Ed Miliband interview: Part one – on immigration, tuition fees, housing, Lord Ahmed and much more

March 31, 2013 10:27 am

On Thursday I travelled with Ed Miliband and his community organising “guru” Arnie Graf to Carlisle and Preston to see some of the work the party has been doing in those areas. On the train between Carlisle and Preston – over fish and chips – I interviewed Miliband. Here’s the first half of that interview – on immigration, the NHS, tuition fees, the welfare sanction revolt, Lord AHmed, and much more:

On immigration:

“We’re definitely not going to enter an arms race.”

“We think a multi-ethnic diverse country is good for Britain, and it is. But you’ve got to make immigration work not just for some people but for all. “

On tuition fees/graduate tax:

“We’re definitely looking at [a graduate tax]. I think there’s been some work going on at IPPR looking at the options too. We’ve said £6000 [as a cap] before, and we’re looking at all of these issues for the manifesto, and what can be done.”

On the NHS, reorganisation, whole person care and repealing the NHS Bill:

“I think we’re doing the right thing on this Health and Social Care agenda, because we’re talking about integration.”

“I think there are good reforms that can take people with you, and changes that can take people with you. But what we’re not going to do is come along and say we’ve got this grand plan and we’re going to throw the health service upside down without talking to the health service about it, and without taking the health service with us.”

“In a few weeks time we’ll be talking more about these issues – about how we now take the next stage of the journey.”

On the railway ownership:

“I think East Coast is doing well, and I think it’s right that we look at all of the possibilities. And of course there are public spending constraints you’ve got to get right, but I think this government is just ideologically committed to just privatizing the railways and getting East Coast back into private hands. We should be looking at mutual and public options.”

On Housing:

“We’re going to have to build more homes. We’re definitely going to have to build a lot more homes. We’ve said if there was a budget now, we’d be advancing investment in infrastructure and housing would be top of our list. That’s why Ed Balls said at conference the 4G money should go to housing – that’s a sign of intent.”

On Lord Ahmed:

“I’ve got to have proper due process on this. I’ve got to leave it to the NEC to make their decisions. I think Lord Ahmed’s comments were disgraceful and I think they should have no place in the Labour Party. And the NEC will have to make a judgement about it. Personally I think they were very, very serious comments. For someone to believe they were the victim of a Jewish conspiracy – I mean that is the worst sort of anti-Semitism.”

On the welfare sanctions revolt:

“I think it’s useful to explain the decision we made. I’m concerned, Liam is concerned, about the people who are wrongly sanctioned. An example a colleague gave me – a person who was in a job interview, and was told they were “not available for work”. We’ve got to protect that – we did that by protecting people’s appeal rights. Secondly there’s an issue around the massive increase in sanctions. Iain Duncan Smith denies there’s targets – it turns out there are targets – we’ve got to have an independent review of that. But then you come to the question “Should we vote against all of the sanctions that have been applied under the work programme?”, almost all of them since 2011, and I didn’t think that was right. And I take full responsibility for the decisions we made. I think Liam [Byrne] is doing an excellent job. I think he is both emphasising responsibility – which does matter to us – but also showing the importance of compassion in the system. And that’s why he’s campaigning as he is on the bedroom tax. As for the colleagues who took a different view, I understand why they were angry about what the Tories had done, but I felt we took the right decision and I still feel we took the right decision.”

On Leveson and “blog regulation”:

“I think this is something where there does have to be dialogue. I think there were changes made in the House of Lords to exclude the really small-scale bloggers. I think the original Leveson idea was that there should be a sort of threshold for who it applies to and who it doesn’t. Remember – this is a voluntary self-regulation system, admittedly there’s an exemplary damages system if you wrong someone in a massive way, although it’s worth pointing out that there’s exemplary damages at the moment in the system. So what changes here, is that you’ve got a system where you can be inside complying with the rules to give you extra protection against exemplary damages and giving protection to the victims.  The most important place this needs to start is with the national newspapers – and that was always the intention.”

The second half of the interview – on selections, community organising and what the party will look like in 2020 – will be published here tomorrow

  • BusyBeeBuzz

    If Ed takes full responsibility for what Liam did, then he should be aware that all PLP MPs who abstained from, rather than voting against the Jobseekers (Back to Work) Bill were in breach of Clause IV, 2B of the Labour Party Constitution:

    Clause IV. Aims and values
    2. To these ends we work for:
    B. A JUST SOCIETY, which judges its strength by the condition of the weak as much
    as the strong, provides security against fear, and justice at work; which
    nurtures families, promotes equality of opportunity, and delivers people from
    the tyranny of poverty, prejudice and the abuse of power.

  • aracataca

    Apart from the bit on Welfare sanctions -I found little to disagree with here.However, the next manifesto is clearly still a work in progress and as a pluralist party we need to open up and involve as many people as possible in drawing it up.

    • Dave Postles

      ‘Apart from the bit on Welfare sanctions’
      His response was odious. Even if there was any substance in the rest of his comments, it was cancelled by this otiose explanation.

      • AlanGiles

        You can well understood why Mark didn’t hold the front page on Friday and go with this frankly verbose empty nonsense (““We’re going to have to build more homes. We’re definitely going to have to build a lot more homes.”). No, Ed, you don’t say!. So good he said it twice.

        Does he mean social housing? He doesn’t say, but then, though he talks a lot in this interview he doesn’t say anything.

        • Quiet_Sceptic

          What I don’t understand is that Ed is often tagged as being an intellectual or more critically, as being a ‘wonk’ and if this is true, I don’t understand why he doesn’t show more flashes of insight or analysis when talking about policy issues to give that confidence we have solutions.

