29/04/2013 Daily Politics


29/04/2013

Ahead of the local elections in England and Wales, Jo Coburn is joined by Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, Conservative MP Bob Neill and Labour's Michael Dugher MP.


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How would you characterise the atmosphere during the local

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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candidate. Somerset County Council froze its council tax for three

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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voted Liberal Democrat, they did stop a Conservative Member of

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

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earlier have been created in Eastbourne. And the issue of

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

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authority has closed a library. overriding feeling that people used

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

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

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Liberal Democrat because we deal with the pot holes. Conservative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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terms of barometer of the coalition but whether voters have decided

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

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

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

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well, in areas that we turned Conservative Members of Parliament

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

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

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and Tories to account for lamentable failure on issues like

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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approach. The principle of universal credit is about making

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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wrong?! We inherited a massively complicated system which created

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:28:27.:28:37.
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Thatcher or d) Michael Fabricant? It must be Margaret Thatcher.

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

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Ahead of the local elections in England and Wales, Jo Coburn is joined by the Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, Conservative MP Bob Neill and Labour's Michael Dugher MP, as well as representatives from UKIP and the Green Party.


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