09/03/2014 Sunday Politics East Midlands


Andrew Neil and Marie Ashby with political news, interviews and debate. With work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith and chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander.

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Morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics.


He's a man on a mission. But is it mission impossible? Iain Duncan


Smith has started the radical reform of our welfare state. No tall order.


And not everything's going to plan. We'll be talking to the man himself.


Nick Clegg's hosting his party's spring conference in York. He's


getting pretty cosy with the party faithful. Not so cosy, though, with


his Coalition partners. In fact, things are getting a wee bit nasty.


We'll be talking to his right-hand man, Danny Alexander.


And are all politicians self-obsessed? Don't all shout at


once. We'll be examining In the East Midlands, the Ddfence


Minister and an Afghan veteran on whether the war was worth it.


In London, we're focusing on the biggest social housing landlords.


Can Southwark Council really build 11,000 new homes in the next three


decades? And with me, as always, three of the


best and the brightest political panel in the business. At least


that's what it says in the Sunday Politics template. Back from the


Oscars empty handed, Helen Lewis, Janan Ganesh and Iain Martin. Yes,


three camera-shy hacks, who've never taken a selfie in their life. We'll


be coming to that later. They just like to tweet. And they'll be doing


so throughout the programme. Welcome.


Now, first this morning, the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference in York.


I know you speak of nothing else! The Yorkshire spring sunshine hasn't


made the Lib Dems think any more kindly of their Coalition partners.


Indeed, Tory bashing is now the Lib Dem default position. Here's Danny


Alexander speaking yesterday. Repairing the economy on its own


isn't enough. We have to do it fairly.


isn't enough. We have to do it the agenda a decision to cut taxes,


income taxes, for working people. Now, conference, note that word -


forced. We have had to fight for this at the last election and at


every budget and at every Autumn Statement since 2010 and what a


fight it has been. Danny Alexander joins us now. Are we


going to have to suffer 14 months of you and your colleagues desperately


trying to distance yourself from the Tories? It's not about distancing


ourselves. It's about saying, " this is what we as a party have achieved


in government together with the Conservatives". And saying, " this


is what our agenda is for the future" . It's not just about the


fact that this April we reach that ?10,000 income tax allowance that we


promised in our manifesto in 20 0 but also that we want to go further


in the next parliament and live that to ?12,500, getting that over a


2-term Liberal Democrat government. It's very important for all parties


to set out their own agenda, ideas and vision for the future, whilst


also celebrating what we're achieving jointly in this Coalition,


particularly around the fact that we are, having taken very difficult


decisions, seeing the economy improving and seeing jobs creation


in this country, which is something I'm personally very proud and, as


the Coalition, we have achieved and wouldn't have if it hadn't been for


the decisions of the Liberal Democrats. Lets try and move on


You've made that point about 50 times on this show alone. You now


seem more interested in Rowling with each other than running the country,


don't you? -- rowing with each other. I think we are making sure we


take the decisions, particularly about getting our economy on the


right track. Of course, there are lots of things where the


Conservatives have one view of the future and we have a different view


and it's quite proper that we should set those things out. There are big


differences between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives


just as there were big differences between the Liberal Democrats and


the Labour Party. I believe we're the only party that can marry that


commitment delivering a strong economy, which Labour can't do, and


that commitment to delivering a fairer society, which the Tories


can't be trusted to do by themselves. You are going out of


your way to pick fights with the Tories at the moment. It's a bit


like American wrestling. It is all show. Nobody is really getting hurt.


I've been compared to many things but an American wrestler is a


first! I don't see it like that It is right for us as a party to set


out what we've achieved and show people that what we promised on 2010


on income tax cuts is what this government is delivering. But nobody


seems convinced by these manufactured rows with the Tories.


