Ed Miliband in Cambridge

ed_cambridge16:09 Wednesday 22nd April 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

SAM EDWARDS: The Labour Leader Ed Miliband has today been in Cambridge, trying to whip up support in a region that had on the whole turned its back on him. With just two MPs in East Anglia, life on the Labour campaign trail is tough, especially when it’s trying to convince voters it’s the party of government, and the party of the NHS. Ed Miliband spoke to our News Editor Mousumi Bakshi about the so-called creeping privatisation of the NHS, and why, if Labour is anti-privatisation, is a Labour peer on the board of a private healthcare company, a company that lost control of Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

ED MILIBAND: What Labour peers do in terms of their own private interests is a matter for them. But I’m very clear, within a ..
MOUSUMI BAKSHI: But he is a Labour peer. He’s still a Labour peer.
ED MILIBAND: Sure. But I’ll tell you what the policy of the Labour party is, which is to repeal the Government’s Health and Social Care Act, which is a charter for privatising and putting out to tender lots and lots of services. And what they were telling me at Addenbroke’s is that that isn’t just bad because it takes services out of the NHS, it also means you can’t integrate services. The big challenge of healthcare today is to integrate services, mental health, physical health, care for the elderly. You can’t do that if you privatise and fragment the service.
MOUSUMI BAKSHI:You said a moment ago that you would repeal the Health and Social Care Act. A lot of people have been dragged up in that mire of health reform. Are you seriously saying we’re going to go through that all over again? They’ve had it pretty hard, people in the NHS, over the last five, ten years, just getting to grips with these brand new so-called innovations as laid out by the Tory Party. You’re going to repeal it, we’re going to go full circle all over again.
ED MILIBAND: No that’s not going to happen. What we’re going to do is get rid of the toxic elements of what’s happened. And the most toxic element of all is the privatisation plan. And look, what we’ve said in terms of our changes, it’s not going to be revolution. It’s evolution. And it’s really important. And you know that can happen.
MOUSUMI BAKSHI: I just want to make one final point on the NHS before we move on to the trade and economy. I mentioned at the start you said what a private Labour peer does in his private time is up to him. But you’ve got to agree, it’s not great. He’s on the board that botched the first experiment of running an NHS hospital by a private company. Should he stand down? It would have been better for you if he wasn’t on the board. Come on.
ED MILIBAND: No that’s really a matter for him. Honestly. What’s a matter for me is what the Labour Party’s policy is. And my policy is to reverse this tide of privatisation.
MOUSUMI BAKSHI: Let’s turn to the economy and industry. Councils here in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough as of this month have been allowed to keep any additional business rate growth revenues. Will you do the same if you’re elected?
ED MILIBAND: Yes, and we’ve said that we’ll have ..
MOUSUMI BAKSHI: But you’d back a Tory innovation, because this is a Tory innovation.
ED MILIBAND: Well it’s actually our innovation, because we’ve been proposing ..
MOUSUMI BAKSHI: George Osborne announced this. So Greater Manchester and Cambidgeshire and Peterborough, it was his innovation.
ED MILIBAND: Well actually we’ve been proposing this long before George Osborne. And the point I made in the reply to the Budget was, why are they just proposing this for two or three councils. Why aren’t we doing this right across the country?
MOUSUMI BAKSHI: Lets focus now on the economy. I was at a business hustings in Cambridge not so long ago, with all the Cambridge candidates. And when it came to trustworthiness or the economy, the Labour candidate Daniel Zeichner, he’s standing in Cambridge, was rated third. You’ve lost the argument here, haven’t you?
ED MILIBAND: Well that’s not the way I see it. No. You know I think the big choice at this election is, do you build a recovery that goes beyond the City of London. Do you build a recovery that reaches everyone, every person in our country? Or do you believe that a country which is run for the richest and most powerful, and hoping the wealth will trickle down to everyone else, is a country that succeeds. Now I don’t think this country is succeeding under this Government. I think people are struggling to pay the bills. I think work is insecure. And I think that’s got to change.
MOUSUMI BAKSHI: But you didn’t come out with a great rating. Third. There was a hundred plus people there. Let me give you one example. Personal friend of mine, straight out of university, made millions from a tech. startup company, a gaming company. Did really really well. Made him very wealthy. Employed a good number of people, right here on this business park. He sold up and decided to start up another company, right here in Cambridgeshire, because it’s fertile ground for entrepreneurs. He has said, if you get into power, he will move away. Now he’s not big business, he’s small business trying to become big business. You’ve lost him, and you’re going to be losing thousands of other people if you get into power. What’s your message to him?
ED MILIBAND: Well I don’t agree that we’re going to be losing as you put it thousands of people. My message to any business person who’s succeeded is to congratulate them on having succeeded, and then look at what we’re proposing for the country, you know. Whether it’s on Europe, where we want to stay in the European Union, and you’ve got a Prime Minister who’s going to play fast and loose with our role in the European Union. Or you mentioned small business. We’re going to cut business rates for small and medium sized businesses. We think that’s more of a priority than a tax cut for the largest business. That’s just a choice, because I think so many small businesses are operating on margins. So these are the big questions of this election.
SAM EDWARDS: Tha Labour Leader Ed Miliband there, speaking to our News Editor Mousumi Bakshi. You can hear more from the interview in the next hour of the programme.

17:10 Wednesday 22nd April 2015

SAM EDWARDS: Earlier on in the programme an hour or so ago we heard from the Labour Leader Ed Miliband, who’s been in Cambridge today, perhaps hoping to boost the chances of the Party winning a seat in one of the Cambridgeshire constituencies. The City of Cambridge a key marginal seat, currently held by a Liberal Democrat. But polls suggest the outcome may be too close to call. Elsewhere however Labour’s message is falling on stony ground. Whilst they are expected to make small gains in the East, nothing is likely to loosen the stranglehold of the Tories. They currently hold the overwhelming majority of seats here. Today the Labour Leader pledged to speed up cancer diagnosis in GP surgeries, funded by a tax on tobacco firms. The Party is hoping polices like a tobacco tax, creating a mansion tax, and abolishing zero-hours contracts will win the Party votes. But will any of that wash? He’s been speaking to our News Editor Mousumi Bakshi.
MOUSUMI BAKSHI: Your party has gone on record saying that it would back more federalism, more devolution. What would that look like in a place say like Cambridge?
ED MILIBAND: I think the key thing about this is it’s not a one size fits all policy. So you’re not telling people in an area, this is exactly how it’s got to work. But the key thing is to devolve more resources and power over economic development, skills, transport. Bus regulation, massive issue in lots of areas. So to give power to local people. I think we are far too centralised as a country. Devolution isn’t just right for Scotland and Wales, it’s right for England as well.
MOUSUMI BAKSHI: But by doing that you’re creating another tier of government. You’re expanding the public sector. We’re back to the old old style of quangos. That’s not going to play brilliantly, is it?
ED MILIBAND: No that’s not .. I’m sorry, that’s not what we’re proposing. What we’re actually proposing is to enable councils to work better together. Not a new tier of government, but councils working together in a local area. It’s absolutely not about a new layer of politicians.
MOUSUMI BAKSHI: Final question then. We’re here in Cambridge. You’ve got people like Gavin Shuker and Kelvin Hopkins here. It’s not a great groundswell of Labour support. What’s the East of England done wrong? Why do people here not like you?
ED MILIBAND: Let’s see what happens on May 7th. You know I think people need to ..
MOUSUMI BAKSHI: You’ve only got two MPs currently, or sitting candidates.
ED MILIBAND: Well I will soon have more. And let’s see how many more on May 7th. You know I think there’s a big choice at this election. Who do you want the country run for? Do you want it run for the richest and most powerful? Or do you want it run for working people?
MOUSUMI BAKSHI: But historically why has Labour not done well in the East of England? What is the East of England doing wrong? What is Labour not doing correctly here?
ED MILIBAND: You know I’m really not interested in the history. I’m interested in what’s going to happen in two weeks time. And there’s a big choice for people in the East of England.
MOUSUMI BAKSHI: But you need to make that powerful persuasive message. If they haven’t been with you over the last five, ten, fifteen, twenty years, you’re going to have to make some serious changes. You’ve only got people like Kelvin Hokins, Gavin Shuker. It’s just a handful of sitting Labour MPs. Tell me, what is the East of England not doing right? What are you not doing right?
ED MILIBAND: Well let me set out the choice of the election. We’re going to have a high minimum wage of eight pounds an hour. We’re going to ban the exploitation of zero hours contracts. We have apprenticeships for our young people and a lower tuition fee, cutting tuition fees from £9000 to £6000, and a rescue plan for the NHS. And that is, I believe, what is right for the East of England, and right for the country. And we’ll soon know, because the voters are the boss.
SAM EDWARDS: Kelvin Hopins and Gavin Shuker the two sitting MPs in the East of England. Ed Miliband there, speaking to our News Editor Mousumi Bakshi earlier on today.