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Journey of a Lifetime
Transcript: Any Questions?  01 August 2008
PRESENTER: JONATHAN DIMBLEBY


PANELLISTS:

LORD HATTERSLEY, former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH MP, former leader of the Conservative Party

LORD ADEBOWALE, Chief Executive of the charity Turning Point and Chair of London Youth Crime Prevention Board

RUTH LEA, economist and adviser to banking group Arbuthnot


From the Egham Royal Show, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham Hill, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX

DIMBLEBY
Welcome to Egham in Surrey where we are at Royal Holloway which is a major teaching and research institution of the University of London. We are here in the new Windsor building auditorium as the guests of the Egham and Thorpe Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Association which is celebrating its 150th anniversary and is renowned for the annual show which as usual takes place this year over the August Bank Holiday weekend. On our panel the former Labour Cabinet Minister in the days of Jim Callaghan, former Shadow Home Secretary and Deputy Leader of his Party in the Kinnock days and now prolific writer and commentator, Roy Hattersley. Iain Duncan Smith was briefly Leader of the Conservative Party until he was felled by his colleagues in the form of a no confidence vote, now he enjoys a great deal of confidence in his Party as the driving force and chair of David Cameron’s Social Justice Policy Group where he has identified social breakdown as the biggest challenge facing Britain. Victor Adebowale works at the front line of this challenge, formerly Chief Executive of the homeless charity Centre Point, he runs Turning Point which offers social care to those affected by drug and alcohol abuse and a range of other problems. He also chairs the London Youth Crime Prevention Board. In 2001 he was elevated to the Lords as one of the first so called people’s peers. Ruth Lea has long combined the role of economic policy wonk, commentator and polemicist formerly at the Institute of Directors latterly as the Director of the Centre of Policy Studies she is now Director of Global Vision which campaigns for a so called middle way in Britain’s relation with Europe. She is the fourth member of our panel.

(Applause)

Our first question please.

MARY SMITH
Should the government impose a windfall tax on energy companies?

DIMBLEBY
Roy Hattersley. An energy tax on, a windfall tax on energy companies?

ROY HATTERSLEY
In short yes. I know the argument we will hear in a moment that the international agencies who might or might not be investing in British energy will be deterred from doing so if their profits are cut but we always hear that argument. We heard that the economy will collapse if we had a national minimum wage I am just writing a biography of Lloyd George and he was told the economy would collapse if we had a national insurance scheme. The argument for a windfall tax is overwhelming in favour because of the needs of real people facing real hardship during the coming winter. Probably 20% of the population will be having to spend if they can afford it something like 20% of their income on fuel heating and lighting and people can’t afford to do that there will be real fuel poverty during the winter and I want those people to have a helping hand and the best and easy way to do it is to have a tax on the companies that today £962million profit, half yearly figures they can afford to give something towards the worse off. A fuel tax ought to be used for the specific purpose of helping towards the worse off pay their fuel bill during the winter. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Ruth Lea

RUTH LEA
Well I obviously have a lot of sympathy with people who are facing high increases in their gas and electricity bills but I do actually take a different view from Roy Hattersley. The truth is that especially companies like Centrica which British Gas is part needs to make money because it needs to invest in the energy infrastructure of this country. Believe it or not over the next 10 to 15 years we will find a third of our electricity generating capacity will be disappearing; a third. That is an awful lot of capacity and if that is not replaced by companies like Centrica and all the other energy companies then the lights will go out. So I think it is most important that these people not merely hang on to the profits which by the way are down over the last quarter and they are persuaded and encouraged to invest in gas storage. We don’t have enough gas storage in this country. We definitely need nuclear power which is going to cost an arm and a leg and it is pretty disastrous that the BE take over by EDF has fallen through although it might be resuscitated and we certainly need more coal fire power stations and probably we need more gas fired power stations so I suggest no we don’t go for windfall tax on these companies and in any case they pay a great deal of tax already. Centrica actually pays 58% of its earnings in tax. I think that is already a very substantial amount.

DIMBLEBY
So given that you have some sympathy with the plight that Roy Hattersley identified what would you do to help those people in that plight if anything?

