21/01/2014 Daily Politics


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Afternoon, folks, welcome to the Daily Politics. The Lib Dem crisis


over Lord Rennard continues, with the former party chief exec


considering going to court to lift his suspension from the Liberal


Democrats. Former party leader Paddy Ashdown joins me live.


The Conservatives and Labour square off over changes to welfare, with


proposals for new benefit cuts and incentives. We will hear from both


sides. David Blunkett has a plan to


reconnect politicians with the public, and it doesn't involve going


to the jungle or diving in a swimsuit on reality TV. He will join


me live. Plus, should the rich fork out more


to fund the arts? All that in the next hour. And with


us for the whole programme today is Peter Bazalgette, the chairman of


England's Arts Council and a TV bigwig responsible for programmes


like Big Brother and Deal Or No Deal. Welcome to the Daily Politics.


Let's start with the news that this afternoon, the International


Monetary Fund is expected to announce that it's increasing its


growth forecasts for the UK by a significant amount. So the UK


economy is supposed to be motoring ahead. Can you feel it? I think we


all feel something happening. One of the newspapers this morning had a


survey which said that we, the public, think it is business that is


delivering the growth, not the politicians. We, the voters, think


business is delivering the growth more. Quite often, politicians say,


we have created X number of jobs since we came to power. Of course,


they don't create the jobs, it is businesses that create the jobs. But


they do create the conditions for success. And do you think that has


happened over the last few years, that businesses, as a result of


conditions set by the government, have created jobs? Well,


productivity is the problem. Employment has been positive in that


we have not lost nearly as many jobs as we expected. But investment has


not been so good, particularly from large companies. Investment in


everything, including the arts, but we will come to that. Do you think


this supposed feel-good factor is limited to the south-east? No, but


it is stronger in the south-east. A lot of the country is still


suffering. If you live in London... I travel around the country all the


time, and it is very tough in parts of the country, in contrast to


London, which is booming by comparison. How much do people care


about growth figures if their wages have fallen behind prices for almost


a decade? People are worse off, and there is no question that everybody


is living at a lower level than they were five years ago. So people care


very much, because they can afford to spend less on their holidays and


home improvements and things that matter. That might change, but it


will take time. It will take time for people to feel better. We will


be told it a lot earlier than we will feel it.


So the Rennard crisis rumbles on for Nick Clegg's Lib Dems. Yesterday,


Lord Rennard was suspended from the party on the grounds that his


failure to apologise to four women who claim he made sexual advances to


them was bringing the party into disrepute. That was followed by a


lengthy statement from the former party chief executive, and the


threat that he might take legal action to regain his place in the


party. I'm joined to discuss this by Linda Jack, a party member who is


also chair of the Liberal Left group. She is in Luton. How do you


feel about your party today? Can you hear me? Let me try again. How do


you feel about your party today? I feel very sad, because we have been


deflected from more important issues. For example, yesterday, the


launch of the closing the gap mental health policy, which reflects


everything we stand for as Liberal Democrats. And instead, we are


focusing on something which, although I fiercely think it is


important, is not the whole story about who we are as a party. But


when we are talking about the claims that have been made against Chris


Rennard, some in the party have said it has all been overblown, taste


warm in a teacup -- a storm in a teacup. One MP likened it to


Italians pinching women's bottoms, remarks he has since apologised for.


How serious are these alleged offences? They are very serious. I


was at the same event as one of the women after it occurred, and she was


extremely distressed, and rightly so. What Chris Davies said, even


though he has apologised, betrays an ass dude in some parts of the


party, not the whole of the party -- it betrays an attitude that this is


a trivial matter. I worry that Lord Rennard also sees it as a trivial


matter, urges why he does not think it is worth apologising for. You


were confided in by one of the women, as you have just said, and


there is this argument going on that what happened was actually


relatively minor in the minds of some people. Was it more serious


than just touching of the leg through clothing, as one described


it? Any potential abuse of power is serious. It is also about the


impact. Somebody may not have intended that impact, but the impact


is what matters. I cannot say how somebody else will react to being


treated like that, or how I would react. But some people are making a


judgement that it was just a little bit of touching, as if that did not


matter. That betrays attitudes I would not expect in a party


committed to equality like ours. Have you been surprised that those


attitudes exist more broadly than you thought? I am not surprised that


they exist. I am surprised at how broadly they exist. I am surprised


at some of the responses I have had where people did not agree with me


in terms of not understanding that this is not just about some clumsy


advances, it is about a potential abuse of power. There is going to be


another party enquiry, as you know, about whether Lord Rennard has


brought the party into disrepute. If that clears him, he can come back


within 14 weeks. What do you think of that? This should have been dealt


with ages ago. The party has brought itself into disrepute by having


processes which were not appropriate for the case and were not robust. I


hope that gets sorted out. We need some sort of conciliation at the


moment, if possible. It would have been nice if Nick Clegg had spoken


to Lord Rennard after last Wednesday and tried to come to some sort of


agreement, because this story is now much bigger than him and his


accusers. It is affecting the whole party. And knowing Lord Rennard, I


imagine this is a party he has devoted his life to. He does not


want to damage it. So if anyone can come up with an idea to smooth


everything over, that would be better for all concerned, rather


than it becoming a vendetta, which it feels like at the moment. Is the


party divided into two camps now? That may be the case in the Lords.


Within the wider party, it is not 50-50, but there are those arguing


on behalf of Lord Rennard who don't know what the fuss is about, and


those who see this as a fundamental issue to do with who we are and what


we stand for. Chris Rennard has expressed regret in the statement he


made. Even if he goes further, which he has said he will not do, and says


Warwick, that will not satisfy at least one of the women who made the


claims -- if he says sorry. This is the dilemma we have. We may say we


are satisfied if there is an apology, but at the -- at the end of


the day, it is down to those women. It is about the process. I have been


involved in a lot of internal disciplinary procedures as a union


official. This should have gone to a hearing, and then both sides would


have been able to confront and cross examine each other. That is what the


failing has been. And we have been joined by the


former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown. Welcome to the Daily Politics. You


heard Linda Jackson Nick Clegg should have sat down with Chris


Rennard and they should have talked about this and stop it getting to


the stage. I know Linda and we have often fallen out, but I agree with


almost every word she said, except that. Nick could not do that. He is


a leader of the party. There were enquiry is going on. He would have


been open to criticism if he had intervened in a personal way. Many


of us have spoken to him on several occasions. He is a close friend, and


he knows I think he is wrong on this. But Linda's point is the


central point here. What Nick Clegg has done is stood on a fundamental


visible at the heart of liberalism. It is about respect for individuals


and respect forward. He has taken flak for that, but he is right. I


suspect every party in Westminster suffers from this. Most of them are


saying, there for the grace of God. But this is the Liberal Democrats.


Nick Clegg has stood up for a mental principle and he is right to do so.


Insofar as offence has been given, it would have been easy to find the


words for an apology, and the absence of that is something we


should continue to demand. And other Lib Dem Lords are defying the Clegg.


-- Nick Clegg. They are defying the leadership, who are saying an


apology is the least that needs to come? I can only give you my view.


You are fiercely going to make up the division to be the biggest story


you can. But I don't think it is as bloodthirsty as you suggest. Here is


the central point. The democracy of our party is something we are very


proud of. Yes, it makes it difficult to handle some issues. People fall


out. It is not our finest moment. But when it comes to running the


country, that very democracy has meant that the party has been united


in a way that the Tories are not. Because of that democracy, the party


has walked into the coalition. So you can criticise us about our


internal structures, but when it comes to the big issues, standing


together and taking tough decisions to put the country right, our party


is united because of the democracy it has. But Linda Jack said the


party has brought itself into disrepute. If this investigation


clears Chris Rennard, he could be back within 14 weeks without making


the apology that Nick Clegg has demanded. And you will have this all


over again. I don't think that is correct. I am not going to predict


what happens. The Webster enquiry said two thing is. There was


credible evidence. Not sufficient for a criminal prosecution, and


maybe that should be changed, and an apology is appropriate. All of those


things must be followed through. You can't pick and choose. It stands


together. The central issue is, is Nick Clegg right to have stood on a


principle that Linda articulated brilliantly well, which is that


women now in power demand something different in terms of respect than


what was acceptable previously? He is dead right. On that basis, should


the women who have accused Chris Rennard of harassing them take civil


action, and should the party encourage them to do so? I think


this talk of civil action is foolish. I don't think it will


advance us towards where we want to get. Maybe with everybody in their


trenches, they will want to do that. I don't git will serve the party.