          Like you say Alan, we all know (even the Tories and the Lib Dems!) that we need more homes, the challenge for Labour is to provide confidence that it actually understands why those houses aren’t getting build, the factors holding back house building and what it would do to address them.

        • Quiet_Sceptic

          What I don’t understand is that Ed is often tagged as being an intellectual or more critically, as being a ‘wonk’ and if this is true, I don’t understand why he doesn’t show more flashes of insight or analysis when talking about policy issues to give that confidence we have solutions.

          Like you say Alan, we all know (even the Tories and the Lib Dems!) that we need more homes, the challenge for Labour is to provide confidence that it actually understands why those houses aren’t getting build, the factors holding back house building and what it would do to address them.

        • Quiet_Sceptic

          What I don’t understand is that Ed is often tagged as being an intellectual or more critically, as being a ‘wonk’ and if this is true, I don’t understand why he doesn’t show more flashes of insight or analysis when talking about policy issues to give that confidence we have solutions.

          Like you say Alan, we all know (even the Tories and the Lib Dems!) that we need more homes, the challenge for Labour is to provide confidence that it actually understands why those houses aren’t getting build, the factors holding back house building and what it would do to address them.

      • AlanGiles

        You can well understood why Mark didn’t hold the front page on Friday and go with this frankly verbose empty nonsense (““We’re going to have to build more homes. We’re definitely going to have to build a lot more homes.”). No, Ed, you don’t say!. So good he said it twice.

        Does he mean social housing? He doesn’t say, but then, though he talks a lot in this interview he doesn’t say anything.

      • AlanGiles

        You can well understood why Mark didn’t hold the front page on Friday and go with this frankly verbose empty nonsense (““We’re going to have to build more homes. We’re definitely going to have to build a lot more homes.”). No, Ed, you don’t say!. So good he said it twice.

        Does he mean social housing? He doesn’t say, but then, though he talks a lot in this interview he doesn’t say anything.

      • AlanGiles

        You can well understood why Mark didn’t hold the front page on Friday and go with this frankly verbose empty nonsense (““We’re going to have to build more homes. We’re definitely going to have to build a lot more homes.”). No, Ed, you don’t say!. So good he said it twice.

        Does he mean social housing? He doesn’t say, but then, though he talks a lot in this interview he doesn’t say anything.

    • Dave Postles

      ‘Apart from the bit on Welfare sanctions’
      His response was odious. Even if there was any substance in the rest of his comments, it was cancelled by this otiose explanation.

    • Dave Postles

      ‘Apart from the bit on Welfare sanctions’
      His response was odious. Even if there was any substance in the rest of his comments, it was cancelled by this otiose explanation.

    • Dave Postles

      ‘Apart from the bit on Welfare sanctions’
      His response was odious. Even if there was any substance in the rest of his comments, it was cancelled by this otiose explanation.

    • Rosie2

      “as a pluralist party we need to open up and involve as many people as possible in drawing it up”
      For what its worth, thats what they are doing….
      http://www.yourbritain.org.uk/

  • aracataca

    Apart from the bit on Welfare sanctions -I found little to disagree with here.However, the next manifesto is clearly still a work in progress and as a pluralist party we need to open up and involve as many people as possible in drawing it up.

  • aracataca

    Apart from the bit on Welfare sanctions -I found little to disagree with here.However, the next manifesto is clearly still a work in progress and as a pluralist party we need to open up and involve as many people as possible in drawing it up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.swain.33 Mike Swain

    The answer on sanctions amounts to nothing more than obfuscation and waffle. If this is Ed’s idea of a new way of doing politics, then I’m not particularly impressed.

  • AlanGiles

    “but I felt we took the right decision and I still feel we took the right decision.”

    So he is incapable of judging the wider mood of his supporters even. Great for a leader, Perhaps he ought to have a chat with his “guru”*

    (*Why does every wimp need a guru these days?)

    • Moose

      If Ed Miliband thinks his party doesn’t think it right to ‘.. “vote against all of the sanctions that have been applied under the work programme?”, almost all of them since 2011,’ he must now be made to find out if he is right.
      Does anyone in the Labour Party really think it is right to summarily deprive people of the means of life for infringement of the Work Program? If it is such a capital offence then the punishment should be a life sentence and those accused should go for trial.

  • AlanGiles

    “but I felt we took the right decision and I still feel we took the right decision.”

    So he is incapable of judging the wider mood of his supporters even. Great for a leader, Perhaps he ought to have a chat with his “guru”*

    (*Why does every wimp need a guru these days?)

  • BusyBeeBuzz

    Britain is signing away the right to call itself a liberal democracy
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/mar/31/britain-signs-away-its-democratic-rights

  • Daniel Speight

    Very disappointing. It’s always been a question as to whether Ed sounded left during the leadership election just to win the votes, or whether he really believed in the positions he was taking. I’m still not sure and not very optimistic.

    • Alexwilliamz

      Daniel can you see a way that we can turn things around, can we show there is popular support for real alternatives, for a recognition that our country needs to be run on a foundation of human dignity for all, of the recognition that your neighbour is your brother not your competitor or enemy?

      • Daniel Speight

        Alex I must admit to not being sure how to do it.

        What I do suspect is this is the best chance there has been for many years to change the Labour Party itself. I would say probably since Wilson’s resignation. That’s because the 2010 election loss couldn’t be blamed on anyone other than the ‘new’ Labour PLP. If they had seen half a chance to say it’s the fault of ‘old’ Labour or the left they would have. Instead the loss is all theirs.

