Category Archives: Ed Miliband

Ed Miliband’s health speech: Politics Live blog

Rolling coverage of all the day’s political developments as they happen, including David Cameron’s and Ed Miliband’s morning interviews, Labour’s health launch and Sir Jeremy Heywood being questioned by MPs about the Iraq inquiry

3.17pm GMT

Responding to Alan Milburn’s claims about Labour’s health policy (see 2.27pm), Liz Kendall, the shadow care minister, said he was “just plain wrong”

I have a great deal of respect for Alan Milburn, I really do, but I think that he’s just plain wrong on this issue. Andy [Burnham] today was very, very clear. Doing more of the same, won’t work. We need major reforms to reset our health and care services so they are fit for the 21st century, and fit for dealing with very old, very frail people, and the majority of the people that are using health services who have, two, three or more long-term health conditions …

Actually, I think this whole debate needs to move on. The big issue is not [public versus private.] It is how and where services are provided in future. And the really big challenge, for the NHS and our care services is, can we shift the focus of attention out of the hospitals, into people’s homes and into the community to help people keep living well at home?

3.13pm GMT

It was Treasury questions today, and that meant George Osborne and Ed Balls had the chance to go head to head.

If things were really going fine and the economy was fixed, people would be better off, and they are worse; you would have balanced the books as you promised, which you have completely failed to do. It’s because of that failure on the deficit you are now planning spending cuts which the IFS (Institute of Fiscal Studies) in the next parliament say are colossal, and the OBR (Office of Budget Responsibility) say will take us back to levels in our economy not seen since the 1930s, before the NHS existed. Every developed country with spending as low as you are now aiming for has widespread charges for health care. Isn’t that the real Tory economic plan?

We have a free at the point of use National Health Service which we are proud of and we will continue to fund. What is clear is the total confusion in Labour’s health policy today. This morning the Labour leader said he was going to use his so-called mansion tax to pay down the deficit. Six days ago, you said that would be used to pay for your NHS plan. It is total confusion today. The only way to have a strong National Health Service is to have a strong economy.

We read in the last couple of days you have been sidelined from the general election. We read in a major humiliation party bosses have quietly shunted you out of the media spotlight. So let me reach across the despatch box, offer the hand of friendship, let us resolve we are both going to put you at the centre of this general election campaign.

2.56pm GMT

A 20-page document setting out Labour’s health plan is now on the party’s Your Britain website.

2.54pm GMT

And here’s the audio of Alan Milburn’s interview on the World at One.

2.49pm GMT

Nick Robinson on his BBC blog says David Cameron does not really want TV debates and speculates as to what will happen next.

My hunch – and it really is a hunch and not something I’ve been told – is that he’ll keep the debates about debates going as long as possible until, at the last possible minute, offering to take part in one debate with multiple leaders just before the campaign begins.

He’ll claim that the media’s obsession with the story has proved that he is right to warn that debates during the campaign would crowd out the real issues.

2.27pm GMT

My colleague Nicholas Watt has filed a story on the Alan Milburn comments. (See 1.25pm.) Here’s how it starts.

Labour is running a “pale imitation” of its losing 1992 general election campaign as it retreats to its “comfort zone” on the NHS, the former health secretary Alan Milburn has warned.

In a pointed intervention on the day that Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham intensified Labour’s general election campaigning on the NHS, Milburn said that Labour will make a “fatal mistake” if it positions itself as the party that would provide greater funds for the NHS without explaining how it will introduce further reforms.

2.25pm GMT

And here is some more from what Andy Burnham in the Q&A after his speech.

.@andyburnhammp says integration of health & social care budgets in Salford closest thing yet to integrated landscape he wants to see

. @andyburnhammp: if my plans end up feeling like a reorganisation “I will have lost” #labnhsplan

During Q & A @andyburnhammp says Labour will not impose one model of care emphasising flexibility in models #labnhsplan

@andyburnhammp confirms Labour is not planning a new national IT programme, to much applause from audience #labnhsplan

@andyburnhammp clarifies Clinical Commissioning Groups are “here to stay” #labnhsplan

Andy Burnham and Chris Ham debating Labour’s 10 year plan – who will lead accountable care organisations???

2.09pm GMT

This morning the Labour health team tweeted this.

.@andyburnhammp went on @BBCr4today to talk about Labour’s 10-year plan for health and care. They didn’t ask a single question about it.

