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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 July, 2004, 12:43 GMT 13:43 UK
Midlands by-elections
Please note BBC Politics Show must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

NB:This transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy.

On Politics Show, Sunday 11 July, 2004, Jeremy Vine interviewed:

  • Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport
  • Rt Hon Theresa May, MP, Shadow Secretary of State for the Family

Interview with: Tessa Jowell, MP, Culture, Media & Sport Secretary

Tessa Jowell MP
Tessa Jowell MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport

Jeremy Vine: Well, let's speak now to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Tessa Jowell, who's in charge of this. Good afternoon to you.

Tessa Jowell: Good afternoon.

Jeremy Vine: I'll pick up if I can the point that one of your own MPs, Deborah Shipley made there which is, where is the balance between the Tim Henmans, the elite, and your average school child.

Tessa Jowell: Well it's both and what we're actually putting in place for the first time in this country, in recognition of the passion that people of all ages in this country, and all levels of ability feel about sport, is you know, what, I mean I hope this doesn't sound too jargonistic, a ladder of sporting opportunity, which begins in the playground and what we're building up his high quality, er sport and physical education for children in schools.

Getting back - I was very interested to see Colin Moynihan's children at their sports day, I want to see every child have a competitive sports day every year, so that they have the opportunity of competing and, you know, learning what you learn by winning and learning also what you learn by not winning.

Jeremy Vine: But Deborah Ship ...

Tessa Jowell: (overlaps) ... a ladder, so a ladder of opportunity that starts in school; provides proper links between school and club, and you know, for some kids, who then begin to show real talent, talent in ... gifted programmes - we've just put in place , the first three million pounds of talented athlete scholarships, we've got the first recruits underway, so a ladder of opportunity that at each stage in the sporting development of a young person, make sure that the facilities and the coaching support, is there for them.

And then, of course, I mean we've done an enormous amount of development for facilities for elite athletes through the money they get through the lottery, but also, very much building on the experience of Australia, the development of specialist Sports Institutes that offer the kind of support through nutritional sports psychology and so forth ...

Jeremy Vine: But Deborah Ship ...

Tessa Jowell: .. that our elite athletes need.

Jeremy Vine: She was making the point there that you're not minister for education, so you can't control what goes on in schools.

Tessa Jowell: Oh but Charles Clarke and I have you know a joint target er, we, we meet regularly. We have a joint team of people who are working on the delivery of sport in schools; so just because I'm not Secretary of State for Education, and Charles is not Secretary of State for Sport, doesn't mean that we can't bring the resources of our two departments together, to build a schools sports programme which we are doing, and which we're doing with evident success. Evident success is judged by OFSTED in a very recent report.

Jeremy Vine: Although not evident success on the football field and at Wimbledon and so on and so forth, and I know you believe we've got some winners in Britain, but we all struggle with this idea that we don't really win enough and we should be punching our weight a bit more. So let me ask you, do you think its - exercising everyone creates the Henmans and Beckhams or do you think creating the Henmans and Beckhams gets other people on to the playing field.

Tessa Jowell: I think there are, there are in a sense there are, there are three objectives. I mean one is, you know everybody exercising more, to deal with this crisis of obesity and particularly children exercising regularly so it becomes part of their lives.

But then also within that, having the capacity to spot those children who show real talent and real enthusiasm and making sure that they have the opportunities and the sporting outlets in order to take their talent further. And then of course at the other end it's, you know when these little children grow up to become really promising and, talented athletes as young adults, making sure that they have the kind of facilities that mean that they do develop their talent in world class facilities.

Jeremy Vine: We have got, I think this - you'll be familiar with this, it's a graphic - this is a map of sport in England here. I don't know if we can get that on the screen, that's complicated.

Tessa Jowell: It's a, it's an absolute nightmare and I ...

Jeremy Vine: How do you deliver anything with that.

Tessa Jowell: What, well er, we, we've changed that and er, let me tell you er Colin Moynihan was talking about the sports Quangoes, I mean we have reduced the size of our principle sports Quango, taken money out of what was a very fatted bureaucracy and over the next five years, forty million pounds will come out of Sport England, and it will go in to front line sport. And the reason that we've created regional sports boards is so that there are you know, two ways in which athletes and sports clubs gets funding, get funding.