RUTH LEA
Well you look at public expenditure now. We are talking about £600 billion now if some of that cannot be allocated towards helping people who need help with their electricity and gas bills then I despair but I think it is a sign too that really there is so much public expenditure now that is wasted surely we can use it better, surely we can target it at people who really do need it. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Lord Adebowale

LORD ADEBOWALE
I think that is it outrageous actually. The problem that we have got with the utility companies is this. If you are poor and you can’t afford your bills they give you a key OK now it costs more for a poor person to use that key than it does for those people who can pay their bills monthly by direct debit. Now that is outrageous and I think it is outrageous that in a civilized country there will be 4.5 million people who will be making the decision whether to eat or stay warm this winter. So frankly while I have, agree that there are some real challenges around investment for the future it is simply unacceptable for British Gas or whoever to announce 35% increases in prices and at the same time announce massive profits and then charge the poorest in our society the most. It is unacceptable and they should be made to do more for those people it seems to me to be very clear. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Iain Duncan Smith

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
Well all the work that I have done with the Centre of Social Justice leads me very much strongly to the same general view that Victor takes with regards to the biggest burden and share of the burden falls to the poorest and there is problem here that we talk about this in general terms but I think where we have gone wrong in society is to fail to recognize that if you are on very low income on the margins then actually the cost of living is much higher for you than it is for anybody else so dealing with that becomes the big, big issue. My problem is I am never quite certain that governments when they tax you, do very much with that money that will help this problem I mean I wonder where this money is going to go. We have a huge national debt, we have a Prime Minister who seems to be making this tentative announcement on holiday when he seems to be in difficulty maybe for a headline, we all know that we get fed up with these companies making excessive profits and I agree. My problem is you know don’t forget pension funds also invest in these companies and if you hit them with a hard windfall tax then the pension funds and the people who rely on that will also get hit as well, there is no free lunch on this one. My observation is that there is a lot more the government should have been doing in the interim to have got this down. First of all energy inefficiency lots of smart meetings we should be helping poorer people already trying to afford those bills through smart metering and getting it right for them so I am not against the idea of eventually coming to some sort of tax if it seems necessary but I think this is very early days. We don’t know where this market is going in 12 months time and I simply say just taxing them because the government makes a case for sounding right doesn’t ultimately end up doing the right thing. It could penalize lots of people in the wash as well.

DIMBLEBY
But as it is a problem that is almost immediate for those people who are about to pay the bills and are in the predicament that you’ve all agreed is there you are not against a tax, a windfall tax if it were to be as it were hypothecated, if it were to be returned to those most in need?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
If a compelling case could be made so that we could show we were directing this money in the right area. My biggest problem with hypothecated taxes and governments when they promise this is that rarely do they deliver. Everybody here knows they pay road tax, how many of you honestly believe any of that is spent on the upkeep of our roads, absolutely none so if you believe government I don’t (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Roy Hattersley?

ROY HATTERSLEY
Well the object would be to have an hypothecation. With something like £250 million. Ruth says light heartedly we can find the money somewhere all the people who say we can find the money somewhere have a duty to tell us where £250 million can be found between now and October.

RUTH LEA
I will tell you where

DIMBLEBY
Let Ruth tell us….

ROY HATTERSLEY
It is not enough to say we think that

DIMBLEBY
Roy she said she is going to tell you where. Ruth Lea tell him where.


RUTH LEA
Could I say this that a lot of the public expenditure over the last 5 years productivity has actually been falling in the health service, in education it has fallen by 17% over the last 5 or 6 years. In the private sector productivity has actually gone up by 17% I am afraid you make people think productivity must improve and that is the way you would actually save a lot of money

DIMBLEBY
But let’s because this is a pressing problem and £250 thousand has to be found soon if that is the figure. And you say it can be found from elsewhere, it is not going to be found from medium term productivity increases is it.

RUTH LEA
Well I think there is a lot of waste elsewhere but I think we have to realistic. Could I just pick up on something that Victor was saying because I think we want to get back to actually why these prices are going up and why they have got such big problems in the energy sector? Yes, British Gas has put up its gas prices by 35%, British Gas actually isn’t making that much money, its parent company Centrica is because it makes it out of electricity generation so you know we bring it back to the economics of all this and why are we so vulnerable to having these volatile price increases on gas? It is because they are global and international forces and gas prices are related to oil prices and why are we so vulnerable it is because we haven’t got proper storage. I will come back to this point. We have not invested sufficiently in our energy capacity in this country, that is why we are vulnerable so you know we have to think of those things as well as ……..

DIMBLEBY
Roy Hattersley

ROY HATTERSLEY
I can save £15 billion in 5 years time by not renewing Polaris but I am not at this moment interested in 15 years time or £50 million in 2020 I am interested in people being cold this coming winter and it is no good saying we can save money between now and October without having some specific advice as to how it can come about and one of the ways and one of the few ways it can be done is by having a tax now which puts money in the pockets of the very vulnerable, particularly the old this coming winter and when I hear people talking in these theoretical terms about well they can do energy saving devices, go to the people I used to represent in Birmingham the pensioners, old men and old women living on their own the families with three children and not very much income and say don’t worry , don’t worry about the bill coming in December install some energy saving devices, it is not the real world, these people want money in their pockets now otherwise they will be cold all winter


IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
Roy, Roy I don’t think there is anybody here that would question the need to help people in desperate circumstances like Victor talked about. The problem here is that to make it sound as though this is a free lunch. When you add the tax burden to a company like this and if we are going to do it we have to do it in the knowledge that we have real problems in our business sector right now and people will be being laid off in a year’s time, higher taxes make us less productive and ultimately feed through into that economic malaise so just let’s not pretend to the general public that when you raise taxes that somehow that is a free issue it costs all the way down the chain and pensioners with pension plans will certainly not benefit from that if they have invested in gas.

