BBC On The Record - Broadcast: 19.05.02

==================================================================================== NB. THIS TRANSCRIPT WAS TYPED FROM A TRANSCRIPTION UNIT RECORDING AND NOT COPIED FROM AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT; BECAUSE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF MIS-HEARING AND THE DIFFICULTY, IN SOME CASES, OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL SPEAKERS, THE BBC CANNOT VOUCH FOR ITS ACCURACY ==================================================================================== ON THE RECORD RECORDED FROM TRANSMISSION: BBC ONE DATE: 19.05.02 ==================================================================================== JOHN HUMPHRYS: Good afternoon. The Tories say they're changing and they're becoming more caring and tolerant? I'll be asking Iain Duncan Smith if it's really anything more than a change of tone. I'll also be talking to Peter Mandelson about his latest thoughts on why New Labour needs to be renewed. And the government wants to stop old people staying too long in hospital beds. But is their solution going to make matters worse? That's after the news read by Darren Jordon. NEWS HUMPHRYS: Peter Mandelson says New Labour must now become NEW New Labour if they're to stay on top. Will Tony Blair be wise to listen to him? And... residential care homes. Too many are closing down. Is the Government doing enough to make sure elderly people get the care they deserve? DAVID HINCHLIFFE : I believe that there are many old people who are saying look, the kind of second rate service we have offered them over the years is no longer acceptable. JOHN HUMPHRYS: But first... the state of the Conservative Party. The Tories are trying desperately to show us that they're not the same as the party that we have rejected so decisively at the last two elections. Things are changing. They're becoming more compassionate... more caring... more cuddly. In the past few weeks we've seen Iain Duncan Smith spending some time with poor people on a deprived council estate in Glasgow. We've seen another member of his Shadow Cabinet spending a night with homeless people. And whole teams of Tories have been travelling across the Continent in search of ways to improve our public services. What does it all add up to? What are they changing from and what are they changing to? I've been talking to Mr Duncan Smith this morning near his home in Buckinghamshire and that was the first question I asked him. IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Well, the problem that we have to face as a party and I've asked all my colleagues to do that, is to recognise that the way we are perceived by the public and in the past have been perceived, is that a party that is centred on only really a couple of issues, maybe Europe, perhaps tax and that's it. What I want to be able to show, is that the party, the Conservative Party has never been just a two issue party, it's a much broader party, it's always been concerned about issues to do with public services. So what I'm getting them to do is to broaden out and to be talking about the things that people really do think are of huge importance and the Health Service in the last seven or eight months since I took over has been a prime concern. The failure in the Health Service is something we want to tackle, so what we are doing is saying, look we're changing but changing really to be ourselves again, not this party so quirky and centred only on a few things but actually a much broader party that will look at things that the public are really concerned about and bring those solutions that will actually help them in their daily lives. HUMPHRYS: And one of the things that you seem to be concentrating on is the vulnerable. I noticed that in your Harrogate speech that you made last year, that the section was entitled "Championing the Vulnerable". So one wonders whether you now want us to think of the Conservative Party in these terms instead of in the old days you might have thought of the Conservative Party as the party of business people, thrusting, energetic, get ahead, fighting for yourself and all the rest of it. Now, we should be thinking of poor people, people who live in the most deprived bits of Britain, people with the biggest problems, is that the idea? DUNCAN SMITH: The purpose of what I do when I talk about the vulnerable is to demonstrate that even though wealth is created much higher in this country, that people have more, more disposable income generally, there are huge sections of the population who simply are trapped in dependency and whose lives really don't change in any beneficial way at all. So, we are not changing from being a party that believes in enterprise, far from that at all because it is enterprise, ultimately business creation, job creation that helps people out. But what we have also got to recognise is that there's something else, it's the way in which the state has so taken over the way that people live their lives that they themselves get very little control over their lives. One of the points I made in the speech in Harrogate and I will be making it again this week, is that this nation we have now, has a more centralised, authority based structure than we have ever had before. Everything is based on Whitehall, every decision it almost seems is taken by Whitehall, let me give you an example John. A few months ago you will recall, I raised the issue of Rose Addis, who is a constituent of mine. HUMPHRYS: The elderly lady in hospital. DUNCAN SMITH: That's right, she had a problem with treatment, she didn't get the treatment that she needed. I raised it for one very simple reason, within about three days of their concern, the family's concern, we had the Secretary of State for Health actually commenting on this individual case. Ridiculous, the only person... HUMPHRYS: 'Cause you raised it. DUNCAN SMITH: No, no, this was before I raised it. The only reason I raised it was because the hospital had dismissed her, the Secretary of State had dismissed her, it was a ninety year old woman who couldn't get any redress and this family felt frustrated because nobody cared and my point was saying, this is absurd that we spend three or four days with the Prime Minister and myself, concerned about a single issue in a hospital, why? - because the system is so centralised that now Whitehall runs everything right down to the single patient's treatment. That's mad and that's also going to damage people. HUMPHRYS: But centralised - the Welfare State is centralised, what you seem to be saying, what you are very clearly saying is that you want a society where people help themselves. DUNCAN SMITH: Yeah, I want a society where people take control of their lives, where they take not just responsibility but they get the opportunity to be able to shape their lives in the way that they will want to do it. I yesterday, when I was up in Scotland, I went to Easterhouse again, privately, to talk to... HUMPHRYS: That's that very deprived estate.. DUNCAN SMITH: The Easterhouse project is Project Fair which is there, run by local people to try and get people out of their dependency, out of their difficulties, out of their drug addiction, get their kids fed in the morning and I went to talk to them and ask them this question: what the biggest problems you face? It's the same question I've been asking wherever I've gone, on whatever estates and I was absolutely struck by one thing that they said to me. They said and many others have said the same: look the problem is if we go for state money in the way it is now, what the government does and local councils do, is they give it full of strings. In other words, if you want some money you must do the following things and report on the following