MN WEBCHAT GUIDELINES 1. One question per member plus a follow-up question if appropriate, ie once you've had a response. 2. Keep your question brief 3. Don't be disappointed if your specific question doesn't get answered and do try not to keep posting "What about me?". 4. Do be civil/polite. See guidelines in full here.

Gordon Brown on Mumsnet this Friday (16th October) lunchtime between 1-2 pm

(1058 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 15-Oct-09 13:21:13

We're delighted to announce that the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will be logging on to Mumsnet for a live webchat on Friday (tomorrow) lunchtime from 1 to 2. The PM is ready to answer Mumsnetters' questions on a wide-range of policy issues from the economy to education and from childcare to climate change.

As you know we're not great ones for rule books here at MNHQ, but we'd like this to be as useful and enlightening an event as it can be, for all involved. We aren't going to pre-moderate or pre-select questions - the format will be as per usual - but given the likely popularity of this webchat, the sheer number of you all and our past experience of trying to fit everything in, we've come up with a few ground rules which we'd be very grateful if you'd follow.

Guidelines for MN webchat with PM

1. To allow as many folks as possible to be involved, please restrict your questions to one per member plus a follow up question if appropriate, i.e. once you've had a response. (NB don't even think about name changing to ask another, we'll be watching!).

2. Please keep your question reasonably brief (we'll not doing a word count but it will increase your chance of getting an answer, we suspect, if you don't bang on for paragraphs)

3. It's highly unlikely he'll be able to answer everyone's question but we'll make every effort to bring common themes to his attention. Please don't be too disappointed if your specific question doesn't get answered and do try not to keep posting "What about me?". He can't answer them all and he is the PM after all - so has a quite few time constraints.

4. Obviously you're free to voice your opinion but do be civil/polite - the PM is our guest on Mumsnet so, whatever your politics, please afford him the same cordiality you would if he stopped by your own house.

Many thanks - feel free to put your question up in advance if you can't make the live chat on Friday lunchtime.

Prime Minister,

Why has your government dismissed the Cambridge Primary Review's Recommendation 'to delay the start of formal learning to age 6'?

Many of us have personal experience of the damage done to our children by starting their formal learning before they are ready.

Well managed, play base learning is still learning - just learning that is appropriate for very young children.

DYTTSU - If you had stopped to proof-read you wouldn't have got in before me grin.

splodge2001 Fri 16-Oct-09 11:00:25

Dear Gordon,

Isn't it dangerous to cut education spend precisely at a time when if we are going to rise from the recession stronger we need lots of investment to make a highly skilled workforce?

Given the Tories record on education spend wouldn't it be good to highlight that their attitude towards education will leave us with an underskilled economy unable to compete.

scut2 Fri 16-Oct-09 11:03:41

I would like to ask the prime minister a question about childcare costs. Working mothers have a difficult enough time affording childcare and finding childcare which fits round jobs which have long working hours. Using nurseries which finish at 6pm is not really an option for people who don't finish work until 9 or 10pm and, for alot of these people (especially those who don't have family in their local area) these people's only option is to employ a nanny/childminder out of taxed income. As these employment costs come out of taxed income you have to be earning a considerable amount to cover the childcare costs (let alone other costs such as mortgage etc.) I note that childcare vouchers are available which give a useful tax saving but these are a small fraction of the total cost of childcare. However, if all childcare costs could be dealt with by such a salary sacrifice scheme this would make a huge difference to hard working mothers.

coveredinfelttip Fri 16-Oct-09 11:04:56

Hello Mr Brown,
Can you tell me if the government will act on the finding of the Cambridge Review and make learning for 4-6 year olds more play based as the Review recommends? I would also like to know if there are plans to abolish SATs.

My bright, happy four year old has just started school and she is not enjoying it, complaining that it is "boring" - not a word she has had cause to use before. Questioning revealed that there was too much sitting on the mat to learn and not enough play.

I feel that four is too young to start school but if that is the current law, we need to make learning at school fun. There needs to be more play to engage children - it has already been proved to get better results with learning.

We all (including yourself) have high hopes for our children's futures and the key to that is a happy school life where they enjoy learning. I really want to hear what you have to say about this.

jcscot Fri 16-Oct-09 11:08:26

Dear Mr Brown, welcome to Mumsnet!

