13/09/2011 Daily Politics


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Afternoon, folks, and welcome to the Daily Politics of. The row over


the government scheme to change its planning policy is hotting up. The


coalition promised to put communities in the driving seat,


critics say the plan could cause irreversible damage to England's


green and pleasant land. Who is right?


Just how united is the United Kingdom? We will take a look at why


the Unionist parties in Scotland are doing so badly. Together, on


Ed Miliband has just made a speech to the TUC, promising to be a


critical friend of the unions. You can hear how much they like his


criticism! We will look at how he did. And they have had their


expenses cut, their pay frozen, and now some of them can lose their


constituencies. We will be speaking to some MPs facing an uncertain


future following the proposed The aim man who knows what it was


like to be a Labour politician who was successful in Scotland, Jack


McConnell. Welcome to the programme. Let's take a look at his leader, Ed


Miliband, who has been addressing Despite being heckled over his


decision not to back strikes for pension reform and his support for


academy schools, Mr Miliband warned the union should not be "the


enemies of change". Of course the right to indust reel action will be


necessary and is important as a As you know better than I do, just


15% of the private sector workforce is represented by trade unions. You


know that you need to change if that is to change. That was Ed


Miliband. He was heckled... His grasp of Education and Grammar...


We will get letters about that. We will send them to the Labour leader.


Now, he was heckled there, perhaps unsurprisingly, because he said it


was a mistake, the strikes in the summer, but Mark Serwotka, the


leader of the public services union, said the speech was a misjudgment.


Was he right? It seems to me that sometimes Labour leaders like to be


heckled at the TUC because it gives them a wider appeal outside that


forum. Was his top language the right language to use? Is it time


to distance himself from the union's first marked from what I


saw, he was probably trying to strike the right tone. He said


there would be times when we would work together and times when we


would disagree, and we would have to live at that. The bigger


challenge on these occasions is to lay out a vision for the country. I


have not seen the whole speech, I am not sure whether he attempt to


that. Arguably, he owes his leadership to the unions. To what


extent is he in their pockets? don't think he is in the pockets of


everybody. Is he not? I think the result last September left him with


a problem in terms of where support from the unions was. He needs to


make sure he is working for the wider appeal and not just returning


to the base, because the base is not big enough to win an election,


and it is not right in principle. But has he got a problem, though?


He may want to distance himself, but does he have the power to


reform the unions? They give 80% 7 -- 87% of donations to the Labour


Party. They can determine the results of the leadership election.


Haven't they got him? I think he probably does. I was surprised when


he managed to secured the change to the Shadow Cabinet elections. I


thought that was quite a brave move, a controversial one, and he


achieved it quite easily. I think a new leader, and he is relatively


new, as a lot of power and momentum. The question is how he will use it.


The challenge is to move on from the record of the last two years


and used it positively to lay out a vision for the future, not to get


stuck in what happened in the past. Thank you. Why we were talking, we


have just heard from the House of Commons that James Murdoch will be


recalled to the Culture Select Committee while they continue his


interrogation. You will remember we carry that live on the Daily


Politics, his appearance with his father. They will have him back a


loan at the lawyer's seemingly contradicted his evidence. -- Be


alone. Could Jack McConnell's period in Scotland be the last time


a Labour politician holds the pose while Scotland is still in the


United Kingdom? Alex Salmond has promised a referendum on


independence, but not quite now, perhaps because most polls show


that an independent vote would be a gamble for the nationalists. Even


so, the SNP's own ratings are well above the union parties, and in a


moment we would get the thoughts of Jack McConnell and Murdo Fraser,


the guy in the running to become the next leader of the Scottish


Conservatives. He is campaigning to wind them up, which is an


interesting way to become leader. But first, here is Adam Fleming.


These Scottish National Party's most recent victory, preventing the


nation's favourite fizzy drink being watered down by the EU when


they considered limits on how much colouring you could put in one


product. The issue of independence is still bubbling away as well.


