Daniel Zeichner On David Cameron’s Costly Garden

ted07:54 Friday 26th April 2013
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[P]AUL STAINTON: Let’s take a trip into David Cameron’s garden. The current Conservative Party has a fierce reputation for creating a culture of cuts of course, but not apparently when it comes to the garden at Number 10 Downing Street. It emerged yesterday that about £50,000 a year is being spent on maintaining the PM’s Downing Street garden. Alan Soady is the BBC’s Political Reporter. He’s been taking a closer look at the receipt from B&Q. (TAPE)
ALAN SOADY: The half an acre plot behind Number 10 is a perk of the job for Prime Ministers, but looking after it cost taxpayers more than £47,000 last year, and £49,000 the year before. But the Government has defended it, saying even more was spent when Gordon Brown lived there. It’s not the first time David Cameron has faced questions over the cost of pruning his plants. In 2009 he repaid £680 he’d claimed in Parliamentary expenses, partly for the clearing of wisteria from his chimney. (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: Well Cambridge’s Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate is Daniel Zeichner. Morning.
PAUL STAINTON: So what’s your instant reaction to the fact that we’re spending £50,000 on David Cameron’s pruning and roses and plants and things?
DANIEL ZEICHNER: Well they’re living in a different world, aren’t they? I am seeing people every day who are really struggling at the moment, and they would just be incredulous to think that we’re spending that much on David Cameron’s garden. If he loves cutting so much, why doesn’t he put the gloves on and get out and do it himself?
PAUL STAINTON: Yes but he’s spending less than Gordon Brown did.
DANIEL ZEICHNER: Yes but Gordon Brown was running a government that was successful at the time, and these …
DANIEL ZEICHNER: These people are lecturing everybody on how we should be cutting back, restraining, all that kind of stuff, small government, and yet they’re carrying on as usual.
PAUL STAINTON: So if you’re successful you can spend more. Is that what you’re saying? That was the problem with the Labour Government, wasn’t it? It spent lots and lots of cash whilst the sun was shining.
DANIEL ZEICHNER: Well it was an active government that was doing things. This lot say we don’t need government. So if we don’t need the Government, why do we need David Cameron’s gardens?
PAUL STAINTON: It sort of left us in a bit of a pickle, didn’t it, the Labour Government? Spent all our readies.
DANIEL ZEICHNER: That’s what you always say Paul, but actually the economy was growing.
PAUL STAINTON: I’m asking you.
DANIEL ZEICHNER: I say the same thing every time. The figures speak for themselves. The economy was growing when Labour left office. It was George Osborne and David Laws who wrecked the economy in the Autumn of 2010 by talking it down, pretending we were like Greece. We’re not. We’re a strong economy, but we need to get back on the road to growth.
PAUL STAINTON: So when they took over ..
DANIEL ZEICHNER: David Cameron should be doing that.
PAUL STAINTON: When they took over we didn’t have a debt crisis. We didn’t have a debt problem. The country was in a fine fit old state, was it?
DANIEL ZEICHNER: Not at all. We had a real problem with the financial sector, that’s Cameron and Osborne’s friends in the City of course, had blown the cash, blown the economy, when Labour ..
PAUL STAINTON: Labour didn’t .. Labour didn’t regulate the City though, did it?
DANIEL ZEICHNER: Well that’s a bit like blaming the police for the crimes, isn’t it? No, we didn’t regulate it enough. We believed some of the things we were told by the Conservatives, that they could be trusted. The market would work.
PAUL STAINTON: If there are no laws, you can’t commit a crime, can you?
DANIEL ZEICHNER: No, and we’re absolutely clear on that. We’ll be much tougher on the financial sector next time.
PAUL STAINTON: Is that an admission you got it wrong?
DANIEL ZEICHNER: Well of course. We know. Every Government makes mistakes, but nothing like this Government is doing at the moment, going completely down the wrong track. All the figures showing the economy is bumping along. In the meantime of course, they’re sitting out in the garden, so it’s fine for them, isn’t it? Not so good for everybody else.
PAUL STAINTON: That back garden at Downing Street is there to entertain leaders of state. It’s going to have photo-calls with Nick Clegg. All these things going on, we’ve got to keep it looking ship-shape. We can’t have ten foot high grass, can we, and nettles growing everywhere?
DANIEL ZEICHNER: No of course we can’t, and I hope the gardeners are properly paid and rewarded. But the point is it’s a particular problem for the Conservatives, who are personally very wealthy, and who go on lecturing people about how we’ve all got to have cuts, we’ve got to have austerity. Austerity for them needs to start at home. But of course it doesn’t affect them, any of this, does it? They just carry on life as usual. My concern is for the people I’m seeing on a daily basis, who are really struggling at the moment. People in tears, losing their jobs, losing their homes. And as I say they just carry on partying out in the garden.
PAUL STAINTON: That’s Daniel Zeichner. .. He’s Cambridge’s Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate.