Sunday shows: Labour “sceptical” about National Insurance rise for social care

Trevor Phillips on Sunday

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said the “broad principle” of TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady’s demand for a wealth tax to fund social care reform is “absolutely right”. She also criticised the setting of a hard deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

  • On the military intervention Afghanistan: “There is a lot to be proud of, of the work that our British troops did over 20 years, but one of the things that many are now asking is ‘was it now in vain?’ because of the chaos of the last 18 months.”
  • Asked whether President Biden should have stuck to the withdrawal deadline: “The problem was the hard deadline – whether it was August 31st or a different date, the problem was setting a hard deadline for withdrawal.”
  • She added: “A hard deadline signalled to the Taliban that this was simply a waiting game. They knew that they had until the 31st August… and that appears to have had a major impact on the morale of the Afghan forces as well.”
  • Asked whether a Labour government would still have troops in the country today: “No, we’ve never argued that… We have accepted the government position that it would have been unsustainable to allow British troops to continue.”
  • Asked whether the government should be engaging with the Taliban: “Because of the chaotic way in which the government has failed to plan over the last 18 months, we are now in a position where, if we want to evacuate our own citizens and Afghan nationals, we have to talk to the Taliban. If we want to uphold any of the gains of the last 20 years, we’ve got to talk to the Taliban.”
  • On the call for a wealth tax to fund the post-Covid NHS recovery and social care reform: “The broad principle that Frances O’Grady is laying out, that those with the broadest shoulders should take some of the burden, is absolutely right.”
  • She added: “I think it’s right to say that we need to think much more creatively about this and make sure that we don’t lay an unsustainable burden onto people who can’t bear it.”
  • On the social care crisis: “We’ve got to find a way to deal with it. If that means that those who make their money out of something other than income – out of assets – pay a bit more, if it means that people pay a bit more on their income, if it means that we find some kind of compromise that is sustainable so that people who can pay a bit more do in various different ways, I think that’s the right approach to take.”
  • On Boris Johnson’s social care plan: “He’s going to break his 2019 promise to not raise National Insurance contributions and load the entirety of the cost of social care on to the supermarket workers, delivery drivers, who are already struggling.”

Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for G7 leaders to hold an “emergency summit” in the next two weeks to address global vaccine equity.

  • On vaccination: “70% of the West has been vaccinated, only 2% in Africa and actually in all the other low-income countries of the world, so 98% are unprotected. It’s bad for them. It’s bad for us because the disease will come back to haunt us.”
  • On unused jabs: “There are hundreds of millions of unused vaccines that are either stored or are on order for delivery to Europe and America including the UK. 300 million by the end of this month. 500 million by the end of October… These vaccines could save thousands of lives in Africa.”
  • Put to him that African governments do not have the capability to distribute vaccines: “That’s not what the Africans tell me. I’ve talked to many African leaders in the last few days and they are desperate to get the vaccines.”
  • On what the G7 should do: “They’ve got to call a summit, an emergency summit, in the next two weeks. They’ve got to deal with this urgent problem that, if left unaddressed, thousands of people are at risk of dying.”
  • On other international institutions: “You can’t rely on the IMF and the World Bank and the UN… Only the leaders who control the allocation of vaccines in their own countries can decide to transfer them to other countries.”
  • Asked whether the “era of liberal interventionism” is over: “America and the richer nations have got to be the world’s problem solvers. You may not want to intervene militarily, but if you’ve got the vaccines or if you’ve got the wealth and you know there’s an urgency to solve problems of poverty, or problems of ill health, or problems of illiteracy, then you’ve got to do something about it.”
  • On vaccine equity: “There is scope to do something about it. In this instance, it requires about four people to get round the table and to make a decision – and once they’ve made that decision, we can save thousands of lives.”
  • On international cooperation: “It is a test of international cooperation. Is there the will to do something or are we to retreat into vaccine nationalism and eventually still to America first, Britain first, China first… and so on?”
  • Asked whether he supports an increase in NICs to fund social care: “We did the NIC rise in 2002/3 and that paid for the health service to expand massively… I always said you’d have to come back to this ten years on.”
  • On social care and the Tory Party: “The problem I see at the moment is we’ve got a government divided between the small-state Conservatives… and the one-nation Conservatives who understand they’ve got to do something about it.”
  • On increasing NICs: “NICs must be one of the issues for consideration but you’ve got to be thinking about how can we pay for this over the long term because this elderly issue – for providing social care – is something that is going to grow.”

The Andrew Marr Show

Lisa Nandy said Britain is in a “much-weakened situation” following the withdrawal from Afghanistan. On social care, she described Labour as “sceptical” about the idea of raising National Insurance to pay for reforms.

  • On whether Britain is less safe after the Afghanistan withdrawal: “It certainly looks like that is a strong possibility. The urgent task for the government, after they’ve got our citizens and the many Afghans who assisted us out of immediate danger, is to make sure that Afghanistan doesn’t collapse once again into a haven of terrorism.”
  • She added: “We are in a much-weakened situation. We’re going to have to work with the widest range of international partners, not just our allies, in order to safeguard Britain’s national interest. That has started, rightly, with a dialogue with the Taliban, which is unpalatable, which is difficult, but that is the consequence of the chaos of the last 18 months.”
  • On whether Labour would support military intervention again in Afghanistan: “I don’t think anybody is talking about military intervention again.”
  • On reforming social care: “We’re very keen to talk to the government about it.”
  • On whether Labour would vote for raising National Insurance to fund social care: “We’re sceptical about the idea of loading the entire burden of the social care crisis on to the supermarket workers and delivery drivers, who are already dealing with really high housing costs, childcare costs and others. I thought the PM understood that.”
  • She added: “I don’t know that [the PM] does have a plan. Nadhim Zahawi this morning was saying they were going to bring proposals forward in December. It doesn’t sound like they’ve got a plan to me at all.”

Asked about plans for social care, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said it was “important not to run ahead of ourselves in this interview” and “no proposals have yet been published”. He also said domestic vaccine passports were “the right thing to do” for mass events.

Times Radio

Lisa Nandy said she would campaign for Labour against Jeremy Corbyn if he stood as an independent and said the idea of “nation building in other countries” sits “very uneasily” with her.

  • On Jeremy Corbyn: “I very much supported Keir’s decision to withdraw the whip from him… I don’t think that he should be reinstated, I don’t think you should see the Labour whip reinstated until he’s apologised. I just don’t think that should be the case.”
  • On supporting a Labour candidate standing against Jeremy Corbyn if he stood as an independent: “I would go and knock on those doors for our candidate and do what I could to support them.”
  • On whether there should be public inquiry into the UK’s role in Afghanistan: “People deserve answers. And we’ve got to have some kind of investigation into what has gone on to learn the lessons. I absolutely accept that. But there are pressing issues right now that have to be dealt with. That doesn’t mean either or… But it does mean that when people’s lives are at risk, when there are thousands of people who are stranded, and when Britain’s reputation, our word, is also at stake, that we’ve got to do everything we can to get those people out.”
  • On liberal interventionism: “This idea about nation building in other countries sits very uneasily with me. But that can’t be an excuse not to step forward when people need help and support.” She said there needs to be “clear limits on what that intervention looks like” and the ability to “take with you the people in that country”.

Nadhim Zahawi described the Conservatives as the “party of fair taxation” and refused to describe them as “a party of low tax”.

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