There is a way around this and we know what it is. The Webster


omission report is the answer, and it needs to be followed through. It


is simple to find the words to make this apology. There are people


advising Chris who do this every day for large sums of money. Not that


there is money involved here. It goes like this. "I assert my


innocence. I do not believe I did this. But if inadvertently, I hurt


others, I regret that." Ming Campbell said something similar


along those lines. And he did say something like that. At Chris


Rennard is considering legal action now. What is your message to him if


he seeks an injunction to halt this enquiry? My message to all in the


party is, you have done brilliantly in this coalition. You have helped


this country out of a terrible mess. You have shown courage and unity.


This is an internal matter. Give it a bit of time, let tempers cool, and


let's come back to the central principle, the one Nick Clegg has


defended with great courage. In the Liberal Democrats today, there are


different standards. We demand respect for individuals and above


all, respect for women. Test macro, as an observer, what do you take


from this? -- Peter Bazalgette. There does not seem to be much


reconciliation in the Lib Dem party at the moment and not a great deal


of truth. But we are asserting a new standard of behaviour and respect


between the sexes. As we are applying this new standards perhaps


to behaviour in the past. I take issue with this and other serious


court cases going on at the moment. They are all about saying, we used


to do this, it is not how we do it now. It is an issue of principle.


The issue is there has been a change of culture. The old standards are no


longer in existence. People have to come to terms with that. So you


would like to see him permanently suspended on that basis? I am


prepared to let the processes we now have in chain take their natural


course. But at the heart of democracy lies respect for


individuals and if we have stood up for that then I am proud of that. I


will bet you anything you like every other political party in Westminster


is saying today, there but for the grace of God. I am sure that they


are and they will lie low and give you the full spotlight. Is this


turning into an old liberals versus the rest argument? I think it is


much more a generational thing. It used to be tolerated but no longer.


I think it is far more generally -- generational issue. And we should be


leading the way on issues like this. If we helped to change the climate


in Westminster in favour of respect for women then it may be difficult


but I am proud of that. Now it's time for our daily quiz.


The question for today is who is this being hit over the head with a


placard yesterday? At the end of the programme Peter


will give us the right answer. I am working on it! It is not easy


unless you know the story. Now the eagle-eyed among you will


notice that there's been a spate of welfare announcements from both the


government and the Labour party in the last few weeks. It's hard to


keep up. But don't worry, it's time for our welfare round-up. Two weeks


ago George Osborne outlined his spending plans for the first two


years of the next Parliament in which the welfare budget - excluding


pensions - is set for an extra ?12 billion of cuts.


The Chancellor suggested two possible changes to save money. A


cut to Housing Benefit for under 25s and restricting access to council


housing for those earning more than ?65,000 a year. That's if the


Conservatives win the election in 2015. Meanwhile Labour's Rachel


Reeves yesterday announced plans to increase the rate of job seekers


allowance for those who lose their jobs after at least five years in


employment. They'll get an extra ?20 a week for their first six weeks out


of work. But the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary's plan will have


to be approved by Ed Balls, who says that any changes must be


cost-neutral. So who's winning the welfare battle? Joining me now is


Conservative MP Mary Macleod and Shadow Employment Minister Stephen


Timms. Should those who pay into the benefits system get more out of it


when they fall on tough times? We think that the contributory


principle is right. It has been weakened under successive


governments and we think it is time to reverse that trend. You say it is


a trend because experienced workers are to get an extra ?20 per week in


payments. That is hardly an return to the contributory principle. It is


a move back in that direction. It will take time. But at the moment


people feel they pay into the system and when they need help is the help


there. Would you like to see it go further? Well one thing the


government has done that we argued against was that people losing their


jobs on health grounds lose their contributory allocation now. We


think we would like to increase that period. So I think it is an


important first step and most people agree that if you have paid into the


system for a significant period then you ought to be able to get more


help than available at the moment. Ed Balls says it has to be cost


neutral. What was suggested yesterday, at the moment you get


contributory jobseeker's allowance after two years of contributions. We


would look to extend that period. I think with Rachel Reeves on the


front of the pages, it is still the same old Labour. I would like to see


Ed Balls coming out and saying it is cost neutral, we do not think it is.


