24/03/2014 Daily Politics


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Good afternoon and welcome to The Daily Politics. Russia's takeover of


Crimea continues as troops mass on Ukraine's eastern border - what


action should the West take, and will Vladimir Putin take any notice?


The Budget causes trouble for Miliband as think-tanks say the


party needs to have a bold and distinctive offer for voters.


Is England's green and pleasant land in peril? Campaigners say new


planning regulations are destroying the green belt.


There's a penny off duty on a pint of beer from today. But are the


savings being passed on to customers?


All that in the next hour. And with us for the first half of the show


today is Rick Nye of the polling firm Populus. Welcome to the


programme. First this morning, David Cameron has been taking questions


from an audience of older voters in Sussex, promoting some of the


policies on pensions and savings announced in last week's Budget. The


big pension reforms have gone down well in the papers, but Mr Cameron


was challenged on another issue - the party's promise to increase the


inheritance tax threshold. When the limit was ?300,000 or so,


quite a lot of hard-working families, who had worked hard and


saved and put their money into their house, were being caught by


inheritance tax. Inheritance tax should only really be paid by the


rich, not by people who have worked hard, saved and bought a family


house. So, the ambition is still there. I would like to go further.


It is better than it was, but it did not make it into the coalition


agreement, but it is something we will have to address in our


manifesto. It is a bit deja vu, isn't it, this, for the


Conservatives? The Tories won the over 65 vote by about 13% last time.


