Tuck into my Referendum dinner

By DAVID WOODING

THE polls will soon close after the historic EU referendum and now we must while away the hours until the result.

I shall switch off and tuck into a referendum dinner – with a special menu for the occasion.

Here’s my choice. Feel free to add or tweet yours.

        ReMain Courses

Full English Brexit.

A pair of Ukippers

Hope not hake (fresh from the fish-scaremongers).

Fib of beef served with Brussels sprouts.

Porkie pies.

Stuffed vine Leaves.

Codswallop.

Loads of meat balls (without the meat)

And for the losers:

Humble pie, hard cheese served with sour grapes.

I’ll Fix it or Brexit

By DAVID WOODING

JUST hours left until Britain goes to the polls to decide whether our nation’s future is in or outside the European Union.

Lots of arguments have been heard on both sides during the past few weeks – with campaigners accused of lies, scares and smears.

So I thought it worth looking up what the Prime Minister told me during an interview last October – before he had started negotiations for our new membership “deal”.

Here it is:

DAVID Cameron today warns EU leaders to “fix it” for Britain or he will lead us to the exit door.

The PM reveals for the first time he would be prepared to head the out campaign in a referendum if he fails to win us a better deal.

In an exclusive interview with The Sun on Sunday, he admits he has “a job to do” to convince our army of readers that we should stay in.

But asked if he could see himself leading the out campaign, he replied: “If we don’t get what I want, I’ve said I’ll rule nothing out. And by that I mean I’ll rule nothing out.”

Speaking on the eve of the Tory conference, which opens today, Mr Cameron warned “bossy” EU leaders they will be the biggest losers if Britain votes to go it alone.

He insisted he was steaming ahead with his EU reform agenda but suggested a shake-up of human rights laws was a little too slow.

He admitted: “We need to get on with this. We’re going to do what we said and produce a British Bill of Rights. Just because it wasn’t in the first session of Parliament doesn’t mean it won’t be in the second.”

The PM has given up hope of halting free movement across the EU but believes he can cut the number of arrivals by slashing perks.

He said: “We benefit from free movement because we can live and work or retire to other European countries.

“Let’s keep that, but stop access to our welfare system, including our in-work benefits, which basically give people as much as £10,000 to £12,000 a year in year one and allows you to keep your family in south east Europe and claim British levels of child benefit.”

He claimed there would be even more non-EU migrants trying to reach Britain if it was outside Europe.

He said: “Our borders would be under even more pressure because the co-operation we get from the French means that our border can be sited on the other side of the Channel.”

Mr Cameron admitted his biggest job before the referendum he has promised for 2017 will be clinching a better deal from EU chiefs whom he says “drive me up the wall”.

But he is determined to win over the Eurosceptics. He said: “People are saying ‘You’ll never get what you want’. Well, let’s wait and see.”

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Mr Cameron knows he will have his work cut out convincing Sun regulars to vote to stay in Europe.

A YouGov poll yesterday showed 55 per cent of our readers want out compared with 23 per cent in.

He said: “Sun readers like me want to know our benefits system isn’t open to abuse from people coming to work in Britain. And I need to fix that.

“Sun readers want to know that Europe will be a source of growth, jobs and competitivenessand not a drag anchor on the British economy. And I need to fix that.” Mr Cameron needs to per-suade EU leaders to allow change or risk losing Britain.

The PM said: “There’s a lot that’s wrong with Europe that we’re going to fix. It’s too big, too bossy, too interfering.

“Britain would be worse off outside a reformed Europe. And I tell you what, Europe would be a lot worse off without us. “We bring military power, diplomatic heft, a big market, great businesses, an Atlantic relationship. All these things make Europe more outwardlooking. Europe doesn’t want Britain to go and I think if I’ve played my hand properly, we’ll get a better deal.

“I need to convince Sun readers we are going to take the good bits, get rid of the bad bitsand secure Britain’s prosperity and influence in the world.

“If I can fix all those things, and I’m confident I will, I can win over Sun readers.”

Mr Cameron vowed to stay on as PM right up to the 2020 General Election.

He said that before then he will turn the economy around, create job security and counter the threat from international terrorists.

And he will root his party in the political centre ground while Labour “charges off to the Left”.

He declared: “While others are losing their heads, we shall be keeping ours and delivering the security people want.

“Security in their lives, jobs and livelihoods and childcare but also national security, as well. But there’s an opportunity for the Conservative Party to go even further on social reform.

“At a time when Labour are heading off to the hills, you’ll see us firmly camped in the common ground of politics.”

Asked what he wants his legacy to be, he said: “I want to do a good job, turn the economy around and build a stronger society. We haven’t finished the economic job but there’s a platform to build on.”

Mr Cameron resisted the temptation to scoff at leftwinger Jeremy Corbyn struggling to hold Labour together. He said of the Opposition leader: “There’s an element of comedy when seven Shadow Cabinet ministers come in and disagree publicly with him.

“But actually this guy is a very serious threat to the financial security of every family in this country and to our national security, too.”

Mr Cameron also warned of super-high tax rates, chaotic nationalisation and inflation if Mr Corbyn ever wins power.

Chatting in his No10 study, he added: “Most don’t remem-ber the 1980s so we’ve got to make these arguments again.”

stay-” Mr Cameron ruled out staing on to have a third crack at winning a general election for the Tories or bowing out early, vowing to complete “two full terms”.

He said: “Ten years as PM is a good time. I feel fit, healthy, passionate about my work andcommitted to the job.

“I wake up every day thinking what an honour it is to do it and I am going to give it everything I’ve got for the next five years.”

david.wooding@the-sun.co.uk See The Sun on Sunday Says ON MUSIC THE PM says he’s a “bit square” and was a schoolboy fan of Supertramp. He is tempted to see the band at a London gig in December but fears: “They might be like Morrissey and ban me.” He likes singer Emiliana Torrini and US band The War on Drugs, top.

.Supertramp may ban me like Morrissey He says: “I’m a big Coldplay fan.

They’re cooler than Supertramp.”

ON ASHCROFT MR Cameron hit back at the “scurrilous rumours” peddled in Lord Ashcroft’s biography. He said: “Some things in that book are unbelievable.

They didn’t happen.

sands Now thousands of trees have died, Supertramp sales have gone up and one man’s reputation lies in ruins.

Things in that book so wrong I’m not sure Michael Ashcroft will ever recover.”

ON FAMILY TELLY and computer games are banned before lunch in the Prime Minister’s household. Mr Cameron enforces a strict “no-screen” period on his kids Nancy, 11, Elwen, nine, and Flo, five.

He said: “Telly is quite carefully restricted.” He has seen all of Game of Thrones and is now watching Italian crime show 1992.

TV quite carefully restricted ON MOVIES MOVIE-lover Mr Cameron took son Elwen to see Jurassic World and was scared out of his wits. He admitted: “I was terrified.

I nearly broke his arm I was holding on so hard. Unlike the Labour conference, the dinosaurs come to life.” The PM is a James Bond fan and is “very excited” about the next film Spectre.

New Jez Honours

By DAVID WOODING

THERE have shocks and surprises galore in the corridors of power during 2015.

The Tories pipped Labour at the election winning post, the Lib Dems collapsed, Scottish nationalism triumphed and a little-known backbencher called Jeremy Corbyn became one of the most talked about politicians in the country.

Like the rest of them, he’s made us chuckle with a host of cock-ups and U-turns.

So let’s chill out and take a light-hearted look at the past year in Parliament with my New Jez Honours.1425551_10153174642391945_7409042168289219243_n

PANTO POLITICS PRIZE: Jeremy Corbyn for his starring role as Aladdin’s pal Wishy-Washy. Will he wear a red poppy on Remembrance Day? Oh, no, he won’t – oh, yes he will! Will he force Labour MPs to vote against air strikes on terrorists in Syria? Oh, yes, he will – oh, no, he won’t! Will he kneel before the Queen when he joins the Privy Council? Oh, no, he won’t – oh, yes, he will!

PANTO VILLAIN: George Osborne plays Baron Hardup by axing tax credits for three million low-paid families. Then the Chancellor pulled a fast one on Labour by giving claimants a last-minute reprieve.

HIS LEWDSHIP: Disgraced Lord Sewel took politics back into the sewer after being caught on film snorting cocaine with a pair of £200-a-night hookers at his flat. The deputy speaker was forced to quit his seat after being exposed by The Sun on Sunday – but will keep his title.

SNOUTS IN THE TROUGH AWARD: Lords Speaker Baroness D’Souza clocked up a £230 bill keeping a chauffeur-driven car waiting four hours while she watched an opera a mile from Parliament. We’d like to see her Rigoletto that one.

TOFF IN THE SNOUTS AWARD: David Cameron for hogging the headlines after a book claimed he put his “private part” into a dead pig’s mouth as part of an outrageous student initiation ceremony. The PM got his own back, branding author Lord Ashcroft “a little p****”.

DavidCameron460

David Cameron

ORDER OF THE GREEDY PIG: A special prize goes to aptly-named Tory Douglas Hogg who re-boarded the Westminster gravy train five years after being thrown off. He was forced to quit as an MP after claiming £2,200 expenses to clean his moat – but has been given a seat in the Lords.

LAZARUS PRIZE FOR POLITICAL COMEBACK: Anti-war campaigner Ken Livingstone has a new lease of life co-chairing Labour’s defence review. Now he says he’d accept a seat in the Lords – which he wants to abolish – if Mr Corbyn offers him one.