things. And they say, but we know that's not what's needed here. What's needed here is another approach, what people want to get them to take control of their lives, to get them off this dependency, we need to work with them but the state can never focus on this because it needs to constantly report targets and figures. So they are saying, what we want to be able to do is little groups like this to be set free, just to be able to get on with what we know is right for this community and it's what happened in New York, it's the lessons we are learning from all over these other countries that have solved the problems that we don't have. HUMPHRYS: That's fine for people who can help themselves, but two things about that. One is... DUNCAN SMITH:'s not about people who can help themselves, it's about communities of people who have helped themselves, helping others help themselves. HUMPHRYS: Alright, so it's still a kind of charity. I mean, charity is perhaps not the exact word there, but it's one group of people helping another group of people, or one group of people helping themselves and the trouble with the sort of going to the housing estates occasionally, or your Social Security man popping off to spend a night on the streets with homeless people and that sort of thing, people think that's a bit of a gimmick. What you are actually doing is distracting attention.... DUNCAN SMITH: ...hardly.. HUMPHRYS: ...let me suggest to you why people are concerned about it, is that you are distracting attention from the real issue here which is charity is all very well and fine but there are an awful lot of people (a) who cannot help themselves in the way that you describe (b) who absolutely need the State to help them, need the Welfare State. And the way to help those people, the most deprived people is quite simply to give them more money through the State and if you are saying, we are not prepared to do that, then they are going to get a bit worried about what you mean by helping the vulnerable. DUNCAN SMITH: That's a very good question and in fact I notice in your articles that you've written for a Sunday paper, you have often touched on this and I think some of your comments have been quite interesting on this matter. You've talked about the powerlessness that people feel down in their communities because when you talk about people saying they just need more money, that's not the case. I mean there has been huge sums of money, Welfare spending now is rising faster than health or education under this government and yet when you visit places like Easterhouse or the estates in Faversham or you go to Liverpool and see the way some of the people live, you realise that it's not the money that's helping them, it's the dependency that it's creating which is trapping them. Now, what I am saying is not you sweep all that away. What I am saying is we have to try and understand that the problem here is actually now politicians getting in the way of what people really want to do for themselves and what I am saying is we want to drive that power out of Whitehall, down to the levels that it best sits at. It could be at schools, it could be at hospitals, it could even be down in the estates, on these groups where they are able to tap in to funds, they are able to run these things but in the way that they know is right. HUMPHRYS: Sounds like the same old Tory line really doesn't it, doesn't sound like the new caring, compassionate Conservative Party. DUNCAN SMITH: I think the most caring thing that I can do for anybody is allow them to help themselves, with others.... HUMPHRYS: ..if they can. DUNCAN SMITH: Well that's exactly the point. A compassionate society is one that actually wants people to help themselves and those who are quite incapable of course are helped but the key point is and this is the point that's made to me time and again when I go to visit these projects, they say to me: the thing that we do is that we try to get people to take responsibility for their lives and when they do, to give them a sense of purpose and as they do that, they bring themselves with us, off their dependency into jobs, they get jobs. HUMPHRYS: You're telling me nobody ever tells you: we simply need more money - we're poor or we are single parents, we can't help..... DUNCAN SMITH: Of course they say money is vital, we all know that. HUMPHRYS: Are you prepared to give them more money? DUNCAN SMITH: Listen, the key is they are getting lots of money but it's not getting to them. The reality is that councils, central government is wasting vast sums of money because the way they apply it is far too often against what central government thinks are the requirements. They set the targets, they are the reporting structure. You only have to take the Health Service John. You look at a series of managers now who are so worried about what central government thinks that instead of doing what they think is necessary for their hospital, too often they end up simply fiddling figures to report back against what they think that Mr Milburn wants when he wants to be able to report back to Parliament to say it's alright we met the following targets. That is a system gone mad, it should be about people in those hospitals saying: look, we can deliver better services. Let me give you a good example, when I went over to Sweden, I visited a system in Stockholm and some of my colleagues have visited other systems. The one thing that they said to me was we had your system here and we chucked money at it, far more that you are and it never worked. What they've done is exactly what I am saying, decentralise completely, they've given control to county councils, to hospitals and they give patients the right to choose their hospitals. HUMPHRYS: They spend less money. DUNCAN SMITH: No they spend the money they were already spending but now the effect is dramatic. Their waiting lists have collapsed, the patient has the right to choose in Stockholm, you can't do that here, you can't choose your hospital, you can't choose your doctor. That's what I mean about giving people control over their own lives, making the system serve them, not the other way round. HUMPHRYS: You say that, this is the other way in which you are changing, we need to catch up with the way people live their lives in modern Britain, I'm quoting from one of your speeches. Now you had a chance to do that on Thursday, when the House of Commons voted on changing the adoption laws so that unmarried couples could be adopted...could adopt children. You told your MPs to vote against that. DUNCAN SMITH: Quite rightly. HUMPHRYS: Well, it may be right from a moral point of view, from your perspective. DUNCAN SMITH: No, it's not a moral point of view, it's a very practical point of view John. HUMPHRYS: Before you tell me why it's right from a practical point, let me hone in on this point about the way people live their lives in modern Britain. The way people live their lives in modern Britain is that forty per cent of them, forty per cent of children are brought up out of wedlock, now that is a fact. So what you are saying is, we need to catch up with them but not with forty per cent of them. Very odd thing to do. DUNCAN SMITH: With respect John, that's utter nonsense. HUMPHRYS: Which bit of it. DUNCAN SMITH: Let me explain to you why. HUMPHRYS: Well, forty per cent of it. DUNCAN SMITH: Let me explain why. What you are leading to is not right. The reason why we took that position, why I took that position, why my party took that position was for purely practical reasons. It was supported by the way from Torche, the Tory Reform for Homosexual Rights, they supported it, why? HUMPHRYS: Not mentioned homosexuals at this stage. DUNCAN SMITH: No, no, wait a minute. They supported it why? And others supported it because