You voted against savings on welfare. That is not true. But just


to get to the point, we have a long-term economic plan in place and


that is about bearing down on the deficit and making sure mortgages


stay low. Part of that is putting a cap on housing. Why allow young


people under 25 to leave home and take housing benefit? That cannot be


fair or right. I would like to think your supporters would come forward


with ideas for the next election to say people under 25 should just


think about staying at home. Do you support that? I would like to see


the detail of what is being proposed. We have agreed with the


principle of universal credit which unfortunately is in a mess at the


moment. We agreed with the principle of the benefits cap. Some changes


did need to be made. But we should have a system where if you pay in,


you can be confident of support. And you do not think that there should


be a system for when people fall on hard times, when they have


contributed, that they should not be demonised as some people have


criticised ministers for, for claiming an effort. I do not think


we criminalise people. Ian Duncan Smith has done a fantastic job of


helping people out of the welfare trap. We are talking about people


who have worked with them fall on hard times. I understand that. You


have to live within your means. Part of that is that we take difficult


decisions and focus the money on those women -- on those in most


need. We believe in the principle of capping benefits but not the cap


that the Conservatives used. Labour cannot keep saying we support you in


these things and then vote against it in Parliament. And actually this


is just about electioneering, posturing? The Labour Party feels it


is seen as being soft on welfare and now seems to want to make itself


tough. Rachel Reeves says Labour will be tougher than the


Conservatives on slashing the benefits bill. How will it do that?


Well we want to assess people who become unemployed right at the start


to see which people have got a sick skills needs and then provide them


with basic skills training to address those needs. If they do not


take up that training we will have benefit sanctions. It is not just


about posturing. We are putting forward a programme which will be


developed over the coming months and will be ready for the general


election, where all the different parts of what we will propose will


come together. We spoke yesterday about education, a programme to take


it in forward and get us out of the mess we are in at the minute. This


is a battle over who is going to look toughest or fairest, which ever


way you look at it, on welfare. The guys have done their research. They


know people in work have had tough time and the public questions


whether the benefits system is too generous. But I would make a


different point, which is that we have all this pressure and talk of


the benefits bill. We're not talking about one of the largest elements,


the cost of the old age pensions. That is because old people are more


likely to vote and so there sacrosanct. When you do that you


make the pressure on the rest of the benefits bill very tough. That point


would be right if we had not in the last three years taken some tough


decisions. Not on pensions. Increasing the number of years that


you have to work. That is a big change in culture. Of course the


universal benefits will stay, rightly or wrongly. We have said I


think it was above inflation, the triple lock. It is being protected.


I have nothing against that policy but we must look at benefits in the


round. I fear we are putting too much pressure on one area of


benefit. We can take a look at the rest of the benefits bill if


pensions are put aside. George was born says he wants to cut the bill


further by ?12 million beyond 2015. Where would you find those cuts?


What he signalled is what he needs to do. He has talked about the under


25 is which Labour will not support. I hope they will changed their mind.


That is part of it. Looking at housing benefit for people earning


?65,000. Where is the rest going to come from? I will not sit here and


speculate, I'm not the Chancellor. What I would say is that we have


indicated you need to find more savings in the welfare budget. I


hope Labour will support us if they are serious about this. I suspect


they are not. It is the same old Labour with more taxation. In terms


of other things that Labour has been shouting about, like the minimum


wage, George Osborne has still underfunded. It is a welcome change


of heart. I hope that he sees it through. The key to bringing down


the Social Security Bill is to get people back in work. ?15 billion


more has been spent on social security because so many people are


out of work. So many people who want to work full-time can only find


part-time work. That is what we have two address. But the unemployment


picture is not as bad as you predict. It is now looking up. We


were told after the election that there would be steady growth but it


took three years of no growth. Finally there is some growth and the


opportunity must be taken to get people back into work. Where would


you set the national minimum wage? We would take advice from the low


pay commission. Would you like it to be beyond ?7 an hour. I'm happy to


wait for advice on that. But we would encourage employers to pay the


living wage and there are ways to encourage them to go further. How


would businesses feel about that? It would make life more affordable for


people working in London. It might cause problems for some businesses


employing some of the lower paid workers. But personally, it is not a


political point, it is good to hear both parties backing a living wage.