Around half of Tory supporters are over 65, but three in five UKIP


supporters are over 65. So you can see David Cameron trying to be tough


on the causes of Nigel Farage, as it wow! Certainly, and many thought


that was the case in the Budget as well. But the Tories did not win an


overall majority, despite dominating in that age group. How important our


pensioners as a voting group in themselves? Very important. Three


quarters of them vote, compared with two thirds for the whole of the


population. They are quite set in the way that they vote. There was a


slight swing from Labour to to the Conservatives among the over 65 in


the last election, but that was the second smallest swing across any age


group. So it is quite important that the Conservatives manage to


consolidate their appeal for the over-65s, particularly if you have


got a rival like UKIP. Is there a worry for the Conservatives that if


they continue to target their core vote, overwhelmingly, that they will


alienate other groups, preventing them from winning an overall


majority? It depends how you target them. If you are trying to give out


signals to one part of your support, which alienates another


part of... But if you are under the age of 45, why would you be against


annuity reform, or in inheritance tax reform? The key is that the


whole package needs to sound greater than the sum of the individual


parts. You do not want to be able to see the joins. So, how would you


assess the Budget? The papers were broadly favourable. If it was deemed


a Budget for savers, was it however aimed primarily at people who are


slightly better off, alienating the younger generation, many of whom are


struggling? I do not think it is necessarily a zero-sum game


rewarding savers, or hard workers, as politicians like to talk about,


does not necessarily alienate other people by definition. The key with


the Budget was that it showed that there was a time when you could


reward some elements of the older part of the population, who may be


felt as though they were being bypassed, in terms of spreading


around the proceeds of an economic recovery, when it comes. What about


UKIP? There is nothing wrong with trying to blunt the attraction of


UKIP. There are different ways of doing that, some of which are more


likely to alienate other parts of your coalition. I think this is


probably the least harmful way of trying to blunt the appeal of UKIP,


by appealing to all people who want a centre of financial security. --


who want a sense. Do you think it will probably be the case in 2015,


that once people have decided how they will vote, they will stay that


way? It is difficult to tell. In previous elections, UKIP have done


very well in European elections 12 months before the general election,


and then have come right back down to less than 3%. This time they are


starting from a higher base. They may do better at the European


elections. So the key for the Conservatives will be, how far and


how fast does that sure of the vote come back down for the general


election? Now - leaders of the G7 group of


nations are gathering in the Netherlands, where they will discuss


what further action to take against Russia. The country's forces have


been completing their takeover of the Crimea - ejecting Ukrainian


forces from their base on the penninsula. Just two ships are still


flying the Ukrainian flag. They are also reported to be massing on


Ukriane's eastern border - though President Putin has said that there


are no plans for further incurssions. A little earlier, I


spoke to our correspondent there. I asked him how much further the G7


were to go against Russia. It is not something they can do overnight. In


terms of heavier sanctions, I was at the summit in Brussels last week,


and the EU leaders made it clear that they had gone as far as they


were going to do at this stage on sanctions unless and until Russia


does something else, in other words, moves forces into Eastern


Ukraine. If that does not happen, I do not think these sanctions are


going to be toughened up. They also made it clear in terms of the energy


dependency that they want to reduce their dependency on Russian oil and


gas. That is a project for the next few years, rather than weeks and


months. It involves building terminals in America which can start


exporting, and terminals here which can start importing. It involves


reworking the economics of energy supply in Europe. If they are


serious about it, and it is a big if, because these sort of a rock --


visa sort of ideas were around in 2008, after the conflict between


Georgia and Russia, and they came to nothing. I put this to Jose Manuel


Barroso last week and he says he thinks things are different this


time. He thinks there is more of a head of steam to start to try to


diversify the energy market of Europe. If they are serious about


it, then in the coming years, they will be able to reassess their


entire relationship with Moscow. What is the assessment about the


military threat from Russia? There are certainly those who want to see


NATO take a robust approach to this, to be seen to be protecting NATO


member states, certainly those which have borders with Russia. The United


States, Britain and others are increasing their military personnel


on the ground in some of those states. Poland is especially


worried. There is, it seems, from the NATO perspective, and also from


the US and European perspective, the desire to at least put in place


military personnel on the ground in order to try and make sure that


those states like Poland and the Baltic states, feel secure. There is


no question of course of invading Russia, of having boots on the


ground in Ukraine. It is about making those states feel secure, and


also at the same time writing in the Daily Telegraph today, the former


head of the army, General Richard damn it, argued that Britain needed


to boost its troop numbers and keep soldiers in Germany to show that


Britain takes its defence responsibilities seriously.


Speaking earlier this morning, David Cameron gave his view. I do not


think it is necessary to change our plans to base British soldiers. But


I think it is important to send a clear message to our NATO partners


and allies that we believe in NATO, and we believe in their security.


That is why we are helping some of the Baltic states, for instance,


with their defence. That is what we should be doing, and we are


committed to doing. With us now, the former Shadow Defence Secretary the


Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin and former Security Minister under the


last Labour government, Lord West. Welcome to both of you. Do you agree


with Lord Dannatt in terms of trying to boost troop numbers? I agree in a


general sense that I think we are spending too little on defence left


this is a decision we can make in the scope of the next dimple


security strategy. In that sense, I agree. I disagree entirely about


trying to keep troops in Germany. We need to stick with the plans and get


out of there. It has cost us a great deal of money over the years. It has


been helpful for the German economy, which was very nice, but I believe


we need them out of there. I do believe we need to be very hard line


on warning Russia again, making it clear that if there is any


encroachment at all on NATO territory, that breaks Article five,


and that would mean war. And I think we should be clear on that. But I do


not leave that the fact of increasing a few troop numbers is


going to make a difference to what is happening in Ukraine. I think we


have been bad at understanding how Crimea is so important to Russia. If


we had acted quicker, and had contact, we could have come to some


decisions. I certainly do not think we should do anything militarily


about this. I have real concerns about the status of Ukraine, and how


it is going to keep going in the future. You think Western leaders


have been engaging in too much posturing? I think initially there


were some very silly things Stead. John Kerry and other people made


some statements without really understanding the history of Crimea.