They either get it through a national programme if they're part of the, the performance high er, high quality, athletes programmes, or they get it through their regional sports board, if we're talking about funding local and community facilities; so it's a much cleaner, much straight forward structure, it's a much cheaper structure, it's one that will make sure that, you know more pounds go directly in to sport and less in to bureaucracy.

Jeremy Vine: Okay, on a separate subject, you could have predicted this question. You're reportedly one of those ministers who've been urging Tony Blair not to stand down. Why would people be pressing him to stay.

Tessa Jowell: Well, there's never been any question of him standing down. You know I, but not just I, and many other people across government and in the parliamentary party, you know, in the Labour Party as a whole, it - have said, in difficult times, we're right with you; carry on, because we've got a big job to finish. That's where he is, you know he is absolutely up ...

Jeremy Vine: (overlaps) In difficult times.

Tessa Jowell: ... in, of course in difficult times. Being in government is difficult, but I'll tell you, I'd rather have difficult times in government than the alternative.

Jeremy Vine: Tessa Jowell, thank you very much for joining us.

Tessa Jowell: That's a pleasure.

Interview with: Theresa May, MP, Sunday 11th July 2004

Theresa May, MP
Theresa May, MP, Shadow Secretary of State for the Family

Jeremy Vine: Well earlier we were looking at the up-hill struggle the Conservatives were having to make an impact in those two by-elections, and I'm now joined by the Conservative Shadow Cabinet Member, Theresa May. Good afternoon to you

Theresa May: Hello Jeremy.

Jeremy Vine: Tell us why people are predicting you're going to come third in these by-elections.

Theresa May: I don't think that's a prediction at all. We're fighting a very vigorous and energetic campaign, as I think you will have seen earlier from the shots of the campaign in Birmingham and Leicester. And I have to say, I think what people have seen is a Conservative Party that is fighting probably, the most energetic campaign it has for probably some ten years; there's a real enthusiasm in the party.

Jeremy Vine: But it looks as if nationally, looking at a poll this week, populous poll, showed you're on 29%, as if something stalled.

Theresa May: No, and if you look at the by-election, certainly all the press are saying in Birmingham Hodge Hill, it is a two horse race. We are out there in both of these by-elections, actually campaigning vigorously, on the issues that really matter to people. And top of the issues in both Birmingham Hodge Hill and Leicester South of course, is the whole question of crime and people feeling that their areas have been neglected.

Jeremy Vine: Do you not feel though, if you look at the national signals that in some way, Labour are jamming your transmissions. You talk about choice, they talk about choice. You talk about civil service cuts, they do the same. You can't get your message across.

Theresa May: No, we will get our message across and we will see this week how we're getting that message across. And you say that the government talk about civil service cuts, well I think what people know now, is not just to listen to what the government says, and what they claim, and I suspect that we're going to hear Gordon Brown this week, probably tomorrow, talking about yet more cuts in the ...

Jeremy Vine: (overlaps) More than you maybe.

Theresa May: ... civil service. But let's just look at this track record and that's what people are looking at - this government's failure to deliver. Just take one department. Two years ago, Gordon Brown said that in the Department of Work and Pensions, he was going to cut eighteen thousand jobs. What's happened in the last two years? - the number of jobs has actually gone up by three and a half thousand; so what we hear is the rhetoric, but actually they simply fail to deliver.

Jeremy Vine: But you are suffering from this fact that Labour seem to be shadowing your public pronouncements on choice, on civil service cuts, you've got UKIP snapping at your heels, taking away some of your more right wing voters, is that the reason it's not happening for you at the moment.

Theresa May: What's happening is that actually we're setting the political agenda. The Labour Party was forced to make an announcement about Health when we said we were making an announcement about Health. They did the same on Education and I've got a meeting tomorrow on Family Justice, and low and behold they've leaked a Green Paper on Family Justice.

Jeremy Vine: Well that's another example.

Theresa Vine: Another example. But what it is an example of Jeremy is that it is the Conservative Party that is now setting the political agenda.

