Monday 14 June 2010

Regrets ... we've had a few

"All of the things we criticise in the American health system are present in the way we fund care for older people in this country", Andy Burnham argued to loud applause at the Fabian co-hosted hustings event on London. "We don't have a death tax. What we have today is a dementia tax where people pay according to their vulnerability", he said.

The candidates had been asked what were the three most important issues where they had disagreed with the Labour government.

"The right and proper way to do things is to put your arguments in the Cabinet: if you don't win the argument, stick with collective responsibility and if you can't deal with things, then leave. But in a leadership election you can say where you argued differently in the time - or where you have changed your mind", says Ed Balls answering first.

He has talked about the 10p rate, which he argued against. "I was in favour of the election in 2007, and we paid a very heavy price for letting speculation run on and then not doing it".

He says he was right that joining the euro would be disastrous for Britain and for pro-Europeanism in Britain, but he lost the argument about not having up-front tuition fees: "One of the things we must do is end tuition fees and move to a graduate tax", he said.


David Miliband's three policy regrets:

1. Lebanon: he argued in Cabinet and wished he had been more successful in persuading his colleagues and senior colleagues.

2. Housing: stuck on building social housing.

3. "Tony Blair's decision in stopping Ken Livingstone being a candidate in London was very very wrong and I've learnt my lesson", he said to laughter, referencing his nomination of Diane Abbott.

Andy Burnham:

1. The free movement of Labour: We should have made the argument for the big principle but we were wrong not to say that "the quid pro quo was to say to people we will put the floor under people: equipping people with the protection they need".

2. Agrees with Ed Balls on 10p tax, and put that alongside the way in which Labour appeared to look seduced by business, wealth and money - and then to appear anti-union.

3. Care of older people, as discussed above.


Ed Miliband agreed with most what the other candidates had said, and said it was important to get to the root of how mistakes were made - and so he spoke more broadly about the need to govern markets.


Diane Abbott, speaking last, decides to make the case for the government:

"I represented my constituency under the Tories. Over 13 years, we had millions invested in the hospitals and the schools. So I don't take lessons from anybody about knowing about the great things the Labour government did".

1. Cuts in benefits to single mothers: We did good things to get working mothers into work. "I have never understood why, if middle class mothers want to bring up their children, that's a good thing, but if working class mothers want to, that's a bad thing", she says to very loud applause. "Call me old fashioned".

3. Tuition fees: "I was the first member of my family to go to university. If I had told my father I would go to university and come out with £22,000 of debt, he would have said go down to the hospital and get a job as a nurse as your mother did". It is the psychological block.

3. Iraq, which has been discussed in a previous question. "It will take years to rebuild the trust".

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