The Big Election Debate

A one hour debate between the three main candidates for the Peterborough seat in the 2010 general Election. Broadcast at 09:00 on Tuesday 20th April 2010 in the Paul Stainton Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Peterborough.

A one hour debate between the three main candidates for the Peterborough seat in the 2010 General Election. Broadcast at 09:00 on Tuesday 20th April 2010 in the Paul Stainton Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Peterborough.

STAINTON: Good morning. It’s nine o’clock. Welcome to a specially extended Peterborough Breakfast Show, the big election debate for Peterborough between now and ten for the Peterborough Parliamentary seat, between the three main parties. For Conservatives Stewart Jackson, Ed Murphy for Labour, and also Nick Sandford for the Liberal Democrats. Good morning gentlemen. How are you? Are you alright?
ALL: Good morning.
STAINTON: We’ll start with Stewart, the former Peterborough MP, of course, no longer. He’s got to bid for it again. Stewart MP for Peterborough since two thousand and five, winning with a majority of two thousand seven hundred and forty votes, a former Lloyds Bank manager before becoming an MP. Worked with Business Link in London, also a councillor in Ealing for eight years. Stewart is currently Chairman of the All England Party Group on Pakistan. He was appointed as the Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government, and had front bench responsibility. In his spare time he enjoys reading biographies, travel, architecture, history, swimming and bungee jumping. He’s married to Sarah, and has a daughter Isabel. Good morning Stewart Jackson.
JACKSON: Good morning Paul.
STAINTON: You’ve got your chance to sell yourself for a minute to the electorate. They’re listening.
JACKSON: Britain can’t go on like this, Paul. We need change. The choice at this election really is between five more years of Gordon Brown’s tired government making things worse, or David Cameron and the Conservatives with the energy, leadership and values to get the country moving again. A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for Gordon Brown by the back door. If we act now on the debt, we’ll keep mortgage rates lower. We need to cut taxes, on corporation tax, increase the basic state pension, stop Labour’s job tax rise, freeze council tax and strengthen marriage in the tax system. We need to make Britain the most family-friendly country in Europe, raise standards in schools, tackle Labour’s failed immigration policies, cut the cost of politics, tackle welfare dependency and the causes of poverty. And stand up for the aspirational working families who live in Peterborough. That’s my prospectus, and that’s my prospectus as the Member of Parliament for five years with a record of service and commitment to the City of Peterborough.
STAINTON: Stewart Jackson, Conservative then. Ed Murphy is standing in Peterborough for Labour. Ed’s lived and worked in the city for more than forty years. He’s lectured at Peterborough Regional College and helped establish the Step One and Housing Advice centres. He’s a programme director for a charity based in Peterborough, formerly a Cambridgeshire County councillor for ten years, played rugby for Peterborough Rugby Union Football Club as well, a busy man. Ed, you’ve got your minute at the start of this, to sell your wares to the people of Peterborough.
MURPHY: Good morning. I think a lot of people in Peterborough will probably know me already. And if they don’t, speak to their friends, because they probably do. I’ll stand up for you in Peterborough. We’ll probably hear this morning how people are concerned about jobs, how they’re concerned about getting a decent job, or possibly losing the job they’ve got at the moment, if the Tories get in and bring in massive cuts. All I want to do is represent people with honesty and integrity. We’ve had enough of shoddy swimming pool expenses scandals, we really have. People know me, they know where I live, and they know I want to do what’s right for Peterborough and regenerate this city.
STAINTON: Liberal Democrat’s Nick Sandford is here this morning. He’s the candidate for them, an Oxford graduate who’s currently working for the Woodland Trust, a conservation charity in Grantham. He’s lived in Peterborough for almost twenty years, and he’s been the Leader of the LibDems on the Peterborough City Council, stepping aside for his election campaign. But he’s still a city councillor. Aside from politics, Nick Sandford also enjoys watching cricket and fund raising for his local church. Other interests include history and conservation. Nick Sandford for the Liberal Democrats, your minute starts now.
SANDFORD: Thank you Paul. Following the Party Leaders Debate last Thursday, people are realising that this General Election has turned into a genuine three-party contest. If people want fundamental change, there’s only one party that they need to support, and the Liberal Democrats are that party. We have got four fundamental things that we want to change. We want to change our unfair taxation system. We’ve got a system in Britain where twenty per cent of the poorest people pay a higher proportion of their income in tax than those on the highest earnings. That has to change. We want to put more money into early years education, so that schools have the option of reducing class sizes. We want to put money into what we call the Green Economy, so we can put more money into public transport, into insulating homes, that sort of thing. But the fundamental thing that we want to do is to change our corrupt and undemocratic political system. We think that the MPs expenses scandal is but a symptom of a system that needs fundamental change. In the situation that we’re now in, in Peterborough and across the country, if these are the policies that you support, then you need to have the confidence to go to the polling station and actually support them.
STAINTON: Nick Sandford, for Liberal Democrat. So you’ve heard from all three of the main political candidates in Peterborough, from the Labour Party, Ed Murphy, from the Conservatives, Stewart Jackson, and Nick Sandford from the Liberal Democrats. If you want to get a question in in this hour, you can call us. Peterborough 315444, you can text us 07786 200957, or you can email us, it’s cambs dot election at bbc dot co dot uk. We’ve been around the city, gentleman, and we spoke to the people of Peterborough. It’s their election, probably the most important election for, if not one generation, two or three generations. We’ve been to Central Park. We’ve been to the Bretton Centre. Our first question for you this morning is about jobs, and your main plans, the National Insurance debate, all that sort of stuff, how are you going to cut the deficit, tax breaks and all those sorts of things, how we can afford it all. Here’s our first question. (TAPE) Instead of putting us on job clubs, why don’t they actually train us up to do a skill, so when the recession’s ended we’ve got a skill to fall back on? Instead of putting us in front of computers, that half of us don’t know what the hell we’re doing, and when we do do it, we do it at home anyway. It’s exactly the same.(STUDIO) Ed Murphy, we’ll start with you. Labour’s Job Clubs, according to that correspondent, they don’t work.
MURPHY: He’s absolutely right. What we need to do is be investing in our infrastructure and our public services now, to keep the recovery going. Peterborough City Council had the opportunity two and a half years ago, and they bumbled around. They were one of twelve pilot housing companies in the country. But the Conservative administration have bumbled around with fantasy projects and God knows what, when we could have been building even more houses, training local people in local skills. We need high value jobs in Peterborough, not the low-paid jobs the migrant workers are getting. We need decent jobs for decent local people. And that gentleman is absolutely right. I’d like to speak to him. I’d like to speak to him about the opportunities. We’ve done some good stuff with the under-twenty fives, the Future Jobs Fund. I remember the YTS schemes when I was a young man in the Tory recession. This is a world-wide depression but we’re creating real jobs. Don’t let the Tories put that at risk, by slashing six billion pounds from public finances and putting us back into recession.
STAINTON: Aren’t you going to be doing the same thing, though, if you increase National Insurance?
MURPHY: National Insurance is what employers pay. That’s to make ..
STAINTON: And employees.
MURPHY:..yes .. and that’s to make the budgets balance next year. What we have to do at the moment is get out, keep the recovery going, and keep people in jobs. The unemployment figures in Peterborough are half of what they were during the last recession, three times ..
STAINTON: We’ll get on to that in a minute, Ed, because I’d like to talk about the unemployment figures in Peterborough and the rest of the country. Stewart Jackson Conservative, you started a Job Club. They don’t work, according to this correspondent. What’s the point?
JACKSON: Well the Government’s one doesn’t work. I have to say that it’s strange that a Labour candidate also agrees with it, that it doesn’t work. The fact of the matter is, this government has presided over a huge increase in unemployment. In this city we’ve got a huge number of young people, more than in ninety seven, unemployed. we’ve got higher adult unemployment. we’ve got thousands literally of people who are NEETS now. Over two thousand people not in employment education and training. We’re in a situation where we’ve imported one million low-skilled workers from Eastern Europe, while over five million people are on out-of-work benefits, as a result of this government’s appalling mismanagement of the economy. And we’ll be spending more money on servicing the debt, on this government’s huge debt, a millstone, than we will on the education budget in the next year. That’s the background. We as Conservatives want to reduce National Insurance for jobs, we want to cut corporation tax, we want to make it easier for small businesses to start and take on the first ten employees. We want to reduce stamp duty, and we want to get the economy moving with green jobs. And that’s where we do share some aspirations with the Liberal Democrats. Although, in our case, we think we’ve got a chance of forming a government, to get those aspirations into reality, rather than the Liberal Democrats. But for Labour to lecture us on creating jobs, when they have created the worst debt crisis and the worst economic disaster and recession in sixty years is a bit rich from Ed Murphy.
STAINTON: Nick Sandford Liberal Democrats, jobs doesn’t appear very high on your list of to-dos, if you get into power, does it?
SANDFORD: I think if you look in our election manifesto, which I have to say is completely costed, unlike the ones that the other parties have put forward, we’re actually quite clear. I think for Stewart to lecture us about unemployment is rather rich, coming from a party that, if you go back to when Margaret Thatcher came into power, made immediate cuts in expenditure, and plunged the economy into a severe economic recession. If the Conservatives make immediate cuts as they’re pledging to do, that’s the big possibility. We have identified, and our Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable who is one of the most respected economists in the country has said that from probably about two thousand and twelve, significant cuts are going to have to be made when the economy has actually recovered. But for the first twelve months after us coming into power, we’ve identified a sum of about three thousand million pounds which we can put into the green economy. And what we’re aiming to do is create across the country round about a hundred thousand jobs. We’d also guarantee that anybody becoming unemployed would have a guaranteed place in employment or a training course within three months of becoming unemployed.
STAINTON: But the devil’s in the detail though Nick, isn’t it? As this man was saying, it’s all right having these courses, it’s all right teaching them to use computers, but they’re not interested in computers, they don’t know how to use them, it doesn’t work. They’re not interested in .. they just want work, these people.
SANDFORD: I think I agree with what Ed was saying, in that the problem we’ve got in Peterborough is we’ve got a large number of very low-skilled jobs. We need to have a more highly skilled economy. But talking about investing in the green economy, Peterborough is ideally placed to do that, because we’ve already got companies that deal with the technology for renewables, and that sort of thing. We’ve got a fantastic thing in Peterborough called the Eco-Innovation Centre, which enables small companies to create themselves and actually create employment.
STAINTON: Let me just read you what the Greens want to do. Let me read you what the Greens want to do. They want to have a Green New Deal. “A million new jobs and workforce training opportunities, new parts of the economy growing fast, renewable energy conservation, real growth based on what we need, instead of stuff we can happily do without. We can train you to insulate an old home, or install hot water or grey water systems, even making the next generation of wind-turbines.” They’re anticipating a minimum wage of eight pounds ten an hour because they’re committed to eliminating poverty wages. Can you match that, with your green credentials?
SANDFORD: Absolutely. I was reading the manifesto the Greens are putting forward, an aspirational document. I would support a massive amount of it. But the fundamental problems the Greens have …
STAINTON: So you .. let’s leave it at that. You’d support it. Stewart Jackson …
SANDFORD: How are they going to pay for it, that’s the question.
STAINTON: Fiona Radic is the Green Candidate, by the way, if you wanted to vote Green in Peterborough. Would you match those sorts of aspirations, Stewart Jackson Conservative?
JACKSON: Those are aspirations which we would match. But we have to answer the question, how are you going to pay for it? And it’s just totally pie in the sky. And I don’t believe that the Liberal Democrats’ proposals for instance are completely costed. Because even in the course of that debate Nick Clegg made reference to fifteen billion pounds worth of savings. And his own manifesto had only come up with eleven billion. So he invented four billion pounds worth of savings. Can I just make one point Paul, about the fact that Ed Murphy says six billion pound taken out of the economy, which incidentally is to stop the job-destroying National Insurance rise, is going to wreck the economy? That’s less than one per cent of the entire budget for government. Households reduce their expenditure in difficult times by less than one per cent, and the government has to do so as well.
STAINTON: On that point Ed? And then we’ll talk about the green issues.
MURPHY: No. I want to talk about what Fiona said. I don’t want to get personal about Stewart, but it’s a bit rich. The Tories in Peterborough, the figures don’t add up, his expenses claims didn’t add up, so I wish he’s stop playing with numbers. Fiona’s made a good point. Eight pound an hour minimum wage I think is something that we should aim for. She’s absolutely right. Labour on the green economy we’re doing an awful lot now.
STAINTON: How are we going to afford ..
MURPHY: I want to see ..
STAINTON: How are we going to pay for it then?
MURPHY: Well, to be frank, if the City Council are paying consultants hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, eight pound an hour?
SANDFORD: Twelve million a year.
MURPHY: I think eight pound an hour …
JACKSON: This is a Parliamentary election.
MURPHY: Something that people should expect to get in work.
JACKSON: It’s not a council election.
MURPHY: Yes I’m sorry I thought the protocol was we wouldn’t interrupt today, Mr Jackson.
STAINTON: No you can interrupt.
MURPHY: And .. OK thank you for that cue.
JACKSON: Stop talking about Peterborough City Council and get on with talking about running the country.
MURPHY: On the green agenda, it’s astonishing, and people in Peterborough are outraged that the Conservatives are claiming that they invented the Green Backyard this week. They didn’t. Local volunteers have done it off their own backs. We need a green economy. There’s people in Paston, they’ve seen the Cross Keys homes get the insulation. Private people want that as well, and we should be doing that. Companies like Peter Brotherhood are precision engineering. That’s what we need in Peterborough. We should be having those companies build the wind-turbines not import them from abroad.