You've just come last in a council by-election with 56 votes. You were


even bitten by an Elvis impersonator! Yes, that is true --


beaten. I could equally well quote council by-elections that we've won


recently, beating Conservatives the Labour Party and UKIP. Our record on


that is pretty good. You can always pick one that shows one or other


party in a poor light. Our party is having real traction with the


electric and the places where we have a real chance of winning. If


you're not an American wrestler maybe you should be an Elvis


impersonator! You told your spring forum... You don't want to hear me


sing! You want to raise the personal allowance to ?12,500 in the next


Parliament. Will you refuse to enter into Coalition with any party that


won't agree to that? What I said yesterday is that this will be


something which is a very high priority for the Liberal Democrats.


It's something that we will very much seek to achieve if we are


involved... We know that - will it be a red line? If you are a number


in 2010, on the front page of our manifesto, we highlighted four


policies... I know all that. Will it be a red line? It will be something


that is a very high priority for the Liberal Democrats to deliver. For


the fifth time, will it be a red line? It will be, as I said, a very


high priority for the Liberal Democrats in the next Parliament.


That's my language. We did that in the next election. The number-1


promise on our manifesto with a ?10,000 threshold and we've


delivered that in this Parliament. People can see that when we say


something is a top priority, we deliver it. Is it your claim... Are


you claiming that the Tories would not have raised the starting point


of income tax if it hadn't been for the Liberal Democrats? If you


remember back in the leaders' debates in the 2010 election


campaign, Nick Clegg was rightly championing this idea and David


Cameron said it couldn't be afforded. Each step of the way in


the Coalition negotiations within government, we've had to fight for


that. The covert overtures have other priorities. -- the


Conservatives. I don't want to go back into history. I'd like to get


to the present. Have the Conservatives resisted every effort


to raise the starting point of income tax? As I said, we promised


this in 2010, they said it couldn't be done. We've made sure it was


delivered in the Coalition. Have they resisted it? We've argued for


big steps along the way and forced it on to the agenda. They've wanted


to deliver other things are so we've had to fight for our priority.. Did


the Conservatives resist every attempt? It has been resisted,


overall the things I'm talking about, by Conservatives, because


they have wanted to deliver other things and, of course, in a


Coalition you negotiate. Both parties have their priorities. Our


priority has been a very consistent one. Last year, they were arguing


about tax breaks for married couples. They were arguing in 2 10


for tax cuts for millionaires. Our priority in all these discussions


has been a consistent one, which is to say we want cutbacks for working


people. -- we want to cut tax for working people. That has been


delivered by both parties in the Coalition government full top So


what do you think when the Tories take credit for it? I understand why


they want to try to do that. Most people understand what we have just


said. Not if the polls are to be believed... You're under 10%. This


is one of the things, when I talk to people, but I find they know that


the Lib Dems have delivered in government. People know we promised


it in 2010 and we're the ones who forced this idea onto the agenda in


our election manifesto. You've said that five times in this interview


alone. The reality is, this is now a squabbling, loveless marriage. We're


getting bored with all your tests, the voters. Why don't you just


divorced? -- all your arguments I don't accept that. On a lot of


policy areas, the Coalition government has worked very well


together. We're delivering an awful lot of things that matter to this


country. Most importantly, the mess that Labour made of the economy we


are sorting out. We are getting our finances on the right track, making


our economy more competitive, creating jobs up and down this


country, supporting businesses to invest in growth. That is what this


Coalition was set up to do, what it is delivering, and both myself and


George Osborne are proud to have worked together to deliver that


record. Danny Alexander, thanks for that. Enjoyed York. Helen, is


anybody listening? I do worry that another 40 months of this might


drive voter apathy up to record levels. There is a simple answer to


why they don't divorced - it's the agreement that Parliament will last


until 2015. MPs are bouncing around Westminster with very little to do.