DIMBLEBY
Mary Smith you put the question?

MARY SMITH
I just felt that the energy companies are imposing a windfall tax on me. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
I am going to ask. A quick word from you Lord Adebowale

LORD ADEBOWALE
It just seems to me that while the question was about tax the energy companies are regulated and the point I was making, the response doesn’t require a tax it requires the energy companies to be made in the first instance to charge the poor, to give the poor the benefits of those who can afford to pay on a monthly basis that is not a tax issue it is

DIMBLEBY
To reform the basis on which they take the money…

LORD ADEBOWALE
It is common sense and decency that is not about tax, that is how we should expect a decent company to behave.

DIMBLEBY
It arouses very strong passions this audience do you think there should be a windfall tax on the energy companies for the reasons that Mary Smith outlined. Would you put your hands up please if you think there should be a windfall tax now or very soon? Those who think there shouldn’t be. Well in this audience a very large majority takes the view that there should not be such a tax. It is open for discussion of course in Any Answers after the Saturday broadcast of Any Questions?

ROY HATTERSLEY
Ask them how many are living on a basic pension.


DIMBLEBY
OK I will do that. How many people feel themselves to be at the very lowest income level on basic state pensions or on benefits would you put your hands up. It is the case in this audience only 2 or 3 people are in that situation. But I should have prefaced my question by saying this is not a scientifically selected cross section of the people of this area. The number to ring because you I am sure may have a thought about this the number to ring for Any Answers after the Saturday broadcast is 03700 100 444. The email address any.answers@bbc.co.uk.

Thank you Mary can we go to our next please


STEWART RIGLEY
Is society really broken or have the Tories invented a problem to solve?

DIMBLEBY
Victor Adebowale

VICTOR ADEBOWALE
I try and avoid playing politics with poverty. I think it is dangerous and I think it leads us into an area where we can pathologise people and we get into issues of deserving and undeserving so I don’t use or engage in the debate abut whether Britain is broken or not. Not least because I know too many nurses, social workers, project workers at Turning Point and other agencies who are busting a gut doing brilliant work so I just don’t think it is very useful.

DIMBLEBY
Are you saying that the term broken is not a helpful term?

VICTOR ADEBOWALE
I don’t think it is helpful no. I can see why it is being used because it clearly establishes a political difference but I am not part of that game so forgive me if I don’t use that term. Do we have problems? Absolutely. We do have some major challenges in this country. We have a growing gap between rich and poor. We have pockets of deprivation, by the way we had pockets of deprivation 10 years ago under the last government as well so let’s not pretend that a magic wand can be waved. I am however not a pessimist. I think there are things that we can do that would actually mitigate against the situation getting worse. Firstly I think we could spend public money more effectively by putting people in charge of both designing services and being employed to deliver them . I think there is a lot of work that could be done in that area that could actually make services more effective. I think and I am sure there will be a question about young people but there is a lot of work that we could do to prevent young people entering into the criminal justice system and ensuring those that do actually come out better than they went in.

DIMBLEBY
Summarize what those would be just in ….

VICTOR ADEBOWALE
In terms of prevention

DIMBELBY
Yes


VICTOR ADEBOWALE
Well the following things are true and it is work that I am doing as opposed to talking about. The first is that we need to make schools safe and we need to engage schools with the police in a positive way. We need to ensure that those young people who are excluded from school and by the way 60% of young people involved in London are school excluded, actually are engaged in programmes that occupy their time properly and appropriately and positively as opposed to not. We need to ensure that young people feel safe in both going to school and leaving school because young people who don’t feel safe don’t learn, scared kids don’t learn. Finally we need much better engagement with the public about what it feels like, I note plans to publish maps of high crime areas and it worries me you know, publishing a map that says round the corner there is loads of stabbings doesn’t exactly help does it. What we want are, we need to engage young people and the public in actually acknowledging how safe or unsafe you feel so the public services can be held to account by making you feel safer. It is that kind of information that needs to be made available to the public and that is something that we are working on as well. So I think there are things that can be done and can be engaged in and I would rather talk about that than whether Britain is broken or not. I happen to think this country is a great place.

