An interview with Nick Sandford LibDem Party Candidate for Peterborough broadcast on 14th April 2010 at 07:35 in the Paul Stainton Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Peterborough.
STAINTON: Susie Roberts out yesterday in the Bretton Centre recording a few questions for this big debate which we’ve got on the 20th April. It’s between nine and ten in the morning, an especially extended Peterborough Breakfast Show, and we’ll have the three main Parliamentary candidates in Peterborough on. For the LibDems it’s Nick Sandford who’s with us this morning.
SANDFORD: Good morning Paul.
STAINTON: Ed Murphy for Labour will be on that, and Stewart Jackson for Conservative will be on there. The reason Nick’s here is because the LibDems set out their stall today. Their election manifesto will be launched. With talk of a hung parliament of course, even more focus on the LibDems. their leader Nick Clegg says this vote isn’t a two-horse race. (TAPE)
CLEGG: This is a choice now between the old politics of the two old parties, and something new, something different which the Liberal Democrats offer. It’s not a two-horse race between the two old parties Labour and the Conservatives. People have got a real choice this time, and I think that’s why this election is wide-open. All bets are off. (LIVE)
STAINTON: Well, Nick, you’ve got some interesting policies, fair tax, a fresh start for children, a greener economy, clean up politics in Peterborough, and seven hundred pounds in everybody’s pockets. Thank you very much. Cough it up.
SANDFORD: I haven’t actually got it on me at the moment. Can I bring it later on?
STAINTON: Yes of course you can. I’ll hold you to that.
SANDFORD: If you take payments by credit card that’s fine.
STAINTON: What’s your number one priority?
SANDFORD: I think the thing that’s really going to have an impact on people is we want a fairer society, we want a fairer taxation system, because we’ve got a really unfair tax system at the moment. The actual poorest twenty per cent in the country pay a higher proportion of their tax than the wealthiest twenty per cent, and that is completely ridiculous. So one of the things that we’re saying is that obviously the financial times are really difficult. But we want to have a rebalancing of the tax system, so that no-one will pay any tax at all on the first ten thousand of their actual income. And that will be really good for ordinary people, because over three million people won’t have any income tax to pay, and a person who is on average earnings will see their tax actually fall by somewhere between six hundred and slightly more than that.
STAINTON: So that’s how we get some of this seven hundred pounds back in our pockets.
SANDFORD: That’s it. Six hundred to seven hundred pounds.
STAINTON: Yes. I’m sure people in Peterborough would appreciate that. Why is it that the LibDems come up with what seem to be on paper very good ideas, but you never get elected?
SANDFORD: Well that’s up to .. I think sometimes people on the BBC and the media .. obviously it’s part of your job or your colleagues’ jobs to try and predict what’s going to happen. But I think sometimes it’s slightly arrogant, because what can happen is every single person can go to the polling stations, and if they’re attracted to the policies that we have, we will then gain more votes, we will then have more support, and we will increase our number of seats. And although we may not win an overall majority straight away, all the opinion polls are actually indicating that we could be in a situation where, rather than one single party being able to implement all of its policies, parties might have to sit down and actually talk about things. And I think when most people think about that ..
STAINTON: That might not be a bad thing. There’s not a lot of talking goes on these days. A lot of shouting goes on at Prime Minister’s Questions , that’s about it.
SANDFORD: Absolutely. Yes. If for instance you’re putting together your programme on Radio Cambridge, if you just went and shouted and said, “I’m insisting this is going to happen” ..
SANDFORD: I don’t think your colleagues would be very happy.
SANDFORD: They’d rather you sat down and talked to them.
STAINTON: Which is what we do. We spend at least an hour and a half every day planning the next day’s show. We have a collegiate chat, if you like. And the best things come out of a collegiate experience, in my ..
SANDFORD: At the end of the day a decision has to be made, and there needs to be a process for that. But this sort of system operates in all other parts of Europe apart from Great Britain and in France.
STAINTON: So we need to change the voting system, and I think most people are coming round to that.
STAINTON: Even the Conservatives and the Labour Party are sort of .. ish.
SANDFORD: The Conservatives, what they’re talking about is fairly superficial. the thing about the Conservatives is we’ve actually got half our parliament where the members of it, the House of Lords, aren’t .. where the people don’t have any say in actually choosing them. And the Conservatives actually want to keep that. They don’t want to change. We say it’s not just about the voting system. We want a fairer proportional voting system, but the whole thing with the MPs’ expenses, that is a symptom of a political system that is completely corrupt, and completely antiquated. So we would want to change that completely.