Jeremy Vine: At 29%

Theresa Vine: It is the Conservative Party that is actually out there and is showing people what government can be like, and how government can really respond to the problems that they have. And what people say to me, and what they're seeing now, is that we've got a government that has simply got too big; it's too fat, it's bloated. It needs to be slimmed down. We need to make sure that tax payers money is being spent where it should, on front line services, and not on an over-bloated bureaucracy.

Jeremy Vine: I still don't understand what your explanation is for the fact that you seem to have stalled, that it's just not happening for the Conservatives at the moment.

Theresa May: Well I challenge the view that you have, that it is just not happening for us at the moment.

Jeremy Vine: The polls ... (overlaps)

Theresa May: As I say, we're actually - oh come on Jeremy, you're talking about one poll that happens to have been taken recently.

Jeremy Vine: I mean the (overlaps) ...

Theresa May: If you look at, if you look at - no if you look at the polls, if you look at the poll that was taken recently in Leicester South, it says that people think the Conservatives are much more likely to beat Labour there than the Liberal Democrats.

In Birmingham Hodge Hill, it's quite clearly a two horse race between us and the Labour Party. Out on the streets, what I constantly hear from people now, is that they are getting more and more fed up with this fat and bloated government. More and more fed up with their tax payers money, not being spent where it should be, on actually delivering first class public services.

Jeremy Vine: You once famously called the Conservatives, The Nasty Party. Do you not think it needs some kind of definition that it hasn't got at the moment, even if you manage to throw that definition away, you're lacking something to replace it with.

Theresa May: Well Jeremy I didn't actually call the party the Nasty Party. I said that there had been a time when that was people's perception of the party. But what is important now is that we are showing as a party, that we have a very different approach to the Labour government.

We were talking earlier about Gordon Brown and about possibly talking about civil service cuts. The problem this government has is that they want to interfere in people's lives. They believe in government micro managing from Whitehall and getting involved in too much. We want to take a completely different approach to government. We say that government should be slimmed down. We want to give much more freedom to people and to local communities, to be making the decisions that matter for them.

Jeremy Vine: So this week Gordon Brown, the Chancellor will come out with his spending review and that's got huge implications for you and for the battle ground in the General Election. You are essentially saying to people look, you're going to have to swallow some spending cuts. But we can't offer you tax cuts. Now why on earth would they buy that.

Theresa May: No, what we're saying to people is that we actually believe government should be run in a different way. That we do think this government has got too fat, it's got bloated, it's got too much bureaucracy and it needs to be slimmed down. And by slimming government down, what we can actually do is ensure that money is being focused where it should be, which is on the front line services.

That's what people want. I was out on the streets in Maidenhead town centre yesterday, my constituency, and somebody said to me - we were campaigning about a cut in the health service locally and he came up, somebody came up to me and he said, Why is it that I'm paying so much more money in extra taxes yet all I see is cuts in services. That's what people are seeing, and the reason is that government is spending far too much money on its target driven culture. This government has got the wrong culture, the wrong attitude to running government.

Jeremy Vine: But you are putting ...

Theresa: We need to change that.

Jeremy Vine: But you will have to, in response to Gordon Brown, put your spending cuts up in lights won't you, which is the defining feature of your economic policy, and you can't offer tax cuts in exchange.

Theresa May: What we were offering people is actually good services. What we were offering people is ...

Jeremy Vine: Spending cuts ... (overlaps)

Theresa May: What we were offering - well, look, I'm sorry you see the problem is that you assume that if you save money in any particular area, that some how that is bad. Actually, let's look at what we announced only a few days ago.

Jeremy Vine: ... (overlaps) ... get more for less don't you, you get more for less. Do you.


Theresa May: Jeremy, just let me finish this. What we announced the other day was that we were actually going to be able to take 1.7 billion, one thousand, seven hundred million pounds, out of spending on bureaucracy in the Health Service and on the Health Service doing things that it won't need to do when we bring in the patient's right to choose; That money can go in to front line services. That's what's important about the way we are going to approach things. It's about getting the money where it should be, which is being spent on the services that people are using.

Jeremy Vine: Theresa May, thank you very much for joining us to-day.

Theresa May: Thank you.

NB:This transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy.

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The next Politics Show will be on Sunday 18 July at Midday.
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