-- things said. Sevastopol is a Russian town. I have been there


several times. If there had been a very early meeting, understanding


their position, we could have maybe come to a different status for


Crimea, and avoided some of this tension, and let Putin get over the


shock. He was caught out totally, one of his intelligence agencies


were caught out. I spoke to the person who used to run the


intelligence in Ukraine. He was caught out totally be what happened


in Ukraine. We should have understood that and dealt with it


much more subtly. There were statements made which really could


not be backed up, by various leaders in the West, promising that tough


action would be taken against Russia if they did X, why NZ, when in fact,


there really was not that kind of strength behind the rhetoric, was


there a? It is very important that the West absolutely and


unequivocally condemns what Putin is doing in Crimea. There is no


question about that. The modest but painful sanctions being applied to


certain Russian individuals will have an effect. But what we should


focus on now, and I agree with a great deal of what Alan has said, we


should focus on, what is our real objective? I cannot see how we are


going to get Russia out of Crimea. That is not go to happen. They have


been there for 500 years. We fought a war in the last century to try to


get them out of Crimea, and we failed. I am not prepared to


validate that phoney referendum, but the point is, what are we trying to


achieve? Surely, very big threat to the stability of Eastern Europe is a


civil war breaking out in Ukraine. Ukraine is a very divided country,


it has historically been very close to Russia, dependent on vast


quantities of aid from Russia, and cheap gas. Is the West really trying


to say, we are going to take that over? We have got these association


agreements with the EU, they are on a long track which will eventually


mean they are members of the European Union. One half of Ukraine


might want that, but the other half does not necessarily want that. By


taking this very aggressive stance, the danger is that the EU is


dividing Ukraine, and we could finish up with a civil war in


Ukraine. That cannot be our objective. How likely do you think


it is, the splitting up of Ukraine, and that Russia might look to go


further in? I think the EU and others have been guilty of


encouraging them rather more than we should have done. I like the


Ukrainian people, I have been there a lot of times. There is quite a


difference of view. Even when Ukraine first got its independence,


there was a very strong Russian link, there were a number of people


who did not want it to change. Ukraine was reliant on oil and gas


from Russia. They are so closely linked. I think we have encouraged


them. Some of these people have said, great, we can join the EU. You


cannot just do that. The EU cannot possibly afford to sort this out. We


have encouraged them when we shouldn't. I was at the Budapest


NATO summit in the 1980s, when there was a terrible argument about


whether Georgia and Ukraine should be put in a process eventually to


become members of NATO. And the most was over as member of NATO against


this policy was Germany, closely backed by France. Now, the two


countries, because it is about the EU and not NATO, are very in favour


of pursuing these association agreements with the EU. These are


not just little friendly agreements, they are 500 pages of documents


about defence relationships, security relationships, trade and


finance. Are we really going to match the kind of commitment that


Russia... ? Russia has put in billions and billions of aid into


Ukraine. Does the public really care about this issue, in the UK? A lot


of them don't. I think there is general support for the steps that


have been taken so, in terms of sanctions and travel bans. Anything


more expansive than that, the UK public will run a mile. Do you think


we should just stay out of this? I have to agree with what Bernard


said. We have to be clear that that behaviour breaks a treaty and it was


wrong what they did but I think we were very naughty earlier, not


understanding them. We certainly shouldn't get involved militarily. I


think what we've done is probably appropriate. They will put pressure


on Putin. But tough economic sanctions? I wouldn't go for any big


hard, tough ones. The Russians clearly believe in hard power as


well as soft power because they've had soft power in the Ukraine but


they use hard power. We've got to understand that if you're going to


use hard power -- soft power, you've got to have hard power to back it


up. Let's come back to spending - are we spending enough on defence?


If we're only going to spend 2% of GDP on defence we should be spending


it very differently. How? Or the language about agile capability


means you've got far too much committed to some very large


projects. What about Trident? You've even got me in Campbell now saying


he never thought Russia would look like this. -- Menzies Campbell. As I


and others have said, we are in a very chaotic, dangerous world that


can change like that. To try to give away something like that would be a


madness. In last week's Budget, we were all only halfway through the


spending cuts. We are the sixth richest nation in the world. It's up


to us when we look at defence and security to see how important it is.


Our defence spending is going down from 2% to 1.8% in 2016. So we need


to spend more. That is below the NATO minimum. So the government is


making a mistake? The government is going to have to spend more on


defence and incidentally, cutting Trident would say that very little


in the long-term because it is only a tiny proportion of the defence


budget overall. 6% of the defence budget. 6% of what will be 1.8%.


That is about 0.08% of GDP. You are losing me on the percentages! The


Green MP Caroline Lucas has arrived at court this morning charged with a


public order offence and obstructing a highway during anti-fracking


protests in Balcombe last summer. She denies the charges. Thousands of


demonstrators camped out in the Sussex village as the company


Cuadrilla started test drilling for oil. Rebecca Williams is at Brighton


magistrates Court for us. We can see the protesters or supporters behind


you. Caroline Lucas arrived to cheering crowds of around 100


people. Many of them are waving placards. There has been music and


general support for the green MP. She admits to taking part in a


peaceful anti-fracking protest in Balcombe last summer but denies the


public order offence and obstructing a public highway. Around 30 people


were arrested last summer, including Caroline Lucas and her son. In


January it was revealed that these demonstrations cost the taxpayer


around ?4 million. The energy company Cuadrilla has since said


that it has no intention of fracking in Balcombe now or in the future and


in a statement this morning read on behalf of the Green MP, it was said


that Balkan was the start of a major struggle for the exportation of


fossil fuels and the stakes could not be higher. How long will the


case go on for? It could last up to five days. Caroline Lucas is


standing trial along with four others. We expect proceedings to


start in the next few minutes. This morning she spoke only to confirm


her name, her date of birth and her address but on her website last


night she said she'd been very touched by all the messages of


support from her constituents and once again confirmed that she denies


all the charges against her. Thank you very much.


Now, feel like you're being targeted? Well, don't worry - you're


not paranoid. Political parties are targeting voters like never before,


honing their message to get through to different types of voters. Here's


Adam to explain how. One of the most famous political


figures in history lived here. She's called Worcester woman. She wasn't a


real person, just a label for a type of aspirational new Labour voter.


The technique, called segmentation, was used in a big way by George Bush


in 2004. It was then refined by Barack Obama. Rather than focusing


on crude measures like cars or hometowns, they delved into voters'


minds. It's not just women or people who live in cities but now if you


start to put together these attitudinal clusters of peoples, you


can start to, even in an anecdotal way, start to imagine who they are,


what types of words, language, imagery anecdotes, vignettes, photo


opportunities might relate to them. We've been given access to a new


polling model being used here by the firm Populus, which is pretty close


to the one we're told is being used by the Tories. It casts the country


into six personality types and we're trying it out on - you guessed it -


Worcester woman and Worcester man. We are using an online quiz to work


out who is in which segment. Meet new mums Susie. Savour or spend a?