STAINTON: Let’s get on to the economy. Because that’s the one thing that people are worried about at the moment, probably above all else. And we’ve asked all the candidates this week, how are the LibDems going to cut this deficit? What are you going to do, day one? How are you going to get it down?
SANDFORD: We’ve said that we’re the only party that .. by the end of today you’ll have seen all three parties’ manifestos. You’ve seen the Labour and Conservative ones, they’ve got some good and reasonable ideas in, but they’re a bit of a hotch-potch really. And they don’t tackle the fundamental issue. They don’t say how we’re going to get the deficit down. Now our Shadow Chancellor, Vince Cable ..
SANDFORD: He’s somebody who’s trusted. I have people come up to me in the street and say: “Vince Cable is a really good man.” He predicted the actual financial crisis.
STAINTON: I think most people would have him as well. We’d take him as Chancellor.
SANDFORD: I know. Yes. And he could be Chancellor, if people went out and voted for him. But to go back to your fundamental question, we want to have what we call a green economy. We’ve identified over fifteen billion pounds worth of savings, where we can redirect that money, or a significant proportion of it, so that we actually create employment in things like we’ve got homes all over the country that need insulation, if you compare the insulation we have in our houses with what they have in Norway and Sweden.
STAINTON: Yes, but that’s got to be paid for Nick. If we create that it’s got to be paid for. How are we going to tackle these billions, hundreds of billions that we owe? What are you going to do day one to get that down, to slice it?
SANDFORD: Well we’ve identified quite a number of savings. For instance, there’s the Trident ..
STAINTON: That’s twenty five billion. Get rid of that. The nuclear warheads.
SANDFORD: Yes. We would not replace it in its current form.
STAINTON: That’s twenty five billion.
SANDFORD: Yes. We would take .. the Government has a Child Trust Fund. We would get rid of that.
STAINTON: Take the money from the kids.
SANDFORD: No we wouldn’t take the money from the kids. We would invest all of that in education. Give it directly particularly to primary schools.
STAINTON: How much is that going to get you?
SANDFORD: We reckon we could invest two point five billion pounds into education.
STAINTON: So we’re up to twenty seven and a half billion then. Yes, go on.
SANDFORD: there’s a whole range of things. For instance one of the things that we’ve said is that our troops that have to go overseas into places and put their lives at risk are doing it on a basic salary of only about sixteen or seventeen thousand, where we have a Ministry of Defence that has really highly paid civil servants. So we would take money away from the highly paid civil servants, reduce the number, and actually give money to our actual troops.
STAINTON: So as I spoke to Stewart Jackson, I spoke to Ed Murphy, I spoke to Frances from UKIP yesterday, and they were all talking about this, and saving money in public services, it’s going to cost a lot of jobs, isn’t it? So we’re going to have increased unemployment, aren’t we, whichever party takes over at the next election?
SANDFORD: We’ve been quite clear about what we’re going to do. In the first twelve months we would be essentially rebalancing the economy. So changing taxes, so people on higher incomes pay more, people on smaller incomes actually pay a reduced amount of tax. We wouldn’t make dramatic cuts in the deficit in the initial period. This is where we differ from the Conservatives. Because we saw when Mrs. Thatcher came to power how the Conservatives handle an economic recession. They make immediate expenditure reductions, that plunges the economy into an even deeper recession ..
STAINTON: You’re with Labour on that.
SANDFORD: We think that in terms of the actual timing of the savings we agree with the Labour Party on that. Where we disagree with the Labour Party, they’ve completely failed to quantify where their savings would actually come, whereas when you see the full text of our election manifesto, you will see a fully costed programme. I’ve just identified a few of the savings, but there are significant ones that can be made. And we’re the only party that has actually quantified that.
STAINTON: Nick, thank you for coming in this morning. I’ll see you again on the twentieth for the debate, which should be good fun. Nick Sandford, Ed Murphy and Stewart Jackson will be here for that debate. On the 20th April between nine and ten on a specially extended Peterborough Breakfast Show. LibDem manifesto launched today. Nick Clegg talking about it later, Nick Sandford talking about it there. (FULL LIST OF CANDIDATES READ OUT)