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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.
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?
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
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 concerned...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
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: ..it'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
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
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
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
HUMPHRYS: Which bit of it.
DUNCAN SMITH: Let me explain to you why.
HUMPHRYS: Well, forty per cent
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
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: ...so 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, no...
HUMPHRYS: ...that's the essence
of what you're saying, that's the only...
DUNCAN SMITH: ...no, 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, 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: ...so 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
HUMPHRYS: Well fine, but people
DUNCAN SMITH: ...so 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: ...no it may not be leadership,
but be may be that they are in touch with the way people lead their lives...
DUNCAN SMITH: ...no 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
DUNCAN SMITH: ...no 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, no, let me take you
back to your word. You said forty per cent. Not true. There is not that
HUMPHRYS: Forty per cent of couples...
DUNCAN SMITH: ...that's exactly...
HUMPHRYS: ...in this country with
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
HUMPHRYS: Alright, alright, let's
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
HUMPHRYS: How? By exhorting the
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
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: ...how 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: ...it'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...
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: ....you 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
DUNCAN SMITH: But there are other polls
too John,I don't want to argue about polls...
HUMPHRYS: ...alright, let's use
DUNCAN SMITH: ...my 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
MANDELSON: ...so The Observer says...
HUMPHRYS: ...so 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
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
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: Just....it'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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
And that's it for this
week, don't forget about our website. Until the same time next Sunday,