When Alex Salmond led the SNP to one unprecedented majority in the


elections to the Scottish parliament in May, it became


inevitable that there would be a referendum on whether Scotland


should stay part of the UK. When the referendum happens, the


campaign will be run by this Westminster MP, reckons that


history is on his side. 20 years ago, people said there would not


even the devolution, and then we had a referendum and there was. And


then people said, there is a Scottish parliament, but there will


never be an SNP government, and now there is. People say there will


never be an independence referendum, but there will be. What are the


tastes of the Scottish public? A poll for the Herald found that 39%


agreed with independence, 38% disagree, the first time it has


ever been that way around in this series. Their mind that lead of 1%


is well within the margin of error. -- bear in mind. The nationalists


will not be swapping to champagne just yet, but they are celebrating


that their opponents are losing their fears. Since the election,


the leaders of Labour, the Lib Dems and the Tories in Scotland have all


stood down or announced they are going to, meaning that focus has


been on campaigns for the leadership rather than for a future


referendum. Scotland's only Tory MP, also a Scotland Office minister,


says it is now time to toughen up the message. The Government is


already making the case for the union. We are not neutral on the


issue of Scottish independence, but I think it is clear that we need to


set out more clearly to people in Scotland exactly what the UK


government does in Scottish terms. David Cameron's preferred solution


is the Scotland Bill, currently going through the -- currently


going through Westminster, which would give more tax-raising powers


to Holyrood. Jack McConnell, as you have seen,


is in the studio with as in Westminster, and Murdo Fraser, the


deputy leader of the Conservative Party, he is, by the look of that


Crane, in Glasgow. That is right. How does separating the Scottish


Conservatives from the UK Conservatives make the case against


separatism? Because we need a stronger centre-right Unionist


Party in Scotland, and what we currently have, the reality is that


there are many people and Scotland who share our political values on


issues like enterprise, taxation and law and order and so on, but


they do not on to vote for the Conservative Party, because we have


a huge identity problem. People think we are controlled from London


and we do not but Scotland first. I think the best way to save the


Union is to have a strong centre- right Unionist Party taking on the


SNP and campaigning for Scotland's place in the UK. We have to accept


that the Conservative Party in Scotland has not done that well. I


think it is a disgrace that in the last three general elections, we


have only managed to return one member of parliament to Westminster.


Unless we change drastically, the prospects for the future are not


looking very good. Other than changing a name, what else would


change? First of all, this is not a name change. It is not disbanding


of rebranding. You would still be the Scottish Conservatives?


would, of course have a new name, but we are having a new party, and


we will have a relationship with the UK Conservative Party, in the


same way that the Conservatives in Bavaria have a relationship with


the Christian Democrats in the rest of Germany. We would be Sister


parties. That would allow us to articulate the Scottish interest. I


think the key difference at the heart are the party would be a


belief in devolution and decentralisation of power. In the


past, the Conservative Party was always hostile to devolution. That


has allowed power of bonus to paint us as anti-Scottish, and that has


led to our vote slipping away. We have been champion devolution and


decentralisation as a way to defeat nationalism. You mentioned Bavaria.


Can I point out that Bavaria is the richest part of Germany? It is also


the most right-wing part of Germany, and it is not looking for


independence. What does it have in common with Scotland? Scotland has


many natural resources, as you probably know, and a lot of


industries that are doing pretty well at the moment. It is the most


left-wing part of Britain and per- capita incomes are a percentage of


those in Bavaria. There is no evidence at all that Scotland is


the most left-wing part of Britain. People may vote for parties of the


left, but if you look at social attitudes, people's opinions are


very similar to those in the rest of the UK, and it is a sign of the


failure of the Scottish Conservative Party in recent years


that the only party of the centre- right in Scotland has not been able


to attract the votes are lots of people who share our political


values. That is why we need to change. Do you buy that plan?