I won't repaet the excellent questions asked by so many on the economy/childcare/NHS etc.

Instead, I'd like to know the following:

I am the wife of an Army officer who's currently serving in Afghanistan. I'm not going to ask why we're there (a very complex answer, I'm sure) but I do want to know why the government is not supporting the Amred Services properly.

Why is there such a short gap between op tours, in clear breach of the harmony guidelines?

Why is the refurbishment of MQs so under-resourced and behind schedule?

Why is the procurement system so woefully inadequate and unfit for purpose?

How is the Defence budget going to be affected by cuts in government spending?

Finally...

...why are companies like FlyBe allowed to ban my husband travelling home from theatre in uniform because it might "...offend other passengers..."?

My husband is due home from theatre sometime in the next couple of weeks and has been informed that on his onward flight (using the MOD's preferred carrier, FlyBe) to Glasgow he cannot wear his uniform, meaning that he has to go and buy a set of civvies before he can fly home.

hatwoman Fri 16-Oct-09 11:11:12

justine are you collating questions/themes? so that G doesn;t have to wade through this lot?

I know this is mumsnet but where a question/issue/theme is actually about parents could I lobby for that to be acknowledged? I believe, with such a passion, that it is in mums' interests to keep dads fully in the debates and not to blur parenting with motherhood.

Ledodgy Fri 16-Oct-09 11:17:02

Ok all the serious questions I wanted an answer to have been answered so Hello Gordon. I would like to know if you ever cook at home and if you do what do you cook have you got a signature dish?

paranoiabigdestroyer Fri 16-Oct-09 11:23:06

I would be most interested in hearing about what the govt is going to do to help "middle class" earners who are stretched financially but not eligible for family tax credits. DH and I are middle managers in public sector our joint income takes us over the threshold BUT we live in S.E - mortgaged to the hilt with huge childcare bills, not a penny left at the end of each month. I hate to say it as I have voted Labour at every election - but I think my family might be better off under the Tories.

Also: echo the many voices asking for full maternity pay for 12 months - or at the very least 6 months / opps to split leave with father of child.

happyloris Fri 16-Oct-09 11:23:11

All the new scientific evidence about climate change shows that things are much worse than predicted only a couple of years ago. Once we get past tipping points such as release of methane from melting permafrost, this process is likely to accelerate and become irreversible. So greenhouse gas emissions need to peak and start to decline SOON. What will you do to ensure the UK's emissions fall significantly over the next 2-5 years, showing the other countries at the Copenhagen negotiations that Britain at least takes climate change seriously?

Katymac Fri 16-Oct-09 11:27:23

I am assuming my question will be ignored as it was by Ed Balls last time but:

Do you really think I as a stand-alone childminder, without any admin backup or support (who rarely if ever makes a profit) should be required to administer EYFS at the same level as a head of a children's centre, or a head teacher? And if parents don't want their 5-18 year old child to study under the national curriculum they can home educate or go to a private school. However it is virtually impossible for a parent to get exemption from EYFS for their under 5's - why is that?

RTKangaMummy Fri 16-Oct-09 11:33:18

Hello Gordon

I have an easy question for you

What do you like to watch:

on TV

and if you were able to go to the cinema or theatre

What would you want to see?

musicals or plays?

smilesmilesmile

ByThePowerOfGreyskull Fri 16-Oct-09 11:42:55

Hi Mr Brown,

I would like to know if you think that God has a gender, and why.

slug Fri 16-Oct-09 11:43:25

Hello Gordon

Do you agree that Parliament is unrepresentative of the UK population as a whole? When I look at the list of MPs I see mainly white, middle aged, independantly wealthy men. To be honest, the thought of being governed by the Bullingdon Club gives me the heebejeebies. So what are you doing to make Parliament more representative?

It strikes me that the working hours are not condusive to family life, which is probably why you see few women MPs of childbearing age. Are there equal numbers of womens loos in the Houses of Parliament? How about breast feeding rooms? Is there a creche available for MP mums (and dads?) Is it fair to say that until you have family friendly working policy in the Houses of Parliament we will continue to see mainly men with the wherewithall to employ nannies or support Stay at Home wives standing as MPs?