STAINTON: Yes. Why haven’t the Labour government done it? Because they’ve had thirteen years.
MURPHY: The Labour government are getting on with that job now under Ed Milliband, and we’re doing that. We’re doing more to reduce the CO2. We believe the tipping point is here. We believe that the economy is important. We’re not in denial, like the Tories are. We believe we’ve got to do something about the economy, and we’re doing something about it now.
STAINTON: Quick comment? Ed Murphy is Labour and Nick Sandford Liberal Democrat.
SANDFORD: I just want to challenge Stewart on the point about the relevance of talking about Peterborough City Council.
SANDFORD: Because what you’ve got is a situation where you’ve got the party that says it’s got the economic competence to actually administer the United Kingdon. That same party over a ten-year period has been administering Peterborough City Council, and has been guilty of the most appalling financial incompetence over things like education. And that is where it’s important. You’ve got a council that squanders twelve million pounds on consultants.
STAINTON: Education, the PCT massively overspent, they’ve got to cut back the health service in Peterborough. And the council is Tory-led, and dominated by Tories, Stewart. How do you approach that?
JACKSON: Well the last time Labour had the opportunity to run Peterborough they ran away from it, and they actually drove the council into debt. We’re forgetting one thing, the Conservative programme keeps getting re-elected, and we’ve now got a significant number of councils. They’re not perfect. I stick up for my constituents when I think the council are wrong, and I spoke out about the GCSE results for instance, when I thought the council was complacent. And it is a big challenge for them. This is a Parliamentary election about big stark choices and the future of our country. It’s not scoring points about Peterborough City Council.
STAINTON: Let’s talk about Peterborough though, and the city centre, the Station Quarter, the vision for the city, Cathedral Square. Has it been a disaster? Here’s what one person thinks. (TAPE) It’s a local issue to do with Peterborough, and it’s to do with the station, Peterborough station. It’s inadequate parking, the station is not very functional, and it’s just unattractive. When you come to Peterborough, and you enter that station through the gateway, you think I’d just like to go somewhere else. When is the station going to be refurbished, any sort of plans to modernise it, and make it look good? (STUDIO). Yes the Station Quarter. I’ll come to you first on this Stewart, because Ed was first last time. Stewart Jackson Conservative. Station Quarter. You come to Peterborough, it’s a disgrace. Cathedral Square has been going on and on and on. Pat on text says, “People of Peterborough don’t want their council tax wasting on water taxis, fountains, consultants.” What would your party do to give residents more say? I’ll let you all answer that as well.
JACKSON: Well I think I generally agree with the regeneration of the city centre, because it’s a tired city centre, and hasn’t really changed since the nineteen eighties. Obviously the economic downturn has had an impact on things like the North Westgate and the Station Quarter. But let’s look on the positive side. We’ve got the University Centre, we are an Environment City. we aspire to be the Environment Capital, we’ve got great roads and rail infrastructure.
STAINTON: Would you give residents more say Stewart?
JACKSON: Yes I think so. But one of the things I think people need to understand is that money was ring-fenced for the Cathedral, the public realm works, and therefore if it wasn’t used on that it would have gone back to the regional body the EEDA, the regional agency. So, yes it’s not perfect. It’s taken a long time. There were problems about utilities and architecture, and the city does need a refresh. But at least we’re moving forward, and we’ve got a vision for the future of our city, the use of the River Nene, the City Centre, the South Bank. And other cities don’t have that. And I think that’s a great basis to come out of recession.
STAINTON: Ed? Ed Murphy, your vision for the future of Peterborough, for Labour.
MURPHY: It’s not so much about vision, and fluffy things, and vanity projects, it’s about stopping bumbling around and getting on with it. I remember the Arena was talked about as a new hotel complex a while ago. South Bank, they’ve been talking about it for fifteen years. The six-month project to transform Cathedral Square has taken, what, two summers now? And on regeneration, the Conservative policy, they are a laughing stock. They produced a paper, a national paper on regeneration. It never even got printed. In regeneration and renewal circles, in the industry, Peterborough City Council and the opposition Conservative Spokesperson on Regeneration, they’re just a laugh, they really are.
STAINTON: What would you have done with Cathedral Square? What would you do with the Station Quarter?
MURPHY: The Station Quarter, the bridge needs to be extended over towards where the dairy was, in West Town. The plans were already there. They need to stop bumbling around and getting consultants in to cost, they need to get on with the job and do it. The Council have got a reputation for not consulting. They’re now getting a reputation for not even listening. Not listening to the people of Eye, not listening to ..
STAINTON: Let’s leave the Council out. Let’s talk about what you would do. You’ve had your .. Ed Murphy for Labour. Nick for the Liberal Democrats, before I come to you, Frances Fox, UKIP’s candidate in this election in Peterborough says, ” Our spendid historic Cathedral Square should be a place for peaceful relaxation, but is due to become, thanks to our Conservative council, an extravagent delayed and expensive outdoor Jacuzzi. The railway station does need to be revamped to meet modern needs, but this may be years away due to the economic situation.” Well the truth of the matter is, not a lot’s going to be done, is it Nick? What would you do to improve Cathedral Square, to improve the Station Quarter?
SANDFORD: There’s not many things I agree with Frances on, but I think I do have some sympathy with her comments on that particular point. If you take the railway station first, the Conservatives, when they were in power, privatised the whole of the railway network. So what you’ve now got is a series of private companies actually operating it. We’ve been promised for years and years that Peterborough Railway Station is going to be upgraded, but the whole rail system and network is so complicated now. It’s difficult to get anybody to take any responsibility for it. And Cathedral Square, I think that is a classic example of what we as the Liberal Democrats in Peterborough have been saying, and we have to talk about Peterborough City Council again, they squander money on these grandiose projects like Cathedral Square, like the incinerators, the water-taxis, the cable cars, the twelve million pounds on consultants, and at the same time they cut basic services like public transport. And what you get, the excuse is well, the money that’s going on Cathedral Square is not coming from the council.
STAINTON: What would you do Nick Sandford, for Liberal Democrats?
SANDFORD: Well I think it’s important that we do regenerate Peterborough city centre. It’s particularly important that we have a train station that is modern and available for the twenty first century. What the Liberal Democrat’s have done is said we will create a Green Infrastructure Bank, whereby private investment can be put in so these major infrastructure projects, like upgrading the railway network, like upgrading essential railway stations, can be taken forward rather than being bogged down in years of confusion.
STAINTON: I’m going to give you twenty seconds each now. How do you give residents more say? Stewart Jackson.
JACKSON: I think they need to use the Neighbourhood Councils. I think they need to talk to their local councillors. They do need to be consulted on. But can I just say that Peterborough City Council are developing a thing called a special purpose vehicle to get private sector capital money to refresh the tired infrastructure that was built thirty years ago. And that’s something that other councils aren’t doing.