SHORTEST RESIGNATION: Nigel Farage keeps his promise to quit as Ukip leader if he fails to be elected as an MP – only to re-instate himself three days later, claiming the party’s ruling board refused to accept his resignation.

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PICTURE BY GARY STONE. 15/5/2015. DAVE WOODING INTERVIEWS UKIP LEADER NIGEL FARAGE. NIGEL ENJOYS A DRINK A ND A LAUGH WITH THE SUN’S DAVE WOODING IN THE GUINEA PUB.

REBEL OF THE YEAR: Ukip’s only MP Douglas Carswell made history by staging a one-man backbench rebellion against party leader Nigel Farage. Let’s hope there isn’t a split. He’d find that even more painful.

GOLDEN BLADDER AWARD: Speaker John Bercow, who sat through an 11-hour Commons debate on Syria without a loo break. But then he always was good at stopping government leaks.

GOLDEN BALLS-UP AWARD: Former shadow chancellor Ed Balls urged everyone get a receipt when paying a handyman cash for odd jobs. Then his window cleaner revealed he had never asked for one in 17 years.

GRAVEST MISTAKE: Ed Miliband spent £15,000 on an 8ft “gravestone” carved with six key pledges days before the general election. The Ed Stone made him a laughing stock – and buried his hopes of becoming PM.

labour-ed-miliband-stone-v2

KICK A MAN WHEN HE’S DOWN PRIZE: Six-year-old Daniel Miliband for bluntly telling his defeated dad: “You used to be famous.”

BIG BENN CLANGER OF THE YEAR: SNP MP George Kerevan for saying Tony Benn would be “turning in his grave” at his son Hilary’s passionate speech in favour of air strikes in Syria. His remarks enraged the family of the late Leftie icon – who was actually cremated.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS, WAR IS OVER, DIPLOMA:  Diane Abbott, who spent a stormy meeting of Labour MPs, in which her ex-lover Jeremy Corbyn faced a barrage of criticism over his soft stance on terrorism, calmly signing her Christmas cards.

VANITY FAIR AWARD FOR SELFIE-EXPOSURE: SNP foreign affairs spokesman Alex Salmond for missing a Commons debate on whether to launch air strikes on Syria so he could unveil a portrait of himself in Edinburgh. A Labour wag summed it up perfectly: “If Alex Salmond was chocolate, he’d eat himself.”

BOOKER PRIZE FOR BEING WELL RED: Labour’s John McDonnell stunned MP by quoting Chinese communist mass murderer Chairman Mao in the Commons. He pulled out a copy of the despot’s little red book, read a section and threw it to George Osborne. The Chancellor kept it. Expect to see it thrown back at McDonnell in 2016 – or auctioned to raise Tory funds.

GAFFE OF THE YEAR: David Cameron for mixing up the claret and blue of West Ham United with that of Aston Villa – the team he tells us he supports.

TORY OF THE YEAR: Russell Brand for helping David Cameron win the election by telling his army of young fans not to vote – then urging them to back Labour when it was too late to register.

GILLETTE AWARD FOR THE SHARPEST POLITICAL PUTDOWN: Union boss Sir Paul Kenny on George Osborne’s handling of the economy: “He’s claimed more recoveries in the past five years than the RAC.”

BARBIE MEDAL FOR FEMINISM: Harriet Harman for launching a national wide tour to attract more women voters – in a PINK battlebus. A Westminster wag quipped: “I wonder what she thinks of the make-up of the Cabinet? She’d probably say there’s not enough pink lipstick.”

pink

LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN MEDAL FOR SPORT: London Mayor Boris Johnson’s over-exuberance in a game of touch rugby went wrong when he flattened a poor ten-year-old boy. If you think that’s bad, just wait until the Tory leadership race starts.
PLAIN SPEAKING AWARD: Labour’s Chris Bryant complained there were too many posh people in the arts. Singer James Blunt tweeted: “You classic gimp…it is your populist, envy-based, vote-hunting ideas which make our country c**p, far more than me and my s*** songs and plummy accent.”

ROCKY BELT FOR PARLIAMENTARY PUNCH-UPS: Rookie Labour MP Jessica Phillips for telling Diane Abbott to “f*** off” after she pulled her up for criticising their leader. She revealed: “People said to me they had always wanted to say that to her, and I don’t know why they don’t as the opportunity presents itself every other minute.” Asked how Ms Abbott responded, she replied: “She f***ed off.”

GREENHOUSE GAS GONG:  Leftie singer Charlotte Church produced more hot air than global warming itself by blaming the war in Syria on…climate change.

TWITS OF THE YEAR: Labour MP David Lammy for tweeting: “Good luck to students waiting for there GCSE results today. Rooting for you!” Wonder what grade he got in English? Labour’s Helen Goodman, forced to apologise after tweeting this about the Health Secretary’s Chinese missus: “If China is so great why did Jeremy Hunt’s wife come to England?” The BBC numpty who sent a tweet suggesting Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke was asleep during a Commons debate – when he was leaning close to a speaker because he is partially deaf.

MBE – Mugs of the British Empire: All the pollsters for totally misjudging the mood of the nation – right up to 10pm on election day. At least there’s now someone less trustworthy than our politicians.

Happy New Year everyone, which ever of this bunch you support!

New curbs on legal fees which cost NHS £259m on top of compo pay-outs

By DAVID WOODING

FAT cat lawyers are to be banned from cashing in on NHS blunders by charging sky-high legal fees.

Ministers aim to save £80 million a year by halting rip-off legal bills hospitals are forced to pay on top of compo for botched operations.

More than £2.50 in every tenner paid out goes straight to lawyers – who sometimes pocket more than the negligence victims.

One legal firm slapped in an £80,000 bill for representing a patient who received just £1,000.

In another case, a solicitor charged the NHS £175,000 after helping a patient to win only £11,800.

But new rules being drawn up by the government will end the “excessive” and “extortionate” practice by capping how much lawyers can demand handling low-cost claims.

They will in future only be able to charge a fixed percentage of the damages  of up to £100,000 won by a patient.

The predicted savings will be enough to pay for 1,870 extra nurses, 14,000 hip or knee replacements or 112,000 cataract ops.

Health minister Ben Gummer said: “Safe, compassionate care is my upmost priority and to achieve this, the NHS must make sure every penny counts.

Ben Gummer
Ben Gummer

“Unscrupulously, some lawyers have used patient claims to load grossly excessive costs on to the NHS and charge far more than the patient receives in compensation.

“Our one nation approach is about being on the side of hard-working taxpayers and these financial controls will ensure money is pumped back into patient care.”

Last year the NHS paid out £1.2billion in clinical negligence claims, of which £259 million was paid to patients’ lawyers.

Injury claim (Getty)
Injury claim (Getty)

Many firms work on a “no win, no fee” basis raising fears that “claims farmers” are encouraging more patients to sue.

Mr Gummer vowed that any savings from the new cap would go straight back into frontline NHS care, along with the £2billion budget increase for this year.

Emma Hallinan, of the  Medical Protection Society, said: “It’s great that the government is tackling this important issue. A new approach is desperately needed.

“We have been calling for a fixed cost regime to help address the rising cost of clinical negligence and it is fantastic to see that the government plans to cap excessive legal fees that are placing such a burden on the public purse.”

Yvette Cooper: I’ll be nobody’s puppet

YVETTE Cooper has told hubby Ed Balls that SHE wears the trousers now as shesteps up her bid to become Labour’s first woman leader.

She insists her other half – between jobs after losing his seat – won’t be pulling the strings from home if she wins.

Mum-of-three Ms Cooper declared: “I won’t be anyone’s puppet. I can think for myself.

“I have my own ideas, my own vision and if I am lucky enough to be elected leader I will be entirely my own person.”

In an exclusive interview, she told how she aims to “smash the glass ceiling” and land the job her husband failed to secure five years ago.

Ms Cooper, 46, believes there has never been a better time for the party of women’s rights to hand the crown to a woman.

And she admits her first task must be to win back millions of voters – including Sun readers – who deserted them on May 7.

Feisty Mrs Cooper, 46, believes she is caring, experienced and tough enough to lead her stricken party back into power – and can do it without Ed’s help.

She pointed at a photo-mosaic portrait of Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, created from tiny photos of famous women, on the wall of her Commons office.

“Remember what they said about her 100 years ago?” she asked. “They said married women shouldn’t be allowed to vote because they would do what their husbands told them.

“Well, here’s a surprise. Women have ideas of their own. They can think for themselves. And that’s what I will do if I become leader.

“I’ll always be my own person. I’ll stand up for women and men across the country who want to do their own thing, have their own ideas and get on.

“Yes, that will mean challenging prejudice, sexism and different kinds of attitudes. But I think we can smash the glass ceiling, do things in a different way and shake up the system.

“But we can do it in a way that includes everybody and makes everybody feel part of this rather than just turning people away.”

Unlike her husband, the former shadow chancellor, smart, elfin-faced Ms Cooper is free of toxic links to ex-PM Gordon Brown.

The comprehensive schooled daughter of a union chief was a twenty-something when she became an MP in Tony Blair’s landslide victory of 1997.

Eighteen years on, the “Blair’s Babe” has come of age and says she’s ready to make history herself.

She vowed to break up the old boys’ club that rules Westminster and put the family back at the heart of politics – with policies she dreams up at the school gates.

Ms Cooper said: “Politicians should go to where people are and not just expect them to come to Westminster.

“Instead of having meeting public meetings or waiting for constituents to turn up at my surgeries, I just go and stand at the school gates, talk to other mums and dads, hand out a few leaflets and chat to parents and grandparents, often, as well.

“Many people come up with problems they are having, maybe about housing, work or something in the town. But you have to chat at the school gates.

Labour grew too narrow in its appeal under Ed Miliband, she says, offering only sticking plaster solutions to problems instead of big visions for the future.

The shadow home secretary added: “Our party needs a strong sense of direction. We have to include as many people as possible .

“I want to have everybody to feel they can be proud to support the Labour party and for us to feel proud to support them in their lives.

“We need to put families at the heart of our politics. As a mum, I feel very strongly about that because my family, my kids are the most important thing in my life.

“That has to be reflected in what we do. We were just too narrow and we’ve got to reach out and rebuild and that means winning back voters we lost to Ukip, the Tories and the SNP.

“We’ve got to be able to do it across the whole country – Scotland, England, Wales, north, south, big cities, small towns, tiny communities.

“What the SNP is doing is dividing us. I care just as much about kids growing up in poverty in Lanarkshire as in Leeds or London. Wherever you live, we should be supporting each other.

“I want us all to have a sense of coming together. So yes, that does mean that the Labour party has to rebuild, it has to change and it has to reach outward.

“Sun readers are incredibly important because it’s about letting everybody across the country know that Labour is supporting their ambitions in life.

“They all share a common desire – to improve their living standards and feel confident about their kids’ future.

“We’ve got to show practical things we can do to help families get on, to know their kids can get an apprenticeship, have a good start in life and go to university.

“They need to know that not only will there be good jobs in the future but that they’ll be able to climb the career ladder and get on.”

Yvette Cooper talks to David Wooding

Yvette Cooper talks to David Wooding

Sitting in her office, overlooking Parliament Square the Ms Cooper expressed dismay at Labour MPs who say it will take 10 years to put the party on its feet – and insists under her leadership it can be ready for power in 2020.

She said: “With me as leader, I’m determined we can win at the next election. We can do that by reaching out to as many people as possible. “

Ms Cooper believes being a working mum gives her the edge, added: “Support for families is not just about childcare. It is really important but we have to support families and understand the things parents worry about for the future.

“I’ve always been a big supporter of SureStart centres, which are about health and parenting support. They’re about mums getting to know each other so they’re not isolated. It’s broader and if you see it.”

Ms Cooper admits she faces a tough battle to finish ahead of rivals Andy Burnham, Liz Kendall and Jeremy Corbyn when the new leader is picked in September.

But she believes she can unite the party and added: “We have to drop the old labels of left and right, Blair and Brown.

“My family are from the northern coalfield towns. Dad was a trade union official, my grandfather a miner and my mum a maths teacher.

“For me politics has always been about giving everyone a fair chance in life – whatever their background.”

Is she tough enough to be PM?

“Experience matters, “ she said, “and it’s made me strong enough to deal with it. I’m really up for this.

“We’ve had over 100 years of fighting for women’s equality in the Labour party – ever since the Suffragettes.

“Today 43 per cent of our MPs are female, which is more than double the Conservatives, and electing a woman leader is long overdue.

“So I think it is time we smashed that one last glass ceiling in our party. We have the chance to shake up the Westminster old boys’ club and do things differently and that’s what I’m going to be fighting for.”

ED Balls has been a perfect “house husband” since he lost his seat on May 7.

The former shadow chancellor is developing his domestic skills – and serving up tasty meals for his young family.

Ms Cooper said: “When we first moved in together, I used to do all the cooking. But then he had a go and he’s really into it.

“Now he’s doing all the cooking. He can do all kinds of things. He likes barbecue dishes particularly but is expanding his repertoire a bit recently.”

There were tears when Mr Balls was voted out in one of the biggest shocks of election night and he’s taking a break before deciding what to do next.

His wife added: “He’s spending a lot of time answering emails. He’s received lots of supportive messages, including from the Tories and people who liked the speech he gave on the night.”

She was a football widow again as Ed went to Wembley to watch his beloved Norwich City clinch promotion to the Premiership after defeating Middlesbrough in the play-off final.

But she had her way a couple of nights before when the family gathered around the TV to watch the Eurovision song contest.

“I really like Eurovision,” she said.

In their spare time they watch boxed sets of series including Friday Night Lights and Nashville.

Ms Cooper manages to juggle motherhood with being a top politician.

But the biggest demand on her time is being family “taxi driver” for Ellie, 15, Joel, 13, and Maddy, 10.

“I feel I spend most of my time being a cab service for the kids,” she joked.

“On the night of the election debate we had two of them in a school performance so we went to watch.

“I came out and all these calls, texts and emails flooded in. I was looking at my phone trying to catch up what was going on as I walked along and bumped into a lamp post.

“But I wouldn’t change anything because being with the kids are such precious times.

FOREIGN visitors should be charged a £10 visa waiver fee to pay for extra border controls, Ms Cooper says.

She thinks net immigration could be cut if everyone was counted in and out of the country.

British tourists who travel to the USA and some non-EU countries have to pay to register their details online – but it’s free for those coming here.

Ms Cooper said: “Why not have the same system of charges that other countries have so we could raise enough money for a thousand extra border staff.

“Let’s have strong enforcement but make sure the staff are in place to do the job – and taxpayers don’t have to foot the bill.”

She admitted the last Labour government got it wrong by not demanding transitional controls for Eastern European migrants.

Immigration should be controlled and managed so that it’s fair, she said.

Under her leadership, Labour would stop undercutting of wages by migrants but ensure those who want to create jobs are given help to do so.

CHILDREN should be taught computer coding at school to get them ready for jobs of the future, Yvette Cooper says.

She believes all kids should learn how to create websites and apps to help get Britain back on track in the modern world.

Ms Cooper says it is now as important a skill as learning the three Rs and vowed that a government led by her would make it compulsory.

“It’s vital we catch up in the skills race,” she said. “People want to know their kids have the best chance in life once they leave school.

“Where are the digital jobs going to be? What chance are they going to have? Are we making sure that all our children learn coding at school?

“So many of the jobs of the future are going to depend on internet and digital and yet 95 per cent of the coding is done by men.

“We want people from all walks of life and from every back ground to have the chance of the best jobs in the future.”

LABOUR was slow off the mark to reform the benefits system last the party was in power, Yvette Cooper admits.

She says work must pay and it is important that people pay into the system when they can.

But she stressed: “We have to make sure that people who are suffering from serious disabilities also get the support that they need as well.” Ms Cooper says Labour was right to focus on getting young people into work when it first won power in 1997.

However, she added: “We were slow to start the incapacity benefit reforms.

“It took a long time to then start changing the systems around incapacity  benefits and making sure there were proper systems in place. We should have done more and acknowledged that things like childcare are really important, too.

“Childcare costs have soared through the roof and families feel really stretched. You have stay at home mums feeling guilty staying at home, mums at work feeling guilty for going out to work, and everyone feeling under pressure. I want to do more to support all families.”

Yvette in brief…

1969: Born in Inverness to trade union official Tony and maths teacher June.

1990: Researcher for Labour MP John Smith.

1992: Adviser to Bill Clinton in the US.

1997: Wins safe seat of Pontefract and Castleford.

1998: Weds Ed Balls.

2007: Lands her first ministerial job – housing

2008 Promoted to Cabinet as Chief Treasury Secretary.

2011: Appointed Shadow Home Secretary.

2015: Launches leadership bid

Labour “rebel” with a cause

INTERVIEW by DAVID WOODING

WANNABE Labour leader Liz Kendall told yesterday of her lifelong “rebel” streak which she hopes will propel her party back into power.

The feisty MP admits she’s a born agitator – making her well qualified to break up the old guard standing in the way of change.

Despite being a new face to most voters, she says that makes her the only “sure bet” to put Labour on the path to government again.

Unlike her two main rivals – Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper – Ms Kendall has never held a Cabinet post.

But she’s been “leading from the front” since she was made head girl at pop star Geri Halliwell’s old school, Watford Grammar.

“I always thought myself as a bit of a rebel,” she declared. “So when they pinned the badge on me I couldn’t believe it.

“On the first day, I had full make-up on and the headmistress called me in and said ‘You’ve got to wipe all that off your face’. I remember thinking I don’t want to do this.

“But being head girl gave me an early taste of responsibility. I relish it and never shirk it. I don’t know why but I’ve always liked leading from the front.”

Ms Kendall, 44, also ran after-school sports clubs and societies and also captained the ladies’ football team at Queens’College, Cambridge.

She said: “I wasn’t particularly great on the pitch but I loved getting people together, building a team, going out to win.

“People want a strong leader. They want someone who listens, debates, decides and then leads from the front.

“I often look at great sportsmen and women and if you saw what happened in the Olympics, all of those gold medal winners always thanked the team. They said it wasn’t just them.

“That’s as true in politics as it is in sport. You need a team player who is able to point their side in the right direction and take everyone with them.

“I think I’m a sure bet because I’m the candidate who is going to change the party so we can win to change the country.”

Ms Kendall, 44, says Labour must wake up to the “catastrophic” scale of its election defeat before it accepts the scale of the changes needed to win again.

Picture 173100685 11/06/2015 at 16:40   Owner : Sun Private Pictures PIC JON BOND. 11.06.2015 LIZ KENDALL MP. SHE IS LABOUR LEADERSHIP CONTENDER INTERVIEWED AND PICTURED AT PORTCULLIS HOUSE IN WESTMINSTER WITH SUNDAY SUN POLITICAL EDITOR DAVE WOODING

Liz Kendall talks to David Wooding

She said: “We need profound change, to put it mildly. A change of face and a bit of tweaking won’t be enough to win back voters who left us for Ukip, the SNP and Tories.

“So we need to turn the page and have a fresh start – and I’m the only person who can do that.”

Fitness fanatic Ms Kendall, who does four 45-minute runs a week, believes her boundless energy and modern thinking will overcome her lack of experience at top level.

“It’s not about the jobs you’ve done in the past,” she said. “It’s about understanding how our country has changed and what people want to get a better life for themselves and their families.

“The painful truth is people didn’t trust us on the economy or with their taxes and we didn’t have a positive vision for a better life that everyone could feel part of.

“It’s their money, not ours. They are busting a gut every week to earn a living and it’s their hard-earned taxes we are spending. So we have got to be more careful with their money and get the best out of every penny we spend.

“We shouldn’t be spending more on servicing our debt than on educating our children. We should be investing in things that really matter for people

“It helps to be a new face but we also have to have a new argument.”

She blasts Ed Miliband’s failed election campaign for being too narrow in its appeal.

He talked a lot about “one nation” but then failed to follow it through by focussing on a single social group.

Ms Kendal said: “I care passionately about people who are struggling but we have got to have a vision of a better life for everybody.

“If you weren’t on a zero-hours contract or the minimum wage or if you own your own home, we didn’t have anything to say. We want to be a government for the whole country and that means having a much broader message to people.”

Ms Kendall’s parents typify the sort of aspirational voters she believes her party needs to win back. Her mum was a primary school teacher while her dad, who left school at 16, studied for finance exams while working at the Bank of England.

Turning on her opponents, she added: “We need big, big changes and I’m the only candidate offering that.

“We don’t want ten more years of opposition. We want five years to set out a better vision and win in 2020.”

Dark-haired Ms Kendall, a svelte size eight, admits her personal life has been a little chaotic since she became MP for Leicester West in 2010.

Her current crisis is the “random splodge” on the white jacket she is wearing for our interview.

“It probably happened on the bus,” she said before asking an aide to dash to collect a pink M&S replacement from her flat.

“I showed my mum the jacket and she just went ‘Tut, tut. It will never last.’

“She was right. It’ll teach me never to wear white again. Other things I have to think about is not having any milk in the fridge . I’ve also run out of toothpaste.

“But like most people I know what comes in and out of my bank account. I know what I pay for and what it costs for what I buy. But I am not going to pretend I buy things that I don’t. People lead different lives.”

Ms Kendall recently ended an eight-year relationship with comedian and Inbetweeners star Greg Davies.

She is coy about discussing the break-up, adding: “He’s still a good friend and he makes me laugh. I thought the Inbetweeners was hysterical, properly funny and tapped into.”

Would she stand more chance of winning if she had a family?

“I’ve got a family,” she retorts. “Families come in lots of different shapes and sizes and I spend a lot of time – not as much as I’d like – with my nieces.

“They’re aged five and eight and they love Irish dancing and put in so much effort and energy. I danced a lot when I was younger. I love it and know how much you have to work at it.

“I went to see them in a concert. They did a funky 80s neon legwarmer version and they were out there, giving it their all, confident, in front of all these people and I felt very proud.”

The shadow care minister also has a wide circle of friends outside the Westminster “bubble”, which helps her to keep a foot in the real world.

“I try and stay as normal as possible,” she says. “If I don’t, my friends will tell me where to get off. Most of them aren’t involved in politics. They do lots of other things and that helps me.

“But I am also proud that I’m in politics because it is about changing people’s lives.

“That’s why I’ve thrown my hat in the ring. Because I love my party, I love my country. I think the Tories are letting the country down. But Labour is, too.

“And we’ve got to change if we are going to convince people to trust us to govern again.”

LIZ on SCHOOLS

Toddlers would get an early-step on the learning ladder if Liz Kendall becomes PM.

She wants pre-school education to be given equal status to primary and secondary schools.

Ms Kendall said: “My parents taught me education was my ticket to better life but sadly the labour party has stopped talking about education and forgotten what it’s for.

“We’ve got to start really young.  Kids in my constituency start school 15 months behind where they should be in their development and then play catch up for the rest of their lives. That’s my big thing on education. Start young.”

LIZ on JOBS

THE world of work has changed dramatically, she says, and so must Labour’s attitude to jobs.

“We’ve got to be a high-skill, high-wage economy in every part of the country,” she added. “We need a modern industrial strategy right across the country.

“The world is changing, work is changing and we’ve got to change and so have the unions. Women are working full time, part time, in all different sorts of sectors.”

Only 14 per cent of private sector workers now belong to a union and 15 per cent of Britain’s workforce is self-employed.

Ms Kendall said: “We’re Labour, the party of work, but we can be pro-business and pro-worker.

“Great companies know they do better if their employees have good skills. And good union leaders know that if businesses make profits, thrive, grow and expand, their members will do better, too.”

LIZ on EUROPE

LIZ Kendall was first of the leadership candidates to say she was in favour of an in-out referendum.

She said: “It was a mistake not to have done so before the election. Europe has got to change.

“We have to have the courage of our convictions, go out and make the case.  I am very strong on Britain staying part of Europe because I believe it is vital for jobs and investment.”

LIZ’S SCHOOLDAYS

SPICE Girl Geri Halliwell went to the same school as Ms Kendal – in the year below.

She remembers her well and spotted her as a rising star at a talent contest at Watford Grammar School, Herts.

Ms Kendal said: “I remember thinking, God, she is giving it her all.

“She was making the very best she could and was full of guts, passion and energy.”

She added: “I didn’t know her really well. But I couldn’t help but notice her. I remember spotting her for the first time and thinking ‘Wow!’”

LIZ’S PACKED LUNCH

LIZ Kendall never pulls her punches – and socked it to a phantom fridge raider who swiped her packed lunch.

She was stunned to find her tuna sandwich missing when she went to pick it up one day soon after landing her frontbench job.

So she left a hand-written note on the communal fridge door in a Commons corridor.

It said: “Someone has stolen my lunch from this fridge. I do not appreciate this and warn other people don’t leave anything in her unless you’re happy for it to go missing.”

But next day, a riposte appeared on a bright yellow sticky note: “I took it…AND I’D DO IT AGAIN.”

Later, a third message was added, reading: “YOU ARE A VERY SICK INDIVIDUAL.”

Ms Kendal said: “I bought a sandwich and a salad at a supermarket and put the bag containing them in the fridge.

“They only took one thing out so it wasn’t as if they nicked the whole bag. So I wrote a note warning other MPs on this corridor. Then someone wrote another little note saying they’d do it again, so it was quite funny. But I didn’t write the third note.”

My general election playlist

By DAVID WOODING

POLITICIANS of all shades are busy drawing up their playlists of music to stir them up for the final hours of election day campaigning.

Often they make the mistake of picking popular tunes with a title or lyric that matches their beliefs – such as Revolution by The Beatles or David Bowie’s Changes.

So I’ve drawn up a playlist of REAL music that will definitely “pump you up”, as David Cameron might say. Or “hell, yes,” if your name is Ed. And each piece I have chosen has a political twist.

First up is Glinka’s popular overture Russlan and Ludmilla – the lively opening of which was used by the Liberal Democrats in a party election broadcast during Paddy Ashdown’s leadership.

Next comes the stirring slow theme from the last movement of Brahms’s first symphony. This was borrowed by Labour to fire up Neil Kinnock’s campaign in the 1980s. Sadly for him, it didn’t strike a chord with the voters. And worse, he had it playing on his in-car hi-fi when he was involved in a crash.

We follow that with a double delight from two of England’s greatest composers. Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the orchestra, which uses a theme by Henry Purcell. Michael Howard adopted this as his election tune when he took on the might of Tony Blair, but it didn’t do the trick for him. Bit of a theme developing here, I fear. But all still good stirring music, so don’t give up.

Never have politicians interfered in the genius of composers more than in Soviet Russia. It is a miracle that Shostakovich managed to produce such brilliant works while being persecuted by Stalin. The Gadfly is marvellous collection of shorter pieces written as film music and will really get you in the mood – whether you’re a hard-line Red or, like the maestro, an opponent.

Perhaps the most powerful political work of all is Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio. It is about freedom. The opera tells how Leonora, disguised as a prison guard named “Fidelio“, rescues her husband Florestan from death in a political prison. Beethoven wrote four overtures to this masterpiece. My favourite is Leonora No 3.

North of the border, Scottish voters may enjoy a little bit of nationalist music before they decide…and there’s none better than the overture Land of Mountain and Flood by Hamish MacCunn.

Over to Wales, I’ve opted for the land of song’s well-known composer Ivor Novello, who’s real name was David Davies! He ventured from popular music to write a lovely serious piece called…Rose of England.

Finally, there was no greater socialist on the British music scene than Ralph Vaughan Williams, who showed today’s politicians of the same colour a thing or two by turning down a knighthood. Thank you for your wonderful music plain old Mr Vaughan Williams. Here’s part of his quintessentially English sixth symphony.

Have a good campaign, whoever you support. Use these wonderful sounds to stir your passions but please keep politics out of our music!