        The problem is the PLP because it’s stacked with these people. Whether they call themselves Blairites or Brownites doesn’t really matter. To the public they are seen as greedy and unprincipled. The fact that even after 15 years of stacking the parliamentary party we still see 40 MPs reject the whips is a good sign. I’m just not sure how CLPs can be rejuvenated and new blood bought in. Maybe this community organizing thing will drive out the excess of Oxbridge careerists.

        I don’t want to come across as a raving leftist idealogue and I will put blame on entryism by Militant. It was this that opened the door to Blair, with a little help from Kinnock of course. Still this isn’t first time we have had a stacked PLP. Mandelson’s grandfather Morrison did it for the 1945 election because he thought the ex-miner and such pre-war MPs were too uncouth in parliamentary manners. He encouraged the new working and middle class university graduates to stand as Labour candidates. It bit him in the bum later as when he figured it was his turn to be Labour leader they turned against him and supported one of their own, Gaitskell.

        Still here’s the danger, and Hollande in France also faces it right now. If Ed Miliband wins in 2015 and then goes along a soft Tory path and doesn’t make a real break from neo-liberal economics we could see the destruction of Labour as flag bearer for social democracy in Britain. Greece showed what can happen. Where is Pasok’s core vote now? Not with them anymore.Syriza is a bigger party. What we can say is at least they are of the left, even if they are flaky as hell.

        But what happens if the core vote wonders off to the right and benefits UKIP. How big is the gap between UKIP and the BNP? Not too far to bridge I suspect. Anyway not so optimistic as you can see. It is time for Labour politicians to stand up and be counted. It doesn’t matter even if they are ex-Oxbridge policy wonks like Ed Miliband. They need to show some backbone. They need to tell the public they have principles and won’t hide them even if that loses votes. They have to place their trust in the public doing the right thing. Right now if I were community organizing I would be aiming at getting my message over to every 16-18 year old in the country. That much our people could learn from Obama anyway.

  • Daniel Speight

    Very disappointing. It’s always been a question as to whether Ed sounded left during the leadership election just to win the votes, or whether he really believed in the positions he was taking. I’m still not sure and not very optimistic.

  • Daniel Speight

    Very disappointing. It’s always been a question as to whether Ed sounded left during the leadership election just to win the votes, or whether he really believed in the positions he was taking. I’m still not sure and not very optimistic.

  • Monkey_Bach

    After the Jobseekers Bill debacle last Tuesday, I think that there’s every possibility that I may never be able to vote Labour again. Ed Miliband now appears to me to be pretty much a hollow vessel with various dubious people dribbling words and gags and sound bites into his ear for him to parrot later. I don’t see any sign of real vision, or iron, or substance in the man at all. Everything is a performance. Miliband looks more and more to me like a mummer unsatisfactorily playing the role of a political leader in a pantomime or a play, awkwardly and half-heartedly reading lines written for him by somebody else without any input or participation on his part.

    As much as I loathe Cameron and the Coalition I can’t imagine being able to vote for a Labour Party led by a leader and shadow cabinet hardly less plastic, soulless, untrustworthy. or morally dubious than the rogues and scoundrels that are currently in office.

    Perhaps Miliband will end up the next Prime Minister as voters turn away from the Coalition and towards the least worst other option, by default, as their only alternative.

    I find that profoundly saddening.

    Eeek.

    • AlanGiles

      I agree. I think Labour need to thank their lucky stars that the Coalition are so inept and useless, because they will probably win by default in 2015 (there is yet more talk in the Sunday papers about the weakness of both Cameron’s and Osborne’s positions – the latter in the Sunday Telegraph).

      That said, I still believe the days of any political party being rewarded with a landslide are now long gone and I suspect, just as this government will be a one term government, so will Miliband’s if he a) promises the impossible (“one nation”) and b) continues to be timid to propose a new direction both for his party and the country.

      • Monkey_Bach

        On welfare sanctions:

        “… I felt we took the right decision and I still feel we took the right decision.”

        Yea about as right as the decision to appoint dead losses like Alan Johnson as Shadow Chancellor, Stephen Twigg as Shadow Education Secretary, and Liam Byrne as Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions!

        I think I’ll stop reading LabourList and similar for a while because dismal and meaningless nonsense like this is beginning to make me feel ill. No matter how low I set the bar, as far as my expectations go, the Labour leadership still somehow manages to limbo beneath it, comfortably, with plenty of room to spare.

        Eeek.

        • AlanGiles

          We will miss you if you do. I get very disappointed in all the “1N” claptrap and the terrible fear some LL writers and posters have about anything even slightly left-wing (some of them, no names, no pack drill are like old American broads and matrons in the 1950s allowing themselves to be terrified by Joe McCarthy’s “reds-under-the-bed” witch-hunt), however, I think they will have to realise in time that being a slightly lighter blue version of the Conservative party is not going to get them anywhere (except perhaps a 5 year term of office in 2015 when they are seen as (perhaps) the lesser of two evils.

          Ed Miliband, who I hoped would grow into the job (especially when he seemed to upset his own right-wingers), seems far too weak a personality to ever lead anything worthwhile, and you sometimes get the impression that the reason he wanted the job, was not out of conviction but what I am told is common (I was an only child so have no way of knowing) amongst brothers – and that is rivalry – Brother B wants it because Brother A wants it. That said, all DM would have done would have been to have repainted the Blair project (though I suspect that is what EM is doing).