STAINTON: Ed Murphy. How do you give people more say? Twenty seconds.
MURPHY: I would ensure that we listen to people. They know my family. They know where I live. I will live in Peterborough when I’m elected to represent the people. They know my door, and they know my friends and they know my colleagues.
STAINTON: So does Nick Sandford. He lives in Peterborough.
MURPHY: Indeed as well.
STAINTON: Is that a dig at Stewart?
MURPHY: Nick’s well known locally. It’s a dig at the politicians in Peterborough who think they’re above the people of Peterborough. The councillors who don’t live here, don’t intend to live here.
STAINTON: Stewart I’ll let you get back on that one.
JACKSON: Well that’s nonsense. This is the sort of low negative policies that have been put forward by the Labour Party. Actually none of our Members of Parliament ..
MURPHY: Living here is not a policy. I live here mate.
JACKSON: None of our MPs are going to prison, Ed. Your MPs are going to prison possibly, for expenses abuses. I was cleared by two audit panels on expenses, so don’t lecture me. And I was campaigning for Peterborough before you were ever ..
MURPHY: You paid expenses back.
STAINTON: Nick Sandford. can we get your .. how would you give people more say in Peterborough? Twenty seconds.
SANDFORD: We support the Neighbourhood Councils, but the council has not given the Neighbourhood Councils any meaningful powers. Two things that we would do to give people more power. To give people power over the police we’d have directly elected police authorities. To give people power over health service, we would get rid of the quangos of the Primary Care Trusts and we’d replace them with democratically chosen health boards to administer health and services.
STAINTON: Yes. Right. Let’s move on to the thorny issue of immigration, and what the people of Peterborough think about immigration as well. We’ve been out, as we said, around Central Park and around Bretton Centre. Before I get on to that, just let me say there are other candidates standing in the Peterborough election. Let me give you the full list. Rob King for the English Democrats, for UKIP Frances Fox, for the Green Party Fiona Radic, BNP Dave Strickson, and Independent John Swallow. And on the subject of immigration, we’ve been around Peterborough, we’ve spoken to people, and this is what they had to say on the thorny issue of immigration.
VOXPOP: “When are we going to realise that, sorry but immigration, we are a small island, and I just feel that it’s been too much too quickly. I know we’ve always had immigrants, and there are certain people that will integrate and whatever. But we are a small island. When do you think that you’re going to come to some sensible arrangement, and not just let everybody from every country into this country?”
STAINTON: This text just in as well. “Peterborough’s changed radically over the last few years. I am all for having a diverse society, but Peterborough is an historical town, and seems to have lost any form of English identity.” Ed Murphy for Labour? Labour’s been in charge. you opened the borders, you let them all in. You took away the controls on people going out.
MURPHY: We signed up to European law, and we opened the borders to many EU citizens, not Romania, not Bulgaria. There’s no difference between us and the Tories on this. Labour have been really hard on migration lately. It’s very difficult for people to get in if you’re non-EU. I think what most people in Peterborough are complaining about, requesting we do something about, is the high levels of Eastern European migration.
STAINTON: Legal. Legal migration, which is European Union migration.
MURPHY: That means our MEPs need to be picking up on that matter. Or we need to be talking to the European Community about that. Now one of the things that affects Peterborough as a ..
STAINTON: But you’ve had thirteen years. You’ve been thirteen years in power to sort this out, haven’t you?
MURPHY: There’s no difference between Labour and the Tories on EU migration. If you want to stop EU migration you vote for one of the minority parties.
STAINTON: Is there a difference, Stewart Jackson Conservative?
JACKSON: Absolutely. This government has disgracefully failed to listen to Peterborough for six years, for probably ten years since we became an asylum ..
MURPHY: You want money again.
JACKSON: This government is not interested in Peterborough. It is not interested in the resources needed for schooling, for housing, for health ..
MURPHY: What about EU migration and the law?
JACKSON: Under your government, Ed, the net migration figures have tripled in the last thirteen years, from forty eight thousand to a hundred and sixty three thousand. There are seven hundred thousand illegal immigrants in this country, under your government. Your government does not care. I have lobbied consistently over the last five years.
MURPHY: Ineffectively. What are you going to do about it. All you’re talking about is money, and fiddling the figures again. What are you going to do about migration in the EU? Are you going to withdraw from Europe, or what?
JACKSON: It’s your problem. You told the British people ..
MURPHY: It will be my problem when I’m representing the people of Peterborough.
JACKSON: You told ..
MURPHY: And I will certainly be batting for them.
JACKSON: If I can finish. You told the British people that fifteen thousand people would come here. Your ministers told them. Over a million have come to the UK. And you have failed to properly plan for it. And people know it. Which is why you’re massively behind on immigration and you’re on the back foot.
MURPHY: (Incomprehensible mutter)
STAINTON: Nick Sandford .. Sorry. Let’s just keep it clean OK guys. Nick Sandford Liberal Democrats.
SANDFORD: Yes I think this is an example of the old politics, people having a slanging match over what is a genuine issue that people are concerned about. I think where the Conservatives go wrong, and I think they do it intentionally, they confuse people coming in from European countries with people coming in from outside Europe. We’ve been quite clear as far as people coming from outside Europe we want a fair system.
STAINTON: You’re going to let everybody stay, aren’t you?
SANDFORD: We’re not going to let everybody stay.
STAINTON: You are. You’re going to give them asylum.
SANDFORD: Asylum is again a separate issue.
STAINTON: The Liberal Democrats are going to make the problem worse.
SANDFORD: Asylum is again a separate issue. Britain’s got a reputation of accommodating people who are genuinely suffering persecution. What we’ve said is that we want a fair system based on a points system similar to what the Canadians ..
STAINTON: Are you going to let illegal immigrants stay here though … Nick?
SANDFORD: We have a policy that where people have lived in a peaceful way in this country for over a ten year period, where they’ve integrated in society, where they have employment, we don’t think it is sensible to invest massive amounts of money in actually hounding these people and throwing them out of the country.
STAINTON: So that’s a yes.
SANDFORD: We would actually, if these people met certain criteria, we would let them remain in the country. But what we would do is we would put those resources into tackling people like people traffickers, drug smugglers, because you’ve got a situation where the Immigration Service is putting massive resources into getting law-abiding citizens and putting them out of ..
JACKSON: But Nick your policy ..
SANDFORD: And at the same time allowing criminals to remain.
JACKSON: Your policy as I understand is that you’re going to hand over asylum policy to the European Union. That’s your policy as well as giving an amnesty to illegal immigrants. That’s the thing people don’t see when they say Nick Clegg did well in the debate. That’s the reality of LibDem policy on immigration.
SANDFORD: We do not want an amnesty for illegal immigrants. What we have said is that people who currently have lived in Britain for a long period in a law-abiding way, we would allow them to remain.
STAINTON: It’s a huge issue this, a huge huge issue.
