Interview with Kate Green MP


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CTJT NCTJ Diploma mentoring student Samson Dada interviewed MP Kate Green before the 2010 Labour leadership contest.

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Interview with Kate Green MP

  1. 1. Forum House | Stirling Road | Chichester | PO19 7DNNCTJ journalism diploma coursework by Samson DadaExclusive: Samson Dada talks to Kate GreenThe two Ed’s, Diane, Andy or David. Which of the Labour leadership candidatesare you backing?I’m supporting Ed Balls. He put up a great fight against Michael Gove’s botchedannouncement to cut funding for new school buildings, and he’s really ready to takeon the coalition government and expose the damage it’s doing to our economy, ourpublic services and ordinary people’s lives. But we’re lucky that all the candidates forthe leadership are really skilled, committed and principled, and I’ll be proud to haveany of them as our leader.You hate the Lib Dem – Tory budget. Got a substantial alternative plan to cutthe deficit? A Robin Hood tax? Extending the top rate of tax to people earning£100,000?First off, the Coalition are going in way too hard with their plans. Labour iscommitted to a plan to halve the deficit in 4 years, now the Con-Dems say they’llwipe it out completely. But public borrowing is what is paying to protect jobs andservices, and if we cut so hard and so fast, we’ll put more people out of work, and riskplunging the country back into recession.Second, as we saw from the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies’ report, theirbudget is hitting the poorest much harder than the better off. That’s unfair, and itexposes the lie that this government’s interested in reducing inequality.But we do have to get the deficit down, no one wants to be spending money oninterest payments that could go on front line services. So we need policies that can dothis fairly and safely. For example, I’m in favour of extending the top tax rate to thoseearning over £100,000, I believe there are good savings to be made by local serviceproviders working effectively together rather than duplicating provision, and I want tosee much tougher action on tax avoidance which costs the country billions each year.You voted against the government’s VAT increase. Aren’t you deludingyourself? According to Peter Mandelson’s memoirs, “Third Man”, Alistair Darlingwanted to increase VAT to 19 per cent. Would you have voted against a VAT of 19per cent?The overall effect of this government’s budget is to hit the poor the most. Labourwouldn’t have done that, we’d have had a budget that protected the poorest. A budgetis a package of measures, and it’s not about voting for or against just one element, Forum House | Stirling Road | Chichester | PO19 7DN
  2. 2. Forum House | Stirling Road | Chichester | PO19 7DNyou’re looking at the overall effect. During Labour’s 13 years in government, the gapbetween rich and poor widened.Your party failed to reverse the growing inequalities in our society. What can yourparty do to convince electors that Labour is the party for social justice and fairness?Inequality and poverty rose massively under the Tories between 1979 and 1997.Labour halted the rising trend in inequality (though you’re right, we didn’t reverse it)and we lifted millions of children and pensioners out of poverty. I’m proud of thoseachievements. Of course we need to go further, and that means a fairer system oftaxation, adequate benefits for people who can’t work, and giving everyone the bestopportunities. That’s what Labour stands for, and it will be a priority for our newleader.In an article in the Guardian on Monday, Andy Burnham criticised the“metropolitan elites” that have dominated the Labour Party. Agree or disagreewith this?I think we do have to make sure all members of our party have a real say in ourpolicies and our decisions. We need to reform the way we consult and involve ourparty members. Thousands of new members have been joining us since the election,and we can learn a lot from listening to them and to all our loyal members.If you believe in the voluntary sector, why have many Labour MPs criticised the“Big Society”?The voluntary sector does great work but it can’t replace state provision. It’s toosmall, it can’t guarantee people’s rights, and its job is to speak out for those who aregetting a raw deal – it might be harder to do that if you are delivering services for, andbeing paid by, the state. Labour MPs are sceptical because we’re worried the BigSociety is just an excuse for cutting public services and leaving people to rely oncharity. Of course we want to see more support for community organisations and wesupport voluntary activity, but decent public services are at the heart of a fairersociety.In an article on August 7th, you described Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reformplans as a ” remarkably thin document” with “many worrying gaps”. But atleast he is attempting to tackle the problem. Under your government, the welfaresystem got out of control – so what do you suggest Labour should do to reformthe welfare system?NCTJ journalism diploma coursework by Samson Dada Forum House | Stirling Road | Chichester | PO19 7DN
  3. 3. Forum House | Stirling Road | Chichester | PO19 7DNLabour was already doing lots – we weren’t just “attempting to tackle the problem”,we substantially increased lone parent employment and had begun reforms to getmore sick and disabled people into work. We introduced a flexible new deal to givepeople looking for work tailor-made support, we invested in a Future Jobs Fund(which the government has axed) to guarantee all young people education or a job, webrought in the employment and support allowance which is structured to get moredisabled people into work. The Tories’ plans do build on this to a degree, but theyhaven’t said anything about what jobs people are to go to, they haven’t given anycommitments about funding to help disabled people in the workplace, and they aren’tmaking any promises about ensuring people have adequate incomes while they’relooking for work. They say they want to make work pay, and that’s right of course,but if they try to do that by cutting benefits rather than improving pay and in-worksupport, they’ll be plunging vulnerable people into terrible hardship, causing greatanxiety and fear – not the best state of mind to be in if you’re looking for work.Stepping up the attacks on the coalition, creating proposals to improve socialmobility….. What do you want to achieve when you return to Parliament afterthe summer recess?We’ve got the Spending Review announcements in October, and I’ll be working toensure that the most vulnerable in our society don’t bear the brunt of the cuts. I’ll becampaigning for disabled people, for families with children, and for jobs.On your website, you say that “Labour can resist harmful cuts and supportpublic health through a positive campaign on fast foods.” Does this mean moreridiculously expensive advertisements that do not improve the health of youngpeople?Hang on – did you read the whole article? What I said was that there are a range ofmeasures we can take to support healthy lifestyles, including regulating fast foodoutlets (for example forbidding them from opening near school gates), protectinglocal sporting facilities (the government has axed free swimming for the under 16s –how does that help young people stay healthy?), ensuring young pregnant women canafford a healthy diet, and so on. Advertising and education have a place too, but weneed to do more.Abolition of the 10p tax band, introducing tuition fees, the Iraq War…. What doyou think was the Labour Party’s biggest policy mistake?I wish we’d been bolder. I’m really proud of the progress we made in reducingpoverty and halting the rise in inequality, and the public liked what we were doing.NCTJ journalism diploma coursework by Samson Dada Forum House | Stirling Road | Chichester | PO19 7DN
  4. 4. Forum House | Stirling Road | Chichester | PO19 7DNBut we took our eye off the ball for a couple of years, and we could have got muchfurther by investing in tax credits, pensions, and introducing a living wage if we’dkept up the pace we set in the first part of this decade.Will you support a referendum on the Alternative Vote?Yes, that was in our manifesto.NCTJ journalism diploma coursework by Samson Dada Forum House | Stirling Road | Chichester | PO19 7DN