          They can have all the focus groups and “conversations” they like, they can import more American advisers (though Britain is not very much like America, however much some people wish it was), but if they are going to nod acquiescence to retrospective law, and then attempt to give themselves a pat on the back for doing it, and just try adapting the failed policies of the past 30 years, I don’t think the outlook is bright.

          It needs dessenting voices on here, Monkey, to try to convince the over-loyal loyalists to at least think a bit for themselves, or at least to try to give explanations for tolerating “labour” policies which they say they abhor when it is the Coalition instituting them. So far, it has to be said, none of them have been able to convince me that Labour believe in anything much, except that they feel it is their turn again to crack the whip.

        • http://twitter.com/waterwards dave stone

          “meaningless nonsense like this is beginning to make me feel ill.”

          I resigned from the Labour Party a few months ago on medical grounds – I found membership was incompatible with maintaining the recommended blood pressure level.

        • aracataca

          Hurrah!

          • AlanGiles

            Terribly scared of people seeing through the waffle are’nt you?

    • rekrab

      It really gets dafter by the day when these so called leaders can’t even put their own words out there.

      Miliband backing Byrne? what is the point in the people backing him?

      Desperate Cameron, IDS and Miliband are going to divide the country.Cameron has come out with this one?

      “Scottish Premier League – Cameron pushing for Celtic and Rangers to move south

      Prime Minister David Cameron will reportedly back Rangers and Celtic joining the English football league in an attempt to win the Scottish referendum on independence.”

      I’m reminded of an XTC song! “the whole world is football shaped it’s just for us to kick it straight” No doubt these dead beat politicians have got 12345 welfare cuts on their minds.

      Shame on you Ed.

      • Monkey_Bach

        Awful twaddle isn’t it? Truly depressing stuff. Eeek.

        • rekrab

          Can you imagine the talk around the cabinet table?
          Carp Smith, you may have lost us Scotland
          What was that silly Hunt?
          It’ll hurt labour more
          Still I’ll go down as the PM who broke the union
          Not so fast Pm say’s pickles
          What?
          Lets boss the FA, we’ll tell them to get it sorted for Rangers and Celtic to play in England, that way everyone will vote for the union.
          unremarkable! Penfold aka Pickles, but we’ve made an arse of everything else, may as well give it a go.
          Pss, who is the sports minister?
          No idea! leave it to Hunt, he is really good at being silly.

    • BusyBeeBuzz

      You took the words right out of my mouth.

    • Alexwilliamz

      The baton has been dropped for a generation and it appears ed is bottling it, but let’s fight for the lp not abandon it to this betrayal of genuine hope. I can only see reclaiming the labour party as the way to save the country from the neo-liberal aramageddon that lurks around the corner.

      • Daniel Speight

        Very well said Alex.

    • AlanGiles

      On PM just now (Radio 4 1700, 1/4/13) Byrne was heard in an interview at the top of the hour saying that JSA should “cease after 2 years”. Great for people living in areas of long term economic decline. Even in Hampshire last week there were newspaper stories about the thousands of people queuing up to apply for the few jobs available on a new retail estate. Hampshire is in no way the sort of unemployment blackspot you get in the North of England Scotland and Wales.

      He was also described as “leading the fight” against the coalitions welfare reforms – I should have said that voluntary and specialist groups and the churh have been rather more vocal than the half-witted Byrne sitting on his backside abstaining.

      If Miliband STILL thinks Byrne is right, they are both living on another planet.

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  • BusyBeeBuzz

    I posted a comment 5 hours ago and it hasn’t appeared yet. I guess that censorship has been introduced. So much for “grass roots”.

    • markfergusonuk

      Not censorship – just the editor trying to have a few hours away from moderation on Easter Sunday. Is that too much to ask?

      • BusyBeeBuzz

        Sorry for being so grumpy Mark. You do a great job and deserve a rest.

  • RedMiner

    Utterly shameful that Ed Miliband not only excuses the abstention on retrospective legislation on illegal sanctions, but that he seeks to misrepresent the reason for doing so.

    The family that owns Asda (Walmart) is worth £115 billion – know Ed Miliband believes people should work for them for £70 a week or lose all income. Free workers for the world’s richest family courtesy of the British taxpayer.

    What kind of a leader of the Labour Party is this man? A worthless one.

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  • Manzar Iqbal

    fantastic event which truly inspired all of us. I met Ed and handed over a petition from over 130 people of Pendle in Lancashire to keep a health suite open for many sick and elderly people who use it daily. The Tory and Lib Dem run council made the decision to shut this important facility(only one available for members of Pendle Leisure Trust). The CEO of the trust decided to continue paying himself and his managers high paid salaries rather then do what is right and take a pay cut to pay for the mere £7500 per year it costs for the running.

    The issue has hit County and local media on front pages and shows how the Tories and Lib dems are only interested in looking after the rich, closing important services for our sick and pensioners.

    Ed listen carefully to what I had to say, took the petition and said he would look into this.
    All this gives me more confidence and a desire to get Ed in Power in number 10, Jennifer Maine as leader of lancashire County Council and our labour Party back in power in Pendle, and (INSHALLA), godwilling we will.

    Manzar Iqbal D32/D33/BA(Hons),DMS.MBA

    Executive Member Pendle CLP/Youth and Community Manager

    • AlanGiles

      “Ed listen carefully to what I had to say, took the petition and said he would look into this.”

      As Mandy Rice-Davies said 50 years ago “Well he would say that, wouldn’t he?”.