I am pleased to hear everyone backing this principle. The


important thing is incremental increases to the minimum wage do not


hurt businesses, small or large. All the research I have seen indicates


that there is not that damage if it is incremental.


How we pay for the arts in this country has always been contentious.


And never more so than in these austere times, where every penny of


public money counts. The government would like to see arts organisations


moving closer to the American model, where philanthropy rather than the


state funds the lion's share. In 2012, more than $14 billion were


donated in the US. In Britain, it was just under ?700 million. But are


the two systems comparable? And could what happens in the States


work here? David Thompson reports. The take written, one of the great


national galleries and free to all comers. Most people agree that the


arts are good thing. We are proud of our galleries. We love it when a


Brit wins an Oscar. It only gets tricky when it comes to funding it.


This government has been urging arts organisations to do more to raise


their own revenue. But how much the public prepared to stump up? People


to not give that much to the art. Their favourite causes are medical


research, international development. The arts has never been a popular


fund-raising calls except for major donors who always gave a lot of


money to the arts. He here is one of those donors. His home is testament


to his wealth. There is nowhere near the same magnitude of fundraising


that you find in the United States. In this country, it is moving in


that direction, but it is not there yet. Therefore, the government has


to give organisations in this country and a four effort of trying


to move the needle -- they have to give an A4 effort. But we have a


longer to go before we can compare apples with apples between New York


and London. But even if ministers can make London more like New York,


what about the rest of the country? The government has put a lot of


building blocks in place to encourage donors to make


contributions to our arts facilities. I suspect it may do more


in time. What it hasn't done is thought through how to encourage


more giving to the small, regional arts organisation. For donors like


John, sustaining Britain's cultural heritage is too important to be left


to short-term financial necessity or longer term ideology. This is a


serious part of this country's culture. If you are going to change


the funding base, you should develop a long-term plan and do it. The


reality a 20 or 30 year plan with these institutions to try to say,


let's look at this over two decades. In that time, we would like these


institutions to be financially independent. Private patronage of


the arts is hardly new. The challenge now is to harness the


values of the Medicis 28 when she first century renaissance in how we


pay for our current -- 21st century renaissance in how we pay for our


culture. Why is philanthropy so much bigger


in America than here? Actually, Britain is quite a charitable


nation. Although not as much money gets given to charity in Britain as


America, if you look at the international league table, we are


high up there. But to the arts? You have put your finger on it. Less


money goes to the arts than probably should do. Probably 1% of charitable


giving goes to the arts. We did some research that told us that only 9%


of the population knew that arts and cultural organisations were


charities. That is a marketing issue for the arts sector. But there are


things we can do. The interview who said -- the interviewer who said it


was a problem outside London is right. 80% of the philanthropic


money raised for organisations goes to London. The Arts Council can only


do its bit, but we are doing some things. We are doing a scheme where


we have given money to be matched by private donors, which will help


raise more than 100 million. We are putting money into training a new


generation of fundraisers and improving the fundraising


departments. But we need to do more. But why is it more successful in


terms of giving to the arts in America than here? Well, as I say,


arts and culture here has not presented itself as a charitable


object. And it does over there. Also, there are tax breaks. For


instance, did you know that if you leave more than 10% of your estate


to a charity, you get a 4% reduction in your inheritance tax? No. I do


now. Very few people know about it. I have discovered that the Treasury


gives us tax breaks, but they never publicise them. Of course. But as


you said, we know Britain is a charitable nation. We know that


interims of disaster appeals. But we give more to donkey sanctuaries than


we do to the opera. Does that upset you? I think people should give


their money to whatever cause they want to. If we are going to compare


donkey sanctuaries to opera, that is difficult all stop quite a poser for


this time of day. But we do need to raise more money for the arts, and


we can get a bigger slice of the charitable cake for the arts if the


arts present it in the right way. It is difficult outside London, but we


are going to have a go. Is it taboo to celebrate people's generosity


here? That is another thing. We should do that. We are good at


getting arts organisations to put arts Council funded or Heritage


Lottery Fund did. Maybe we should write, do John Studzinski funded.