the key here is what's good for the child, not what's good for people's lifestyles, what's good for the child. What we are dealing with here is children who are in deep difficulty, often in and out of care and their lives have been destroyed, the reason why I think and I believe fundamentally it's wrong to simply say any couple can just adopt, it's because essentially what we know from all the figures is that couples that are not married, their systems, their allegiances break up far, far quicker than married couples. HUMPHRYS: So they're not fit to be parents? DUNCAN SMITH: Wait a minute and the result of that is that because they're taking these children from care, already often disturbed, these children then very quickly end up back in care being shunted around. The reason why it's important to make sure that there is an individual who actually holds the responsibility for looking after that child is so that no..... what ever else happens that child is looked after and not shunted around. It is a simple fact. And the real problem is that the adoption agencies at the moment could do much more to open up adoption to children of different ethnic minorities to parents who don't, who aren't of those ethnic minorities... HUMPHRYS: ...but, no no, but that's, again that's a separate issue... DUNCAN SMITH: it's for children, it's protecting children John, that's the key. HUMPHRYS: Well you're, you're protecting children against being married...... against being adopted by unmarried couples, so in other words, unmarried couples are not fit to bring up children... DUNCAN SMITH:, no, no, no... HUMPHRYS: ...that's the essence of what you're saying, that's the only... DUNCAN SMITH:, no John. We're talking..., no, no, no it's not. HUMPHRYS: ...and this is the way people live in modern Britain, forty per cent..., DUNCAN SMITH:, no John, John this is the most ridiculous, ridiculous line of questioning. HUMPHRYS: Why? Why? DUNCAN SMITH: ...let me, let me answer that. No let's let me answer it for you. The reason we've taken this is quite simple. You're dealing here with children who are in severe difficulties, they have suffered .....often emotional problems, they've been in and out of care, what you do not want to do is to put them into a home that is very likely to break up and then to be back in care again. HUMPHRYS: So forty per cent of homes in Britain are likely to break up... DUNCAN SMITH: the key, let me, let me finish this, let me finish this. The key problem therefore is to make sure they are settled. And look John, you can go and look at all the figures, the reality is, and I think the ... the family survey that's taken place across the UK but many other figures show that cohabiting couples are nearly four or five times more likely to break up than married couples, so you're simply dealing with reality. It's not condemning anything, it's simply saying the children need stability, and what you can't do is say, we're just going to punt to a lifestyle. Fine, people who want to adopt children have a very simple choice. They can get married to adopt children, that's fine. But the reality is those children need absolute protection far more than anybody else, and that's that what we've stayed on and I'm simply determined that it is the right thing to do. HUMPHRYS: And you'll be doing it again tomorrow when MPs vote on homosexual adoptions, you, you will say homosexual couples may not adopt. DUNCAN SMITH: Well it, it's not whether it's homosexual or heterosexual. The simple point is about children as I said to you earlier on and I repeat this - the Tory Reform For Homosexuals Group, TORCH, they supported this, why? Because they said the most important thing is the protection of the child, not satisfying different lifestyle changes. That's what we're about. Of course we recognise the way people live their lives, but the reality is when you deal with children, you must always work to protect children, I'm absolutely clear about that, I stand by it. HUMPHRYS: Well fine, but people will say... DUNCAN SMITH: did the government until they discovered by the way they got into difficulty with some of their backbenchers. The government line was exactly the same, then they panicked, because they realised a number of their backbenchers disagreed and so they walked away from it... HUMPHRYS: ...well it may be, it, it may be... DUNCAN SMITH: ...that's not leadership. HUMPHRYS: it may not be leadership, but be may be that they are in touch with the way people lead their lives... DUNCAN SMITH: they were in touch only with their backbenchers John... HUMPHRYS: ...and, and, and well... BOTH SPEAKING TOGETHER HUMPHRYS: ...well they may be in touch with that. They may also be in touch with the forty per cent of people in this Britain, who in this country, who are not married and live as unmarried couples. You are not, and what, whatever the argument... DUNCAN SMITH: ...but there is not a huge demand John from unmarried couples to adopt children, it is not... HUMPHRYS: ...well now you're shifting it around... DUNCAN SMITH: it's not... HUMPHRYS: ...I mean whether it's a great demand or not, there are some people who want to do it... BOTH SPEAKING TOGETHER DUNCAN SMITH:, no, let me take you back to your word. You said forty per cent. Not true. There is not that demand. HUMPHRYS: Forty per cent of couples... DUNCAN SMITH: ...that's exactly... HUMPHRYS: this country with children... DUNCAN SMITH: ...exactly right. HUMPHRYS: ...are not married DUNCAN SMITH: ...and I said... HUMPHRYS: ...and you're saying they're not fit to adopt children... DUNCAN SMITH: ... No. What you said is forty per cent of the couples in this country want to adopt children, not true. HUMPHRYS: Alright, alright, let's move... DUNCAN SMITH: ...let's go to reality, protect children, that was the key. HUMPHRYS: Okay. Let's, let's move to another area where you seem hugely, by your own admission, you would accept of course, arithmetically you're out of touch and that's with MPs in the House of Commons, one-hundred-and-sixty-six MPs you have, fourteen of them are women, you have no ethnic minority. Now you have ruled out doing all the things that could make that change. You have ruled in only exhortation. Now how are you going to change. Again, it's saying, we want to be different, we want to cast aside our own image, but we're not going to do it. DUNCAN SMITH: Oh well we are. We are going to get more women and more members of the ethnic community to become Members of Parliament. HUMPHRYS: How? By exhorting the constituencies. DUNCAN SMITH: No, no, we've changed some things very dramatically. We've changed the selection process, now that people actually apply to become MPs. We changed the period in which they go, they get selected, that's changed dramatically. HUMPHRYS: Not going to be all women short lists? DUNCAN SMITH: We don't need all women short lists and I don't believe that that's right and I think the Labour Party has actually been failed by that in a funny sense. What I want is people of quality to come forward, have an opportunity to stand, and to get the right chance to be in those seats. And what we've done as I've said, we've changed the way in which we select, we now have more women coming forward. Many women were put off by the selection process. We've got many more women on the list and will have many more. Many more members of the ethnic community coming forward as well. What we're also doing is we're doing things like profiling constituencies, being able to demonstrate to associations that perhaps may not be as in touch with the way that people live their lives in their associations... HUMPHRYS: ...and all of that may... DUNCAN SMITH: they are, and at the same time what we're also showing is that certain key constituencies need to think