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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 April, 2005, 12:37 GMT 13:37 UK
Jeremy Vine interviews
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 24 April, 2005, Jeremy Vine interviewed:

  • David Blunkett MP, former Home Secretary
  • Dr Caroline Lucas, Green Party

David Blunkett
David Blunkett MP, former Home Secretary

David Blunkett MP, former Home Secretary

Jeremy Vine: This week it is turn of the former Labour Home Secretary, David Blunkett, and welcome to you.

David Blunkett: Thank you very much Jeremy. What a, what a really entertaining and uplifting piece that was.

Jeremy Vine: Well, people not voting for you, because they think you haven't done enough for them.

David Blunkett: What have the Romans ever done for us. I, I actually just ask people who are viewing, to look round at their own school, at their own GP practice, at their own hospital, and ask whether things have changed.

To look in their own family lives, in terms of whether people have now got a job that didn't have one. Whether there's hope for young people who were literally, hopeless and out of work. Whether there is a nursery class where one didn't exist, and if you can't see anything around you that's improved over the last eight years, drop me a line.

Jeremy Vine: Well, it seems that the Martin family, whom we're using as an example, don't credit you with very much there. For example, David's work place has been burgled, and he sees that as an indictment of what you've done on crime.

David Blunkett: Well, I think everybody who comes up against crime, whether it's burglary or anti social behaviour or the horrific crime we saw in Surrey last week, everyone is horrified by the individual crime. But there was no doubt whatsoever last Thursday, that on both the key measures, the recorded crime and the British Crime Survey, crime dropped by 10% on one, and 5% on the other ...

Jeremy Vine: (overlaps) Not violent crime.

David Blunkett: ... measure, last, last year. No violent crime didn't; violent crime ...

Jeremy Vine: That's the key one.

David Blunkett: ... violent crime is now being recorded in a way it wasn't before. Not because we changed the rules, but because the Chief Constables changed the recording system, made it better, more transparent, so that we could target resources. Particularly things like binge drinking, the Friday night, Saturday night fracas, where these things were not recorded, that is now recorded as violence, where people are ...

Jeremy Vine: (overlaps) So why don't you get ...

David Blunkett: ... pushed around.

Jeremy Vine: ... why don't you get the thanks for it. Why is it - why aren't the Martin family saying, rejoice, aren't Labour wonderful, cos they're not saying that.

David Blunkett: Well no, no they're not and I heard them very clearly and you know, going round the country people are very warm and very friendly, but they're also sceptical and I think there's a - we've made a mistake and it's a mistake that it's very difficult to explain, which is over the last eight years, I don't think we've really got in to play the fact that firstly government can't do it all, and they certainly can't do it overnight and secondly, that we are actually in this together, it's about government being on your side, actually enabling you to make a better life, to have choices, to be able to do things for yourself but it's also changing the culture.

With crime yes, we've put in anti social behaviour orders, we've put in the dispersal and curfew powers, we've massively clamped down in terms of sentencing for the, the most severe crimes, but in the end you know, we actually have to ask, what are happening within families, within discipline within schools, with changing the nature of our communities; we're in this together, not just government expecting to wave a magic wand, but police working better, thirteen thousand more police officers,

Jeremy Vine: (overlaps) But you, you think people have ...

David Blunkett: ... new community support officers.

Jeremy Vine: You think people have then, what absurd expectations of what a government can do.

David Blunkett: No not absurd - and all of us, as politicians, over the years, and I'm as much to blame as for (sic) anybody else. When you want to be elected, you say look, I'll, I'll do this for you and what we actually need to say is, we'll do it alongside you. We'll work with the police to get the people out on the beat, in the neighbourhood. We'll bring in the new community support officers that are visible, and available.

We'll give the police the powers to do the job. We'll sort out our border controls, by reinforcing what we've done in terms of moving them to France. There's no point in picking people up when they've reach Kent and Sussex. We've actually got to have liaison officers as we've begun to do, across the world in airports, photographing the, the passports and the documents. The, the controls at France and Belgium have been responsible for the two thirds drop in asylum, over the last two years. (interjects) But make no mistake about it, the Martin family are probably remembering 2002, when night after night, on our televisions, we saw people coming from the Sangatte camp that is now closed. (interjects) They still remember that.

Jeremy Vine: Well, we heard, we heard Louise Martin worrying about immigration and she ...

David Blunkett: We did.

Jeremy Vine: ... she said in that film, young foreigners come in to this country carrying money from the State and people who live in this country, are not getting things. It makes you wonder first of all whether the Conservatives might not be running a very powerful campaign on that issue.

David Blunkett: Well I think they're running a scurrilous one because on the one hand ...

Jeremy Vine: Why.

David Blunkett: ... well, on the one hand they claim that this is out of control, when they know perfectly well, firstly, that we've had a massive clamp down, I was criticised for goodness sake for being too harsh about this, for the way in which we clamped down on illicit asylum, the ID cards, which is the only way of stopping illicit working, illicit drawing down on services in our country.

Jeremy Vine: (overlaps) But they're speaking to her concerns. That's the point. They're allowed to do that.

