Nicky Campbell presents debate from Netherhall School, Cambridge, with discussion on whether President Trump has been good for the world. Plus, is inequality a vital incentive?
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Today on The Big Questions...
President Trump's first year
in office - good or bad?
And inequality - a scourge
or a useful incentive?
Good morning, I'm Nicky Campbell.
Welcome to the 11th series
of The Big Questions.
Today we're live from
Netherhall School in Cambridge.
to The Big Questions.
Yesterday marked the first
anniversary of Donald Trump's
inauguration as the 45th President
of the United States of America.
And it also saw a complete shutdown
of the American government
after President Trump failed
to reach a deal with Democrats in
the Senate over the spending bill.
It is a presidency that has been
surrounded in controversy
since his election.
Critics have disparaged his
abilities and contested his stance
on immigration, health care,
climate change, North Korea,
Israel - the list goes on and on.
Yet the American stock market
is booming, unemployment is falling,
growth is on the up and business
confidence is buoyant -
maybe because one of the few
policies he has got through Congress
was to reduce corporate tax
rates from 35% to 21%.
Yet the uneasiness remains,
stirred daily by the output
from his Twitter finger.
Has President Trump been
good for the world?
Let's see what the achievements are.
Jan Halper Davies -- Jan
Jan Halper Davies -- Jan Halper
Hayes, I said Davies because I'm
speaking about Stormy Daniels, I had
the D where do my head. Never mind
all the gossip, Fire Interviewee,
the book, what has he achieved?
have over 2.1 million jobs he has
brought, we are at a seven-year high
in economic confidence and a 17 year
low in unemployment. GDP was not
supposed to hit 3% until 2019, that
is where we were in the last three
quarters. The tax reform has done an
enormous amount for bringing
businesses back and increasing
wages, as well as some of the
savings being passed on to
customers. An energy company is
lowering their electric bill by 5%.
But the great deal-maker could not
make this deal on the budget, we
have a government shutdown. The
statue of Liberty is shut. What a
piece of symbolism?
There is a
misnomer that the great deal-maker
could not make a deal. The fact of
the matter is that it takes when you
have a spending bill 60 senators to
pass it. That means that even though
we have the majority of the House
and the Senate and we have the White
House, you need to have a bipartisan
reaction. There was nothing in the
bill that either side disagreed
with, but the Democrats are
frightened of another positive thing
happening. They thought the tax
reform was Armageddon, and they
Trump fail. It is very strategic
what they are doing.
achievements, taking away from the
depressed Democrats and Stormy
Daniels or Stormy Davies or
whatever, Alan Mendoza, what has
You need to look at
where the world was at the time
Trump came into office. We have just
had eight years of the Obama
administration which run down
America plasma prestige and power in
the world and through its actions
emboldened some of the worst regimes
in the world to do activities we
would want as he stopped. Iran was
rampant in the Middle East, it had
helped Assad fight his war in Syria,
it had extended terrorism across the
area. Russia has marched into
Ukraine, nothing happened as a
response. China flouted
international law in the South China
Sea and East China Sea and very
little response again.
Starting with that position and
looking at where we are now in terms
of one year into Trump, it is very
early but you had to look at the
successes. He called out the
Iranians for their brutality, he has
had various relations with China,
pushed one way and pull the other,
but it seems to be in a different
place, that relationship, than under
Obama. He demanded European military
spend more, which we knew was
necessary, and they have been
responding. North Korea is sitting
at the table for the first time in
two and a half years, speaking to
South Korea. There are achievements.
It is unorthodox and he may be
aggressive and even unpleasant in
how it works, but when you
how it works, but when you look at
the world, and enforcement of red
lines and international status, it
is any much better place than when
he came into office.
Jan, you love that?
Leslie might want to pick up on some
points? We have heard about the
achievements, an unconventional
approach, but paying dividends?
Very difficult for me to listen and
give it any credibility.
Given how strong the economy
is, isn't it extraordinary that a
president who controls both houses
of Congress has such extraordinarily
low approval rating is not only at
home, for a president only one year
in, but abroad. The Gallup
leadership polls put his global
approval rating at only 30%, very
Are you embarrassed
I find many of the policies
he has pursued, and especially the
style with which he has engaged not
only with many of his own people,
many of his Cabinet and the White
House and many foreign leaders, to
be far below the bar of what we
should expect from the leader of the
The problem with this debate always
There is nothing wrong with this
debate! The blow people get sucked
in straightaway to the character of
Donald Trump and his activities,
that is what the media has focused
on people have focused on.
to strip away the server stuff,
which can be debated, by all means,
and look at results. He has got
them. That is what we are
He has made nuclear war thinkable
again, that is the
again, that is the substance of
relationship with North Korea and
their willingness to do certain
things, but at the cost of making
people think that a nuclear conflict
That is not fair. The reason there
is a conceivable nuclear
conflagration is North Korea has
been unable to develop a nuclear
programme under the preceding
His comments after nuclear war came
after a golfing event, Trump has no
Nuclear capabilities hands of North
Korea, it is due to the policies
pursued by Obama and Bush before
him, not the previous five months of
Trump. You don't just get a nuclear
weapon because you have a vulgar
halfwits in the White House. You
have to spend years doing that. But
chatter -- that should been
suppressed under the previous
administration, you cannot lay that
at Trump's door.