very careful, carefully about the type of person that they want to select. All of this is part of a process of change. And those associations by the way are already demonstrating that they desperately want to find a wider variety of candidates, that is happening, so I don't take.... HUMPHRYS: ...but the acid test is when they actually select those candidates, isn't it, as you know, and what you have said is if we don't reflect the Britain we want to lead we will never be asked to lead it, so in other words if, in three or four years time from now, when we have another election, if you don't have fifty per cent women and roughly seven per cent ethnic minority candidates then you will not be fit to lead the country? DUNCAN SMITH: No John, I didn't get down the road saying quotas, and you can't misread, I said... HUMPHRYS: ...if we don't reflect the Britain we want to lead we will never be asked to lead it... DUNCAN SMITH: ...exactly, that's right. You're not going to expect my party to suddenly in the course of one parliament jump to some quota system that puts us in exactly the same position. I'm talking about the sense that the public will get of us that we are getting more women involved... HUMPHRYS:'s got to be very, very different from what it is now, isn't that right? DUNCAN SMITH: ...we are getting more members of ethnic communities. It will be different from what it is now. That's the plan, and that's my determination and you know, I have a large number of advisers, ethnic backgrounds, all helping with this, women in charge of the candidates process for the first time ever... HUMPHRYS: ...okay... DUNCAN SMITH: ...I don't feel in any way defensive about this, really quite positive. HUMPHRYS: Right, and, another area, now this is somewhere where I've been arguing throughout this interview that you haven't changed very much, here's somewhere you have fundamentally changed since, since the last leader... DUNCAN SMITH: can't have is both ways John (sic).... HUMPHRYS: And that was, you can, in politics....have it in any way you like (sic) and this is the Euro. The trouble is, you've been, you've sorted out the Euro as far your party was concerned, as far as you were concerned, and you've stayed very quiet about it since. Now the problem with that is that while you have been quiet about the Euro, support for it has been growing, and that's a problem for you, isn't it? DUNCAN SMITH: Well we can look at those figures any time you like. I don't actually believe that is the case, that support is quickly growing. HUMPHRYS: Well let's just quickly for the benefit of the audience... DUNCAN SMITH: ...well there are lots of different polls John... HUMPHRYS: ...well let's take the MORI poll, May two-thousand-and-one, thirty-three per cent in favour of the Euro, sixty per cent against, and using the same sorts of questions and all the rest of it, last month, forty-three per cent in favour, fifty-one per cent against, so it's moving against you, if you take that particular poll. DUNCAN SMITH: But there are other polls too John,I don't want to argue about polls... HUMPHRYS: ...alright, let's use that poll... DUNCAN SMITH: view is that my party is very settled about it, we haven't just shut-up about it, when the Euro was launched in the New Year, we were very explicit about why we believed it would wrong from Britain to join, both for Economic and for political reasons, constitutional reasons, we've said it again in the last few days, and whenever the issue arises all I've done is said to my party, look, the British people have known for some time that we have strong views about the Euro, quite rightly it's a huge and important issue. What they don't know from us is how strongly we feel about failing health care, about rising crime on the streets and about public transport. So what we want to do is to broaden that view so the public knows that when they come to make their decision, they will know that we have policies and we have ideas that are on a wider range of issues, we're not going to run away from the Euro issue, far from it. The policy of the party is quite clear. As and when the referendum is held, we will campaign to keep the pound, and we will do it without a problem. HUMPHRYS: The trouble is while you've been concentrating on other things, talking about other things, talking less about the Euro, people like Ken Clarke have been quietly mobilising their forces and now he has set up this Tory European network, and it's working against your interests. DUNCAN SMITH: Not really at all, and Ken is the first to accept that. What we've done is I've begun to treat this as a grown-up issue for grown-ups, unlike the government, and what I'm saying simply is that the party, no party is absolutely going to have everybody on the same line. The party must have a view and a policy, which is ours, to keep the pound, and the vast majority of my party will back that, there will be some who would like to take a different line, and I've said to them fine, when the campaign begins, you go and campaign for what you believe in, and when we've won it, you come back, that's not a problem. HUMPHRYS: When do you go into full attack mode? DUNCAN SMITH: We're always ready to be in full attack mode. As you've probably noticed, the thing I want to point out is that whilst we have been campaigning on Health, Crime, Transport, the government, who's got into huge difficulties on these issues with problems on Health, rising waiting lists, problems on Crime, with huge violence on the streets, what we're saying is, that's the real issue. Don't distract by trying to go to the Euro. We want a campaign to keep the pound, but you should get on, either hold a referendum, no problem to us, or actually shut-up and get on and sort out Crime, and Health, which is what you should be doing, and now you're looking for a distraction, because you're failing and in the meantime John, whilst we've been doing that, Labour MPs have been splitting from their government. A large number have said they don't want to scrap the pound and that wasn't the case nine months ago. HUMPHRYS: Iain Duncan Smith, many thanks. HUMPHRYS: I was talking to Mr Duncan Smith a bit earlier this morning. Now when Tony Blair won the leadership of the Labour Party he went out of his way to thank Peter Mandelson in particular... the man who had effectively invented New Labour. That was eight years ago and "new" Labour has done him proud. It's won him two elections with massive majorities. But Mr Mandelson's ideas were never very popular inside the Party with many and Labour MPs never learnt to love him in the way Mr Blair had once hoped they would. Now Mr Mandelson himself is saying that in Government they got some big things wrong: they lacked boldness, there was too much spin and so on. He's just written another book in which he says the party must renew itself... another revolution. So should Mr Blair follow his advice again? Mr Mandelson is with me and I'll be talking to him after this report from Iain Watson. IAIN WATSON: The industrial revolution is firmly part of Britain's past. And now, some in Labour's ranks want to see another revolution go the same way, the Blair revolution - a book penned in nineteen-ninety-six by Peter Mandelson. But he just won't take the advice of a fellow revolutionary, Chairman Mao. He said 'When the enemy advances, withdraw'. Instead, Peter Mandelson has reissued and revised his book with the stated aim of recharging Blair's revolutionaries. But would the prime minister want to be associated with this latest call to arms? IAN DAVIDSON MP: I think you have to remember that Peter Mandelson's position inside the party depends very much upon the patronage of the leader. Peter remember, got defeated for elections to the National Executive by Ken