think it is interesting, but it is... It may be part of the


solution. Their biggest problems since 1997 is a complete lack of


confidence. I think they have failed, in some ways, similar to


some of the labour difficulties more recently in Scotland, they


have failed to articulate a series of policies that came together as a


centre-right vision for Scotland. I think in many ways both main


parties allowed the nationalists to fill both their spaces by appearing


to be more both Social Democrat and centre-right, because both main


parties were failing to declare a vision for Scotland that was in


that space. To get to fundamentals, isn't it hard for his centre-right


party in Scotland, whatever it is called for its links with the


Conservatives here, it is hard for it to prosper because of the very


devolution settlement that you agreed to? You agreed to a


parliament that spend �30 billion a year and doesn't raise one penny of


that money. It all comes in a grand. I think that makes it very hard for


a centre-right party to get anywhere, because the centre-right


message all over the world is you have to balance tax and spending,


spending and tax. We could have done that anyway. I think the


taxation changes in Scotland will improve that situation and a return


to at least more normal politics, but at any one of the last four


Scottish elections the Scottish Conservatives could have proposed a


cut in income tax and a cut in public expenditure. They were not


brave enough to do it, and they paid a price for that. There is


space for a centre-right party, but they need to fill that space


aggressively. Murdo Fraser, the accent that Jack McConnell has said


the unionist parties have been asleep on the job? -- do you


accept? Will you join with Jack McConnell, who wants to try and put


together a broadly based movement to save the Union? It is essential


we have a broadly based movement to save the Union. That needs to be


across all political parties and reach beyond politics and reach out


to people in the business community and in civic Scotland who share our


view. I am in no doubt about that, and that is something we want to


support broader. As far as his criticism goes, I think the problem


for our party has been, even when we have had good policy ideas that


the public have agreed with, because they have been such a


barrier in their mind to voting for a party with a Conservative


identity, they have not been prepared to listen to what we have


got to say. Changing the party as I propose, setting up a new party is


not a silver bullet, because we are still going to have to have the


right policies and the right personalities and the right


communication and the right message. What it will do for the first time


in probably 20 years in Scotland is it will give as a foot in the dock,


and people might start listening to what we have to say. Unfortunately,


you know, they have not been doing that in recent days. Alex Salmond


will lead the case for independence. Who will be the case for the union?


I think that is still to be determined. There needs to be a


figure of popular appeal, perhaps out with the parties. I think there


is a need to redirect the whole strategy. I think the strategy that


was used in the past by some to try and almost impose a 1950s


Britishness and Scotland failed. Gordon Brown's efforts? I think the


strategy... I'll take that as a yes. The idea of threatening people


economically, although there are big worries about it, it does not


work. We need a positive strategy that actually articulate why


Scotland is a stronger and better place inside the UK. Are you going


to be the next leader of what may be called the Scottish


All I can tell you is since I made my proposal public last weekend, I


have had a tremendous and positive response from members of the party


and perhaps more important, people who are not members of the party,


people interested in coming and joining our new project. If members


of the party have ambition for the future, they will support my


leadership bid. We got the message. Keep us posted. Thank you. Anyone


who's tried to find housing in the last couple of years, particularly


in the south-east of England, won't be surprised to hear that we're in


dire need of more homes. That most people kind of agree on. However


deciding where to build is trickier. The Government is consulting on a


new planning policy which it claims will make the system less


bureaucratic, simpler and so on. But it's got a lot of people hot


under the collar. Jo's got more. Yes, just before the election, the


Conservatives promised a radical reboot, claiming that the planning


system was broken and pledging to put local communities in the


driving seat. The new coalition swept away leb's regional spatial


stratjids, which the previous government used to determine house


building targets. Over the summer, the ministers announced their new


national policy framework, simplified from 1,000 pages to 52,


with the presumption in favour of sustainable development. Opposition


soon mounted from the narblg trust, the RSPB and the Cambaign to


Protect Rural England, who described the proposal and a -- as


a threat tot countryside. Bob Neil said it was a smear campaign by


left-wingers. George Osborne and Eric Pickles pledges to plough on,


saying the current system is an arbitrary break on growth. Let's


speak to Shaun Spiers from the Cambaign to Protect Rural England.