Madsometimes Fri 16-Oct-09 11:45:11

How can we really end boom and bust for good? I would love to see Capital Gains Tax payable on the sale of all properties (maybe end stamp duty as a sweetener). Rising house prices are simply an asset bubble which has to burst and wreck the lives of ordinary people.

Yes I know the arguement about this proving a disincentive for owners to improve housing stock. Perhaps there could be an exemption if major work was carried out using a VAT registered contractor ...

I just cannot see how doing nothing will prevent housing crashes from happening again.

AitchTwoToTangOh Fri 16-Oct-09 11:45:13

agree with vulpus, these are the issues repeatedly coming up, i would really love it if you'd answer. (on a selfish note, even the sodding 'cycle to work' scheme excludes us self-employed types cos it's administered through PAYE. we do drive places, you know... and there are more and more of us, Gordon, don't leave us hanging.)

*childcare tax relief for the self-employed

*the issue of primary school provision, start dates and would be good to have a response on the Cambridge review published today

*Bank bonuses

*energy policy

*breastfeeding and midwifery provision

AitchTwoToTangOh Fri 16-Oct-09 11:46:46

much as i love tv and food i will be very disappointed if GB (of whom i am fond) answers those questions rather than the bigger issues.

grandmabet Fri 16-Oct-09 11:49:06

Hello Mr Brown

On the question of the banks, what provision has been made for them to pay back the vast sums of taxpayers' monty used to bail them out? Now that they are beginning to make vast profits again and award bonuses, when do they pay back? Should bonuses be stopped until they've paid their debts?

misdee Fri 16-Oct-09 11:49:30

do you think opt-out is the way forward for organ donation?

HeBewitcheditude Fri 16-Oct-09 11:52:15

Hello Gordon
Why has your govt already rejected the Cambridge report? Do you always know better than education professionals?

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 16-Oct-09 11:54:38

It is very interesting the persistent rejection of evidence-based policy recommendations, isn't it? It does not bode well for the govt's confidence in our universities.

ErikaMaye Fri 16-Oct-09 11:57:21

Prime Minister:

In reflection to the suggestion of supported housing for 16 and 17 year old mothers, what else is proposed to support and help younger parents? Also, surely, in reference to the supported housing, it would be better to house the parents and child together, if they intend to both be involved with the childs upbringing?

Regards.

ErikaMaye

lambethlil Fri 16-Oct-09 12:09:23

I really hope you will implement the findings of Robin Alexander's inquiry into primary education, recommending formal learning be delayed until age six. Reports in today's Guardian suggest the review's findings have been rejected by ministers. Every education union, most parents and the rest of the world support a later introduction to formal learning. Please reconsider.

mustrunmore Fri 16-Oct-09 12:10:50

I'd like to ask why you get more help to get back to work if you claim benefits?

Of course I see that you need financial help if you are receiving benefits. But you also need help to retrain, which is often more than average people can afford. Even the jobcentre admitted I'd be better off on benefits hmmsad

sitdownpleasegeorge Fri 16-Oct-09 12:11:42

Good Afternoon and nice to see you here on Mumsnet.

My question is about tackling waste.

Surely it is obvious that a good proportion of the Children's Trust Fund monies provided by the government will be blown, once the recipient reaches 18, on a party or some consumer must have item which will ultimately turn out to have been a waste of money ? I can't see that it is an efficient use of resources and believe it should be scrapped so that the money can be used to fund education instead to better equip 18 year olds to go out and earn their own living.

On a similar note re mis-directed funds. This country is bankrolling juvenile single parenthood and "multiple children all state supported" to a ludicrous extent. Hostels surely hark back to the old "Home for Unmarried Mothers", wouldn't it be better to think the unthinkable and offer financial incentives to young women identified as the target group of potential single monther future benefit claimants, to remain childless, payment for not getting pregnant rather than funding the consequences of getting pregnant ? Similarly there is a target group of women who will go on to have several babies supported only by the state (due to multiple absent/non-earning/feckless fathers) where the women concerned could be paid to stop reproducing for a number of years. This would surely save a lot of money all round if it was effective.

In summary, my one question is this. Can Labour think the unthinkable and implement waste reduction strategies which at the same time go some way to mending "Broken Britain" or will political correctness get in the way ?

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