Livingstone and nowadays we've just seen his candidate in his own constituency being defeated by a monkey, which hardly tends to indicate that his approach to politics is achieving widespread acclaim. WATSON: In his revised version of the Blair revolution, Peter Mandelson calls for the creation of 'new' New Labour, but his critics may be surprised to find that in manufacturing an updated ideology for his Party, he's taking some components from the left. Not only does Peter Mandelson defend the tax increases in the budget, he says more may be necessary - especially to achieve his ambition of increasing education spending in line with health. But some of his former supporters say he's diluting the original New Labour brand. A small group of modernisers, called Labour 2000, were at their zenith at the time of the original Blair revolution. Their leader, Phil Woodford, thinks Tony Blair should avoid his close confidant's advice on taxation. PHIL WOODFORD: I'm surprised that Peter Mandelson is now saying that we should be prepared to tax more and spend more, after all we went into the nineteen-ninety-seven and two-thousand-and-one elections saying something very different indeed. Every time you give an inch to the old left they're in danger of taking a mile and we do all have to be conscious as Labour modernisers within the Party that the way we express our ideas can allow people whose views, to be quite honest, will always be rejected by the electorate, to gain an unnecessary and worrying stronghold within the party once again. WATSON: And there are those in the mainstream of the Labour Party who want to see the New Labour brand dispatched. The leader of Peter Mandelson's own union, the GMB, wants to turn round attitudes at the very top and is now funding the left-wing think-tank Catalyst, to help create a more traditional social democratic image of Labour. Even the Chancellor attended last week's re-launch. Significant sections of the party now want the Prime Minister to see the recent budget as just the first step towards a European-style higher spending, higher tax economy. JOHN EDMONDS: We need to re-build our public services, there is a big constituency in Britain for doing that, and not just the Health Service, that was a very good start, but also public transport, also housing, also our municipal services. Now that type of approach has considerable resonance in modern Europe, but it does mean higher taxation, it does mean paying for public services out of higher taxation, and it does mean talking about the common good. WATSON: Peter Mandelson is no doubt aware of the counter revolutionary stirrings in Labour's ranks against the Blairite elite, so while he defends the government's tax increases, in other respects, he thinks it's necessary to have a head-on clash with those who want to see a return to old Labour ways. When it comes to the public services, his vision of 'new' New Labour is as radical as ever, and his critics say that his ideas simply don't represent practical politics for a centre-left government that wants to stay in power Peter Mandelson wants his leader to spill more political blood in a battle to challenge trade union power; he says the private sector should be involved even more deeply in the delivery of public services. But the South American revolutionary Che Guevara once warned that no battle, combat or skirmish should be fought unless it can be won. So if Tony Blair begins to turn his close colleague's ideas into action, he'll also have to steel himself against an assault from dissident forces in his own ranks. DAVIDSON: The campaigns that have been run on keeping the public services in the public sector have been overwhelmingly popular and I do think that the Prime Minister and those around him do need to take some recognition of what the country feels on issues like this, particularly when there's no absolute overriding economic imperative that makes us have to privatise. WATSON: Peter Mandelson has retained two key demands from his original nineteen-ninety-six Blair revolution. He says Britain can't be a leading player in Europe until his dear leader wins a referendum on the single currency. He also has a grand plan to create a progressive century, involving closer links with the Lib Dems but they're wondering just what's in it for them. CHARLES KENNEDY MP: You've got to have items on the agenda, where is proportional representation from local government? What's happened to the Roy Jenkins Commission about fair votes for Westminster? How much are we going to move forward the regional government identity and issues as they manifest themselves within England. Now, you know, I listen carefully and the sound I hear is the sound of silence. WATSON: But if Tony Blair does what's necessary to renew links with the Liberal Democrats, there are those in the recently revived Tribune group of centre left MPs who would oppose what they'd see as a political stitch-up DAVIDSON: I would like to see the New Labour experiment as a sort of blip, an aberration. Peter really wants to have the working class, the left, the trade unions driven out of politics and an alliance of the centre with the nice Tories, those that he's prepared to mix with, the Liberals who are soft and soggy and him and his chums. Now that's a different sort of politics to the politics of the Labour party at the moment and the more that's flushed out the better the chance there is of defeating it. WATSON: Peter Mandelson says his new book will help Blair's revolutionaries find new allies; but even though he's tacking to the left on tax, his critics in the Party will say that, deep down, he hasn't shed enough symbols of New Labour Mark One. Karl Marx once said the meaning of peace was the absence of opposition; on that basis, Tony Blair could face a significant struggle if he confronts a less compliant rank and file by trying to put some of Peter Mandelson's latest ideas into action. HUMPHRYS: Iain Watson reporting there. JOHN HUMPHRYS: So, Mr Mandelson, some of things you may or may not want to see happen to the party. Why should Tony Blair listen to you now at this stage when, by your own admission, some of those things that you recommended in the past turned out to have been a mistake? You're associated with spin, in particular. PETER MANDELSON: Because some of the things that I recommended in the past and the things that I contributed to as one of the architects of New Labour have helped provide the most successful political model in Europe. I think New Labour has been remarkably successful in the blend of policies, the way in which it's embarked on some very major transformations in our country. Now the public would seem to agree with the direction in which we're taking the country and I think that, you know, whilst we are not perfect and we have made mistakes, and as somebody who is now out of government and can stand back and reflect on those and discuss them very openly, it doesn't mean to say that fundamentally we are not successful, we are, and I think that's manifest. HUMPHRYS: But one of the areas the public is concerned about clearly is too much spin, you've acknowledged this yourself, we see another example of it in the newspapers, in The Observer this morning... MANDELSON: The Observer says... HUMPHRYS: The Observer says, exaggerated claims of the number of doctors in the Health Service, I mean it appears that it's still going on, still up to the old tricks... MANDELSON: Look, I can't comment on that story, I don't know anything about that story, but I just make a general observation. We should rely on our achievements, our policy strengths, in our relationship with the media we need to be absolutely factual. That doesn't mean to say that we are going to be given an easy ride by the British