So we have discussed who should pay for funding the arts, but what about


how that money gets distributed? We have been joined from Birmingham by


Dorothy Wilson, chief executive of the Mac Arts Centre. How do you feel


about the imbalance? Is it something that has been there since time


immemorial? Has it improved over the last few years? It is a big picture,


of course. The arts Council has been channelling the department of


culture support and local authority support, together with donations


from individuals, corporate organisations and foundations. That


makes up the whole picture in terms of investment out of London. Each of


those are challenged. I agree with Peter that there are signs of some


improvement in terms of philanthropic giving that is coming


outside London. But it is slow. The point was made by one of your


earlier speakers that this has to be a 20 year plan. I agree with that.


But how big is the discrepancy between, say, London and York, or


Birmingham, in terms of the money they get for their theatres and art


galleries? It varies enormously. A recent report illustrated that the


amount of government money going into the arts is very much dominated


by London. It is therefore easy to say that that should be rebalanced.


Everyone would agree that there should be some rebalancing, but


London is our capital, and it is also an international centre for the


arts. So we would expect that to be carrying the lion 's share. Let's


look at the figures. You are aware of the imbalances, Peter, but but


you are also presiding over it. Arts Council 2013's spend was ?163


million. ?20 per head went to serve the capital, versus ?3 60 outside


London. That is a big discrepancy. Dorothy makes a good point. She and


I have discussed this in the past during my visits to Birmingham.


There is a historical imbalance between London and outside London.


The main reason for that is not to do with the arts Council, it is to


do with the fact that the government directly funds the National


museums, things like the Tate, the British Museum and the National


Gallery. 80% of that money goes to London, because that is where most


of the national institutions are. By comparison, the arts Council has


always been the champion of arts outside London. It has two sources


of finance. One of those is lottery money, and the other is money from


the taxpayer. 60% of that money goes outside London. It used to be less


than that. So the trend is towards outside London. I hope Dorothy and I


would agree that we need to keep that trend going, because investment


outside London, where the money is really needed, like the fact that a


quarter of ?1 million has gone into Birmingham in the last few years,


there is a national is usual in the West Midlands, the royal Shakespeare


company in Stratford. We have to keep the trend going. Dorothy, what


about complaints about community projects, things that are


experimental? Those struggled to get funding. How do you boost those? I


agree with a lot of what Peter was saying. But we must also remember


that whilst most of the major institutions are still based in


London and the South, we need to be careful not to focus production only


in the capital. What is really important is that we need to be


nurturing centres of production and engagement throughout the country.


It is tough. I see small green shoots in my own experience, which


indicate that some, particularly the London based foundations, are


starting to look outside London. That has to be encouraged.


Now, do you remember this? If you can't be asked to vote, why should


we be asked to listen to your political point of view? You don't


have to listen to my point of view but it is not that I am not voting


out of apathy. I am not voting out of absolute indifference and


weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery and deceit of the


political class that has been going on for generations and which has now


reached fever pitch where we have a disenfranchised, disillusioned,


despondent underclass that are not being represented by the political


system. So voting for it is tacit complicity with that system.