Oh, no! But she does feel well represented. I know that with the


Budget and the increases to tax free childcare for parents, I do think I


am slightly more represented. Which puts her firmly in the category


called "optimistic contentment". Terry, on the other hand, just isn't


happy about Britain today. Health and say and all that! He's Mr


Comfortable Nostalgia. That sums me up. Tony is worried, too, but feels


much less secure. I look forward to the future with optimism or with


anxiety? Anxiety. And so his category is... Labour picks up a lot


of these voters. Then we get Paul, who feels even gloomier. Over the


last few years, with things that are going on, I am feeling more towards


the despair side. Things are just getting to the generally? Yes. It


puts him in the segment called "long-term despair", people who feel


really quite left out. Finally, this is ever thoughtful Carol. I'm a bit


of an idealist, as you can see. Her idealism makes her a "Cosmopolitan


critic". There is one group of voters we've not come across. They


are people who show calm persistence. They hope things get


better but don't expect them to. They're coping, rather than


comfortable. Presumably, they're all out at work. But which category are


you in? Head to the politics pages of the BBC News website to find out


how to take the quiz. In the coming weeks, we're going to do our own


polling using the six segments to see if the politicians really have


worked out how we all think. And Rick Nye from Populus, the


polling firm behind this type of voter segmentation, is here. We know


who to blame! We're also joined for the rest of the programme by a bevy


of Baronesses - Patience Wheatcroft, Angela Smith and Susan


Kramer. Welcome to the programme. Patients, which of those


segmentation groups would you put yourself in? I did the test and came


out as optimistic contentment, which sounds horribly complacent! Do you


feel that was right? Relatively upbeat is what I'd hoped it would


come at us. I was optimistic contentment, as well. This must say


something about our generation, pubs with a little bit of Cosmopolitan.


Cosmopolitan critic, not long-term despair! What about you, Angela? I


came out as a Cosmopolitan critic, which surprised me and others. I'm


probably quite a stereotype. I worked in the public sector and want


improvements in the economy and jobs and that suits me. We use a or was


not pretty but it to call -- predictable? It doesn't surprise me


that if you have three members of the House of lords two of them would


be optimistic contentment because part of that is that you've made a


success of your life and are optimistic about the country's


future and are upwardly mobile. When we've done this among MPs, you do


find quite large chunks of all three parties who end up as optimistic


contentment, even though the Tories would like to pretend they were


comfortable optimism on one hand and labour would like to say that they


were cosmopolitan critics. Do you think it is actually worthwhile


having these sort of segmentation is to define voters? I think it is


useful to find ways of looking at the electorate but you have to be


very careful as to how narrow those descriptions are and how much faith


you put in them. Angela said she was very interested in creating more


jobs and improving the economy. That's what I want, as well, and


that doesn't mean I'm not an optimistic, contented person. I was


for % optimistic contented but 96% was cosmopolitan critics. I double


in the descriptions and they said people who come up in this category


were more likely to be those who think in this way. I wouldn't have


put myself down as a cosmopolitan critic. I answered as truthfully as


you possibly can and that's what it found out. Would it help in terms of


parties targeting voters in these particular groups? I get puzzled at


this point on how you use all of this but I think it said in part of


the blurb that many people who vote Conservative are in the optimistic


contented category. That is already looking a little strange from our


sample here. If you were in despair you voted Labour, which strikes me


as a bit odd as well. But the Lib Dems were scattered across all of


the categories and that, frankly, is always our history. People ask who


our stereotype Liberal Democrat voter is and there aren't


stereotypes. How does this help the parties? It doesn't divide. It isn't


supposed to divide by party politics. It recognises that all


politics is Coalition politics, whether you have a Coalition


government or not. And to win elections, you have to build from


different parts of society, as large a voting bloc as you can and that


means the most successful politicians in recent history -


whether they are Tony Blair or Margaret Thatcher - have gone beyond


their heartland in order to get other people to support their party.


But aren't they difficult to identify? When you're targeting


voters, people talk about marginal constituencies, which is


understandable, but you talk about Worcester woman, Mondeo man. Where


are they easier in terms of targeting? I'm a bit surprised


sometimes. I'm not sure targeting is as sophisticated as we think it is.


When you knock on the door, people don't see themselves in those


categories. You get what might be a typical Worcester woman or Basildon


man and they say something quite wacky and out of context. You have


to look at people as individuals. You get a rough idea and it's a bit


of fun but if you put too much store by it, it could lead you in the


wrong direction. You stop listening to people and start looking at


categories. I think you are listening to people as much as ever


but the conversation is about what they want to talk about, rather than


what you as politicians want. It should be anyway. But it isn't. You


have to be a bit careful because you end up constantly watching the polls


and saying, "that's where I'll go," rather than looking at problems.


Some of that might be difficult and painful. We've got to be wary about


this motion that we should be in poll lead politics. We have to


listen. You have to listen to the people. I think there's very little


respect for politicians who simply seem to have read a pole and that's


what they do. What they do do is listen to focus groups, around which


you could put a lot of the segmentation. The Budget was a game


changer. Absolutely. I think it was. It explains in part why the


Guardian has a letter today from many left-leaning people saying that


the Labour Party had better change its ideas and put up -- puck up


because George Osborne's budget had a very positive effect on the


electorate. And that's because he was looking specifically at, critics


say, UKIP voters. I don't think he geared the budget towards UKIP


supporters but he geared it towards the majority of the people in the


country who want a bit more say over their own resources. I think the key


there is that it was a Budget for the polls and the election, not for


the economy. That's one of the problems. So much in politics is


very short-term. A lot of these changes, particularly pensions, we


won't see the results until 15 years. The big parts of the budget


were lifting the tax threshold. When that was tested on polls before we


made it our core policy, it went nowhere. That has been introduced


and turned out to be popular but it has been very much led by my party


thinking that it's the way you get a fairer society. With pensions,


that's a long-standing policy but what has happened is, with Steve


Webb able to create a basic state pension that at least means you


aren't in dire poverty, giving people flexibility to use their


pensions as they will has now been possible. I don't think this was


driven by the polls. It's a budget for the next election. It was an


inevitable decision that was possible because of previous


programmes that had been put in place.


This morning, it got worse for Ed Miliband. The letter which we were


talking about, published in the Guardian newspaper, has criticised


the strategic direction Labour are taking. It has been signed by party


intellectuals. It says labour should be more bold in its messaging and


should not be relying on Tory unpopularity. We can speak to one of


the signatories now, Mark Ferguson, also editor of Labour List. Should


Labour be more radical going into the next election? I think there is


a need for boldness, and I think there is a lot of scope within the


Labour Party for doing that. There is some good work which Jon Cruddas


has been doing around the manifesto, some good ideas which Ed Miliband


and it wars have been kicking around. 14 months till the election,


I think it is time to start rolling them out. Do you think this is a bit


of a knee jerk reaction to the Budget, running scared? No, this was


drafted a couple of weeks ago. This is about something much bigger, not


just about how Labour runs itch -- runs its election campaign, this is


about what Labour would look like. Does this mean that for some time


there has been some unrest and unhappiness with the direction the


Labour leadership has been taking? I think a lot of people within the


Labour Party want to see greater radicalism, a bolder, bigger vision.


I would not call it unhappiness. It is the nature of the five year


parliament, it means that the natural rhythm and cadence of the


Parliamentary term has been disrupted. Normally, four years in,


the opposition would be talking about the next general election,


calling for an election. Now, we know it is at least another year


away. That means there is a tendency towards caution in party politics.


However, I think that caution can go too far, because you do not have


enough time to explain any big, bold, radical vision. What should


that big, bold message be? I would love to see things around housing. I


know there will be a speech by Labour on housing tomorrow, but I


would like them to go further, I would like to see us talking about


more than 1 million affordable homes in the next Parliament. I would like


to see us talking about devolving housing benefit to local councils. I


would like to see us talking about childcare, releasing the potential


of British society by allowing more people to get to work, and talking


about social care, particularly as we are about to see a massive social


care crunch in the coming decades, where people who have saved their


whole lives cannot afford high-quality care, and people start


having to pay for their parents, whilst also having to start funding


mortgages for their kids. Do you think Labour has been relying too


much on what it sees as Tory unpopularity? I think there is a


risk that you rely on the Conservatives tripping over their


own shows. There has been a debate going on within the Labour Party for


a long time about how much you can rely on things like the


Conservatives rather foolishly getting rid of the 50p tax rate, or


things like the beer and Ingo affair. But I think what you run the


risk of doing is stepping away from the plate and hoping that they are


going to blow up. Frankly, the Conservative Party has never been


consistently hopeless for five years, not even when they lost the


1997 election. Whilst I would love to think that they are going to keep


on doing hopeless thing is, there are signs that they are getting


their act together, and we have to be prepared for that. Angela Smith,


listening to that, should Labour not be more bold, going into the


election? Well, I think it is an interesting look at things. You look


at the letter in the Guardian newspaper today, and looking towards


manifesto times, everybody is setting their stall out, there is a


whole series of meetings and debates within the Labour Party, but the


idea that somehow Ed Miliband is not a bold leader is quite a curious


accusation. If you look at the way he has led the party, energy


prices, criticised, but he was out there doing it. He was the first


party leader to take on Murdoch. He has been bold in his own party. The


idea that there are not any bold ideas in the manifesto is wrong. It


is a curious allegation to make. Having said that, the kind of issues


they are talking about are exactly the kind of debates we will have in


the Labour Party for our next manifesto. To some extent, Labour


did lead the debate on what it has labelled the cost of living crisis.


Of course the Government would deny it was a crisis. But do you admit


that the Budget along with other policies has stolen your thunder,


they have answered quite a lot of those things that you have put up?


Do you think so and I did not get that from people I was talking to at


the weekend. People who are feeling the pinch, worried about paying


their mortgage, their rent, the kids need new school clothes. But


interest rates are low, wages are about to go ahead of prices... Many


people are only in part-time work, on low-paid jobs. They want other


work. The cost of energy, the cost of housing. How many families are


having to think about what is gone to happen to their children and


their housing needs? People do not feel better off. Is Labour's


narrative too negative one rather than a broad vision? It feels as


though they are 1-0 up, with 15 minutes left, they have got it by


their own corner flag, and they are trying to kick it out. There is a


degree of frustration, which I understand, within the Labour Party.