DIMBLEBY
Does it count that if politicians whether they are seeking to demonstrate it was……

VICTOR ADEBOWALE
I think it can do if politicians seek to play the game of talking about prisons as though they are the only solution to crime for instance and we get into a bidding war about who is going to be more or less hard on crime. Talking about young people as though actually we don’t know that most young people are doing very well thank you very much and are an absolute positive contribution to society engaging in that kind of discussion I think undermines the positive work that is being done and this is not to take anything away from the excellent work that Iain Duncan Smith has been doing, not least in partnerships with organisations like mine. But I jut think we need to, we need to get beyond the rhetoric and into the reasons and into the solutions and then I think we can have some positive ways forward (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Before coming to the substance Iain Duncan Smith why use terms like broken in relation to society given what you just said.

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
The terms I use is break down and breakthrough to reflect the nature of what is going on

DIMBLEBY
But your Party Leader does use the term break down


IAIN DINCAN SMITH
Yes, personally I don’t think that using the term creates a problem. It draws attention to a problem that is there and it does at least make certain that politicians of all parties consider this to be an important issue. One of the things I have done since I set up the Centre for Social Justice which is one of my objectives, which by the way is not a Conservative organisation it is non party political, we work with a lot of voluntary sector groups in all the difficult areas You will have heard of Glasgow East recently all the way down to Hamsworth, all the difficult areas that we see around some of our cities. What we are trying to do and why I am happy in one sense that we debate this is because I think that this is an issue that has been slid under the blanket as it were and my party wasn’t really prepared to debate it in the level that it was and Labour I think became quite complacent about the issues as though they were issues that only Labour can deal with and nobody else really needed to get on to this issue and I think the point that we made when I published Breakthrough Britain is that we wanted to look at the structure. Is society broken? Well I think for the most part as Victor says young people, most people live better lives than they lived 30 or 40 years ago, there is no question there has been an improvement but there is a group at the lower socio economic end of society that has more than has been for a long time become quite trapped in that level of income and that level of poverty and those levels of destructive life styles such as you know heavy alcohol abuse, drug addictions, lack of work. In some places that I visit there are generational unemployment where you know two generations in a family that I visit have never held a job, nobody seems to give a dam whether they hold a job nobody seems to care too much about them, you have got the social services now, utterly over stretched, demoralized. I have just been dealing for example with care homes. I am doing a report on this and I am astonished and even angry that here alone compared to all the other national comparisons in Britain we take children into care far too quickly and when we do we actually reduce their life chances and almost make certain that their lives thereafter are going to be blighted I mean if the government was a family we would have been ruled out off side as a bad family because we can’t look after children so you know we need to get our act straight about this very fast. There is an element at the bottom end of the socio economic group of society that I think are trapped in lifestyles that are destructive and I think it is our objective and it should be our principle purpose to try and help them break through and join the rest of society and get on that ladder that allows them to move on up and improve the quality of their lives.

DIMBLEBY
Is this what one of the luminaries of your party many years ago described Sir Keith Joseph as the cycle of deprivation for which he was roundly excoriated not least by some members of, some conservatives as well as others. So basically you are talking about this cycle of deprivation.


IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
It isn’t different the whole key thing is that I think at last, certainly I hope from my Party’s standpoint that across the board we are prepared to discuss this properly and look to see what solutions to deal with things like alcohol, drugs, family breakdown, the worst in Europe, all of these issues have to be aired and now properly looked at for solutions which we have been putting forward

DIMBLEBY
Roy Hattersley?

ROY HATTERSLEY
I think you will find a great deal of unanimity on this panel in the answer to the question. As far as society being broken is concerned. I mean in the phrase. It is not worth very much analysis because it means nothing at all. It is one of the sorts of phrases that people form the trade I used to practice namely politics enjoy and choose to use but nobody pretends it has any deep meaning that is worth analysis. What we are I fear is a divided society because as Iain rightly says for most of us things are better than they have ever been, we are more prosperous, we are more healthy, we live longer, we have opportunities we hadn’t or our parents didn’t have and for 70% of our society things are getting progressively better year after year after year but there is a proportion of society for whom they are literally getting worse. Not only comparatively worse but literally worse and one of the disgraces of this society is that we have ignored it. I feel nothing but shame that my Party has been in power for 10 years and the gap between rich and poor has widened. I think we need policies that concentrate more and more on helping those people who are in desperate poverty not simply by giving them money because that only works in part, there is a good deal to be said for putting pound notes or £5 notes in their pocket but more than this has to be done and we have to concentrate not on the criticism that society as a whole has somehow collapsed but perhaps on the more profound moral criticism that members of society who are doing rather well are spending too little care, too little thought, too little time worrying about members of society who are doing badly. It is that submerged 10 or 15% we ought to be worried about. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Ruth Lea

RUTH LEA
Well I obviously agree with a great deal of what the 3 gentlemen have already said but I would just like to make a couple of points as to where I think perhaps some of the policy could be focused. The first is of course the problem of the family breakdown of instability in families and lack of support for the children and one has to ask why the tax benefits system is so biased against couples and in favour of lone parents and that is not to (APPLAUSE) that is not to condemn lone parents because we all know lone parents who do a terrific job but when you actually look at the tax benefit system and say right if you have a man and a woman bringing up children and the man left home then actually the woman would have more money.

