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Watson and Doctor Who team up in Labour's first party political broadcast

Martin Freeman, the star of The Hobbit and Sherlock, endorses Labour in the party's first party political broadcast.

Martin Freeman is the star of Labour's first party political broadcast, which airs tomorrow night on BBC Two at 5.55pm, ITV at 6.25pm and BBC One at 6.55pm. The ad also features the talents of David Tennant, star of Doctor Who and Broadchurch. The full transcript is below:

Hello. Now we are in the run-up to a General Election and over that time you’re going to hear loads of claims from people on the Left, on the Right, all over the place. It’s going to drive you mad. It’ll probably drive me mad but don’t switch off yet. You see, because I think in the end it’s simple; it boils down to a choice between a Labour government or a Conservative one. But it isn’t just a choice between two different plans, two different ways of getting the deficit down. It’s a choice between two completely different sets of values. A choice about what kind of country we want to live in. And I don’t know about you, but my values are about community, compassion, decency; that’s how I was brought up. So yeah, I could tell you the Tories would take us on a rollercoaster of cuts while Labour will make sure the economy works for all of us, not just the privileged few, like me, but it’s not just about that. I could tell you it seems like the Tories don’t believe in the NHS while Labour is passionate about protecting it - among other examples, guaranteeing GP appointments within 48 hours and cancer tests within one week. Guaranteed.

But it’s not even just about that. I could tell you that the Tories have got sod all to offer the young whereas Labour will invest in the next generation’s education and guarantee – that word again – apprenticeships for them. I could tell you that Labour will put the minimum wage up to £8 and ban those horrible zero-hours contracts while the Tories would presumably do more of their tax cutting for millionaires. But, real though all that stuff is and important though it is if you’re young in this country, or broke in this country, or if you’re unwell in this country – and let’s face it we all need the NHS at some point – or if you are just plain working hard and finding life tough, there is a choice of two parts. The bottom line is what values are we choosing, because in the end this choice we make really does matter.

Labour. They start from the right place – community, compassion, fairness – I think all the best things about this country. I love this country so much and I love the people in it, and I think you do too, but really, for me, there’s only one choice; and I choose Labour.”

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics. 

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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Andrea Leadsom as Environment Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

A little over a week into Andrea Leadsom’s new role as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and senior industry figures are already questioning her credentials. A growing list of campaigners have called for her resignation, and even the Cabinet Office implied that her department's responsibilities will be downgraded.

So far, so bad.

The appointment would appear to be something of a consolation prize, coming just days after Leadsom pulled out of the Conservative leadership race and allowed Theresa May to enter No 10 unopposed.

Yet while Leadsom may have been able to twist the truth on her CV in the City, no amount of tampering will improve the agriculture-related side to her record: one barely exists. In fact, recent statements made on the subject have only added to her reputation for vacuous opinion: “It would make so much more sense if those with the big fields do the sheep, and those with the hill farms do the butterflies,” she told an audience assembled for a referendum debate. No matter the livelihoods of thousands of the UK’s hilltop sheep farmers, then? No need for butterflies outside of national parks?

Normally such a lack of experience is unsurprising. The department has gained a reputation as something of a ministerial backwater; a useful place to send problematic colleagues for some sobering time-out.

But these are not normal times.

As Brexit negotiations unfold, Defra will be central to establishing new, domestic policies for UK food and farming; sectors worth around £108bn to the economy and responsible for employing one in eight of the population.

In this context, Leadsom’s appointment seems, at best, a misguided attempt to make the architects of Brexit either live up to their promises or be seen to fail in the attempt.

At worst, May might actually think she is a good fit for the job. Leadsom’s one, water-tight credential – her commitment to opposing restraints on industry – certainly has its upsides for a Prime Minister in need of an alternative to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); a policy responsible for around 40 per cent the entire EU budget.

Why not leave such a daunting task in the hands of someone with an instinct for “abolishing” subsidies  thus freeing up money to spend elsewhere?

As with most things to do with the EU, CAP has some major cons and some equally compelling pros. Take the fact that 80 per cent of CAP aid is paid out to the richest 25 per cent of farmers (most of whom are either landed gentry or vast, industrialised, mega-farmers). But then offset this against the provision of vital lifelines for some of the UK’s most conscientious, local and insecure of food producers.

The NFU told the New Statesman that there are many issues in need of urgent attention; from an improved Basic Payment Scheme, to guarantees for agri-environment funding, and a commitment to the 25-year TB eradication strategy. But that they also hope, above all, “that Mrs Leadsom will champion British food and farming. Our industry has a great story to tell”.

The construction of a new domestic agricultural policy is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Britain to truly decide where its priorities for food and environment lie, as well as to which kind of farmers (as well as which countries) it wants to delegate their delivery.

In the context of so much uncertainty and such great opportunity, Leadsom has a tough job ahead of her. And no amount of “speaking as a mother” will change that.

India Bourke is the New Statesman's editorial assistant.