Trump is a gift to -- that should
have been suppressed under the
previous administration, you cannot
lay that at Trump's door. Trump is a
gifted keeps on giving, not only to
journalists but to Kim Jong Un.
Anti-Americanism is so important for
keeping the support of the North
Koreans and respecting and loving
But I have heard some people make
the argument that this is an
extraordinary achievement by Donald
Trump, he has made Kim Jong Un look
Actually I think they are both not
as stupid as people like to say they
are. I think you need to look at
their actions and see the way they
are playing with one another, and I
would not call either one a fool.
Daniel, a Labour MP, you do not want
him to come here?
No, I think he is
lewd, crude, a disgusting man, the
antithesis of everything that this
great city here...
His attitude to
women? Not like Bill Clinton?
Politics is a complicated business
of trying to manage conflicting
demands, and you do that through
diplomacy and the grace and the
skill that Obama showed was an
inspiration to many people across
the world, and I think it is one of
the tragedies that we have had Obama
replaced by the most pantomime
villain. I suspect he does not know
what he's doing in many ways, his
example to young people and his
example to the is appalling.
Just on the point about his morals,
if morals are important, what did
you think of Bill Clinton? What you
think, retrospectively, of JFK?
Those are perfectly reasonable
points to make, but they did not
engage in this foul-mouthed
insulting of people all the time.
We try to
teach our children...
Is there not
an honesty, what you see is what you
get, it is unvarnished?
his economic achievements, what he
is about is trying to line his
pockets and the pockets of his
cronies, the American economy will
not survive through this. Anyone can
splurge a load of money, let's see
where we are in a few years. It will
not work. We have seen it before.
We were told that the American
economy would be in ruins by the end
of his first year, it has never been
in better health.
are waiting and seeing. You are
delineating a disaster before it
He made all these promises,
where are his steel factories? He
has not built an inch of the wall.
So just because he say something it
should exist the next day?! What is
happening is Apple is bringing back
$350 billion, they will employ
20,000 people. They will be spending
over $20 billion in building a
factory and taking it away from
China. There is your first step of
example of it working.
protectionism you might get some
short-term gains, but it will make
us all poorer in the long term, that
is the issue. You can all be
protectionist up your own areas, but
it leads to less wealth in the
He is not a protectionist,
he is not an isolationist. It is
America first, with the goal of
bilateral agreements. He does not
believe in multilateral agreements.
It is having your cake and eating
it, it does not work.
think that, but just because people
develop these deals, these
agreements for simplification, some
of these deals are wrong.
loves the deregulation and the tax
cuts. Is he a racist?
I think he is,
essentially, with what he is saying.
He is not a racist, he has said
offensive things, no doubt, he is
not a racist. Let's just look for
one second at what Daniel is trying
Do you agree with him not
being welcomed here?
He should be
He is not welcome
It is embarrassing for a
country that the President of our
close to -- our closest ally does
not feel welcome. President Macron
has rolled out the red carpet, other
European leaders have. It is
shameful that this country cannot
welcome him. He is a close ally of
ours, we should be working more
closely with him, particularly in
the context of Brexit.
We have let
in some rum people in the past.
about President Xi of China, we even
suppress dissent in the streets of
London to let him come.
President Trump is re-tweeting
I was a disgraceful episode.
He claims he did not know what was
happening. He probably did not, to
be honest. But he should still come
to Britain to meet us in that way.
I think it is disgusting that you
can say somebody who is re-tweeting
Nazi tweets might not know what he
was doing when he is meant to be the
leader of the United States. How
much longer do we had to excuse
these men, they do not know they are
sexist or racist?! I think it is
Audience? Hang fire. Hold fire.
Hello, audience. Donald Trump. OK,
One of the panellists was
saying that the media are always
focusing on his character. The
things he is tweeting about, it is
absolutely absurd. He is a racist,
he is a misogynist. He is targeting
communities, splitting families by
signing orders from the White House.
If he did not mean what he said, why
did he tweets these kind of things?
It is unacceptable, he is
normalising hate and bigotry and it
is totally unacceptable.
You are not in?
