Tuesday, 8 May 2012

1 Cameron and Clegg visit Essex for coalition fightback

Rolling coverage of all the day's political developments as they happen, including David Cameron and Nick Clegg staging their joint coalition fightback appearance in Essex, and Ed Miliband hosting a Q&A in Harlow

Q: What would you do about SureStart? [This comes from a SureStart employee who has been made redundant. Miliband asks her to explain what happened.]

David Cameron and Nick Clegg

Miliband says Labour thinks SureStart budgets should be ringfenced, because otherwise councils will treat SureStart as a low priority. He says he does not know about the situation in Essex.

Q: What would you do to help small businesses?

Miliband says local authorities and central government spend a lot of money buying services. In other countries, they use this to support local businesses. He would like the same thing to happen here?

Q: What would you do about people who go off sick when they are not sick in the NHS? [This comes from an NHS pathologist.]

Miliband says that the NHS should be "totally intolerant" of people skiving off. This should not be happening, he says. "We should find ways in which we can crack down on this," he says.

Q: What will you do to reintegrate education?

Miliband says Michael Gove is the most centralises secretary of state ever. He had an example in his constituency. If people have a problem with an academy, they have to take it up with central government.

He believes Gove stands for "education for the few not the many". Free schools involve "robbing Peter to pay Paul". The English baccalaureate will discriminate against important subjects. The creative industries are hugely important. Yet art and design does not count as an English baccalaureate subject.

He also says he would like to give more power to schools.

Q: What will you do about the NHS? Staff feel very devalued.

Miliband says he would repeal the parts of the health bill introducing free market competition.

Under Labour things would have been tough. But the government has made it worse by carrying out a reorganisation at the same time.

Labour did too many reorganisations when it was in government, he says.

The government's plans will fragment the NHS. He is making a speech to the Royal College of Nursing next week.

He ends by thanking the questioner, a nurse. People do not thank nurses enough, he says. He invites the audience to give a round of applause.

Q: Do you have any specific job creation schemes? And Why is Remploy being dismantle?

Miliband says he does have specific job creation schemes. Wasting the lives of young people is ridiculous, he says. Labour would tax bankers' bonuses and use that money to provide jobs for young people. As prime minister, he would be telling every private sector in the organisation from day one to mobilise behind that plan. Young people are not shirkers, he says.

On Remploy, he says he does not like the changes the government is making. It did not run a proper consultation. People are being made redundant when it will be tough for them to find work.

10.17am: Miliband is good at these Q&As. When people ask a question, he makes a point of using their names and asking questions about their own experiences.

10.11am: Miliband is taking questions now.

Q: Is Labour in favour of a new investment bank?

Miliband says the government has spent too much time standing up for the banks and not enough standing up for small businesses.

There should be a new investment bank, part private and part public, he says. This works in Germany and it works in the US.

Banks have a duty to realise they have to serve the economy.

Q: What would you do about housing? [This comes from someone who says his daughter has been on a council waiting list for 20 years.]

Miliband says he is sorry to hear about the questioner's daughter's experience. He says it "hurts" if she has always worked and always done the right thing.

The previous Conservative council in Harlow said it was going to freeze council house building. He says the new Labour council will look at whether it can do anything more.

The last Labour government did not do enough on housing, he says. With housing, every party of the jigsaw needs to join up: private housing, social housing and the planning system.

The government has spent two years messing up the planning system. And it has taken away targets for local authority house building.

10.06am: Ed Miliband is speaking now.

He says he wants to understand why so many people did not vote in the local elections. In Harlow, only 28.4% of people vote. He passionately believes politics can make a difference to their lives, he says.

He says Labour measures would make a difference. A Labour Queen's Speech would include measures to get people back into work.

10.03am: Ed Miliband is about to start his Q&A in Essex.


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