It is based on the simple notion that, if we start in the home and make care personal to each family, it is more likely to work for them and cost less for everyone.

To take a major step towards integrated, seven-day working in the NHS, it is right that we look at a new future for the ambulance service.

I see that as an integrated provider of emergency and out-of-hours care, able to treat people where they find them rather than carry to hospital …

We will cement the public NHS as our preferred provider at the heart of every community. Our new bill will legislate for that, claiming a full exemption for the NHS from EU procurement and competition law – as we are entitled to do under the Lisbon Treaty – and from international trade treaties such as TTIP.

Given that voluntary organisations build volunteering capacity – which in turn builds the health of people and communities – we should give them the benefit of much longer and more stable arrangements, for instance for five or even ten years.

It makes no sense to restrict treatments to save money for the NHS if that only adds costs to other government departments. For instance, restrictions mental health care for young people may add huge costs to the criminal justice system.

Local areas will have more ability to invest in prevention – for instance, expanding exercise on prescription to make maximum use of local leisure facilities – while having more ability to protect children from the proliferation of outlets selling fast-food and cheap alcohol.

The plan reaffirms our intention to work through the bodies we inherit, with no new structural re-organisation, but adding ambition and impetus to existing plans for integration.

Rather that assessing the viability of individual organisations, we will ask [Monitor] to rate all local health economies annually on the overall financial viability of their provider arrangements.

For instance, children with severe disabilities are now living into their 20s and 30s – beyond the point of transition from children’s to adult services – while more adults with learning disabilities are living long enough to develop dementia too.

1.25pm GMT

And this is what Alan Milburn told the World at One

There is a risk that Labour’s position on the National Health Service becomes almost an emblem for Labour showing an unwillingness to lean into a difficult reform agenda. Look, reforms are not easy, but the Labour party is not a conservative party. It should be about moving things forward, not preserving them in aspic …

I think the biggest risk for Labour on health, and indeed more generally, is that we could look like we’re sticking to our comfort zone but aren’t prepared to strike out into territory that, in the end, the public know any party of government will have to strike out into. Which is to make some difficult changes and difficult choices.

1.02pm GMT

Alan Milburn, the former Labour health secretary, has told the World at One that it would be mistake for his party to go into the election looking at though it will give the NHS more money, but not impose reform. That is bound to go down well with his old colleagues.

I’ll post the quotes when I get them.

12.50pm GMT

Ed Miliband has given an interview about this health plans to the Health Service Journal. Here are the key points, which HSJ has posted on its excellent live blog.

Mr Miliband outlined key details of his plans including:

stating that implementation of his “national vision of integrated health and social care” will be “evolutionary”;

12.45pm GMT

There were five polls available yesterday. Anthony Wells at UK Polling Report has written them up here.

Here’s the most recent, the Sun’s YouGov poll.

12.19pm GMT

Cameron says it was not his ideas to involve the SNP and Plaid Cymru in the TV debates.

He would be delighted to do the debates. But he said it was unfair to include Ukip, but not other minor parties. And he wants them outside the election campaign. They were excellent, but they took the life out of the campaign, and prevented party leaders travelling around the country.

12.17pm GMT

Cameron says the Labour government in Wales chose to cut spending by 8%. That is in stark contrast to what Ed Miliband said today.

12.17pm GMT

Cameron says he does not regret making the promise to get migration below 100,000.

It would have been better for Britain if he had achieved this target.

12.14pm GMT

Q: You backed Labour’s spending plans. So the economy would have crashed under you too?

Cameron says in 2001 and 2005 the Tories proposed different levels of spending.

12.12pm GMT

Q: You’ve also promised tax cuts worth £7.2bn. Where will the money for that come from?

Cameron says the next government will do what this one has done, cut spending, introduce efficiencies, and cut taxes too.

12.10pm GMT

Q: You’ve missed your deficit reduction target?

Cameron says the deficit has been cut by a half as a proportion of spending.

12.08pm GMT

Q: What about food banks? The archbishop of Canterbury says he has seen sights the reminded him of poverty in Africa.

Cameron says that comparison does not make any sense. Because this government is less PR conscious than the Labour one, it has promoted food banks in job centres.

12.07pm GMT

Q: So cutting benefits is your number one priority?

Cameron says it is one of the first things he would do. The benefits cap has encouraged people to go back to work. And the money would fund 3m apprenticeships.