It is going to be a tough couple of days for Labour. We have got a poll


out this morning which also has the lead down to 1%. The Budget has


always been a strong suit for the Tories, economic management for the


country as a whole. Omnishambles, wasn't it?! Even then, Osborne and


Cameron were ahead of Miliband and Ed Balls. That is how entrenched it


has been. The next election not be about that. It will be about


people's own personal circumstances and how they feel, and whether they


think the recovery is for them, rather than just for the country,


and they are not part of it. I think that is right. The other letters


were about housing for young people, childcare for young people, who


wants to go out to work. Those are the kind of issues which really


matter to people. I think what you will see coming through in our


manifesto tackles those really serious issues, which affect


families. I have to say, you are starting to make some Lib Dem


policies, like mansion tax and childcare, which is quite


interesting. But the issue I think which is absolutely crucial for


Labour is, can they run the economy? Of course we can. I sit in


the House of Lords, I still hear their front bench arguing for


increased gross borrowing, because it will somehow reduce net


borrowing. It still comes up. What is quite scary for the country is


the feeling that they do not accept that when a financial crisis came,


there was no cushion, because of the way they ran the country, we were


desperately overspent. You left office, leaving a massive deficit,


and the message that was left was, there is no more money. That was


exactly correct. But you have never learned the lesson. You keep going


to repeat exactly what you did. No. It is not... I totally refute that.


Every country in the world suffered, their economy suffered. We suffered


worse. Slightly worse, and we got back into the right position better


and more quickly than we did under the Conservatives. Ed Balls and Ed


Miliband have never been able to overtake David, and, on the economy.


One thing I think Labour did wrong after the last election was, we


conceded the ground, and we should never have done so. Our record on


the economy was good. If you look at the growth in the economy... We did


actually fix the roof while the sun shone. Under the Conservatives, the


cuts have been so deep and so fast, it has choked off growth. We would


have been in a better position now if we had continued to stimulate the


economy. There are Conservatives who say the cuts have not actually been


as severe as the rhetoric stated at the beginning, and that a lot of


those cuts are still to come. Even Ed Balls has at last admitted that


he made mistakes. That is an understatement. He made a mess of


the economy, and the electorate knows it. You mentioned Brown and


Bulls, it is the best advertisement for the Conservative Party that we


have got. They made an absolute Horlicks of the con, and the public


knows it. Is that in your view what they should do, just keep going on


about Labour's poor economic record, as they see it? I think we should


not allow anyone to lose sight of it, but I was struck watching the


last clip of film, and the things which missed Ferguson thought the


Labour Party should be talking about. Actually, those are all


things which are being addressed by the Government. The Government is


dealing with childcare, the Government has dealt with housing,


at least made a start. Only up until now have they really started to say


they are going to build the sort of numbers which are needed. But the


planning changes have been put in place. The social care issue has


been addressed, far more than it had been before. With a cap on what


people will have to spend on social care. One of these things are being


addressed. The most interesting thing in the letter, actually, was


the phrase at the start which talked about a Labour government, or a


Labour led government. We will come to a coalition and all of the things


these ladies agree on, in terms of things like Mansion tax.


Time now to look at some of the events in the political week ahead.


On Tuesday, the Deregulation Bill Committee will discuss plans -


supported by the Government - to decriminalise nonpayment of the BBC


licence fee. On Wednesday, MPs will vote on Budget proposals to


introduce a cap on welfare spending - excluding pensions - of ?119.5


billion in 2015-16. And Nick Clegg will debate EU membership with UKIP


leader Nigel Farage on LBC radio - a televised debate will be on BBC Two


on Wednesday of next week. And on Thursday, Westminster will say their


farewells to the former Labour cabinet minister Tony Benn - his


funeral will take place in St Margaret's Church, just opposite


Parliament. I'm joined now by Alison Little from The Express and George


Parker from the FT, who are on a sunny College Green for us. Welcome


to both of you. George Parker, first of all, the polls closing within a


point, say two of them, why is that? The polls move around. The unusual


thing for this Budget is that it seems to have given a real lift to


George Osborne and the Conservative Party, bringing them very close to


the Labour Party. That seems to have changed the mood. Tory MPs are


telling me today that it has given their party a lead. They are hoping


talk about a phantom leadership contest in the future might start to


dissipate. Momentum is a really important thing in politics. The


polls are now showing just a 1% gap, which puts pressure on the Labour


leadership. Alison Little, in terms of the changes to pensions and


savers, how well has it gone down? It seems to have gone down very


well, widespread support for them. Labour is in a mess, and one reason


for that, actually, is its apparent complete inability to make a firm


decision. They are about as indecisive as me, which is really


bad for a political party! On the pension reforms, Labour took 48-hour


to say, we support them 48 hours after the budget. But over the


weekend, they have been saying, oh, but we cannot decide, we have to see


the detailed. It might be a rational human response, to say that, but it


is an example of how they are just not decisive enough, and not fleet


of foot enough, with just over a year to go until the general


election. They should be coming up with their own policies now, to make


the Tories do the running, and the Lib Dems. But instead, it is all


about labour, and how they are responding to these big, bold ideas


from the Conservatives. Let's have a look at the licence fee,


decriminalising nonpayment, is it a good thing or a bad thing? I suppose


it depends whether you work for the BBC not! The Govan has given support


for this but essentially the thing has been kicked into the long grass.