media, far, far from it. But we will have a better and more constructive relationship if we are open and frank with people and the media and if in return, you know the media see things in you know a sensible balanced proportion and that is reflected in their reporting and if we can get that sort of relationship going, I think the people who will benefit from that are the voters or the general public. HUMPHRYS: Another area where you may have got it wrong is 'tax and spend' or rather not tax in some cases and not spend in some cases,thinking about education in particular. You now seem to be agreeing with people like John Edmonds that there is an argument for higher taxing if it is spent on the right things? MANDELSON: I don't agree with John Edmonds no. John Edmonds is somebody who supports in my view, or creates the impression of supporting higher taxes for their own sake, regardless of what those taxes are used for... HUMPHRYS: ...I did specifically say 'for certain things' and education is one of them. MANDELSON: Well for certain things. Well let's decide what the certain things are, let's decide our goals, our programmes, the radical reform that we're going to introduce and the way in which we are going to spend taxpayers' money before we start ratcheting up income tax and other tax rates so as to create a higher tax burden almost for the sake of it, which is the impression that some people in the Labour Party used to give, but equally I think that we can draw a great deal of confidence from the way in which the public has responded to the recent Budget. I mean there was a modest but clearly stated tax increase for a purpose, to finance a five year programme of modernisation and rebuilding of the National Health Service. People knew what the money was being taken for, what it was going to be spent on, it was in the context of a fiscal prudence, of economic stability and in the context rising personal living standards as well. Now if, and it's not inevitable that we will have to do this, but if taxes have to go up in the future, those should be the conditions that we continue to observe if we are clearly going to put a proposition to the public of further tax increases in the future. But that I stress is not inevitable and let's talk about the policies and the purpose of our spending before we get on to the discussion of taxing. HUMPHRYS: You for instance want to see more money, at least as I understand it, you want to see more money spent, investment I think is the word we use nowadays, in education... MANDELSON: I think there are two areas where I would identify. One is crime, anti-social behaviour and the social consequences of migration of people. We have seen how other governments in continental European countries have, have suffered from ignoring those issues and not responding to people's legitimate fears and concerns about crime and population.... HUMPHRYS: ...and the other is education... MANDELSON: Now we are approaching the most radical overhaul of the criminal justice system this country has seen, nothing is for free. But secondly, and for me, personally and more passionately, education is the essence of our social democratic programme and moral mission. If we're serious about transforming people's life chances and creating opportunities for all, then we've got to give them, every one, the first class, world class education, which will enable them to escape from those limitations of birth and background that still today hold too many people back like the people in my constituency of Hartlepool. Therefore, I do not want to see that priority of education, education, education being elbowed aside by other necessary commitments of public spending and priorities in government. HUMPHRYS: And that means therefore, more money has to be spent on it and on crime as you say, and that means higher taxes. And the worry, unless there's some magical way of doing it and we've not found it yet, and the worry therefore is that you will be offering the left the chance to say, ah well you see, we were right all the time and if you give them an inch, they will take a mile, that's the worry, there is a political danger here, isn't there? MANDELSON: Spending on education in this country is growing to I think about five per cent of national income. I would like to see by the end of the decade that moving up towards six per cent which is the OECD average. Now that must be for a purpose, I want to see, I want to see young people in the most deprived areas getting access to first class secondary education... HUMPHRYS: ...which needs more money, as I say, and therefore higher taxes... MANDELSON: ...and I want to see too, our brightest graduates being recruited to the teaching profession and that means an income and performance package for teachers. I want to see the government implementing its target of fifty per cent of under thirty year olds gaining access to higher education, and yes it will cost. Now what the implications are for taxes depends on the state of the economy and other expenditure commitments but one thing I do feel sure of is that we have to deepen and strengthen New Labour and our programmes and I think if we continue to approach these things in the sensible convincing way that we have been doing, certainly in the case of our recent Budget then the public will go with us on that. HUMPHRYS: So you've shifted a bit to the left in that regard but you have not shifted at all to the left, it seems on the provision of public services. You want greater involvement by private organisations in the provision of public services. Now that's going to upset a lot of people, is upsetting a lot of people already, particularly the Trade Unions, maybe you think that's not a bad thing. MANDELSON: It will upset them if we continue to get wrong what we did a year ago, I think we rather tripped ourselves up by our own spin a year ago when we gave the impression that there was some sort of headlong rush towards involving the private sector in public services, which allow people like John Edmonds, mischievously and wrongly to present our policies as ones of privatisation. They were not and they are not. But what I do believe is, that there is public sector capital, expertise, management skill, construction, for example through the private finance initiative, which has already shown great gains and advantages for the public sector and the delivery of public services and I think that should continue. I think also we need to decentralise our public services and the way in which they are managed and delivered and some people within those public services might not like that, but also and this is going to, you know come up, bring us up against some very difficult decisions, where management fails in the public sector, then those public service, public sector managers have either got to put themselves right, or face challenge and possible replacement by others and that will not be easy but that, but the point of all this is to get the best possible public services and the highest possible standards and consumer choice for the people who matter, who are the general public. HUMPHRYS: And if it means another fight with the Trade Unions, then so be it. MANDELSON: I would not like to see it being seen... HUMPHRYS: But nonetheless, if that's the result of it then it's worth having that fight. MANDELSON: That investment in our public services must be linked to reform and change. HUMPHRYS: Right, okay. The Liberal Democrats, we saw Charles Kennedy in Iain Watson's film there. You have hung on to your, I was going to say affection for the Liberal Democrats.... MANDELSON:'s not easy... HUMPHRYS: Well, just, you want to co-operate with the...what's the point? I mean the backbenchers absolutely hate it, you seem to be getting