12.03pm GMT

Jeremy Vine is about to interview David Cameron on his Radio 2 show.

I’ll be covering it in detail.

12.01pm GMT

In an interview in the Daily Telegraph today David Cameron says cutting the benefit cap from £26,000 to £23,000 would be the first act of a Conservative government.

Two organisations have strongly criticised the idea.

The benefit cap is at least nine times more likely to affect children than adults , and the majority of adults it hits are lone parents, many of whom have children so young even the government recognises they should not be required to work.

On the day that a major programme of research by academics from leading universities shows families with young children have been more impoverished than anyone else in recent years, we have another policy push that would undercut the most vulnerable.

Our research on the impact of the benefit cap in Haringey showed that people affected by the cap face significant barriers to finding work, including a lack of job seeking skills and affordable childcare. So we think that lowering the benefit cap would be very dangerous unless ministers commit to increasing support for people looking to get back into work and funding for childcare.

11.56am GMT

The Labour blogger Eoin Clarke has some details from Andy Burnham’s speech.

Andy Burnham’s speech was his most detailed yet. Here are 4 *new* NHS policy announcements that delighted me the most

11.44am GMT

Sky News is broadcasting an election projection today, showing Labour on course to be 21 seats ahead of the Conservatives, but well short of a majority. (This seems to be just based on current polling, not one of those projections that academics like Steve Fisher are producing looking at polls but taking into account how they shift in the run-up to an election.)

Asked on Sky if Labour could form some form of coalition with the SNP after the election, Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, replied:

No. And I don’t think anybody is suggesting any suggestion of a deal with the SNP at all. We’re fighting hard for a majority.

11.14am GMT

In his Q&A in Manchester Ed Miliband said the privatised utilities did not provide a good model for the NHS.

Now, believe it or not, Section 75 [of the Health and Social Care Act] and the accompanying legislation actually said that the model for the NHS should be the great success of the privatised utilities in the 1980s. Now, we know where that got us, don’t we. And we certainly know it’s not the right principle for the National Health Service.

Miliband has responded to allegations from the PM that he’s a dangerous, untrustworthy lefty by questioning the privatisation of utilities.

11.02am GMT

Here is some more reaction to the GDP figures.

From the Office for National Statistics chief economic, Joe Grice

This is the second consecutive quarter in which the growth rate has fallen but it is too early to say if there is a general slowing-down of the economy.

The dominant services sector remains buoyant while the contraction has taken place in industries like construction, mining and energy supply, which can be erratic.

With the recent halving of oil prices providing a timely boost to households’ discretionary spending power, credit still becoming cheaper and pay growth on an improving trend, we think that GDP growth could pick up to 3% this year. In short, the best days of the UK’s recovery may still lie ahead.

This is the eighth consecutive quarterly expansion, but is disappointing, hinting at a loss of momentum. The details show that the long heralded rebalancing story in the UK has completely stalled.

British savers hoping for a rise in interest rates were dealt a blow this morning as Q4 GDP missed its growth forecast. The chances of the MPC raising rates this year now appear dead in the water, following the recent commodity-driven fall in inflation and the decision of MPC members McCafferty and Weale to vote for no change in rates, after previous votes in favour of a hike.

10.51am GMT

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, has put out a statement about the growth figures.

Tory claims that the economy is fixed will ring hollow with working people who are still not feeling the recovery. Wages are down by £1600 a year since 2010 and now these figures show a concerning slowdown in economic growth too.

Construction is down again, business investment under this government is lagging behind our competitors and exports are way off target. And the stagnating wages we have seen over the last five years are the reason why the chancellor has broken his promise to balance the books.

10.39am GMT

Miliband is taking questions now.

He is calling members of the audience, rather than journalists.

10.35am GMT

Here is the full text of Miliband’s speech.

10.31am GMT

Miliband is winding up.

Here in Trafford we are just down the road from the first hospital to open as an NHS hospital when the service was founded in July 1948.

The first hospital to offer every citizen the best healthcare, based on need, not ability to pay.

10.30am GMT

Miliaband confirms Labour would repeal the Health and Social Care Act.

And he sets out Labour’s health pledges.

If we win the general election in May, the next Labour government will:

Build an NHS with the time to care: 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs.

10.29am GMT

Miliband says Labour will reject the idea of competition in the NHS.

This government believes that by setting hospital against hospital, service against service, a creeping fragmentation and privatisation, that the NHS will get better.

But it’s failed.