David Blunkett: (overlaps) Well they - they're playing to her concerns, knowing that we have got a grip. Knowing for instance that we suggested accommodation centres, so that people weren't placed in the most downtrodden, in the most difficult areas where (overlaps) ...

Jeremy Vine: So Louise Martin is wrong.

David Blunkett: ... where there were already large numbers of asylum seekers. Well maybe Louise doesn't know that the Tories blocked accommodation centres. What they said was, don't put them anywhere near our areas. Put them in the inner city. That's on record, in parliament, in Hansard.

Jeremy Vine: So is the woman from the Citizen's Advice Bureau wrong as well, Jude Hawes, when she said in the film, 'if you want to think of way of dispersing asylum seekers to cause the maximum division, I'd recommend this way of doing it'.

David Blunkett: Well (pause) Maybe she was in favour of accommodation centres, one of which is about to come on stream. Maybe she's in favour of the new induction programme, that I put in place when I was Home Secretary. Maybe she's in favour of actually treating people decently, but ensuring that there isn't pressure on local services, which I was criticised for raising at the time I put forward accommodation centres, or maybe she feels that we're too harsh. I suspect, it's the latter.

Jeremy Vine: But you heard there Louise Martin saying those things. You haven't made a criticism of her, she's a voter, she's allowed to think that. But you're criticising the Conservatives for addressing her concerns.

David Blunkett: No I'm not, they're not addressing her concerns. The border police that Michael Howard is putting forward in Kent, would not stop people entering the country, and once they're here, you have to process their claim somewhere and you have to remove them to somewhere.

Jeremy Vine: (overlaps) Do you think the Conservatives are - sorry to interrupt. Do you think the Conservatives are playing the race card.

David Blunkett: No, I think they're playing to the lowest common denominator. There are real fears, for goodness sake when I first became Home Secretary, I said, the two things that we really needed to get a grip on was the fear of difference, and being overwhelmed by people coming in to the country, and fear of crime.

At that time, I wasn't aware we were going to get the 11th September attack on the World Trade Centre as well. Those subliminal fears lie with people; we also have to reassure them, we have to secure them. We also have to take them with us and to say, do we want people here illegally, illicitly. Or do we want open, proper labour market work permits, where people can come here legally to work and when that job is over, they return to their country of (fluffs), origin.

Jeremy Vine: But there's a nod and a wink going on with the government isn't there. Because I ask you if the Conservatives are playing the race card. You say no they're catering to the lowest common denominator. So you're, you're saying yes, but no aren't you.

David Blunkett: Well, they haven't been directly, look, if I said they were directly racist, we'd get in to another row for the next ten days ...

Jeremy Vine: (overlaps) You're suggesting that they are.

David Blunkett: ... concentrating on their agenda, rather than on the improvements in education, which we've brought about, and have plans to invest in. Well, your other family who had to drive their Jag out of their area to a school outside, need a school near to their home that performs well. When I became Education Secretary, three out of five kids got the level that is required of them at the age of eleven.

When I left, we were almost up to four out of five. We've still got a long way to go but let's not (fluffs), you know, let's be honest about it, we transformed primary education and people who are honest, in terms of talking to their teachers, the new hundred thousand extra teaching assistants, actually know that that's true.

Jeremy Vine: You resigned in disgrace from the Cabinet.

David Blunkett: No, I didn't (fluffs) resign in disgrace, I resigned with sorrow.

Jeremy Vine: Well, you had the phrase, no favours but slightly faster in your, for your lover's nanny's visa and you seem to be on your way back. What do you say to a viewer who says, goodness me, do they have no shame.

David Blunkett: Well it, if the viewer doesn't know why the accusations were made, who they were made by and for what purpose, then I can't help it. But I - All I know is that before the enquiry reported, I realized that having indicated that there hadn't been any speeding up, there clearly had been within the system, and I, I thought it was honourable to step down.

I think it's right to place my record on the line and I'm doing it right round the country at the moment, and I'm very grateful, and I want to put this on record, to the thousands of people I've met who have been so warm over the last four weeks.

Jeremy Vine: And you have had enough of a gap outside government, to, to pay for whatever mistake it was. (overlaps)

David Blunkett: Well (overlaps) ...

Jeremy Vine: To go back in ...

David Blunkett: ... no, I, I didn't think I'd been given a sentence. I, I used to be involved in deciding sentences, and you'd committed a crime when you got a sentence.

End of interview

Caroline Lucas
Dr Caroline Lucas, Green Party

Dr Caroline Lucas, Green Party

Jeremy Vine: We're joined now by Dr Caroline Lucas of the Green Party. Thanks for coming in. I just want to talk to you about wind turbines, and wind energy if I can first, cos you've said that you want two million small scale, wind energy systems in Britain by 2010, five years time. That's one wind turbine for every thirty people.

Dr Caroline Lucas: We need to heavily invest in renewables. We also need to heavily invest in energy conservation, and what we're basically saying is let's look at some of the best systems in the rest of Europe where many countries are well ahead of us on this, er and see how they're doing it. And they tend to do it by more small scale systems, those tend to be less intrusive, you'd lose less energy through the transmission of the energy, from where it's been created to your homes, and where energy is needed. So we think this is a sensible, practical, and realisable initiative, if we've got the political will behind it.