-- the Govan. You start to see governments putting the BBC on its


mettle. There are warning shots across the bow is to make sure the


BBC is on good behaviour. And the other side is that as soon as you


start to talk about being nasty to the BBC it's great for those papers


who don't mind the BBC. Whether it actually happens or not is a


different question. What about the fact that it will lead to more fee


evasion, according to the BBC? The BBC said five per cent increase in


the invasion would lose them ?200 million. Which is the dent to your


salary, Jo! I think, essentially, this has to happen with more people


paying for subscription TV and watching on iPlayer, its financial


facts catching up with the technology. Your row Norman Smith


reminds us today that the Daily Express was the first paper to call


for the abolition of the licence fee in 1923 when you had to have a


licence if you run a radio on mains at Christie! Readers of papers like


the Daily Express and the Daily Mail are often bigger fans of the BBC


than their proprietors. Thank you for mentioning it! Let's move on to


the debate between Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg. Who is going to win? My


gut feeling is that Nick Clegg will probably win because the British


public have been exposed to the arguments on the EU, or at least the


facts, in a full and honest way over the years. Nick Clegg performs well


in these debates - we saw that at the last general election - and he


feels, I think, that Nigel Farage, once presented with a load of facts,


starts to look a bit rattled aunt gets a bit tetchy. I think he's got


a reasonable chance. The question is what winning looks like. For Nigel


Farage, it will be a test - a whole hours. Nick Clegg has experience of


these things. And our is a long time to keep going. But it might look


like how much of a bounce you get. They might both get a bounce because


of the higher profile. If you are - as my newspaper is - all for Britain


leaving the EU, you won't have your mind changed and will probably say


hooray for Farage. I think on the bike ability point, Farage has got -


he will win on that because Clegg can be a bit prickly. When he's


being challenged by people he thinks are bit less enlightened than Tim,


he can be a bit prickly. We will all be listening and watching and we can


hear from you about your thoughts afterwards.