DIMBLEBY
As a consequence of your view would it not be the case that lone parents doing a terrific job would suffer relatively financially in comparison with those who were in a partnership

RUTH LEA
Well forgive me for saying this but you would have fewer lone parents if the tax benefits system wasn’t so biased against couples.

DIMBLEBY
Sorry, you have jut said that no sorry you have just said that lone parents do a terrific job, there are lone parents for all kinds of reasons

RUTH LEA
Yes there are, there are

DIMBLEBY
They would relatively suffer in comparison with other parents that were couples

RUTH LEA
Sorry forgive me it would depend of course how much money you were prepared to allocate to the whole family system but if you just had single pot and you stopped the prejudice against couples yes I take your point. Sorry could I just finish on this one sorry forgive me I do think it is important to look at couples. I am not necessarily talking about marriage either but there is so much evidence now that children do so much better with couples than they do with a lone parent. As I say that is not condemning lone parents and forgive me I have had very little opportunity to say what I think about this because I think it is a terrifically important issue. The second one of course is how many of our children actually leave schools without the necessary literacy skills to actually get through life. Now what are schools doing that they are not providing that necessary background for those children. I just I fail to understand what you can do in today’s society if you don’t have basic literacy skills.

DIMBLEBY
Roy Hattersley

(APPLAUSE)

ROY HATTERSLEY
The idea that a deserting father would stay at home to look after his children because if he didn’t stay at home his wife would get less money in tax rebates seem to me to be fantasy standing on its head. The real issue is that we pay money to single parents because single parents need the money by definition. And in a decent society we help need. We don’t draw moral conclusions we help need and single parents need the money.

DIMBLEBY
Iain Duncan Smith

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
There is a problem with the way that this tax credit system of Gordon Brown’s has now created this imbalance because by targeting which he set out to do lone parents in such a direct manner what has actually happened is that they are on benefits to get into work. The time, the amount of hours they have to work compared to a couple is far fewer so there is a disparity. Now hold on a second. The point is we know the IAF has published figures that there was some quarter of a million more lone parents claiming benefits about two years ago than there were actually lone parents in existence in the UK. Why? Because what has been happening is that people realized that if you are on marginal incomes and you are looking to get into work almost the last thing you want to be is officially a couple together trying to do it because the money is so much less. Now there is a simple solution you need to rectify that imbalance by bringing them up to get rid of that disparity.

(INTERRUPTION)
No that is not blaming lone parents it is simply saying that if you set a complex system that actually doesn’t help people to make good decisions what you end up with is poor decisions being made and people becoming criminals

DIMBLEBY
Victor Adebowale briefly on this we must move on

VICTOR ADEBOWALE
I will be very brief. I would like to buy a drink for anybody actually who got married for the tax benefits. (LAUGH) Firstly. Firstly. Secondly let me finish, let me finish because I think it is important we don’t use tax to change what people do in couples or in singles but the second thing is we have arrived at a point where all three political parties have got something to say about poverty and I think it is a very important point and I just think we ought to dwell on what we collectively do about poverty and a lot of that is how we design public services. And for me I think it is something of a red herring to go down the shall we tax people into marriage or singledom? I don’t think it is going to work.

DIMBLEBY
This is like our first topic so important we could discuss it for the rest of the programme but we must move on in order to fulfill our remit.

We will go to our next please


JENNY MAYWOOD
What does the panel think of the £400,000 fine the BBC received this week for faking competitions and misleading audiences? I understand that this fine will be paid by the license payers. Should not the Corporation or programme makers of the 8 flagship shows involved dip into their own pockets?

DIMBLEBY
Ruth Lea?

RUTH LEA
There is a very simple answer to that. Yes. (APPLAUSE) Because alright you are saying the money comes out of the licence fee but of course we know what happens the money is taken out of other programmes that you and I want to watch. So in fact we are having a worse service because somebody has made a mistake. And I keep hearing about these wonderful bonuses that some of the suits in the BBC are earning and I am not going to mention any names but I can remember one of them I can’t remember all of them perhaps it is time that his bonus was looked at so to speak.