That was the comedian Russell Brand, talking to Jeremy Paxman on


Newsnight last autumn. His attack on politics and the political process


got some headlines, and prompted politicians to scratch their heads


and wonder why the public hate them so much. One senior backbencher has


been thinking about this a lot. He joins us now. David lunk it,


welcome. -- David Blunkett. Why do you think young people are so


disengaged with mainstream politics? There are lots of reasons. Partly,


we don't talk the language. We are not as honest as we should be about


where power really lies and what influence we have and where we don't


have it. But actually, there is a corrosive influence taking place,


and Russell Brand is part of that, to pretend that this is something to


do with what he described as the political class. Whereas, of course,


politics is to do with all of us. It is not a spectator sport. It is


about people getting engaged with their own lives and participating,


and also voting. This evening, in a speech I am making, I will make the


point that the people who need politics the most are the least


likely to engage. That has always been the irony. Do you think


celebrity culture has damaged politics? I am fully in favour of


satire. I am totally against sneering. I am in favour of being


sceptical. That is part of a healthy democracy, but not cynical. Too


often, we just get straight abuse. They are not very funny either. But


they are also helping to disengaged other people. And the people who are


in the know, who actually do have a voice and can get on Question Time


or get a radio programme on the BBC, they know where the power lies.


They have a voice and some influence. To encourage other people


to disengage and to do away with their little bit of influence in the


world is a disgrace. Let's put that to Peter Bazalgette. You know


something about celebrity TV. It is damaging politics and stopping the


people who need it from getting it. That is pretty ten pensioners. --


tendentious. A few years ago, I cooperated with the Hansard Society


to do research into fans of TV shows and their attitude to politics. Why


do young people not vote? It is a good question we will be talking


about this evening. Young people are after authenticity and decency. One


thing I hope you will address this evening, David, is the tenor of the


debate between politicians, because it is depressing. If I may say so,


in the media, they constantly disagree with each other and people


get very tired of that. It seems very inauthentic. We need a more


authentic political discourse to engage young voters. David, the


anti-politics you dislike so much is proving to be popular for that


reason. Well, we are caught. If we are not entertaining, we get


ignored. I grant you that. With Prime Minister's Questions, this


must be a matter of age. I find Prime Minister's Questions a


complete turn-off. I sit there, thinking, who is this reaching?


There are plenty of our viewers who like that argy-bargy. So we can't


win on that. We have to address where people are at. One of the


great thing is nine years ago was something called make poverty


history, a major campaign across the developed world. Here in Britain, at


the beginning of July 2005, we had over 2 million mainly young people


involved, 1.5 million on the streets of Edinburgh, peacefully walking and


influencing the G8 summit which took place at Gleneagles that week.


Sadly, at the time of the London bombings as well. And they did make


a difference. That campaign changed the minds of world leaders in terms


of debt relief in Africa and to a degree, on climate change. But there


are events where politics has been damaged by politicians themselves. I


can quote you Lord Faulkner . In 2012 on the 10th anniversary of the


Iraq dossier, he admitted that the war had had a hugely damaging effect


on politics and political discourse. Do you accept that things like that


have eroded trust and belief in politics? I do accept it has a major


influence. We need a sensible dialogue. We need to disagree when


we disagree instead of for the sake of it. We have to get across that


sometimes in a do not receive you do not get your way. I was the first to


say in 2010 that you have to lose elections as well as the women in at


democracy. -- as well as when them. I do think that kind of honesty will


bring people back. The tragedy from the Hansard report is that many


young people say they are determined to vote in 2014. And they have been


hit most by austerity. They are in danger of being disenfranchised.


Earlier in the programme we said old-age pensioners have been made


sacrosanct part of the benefits budget because they vote. Young


people are in danger of being disenfranchised. Voter turnout is


down. If young people get out and vote they can actually get power


back. What about the lack of political ideology, as many people


see it. Having a powerful narrative is some past leading politicians


had, because that has gone away, that in itself has meant that people


are less interested? Well we have 24 hour news streaming, that has made a


difference. But we have to engage with people in different ways. On


the bigger issue, I think... Occupy, that did engage people. It


caught their attention for a moment. And actually mobilise people as


consumers. They have had an impact in terms of social media when they


have said we do not like what you're doing. I think Ed Miliband touched


on this at the weekend, there is more work to do on that. But could


we get citizens advice involved in mobilising consumers and giving them


a voice? That is an area to explore. Now, have the Conservative Party got


a problem retaining their female MPs? Yesterday Jessica Lee became


the latest Tory MP to say she was standing down at the next election,


citing personal reasons. In the last few months Laura Sandys and Lorraine


Fulbrook have also said they are leaving Westminster. The party


increased its number of female MPs from 17 to 49 at the last election.