      I wouldn’t hold your breath, Mr Iqbal

  • ‘ed_Hunter

    The welfare sanctions decision was a disgrace. Ed, you’re a complete arse and a traitor.

  • http://twitter.com/Ciaran_Laval Ciaran Laval

    The decision to back the Jobseekers bill was an awful decision, retroacively changing the law is not something that can be excused in circumstances like this and Labour should most definitely opposed it on those grounds.

    They could still have said they back sanctions, there have always been sanctions available as an option, but backing a wrong headed bill is not something Labour should be doing and it really pains me to see Labour trying to make excuses for this.

  • Amber_Star

    On immigration:
    Labour are going to ensure every school leaver has further education, an apprenticeship or at least work experience (hopefully in the field which interests them). If they still cannot compete with immigrants, who must not be working for less than the minimum wage, then we’ll need to think again.

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  • Amber_Star

    On tuition fees/graduate tax:
    This is going to be a non-issue because the dreaming spires will be relegated to their old position as expensive finishing schools for the slow-witted. Employers, as part of their participation in the apprenticeship program, will be funding industry specific Centres of Excellence. And a Labour government will be directing public investment there too, funding for new skills, research & development. The corporations’ continual pursuit of low tax has left the UK unable to fund general degrees at universities out of tax receipts. Centres of Excellence are an alternative way to make business fund further education. If this doesn’t work, then we’ll need to think again about how to tax the corporations to fund the further education from which they benefit.

    • Quiet_Sceptic

      This is unrealistic, the cost of higher education will remain a huge issue.

      Apprenticeship and industry centres of excellence could be valuable but they complement HE and university research, they are not a substitute for it. If we want successful technology based industries there will still be a strong need for STEM graduates and university research, people will still be going to university and the cost will still be an issue.

      • Amber_Star

        Existing universities which are already of value to the public good would gradually become Centres of Excellence. We would be leaving behind the ridiculous situation where ‘name brand’ universities are allowed suck in disproportionate amounts of funding & use it to concentrate the privilege of education within an ever decreasing circle of people who value a backwards looking ‘Gove’ style education above the ability to innovate, create & demonstrate skills.

        • Dave Postles

          I’m far from optimistic about HE in the UK. Reading the THE each week and listening last week to Laurie Taylor’s Thinking Aloud, it seems that the ‘market’ approach will not serve the UK well, but will divert more attention to (a) post-graduate professional/vocational training in law/accountancy/MBAs (the last already a huge slice) and (b) attracting overseas postgrads (particularly from the Indian sub-continent and China, but also S. America) by capital investment in overseas campus for undergrad studies to induce transfer to postgrad courses in the UK (so that the fees for foreign students can be charged).

          On a second point, the shake-out here will depend not only on brand, but also on politics – what the politicians expect the HEIs to do. The teaching grant has been slashed again this year, varying wildly across HEIs in the percentage reduction. There is an agendum here. HEIs will no longer be able to depend on any substantial teaching grant (and, of course, that for Hum and SocSci was removed in any case).
          I find it difficult to see precisely where UKHE is headed – but it looks very unpropitious. OTOH, VCs have once again managed to expand their ‘remuneration’, some now approaching half a mill – to reflect that they are operating businesses.
          The other aspect is the award of university status to some private providers – the most recent being Regents College – sorry Regents University.

          • Amber_Star

            Yes, my point is that focussing on how individuals will pay for further education (loan, graduate tax, upfront fees) is an unsustainable ‘model’. Organisations (business &/or government – both local & national) need to fund further education & research or the public good will not get any consideration; further education will become nothing more than a service provided with the sole aim of separating individuals from their money!

          • http://twitter.com/waterwards dave stone

            How is focusing on a graduate tax unsustainable? To me it seems to be the perfect solution – graduates generally earn more than non-graduates so it seems just that when they are earning more they should pay tax at a higher rate.

          • Amber_Star

            Hypothecation of taxes has never worked; it’s unlikely that something which has never worked in the past will suddenly work when applied to university education.

      • Alexwilliamz

        Bring on a graduate tax, an extra 1per cent on the higher rate, but make it retrospective, including those who are retired. Time for the rhetoric about a degree setting you up used by those who have benefitted in the past to put their money where their mouth is. Especially as they are the ones who have cashed in on a degree unlike the poor kids who have to get a degree just to apply for basic admin roles these days.

        • Amber_Star

          I notice you don’t mention corporation tax. Isn’t it the corporations, more than the individuals, who have benefitted from the efforts of their employees? Why not levy a 1%, retrospective tax, on all the profits or the dividends paid by companies which have traded in the UK since 1970? That makes at least as much sense as retrospectively taxing individual graduates. But both your suggestion & mine are probably equally impractical so I doubt we will see either become policy.

  • RedMiner

    The Labour Party’s cowardice was shown by its failure to oppose the retrospective legislation covering illegal benefit sanctions. It allowed a young woman to go to court, face down Iain Duncan Smith (and his disgraceful personal vilification and misrepresentation), the DWP, the Government, the tabloids, and the lawcourts, and then it abstained on a three line whip.

    I’ve never felt so ashamed of the party I’ve supported all my life. Such ignoble behaviour deserves only contempt.

