Phew! Now to catch up with yesterday’s radio show!
From a Green Party POV it was great to have some gender balance for a change! 2 boys, 2 girls. It’s a real shame it ends there! The 2 boys were on the ‘nice’ end of the political spectrum and the 2 girls on the nasty end!
Diana Johnson and Ms Aitken would deny it heatedly of course. But many of us remember the Thatcher years – and the Tory would have no problem commending everything she did!
Now, after 13 years of Labour, and presiding over the greatest social inequality since the second world war (and Diana Johnson working in the Treasury) the biggest bailout to banks in history (don’t remember her warning us about those either!), promising cuts across public services – and after her almost 100% voting record for the government she serves so faithfully – she wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.
I even managed to agree with the Tory – briefly, to each of our surprise. I forget quite her policy on National Insurance, but ours clearly a commitment to redistribution – remember that R word that Blair could hardly say…?
If you raise the floor at which NI has to be paid, you favour lower earners leaving more money in pockets. Better still we seek to remove the ceiling so rich earners pay more back into society. She probably didn’t quite get that bit… It is fairer…
However to do the comparison, raising the NI floor (to £125 pw) would cost government £3.9 bn in income. Taking away the ceiling nets government a staggering 9.1 bn. This is a figure beaten only by the £10 bn Greens get back by cracking down on tax havens. Changes in NI really can be a big deal.
Our first pre-recorded question was on schools – and from Heidi who I’ve known for years! The answers were all predictable – about how Hull isn’t doing well enough and about spending millions to improve the results. It was great to be able to say, as a teacher of 20 years: scrap SATs, scrap league tables, free up teachers to teach at their best and students to learn in friendly, exciting environments which aren’t dictated by the National Curriculum or subject to OFSTED inspections at a moment’s notice.
But it was crime and punishment that really got a reaction. At the mere mention of cannabis you might have thought the girls were hit with a cattle-prod! Hang em! Flog em! Throw away the key!
No, they didn’t quite say that – but forget reasoned debate! Neither did they tackle the thorny issue of how many we imprison – locking up, as we do, more per head than any other EU state. They remain unaware that cannabis doesn’t kill or that alcohol and tobacco have a death toll of about 400 a day! Can we move beyond ‘Victorian’ values please?
Denis Healy did well for the Lib Dems – as he needs to. I’d brought along one of his newspapers, but I didn’t have the heart to show him. The top bar chart shows Labour almost neck and neck with… Labour! Yes, the yellow bar was marked Lab, and no one had proofread it! Ah well, wouldn’t want to predict the outcome of that!