The countryside is under siege from developers - or at least that's the


claim from the Campaign for Rural England. In a new report, they


criticise the Government's National Planning Policy Framework for


forcing rural councils to accept major developments that they are


opposed to - destroying the green belt. According to the CPRE,


green-belt land has been allocated for around 190,000 new homes already


- and they predict around 700,000 new houses in the green belt over


the next 20 years, based on current council plans. Part of the problem,


they say, is that local authorities' plans are being undermined. Last


year Government granted permission for two thirds of major housing


developments that went to appeal. Planning minister Nick Boles hasn't


taken the report too kindly - he dismissed it as a spurious analysis


of the facts. But it may well be that the green belt will lose


whoever is in power. Labour has pledged to build 200,000 new homes a


year, five new garden cities, and promised to give urban local


authorities a right to grow. Patience, do you think we're in


danger of seeing the green belt massively eroded? We are clearly in


danger of seeing it eroded slightly but I think what's happening is that


builders are being allowed to build on the green belt where they should


be actually building on brown field sites. Not enough local authorities


are releasing Brownfield as the main source of building land and they


should be. I think only a quarter of local authorities have designated


brown field land as being their priority for development. Isn't that


because the new planning framework has taken away this banning of


building there. There should be an assumption that brown field should


be built on first but you don't have to. That has opened the door to more


applications on green belt. There was a belief, as I understand it,


that local authorities would be far more proactive. They have the


jurisdiction to designate building land they have been surprisingly lax


in this and it may be that we have to look at the legislation again. Do


you think local authorities can be trusted or have the ability,


actually, to turn down those sorts of applications? I'm very much in


favour of giving power to local communities and to local people, who


are very engaged - or ought to be - in developing their local plans. I


think there's quite a bit of scaremongering in the numbers that


we've seen. The number of homes marked for green belt has increased


to 200,000. The bigger numbers are the ones that have got everybody


scared, which are future projections. I think there is a way


to do most of this on brown field sites, or significantly. We'll


probably be looking at some new garden cities. Ebbsfleet, for


example, is overwhelmingly on a brown field site, so there are ways


to do garden cities that aren't necessarily green belt. A lot of the


work that I'm in on HS2 is to get economic wealth fired up in the


Midlands and the north, where there is a lot of capacity for new


housing, but it needs to be underpinned by new jobs and new


businesses, so getting HS2 up their - and then the conductivity between


all of those cities. -- connectivity. An awful lot of people


feel forced to come to the south-east but would much rather


stay in the Midlands on the north and we got to create the


infrastructure and the jobs to let that happen. Well, there's a housing


crisis now. We can't wait for HS2. A real housing crisis is happening


now. One of the problems for local authorities is that whenever they


dedicate any land for building, a lot of local people will complain


about that. Or is it the type of application? It sometimes can be


think we've got to be very much more intelligent in the type of


applications. Garden cities are, I think, the way forward. I was born


in and grew up in a new town. What we have to do with garden cities is


not just look at housing but look at the infrastructure, the roast other


areas, the jobs, the schools. If we only build on brown field sites in


urban built-up areas, we create other problems, like congestion,


like not enough schools or hospitals. It has to be an


intelligently, well thought out process. What I'd like to see is


where green belt land is. What we did in the last government is that


the overall amount of green belt land stayed the same but a lot of


green belt land that you can't build on is actually quite ugly and we


could replace it with land people use.


Now, in last week's Budget, duty on a pint beer was cut by 1p. Loud


cheers for that! The cut comes in today - but will it be passed on to


customers? Well, pubs are just opening their doors but guess who's


first inside! Giles has visited a few local hostelries for this


oh-so-scientific survey. Once again I have been dispatched to


the public houses of Westminster. It's a hard life! But there is a


question that is raised out of the budget. All chancellors like to give


a little bit to those hard drinking... I mean hard-working


people who enjoy their leisure time, so he knocked a penny of beer.


Outside the Palace of Westminster, in the pubs nearby, a pint costs


quite a lot so a penny off is not a whole hill of beans. But have they


even been passing that on? Well, the answer, as it turns out is


no. We asked about two lagers and a bitter and neither of them had the


penny off but they assure me they're going to. This one is called The


Speaker. Let's see what they've got to say. It turns out with this one


that they round up, like a lot of pubs, to the nearest 5p. So you


wouldn't even notice the penny off. Let's see about the last one. With


the Treasury situated just opposite, we don't even need to go into the


red Lion in Whitehall to notice that they've already cut a penny of a


pint of beer and, given the fact that Treasury officials are


sometimes pop in for a drink, it's not surprisingly because they'd


probably be reminded if they hadn't! But it is only a penny off


the duty of beer. Breweries are not obliged to pass it onto us and, as


we've seen, some of haven't yet. Giles Dilnot there. Well, it's not


just beer - duty on wine and spirits was frozen too. That was something


which Peter Richards - wine expert from the Saturday Kitchen programme


- was advocating on this programme just a few weeks ago. The Chancellor


has said that he wants to support growth and employment so he should


be toasting this vibrant sector. But instead, with every Budget, he


raises the amount of tax we pay on wines and spirits through and


alcohol duty escalator, effectively punishing business, the wider


economy and you and me, the consumers. It's time for government


to take a sober look at the facts and call time on duty. Well, Peter


is back here no doubt to perform a victory lap! Was he listening to you


on the Daily Politics? I hope so and I hope Eric Pickles fed something


back. I think there's a lot to celebrate here. I'd like to


personally celebrate and congratulate the Chancellor. He is


listened to the evidence, he's listened to his MPs. Over 90% of MPs


got a letter from their constituents advocating scrapping the duty


escalator so it's a brilliant step in the right direction but I will


pick you up on one thing. Wine has been left out in the colder bit.


Spirit duty has been frozen, beer has been cut, cider has been frozen


but wine is still up with escalation -- inflation. So while the duty


escalator has been scrapped... You still want more. Is that for the


Chancellor? This is for you, Jo! I know about the BBC rules but this


isn't a gift but educational tool. You teased me last time for being a


wine expert without any wine. The serious point is that we make some


fantastic wines in this country. It's a nascent industry that needs


help and support so for the Chancellor to support it, I think


freezing wind duty in the next Budget would be the way. But who


does that benefit? Producers, or would it actually help consumers?


Both. It would be passed on, would it? Good question. In this country,


a lot of wine sold in this country is made abroad. But the industry


itself... We bottle a lot of wine from abroad here. There's a lot of


jobs associated with this economy in this country. Quite apart from the


consumers who buy into it. I was a bit mystified as to why wine was


left out but it's a significant step forward. It does raise quite a lot


of money and if you're freezing or cutting duty on beer, we lose the


dosh. I think there's a very good argument for treating wine in the


same way as beer, though. So he could blew those who favour one or


the other shouldn't be discriminated against. Who do you favour? I don't


prefer one or the other. Hopefully we'll find other ways to get the


money. What I am pleased about is whether people pass it on or not,


I'd like to see our pubs saved and a lot of them are financially


fragile. They are a community asset. We'll drink to that, I suppose!


That's all for today. Thanks to all my guests. The one o'clock news is


starting over on BBC One now. I'll be back tomorrow. Bye-bye.


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