When he came into office, quite a
few people thought it would be OK,
the hyper polarisation will reduce,
everyone will be united in their
hatred towards him almost, but that
has not happened, with the
Government shut down. They only
needed ten Democrats to votes in
favour, that did not happen. I think
that overrides some of his
characteristics, the fact that there
can't be that push forward for the
betterment of the nation when there
is the claim it is America first.
It is interesting, is anybody in the
audience who would describe
themselves as somebody sympathetic
in any way to what he has achieved?
Put your hand up. If you are in any
way on Trump's side. Oh, dear. No
one? This is interesting. Did I see
one over year?
Both sides of the argument are
actually correct, I think. He is
appalling in what he says, but the
other side of the argument is
correct as well. I think he's
achieved quite a lot. He's shaken
things up. I doubt North and South
Korea would have got together
without him shaking stuff up.
Interesting point. This is an
audience who applied to come to The
Big Questions. We do not skew it in
anyway. But I have done phone-ins
where there are quite a lot of
people in this country who are fed
up of being lectured to about what
they should think about Donald
Trump. They see it as a liberal,
intelligentsia media bubble, and
they come on the phone and say, shut
up and don't tell me what to think.
You have to go back to the reasons
why Trump won the election. He
appealed to people who were going to
work every day, working hard and not
seeing their efforts rewarded. He
was very clever. He looked to people
who voted for the Republican party.
He is a democratically elected
leader of the most powerful nation
in the world, and a key trading
partner of the UK. I don't agree
with Daniel that we shouldn't invite
him to the UK. We should respect the
views of the American people and we
should talk to Mr Trump. Clearly
there is no one in this room who
would back what he says on Twitter
or agree with his points, but
ultimately, he is a businessman who
has increased business opportunities
for the US, and we should be taking
advantage of that.
I want to pick up
on what you said, about people being
told what to think about Donald
Trump. Simon, you were on the News
quiz on Radio 4, and you said at one
point a couple of things that
perhaps Donald Trump had achieved
and positive about him, and there
was a bit of stunned silence.
not used a hearing that on a Radio 4
comedy programme! I find it hard to
defend him in conventional terms.
very snobbery about this?
Absolutely, but it wouldn't matter
if there was a snobbery if these
people hadn't been let down by
generations of politicians, and the
Republican party taking a huge
amount of Republican voters for
granted, in the same way that a huge
number of Brexit voters were taken
for granted. You could make a nod in
the direction of abortion law and
gun control and people would vote
for them whatever. There was no
future for their young people. They
were promised again and again by
mealy-mouthed politicians who
delivered nothing for them.
Obviously, sooner or later, they
would turn to this old-fashioned...
He is like a Burt Lancaster
character in a 1950s movie. He a two
fisted American Bulgaria, but there
is part of that in the American
psyche, and so far he is delivering.
Yes, the Democrats in the US need to
take responsibility for allowing the
situation to get so bad for
working-class people, but he has
filled up jobs in the White House
with cronies from big business, and
he likes to point the finger at
migrants and other people to blame
for American problems, but wages are
not increasing significantly for
American people. His policies are
not going to deliver for American
Is there, on the
subject of what people think what
they think people should think, is
there an Brexit aspect for that? Is
it the same with Trump? Can you
understand the historical forces
that have led him to be there?
to our similar phenomena. Brexit and
Trump both gave voices to the
people. I am anti-trump-macro, but I
am going to say something positive
for him. He has been a brilliant
politician. One of the politicians
who can keep his face in the news on
the front page for two and a half
years, as he has, and there is many
respect in many quarters for his
ability to drain a swamp that seems
undrivable. But my question is, is
he a man who can be trusted to
rebuild? Here is where nuclear
weapons become crucial. I understand
his force as a disruption. He has
opened up possibilities for
discussing certain things that have
not been on the table before, but I
don't have confidence that he can
leave us to a better place. His
inauguration speech, American
carnage, is probably the first
inauguration speech in American
history not to refer once to the
declaration of Independence, not to
refer once to the Constitution, not
to refer wants to the ideals of
liberty and the better angels of
America. It is like Lindsay Graham
saying, after a meeting with Trump
about immigration, he said, Mr
Trump, America is about ideals. He's
interested in power, advancement and
disruption, but can he fulfil
American ideals? My answer to that
And there we have it.
sure the world wants American ideals
from the US president. I think the
world has always wanted somebody who
is going to come in and stop the bad
guys from taking over. That has
essentially been America's role for
the last 70 years. Obama effectively
abdicated that role from his
weakness internationally. Serie A, I
direct comparison between Obama and
Trump. Assad uses chemical weapons.
Obama runs away from it and Assad
continues murdering and killing.