  • Amber_Star

    On Housing:
    There’s actually enough housing. This isn’t going to be a standard comment against people who own second homes or BTL properties, because what we need to deal with is that there is, in fact, enough housing. Some of it is undesirable in condition or size but mostly it is undesirable due to location. It isn’t in the places where there is employment, education, culture/society & entertainment. A Labour government has got to do whatever it takes to get these things to where the existing housing is, instead of having (New Labour) policies which (perhaps unintentionally) entrenched the existing economic & cultural centres.
    Nor should Labour supporters set ourselves against ownership. Having a home which cannot easily be taken from you is an incredibly strong bulwark against poverty, provided that the government focus on sharing the proceeds of growth geographically so that communities are encouraged & helped to protect themselves from economic & cultural/societal decay.

    • aracataca

      Of course there isn’t enough housing.

      • Amber_Star

        There is; but not of the size & quality nor in the locations which people desire. Renovation, remodelling, resizing & some demolition/ complete rebuilds would be required but the main issue is location. The existing pressure on housing is caused by people being drawn to specific areas because that’s where the jobs & social infrastructure is located.

        • aracataca

          Amber have you checked out rent levels in London (or anywhere else) recently? There aren’t enough houses.

          • Amber_Star

            That’s exactly my point. There aren’t enough houses in places like London because other areas of the UK are seen as being less desirable places to live. People are drawn to London (causing a housing shortage there) because not nearly enough has been done to spread jobs, infrastructure, culture/society & entertainment throughout the UK.

          • aracataca

            Like Orkney perhaps (that well known centre of infrastructure, jobs, culture/society and entertainment) where the rent for a 3 bedroom bungalow is £600 per month?

            http://www.orkneyleasing.co.uk/

            PS I love Orkney- just trying to prove a point.

          • Amber_Star

            In Orkney there were 1,621 social rented sector homes in 2011-2012.
            Right to Buy resulted in the loss of 173 affordable homes between 2001-2002 and 2011-2012.
            There were 51 households living in temporary accommodation in September 2012, including 20 children.
            There were 102 households assessed as homeless in 2011-2012.
            The number of households on the main council housing list, which includes the transfer list, was 629 in March 2012.
            6, 000 properties in Orkney currently fail the Scottish Housing Quality Standard.
            ——————
            What’s needed is a plan to get those 6,000 homes up to Housing Quality Standard.
            And a tax on empty properties should be considered (instead of the current silly situation where council tax is zero on empty properties, encouraging landlords to hold out for high rents & even evict people in the run up to the tourist season).

          • aracataca

            Again no argument. Of course people would have to live somewhere else while the houses were being upgraded and in some instances it might be better to demolish those houses and build new ones. I just chose Orkney at random because it sounded remote. If you want me to pick somewhere else I can but my guess is the rent for a 3 bed will be £600 + per month.
            There aren’t enough houses Amber.

          • Amber_Star

            You want a government which prioritises building houses; I want a government which prioritises building communities. Are the two positions mutually exclusive? Sadly, I think they probably are. The more housing which you build in & around e.g. London, the more people will be drawn there thus perpetuating the existing vicious circle.

          • aracataca

            You can’t have communities without the people in them having somewhere to live.

          • Amber_Star

            Which brings us full circle to my assertion that there is housing all over the country which is substandard by quality &/or location which could be brought into use; & your assertion that the government should treat those communities as extinct, defunct, dead & focus on stoking demand where there is an existing bubble/ shortage (our readers – if we still have any – may delete according to which of our two positions they favour).

          • aracataca

            ‘your assertion that the government should treat those communities as extinct, defunct, dead & focus on stoking demand where there is an existing bubble/ shortage’

            I haven’t asserted any such thing. What are you talking about?

        • aracataca

          What are you proposing a kind of Khmer Rouge type solution?- you know a group of cadres holding guns to people’s heads forcing them to move to Nuneaton or Middlesborough where they work in a field for a bowl of rice a day. Either you’ve been talking to IDS or someone has been putting smack in your Easter eggs.

          • AlanGiles

            “someone has been putting smack in your Easter eggs.”

            Who was it talking about “vile personal abuse” the other day?. You try to demean people if they dare to hold an opinion which doesn’t accord with “the party” and you. Not to mention absurd scenarios (“Khmer Rouge”)

          • Amber_Star

            Re: Khmer Rouge – that’s a hyperbolic straw-man comment, if ever there was one. At no point do I advocate forcing people to move. If there were interesting opportunities including the chance to earn money, have fun, learn things etc. outside of the London area, people would locate through choice instead of necessity.

            What really sucks is seeing people drawn to poverty, homelessness or time-wasting, soul destroying commuterism because they believe they might be able to find a job & have some fun in London. People should be able to find a job, have a successful life & have fun everywhere!

          • aracataca

            No argument.
            I iterate my original point Amber- there aren’t enough houses. Even if the population of London halved we’d still need to build more houses for all the people that left.

  • Amber_Star

    On the railway ownership:
    This one would be solved by solving the housing problem (see my prior comment about that, if you’re willing to indulge me).
    If Labour would truly commit to dispersing economic & cultural/societal activity throughout the country, there wouldn’t be the huge profits from wasting people’s time carting them hither & thither on a daily basis. Then we could get on with considering our real public transport needs; because the private sector wouldn’t touch railways with a bargepole once the cash cow commuters weren’t there to be ‘fleeced’.

    • Alexwilliamz

      Tither being london, can we really break the stranglehold the capital has on the country’s economy?

  • http://www.facebook.com/christine.redmond3 Chriss’y Christmas Red

    ed spineless milliband needs to be replaced ASAP. what an utter ar*e hole he is, we want a labour like the old labour ,one that stands up for the working class, not a stuck up twit like him, shame on him for ordering his party to abstain on the benefit sanctions, what a hypocrite he is , he may as well go sit on the other side, frkkin useless barsteward..

