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WEBCHAT GUIDELINES 1. One question per member plus one follow-up. 2. Keep your question brief. 3. Don't moan if your question doesn't get answered. 4. Do be civil/polite. More here.

David Cameron live webchat, Friday 14th March 3.30-4.30

(423 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 12-Mar-08 18:54:23

David Cameron is coming back (which is more than we can say for Piers Morgan). The leader of the opposition will be logging on from The Tory party's spring forum in Gateshead this Friday pm, at 3.30. Come along and pose him a question about an issue relevant to you, or if you can't make it on the day, you can post advance questions here.

PrincessPeaHead Fri 14-Mar-08 17:38:27

I didn't attack you for not grovelling, I told you to stop saying the SAME THING OVER AND OVER AGAIN because it was boring me.
why don't you at least declare your interest as some minor labour party apparatchik while you are at it

yurt1 Fri 14-Mar-08 17:39:56

Well I liked his special school answer.....

Swedes Fri 14-Mar-08 17:49:33

Fark. I'm going to add up his typing speed - I bet it's about 5 wpm. Mind you, I bet Brown's typing speed is 4 wpm even though I'm sure he has six or more fingers on each hand. Is it just me, or would it be better if Brown borrowed Stephen Hawking's voice box for his speeches - that Prestbyterian Scots voice has me reaching for the channel flicker every time even though I'm sure what he says might sometimes be interesting. It's the way you tell them, Gordie.

Why can't politicians type? I find that irritating. Even my 12 year old can type.

FluffyMummy123 Fri 14-Mar-08 17:50:11

Message withdrawn

scanner Fri 14-Mar-08 18:15:51

Hope this isn't too late, but here's my question;

I am a self employed mother of three, my children attend an after school club one day a week that I pay for. I feel that it's unfair that this childcare cost cannot be offset against tax. Would the conservative party consider making childcare fees tax deductable for both employed and self-empolyed women?

LittleBella Fri 14-Mar-08 20:23:22

I want my questions answered:

What is wrong with balancing work and home by doing part time work, why is the Tory party saying that it will force lone parents to do full time work if it gets to power, is it because they are planning to dismantle the tax credit system?

What are they going to do about the family courts?

I asked them two days ago, so he chose not to answer them. Can't think why...

LittleBella Fri 14-Mar-08 20:24:07

Oh and a bit of my question was about whether lone parents would lose the right other parents have, to home educate their children (because they're being frog-marshalled into full time work)

LittleBella Fri 14-Mar-08 20:24:40

frog marched even grin

flowerybeanbag Fri 14-Mar-08 20:31:07

<<faints with unconvincing shock at failure to answer question about voting record on family issues or any other tricky question>>

monkeytrousers Fri 14-Mar-08 20:50:10

Alright then:

What is your take on neo-liberalism? The Henry Jackson Society for example?

davidtennantsmistress Fri 14-Mar-08 22:00:55

how will they force lone parents to work full time? personally, I will work PT but I will not work FT - the financial aspect aside I do not want to work 40 hours a week and have no time with my son - I didn't have a child so I could do that.

jellybeans Fri 14-Mar-08 22:14:15

I agree that lone parents should not have to work full time. Many times they have the work of both parents to do. They do more than a full time job in unpaid work already by looking after their children.

LittleBella Fri 14-Mar-08 22:16:32

I don't know dtm - I remember just fleetingly hearing it on the radio and nobody challenging it.

I wouldn't work 40 hours a week either, and frankly I don't need to because I can just about scrape by on my 24 hours. Except of course, if they abolish the tax credit system. Which I note Dave didn't address and it is crucial in enabling lone parents to work.

davidtennantsmistress Fri 14-Mar-08 22:23:15

that's it, tbh the line of work i'm currently doing for a FT wage i'd get approx £15K p/a and it's not worth the money for the extra hours away from my son, and leaving him with someone else. i'd rather have 16 hours maint & TC's but as you say if that's going then who knows.... will have to keep a watchful eye on it all and see what they're proposing.

monkeytrousers Fri 14-Mar-08 23:50:24

god, what a crock htese whole pantomime's are

alistap Mon 17-Mar-08 08:53:43

I'd also really like to know your answer to tortoiseshell's question about Bristol schools. My children are still young and are at a lovely local primary school. However, I worry a lot about what we will do when they reach secondary age. Bristol has a lot of independent schools, and many parents opt out of state education at secondary level, so this may be one of the causes of the problem. We can't afford independent schools. The LEA is consistently near or at the bottom of the league tables. How would you propose to improve this situation?

tatt Mon 17-Mar-08 10:28:11

ah PPH anyone who doesn't agree with you has to have a hidden agenda. I'm not - and never have been - a member of the labour party. I don't wish to be part of any political party. However since many people judge others by themselves you must be a conservative. It's quite common in politics to plant easy questions for the leader to answer so they can ignore anything a bit more tricky, but then you probably know that.

This is simply a publicity stunt, serves no useful purpose. If anyone wants to know what the conservative party (or any other party) thinks on a specific issue visit their website(s). Even better speak to/ write to your local MP, see how quickly (or even if) they reply and whether their response inspires you. If you can manage to meet them socially you may even find out what they really think.

Aitch Mon 17-Mar-08 13:53:53

a publicity stunt serves a purpose. it gets publicity.

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 27-Mar-08 09:08:40

Hi all,
Just to add the answers that David wasn't able to get to during the live chat.
You can also read the archived chat here
MN Towers grin

By MissChief
David - could you be truly working parent-friendly and finally commit to making childcare exempt from tax? It would do so much for so many but with all the surestart schemes, tax credits etc, no party seems to have committed to making this simple but powerful promise.
As you're also my MP, I'd like to ask what you plan to do to stem the decline of small rural towns - local shops closing etc and 1 supermarket moving in.


I know the cost of childcare is a huge issue for many families. We’ve said we want to do things like looking to make the support provided by the childcare tax credit simpler and easier for parents to use.

But on this and other specific questions about tax cuts, the answer will be the same I’m afraid: I can’t make promises now, except to say that we will make cuts in family taxes generally a priority by offsetting new green taxes pound for pound by cuts in family taxes.

On the decline of small rural towns and villages, which as you rightly say is a massive issue in areas like the one I represent, we can start by suspending the programme of compulsory sub-post office closures while we reassess the options for bringing new business to local branches. All the evidence suggests that when a local post office shuts, other local shops are hit too and the local community suffers hugely.

By Wickedwaterwitch
I'd like to ask David what he intends doing about ID cards.
If he GUARANTEES to scrap them I might consider voting Tory. And I've never done so in my life.


Yes, ID cards would go. Guaranteed.

By LittleBella
LOL at Dave having bigger cojones than Piers Morgan. So Cojones Cameron, someone in your cabinet (may even have been you) declared that under a Tory government, Lone Parents would have to work full time when their children were 5 or over. Why? What's wrong with part time work and having enough time and energy to discharge your responsibilities as a parent? Is it because you're intending to dismantle the tax credit system and the making work pay agenda? And does this mean that lone parents would not have the choice other parents have, of home educating their children?


No, the principle we support is that lone parents are encouraged to return to work, but not forced into a position where they have to work hours that are completely incompatible with good parenting.

What our Social Justice Policy Group said was that those with children at primary school should be expected to work for at least twenty hours a week and that parents with children at secondary school should be expected to work for at least 30 hours a week.

In fact both we and the Government have accepted the principle behind these recommendations. There is a lot of evidence that helping a household to make the transition from worklessness to work has beneficial effects for both parents and children alike.

But there needs to be safeguards. For example in the next few years the Government wants lone parents with children over the age of seven to receive Jobseeker’s Allowance instead of income support, and it’s important that the definition of a “reasonable job” - as applied to parents claiming this benefit - reflects the limitations that good parenting is going to place on their ability to work.

Also our strategy on childcare will address many of the challenges faced by parents of school-age children.

By mcnoodle
I often wonder why you politicians are so obsessed with offering us 'choice'? Particularly in relation to schools and hospitals. I don't want choice. I want to know that my local school/hospital is as good as the one in the next town.


Everyone agrees that the most important thing is having good hospitals and schools. The issue is how we get them. As I mentioned to ronshar, providing more choice is one way – not the only way, but an important way – to make sure that standards in our schools and hospitals improve.

Apart from anything else, giving people more choice lets the providers of services know what works. Parents for example will tend to choose schools with strong discipline and setting by ability so, if parents are able to exercise choice more, schools will learn that those are the approaches to adopt.

By Freckle
And for those of us who have given up well-paid and interesting careers (or indeed low-paid and uninteresting careers) in order to raise our own children, will you allow the stay-at-home spouse's tax allowance to be transferred to the working spouse?


As I warned to MissChief, I’m afraid that any questions on tax are going to get the same answer – I can’t make promises at this stage, except to say that family taxes in general are a priority.

As for your general point, I think it’s important that politicians value the choices that parents themselves make. In the past some Conservatives have given the impression that all young mothers should stay at home. Today the Labour Party gives the impression that all young mothers should work. I think actually both are wrong. Instead of imposing a choice on parents, we should be doing all we can to support the choices they make for themselves.

By PersephoneSnape
^^Alternatively, that would adversely affect the children of families where there is only one parent and that parent works. Shouldn't you aim any tax breaks at children rather than couples?

What do you propose regarding the CSA/C-MEC. didn't the tories introduce the CSA in the first place? Do you support the reforms or don't they go far enough? How will you make absent parents pay maintenance?


On the CSA and CMEC, yes I think it’s fair to say that the search for a system of child maintenance that works properly has been a long one, which has involved governments of both parties. All MPs will have had heartbreaking cases in their constituency surgeries. The system hasn’t worked as it should, and we urgently need to get it right.

We supported the Government’s latest reforms as going in the right direction, while saying there are still lessons to be learnt from how they manage these things better in other countries – like Australia.

On the tax breaks issue, all families do a vital job, and there are things like flexible working arrangements which we can do to help all families.

But the current system is loaded against those parents who want to make a long-term commitment to each other. So we’ve said we will scrap the couple penalty in the benefits system which pays couples to live apart, and we'll recognise marriage and civil partnerships in the tax system.

By charlysangel
Hi. Juggling work and family commitments is chaotic. I have 2 questions- What are your experiences of work and family integration? What changes do you envisage could be made to improve families experiences of work and family integration?


Balancing work and family is never easy. Some parents prefer to work from home so they can integrate the two more closely; others try to keep a clearer boundary. Most of us who work in offices will usually prefer to take at least some work home rather than working too late in the office.

Again I think the key to all this is flexible working. That allows people to adopt the lifestyle which suits them and their families best.

By PellMell


Thanks for making your voice heard! As well as the focus on the educational needs of young people with learning difficulties, the point you make about social care and the burden we place on family carers is an important one.
Social services are provided by local government rather than national government, so one way we can help get more money to front line services is to cut down on the bureaucracy from Whitehall which takes up so much council time and money.

By Smurfs
David, please can you advise as to what changes if any you would propose for increasing the age at which children start school to bring it in line with other European Countries. I personally feel that the current situation disadvantages summer born boys who are not ready to sit still and learn at just turned 4. Your thoughts please. Thank you.

By zog

Also, what would you do with regards to the ridiculous amount of red tape
there appears to be in every area of life now?

Plus, I see a huge list of volunteers required in my local area every week.
How about matching jobseekers up with voluntary positions so they get decent work experience (something other than litter picking ), the charities get their positions filled and the taxpayer gets something for the money they're paying out anyway!


Three questions here.

I agree on the red tape point – sometimes central government has to trust local organisations more, and not try to interfere all the time.

On the work experience point, I think we need to focus these programmes on those who have been out of work the longest – because the longer someone is out of the workplace, the more difficult it is to get back. What we’ve said is that someone who has claimed JobSeeker’s Allowance for longer than – say- two out of the previous three years should be required to join a community work scheme if they are to continue to receive benefit.

We haven’t got any plans at the moment to change the rules for starting school, but I will make sure our Schools team are aware of your views on that.

By Whitty
Hello Mr Cameron, I would like to know when tests for small school children will be scrapped cos they don't prove or achieve anything. I would also be keen to know if Britain will ever follow in the steps of those fantastic European schools that focus on play till 6 years old. Thanks


I think some testing is important in making schools accountable to parents, and helping schools track the progress children make as they move up the school - which is vital if the school is to see how well it is doing. But clearly there needs to be a balance. That’s why we have proposed replacing key stage 1 tests with a short standardised reading test at the end of year one, to make sure children have mastered the basics.

By tortoiseSHELL
My 2 questions (further up) - what do you advise a parent to do in an area such as mine, where the secondary school where your child will get a place only gets 23% 5GCSEs+? Can't afford private, but couldn't send my children there - it wouldn't be an education.

Secondly - who do you prefer 'facing' - Tony Blair or Gordon Brown?


I don’t mind who I face as long as they are facing me from the other side – Britain needs change, and that won’t happen until Gordon Brown and his colleagues are facing me from the opposition benches!

I agree we desperately need to improve schools in areas which have been let down by poor results. I've seen in other countries – like Sweden – how allowing new schools to set up in the state sector, and giving parents more choice, can make a real difference to the quality of education available to parents everywhere, and I’m determined to learn some of those lessons here.
We also need to give head teachers control of discipline in their schools, because often it’s the disruptive minority which ends up dragging results down for the rest of the class.

By Habbibu
David, the Tories assumption is that people don't like paying tax. But I do. We earn a reasonable wage, and I want to pay tax to support those who don't, or who have more needs than we do. I'd happily pay more tax for better state schools, NHS cleaners, etc. How would you try to attract voters like me? Or do you not think there aren't enough of us to bother?


Actually, I think the problem in recent years hasn’t simply been that taxes have gone up, but that people see so much of the money has been wasted. We simply haven’t had the sorts of improvements in schools and hospitals – or indeed in social justice – that we should have seen, for the extra money the Government has taken in tax.

But I realise that our public services do indeed need resources, as well as improvements in the way they are delivered to make sure the resources are spent well. So we’ve said we can’t promise upfront unfunded tax cuts at the next election. Instead, as our economy grows, we will share the extra money which that generates between spending on public services and tax cuts.

By FlossieTCake
Flexible working law indeed very weak, and at the end of the day, if your right is refused and you believe your employer is being unreasonable, you still have to drag it through a tribunal to get what you need. I left my last job precisely for this reason.

I really want to know how you reconcile the idea of everyone in paidemployment with the idea that children need more input and support.


I’m sorry to hear of your experience. But as I said to Lalaa, the figures seem to show that firms who have adopted the right to request flexible working grant it in nine out of ten cases. So I do think it would help to extend the right to request flexible working in the way I’ve suggested.

By Tinker
How do you attract voters who don't want choice? I don't want to have to shop around for my gas and electricty; I want a state owned supplier. I don't want choice in schools; I want them all to be state schools and good. I hate all buses being horrid different colours; I want them all to be state run and efficient and reliable and nice shade of bright red. What are you going to do about people like me with choice fatigue?


I think the evidence shows that, within limits and with some exceptions, giving people more choice often raises standards. So actually even those with ‘choice fatigue’ benefit, because of the way that schools and service providers respond to the wishes of those who have exercised the choice.

But I agree it’s not the only answer, which is why we’ve set out other ways to improve public services too – like cutting down on the paperwork from Whitehall, and giving head teachers control of discipline again.

By PrincessPeaHead
oh I agree Tinker.
How is it helpful being able to choose between 4 different hospitals to get your hip replaced, when all you want is for your nearest hospital to do it efficiently and well and not to kill you with MRSA in the process?


I think I’ve answered this point! Patients won’t choose the hospitals which perform badly, so those hospitals have an incentive to improve their standards. So this is one way in which we can get standards to improve for everyone.

After all, it’s in those societies where people had no choice at all, and had to put up with exactly what the state gave them, that standards in public services were lowest. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

But more choice isn’t the only answer. On MRSA for example, evidence from abroad shows that screening patients for infections when they’re admitted to hospital, and then isolating those who test positive, is highly effective in combating superbugs.

TheDevilWearsPrimark Thu 27-Mar-08 09:11:00

Aw he didn't answer my wind turbine question.

saltire Thu 27-Mar-08 09:12:29

Huh, he never answered my question either at the time or later!

Flamesparrow Thu 27-Mar-08 09:28:21


fryalot Thu 27-Mar-08 09:29:10

was looking for his response to marina's question... can't seem to find it....

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