DIMBLEBY
Iain Duncan Smith?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
I agree. I find it rather ironic that the BBC is fined and the people who actually have done this which has caused the problem and therefore the fine however then let the license payers pick up the bill and you are ones that actually apparently suffered because you got misled by the whole programming and some people may have lost money so it seems rather ironic really that the debt falls on all of you on the week that we heard these bonuses being declared. I agree with Ruth I think that if this was in the private sector individuals would have to take responsibility for their actions, I think in politics in media I think we should do far more of that and the BBC can’t just sweep it under the way and say we are like anybody else they are not you know ITV doesn’t get their money from the licence fee payer so they have to if they were caught up with this, it comes out of their earnings so the difference with the BBC is you pay whether you like it or not and you are going to pay this time that’s got to be fundamentally wrong so I think some people who are responsible they should ante up

DIMBLEBY
Roy Hattersley?


ROY HATTERSLEY
Well Ruth and Ian are absolutely right but I think it is even worse than we thought this evening because the same principle applies even more foolishly to institutions. There was a hospital which was fined because it wasn’t fulfilling the standards of hygiene that was required of it. The hospital said we don’t operate sufficiently hygienically because we are short of money so what did they do they fined the hospital and it was even more short of money than when they started. It seems to be quite preposterous. Somehow the people responsible should be punished and I use that word without apology. I can’t resist saying that Iain Duncan Smith is stretching credulity to breaking point when he says people in private industry would be punished. Remember what happened to the Director of Northern Rock they were all paid off with very large bonuses indeed.

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
I agree.

DIMBLEBY
Victor Adebowale

VICTOR ADEBOWALE
Well I feel like disagreeing just for a laugh but

DIMBLEBY
Try it there might be some senior managers who got those bonuses who would be very grateful if you came up with an argument.

VICTOR ADEBOWALE
Well the crux of the matter is that it is such an outrageous, I read somewhere that it takes 35,000 people to pay their license fees in order to pay the top salaries of the people that run the BBC. It is a public company. I should say that at Turning Point is a social enterprise and we are regulated by about 6 different regulators; any one of them can close us down. I would be out of a job you know there is no way I could go to our clients and ask for that money so I do think it is quite offensive actually and I think that the regulators of the BBC should really look at how these punitive fines work. It clearly should not be possible to make the kinds of mistakes that have been made and for the license payer to pay the fee I mean it is funny isn’t it, it is like, it is better than some of the programmes (LAUGH AND APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
The BBC Trust said that they have taken this extremely seriously. They point out that OFCOM has recognized that neither the BBC nor any member of staff made any money from these serious editorial lapses, they have introduced something which is called a comprehensive programme of training for over 19,000 staff and they have recognized that the penalty in these cases reflects that the breaches were serious, deliberate and in some cases repeated. They believe that steps have been taken which will prevent a repeat of the practices that led to the failure. What do you make of all that you put the question very sharply Jenny Maywood?

JENNY MAYWOOD
Well I would just like to say I agree with Iain Duncan Smith I would like the BBC to become leaner and meaner.

DIMBLEBY
Victor I want to move on but you wanted a quick …

VICTOR ADEBOWALE
You don’t have to worry about the mean bit. (LAUGH)

DIMBLEBY
Victor you are just talking about the fees paid to panelists on Any Questions. (LAUGH)

VICTOR ADEBOWALE
I think it is very important that we understand that there are a lot of people who work for the BBC who work incredibly hard and I think it is … they are very very committed to the programmes and I think they probably agree that it is not right and I don’t think that we should condemn you know we should condemn them I think there are some very committed people who work for the BBC.

ROY HATTERSLEY
I am just relieved to hear in the statement that it is not going to be repeated and it is the only thing that the BBC have done in the last 10 years that hasn’t been repeated time after time after time (LAUGH)

DIMBLEBY
Iain Duncan Smith?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
You have heard from the license fee payers, you have heard from the politicians and others so Jonathan this is a wonderful opportunity for an employee of the BBC to answer this question

DIMBLEBY
I am a mere tiny light on this I am a small candle on this great Christmas tree but I do have the opportunity to invite any member of the BBC including those who have responsibility for these decisions to explain what happened, why it happened and why given the view of the panel and our questioner who is picking up the tab? They can do that like everyone else by ringing in to 03700 100 444 which is the Any Answers number or they can email even at Any.Answers@bbc.co.uk. I hope that some of them are hearing and maybe one of them will ring. Incidentally what does our audience think about this question. Should the tab be picked up by individuals within the BBC for this £400,000 fine? Hands up who thinks it should be. Surprise surprise who thinks it shouldn’t be? Well we have had very high percentages taking a view but this is the first time that I can recall that 100% are taking the view that it should be picked up by individuals at the BBC

We will go on to our next question.

BOB PAYNE
Since Labour and Tory policies are virtually identical should Labour also adopt the Tories ruthless habit of ditching unsuccessful leaders?