Trump sees when Assad uses chemical
weapons and strikes immediately. No
more chemical weapons used since
then. There is a red line. You cross
it, we will hit you. That wasn't
done under Obama. Trump has restored
That is such a
mischaracterisation. America was in
a terrible position with its
reputation until Obama restored it,
as a civilised leader of the world.
Trump is leading America back down
into the gutter. We need that
leadership, those ideals and values
that matter across the world. I feel
so sorry for the Americans. You are
an embarrassment again. I'm sorry,
but objectively, you look at the
power of authoritarian states at the
end of the Obama regime against the
start of it, but they have
increased. The leadership did not
let's talk about the wider world.
We've mentioned North Korea,
Jerusalem, the North American Free
Trade Agreement. Let's talk about
the wider word and the implications.
Pulling out of the Paris climate
change accord. He doesn't know the
difference between weather and
climate. I'm going with scientific
consensus here. This is an act of
environmental, planet tree
vandalism, and our grandchildren
will look back and they will say,
shame on us and shame on him.
very well might, but he decided to
pull out of it because the
requirements that were on America's
shoulders were far greater than that
of China and other nations, and we
were supposed to act...
taking the lead of the free world?
Donald Trump is not interested in
taking believed. It is America
first. People have a hard time with
that. It means that other countries
that have counted on America for so
This is going to mean,
ultimately, the deaths of millions
of people, and it's going to mean
the extinction of species...
Margaret Thatcher spoke against
global warming. You are eliminating
the responsibility of other
politicians, George Bush, Barack
Don't take it out on me! I
am just asking the questions!
been going on for 40 years!
undoubtedly the case that President
Trump has taken America out of many
things that are absolutely vital for
the stability, prosperity of the
world. The Irani deal was very
important to stability, and the
Paris accords. But we have to look
at one thing. The United States is
not Donald Trump. Donald Trump
happens to be the leader for this
time, but there are a lot of things
going on in the US right now that
are tremendously productive. They
were there before and are taking
momentum on right now. To push back
what is seen as a president taking
negative steps on an environmental
But he is withdrawing
funding for environmental agencies.
But many people are on board with
Paris, trying to keep as close as
they can in the context of a
difficult set of politics to hit
those targets that were negotiated.
If you look at the courts, civil
society, they have been pushing back
very, very hard. That is not over
yet, so there is a tremendous amount
of positive engagement in the US to
try and keep America engage with the
world. When we come back to the
question of whether Donald Trump
should come to the UK for a visit,
it's very important not to collapse
this relationship into one that is
simply about Theresa May and Donald
One fifth of our trade is
with the US.
It's not just trade. It
is a relationship grounded in
intelligence sharing, values and
many things. The key for the leader
of the UK is to frame it in a way
that says that we do not agree with
racist language, but we do need to
hold onto what is valuable and
productive in that way.
He has put a
spring in the step of many a climate
change denier. Do you think that if
a nuclear conflagration were to
happen, and a million people were to
die on the Korean peninsular...
least a million.
Would that play on
I don't think that's
the most important question.
It is a
question I'm asking. It's a question
There is a very
serious concern by many of us who
are watching that Donald Trump
doesn't feel the consequences of his
actions. That he acts without taking
that into account.
That's quite a
thing to say.
But he has to stand up
to the threat from Korea. He can't
just let North Korea actors they
are, putting missiles across Japan.
That has to be the job of the United
States to stand up to Kim Jong-un
and say, we cannot take any more
this. Ultimately, the North Koreans
are sitting at the table with South
Koreans. Will it result in peace? We
know that when President Kennedy
stood up to the Russians, it created
the Cold War, guess, but eventually
we got to the situation where
America and Russia got rid of
There was an
element of logic on both sides in
the Cold War. Do we have that
balance to logic on both sides now?
There is a feeling in the Republican
party that this man can serve
purposes, including your purpose of
standing up to North Korea, and the
wager is that they can control this
unpredictable, unreliable man. The
conceit in Washington is that the
three generals around him each day
will be in charge and will feel the
consequences of going to nuclear
war. The wager is that these men can
control it. The bottom belongs to
him. He is not the first president
to try the madman theory, to make
someone think he is crazy to submit.
It was done in Vietnam's with the
North Vietnamese, but it didn't
work. In the Cuban missile crisis,
if the military people had been in
charge at that point, we probably
would have had a nuclear
conflagration with Cuba. I don't
feel comfortable with this decision
being in the hands of the generals.
I don't have confidence in this man
to make the right decision for them
is under that analysis, you would be
happy for Kim Jong-un when to walk
over South Korea or invade Japan.
You are saying there is no
possibility that America could
withstand and assault in that way.