  • thiswayup

    The vote was about upholding the rule of law in a democracy, not the right to preserve the use of benefit sanctions. We know there are targets for sanctions, so the majority of these could well have been totally unjust anyway. What we do know is they were illegal under the existing legislation. This will not wash as an excuse for retroactive legislation.

    The day after the Lords voted this through, a mere 8 days after the vote in the Commons,Dominic Raab was on Newsnight, discussing the Abu Qatada deportation case.

    When asked by Paxman why they simply couldn’t change the law back to an earlier legal ruling in 2009 which had allowed his deportation, Raab seemed shocked at the suggestion, as was the eminent lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC.

    The arch right winger Raab said: ” We cannot change the law for one case”

    “That would be retrospective legislation …. One thing that Geoffrey and I would agree on. THAT WOULD BE OFFENSIVE TO THE RULE OF LAW”

    He genuinely seemed to have no idea of the irony of what he was saying. I can only conclude he had no knowledge of the previous day or week’s activity in Parliament.

    Even a rabid right winger will not sanction the use of retroactive law – even to get rid of a constant thorn in their side.
    I will never vote Tory or Lib Dem again as long as I live. You nearly had my vote with the wok of Michael Meacher and John McDonnell over Atos. You just lost it again.
    By the way, the sick and disabled will never vote for Labour with Liam Byrne at the DWP. He is loathed with a vengeance. Ed might think he is doing an “excellent job”. The electorate see though his attempts at placation which are half hearted at best and we know cover another agenda entirely. We have heard some of his odious soundbites to placate the Daily Mail reader.
    Time to stop sitting on the fence and expecting to win the election by default.
    If you have no other credible economic policies that staying silent while those dependant on ESA and DLA are quietly done away with, you will have no more right to govern than the present lot. You have some good and honourable MPs. Use them. Tory lite won’t cut it for the millions who have been disadvantaged and scapegoated by the Coalition. The Daily Mail ranter is outnumbered. Taking pennies from the poorest will not solve anything but has created a division of palpable hatred in society.
    Petitions ignored, expert warnings from the front line ignored, peaceful protest not even reported. That is a very dangerous situation brewing away unseen and unheard. We urgently need viable economic policies for growth and an end to the rhetoric that has created the deepest divisionsand hatred in British society I have ever known

    • weareallhavingalaugh

      You are absolutely correct.

      Truth is…. the right wing of the tories can never be placated. They get one thing, then immediately demand a further lurch to the right…

      “Time to stop sitting on the fence and expecting to win the election by default.If you have no other credible economic policies that staying silent while those dependant on ESA and DLA are quietly done away with, you will have no more right to govern than the present lot”

      Let those MP’s who have a conscience lead a labour attack on these punitive measures, if Byrne has no stomach for it. The lobby fodder can follow like the sheep they have turned out to

  • http://twitter.com/davidjclayton david clayton

    what is all this gibberish? Journeys etc. If Labour wants to lose voters then become yet another free market corporate party. Public services are being given/sold to private companies.This is going to end in trouble. People are disenchanted with this politics of the new conformity. Lord knows who people will vote for in the future but i suspect we wont like the outcome

  • weareallhavingalaugh

    I can understand his point here;

    “………there’s an issue around the massive increase in sanctions. Iain Duncan Smith denies there’s targets – it turns out there are targets – we’ve got to have an independent review of that.”

    But his conclusion;
    “Should we vote against all of the sanctions that have been applied under the work programme?”, almost all of them since 2011, and I didn’t think that was right.”

    Is atrocious.

    The courts, never that friendly to victims of unfair and unjust legislation ruled them illegal. Ian Deceit, and the DWP were trying to wriggle out of paying compensation. Byrne argued elsewhere that the money would have come from other claimants. It need not have done. It should have been taken from the large sums of money paid to the companies busy ‘farming the poor’

    That was what would usually happen

    Those ‘sanctions’ have harmed, and will further harm large sections of the popukation.

    The very people the Labour Party was formed to defend. If Milliband cannot understand that, he is in the wrong party.

    If he is unwilling to take that on board he should resign (and take Byrne with him), a guardian reader pointed out.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cartoon/2013/mar/31/davidcameron-georgeosborne#comment-22376453

  • http://twitter.com/BobFish89542308 Bob Fish

    Milliband and co held private talks with the Tories.Lord Freud informed us of this in the House of Lords debate.Where -as we discover today in the Guardian – he mislead the house YET AGAIN,this time with the percentage of increase of sanctions since the coalition took control.It is of course,against the rules to call Freud a liar,and turn the clock back,that’s unless you are an out of touch politician who couldn’t give a flying f**k about the poor..

  • http://twitter.com/bencobley Ben Cobley

    A couple of things stand out for me from this.

    1) Housing. Yes, we need to build more homes. But in such talk there is rarely any confrontation with the issue of land. Do we want to develop more green land for housing and infrastructure, and if so how much? Are we actually going to start reconciling with the matter of land and space, and what they are for? For me, one of the great things Labour did in 1997-2010 was open up land for people to enjoy. But there are contrary pressures from economistic demands, related to immigration and infrastructure and general economic growth – and serious vested interests weighing in there. We seem to be walking blind about what it means, and this concerns me.