The Government has tried to make clear that what's it's doing is


giving local more power in terms of planning putting them in the


driving seat. Is that wrong? It's not wrong in principle. What


they've come up with is a document which has knighted all developers


in favour of it. Every environmental group I've come


across is deeply alarmed by what they're proposing. Far from putting


local communities in the driving suit this is the state siding with


developers. Do you accept the planning system had to be


simplified and that in the current situation we're in, we have to do


something to promote growth and let planning go through? We certainly


agree that the system should be simplified in principle, theres no


problem with shrinking down from 1,000 pages to 50 and so on.


Clearly we need lots more houses. But the planning system was


delivering 207,000 houses, a net increase of 207,000 houses, in 2008.


The curve was rising. Then the housing slump happened. Same with


growth, you know, strong economies in Europe have strong planning


systems. What the Government is proposing is to move from a German


or Scandinavian style planning system to a grok or Spanish style.


It was on the curve upwards before the slump, now they're trying to


regain the house building an the growth that had started beforehand.


You can see why people would say this is any more byism, they don't


want that sort of growth happening. CPRE has been outspoken in our


support for more affordable rural housing. There's no evidence that


it's the planning system that is holding back house building. The


Government has cut its own social house prog Graeme for reasons we


understand about controlling the deficit, and people aren't buying


and the banks aren't lending. That's why houses aren't being


built. Shaun Spiers, thank you. We're joined bit planning minister,


Greg Clark. Welcome tot Daily Politics. The Government has said


that local people will be in the driving seat with this new set of


planning proposals, but it also says "That local authorities should


approve all individual proposal wherever possible". If you read on,


it says if there isn't a local plan, the local plan must be sovereign,


if there isn't a local plan you should have a means of deciding.


Any development that is prose -- proposed has to be sustainable. It


can build on the green belt. It has time prove the design standards.


the green belt will remain as sacrosanct after the chaifrpgz as


it is now? It's strengthened. At the moment the regional strategies


which we are getting rid of, impose reviews to delete or adjust some of


these green belts. We're taking that threat away and giving a new


protection that communities will have to designate green space that


they value within towns and cities, so that they'll be able to protect


them for the future. It's really important that the planning system


should be unchanged in its commitment to protect the ordinary


space that's we value. In your draft here, the words are all in


favour of development, I mean it's planning, presumption in favour of


development, you add the word sustainable, because every


politician does these days. Local plans, you need to respond to rapid


shifts in demand. You need to approve development proposal that


accord with statutory plans. Grant permission where the plan is absent,


silent or indeterminate. It weighs things in favour of development.


don't think it does. It sets out the conditions that have to apply


if you have that presumption. They say you can't damage the green belt.


You must promote higher standards of design and can't damage town


centres. There's a whole list of problems that could present


themselves for which the planning system, as it always has done, is


there to stop happening. We all agree that we need a simpler


planning system. If you have 1300 pages, only the specialists then


can get a handle on it. We're trying to, by getting rid of the


imposition, give power to local people, but to do that you need it


make it intelligible to people. Have you urged property developers


to lobby the Prime Minister on this? I've said to anyone who


speaks to me that they should make their views known. This is a debate.


It's good that we're having a debate. If you had 1300 pages of


planning policy, it's very difficult for people to have a


debate. You've urged the British Property Federation to lobbery.


Prime Minister on this? No I haven't. Can I quote the theme from


their policy officer, Greg Clark and his officials are deeply


concerned that the level of opposition provoked, worried that


Number Ten might be spooked by this mobilisation of Middle England and


do a U-turn like forestry. I've never had any concern about that.


Why did she write that? I don't know. The whole Government has said


in its manifesto and before that it's really important that we start


to unlock the planning system, to be able to build the homes we need.