You have to have some credibility
internationally, so that the other
guy thinks carefully about his
actions. Under President Obama, we
had no credibility. Everybody knew
he would not resist the use of
force, or even the threat of force.
We have dealt with that, if I may.
The credibility is that he might do
it, and that goes down to
rationality on both sides. The
reason we didn't have a nuclear
conflagration in the Cold War was
because both sides were rational
actors. I believe Donald club is a
rational actor, despite an
unorthodox approach. If Kim Jong-un
is not, we are going to have a Cold
Do you feel he is a
rational actor? Put your hand up. We
have talked about nuclear
conflagration and climate change.
What about population growth? He's
changed his mind. He used to be
pro-choice, but he's changed his
mind on abortion, which could be
playing to his base support. He's
also withdrawn government funding
for groups working around the world
with women on contraception, which
is often a driver of fighting
poverty and inequality, so that our
potential impacts on inequality
across the globe.
One of the things missing from this
debate, you have said America has
higher GDP, higher growth, creating
more jobs, but we need to look at
the quality of the jobs. Poverty has
increased in America, the median
wage has gone down. We need to look
at the different factors there, and
the reality. When you say America
first, who in America? Not the 9
million children who will
potentially be denied health care,
it is not the poorest who will have
no health care, he is putting first,
his corporate buddies. He will be at
Davos next week, mixing with the
billionaires who he said he
despised, draining the swamp. The
first thing he has done is introduce
a huge corporate tax rate. When you
cut corporate tax, you cut the
resources the state has to support
the most vulnerable people in its
Gentleman from the audience is
shaking his head?
I will really put
that to bed.
I will be the judge
I will try. When you cut
corporate tax you create enterprise,
you create wealth.
Pack of lies.
where you fund the National Health
Service and get a better, strong...
He has reduced tax rates.
look at the 1980s, there was a
reduction in taxes and the actual
tax take went up. In a strong
economy with a big incentive for
people to go out and work and earn
and create wealth, there is more
wealth to spend on things like the
National Health Service.
to 21%, it is a pretty vertiginous
Yes, but it has an effect.
Welcome back, Jan. I will consume,
Joseph, don't worry. I said I would
come to you earlier, I am a man of
my word. -- I will come to you,
I would like to combine the
point about the media telling people
how to think, when I listen to the
liberal comments and how superficial
they are, and they do not show an
understanding of what it's really
going on. Let's take draining the
swamp, he puts his corporate cronies
in. He has eliminated over 1500
regulations, which has spurred on
Let me finish my point. The fact is
that people go, oh, he has only done
things for his corporate buddies
with the tax reform. What people do
not realise is that 95% of the
private workforce is employed by
small and medium-sized companies.
They have been responsible for over
half of the jobs created in the past
15 years. It is not corporate
America that everyone works for. It
is a lot of the small and
medium-size businesses. And as a
result of an rating 1500
regulations, and he said for
everyone he introduced he would
eliminate two, it is actually 22-1.
Those are the kind of things about
draining the swamp that go much
broader than just making a
superficial comment, his cronies are
Many of the
successes that Donald Trump claims
on deregulation were begun under
Obama, I think there is an contest
over the numbers. He is pushing hard
on environmental deregulation and on
the regulation put in place after
the financial crisis to protect from
He has increased regulation and
trade. I think it is a much more
complicated picture than you
suggest. He would certainly like to
be seen as deregulating and away
that is looking out for all people.
It is early days.
Joe Sugg, early days?
It is always
difficult to say whether the effects
are coming through from something
Obama did previously or it is
happening now. I think there is a
sense of the direction he is
travelling in. It is interesting
this job saying he will put ideas to
bed and the people saying you
believe in triple down, but this
argument has been going on since
Marx, nobody knows. But there is a
rate of corporate tax which raises
the level of total receipts and
anything above that is basically
being done on ideological grounds,
in order to punish people.
Regulation quite often creates jobs.
The most successful part of the UK
But nobody wants those
change, the green economy in this
country, it has been the part that
has done best. This deregulation
myth that has taken hold has caused
a lot of problems to the UK economy.
We have a very successful
businessman who will have the last
word. I promised you a word earlier,
you will beautifully tied this all
I will put a different spin on
the Micro saga. I am hearing a lot
of noise from everybody and a lot of
disagreement, but I want to look at
a guy who said he would become
president, and a specific part of
that journey, and a message to the
people. The guy said I will become
president, he started his
presidential campaign and through
that whole thing he fought against
all odds, OK, and overcame
everything to become president. For
me as an entrepreneur, I don't care
about detail policy right now, I see
that is quite an inspirational
journey and I think people should
take the message, OK, from a
specific section that if you set
your mind to something, you say you
are going to do it against all odds,
actually, anything can be achieved.