SANDFORD: Just let me answer his question. Given the fact that the Conservative Party now sees their lead in the polls dropping they have to attack the Liberal Democrats. We’re quite happy for them to look at our policies. As regards asylum, we think that Britain should have control over its own asylum policy. But what we do say is that it’s sensible to talk to other European countries and try and agree a common policy.
STAINTON: Within the EU.
SANDFORD: Within the EU. Because this is the problem. The Conservatives talk about people coming from European countries. They don’t talk about the millions of British people that go and live in Portugal and go and live in Spain.
STAINTON: But there’s still a deficit though, isn’t there? Every year. And it’s building and building and building. Ed Murphy for Labour. I may have been quite harsh on you earlier when I said you’ve had thirteen years to sort it out, because it is EU law, which you and your party signed up to. How do we get round it? Because it’s a massive problem.
MURPHY: Indeed it is. In Peterborough we’ve had about twelve thousand people come to live in Peterborough from mainly European countries, but some from other countries as well. What Peterborough have not done is use the regulations. We’ve got designated status for what we call houses in multiple occupation. The council has the powers it wants to stop overcrowding, to make landlords make sure they look after the dwellings which they overcrowd with people ..
STAINTON: But isn’t the problem ..
MURPHY: .. who are probably employed by their friendly gangmasters, some of them getting paid below the minimum wage. I would have liked to have seen Labour work with the trade unions to make sure that every migrant worker who came here was protected.
STAINTON: What is the biggest problem? Is it that European immigration is too high, legal immigration, or is it the fact that Peterborough doesn’t get enough money from the Government?
MURPHY: The problem for Peterborough is the council refuse to use the powers they have. Only today have the government agency gone in and removed people.
STAINTON: Nick Sandford. Which is the bigger problem? Nick Sandford Liberal Democrats.
SANDFORD: It’s true that the council should use its powers. Because if you’ve got Eastern European migrants who don’t have jobs, don’t have accommodation, the Government does have the power to remove them, to exercise those powers. What the current government failed to do is when Poland and some of the other European countries joined, actually became part of Europe, the Government has the power, just like the French and the Germans did, to impose transitional controls. Because what they didn’t realise, and what they ought to have realised, is there was going to be a massive influx.
STAINTON: So the Government was asleep, basically?
SANDFORD: The Government was incompetent in that they did not exercise the control powers that they had.
STAINTON: Stewart Jackson. The biggest problem, too many people coming here legally, or too less money for Peterborough?
JACKSON: Well there is too little money for Peterborough. Ministers have totally ignored it. It was only last year they set up the Migration Impact Forum. And in terms of outside-EU migration we’ll have a points system, we’ll have an annual cap, and we will also have transitional measures in place for any new future EU migrant countries that come into the European Union and the UK. Frankly Ed Murphy has just admitted there that his own Labour government is presiding over a situation where we have effectively slave labour, we have slum landlords. That’s thirteen years of a Labour government in Peterborough, with brothels, with people trafficking, and all those awful things. That’s a Labour government that have done nothing to stop it. And it’s a disgrace and a shame to this Labour government.
SANDFORD: Can I just challenge Stewart on the annual cap? Because ..
STAINTON: Very quickly.
SANDFORD: This is where we fundamentally disagree with them. Because an annual cap would mean if we’d got companies in Britain that need highly-skilled people to come in, if the country had reached its quota, employers in Britain would not be able to bring people in. That’s why we favour a points-based system, based on different parts of the country, so that you can channel people in to parts of the country where ..
STAINTON: How are you going to keep tabs on them .. eh? How are you going to stop them going to Newcastle?
SANDFORD: By regulating .. by properly regulating employers. Because if they come into Britain you give them a permit, they’re registered with a particular employer. So what we need is a fair immigration system, and we need proper enforcement, and the cuts in budgets the Conservatives are proposing would mean that that could not happen.
STAINTON: Ed Murphy, we’ll get a comment from you on what Stewart said. Disgraceful government, asleep on the job for the last thirteen years, immigration out of control, you’ve made Peterborough a slum.
MURPHY: What happened is a lot of people came to this country, many hard-working. Because this country was doing fairly well, more people came than expected. The other countries in Europe are levelling out now, and that will be addressed. people are leaving Peterborough. My neighbours are hard-working Eastern Europeans, they’re lovely people. Stewart mentioned people-trafficking in Peterborough. It is serious. I know there’s a Conservative councillor currently under investigation by the Police Service, for doing just that, and running overcrowded accommodation. Sort out your own crew first mate.
STAINTON: Let’s hear from some of the other candidates then. Let’s start with Rob King, the English Democrats. He’s the candidate for Peterborough. Let’s hear what he has to say about immigration.
KING:(TAPE) Peterborough, for about four or five years now, seems to have been the place for immigrants to come to, with promises of work. And something needs to be done to address this. Even if it’s talking to other EU countries, and saying: “There is no work in Peterborough. Please don’t come to Peterborough.”
STAINTON: (STUDIO) John Swallow is the Independent Candidate for Peterborough.
SWALLOW:(TAPE) I think when you look at immigration you have to split it down to two, maybe three areas. The first one is asylum. Anybody who comes here and claims that they’re in danger of their life and that, we need to deal with them fairly, we need to deal with them quickly. And if they’re not then they go home. Economic migration, we need to go a little bit deeper into the problem. And it’s things like cancelling third-world debt.
STAINTON: (STUDIO) The BNP. Dave Strickson standing for them in Peterborough says: “There’s nothing wrong with people’s desire to have freedom of movement around the world. There has to be a limit on the intake that towns and cities like Peterborough are expected to withstand. There needs to be a population limit that the local infrastructure can reasonably cope with. I’d support a scheme that would require anybody that has moved here within the last fifteen years to complete an application form for residency in the UK. If people were deemed suitable, they would then have to sign a contract for UK residency.” Frances Fox for UKIP says: “The three old parties, plus the Green Party, have agreed to open borders. This makes it necessary to build on fertile land and allotments, in order to accommodate new arrivals. Ninety per cent of housing is to accommodate new arrivals. While this is happening, British citizens are suffering job-losses and losing their homes”. You’re going to be worried you guys, aren’t you, in Peterborough? The BNP is standing, Ed Murphy. They’re going to take some votes.
MURPHY: It breaks my heart that the BNP are standing. I fought for years against the fascists.
STAINTON: But doesn’t it show that there are real issues?
STAINTON: That people are very very worried.
MURPHY: It does. Last year in the European elections where UKIP did extremely well, they got thousands of votes from the Tories, last European elections we were worried the BNP were going to do well in this area. Their vote was flat. We went in quite hard on them, exposed them as fascists and racists. But when I was knocking on doors a week or so ago I just realised that a lot of people living in Peterborough, they weren’t racist. They were talking about supporting extreme parties ..
STAINTON: But they don’t see ..