But could that situation get worse rather than better in 2015? We've


been joined by Andrew Gimson from the Conservative Home website. Why


are so many Tory women finding life at Westminster itself on appealing?


A great many Tory men find life at Westminster on appealing as well! I


think three things are tough for women. One is the continued feeling


that the series decisions are taken pretty much entirely by men. This is


true also of the Labour Party. And you may be arise with some


particular knowledge of some field of policy which are burning to put


into effect and no one pays you the slightest attention. Then the hours


are so long. It is difficult. Most women who have got to Cabinet level


under David Cameron do not have children. Also if you have elderly


relatives. And also the vulgar abuse you get from a certain type of


horrible boorish man on social media. Has that not always been the


choice? The pressures of public office versus the pleasures of the


more private one and the strain on family life. That is true. Margaret


Thatcher worked phenomenally hard and did not spend all that much time


with her twins. The first job she was given was a highly technical job


to do with pensions. None of the men thought it was of the slightest


importance. It was a horrible job and for a long time she was


excluded. But she came through. If David Cameron concerned about this?


I think he is. As Leader of the Opposition one of the most


conspicuous things he was doing was to get more women as candidates in


sexy and he succeeded pretty well. -- in safe seats. There is now a


danger that the numbers could actually fall back. The House of


Commons authorities and various leading backbenchers have said they


have done a lot to change life of Parliament. Is it still as


incompatible with family life as it used to be? It is still difficult.


The idea that you can pop home and give your child a bath and read to


them in the evening is for most MPs entirely impractical. You're pulled


in both directions. You are expected to do fantastic amounts of work in


the constituency and also a great deal at Westminster. To have time


left for family whether you are a man or a woman is very difficult.


The more cynical view, after Louise Mensch step down -- stepped down and


Nadine Dorries suggested that she had left because she thought she


would lose the seat? She left actually because she married the


love of her life who lives in New York. When Lorraine Fulbrook, she


gave up in September, she did not cut and run like Louise Mensch. She


said she had given 12 years of her life to her constituency and that


that was enough. Unless you're extraordinarily strong minded it


consumes every moment of every day if you're not careful.


Does it matter if your local pub shuts its doors for good? This


afternoon MPs will debate the issue of pub closures and what can be done


to keep them open. One option available to local communities is to


make use of a new set of community rights, which came into force over a


year ago. We asked the Communities minister Stephen Williams to explain


how they work. Here's his soapbox. I have supported Oxford United for


more than a decade. It is an important part of my life. You


cannot underestimate how popular this club is. The football club is


really important to Oxford and Oxfordshire. This is the stadium,


home to Oxford United. Back in May last year they succeeded in getting


the stadium listed as an asset of community value. Now if the owner


ever wants to sell the stadium the club will have six months to put in


their own bid in order to buy it, so preserving it for future use. It was


the first in the country to get this status and now joins 13 other


stadiums. Football clubs are often at the centre of communities,


bringing people of all backgrounds together. So we felt it was


important for supporters to be able to protect their club. Just down the


road we are in great Milton. This is the last remaining pub in the


village but sadly the brewery put it up for sale. Through the community


shares policy around 300 people came together to form a great Milton


community Pub Co. They took it into community ownership last year and


raised almost ?280,000 in shares. After our first meeting we had


promises of over ?200,000 within a week. That enabled us to buy it and


to refurbish it upstairs. It had been neglect did for some years.


People volunteered their skills and expertise. We had teams of


gardeners. All completely voluntary. It is not just pubs and football


clubs. Tame was one of the first places in the country to vote on a


neighbourhood plan. Residents planned and drafted where they


wanted new homes and a school to be built. They prevented new houses


being built as one mass development outside town and instead spread the


houses across and around the town. People are at the heart of their


community. Without them there is no market, no local pub. Now the


government has given people a real chance to shape their own community.


They can list assets of community value and develop their own town


plan. People are now in charge of shaping how their community will


look. That is surely a good thing. And Stephen Williams joins me now.


Looked like a lovely pub! How many of these projects have actually


caught -- got off the ground? There are hundreds of project


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