Out of the whole thing and
everything we have spoken about,
that is one positive message for me
to take as an entrepreneur,
regardless of whether I agree or
disagree. I think that is where a
lot of people should put their focus
on, especially when they are trying
to create something and they are up
against it. I quite like that.
That is what I will finish on.
You're hired! Would you work for
I won't work there anybody but
Thank you all very much
-- I won't work for anybody
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Next at Netherhall School
here in Cambridge, we'll be debating
if inequality is a vital incentive.
But before that, take a note
of this email address -
if you'd like to apply
to be in the audience
at a future programme.
We're in Newcastle upon Tyne next
Sunday, Southampton on February 4th,
and Oxford the week after that.
Cambridge, where we are today,
has been dubbed the most unequal
city in the whole of the UK
by the Centre for Cities.
It is also a very successful city,
topping the league tables on growth,
with its booming high tech sector.
More patents are published in
Cambridge than in any other UK city.
But while unemployment
is very low here, it's not
a boom town for everyone.
40% work in the public sector,
so have seen their real
incomes steadily fall.
And the average price of a house,
at £475,000, is 15 times the level
of average annual earnings here.
So the success has come at a price
for many Cambridge residents.
Is inequality a vital incentive?
It would be good to start with you
on this, Joseph.
It is a vital
incentive. I came from a
working-class background, we
struggled growing up, my mum worked
three jobs, my father didn't work. I
made a decision at a very early age
that I was not going to let my
circumstances permit, I was going to
work hard and I was going to get
better and I was going to become
more successful. But I was very,
very lucky at an early age
very lucky at an early age because I
saw both scales, I saw the working
class and I also had an uncle that
was very close to me that was very
wealthy. So I was able to see that
there was another life that you
could live. And I used to compare my
father and my uncle.
Do you think
young people see that, they see the
flashy and unrealistic lifestyles on
social media, are those kind of
images, that kind of example, a good
I think you are on the money.
You are on the money, mate!
it was my uncle, I saw it as
realistic. But if you come from a
council estate and your
council estate and your family are
not working, people around you are
not successful and your neighbours
are not, you find it quite hard to
have a realistic vision that it is
achievable. But because he was part
of my family I could see that it was
there, I saw his journey and how
hard he worked. It made it realistic
for me, it may did achievable and
made me see I could work towards
that if I truly wish to.
Can young people see this? I know
Stewart wants to come in, but in
what way is a lack of good
circumstances when someone is
growing up and the difficulties and
even poverty, in what way is it an
Because why would you
want to live like that? Why would
you want to live poor? That is the
incentive in itself, right? If you
are struggling for food, you have
second-hand clothes, you have an old
banger car, you can't go on holiday,
you are saying that is not incentive
enough to want the good things in
life? About one of the issues with
that is that not every young people
can start a business and employ a
lot of other people. Why?
everybody can own a business, we
need some people to work for them.
Unfortunately the fastest-growing
demographic of poverty in this
country is people in work. People
working hard, who cannot lift
themselves out of poverty.
working hard at the wrong thing?
you let me finish? When you have
gross inequality, like we have at
the moment, it damages the equality
of opportunity, because less people
are able to grasp those
opportunities. You need families to
have a minimum basic income to feed
their children, you need good health
and good schooling for us all, that
relies on having some level of
equality to begin with.
It means the level playing field.
There are the same disparities in
wealth, education and circumstances?
I am not saying that there would
ever be complete equality, but we
have a gross level of inequality in
our country at the moment, and in
the most unequal country in the
developed world, the US, you are far
less likely to be able to achieve
those dreams than in more equal
countries like the Scandinavian
countries. It is much easier to
predict your income based on the
income of your parents, than in more
We do not have equal chances to
There are equal chances,
but it is obvious we need to do more
to create opportunities for those
feeling left out of society. The
current education system in the UK
as part of the problem. It is far
too academically -based, we are
missing masses of people who could
be taking huge advantage of what is
happening here in Cambridge, for
Absolutely. There have been
improvements in apprenticeships etc,
but schools are not genuinely
engaged in how we can improve the
lives of those people who do not
meet the five A-C grade. We do not
need to send 50% of the population
to university, it is ridiculous.
inequality and incentive?
happens because of the lack of
opportunities. If we increase the
opportunities to those people who
are not getting them now, we will
decrease inequality. Quite frankly,
I disagree slightly with the fact
that you had to be earning lots of
money to be happy. I have not always
been a politician, I used to be a
milkman, I was perfectly
milkman, I was perfectly happy as a
milkman, I was earning a low-wage
but it did not make me unhappy. I
knew that I had to work hard, and I
did. You do not have to be wealthy
to be happy, that is completely
wrong. Not everybody wants to run
their own business or be a
politician or take on the pressure
of the senior role, some people do
not want to do that. But you need to
give them the opportunity at a young
age to make a choice, I do not
believe we are doing.
