the

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NHS. The Health and Social Care Bill has divided the coalition

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ranks and caused outrage amongst medical professionals. Campaigners

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against the changes challenged the local Lib Dem MP in Wales, warning

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her that she will lose votes and possibly her feet over the changes.

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You are there to represent us, not to tell us what the party line is.

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I am not telling you what the party line is. I am telling you what my

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view is, having looked at the bill, having worked with people to try

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and change it... Yesterday in the marketplace, I got one signature

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every two minutes. People spontaneously made a beeline. They

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were shaking my and because they so wanted their voice to be heard. We

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have health worker signed it, we had members sign it is said they

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would resign from the Lib Dems if you voted Bs to this Bill. They

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will not be there to knock on the doors and give out the leaflets and

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you will not have people supporting you like they did in the last

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election. We urge you, decent people urge you to vote against his

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bail. We are here because we are angry about it. We feel you have

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done something quite undemocratic. You have come in and I can almost

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guarantee that if you were standing with us, it really would make your

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blood boil. There was a lot of anger from those campaigners and

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just after that our health correspondent spoke to Tessa Munt

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and this is what she had to say. realise it will be difficult but I

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have to take into consideration what I actually seat in front of me.

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I have listened to both sides of the argument. There are people who

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are quite supportive of the changes. Juditha Brown is a former nurse and

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a health lecturer. She is a campaign against those health

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reforms. What is the problem? do why start? Firstly, nobody had a

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mandate for this. We did a survey last year and 900 ascended by

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people replied and said they were perfectly happy with the NHS as it

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is. Hospital doctors came out against it and the Royal College of

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Nurses came out against it and public health people came out

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against it. Ordinary people like me, nearly 2000 people signed a

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petition saying the Bill should be dropped. Some give a good hospital

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and some have great experiences and some have disappointing experiences.

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What makes you think private will be any better? When you have

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shareholders being responsible for providing health care rather than

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the minister who should be responsible, I do not think it will

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get any better, it will get worse. Do you think the old people who you

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represent do not need any improvements? Things can always be

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improved. We should be proud of our NHS. We give equal access to the

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poorest people. The rich have always been able to buy it.

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will have to pay? Foreign companies are going to come in and want to

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make a profit out of us. If US court an older person to hospital

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and they get great care and they have no bill at the end of it, what

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does it matter to you who pays the doctor's salary? It matters because

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shareholders are not going to have the best interest of people at art.

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They will want a profit. Private companies will set up and they will

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cream off the easy bits away and the NHS will be left with the

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really difficult bits to look after. When this Bill went through, the

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Lib Dem members of the cabinet joined in the general thumping on

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the cabinet table to said they supported it and they were pleased.

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Are you comfortable with it? think the Bill is a lot better than

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it was as a result of the work that has been done in the second

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committee stage and in the House of Lords. I think it is very important

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that we recognise the difference that those changes have made,

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differences that will make sure that it is no longer the case that

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the private sector can get preferential treatment which is

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what happened when the Independent treatment centres were brought in.

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Were you please that this has gone through? I am pleased that the Bill

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is now law and I have supported it through Parliament and I am glad,

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for example, that we will see greater public accountability in

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the NHS. In the last parliament in Wiltshire we saw half of Our beds

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close and there was no local accountability for that the

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decision. Labour started his privatisation creep in the NHS.

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started a tiny amount and it is questionable whether we should have

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done it but I think we should. The point is that now in future any

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hospital can treat up to 49% of its patients as private patients. The

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NHS and we know it will be broken up and fragmented. It is not going

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to be a proper public service which is what the people of this country

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and the people of the West Country deserve. A number of people pay to

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go private, why would you want to stop ordinary people getting that

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kind of service? There is nothing to say the treatment in a private

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company is any better than an NHS treatment. If you are ill you just

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want to be treated with the best possible care and in the majority

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of cases that is in the NHS where we have brilliant consultants,

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nurses, doctors, the whole lot. Things can be improved but they do

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not need such a Bill that encourages privatisation. What the

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protesters were saying is that you would pay for this at the next

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election. Do you feel you have been used in a way as a sort of human

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shield by the Conservatives? No, I do not. Ultimately at the next

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general election, people will see the NHS that they have and they

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will see whether any of the stories they have heard in the last few

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years about what will happen to the NHS actually come true. They will

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be able to judge the government on the record of the health services

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that we have at the time. Some of it is already happening. In Bristol

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Community Health was floated off into a social enterprise away from

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the NHS. I ask if the staff would have the same wages and conditions

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of service and I was told they would for the first year but then

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they were in the private sector. None of these policies could have

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been introduced without the support of the Liberal Democrats. Will get

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the last word from the guy who got it through. We have worked to

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improve this Bill everywhere the can. That includes making sure that

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the new commissioning consortia are more conspiring to -- transparent

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and open. I am sorry, you will pay for it. The NHS reforms are

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fiercely opposed by the unions. One of their biggest complaint is that

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there will be more privatisation inside the health service and that

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is not new. The last government of private firms to build and run

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hospitals. It is at the heart of an industrial dispute in Swindon at

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Remember the 1980s? The unions do. Conservative-led governments are

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not good for them. When Margaret Thatcher was in power, membership

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lunch by one-third. Numerous new laws paid them back. Roll forward

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one quarter of a century and union activism has got a different look.

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This was the scene in Swindon on Thursday, an elaborate stunt

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carried out by a union as part of a high-profile battle with a company

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that run the Great Weston Hospital. 150 housekeeping staff have taken

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strike action over the way they have been treated. I think it is

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completely negative what they are doing there. As long as we are

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winning we will continue with the strike. It is not just this company

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under fire. Also criticised a two of the unions at the hospital.