MURPHY: .. but they were just angry and upset. I’ll listen to them and they know that I will continue to listen to them and try and address the issues.
STAINTON: Stewart Jackson Conservative: there are parts of Peterborough where people will not see the BNP as fascists and racists, and we have to say they’re a perfectly legitimate political party, and that’s just Ed Murphy’s view. But the people in Peterborough that see them as the only way to go.
JACKSON: Well the fact that the BNP are standing and will get some votes is unfortunately a function of the fact that people have been .. feel that they’re marginalised angry and resentful, because they are stigmatised as racists and fascists, not only by the Labour Party but by others, when they have legitimate concerns about the quality of their life and how they see their community and country going. Now my view is the BNP are an abhorrent organisation. But they are a legal party, they have a right to a platform, and we must ridicule them and we must look at their policies and reveal what’s underneath, which isn’t very pleasant. But democracy is about that, and I believe you can trust people to make their own decisions in the right way about their policies.
STAINTON: Nick Sandford. It’s part of where we are in the world at the moment and the strength and depth of feeling with the immigration problem, that the BNP are standing and will get votes in this city.
SANDFORD: There’s a concern about immigration. I said earlier we need a fair and properly enforced immigration system. People have genuine concerns. I think the British National Party are an obnoxious organisation. What we have in Peterborough is a situation where the majority of groups actually live together in a reasonably harmonious way. And I think it’s quite significant that the British National Party has had candidates in previous elections for the European Parliament, and their vote has been really insignificant. If people get BNP people coming to see them, what you need to do is to ask them what their policies are on the other issues, about education, health, and that sort of thing, and you will expose them. Just as when they appeared on the BBC Question Time programme, Mr Griffin was completely exposed.
STAINTON: We did ask the BNP to come on this week and they turned down our request to come on. It would have been an interesting interview I believe. Now let’s move on to health. Obviously a massive issue in Peterborough. A huge overspend from the PCT last year, twenty seven million pounds worth of savings have to be found in the next financial year according to Sheila Bremner, Chief Executive of Peterborough PCT. Let’s speak to you, ED. They’ve had the money. We’ve had the services. This is a phenomenal amount of mismanagement, isn’t it?
MURPHY: A lot of people are getting at Marco Cereste the Conservative Leader in Peterborough who’s also boss of the PCT, for .. not cooking the books .. not actually keeping an eye on the books. And they’ve got this deficit which they’re trying to recoup over twelve months. They need to be speaking outside Peterborough and say no, we can’t reduce it, double it in twelve months. And they need to stop paying two, three, four times for admissions to acute hospital wards. Just pay the once. And get control of the books. It is a shame, and it needs to be addressed ..
STAINTON: A shame?
MURPHY: It’s about leadership.
STAINTON: Surely it’s more than a shame?
MURPHY: It is a shame in the context that we’re about to open the City Hospital, and when you see how great that is, the investment from Labour, beautiful hospital, there’ll be no reason to go private once people see that. It’s a shame that the Tories running the PCT have cocked up the budget for the PCT.
STAINTON: Stewart Jackson. You can respond straight to that.
JACKSON: The Tories aren’t running the PCT. That’s absolute nonsense. It’s an issue of the Board and senior managers. The fact is of course it’s a major problem. The local NHS Trust has issues around a deficit and I hope that it doesn’t impact on front-line services. But we’ve got to remember the basis of this. It is all about tick-box, targets, reorganisations, that’s what Labour have given us. They spent three billion pounds over nine years on just reorganisation of different health organisation ..
MURPHY: I thought you might be trying to blame this one on immigration.
JACKSON: .. and they tripled the amount of money that’s spent. We’ve still got some of the worst heart disease and cancer rates in Europe.
STAINTON: Twelve million pounds though is not tick-boxes, is it. That’s mismanagement, isn’t it?
JACKSON: Well obviously there are management consultants going in to look at what has happened, and in fairness to Marco Cereste he’s effectively said that if he can’t sort it out he’s going to step down. Obviously the Chief Executive has already gone. But there were endemic problems in the PCT. And one of the things is for instance the amount of money that was needed to be spent on the swine ‘flu epidemic which didn’t happen. And there were other issues around contracting between the hospital and the PCT which need to be looked at. And that’s a major issue. But I’d like to talk if I can ..
STAINTON: Very quickly please.
JACKSON: .. about our positive policies for health.
STAINTON: Yes. We’ll come back to you. Nick Sandford, your reaction to the health situation in Peterborough, and are we confident that in the next financial year, if we’re ill, we’ll get treated? And what can you do if you were to become MP for Peterborough, to ensure that happened?
SANDFORD: I’m not confident that will happen. I think this is an example of where both Labour and Conservative parties want to tinker around with the current system, whereas Liberal Democrats offer fundamental change. In primary care trusts across the country, over the last four years, there’s been a thirty per cent increase in the number of managers, administrators and consultants that have been employed. Some primary care trusts are actually paying their Chief Executives more than Gordon Brown is being paid as Prime Minister. Yet we’ve actually got a situation where health outcomes in Peterborough are inferior to comparable places across the country. We’ve got people who when they want to access a GP come across restrictive practices. They can’t see a GP outside hours. And the answer that Marco Cereste who I have to say is both the Chairman of the PCT and the Leader of the City Council, his answer to the problem is to spend three million pounds on employing an additional firm of consultants.
STAINTON: You wouldn’t do that?
SANDFORD: That is not the way to solve the problem. What we say is these are undemocratic quangos, they need to be replaced by organisations that have genuine and democratic accountability.
STAINTON: Ed Murphy. What can we do? What can we do to secure the health of Peterborough next year? We’re going to cut .. well we’re going to have net dis-investment in acute commissioning, specialist commissioning, non-NHS commissioning, community services, NHS commissioning, continuing care, learning disability placements, other placements, primary care, prescribing, corporate costs, estates management, and allocation to be determined. We’re going to cut right across the board the health services left in Peterborough next year according to that document.
MURPHY: According to that document which the PCT Board have been producing with their Interim Chief Executive. What we need to do is to talk to the Ministry. We need to make sure that we protect health in Peterborough. It’s not just primary care. The hospitals are doing fine, the other health services are the best they’ve ever been in Peterborough, Labour have ever invested. Sorry to say it again, but we need to get control of the finances and say to central government and the Strategic Health Authority, Peterborough needs to continue to be spending while we sort out this matter. And I think it’s mismanagement, rather than a lack of resources.
STAINTON: How do we guarantee it Stewart? If you’re elected as MP, what will you be doing to ensure the people of Peterborough can survive all these cuts.