10.28am GMT

Miliband says that, to ensure hospitals can provide the right care, care outside hospitals needs to get better.

We will end the scandal of neglecting mental health by prioritising investment in young people and ensuring teachers are trained to spot problems early.

We will hire more doctors and by saving resources on privatisation and competition, we will end the scandal of patients having to wait days, even weeks, for a GP appointment.

10.27am GMT

The plan involves investing more, which is why Labour would use the mansion tax, a crackdown on tax avoidance and a levy on tobacco firms to raise more money for the NHS.

And we will use that money for a plan to train and hire more doctors, nurses, care-workers and midwives – so that they all have the one thing that patients need most: an NHS with time to care.

10.25am GMT

Miliband says Andy Burnham will be setting out details of Labour’s plan for the NHS later this morning.

The central idea is this: that we must both invest in the NHS so it has time to care and join up services at every stage from home to hospital, so you can get the care you need, where you need it.

10.24am GMT

Miliband imagines what the NHS would be like under five more years of Cameron.

You don’t need to imagine it: you just need to look at the one clear manifesto commitment they have: public spending cut back to levels as a share of national income not seen since the 1930s.

Back to before the National Health Service even existed.

10.23am GMT

Miliband rattles of a list of examples of why he thinks the NHS is gettting worse.

People in their 70s and even 80s, who have waited hour after hour for an ambulance to arrive, even when they’re in desperate need.

Patients stuck outside the hospital in ambulances because A&E is full.

Promises matter.

And because of his broken promises, what tuition fees are for Nick Clegg, the NHS has become for David Cameron.

10.18am GMT

Ed Miliband is delivering his health speech in Manchester now.

The election will decide if we are a country where everyday working people can get ahead, he says.

Our country’s most precious institution faces its most perilous moment in a generation.

A choice of two futures:

10.06am GMT

Here’s Frances O’Grady, the TUC general secretary, on the growth figures.

This is the slowest recovery in modern history. George Osborne has already failed to meet the OBR’s modest forecast for the economy last year, and today’s figures show growth slowing down even more.

With most people locked out of the recovery it’s no wonder that the economy is failing to do better. Families are set to be worse off in 2015 than they were five years ago. A recovery based on low wages and job insecurity is bad for working people, bad for the public finances and bad for growth.

10.04am GMT

And here is Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury, on the growth figures.

Quarterly growth of 0.5% puts the UK in poll position to be the fastest growing G7 economy in 2014. Our economy is growing because we Liberal Democrats have anchored economic policy in the centre ground.

We’ve driven through a host of Lib Dem inspired measures including income tax cuts for millions of working people, cutting the deficit fairly, boosting apprenticeships and investing in regional and local projects to rebalance the economy.

9.55am GMT

George Osborne, the chancellor, has responded to the news that the growth rate is slowing by saying this underlines the need not to abandon the government’s economic plan.

Today’s figures confirm that the recovery is on track and our plan is protecting Britain from the economic storm, with the fastest growth of any major economy in 2014.

But the international climate is getting worse, and with 100 days to go until the election now is not the time to abandon that plan and return Britain to economic chaos.

9.51am GMT

Here is the start of the Press Association’s story about the growth figures.

Britain’s economy grew by 2.6% in 2014 but the pace of expansion slowed more sharply than expected in the last three months of the year, official figures showed today.

The annual figure is the best since 2007, before the recession, and indicates that the UK is likely to have been the world’s fastest growing major economy last year.

9.47am GMT

And here are the key points from Ed Miliband’s morning interviews. Again, I’ve taken the quotes from the Press Association and PoliticsHome.

The prime minister is wriggling and wriggling to try to get out of these debates. If the broadcasters want to invite the Democratic Unionists or other Northern Irish parties, that is a matter for them.

Let’s make these debates happen, let’s have David Cameron actually sign up and say he is going to do these debates, not keep trying to avoid them.

I think that is what people are feeling about the NHS at the moment. We are back to the days when people are asking ‘Is it really going to survive?’

Let’s compare what’s happening in Wales when the Tories were last in charge, which is a fair comparison – people waiting two years for an operation. Things are better. The Welsh health service faces challenges, like all others.