nowhere anyway, you don't need them. MANDELSON: I tell you what the point is and it's true most of our backbenchers do dislike it for now but then they see Labour as so strong, it's this great sort of huge majority and great sort of hegemonic force. HUMPHRYS: ...but this is...they really don't like the Liberal Democrats. MANDELSON: The reason for that is because we are competitors with the Liberal Democrats but at the same time we do share a progressive policy vision for our country and society and we do have a common enemy - the Conservatives - who as a result of our division between the Liberals and Social Democrats in the last century, were allowed to dominate the politics of the last century with all the consequences for our country and for our economy that we sought. But it's not going to be easy, I mean when Paddy Ashdown was leader, I mean it was difficult and it was sometimes painful because of his obsession with electoral reform. HUMPHRYS: Which hasn't gone away. MANDELSON: It hasn't gone away and nor should it because it's a legitimate issue for Liberal Democrats to raise. HUMPHRYS: But why should Tony Blair get hung up on that at a stage like this when he got so badly burned on it last time. I mean what's in it for him? MANDELSON: Because I think it depends on whether the Liberal Democrats are going to be serious partners in a progressive alliance in this country or whether they are going to continue as they seem to have been doing, frankly since Charles Kennedy took over, in a sort of exercise of lap dancing, dancing, flitting from one lap to the next issue, taking advantage on the fringes of politics, rather than constructing a strategy which I think they need to do, which is to subscribe and join with us in certain progressive goals to bring about the transformation of this country that we both want to see. HUMPHRYS: Just a very quick thought, thirty seconds, about the euro. We seem to have seen a lot happening over the last week, we've now seen Gordon Brown, apparently, rowing in beside Tony Blair, he's enthusiastic. Do you think we are going to have a Referendum in the Spring and please don't tell me about the five economic tests, we'll take that as red. MANDELSON: I will not mention the five economic tests I promise, whatever they are. (Laughter) I think the divisions, alleged divisions, between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair on the euro have always been exaggerated by different people for different reasons, mainly the euro-sceptic press. I think we may well see a Referendum next year but I think the economic jury is still out. I think it's right that the politics, ironically it used to be the economic advantages which people could see but the politics firmly against. We are now seeing the politics moving in favour of the euro but the economic convergence still troubling and I think that we have to take a rain check on that, continue to assess it, visit it possibly early next year and make our judgement then. HUMPHRYS: Peter Mandelson, many thanks. MANDELSON: Thank you very much. HUMPHRYS: Bed blocking in the National Health Service is a huge problem... particularly with old people. They want to leave hospital and the hospital needs their bed, but they can't because they're not well enough to look after themselves at home and there is nowhere else for them to go. In towns and cities across the country, residential care homes have been closing down. The government wants to stop that happening and has said it will penalise local councils who don't find places for people stuck in hospital. But, as Paul Wilenius reports, most people seem to think that's a big mistake. PAUL WILENIUS: In a modern Health Service, patients have to keep moving. To cut waiting lists, to free up beds, to make way for more operations. Tony Blair's spending billions of pounds to create an effective and modern Health Service. Yet his plans to revive it could be held back by the number of blocked beds, which are clogging up the system and leaving parts of it idle. Ministers have been given a real health scare by the number of beds blocked in NHS hospitals across the country. The crisis, caused mainly by the rapid decline in the number of care homes beds, could undermine key Health Service reforms. The government wants to ease that crisis, by giving more money to local councils and by imposing fines, but critics say this won't lead to a full recovery. Time for tea at Triscombe ward in Taunton's Musgrove Park Hospital. Joan Evans has been waiting a month to be discharged. She wants to be near her home in Bridgewater, but there's no beds. So she's having to stay in an expensive hospital bed because there aren't enough available in care homes. But she's not alone as there's another six thousand like her in beds across the country. GILL MORGAN: It can be costly in terms of time but the most important thing is what it does to the rest of the system. It's like having a lock on the end of a flow. So what it does, it actually stops people getting in to hospital at the front end of the treatment and that's where the big anxiety runs, because obviously it impacts on things like treating people with waiting lists, handling emergencies and that's where the cost to the NHS really comes. DAVID HINCHLIFFE MP: The Health Committee last year did a calculation that on the basis of six thousand blocked beds average per day in the NHS then it was around seven hundred and twenty million pounds a year. My personal view is that that is a gross under estimate of the cost because that only takes account of the actual costs of an acute bed. WILENIUS: Indeed the true cost to the NHS will be revealed to be nearer one billion pounds a year in a Select Committee report this summer and it's even accepted as a major problem by Ministers. JACQUI SMITH MP: What we are clear about is that it isn't good for the whole system, it is not good if older people are in beds that are not appropriate to them and which potentially could be used for something else. WILENIUS: Casting a little sunshine over residents in the autumn of their lives is the role of staff at the Tyndale Nursing Home in Yeovil. But many care homes like this across the country have closed down in recent years. Falling fees and rising costs are pushing many out of business, the whole sector is in serious trouble. PAUL BURSTOW MP: When it comes to the crisis we've already got in the care home sector I think that the government has yet to do enough to stabilise the situation. I think things are going to get a lot worse before they get better, the fact of the matter is that we've already lost fifty thousand care home beds in the last five years, the trend suggests that that's going to carry on and not only that, people are not coming into this sector. WILENIUS: Hilary Cobban, owner of the Tyndale care home, has seen the volume of paperwork increase dramatically and now costs are rising further with new regulations imposed by the government. They lay down rules on room and corridor sizes, installing lifts and staff training. She fears they'll have a big impact. HILARY COBBAN: One of the problems that is facing the smaller homes at the moment, is the introduction of the new care standards which came in in April of this year. We all accept these standards and we welcome them, because indeed they are very good standards, they're national standards but they are going to be extremely costly. WILENIUS: New regulations aren't the only problem. Many residents require intensive nursing from skilled and dedicated staff and those costs are rising too. So Tyndale is reluctant to take social services funded patients, paying around three hundred and eighty pounds a week. Fees must rise to stop the loss of more care homes and beds, say industry experts. WILLIAM LAING: We