If you have a situation in which the first-time buyer, without


parental support is now in their late 30s, we're taking from the


next generation the opportunities that my generation and your


generation had to own a home in which to bring up a family. We


agree, Shaun Spiers and I had a conversation a few days ago, we


agree the system needs to be simplified. I think it's important


that we reassert that the fundamental purpose of the planning


system to balance growth with the protection for our natural and


historic environment is not going to change. That is there in black


and white. Can you see why people are nervous when someone like John


Rhodes says "It's not meant to be the opportunity for communities to


resist development. It's meant to be part of a strategy which


encourages greater development." So much for localism. Our analysis is


if you impose on people from above, this raises their hackles and


people, quite rightly, impose the imposition of hundreds of identicut


homes in which they have no say. If you trust local people to assess


what they need, design the homes in collaboration with the local


community, I I you can get tot situation we all want to see in


which communities are providing homes for the future but doing so


in a way that enhances the local environment. When I used to travel


around Scotland, planning was a huge issue. Businesses felt they


couldn't get the proper planning permissions. You did something


about that. Interestingly we did it pretty much with all-party


agreement. Within the last six months or so as mine time as First


Minister in 2007, we passed new laws, then the Nationalist


government then enacted them and pursued the regulations, broadly


with all-party support. The main objective was to speed up decision


making, not just to deal with some of the issues around how many


regulations there were, but actually how efficient were the


local planning departments. My experience, one of the biggest


problems for everybody, both local people and businesses, is the


bureaucracy and lack of speed when making decisions. If we get the


overall framework right, I think the Government is not necessarily


way off the mark here, then that's one thing. Actually making the


whole system more efficient seems to be absolutely key. And if you


get your new planning proposals and development is agreed under these


new proposals, we will not see the hypocritical spectacle of Cabinet


ministers opposing development in their own constituencys. It's


always reasonable to oppose bad verplt. I covered that. If you go


through all this, if they oppose development in their own backyard.


The decision will be made bit local Council. That's how it should have


been over the last few years. shall watch with interest. Greg


Clark, thank you for coming in today.


It's a tough time to be an MP. Yesterday the Boundary Commission


proposed a shake up of Britain's electoral map, the plan is to cut


the number of MPs, equalise the Parliamentary constituencies and


end Labour's built-in advantage. So far we've had the plans for England


and Northern Ireland. Scotland and Wales come later. They seem to have


worried MPs of all parties. Who is facing the biggest upset? From the


Conservatives, Ken Clarke and Iain Duncan Smith face the most


disruption. For the Liberal Democrats, senior figures including


Chris Huhne and Vince Cable will have to win redrawn seats. Labour


faces the biggest upheaval with Ed Balls and Andy Burnham looking


vulnerable. I'm joined from central lobby by two new MPs expecting a


big change in their parts of the country, Andrew Percy from the


Conservatives and Alison McGovern for Labour. Thanks for joining us


on the programme. How likely is it that you could lose, you'll lose


your constituency and you'll have to fight for your seat? My seat


will be divided up three ways on the first maps. In the past when


they've done boundary reviews do change. I've been in a situation


where my constituency goes three ways. It could leave me looking for


one of those three or without a seat. You could be looking for a


new job? Very well. If you know of anything going, let me know.


will! I suppose one thooz ask, why did you support the proposal in the


first place snfrplt I did and I didn't. The principle is right of


reducing down the number of MPs. We do have a very heavily numbered


legislature in this country. We have big variation. The principle


is right. You can argue whether or not we should have put the Boundary


Commission in quite it strait jacket we have. It is about


fairness isn't it, it's about having more similar sized


constituencies with votes having more equal weighting. You can't


disagree, can you? The problem with this billuals set from the very


start, as Andrew was saying, with the strait jacket on the Boundary


Commission in terms of numbers. No regard is being taken of


communities in my constituency now who are going to be faced with


being represented by an MP with a huge constituency, place that's


take 90 minutes to drive to. So it's really some of the options


that has been thrown up yesterday are unsustainable in terms of the


tradition with the constituency link. That's why people are as


cross as they are about it. Briefly, across the country people would


think 50 fewer seats is a good thing. It costs less. Interestingly,


we have got lots more members of the House of Lords, there's a


disparity with what's going on in Parliament. I think the thing that


people are really cross about is the inability of the Boundary


Commission to take care of local community links. That's what the


debate will be about. I have to stop you there. Thank you both.


That's it for today. Special thanks to Jack McConnell for being our


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