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were fed up with them. We have told them many times that this was going

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on and they were not listening to us. We have come to a union he said

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they would take care of us all. They have been taken care of. The

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union has compensated staff for the 18 days they have been out. The

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union are putting a lot into this fight. They have got hundreds to

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demonstrate on the streets of Swindon last weekend. They are

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worried that having Conservatives in government, making cuts has

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emboldened private firms. officers I have been dealing with

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have been around 40 years in the job and they have never come across

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a employee alike this to have been absolutely are prepared to talk or

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compromise. They have dug their heels in and said there is nothing

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to talk about. In a statement, the This is an NHS hospital but with a

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big private sector presence. It was built and is run by profit-making

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companies. With the NHS reforms encouraging more private sector

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involvement, there are fears that there will be many more fights with

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the unions in future. Down the road in Bristol, what is powering ahead

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building the west's biggest hospital. It is a �430 million

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project. Carillion is the main contractor. I fear this may be an

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opening battle and there will be many more battles as private

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companies takeover more of the National Health Service and bring

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in their own hard-headed business approach as opposed to the services

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that we have seen in the National Health Service. We will not call

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any more strikes while these interviews are taking place.

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now there will be a pause for talks. The unions are bracing themselves

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for more battles to come. We did last Carillion on today but

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they could not make it. We have a representative of the United union

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who were -- spoke in support of those workers. You can see trouble

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ahead? I spoke at a rally in support of the victorious

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electrician who were taking unofficial action. I was invited to

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Swindon but I was double-booked. I can see a lot of trouble ahead. It

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is profit before people and privatisation. We have seen it with

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gas, electric, water at, and things just go up. We have seen it in the

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rail industry which led to Potters Bar and the loss of life.

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unions are always promising general strikes, student protests, days of

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action, and it all fizzles out. wish they were always promising

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that. The truth is that people get in front of the trade union

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leadership. My own trade union leader did very well out of the

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Budget because he is on a handsome salary. Yesterday there was a

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demonstration which was impromptu where people care about the NHS. It

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is being privatised under our noses. It wasn't a huge demonstration. I

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saw the pictures. Do not forget that when we looked at the pictures

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from the 1980s and what Thatcher did to the unions, that was all in

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response to what happened in the 70s when we were boys and we were

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doing our homework by candlelight because the power workers switched

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off the electricity. Like you, I had a lot of fun during the three-

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day week, dressing by candlelight. I think the truth is that trade

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unionists should be inspired to fight for the NHS and fight for

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services and fight for proper jobs, not �6.50 an hour. These people in

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Swindon hospital are heroes. They are courageous people. Carillion

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has blacklists of a trade union members. Labour's relationship with

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the unions is quite tricky, isn't it? Not really. I am a proud trade

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unions. Did you take part in the recent days of action? I have been

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on demonstrations but they did not pick take part in the day of action.

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Do you regard Labour as being your party? I think Margaret Thatcher

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criminalised trade unionists. She had anti-union laws that made it

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impossible to take legal action... Are you a Labour supporter? Labour

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never repealed those anti-union laws. At least the Tories do for

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their class what they promise. They make the rich richer. Labour lead

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the trade unionists down. They let the working class down. I would

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completely disagree with that. We created jobs under Labour. We did a

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huge amount to take people out of poverty, especially young people

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and elderly people. Life under Labour was 100 times better than it

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would be under this Government. was people power that smashed the

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poll tax. Labour said pay it and we were changed over me get into power.

0:48:530:49:00

I was pleased to ignore the Labour MPs. Let us bring Duncan into this

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discussion. More privatisation in at the NHS, you back the bill. Can

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you see more industrial problems coming as a result? I do not see

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that actually. In recent years there have been more industrial

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problems in the public sector than the private sector. I do not want

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to see us go back to the 1980s. I have a lot of sympathy for the sort

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of position that the workers are taking in this dispute. They are

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not going on this -- strike because they were more pay. Their

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complaints about -- and their complaints are about bullying and

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their allegations of bribery. There should be a proper investigation

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into the complaint that they have made. We have to leave it there.

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one goes on strike for a laugh, everybody takes it seriously.

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right, we will stay in 2012 for now,. Thank you very much indeed.

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We will take a look back at today's political headlines.

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It is the determined policy of this Government that we keep a Wallace

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and Gromit exactly where they are. Bristol's celebrity duo got a

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mention from the Chancellor this week as he announced a new tax

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break for animations, bringing them in a line with big-budget films.

0:50:250:50:29

Vince Cable said he backed moves to boost research in the West. There

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is a big project to support research in the aerospace industry

0:50:330:50:37

which is crucial. A High Court challenge put paid to government

0:50:370:50:42

plans to cull badgers. The badger Trust says its legal challenge

0:50:420:50:45

should be heard in June. Most of Bristol's council-run hair

0:50:450:50:50

homes could be closed under plans under at the limit debt -- Liberal

0:50:500:50:55

Democrat run council. It was back to the future as Labour

0:50:550:50:57

and the Lib Dems on South Gloucestershire council backed a

0:50:570:51:02

move to end the Cabinet decision- making system. They voted to return

0:51:020:51:10

to the old committee system. That Was the Week in just one

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minute. Just time for a very quick talk about the Budget finally. Let

0:51:160:51:21

us have for just one highlight or low light. Too low lights, nothing

0:51:210:51:25

for young people and the granny tax. 4.4 million pensioners are going to

0:51:250:51:30

lose out. Extra money to support the economy in Wiltshire and

0:51:300:51:36

Swindon and not well supported but a further increase in the tax on

0:51:360:51:41

banks. Will there be growth? growth will not improve as a

0:51:410:51:45

response to this Budget. We shall have to wait and see. Thank you

0:51:450:51:49

very much indeed. That is it from the West this week. Sunday politics

0:51:490:51:53

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