It will always be a priority for us and we’ll always try and give the health service more money, but the key thing about what we’re saying is actually we’re showing how we’re raising the money: a mansion tax on expensive homes – you’ll have heard some people don’t like that, I think that’s the right thing to do for the NHS – clamping down on tax avoidance, including by the hedge funds, raising money from the tobacco companies, and it’s a clear funded promise to say we are going to get the doctors in, the nurses, the midwives, the carers. And also, let’s restore some of the things that really matter to a successful health service like seeing your GP within 48 hours.

This is really an emotional day for people who have memories of family involved in this. It’s 70 years since my grandfather died in one of the camps and I marked that about ten days ago. And you know, it’s really hard this, because I talked to my mum about this: it’s not the kind of thing you talked about very much when you’re growing up in a household affected by these things, but it sort of marks you and it’s so important that we remember.

There’s horror and there’s hope, because it’s also the case that many members of my family were saved because they were Jews who were hidden by decent people. There’s another story, which is that there were 17 members of my family who were sheltered in a Belgian village – that’s on my father’s side – and it was only because of the decent people in that village who helped them.

9.33am GMT

The growth figures are out.

9.09am GMT

Here are the key points from David Cameron’s interviews so far. He’s given at least four.

I’ve taken the quotes from the Press Association and PoliticsHome.

I thought at the last election they were excellent, the debates, but they took the life out of the election campaign. We know when the election is, so let’s get on with the debates before that campaign begins.

The criticism of our benefit cap, which was set at £26,000 in many parts of the country was that it was too high, so we think reducing it to £23,000 will help to get more families into work and we’ll use the saving s from that money to make sure that we train three million apprenticeships in the next parliament.

What we want to change is the situation where at 18, you can effectively decide to sign on, live away from home, claim unemployment benefit, claim housing benefit. I want to build a country where there’s an option for every young person as they leave school to either become an apprentice and learn a trade and earn while they learn or go onto university or find work. But what we shouldn’t have in our country is people at the age of 18 being written off onto unemployment benefit and housing benefit, so we’re going to change that.

David Cameron on plan to cut Govt to 35% of GDP: “The idea this is somehow an unachievable goal is nonsense.” @SkyNews

If you’re a pensioner, it is much more difficult to adapt to changing circumstances in terms of someone changing your financial arrangements. And so we very self-consciously, and I think quite rightly, said to Britain’s pensioners, under this government, we will protect the basic state pension, so we put in place the triple lock, which says that the pension will always go up by earnings or prices, or 2.5%, whatever is higher.

Now, I’ve heard what Ed Miliband has to say, but in Wales, where Labour are running the NHS, they cut the NHS and as a result waiting lists are longer, the problems at A&E are worse, they don’t have a cancer drugs fund that we have in England. So I think you need to look at Labour’s record, rather than its rhetoric.

8.55am GMT

Here’s the audio of Cameron’s Today interview.

David Cameron: hear the full interview on Greece, welfare, the deficit, and leaders’ debates

8.54am GMT

Cameron is on LBC now.

Listen to LBC now to hear more squirming from Cameron on TV debates. As slippery as an eel in a jar of Swarfega

8.38am GMT

Here’s some Twitter comment from journalists on David Cameron’s Today interview.

Interesting Cameron now saying for clarity we have cut the deficit by GDP share measure now – victory for @FraserNelson

Cameron says “yes I would like that to happen” to debates. And then demands DUP and SF too. And says dates too late. So let’s make that “no”

Not a glove anywhere near Cameron on the economy on BBC Today. @afneil or @EvanHD or someone with economics background badly needed.

To repeat: David Cameron really wants TV debates to happen. He just thinks they only really work if all four Beatles can take part.

Cameron – ‘As Tony Benn would say – we need to talk about <does Benn impression> the issues’ #r4today

A relaxed David Cameron even does a Tony Benn impression (“the ishoos”) at the end of his Today programme appearance today #GE2015

Difficult to say anything other than that Cameron is being disingenuous over the TV debates.

If David Cameron finds himself 5 points behind on March 30 you can be pretty sure there will be at least one debate with Miliband

8.32am GMT

It’s 100 days to go before the election, and David Cameron and Ed Miliband have been touring the broadcast studios this morning.

Are Ed Miliband and David Cameron doing some sort of Red Nose Day broadcast marathon trying to speak on every BBC outlet this morning?

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Posted in Conservatives, David Cameron, Ed Miliband, General election 2015, Health, Health policy, Iraq, Iraq war inquiry, Labour, Nick Clegg, Politics, Sir Jeremy Heywood, UK news, World news | Comments Off