Jeremy Vine: So what will these things look like.

Dr Caroline Lucas: They will look like wind farms, but they'll look like smaller scale wind farms. We also want to look at office shore wind ... (overlaps)

Jeremy Vine: Do you, you don't mean, you don't mean it's the normal, the ones we see at the moment with the big blades on a huge stork.

Dr Caroline Lucas: (overlaps) No, no. It will indeed look like an ordinary wind farm. We are talking about wind farms ...

Jeremy Vine: Two million of them.

Dr Caroline Lucas: No, two million individual er, pylons we're talking about, the actually wind mills themselves if you like. But what we are saying is that where we have those, we want to have them in smaller scale, so not so many all in one place ...

Jeremy Vine: Spread out more.

Dr Caroline Lucas: ... (overlaps) so that - if you like yes.

Jeremy Vine: Will there be anywhere in this country where we can't see them.

Dr Caroline Lucas: I haven't done the figures on that Jeremy, but I think what you do need to say to people is what would you prefer. Would you prefer wind farms, or would you prefer nuclear power stations. And I think all the evidence suggests that most people would prefer wind.

Most people don't find it visually intrusive. Many people indeed find them rather beautiful to look at, and I think we've got some really hard choices to make here if we've got to reduce our CO2 emissions by around 80%, by 2050, that means we've got some big choices to make, and I think the Greens are the only ones who are seriously looking at that properly.

Jeremy Vine: The No for Wind Farm on Winash Group, who are campaigning at the moment, say putting a wind farm on our precious landscape, is insane. And that is exactly the kind of opposition you'll face isn't it.

Dr Caroline Lucas: There will be some opposition. I mean we do say that although our policy is for a presumption in favour of wind farms, where there are areas of natural outstanding beauty, we wouldn't put them there. From what I know of Winash, it doesn't fall in to that category. It is beautiful, yes of course it is. But it also has a ... (overlaps)

Jeremy Vine: ... it's not outstanding.

Dr Caroline Lucas: It's not one of the designated areas in Britain. It has a motorway running right by it as well. And certainly, looking at some of the comments from Friends of the Earth and other groups, who know that area better than I do, they are saying very clearly, that they believe that that is not an inappropriate place to put a wind farm. So I think there will be opposition in some places, but believe me Jeremy, if you went and said, would you like to put a nuclear power station there, they're not going to like that very much either.

Jeremy Vine: You don't, don't need so many of them though do you. Let's talk about food miles and our reporter there was enjoying some organic grapes from South Africa, which you don't want him to eat.

Dr Caroline Lucas: I don't necessarily want him not to eat them, but I think we need to pay the real price for food that's coming in from the other end of the world. We know again, that freight transport is one of the fastest growing sources of green house gas emissions, and so I think that if we're eating, particularly for things like vegetables out of seasons for example, grapes are something where there aren't easy alternatives, but I would focus more on things like eating out of season vegetables from the other end of the world.

Eating strawberries in January, things like that. Yes, you might still be able to do it, but I think you should be paying an awful lot more for it, which reflects more accurately, the real environmental costs of flying those strawberries from one end of the world to the other.

Jeremy Vine: By a factor of how much - ten.

Dr Caroline Lucas: Something in that region, I imagine yes.

Jeremy Vine: So they'd become very very expensive indeed.

Dr Caroline Lucas: They would become expensive, but Jeremy, I just want to really focus your mind on why. This is not me just sitting here coming up with policies. We have looked very carefully at how you would try to get an 80%, 85% cut of CO2 emissions by 2050, and freight is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. At the minute we have an air travel system, where we don't tax aviation fuel, this is potty, it is crazy, we are encouraging precisely that mode of transport which is the most environmentally damaging.

Jeremy Vine: How you thought about the South African grape grower, who will (interjects) lose his job when David Thomson stops eating.

Dr Caroline Lucas: We've thought a lot about that and I believe that our policies on development are the strongest of any party, because we know, having seen from first hand experience, that actually the people that are gaining from that transaction are not the poorest farmers in those countries. The poorest farmers are usually the ones who are being pushed off their land, to make space for trans-national corporations, for the middle men, who are actually getting the profits. All too often ...

Jeremy Vine: (interrupts) But trade is how we get our money to developing countries at the moment. We get very little aid compared to the amount of trade on ... (overlaps)

Dr Caroline Lucas: We would like to see that shifted. We would like to see for example more funding, more technology transfer, more aid. We talk about 1% of national income ...

Jeremy Vine: (overlaps) Just hand the money over.

Dr Caroline Lucas: ... by 2010.

Jeremy Vine: Hand the money over.

Dr Caroline Lucas: Well frankly no, we owe them that money. Most of them have paid their debts over, many many times over in interest rates. If you look at who's most responsible, again, for climate change, it's our countries. It's the countries of the west. We owe them that money in many respects, and this idea that trade is really the way forward for them, I think is wrong. I think yes, fair trade, but don't assume that trade replaces other forms of development co-operation.

End of interview

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, 24 April, 2005 at 12.00.

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