JACKSON: Well I’ve already spoken to Marco Cereste and I will be writing to Sheila Bremner. I do believe that we need to protect front-line services, NHS dentistry. I have a record of defending small GP practices in poorer areas of the city against the Government’s drive to poly-clinics. I have a very good relationship with the NHS, and when the NHS has made mistakes I’ve often backed them, even though I thought that it was a difficult situation to defend. But our main issue here is that we are going to ring-fence NHS spending. We think it’s important. We are going to commit to long-term elderly care, with an insurance system which I think will work, because that’s a major issue brewing over the next few years, and we’re going to put two hundred million pounds into a new cancer fund from savings in terms of administration and bureaucracy. In terms of Ed Murphy saying, let’s go back to the Ministry, this is a government that has spent thirteen billion pounds on a new IT system in the NHS, and has had to abandon it because it’s been such a management disaster.
STAINTON: Ed Murphy?
MURPHY: The PCT position in Peterborough continues to worsen. The Government need to step in and take control and get rid of the Marcos and the consultants. One thing I’d like to ask you about Stewart is the cancer guarantee and what Labour are doing now, where if you’re diagnosed you get treatment within fourteen days. Cameron’s going to tear that up and put that at risk.
STAINTON: Can I butt in? Sally from Chatteris has just called in. She says, “I’ve got cancer. I’ve been in remission for four years. I’ve got some small tumours but four months later I’m still waiting for a biopsy. This isn’t acceptable. What would you guys do?” So she’s been waiting four months for a biopsy. So it’s not working.
MURPHY: It’s not acceptable. And we need to find out her situation and why she is waiting. That is not acceptable at all, and it will not be under a Labour government, and we need to look into the matter now.
JACKSON: They’ve re-badged a promise as a guarantee, but after thirteen years it doesn’t work. There’s no access to modern drugs, modern cancer drugs, the best drugs now, there’s a postcode lottery under Labour. They’ve failed on mixed-sex wards. They’ve failed on NHS dentistry. They’ve failed on issues around choice in maternity, and we’ve got some of the worst cancer and heart disease rates in Europe, despite tripling the amount of money spent. No-one believes a word of the health guarantees that the Labour Party are trying to tell the voters.
STAINTON: Nick Sandford Liberal Democrats. We seem to be spending a heck of a lot of money on the health service. It seems from Sally’s case that things aren’t that much better. Where’s it all going?
SANDFORD: I think where it’s going is on the bureaucrats, the managers and the consultants. And I think this is ..
STAINTON: How are you going to change that.
SANDFORD: I think fundamentally the thing that worries me about the Conservative policy of completely ring-fencing expenditure on the health service is that you mustn’t ring-fence the bureaucracy and the consultants. You need a fundamental transfer. I’m slightly worried about Ed’s idea that central government come in and take over Peterborough’s health service. Because that’s fundamentally been the problem, that all this money’s gone into the health service from central government, but it’s all been on the basis of centrally imposed targets. We need to allow the practitioners the doctors and the nurses to actually determine the priorities.
STAINTON: Is this what you’re talking about in your manifesto, with democratically elected local health boards. Isn’t that just the PCT by another name?
SANDFORD: Well it’s a PCT that can commission services, but where the services that are commissioned are what the people of the locality actually want. Who knows, who chooses who the directors of the Primary Care Trust are? I know that Marco’s the Chairman. I don’t know who’s on the Primary Care Trust apart from him.
JACKSON: Can I just say Nick your party manifesto, it doesn’t commit to ring-fencing and protecting NHS expenditure. So you’ve said, Nick Clegg said a few months ago about the need for savage cuts. Presumably that will include our local NHS services.
SANDFORD: We have .. Nick Clegg has said and Vince Cable has said that we’ve clearly identified from two thousand and twelve onwards fifteen billion pounds per annum of actual savings. These are things like cutting the Trident missile system, cutting the identity cards. We’re actually talking about investing more in our basic health services.
STAINTON: Stewart you talk about ring-fencing the NHS. Will you be spending more, and if so how much.
JACKSON: We’ve agreed to increase NHS spending in line with inflation, we will protect .. it’s not about incidentally protecting every aspect of health in terms of the Department of Health. Obviously there are going to be needs for some savings, which is why we’re able to put money into a cancer fund to get the best and most advanced and modern drugs. But in terms of front-line expenditure we have given that guarantee that will be ring-fenced under a Conservative government.
SANDFORD: Can I just make one very quick point. This is what the Conservatives say. What we need to look at is when they were in power for eighteen years what they actually did. When people had to wait eighteen months for basic treatment under the health service.
STAINTON: I suppose at this stage we’re taking all your manifestos and looking at them like you’re telling the truth.
SANDFORD: What they say and what they do is not the same.
STAINTON: Ed Murphy for Labour. You’re ring-fencing the health service, and many other departments as well aren’t you? You’re guaranteeing you’re not going to cut back in various departments. But you’re going to whack us with National Insurance next year.
MURPHY: For me public health is very very important. I want to say to the people that are working in the Primary Care Trust and other services in Peterborough, I appreciate all that they’re doing. They are really really good, the front line staff ..
STAINTON: Even the managers?
MURPHY: .. some of the managers are very good as well.
JACKSON: They’re all Tories according to you Ed.
MURPHY: Sorry. I’ve been interrupted by a comment that all the people working in the NHS ..
JACKSON: But that’s what you said. You said that the PCT is run by the Tories. It’s your words.
MURPHY: I was not talking about the people that get paid thirty seven thousand pounds a year to sit on a quango. I was talking about the nurses, the health workers, the health visitors, the people that are trying to make people healthy, and the great job that they do. And under Labour and under the next government, whether it’s a Tory government or a Labour government, I will be in there defending public service.
STAINTON: How much more are Labour going to spend? Stewart has just guaranteed the Tories are going to spend inflation increases on the NHS.
MURPHY: I hope Labour will spend whatever is required ..
STAINTON: You hope.
MURPHY: ..yes, to make sure we are not making nurses and doctors redundant.
STAINTON: Fiona Radic is standing for the Green Party in Peterborough. On the subject of the PCT she said “It will be hard to imagine a worse time for morale in Peterborough’s health services to drop. It’s not possible to see how cuts can be made into a pared down service. Greens believe we’ve built a health service which is more about illness rather than about health, and we need to focus more on building up the health and preventing illness in Peterborough. We have a late-night city centre culture which is unpleasant, and results in health problems such as alcoholism, drug addiction or injury. In Brighton Greens tried to stop shops selling super-strength lager, to stop selling alcohol as a loss-leader, and they’re using the Challenge 25 to reduce under-age drinking. Peterborough could do this.” Very quickly, could they? Stewart Jackson Conservative.
JACKSON: I think we need to do something about the results of the Licensing Act 2003, which has had a massive impact on A&E and the health service.
STAINTON: Well that’s in your manifesto, isn’t it?
STAINTON: Nick Sandford Liberal Democrats.
SANDFORD: Yes Fiona’s right. We need to invest more in preventative care. I’ve criticised our fantastic new hospital. It’s not got any trees in the immediate vicinity.
STAINTON: It’ll match Cathedral Square surely won’t it?