    2) Leveson and media regulation. Ed’s answer on this seemed to go all around the houses without stopping anywhere. It is concerning that on a matter of judgement where we were committed to a certain solution, it seemed we didn’t *really* know what we are doing. Fair enough, we all make mistakes and hopefully learn from them, but Ed and his people seem to have some learning to do.

    http://afreeleftblog.blogspot.co.uk/

  • MonkeyBot5000

    I think East Coast is doing well…

    It’s not. My train is late the majority of the time, but I don’t live in London so it doesn’t get measured and no-one cares.

  • Michael collins

    I am utterly fed up with the way the present Labour Party Leadership is so out of touch with the feelings of the cmmon people who are trying to make ends meet on a pitance. They are being attacked for being poor, for being ill, for being weak and out of work. I am ashamed of being a Labour Party supporter at this moment in history but I would rather die than vote tory.

  • planetpmc

    How right you are, Mr Miliband.

  • JoeDM

    Ed Miliband is a political lightweight, but his policy on the benefit reforms was the right thing to do. It was a principled approach to an important issue and not simply a trendy left-wing knee-jerk reaction.

    Labour should be at least 20 points ahead at this point given the dreadful performance of the Cameroonian led coalition government.

    • AlanGiles

      “Principled”?

      No they did it for a quiet life from the tabloids. I think the word you are looking for beginning with “p” is pusillanimous.

  • Steve Russell

    I too feel that the Labour Party is no longer representing the interests of the most vulnerable members of our society. Globalised capitalism is raping our planet, destroying opportunity now and for future generations. It has virtually destroyed democracy already.

  • SidH

    It’s a pity that Ed doesn’t state, quite categorically, that it is social housing which needs the boost and sale of social housing must be stopped. He and Jack Dromey ( an alleged expert on housing) keep pussyfooting around this question and it’s time to stop.We need a massive increase in social housing with the reintroduction of rent controls (to stop greedy landlords profiteering) and we need to say it loud and clear.

  • BusyBeeBuzz

    The Labour Party breached it’s Constitution when PLP abstained.

  • http://twitter.com/rainbow_warthog jan jesson

    Why is he still defending this wrong decision? Would he rather lose support and votes than lose face?

  • http://twitter.com/rainbow_warthog jan jesson

    “But then you come to the question “Should we vote against all of the
    sanctions that have been applied under the work programme?”, almost all
    of them since 2011, and I didn’t think that was right.”
    There has been a shift from Byrne’s original and false position – at least it was not pointed out (to our legislators!) in vain that the Court ruling did not strike down the primary legislation containing that power. Only the secondary legislation was quashed by the Court, but it did mean that all the sanctions made under the unlawful 2011 regulations were invalid.
    However, Ed gives no indication that he understands what a howler of gigantic proportions he and Byrne made – a howler clear to all labour supporters who are outside the ambit of Byrne’s persuasive powers, which must be considerable.
    Must it be spelled out to Ed that that the Court had already struck down all the sanctions since 2011, and the legislation Labour enabled by sitting on its hands, and which, but for Byrne’s deal with IDS, needn’t have seen the light of day, was legislation for the power of Secretaries of State to be above the law, free of the requirement to act lawfully, unshackled from the protections Parliament voted to jobseekers against abuse of the power of sanctions. There are reasons enough for kicking a retrospective ‘wronging of rights’ bill into the long grass without even getting into arguments about workfare.

    The Court’s ‘ultra vires’ ruling quashing the regulations was on technical grounds, and the evidence of sanctions targets, and the letters in MP’s post bags about unfair treatment (which have fallen for too long on deaf ears) do no more than confirm how right the Court ruling was. And the right of appeal has always been in place for sanction decisions and was not under threat.
    Ed’s latest response is the opposite of reassuring.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

    It was hardly likely that Ed was going to announce he had made a mistake a week after the decision. And while I didn’t agree with it I don’t think there is a policy to remove all sanctions. However I didn’t think it was atalll clear almost of the sanctions are not new or pits-11. Perhaps Mark could comment.

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  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    Does anyone else get the “Natural Horse Care”, “Maximise your £250,000 retirement”, or “Private Health Care” advertisements? I appreciate that Google looks at your browsing history and places advertisements to suit (some tory MPs do not), but really, this is ridiculous for LL. My wife is an equine vet, but she is fully subscribed to the expensive treatment regime, and the homeopathics** are nonsense, and we know it. The retirement offer is a nonsense, involving stupid little non-Oxbridge “financial advisors”, and who wants non-NHS medical care, even if they could afford it?

    ** I struggle to think of the ancient Latin for homeopathy as applied to horses (although -pathy is of Greek origin). Equiopathy? Only Dave Postles might have a reasonable opinion. Anyway, homeopathy and by extension equiopathy is all a nonsense, practiced by charlatans.

  • UKAzeri

    This just confirms to me that, come 2015 the party will run a campaign not based on what Labour can offer but on how badly Tories have done.

  • RJM

    This isn’t meant to be anything more than constructive criticism Mark (because I think you do a great job at LL) but my thoughts on reading this is the interview is presented in quite a lazy way.

    I can understand if you do not have the time or the inclination to write it up as a full feature piece and the brevity of a Q&A format works well for an online blog. I assume you also chose to ‘remove yourself’ from the interview so it presents Ed in his own words free from editorial context. However, if you choose to do this I would much prefer you actually wrote out the questions you asked as well as Ed’s answers – especially as the wording of the question often has an impact on the wording of the answer.

    Keep up the good work.

    RJM

    • markfergusonuk

      I take your point, but there was a full colour piece on the trip published over the weekend. You’re right about why I used the Q&A format – it’s mostly because we covered so many topics I didn’t want to leave much on the cutting room floor.

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