(APPLAUSE)

I am thinking of Mrs Thatcher, William Hague, our panellist Iain and Michael Howard.

DIMBLEBY
Mr Duncan Smith would you like to start on this?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
Why did I think you were coming to me first? It is my turn you are right ever the economist get the balance right. I haven’t … I have never been very good at talking about other people’s problems because your own party faces enough of them I think and this is something that Westminster loves to do to speculate whether people are gong to be there or not there. I think Roy we talked about this earlier; Labour has tended to be a little easier on their leaders generally than the conservative party

ROY HATTERSLEY
We have had better leaders

(laugh)

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
Well I am thinking of Neil Kinnock over two terms, two elections and a wonderful final election rally in Sheffield but the reality is that a political party has got to make their decision about whether they are going to win or not I think it is different from the Leader of the Opposition to be frankly a Prime Minister. I think the big issue here is that when you are a Prime Minister it is a much bigger deal when your party starts to take a view about you or whether you disagree with them and you get rid of them. The Conservative Party suffered for years after the regicide of Margaret Thatcher. Some might say it won them the next election but you know the repercussions internally in the Party went on for years and we frankly only now are recovering from them under David Cameron. We are looking again thank God like a Party that feels and could be in Government, and could run Government so the Labour Party embarks on this and I am I suppose am enormously pleased because it leaves the field clear for us to talk about politics and they can talk about personalities and I must say that watching or reading David Milliband’s entry into the field where he doesn’t actually mention the Prime Minister but quietly says he wasn’t meaning anything against him reminds me quite alot of some members of the Conservative Party many years ago who were always writing columns about various people but never quite striking and I can’t think of anyone particular name.
(APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Victor Adebowale

VICTOR ADEBOWALE
Oh great cross bencher here we go. I actually think that, first of all I think I think, I just need to say I think Gordon Brown’s a decent man and I think that we all get involved in this knock about and personalities and it makes a great story. The truth is and I think we all know it that changing the leader of a party doesn’t change the problem and the problem with the Labour Party is that there’s a real separation between it and the public at the moment and I’m not so sure if it’s just about the leader. Similarly, I don’t think it’s just about having charismatic and taligenic leaders of any other party either so I suppose my response to you answer is though well they can change if they want but I think the issue’s really are about are about the fact that we’re about to enter into a pretty serious economic downturn. We’ve got some problems that we’ve discussed this evening, those are the issues and I hope I hope to God that Gordon Brown, regardless of how popular he is, when he gets back from holiday gets cracking on those issues because those are the issues that matter and and whether he’s popular or unpopular and whether he gets moved or not, I need him to answer some problems. Full stop period.
(APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Ruth Lea there was an assumption built into this question which hasn’t so far been addressed. Since Labour and Tory policies are virtually identical should they adopt the leadership tactics that the Tories allegedly adopted?

RUTH LEA
I think the party the policies are very very similar actually I would agree with that and I think quite deliberately so. I know there’s a change of language with the Conservative Party and more emphasis on the individual but nevertheless the policies are pretty close. But going back to the leadership issue if I could pick up on something that Iain said, I actually thought David Milliband was highly duplicitous this week, I think that’s Bob Marshall Andrew’s phrase, he was calling yesterday for Gordon Brown to sack him and I think Geraldine Smith who’s an MP for Morecambe is also calling on Gordon Brown to sack him. I think the way he’s behaved this week is absolutely bizarre. It wasn’t just his article in the Guardian which talked about the future of the labour party and how it was going to change and possibly win elections ahead, but it, I think Iain said, it didn’t mention Gordon Brown’s name at all, then he gave a press conference when he was full of confidence about who am I, I’m the great I am, then blow me he was on Jeremy Vine and…

DIMBLEBY
(interrupting) The invitation that had been given and he accepted some time before this issue arose


RUTH LEA
(Interrupting) Of course he did yes yes well fair enough but when he was on (background laughter) coming out he was writing autographs I was you know is this I began to wonder if he was Ken Dodd I just didn’t…( Laughter) I just didn’t know what his game was and I just feel very uneasy about this. Is he really going for Gordon Brown’s head because if he is I think he should be very honest about it?

DIMBLEBY
Yes.

RUTH LEA
And the other thing that worried me was that the Cabinet Ministers who to a, I was going to say to a man, to a man and a woman twelve months ago were absolutely unanimously behind Gordon Brown, as I understand it not one of them has come out this week backing him up, now this is undermining Gordon Brown, whatever you think of Gordon Brown this is undermining his authority and in the mean time yes as Victor said the economy is facing difficulties, the country is facing difficulties, we want somebody to actually rule the country instead of being undermined by his colleagues as he is being at the moment.
(APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Roy Hattersley. Should you ditch an unsuccessful leader?