Government be doing more?
think so. Looking at the economic
evidence, financial inequality,
there are lots of other
inequalities, but financial
we are talking about, in fact...
inequality of ambition.
Apart from a
few strange places like Saudi
Arabia, people want to make
themselves better off. They do not
care about other people. I do not
know who the richest person in
Cambridge is, and I do not care. Nor
do other people. They want to make
themselves better off. The best way
to do that is the Government getting
out of their hair and allowing them
to do that. And in particular
safeguarding the quality of civil
and political rights but
safeguarding property, so
governments and others cannot
If you are in a public
sector job and a wage restraint, it
is not easy?
And that is the case in
Cambridge, we have a silly
centralised system instead of local
To say the evidence points to people
wanting to better themselves is
ludicrous. The evidence is
overwhelming and has been for some
time. In countries with a high level
of inequality, we also see higher
rates of mental and physical
ill-health, higher rates of obesity
and infant mortality. You are far
more likely to lose your child if
you come from a disadvantaged
background. We see higher rates of
incarceration, lower levels of
trust, and status anxiety. We feel
we must have what the person know
that there has, and that causes
Can it be an incentive?
inequality were an incentive, you
would see black people, women, LGBT
plus people, women and even,
storming the bastions of our private
schools, elite institutions, the
media and Parliament, because the
entrenched inequalities that many
people live with would have given
them that incentive if this were
true to go and do that, and that's
just not the case. We don't have
equality of opportunity.
have equality of opportunity, but as
a feudal list, I'm not dismayed by
that. I think there is a natural
hierarchy. I think there is
inequality because people are not
equal, and I think delusions of
social mobility are ludicrous, which
is why we have upstarts like Thomas
Cromwell. The thing that no one
wants to admit in these discussions
is that people are unequal. Not
everyone can start a business. Why?
Because we need people to work for
businesses. Lots of people are just
not up to it. There are loads of
people who just don't have that
capacity. Being anxious about social
mobility is often a greater sign of
some kind of mental disquiet than
simply accept in yet.
made, if you had entire equality of
opportunity, and absolutely level
playing field, there would still be
inequality, wouldn't there?
there would. We are saying we need
to reduce inequality to levels of
countries such as the Scandinavian
Give everyone the same
chance as somewhere like that.
have to make sure there is as level
a playing field as possible.
audience, good morning.
A lot of the
discussion is based around the
question of inequality being a vital
incentive. Let's say it is. The next
question to me is, is the level of
inequality we are seeing in this
country and the US the level that we
want? In Scandinavian countries,
there is inequality, and that's good
for their society at the moment,
because they do have entrepreneurs,
businessmen like you, they get on
fine. There are problems, but not as
many problems as we do, so
inequality is good, but reduce it.
Inequality by definition is that
there are people at the top and
people at the bottom. The extent of
the inequality we have in Cambridge
at the moment, one of the richest
cities in the UK and therefore one
of the richest cities in the world,
is that Cambridge food bank said 25%
more last year than before. There is
extreme poverty in Cambridge, and
that's simply not acceptable. We are
trying to claim we are still a
civilised society. And it's getting
worse because of failures in the
benefits system, because of the an
affordability in housing, where
housing in Cambridge is particularly
challenging for people on low
I see it very directly why
it's getting worse, and it's a
consequence of political decisions
that this government has chosen to
make. If you cut the welfare system,
it's not just dreadful for the
people at the receiving end, but it
destroys the quality of life for
everybody in Cambridge. We don't
want rising numbers of people
sleeping on the streets in a city
like Cambridge. People are rightly
furious about it.
The situation of
people sleeping on the streets in
Cambridge is not central
responsibility for homelessness on
the streets of any town or city in
the UK is the local council. When I
was on the council in East Cambs,
there was no homelessness and people
on the street, because of the
policies I put forward. I have
offered those policies to Cambridge
City Council, and they have not
taken them up, and I believe it's
because they want to blame the
government for something they can
solve. £17 million for housing in
the city, yet people are still on
the streets and houses have not been
built. This problem could be sold.