SANDFORD: There’s evidence that natural environment contributes to actual health outcomes. And we’ve got a hospital that’s in a concrete area. The other point that Fiona made is having a minimum price for alcohol. I think there is an argument for that. We do need to tackle this drinking ..
STAINTON: How do you do that without penalising responsible drinkers who just like a couple of beers on a night.
SANDFORD: Because responsible drinkers who go to a pub pay a reasonable price for it. What you’ve got to crack down on is the major supermarkets actually drawing people in by offering drink really cheap.
STAINTON: Good luck with that. You’re going to take on Tescos if you get in power. Good luck with that.
SANDFORD: We have to take on the large vested interests in the country. That’s what Liberal Democrats are saying.
STAINTON: Ed Murphy. On those points please. And the late-night culture in Peterborough which you know about.
MURPHY. The public health issues are very very important. And the late-night drinking culture in Peterborough is extremely concerning as well. I’m a member of the Campaign for Real Ale, and I’ve backed the work that they’ve been doing and the lobbying they’ll be doing, and I will be a lobbyist in Parliament for them. An unpaid lobbyist. Making sure that we do something to protect the traditional pub where people drink moderate amounts safely, rather than have the Broadway strip and the crazy things we’ve got going on in Peterborough at the moment.
STAINTON: Guys, we’re going to rattle through a few issues now. First of all, I want to talk about our armed forces. There are people in Peterborough listening to this this morning who’s sons and daughters are out fighting in Afghanistan, or perhaps still in Iraq, or in other far-flung places across the world. Stewart Jackson Conservative. How quickly will a Conservative government get our boys and girls home?
JACKSON: It’s impossible to say Paul. What we need to do though is have a plan for the future which does build in a return from Afghanistan. We also need to do something which isn’t done at the moment. We need a regular report back to Parliament, so that Members of Parliament and the people they represent know what we’re doing to bring civil government and civil life in terms of health services, schools etcetera to Afghanistan. Because that’s what we’re there for. It’s not about empire building, it’s about building a better life.
STAINTON: Ed Murphy for Labour. We’ve been in Afghanistan for what seems like an eternity. Our boys and girls out there. Are you convinced, number one, that they’re now properly equipped, because obviously they weren’t before? And do you know when Labour is going to be bringing the boys and girls home?
MURPHY: No we don’t know when the NATO troops and British troops will be removed from Afghanistan.
STAINTON: Have we got a plan?
MURPHY: There is a plan. And we need to hear more about Afghanistan, we need to realise that we’ve got people fighting a major war. I don’t think the British public and Peterborough people appreciate that enough. I do .. I settled here from a forces family. Now we also need to hear more about development that’s going on, the infrastructure that’s being put in, the work that’s being created, the fact that the schools that girls and boys can go to and the water purification that’s going on, the good stuff that non-military organisations are doing as well. As civil society builds up, the Afghanistans will be able to look after themselves and we’ll be able to withdraw.
STAINTON: Nick Sandford the Liberal Democrats. Shall we pull the boys out now, the boys and girls? Or is it too soon?
SANDFORD: I think it would be premature to pull troops out. We need to recognise the tremendous job that our soldiers and armed forces are actually committed to. We said we want to get them out some time during the course of the next Parliament. We need to look at political reform in Afghanistan. And we’re also at some point going to have to negotiate, because a military solution is not the answer to it. Can I just say though that ..
STAINTON: Very quickly.
SANDFORD: Yes. We need to fundamentally change our defence budget. Because we’re squandering money at the moment on replacing the Trident system, a hundred billion pounds is going to be squandered ..
STAINTON: Let’s leave that there. The Conservatives are not getting rid of Trident, you’re going to keep it Stewart Jackson.
JACKSON: We voted to support the Labour government on that.
STAINTON: Ed Murphy. No unilateral disarmament here?
MURPHY: No I actually believe that the British Labour government should put Trident into the negotiations so that we can deal with terrorist states like Israel and they get rid of their nuclear weapons. The Americans will be withdrawing support for them soon.
STAINTON: You’re working to a job in the Cabinet with that.
MURPHY: We need to use Trident .. it’s grotesque, it’s expensive, and we need to use it as part of the non-proliferation developments.
STAINTON: Right. Very quickly. A very local issue from Eric in Peterborough. He says: ” What do you intend to do if you’re elected, about bus passes for senior citizens?” Nick Sandford?
SANDFORD: Again, on the council, we have proposed that .. the South Kesteven Council and all the Lincolnshire councils, Conservative controlled, have extended the availability of bus passes so people can use them continuously.
STAINTON: Stewart Jackson, Conservative, what are you going to do? Are you going to get free bus passes for Eric?
JACKSON: They’ve not been properly funded by the Government, but we will keep them under a future government, despite the myths put around by the Labour Party, they are safe under a Conservative government.
STAINTON: Ed Murphy. Ten seconds on that subject.
MURPHY: We introduced them. I’d like to see the Tory council in Peterborough consider letting people get on the buses before nine thirty in the morning, particularly when they’re going to hospital appointments. I’d like to see them not cut the bus service and provide decent buses that are safe, and that are there for young people to use them as well.
STAINTON: Last question from the people of Peterborough. (TAPE) “My question would be how they would make Peterborough a happier place that hit the national newspapers for good reasons, and not bad reasons.” (STUDIO)
STAINTON: Five seconds. How do you make the people happy. Stewart Jackson Conservative.
JACKSON: I’ve been an ambassador for this city. I’ve spoken up for this city. I’ve been a strong exponent and advocate of this city over the last five years. I think it’s a great place to live, work and do leisure. And I’m proud to be .. or to have been the Member of Parliament for Peterborough. And I’ll continue selling it on the national stage.
STAINTON: Closing statement from Ed Murphy Labour.
MURPHY: Yes I’d like to make the people of Peterborough happy by getting rid of the right-wing Tory member of Parliament and getting somebody in that represents the folk of Peterborough.
JACKSON: (laughs)
STAINTON: Nick Sandford Liberal Democrat.
SANDFORD: Yes let’s have high-quality employment, let’s protect our environment, let’s really go to become the Environment Capital of the country. And let’s not sign up for crazy housing targets, which mean that our green open spaces have to be put up for sale.
STAINTON: Stewart Jackson Conservative, Nick Sandford Liberal Democrat, Ed Murphy Labour. Thank you for coming in. The other candidates standing in the election on May 6th, English Democrats Rob King, for UKIP it’s Frances Fox, for the Green Party it’s Fiona Radic, BNP Dave Strickson, and your Independent candidate in the Peterborough election is John Swallow. Don’t forget the debate for North West Cambridgeshire is on the Andy Harper Show on the 29th April. If you live south of the river that’s the one for you. I hope you enjoyed the debate. maybe it’s swayed you one way or another. Andy Harper will pick up after the ten o-clock news. Thank you gentlemen.