ROY HATTERSLEY
Well, let me first of all deal with a point you said ought to be addressed as well as that central issue. The questions’ hypothesis is quite right the two parties now are two similar, one of the problems of the Labour Party is we do not seem to be a party of principle as we once were, with a clear set of ideas and an ideology about the country, a desire to make it all equal country, a desire to overwhelmingly help the poor more than anything else. We need to be a Social Democratic Party more than anything else, we need to be a Social Democratic party again, and until we are established as a party that stands for that we go on having problems whoever is leader. So the first question is yes there needs to be a clear definition enabling the general public to choose the sort of society they want to see. Now when Gordon Brown…

DIMBLEBY
(Interrupting) Do you foresee that with the present leader?


ROY HATTERSLEY
I think the only, the best prospect to the labour party redefining itself as a party of principle is Gordon Brown being himself, being what he really is, being the man I know him to be rather than rather than succumbing to pressures that say you have to accommodate various interests, you have to be nice to the people who really aren’t on your side, that you have to be ecumenical in the way you predecessor was ecumenical. If Gordon Brown were himself I think half the problem would be solved. But let me go on to answer the other half as quickly as I can. Having made clear, if not by implication, by now a statement, I am a Gordon Brown supporter I wanted him for Prime Minister and I think as long as he does what he believes in he’ll be a great Prime Minister. However, the issue of ditching him as it was so elegantly called isn’t quite as simple as all the newspapers have talked about over the last three weeks. Newspapers have talked as if a good fairy will come along and deposit a new leader in the Labour Party one day in September/October. Were there to be a leadership election nobody should think David Milliband, who I rather like, and hope will be the leader of the Labour Party one day but not yet, would be certainly challenged by other people, there’d be a thing called the hustings, there’d be a long election campaign, there’d be votes cast by trade unions and constituent Labour parties, this could go on for most of September, October into November. Now if anybody really believes in my party or outside that this country with increase in fuel prices, reduction in mortgage repayments, all the other economic difficulties, wants a labour in government to spend three months examining it’s own navel they must be off their heads. (Laughter)
(APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
What do you..Roy..

Given that David Milliband has been fiercely criticized by Ruth Lea what do you make of his behaviour over the last three days? How do you judge him? What’s going on?

ROY HATTERSLEY
What do you…behaviour…whose behaviour?

DIMBLEBY
David Milliband’s.

ROY HATTERSLEY
Oh David Milliband’s David well Ruth is making cheap political points and I don’t mind her doing that but (LAUGHTER) what Milliband was doing

RUTH LEA
Hang on!

DIMBLEBY
You’re going to make a non-cheap political point?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
I thought David Milliband was making…

DIMBLEBY
What do you make of what he’s up to? What is he up to?

ROY HATTERSLEY
I don’t think he’s up to in that sense anything I mean we’ve all been in this situation, we’ve been in Governments in difficulties and people will believe they’ve got some ideas and certainly have some aspirations, I’m sure David Milliband wants to be Prime Minister one day and that is a good and noble aspiration. Iain wanted to be Prime Minister one day, I wanted to be Prime Minister one day, neither of us ever made it but the idea that somebody should not establish his position as a major figure in the labour party hierarchy is preposterous.

DIMBLEBY
(interrupting)Has it been helpful has it been helpful do you think?

ROY HATTERSLEY
I take demonican damage review about this, we ought to keep calm about a young Cabinet Minister saying some interesting things and we shouldn’t examine every sentence as if they were the dead sea scrolls into which we could interpret all sorts of meaning. We should just get on with the business of governing the country.

DIMBLEBY
Roy given your views on that and all the commentary what do you make of those who say on the basis of what people inside your party are saying to them and one or two of them openly that politically Gordon Brown is now dead in the water? What do you make of that?

ROY HATTERSLEY
Well I think they’re wrong and I think two things contribute to that being in the newspapers. First of all there are some members of Parliament who enjoy the moment of fame of being on television, being the man who attacked the Prime Minister they think there’s some advantage to doing that. Secondly, I’m always deeply sceptical of reading reports of Cabinet Ministers who don’t give their names but express strong opinions. I’m a journalist as well and I know what happens when you write about people who don’t give their names but express strong opinions, they exist but they don’t exist in quite the extreme form that you write about them
(APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Let me very briefly only because we’re out of time, Iain .


IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
Can simply say that what happens when parties are in decline like this is you get a Cabinet Minister who then says what we need is massive radical policies. The truth is most of the public think what they need is good management and they’re not getting it that’s the problem.
(APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
All we’ve got time for and next week Paddy Ashdown, Billy Bragg, join us then, for now good bye.
(APPLAUSE)
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