Cambridge City Council gets £9.5
million a year simply from car
parking in the city. It is the
mistake of the City Council change
the word inequality to reward.
reward a vital incentive? Everyone
here would probably say yes in that
context. The idea that if you work
hard and have the right
opportunities, you will make
progress. People want to be
rewarded. The issue comes with the
balance of quality and inequality,
where people think others are being
rewarded for not working hard or
doing those things. How do we run
the system so that we reward and
incentivise hard work? That is a
real question we are asking.
in the public sector are awarded a
lot less, and they are working as
hard as anyone. A nurse on the wards
is working just as hard as you,
Joseph. You are exemplary in your
work efforts, but a nurse on the
ward and she or he could not work
harder but just not getting the
I agree with that. That goes
back to providing opportunity. If
somebody is working hard at the same
job every day, there is a cap on
what they can and. So it's providing
the opportunity for them to go into
a different career or train or what
ever that is, and that's very, very
important. We are launching a Joseph
Valente Academy at the moment, which
is about giving back opportunity to
young people. For me, it's about
providing them with opportunity. If
you provide them with an opportunity
and that person still doesn't want
to take that a level up, or change
their lifestyle that they are
potentially not happy about, what
more can we possibly do?
There is a
guy behind you who's had his hand up
I think it's something
that Joseph said, creating these
opportunities to create
entrepreneurs in society, but is it
not then the goal of these people to
create a more equal society? Where
does that cycle and?
with this debate, and here is an
example, is that we take a snapshot
and we say, at a snapshot in time,
there are some people who are very
rich and some are very poor. It's
like taking a snapshot of a drop of
water in midair. When I was a
student, I was poor. After 40 years
of working and honing my skills, and
saving and so on, I'm now well off.
But I'm the same person. What we
actually want is a system where the
poorest people can actually make
themselves better off, and that's
why I say that government needs to
get out of the way here, and for
example take people on the minimum
wage out of national insurance.
Let's have some building on the
green belt that's strangling
Cambridge so that house prices come
I make my decisions based on
evidence, so looking at evidence,
since we have allowed gross levels
of inequality, it has not been good
for the economy. The economy has
grown at a lesser rate. Since the
crash, Britain's millionaires have
doubled their wealth, but wages for
working people have stagnated. It's
the same in the UK and the US. The
10% who are poorest in the UK, pay a
bigger percentage of tax of their
incomes than the rich do. Wealth
does not trickle down. The rich hide
their money by making donations to
political parties, who tell the rest
I'm getting the impression
that Cambridge is being singled out
from having the huge levels of
inequality, but they come from the
fact there is a lot of highly
earning individuals rather than a
high proportion of lower earning
people. The higher earning
individuals appear to be working in
very wordy fields. I agree with you
that it is preposterous that 0.1%
who are absolutely flying away with
trillions of dollars, it's an absurd
situation, and if anyone can solve
that without plunging us into
socialism, I will sign up to it. But
it's not fair to look at Cambridge
and say, it's disgraceful, your
house prices are many times the
natural... National average, because
you are a world centre of
People with decent jobs
cannot get a mortgage.
It depends if
you want to centralise it or not. If
you have a centralised public sector
with centralised salaries, a
centralised welfare state and
centralised notion of national
Insurance, places like Cambridge
will have inequality because the
process of creating wealth is not
centralised, but distributing it is.
I would love to see Cambridge return
to a Machiavellian, walled citadel.
Builds that wall!
There is more to
life than finance. A lot of dons in
Cambridge are not paid very well,
but they lived like princes. There
is more to life than money.
find it interesting that people
who... You have said you are
comfortable now, the people who say
there is more to life than money are
generally the people who have enough
money to put food on the table,
close their kids and are not worried
about that. Cambridge has topped the
league. That's what's happened. It
is a snapshot...
The poorest people
in Cambridge are the students, who
have loans so have negative wealth.
But they are going to earn far more
than other people.
On this central
question we have here. You work in
the world of comedy. If there is a
comedian playing in a pub every
night, is he or she going to be
spurred on by seeing a comedian who
sells out at the Apollo?
It is like
acting. Around 1% of actors have a
lifestyle who is inspirational, and
only about 10% have a job at any one
time. We all accept that. The world
of comedy is overwhelmingly
left-wing, and they preach a lot of
socialism, but it's incredibly petty
Do they live like
In the sense that they
are poor, they do. But in your first
15 years of comedy... It is driven
by the idea that your name could be
up in lights one day. And it's fun
on the way as well, of course.
have to have something to strive
for, but you also have to have some
reasonable chance of realising that
aspiration. Of course, that means
having structures in place that
protect you. The welfare state,
health, unemployment benefits. But
you also need incentives, but that's
not to say that you need a society
that's deeply unequal and in which
the structural constraints make it
impossible to achieve.
grandparents have come from Bulgaria
and the Isle of Lewis, but you made
it to the White House. That's the
As always, the debates will continue
online and on Twitter.
Next week, we're in Newcastle
upon Tyne, so do join us then.
But for now, it's goodbye
and have a great Sunday.
Nicky Campbell presents topical debate from Netherhall School, Cambridge, with discussion on whether President Trump has been good for the world. Plus, is inequality a vital incentive?