estimate that very roughly across the country as a whole, the local authorities are underpaying by about seventy or eighty pounds a week. So that's the sort of figure that they have to come up with. WILENIUS: On The Record has seen a worrying report from Somerset County Council showing that the introduction of new care standards will mean that even more beds could be lost over the next six years. Unless more new care homes are opened up to replace those that closing, up to eight hundred beds could be lost in this county alone. COBBAN: There are certain exit strategies and yes, various homes will be closing as the owners, proprietors, get to retirement age and wish to retire, and of course that's been exacerbated now by the increase in property values in this area and the properties are now worth a lot of money and might well be worth more money just to be sold for the ordinary retail property market. BURSTOW: The booming property market in the South East has been a significant driver in the closures of a number of care homes that people have made the decision, understandable from their own personal point of view that this is their nest egg for their retirement, they're leaving the market, they're selling on the home and it's much better redeveloping it from their point of view for flats for people to buy, than it is to continue to receive the meagre fees that they get from the local social services to care for elderly people. WILENIUS: The government has come up with a carrot and stick approach to help ease bed blocking. It'll be generous and give extra money to social services, to help pay for more care home beds. But if hospital beds aren't cleared, it's planning a new system of fines and charges to try to remedy the crisis. SMITH: It is important that we put in place the incentives that are necessary, we will talk as we have done to our partners about how that is necessary, but I am very clear that when we are putting significant extra investment, as we are, into social services departments and into the NHS, we also need to put in place the systems to ensure that that money is spent most appropriately. HINCHLIFFE: I've not yet met anybody in social services or the NHS who believes that the idea of fining social services for blocked beds makes any sense whatsoever. And I think that many in the Health Service are perhaps more hostile than Social Services. WILENIUS: The government's critics say that, as in Scandinavia, where idea came from, the government will need to put in a lot more money. Ministers will dish out an extra four hundred million pounds next year and a six per cent rise in spending each year for the next three. Yet there are fears this could be diverted into other services, like child care and mental health and that nationally it won't satisfy the hunger for extra cash. RODNEY BICKERSTAFFE: Four hundred million, now that's not a very large amount of money when you know all the councils throughout the UK and you know all the potential problems about well, what about training and recruitment of staff, nursing staff and care staff in residential accommodation in nursing homes and the like. CHRIS DAVIES: I think if all that new money could be applied to care home fees, then it would make a significant difference. But that can't be the case. There are lots of other pressures within Social Services that will also have to be addressed, with that money. WILENIUS: You don't think the money will go very far really? DAVIES: I think it's important to wait and see and there's a lot of work to bed done on those figures. But there's a huge gap to close. WILENIUS: Thelma and Kitty are inseparable in the Tyndale care home. They share a passion for knitting and also a room full of fond memories. Experts in the care home sector say the government will need to put in much more money to modernise homes and stop the whole industry unravelling. LAING: In order to fully modernise quote unquote the care home sector, to make it fully compliant with all the new physical requirements and regulations over a period of say five years, you would need at the end of the day to be paying about one billion pounds more than you're paying now for care home fees. WILENIUS: And it's not only our elderly residents who are flexing their muscles. Senior MPs in all parties, local government leaders and even powerful NHS managers say fines will do more harm than good. MORGAN: They are also concerned that if there's a pressure in the system to get people out of hospital, people will be moved out too early, or placed inappropriately in a home or somewhere that may not actually suit their individual needs, that wouldn't be good for the system, and wouldn't be good for health care. But if you start fining between one organisation and another, where does it stop? Could local government then fine the Health Service for re-admissions to hospital? How do you actually get into what's appropriate and not appropriate? DAVIES: This is likely to introduce perverse incentives which actually result in the wrong decisions being made for elderly people, and it will deplete the resources we've got to pay for home carers, night sitters, residential care homes and nursing homes. WILENIUS: On The Record has learned that Ministers are talking to senior local government leaders to try to make this policy work. It's vital for the government's own political health, to show before the next election, that the condition of the NHS really is improving. And as the grey vote is increasingly significant, the way the government treats old people is more important than ever. BICKERSTAFFE: If there are fifty nine million people and if over the course of the next thirty or forty years the fifth of the population over pension age now is going to move towards a third, this is a huge amount of voters which I think all political parties are going to have to come to terms with. Older people are almost twice as likely to vote at all as people in the eighteen to twenty-four age bracket and I think that it will become an electoral, almost a manifesto necessity to say, well something has got to be done for these people. So it will mean money. HINCHLIFFE: I'm very conscious that in my constituency and elsewhere in the country the older constituents are more prepared to use their vote and I believe that there are many old people who are saying look the kind of second rate service we've offered them over the years is no longer acceptable. WILENIUS: Through no fault of her own, Joan is still waiting to be discharged. If the government doesn't do more, they'll not just incur the wrath of elderly voters but risk its plans for the NHS. HINCLIFFE: The fact that we are wasting huge resources by inefficient use of acute beds, in some hospitals I'm told a third of the beds are occupied by people who don't need to be there, means that we cannot make progress on other fronts, it's an urgent issue that needs to be resolved, it's a long-standing problem. BURSTOW: I think the government will fail to deliver on the NHS plan unless it finally wakes up to the fact that health and social care are two sides of the same coin. If you under invest in one you undermine the other, and we've seen that in spades when it comes to delayed discharges in the NHS. WILENIUS: One day Tony Blair will himself get old and New Labour will no longer be new. The question is, will he be able to look back and say that he improved care for the elderly and put the NHS on the path to recovery? HUMPHRYS: Paul Wilenius reporting there. And that's it for this week, don't forget about our website. Until the same time next Sunday, good afternoon. 27 FoLdEd
NB. This transcript was typed from a transcription unit recording and not copied from an original script. Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy.