By Craig Woodhouse, Press Association Political Staff
Here is the full transcript of the exchange between Gordon Brown and Gillian Duffy
Gillian Duffy: My family have voted Labour all their lives.
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Gordon Brown: Now you mustn’t be, because what have we done? We’ve improved the health service, we’re financing more police, neighbourhood policing, we are getting better schools, and we are coming through a very, very difficult world recession. You know what my views are. I’m for fairness, for hard-working families. I want to make sure - I’ve told these guys across there - if you commit a crime you’re going to be punished. You better stop.
Gillian Duffy: I don’t think it’s happening in Rochdale...
Gordon Brown: We have a bit more policing than there were but obviously we are going to do better in the future with neighbourhood policing, but neighbourhood policing is the key to it. You’re a very good woman, you’ve served your community all your life.
Gillian Duffy: I have, I’ve worked for the Rochdale council for 30 years, and I worked with children and handicapped children.
Gordon Brown: Well I think working with children is so important, so important isn’t it. Have you been in some of the children’s centres?
Gillian Duffy: The thing that I can’t understand is why am I still being taxed at 66 years old because my husband’s died and I had some of his pension tagged on to mine?
Gordon Brown: Well we are raising the threshold at which people start paying tax as pensioners. But yes, if you’ve got an occupational pension you may have to pay some tax but you may be eligible for the pension credit as well, you should check.
Gillian Duffy: No, no I’m not. I’ve checked and checked and they said no, they can’t do it.
Gordon Brown: Well you should look at it again just to be sure, absolutely sure.
Gillian Duffy: Yes, yes they’ve told me. I’ve been down to Rochdale council to try and get it off my tax.
Gordon Brown: You know we’re linking the pension to earnings in two years’ time, we’ve got the winter allowance as you know which I hope is a benefit, the winter allowance.
Gillian Duffy: I agree with that, it’s very good, but every year I talk to people my age and they say they’ll be knocking it off, it will be going. It will be.
Gordon Brown: We’re keeping it. We have done the bus passes, we have done the free eye tests, free prescriptions.
Gillian Duffy: But how are you going to get us out of all this debt Gordon?
Gordon Brown: Because we have got a deficit reduction plan to cut the debt in half over the next four years. We’ve got the plans, they’ve been set out today. Look I was a person who came in...
Gillian Duffy: The three main things what I had drummed in when I was a child was education, health service and looking after people who are vulnerable. But there’s too many people now who aren’t vulnerable but they can claim, and people who are vulnerable can’t claim, can’t get it.
Gordon Brown: But they shouldn’t be doing that, there is no life on the dole for people any more. If you are unemployed you’ve got to go back to work. It’s six months...
Gillian Duffy: You can’t say anything about the immigrants because you’re saying that you’re... but all these eastern Europeans what are coming in, where are they flocking from?
Gordon Brown: A million people have come from Europe but a million British people have gone into Europe. You do know that there’s a lot of British people staying in Europe as well. Look, come back to what were your initial principles: helping people - that’s what we’re in the business of doing. A decent health service, that’s really important, and education. Now these are the things that we have tried to do. We’re going to maintain the schools so that we can make sure that people have that chance to get on. We’re going to maintain the health service so that...
Gillian Duffy: And what are you going to do about students who are coming in then, all this that you have to pay, you’ve scrapped that Gordon.
Gordon Brown: Which one?
Gillian Duffy: To help people who go to university.
Gordon Brown: Tuition fees?
Gillian Duffy: Yes.
Gordon Brown: Yeah but look we’ve got...
Gillian Duffy: I’m thinking about my grandchildren here. What will they have to pay to get into university?
Gordon Brown: You’ve got 40% of young people now going to university, more than ever, so you’ve got to have some balance. If you get a degree and you earn twice as much after you get the degree then you’ve got to pay something back as a contribution. But there are grants for your grandchildren, there are grants, more grants than ever before. You know more young people are going to university than ever before, and for the first year the majority of people going to university are women - so there’s big opportunities for women. So education, health and helping people, that’s what I’m about. That’s what I’m about.
Gillian Duffy: Well congratulations, and I hope you can keep it up.
Gordon Brown: It’s been very good to meet you, and you’re wearing the right colour today. How many grandchildren so you have?
Gillian Duffy: Two. They’ve just come back from Australia where they’ve been stuck for nine, 10 days with this ash crisis.
Gordon Brown: But they got through now? Yeah we’ve been trying to get people back quickly. But are they going to go to university? That’s the plan?
Gillian Duffy: I hope so. They’re only 12 and 10.
Gordon Brown: Oh they’re only 12 and 10. But they’re doing well at school?
Gillian Duffy: Yeah yeah, very good.
Gordon Brown: A good family. Good to see you.
Gillian Duffy: Yeah. And the education system in Rochdale - I will congratulate it.
Gordon Brown: Good. And it’s very nice to see you. Take care. Good to see you all. Thanks very much.
Gordon Brown gets in car.
Gordon Brown: That was a disaster...should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that?
Aide: I don’t know, I didn’t see her.
Gordon Brown: Sue’s I think. Just ridiculous.
Aide: Not sure that they’ll go with that one.
Gordon Brown: They will go with that one.
Aide: What did she say?
Mr Brown: Everything, she was just a sort of bigoted woman who said she used to be Labour.