29/04/2013 Daily Politics


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How would you characterise the atmosphere during the local


elections? Has it been pretty nasty between the Tories and the Lib


Dems? A week are in coalition at a national level but locally we are


fighting to win. There is a particular focus on Somerset and


Cornwall. -- we are in coalition. Leicestershire County Council, the


former leader spent �200,000 on a chauffeur or �64,000 on a new


office and a new private toilet while still making redundancies. We


will be fighting on those issues that a national level. That will


hurt, weren't it? The former leader is no longer a Conservative


candidate. Somerset County Council froze its council tax for three


years where we saw it doubling under the Labour government. We are


in coalition nationally to sort at the economic mess we inherited. We


are not in coalition at local level. The problem for the Liberal


Democrats is people used to vote Liberal Democrat to stop the Tories


getting into power. That is no longer an option. You will lose a


considerable number of votes and seats, probably to Labour, possibly


to UKIP, and also the Tories. people who were layback inclined


voted Liberal Democrat, they did stop a Conservative Member of


Parliament or Councillor getting elected. The 500 jobs I spoke about


earlier have been created in Eastbourne. And the issue of


libraries. They are totemic. Not a single Ibn -- Liberal Democrat


authority has closed a library. overriding feeling that people used


to vote Liberal Democrat to stop the Tories getting into power, that


has gone. I do not think that is the case. I think they voted


Liberal Democrat because we deal with the pot holes. Conservative


county councils do not do that. Labour needs to win seats in the


south. That is the big challenge for Labour. They should make gains


from the Conservatives and from the Liberal Democrats. Unless the party


can show it can win in counties like Kent, Hertfordshire and


Bedfordshire, they will never break through again. I accept that. We're


working hard to make gains across the south of England. How many


games? In excess of 100 extra seats would be a very good result for us.


We are talking about Somerset. All those Lib Dem MPs and Tories around


the South West as well. Long-term youth unemployment has gone up 570


% in Somerset alone. We are seeing trying to run away at local level


from the national record. We're going to challenge them on this.


couple of hundred seats would be good. Surely it would have to be


more than 354 Ed Miliband to say, we are back. We need to demonstrate


real progress. What is that? These local elections are critical in


terms of barometer of the coalition but whether voters have decided


that could put their confidence in them. You have to estimate the


national percentage on that. There is a health warning on that. We


will make real progress, not just in the south but the Midlands as


well, in areas that we turned Conservative Members of Parliament


and Lib Dem MPs. -- that returned. They are determined to take the one


nation message out that and they are determined to hold the Lib Dems


and Tories to account for lamentable failure on issues like


failings in the south-west. Tories are genuinely worried about


UKIP and also Labour on the other side because you can only go down


from here because you had such good results in 2009. More than 300


seats, a disaster? I am not going to put an exact qualification on it.


It would depend on particular impacts at local level. The won


councils and seats we have not won for 40 years. -- we won. You would


expect us to use a significant number of seats. Would over 300 be


a disaster? We could lose more than that. Let's see how it plays out on


the day. I think they will have a good fight in lots of areas like


Lancashire, cutting council tax by 4%. We have a good local record. We


would expect to take some losses. I hope I am proved wrong. We are


being sensible. And the position of David Cameron if it is more than


300 losses? The Conservative Party is united behind David Cameron and


we are fighting hard to save money for working families. Parliament


may have prorogued, but many hardworking hacks are still there,


keeping an eye on the place. And, luckily, we have got two of them to


give us their take on the local elections - Laura Pitel from the


Times and the Independent's Oliver Wright. Who do you think will be


the big losers in these elections? Probably the Tories. What we in


Westminster are keeping an eye aunt is the UKIP fate. The big test will


not just be, how many seats they will cut but the share of the vote.


There will be trouble in store for the Tories. What about the Liberal


Democrats? Things could be very tough for them. It is the UKIP


factor we do not know about. Some of the councils which the Lib Dems


hold an Torres would like to get back, what happens to the UKIP vote


will be crucial to that. If lots of Tories decide they will go to UKIP,


by default, you could see the Liberal Democrats hanging on, much


like in Eastleigh. What have the levels got to be for Labour and the


Tories to claim a has not been a disastrous night for them? They are


talking about Labour gaining 350 seats and the Tories, if they lose


300, they will say that is OK. They are kind of expecting that after


making massive gains in 2009. If it is much above that, they will be


getting worried. Surrey to keep going on about the UKIP factor but


that is what everyone is going on about. They need to go further on


issues like immigration and Europe. Let's have a look at the universal


credit. The big moment. This has been one of the bigger schemes as


far as the coalition government is concerned. That is the 7 billion


dollar question! They're making a big fuss about this is the launch


of universal credit. This is one JobCentre in one town where it is


starting, with not many claimants. They are taking it very slowly.


Plans for a roll-out were not ambitious initially and they have


been scaled back yet again. It was going to be at four Jobcentres and


now it is only one. Not until after the general election were Elysee


universal credit in any meaningful sense for -- any meaningful sense.


People I have spoken to say, it was a mess, we are a bit more confident


than we were. We think we have got it under control. The Government


does not have a good record on large infrastructure projects. It


is about whether the Tories can turn that around. It was a mess but


it is improving slightly. Are you reassured it will work from a


practical point of view? That is why having a trial is sensible and


not having a roll-out throughout the country. It is a sensible


approach. The principle of universal credit is about making


sure, if someone and something, they will benefit from that among a


have benefits reduced by more than make earn. That is a very sensible


approach. It is good news. Does work always pay? It does not. One


been the Government has done is take the way tax credits which did


help work pay for people who are low-paid, people who cannot get


enough hours. The must all do something about the rising Welfare


Bill. -- we must. That is because of the failure on jobs and growth.


Do you back the Government on the principle of benefits? We support


the benefit cap but the system of taking money away from 2 million


families and doing it on a monthly basis rather than a weekly basis


and doing it with the big IT programme, what could possibly go


wrong?! We inherited a massively complicated system which created


injustice. We are taking people out of tax and setting up long-term


reforms to make it better. They are taking it steadily to make sure we


get it right. That is not just between now and election, it is 10,


15 years in the future. It is a real live discussion, the whole


idea of universal benefits for pensioners. It is a live issue. As


we roll out the whole system, those issues will be highlighted. As a


coalition, we were not bringing means testing for people. I want to


get into a system which deals with the majority of folk - where we


need to give them the opportunity of work to pay once more. When I


talk to people around the country about benefit reforms, they say,


that makes sense, it is there. If you work hard, you need to be


better off. We have run out of time. There's just time before we go to


find out the answer to our quiz. The question was, which


politician's hairdo has become one of the most asked for styles in


hair salons? A) Michael Heseltine, b) Theresa May, c) Margaret


Thatcher or d) Michael Fabricant? It must be Margaret Thatcher.


is a very good point. I presume it is Margaret Thatcher was dug we are


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