They are looking for things to put in the Queen's Speech and we are


going to have rocks basically the 40 months and very little substantial


difference in policies. Do you believe Danny Alexander when he says


there would have been no rise in the starting rate of income tax if not


for the Lib Dems? He's gilding the lily. If you look back at papers are


written in 2001 suggesting precisely this policy, written by a Tory peer,


you see there are plenty of Tories which suggest there would have been


this kind of move. I can see why Danny Alexander needs to do this and


they need to show they've achieved something in government because they


are below 10% in the polls and finding it incredibly difficult to


get any traction at all. The other leg of this Lib Dem repositioning is


now to be explicitly the party of Europe and to be the vanguard of the


fight to be all things pro-Europe. Mr Clegg is going to debate Nigel


Farage in the run-up to the European elections. If, despite that, the Lib


Dems come last of the major parties, doesn't it show how out of touch


different. They are targeting a section of the electorate who are a


bit more amenable to their views than the rest. They wouldn't get 20%


of the vote. They are targeting that one section. They have to do


disproportionately well amongst those and it will payoff and they


will end up with something like 15%. How many seats will the Lib Dems


losing the next election? Ten. 0. 15. Triangulation! We'll keep that


on tape and see what actually happens!


The Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is a man on a mission.


He's undertaken the biggest overhaul in our welfare state since it was


invented way back in the black-and-white days of the late


1940s. A committed Roman Catholic, he's said he has a moral vision to


reverse the previous welfare system, which he believes didn't create


enough incentive for people to work. But are his reforms working? Are


they fair? As he bitten off more than he can chew? In a moment, we'll


speak to the man himself but first, here's Adam.


Hackney in north London and we're on the road with the man who might just


be the most ambitious welfare secretary there's ever been. It s a


journey that started in the wind and rain on a Glasgow council estate 12


years ago when he was Tory leader. He came face-to-face with what it


meant to be poor. A selection of teddy bears. It's where he


discovered his recipe for reform, according to one of the advisers who


was with him. There are things that if you do get a job, keep your


family together, stay off drugs and alcohol, make sure you have a proper


skill - that's what keeps you of poverty. He, very ambitiously, wants


to redefine the nature of what it means to be poor and how you get


away from poverty. Back in north London, he's come to congratulate


the troops on some good news. In this borough, the number of people


on job-seeker's allowance has gone down by 29% in the last year, up


from around 1700 to around 1200 But the picture in his wider changes to


the welfare state is a bit more mixed. A cap on the total amount of


benefits a family can get, of ?26,000 a year, is hugely popular


but there have been howls of protest over cuts to housing benefit,


labelled the bedroom tax by some. Protests, too, about assessments for


people on disability benefits, inherited from the previous


government. Iain Duncan Smith has been accused of being heartless and


the company doing them, Atos, has pulled out. And then the big one -


and universal credit, a plan to roll six benefits into one monthly


payment, in a way designed to ensure that work always pays. Some of the


IT has been written off and the timetable seems to be slipping.


Outside the bubble of the stage-managed ministerial trip, a


local Labour MP reckons he's bitten off more than he can chew. The great


desire is to say, " let's have one simple one size fits all approach" .


And there isn't one size of person or family out there. People need to


change and they can challenge on the turn of a penny almost. One minute


they are doing the right thing, working hard. Next minute, they need


a level of support and if this simple system doesn't deliver that


for them, they're in a difficult position. And that's the flying


visit to the front line finished. He does not like to hang about and just


as well do - his overhaul of the entire benefits system still has


quite a long way to go. And Iain Duncan Smith joins me now. Before I


come onto the interview on welfare reform, is Danny Alexander right


when he claims the Lib Dems had to fight to get the Tories to raise the


income tax threshold? That is not my recollection of what happened. These


debates took place in the Coalition. The Conservatives are in


favour of reducing the overall burden of taxation, so the question


was how best do we do it? The conversation took place, they were


keen on raising the threshold, there were also other ways of doing it but


it is clear from the Conservatives that we always wanted to improve the


quality of life of those at the bottom so raising the threshold fit


within the overall plan. If it was a row, it was the kind of row you have


over a cup of tea round the breakfast table. We have got a lot


to cover. There are two criticisms mainly of what you are doing - will


they work, and will they be fair? Leslie Roberts, one of our viewers,


wants to know why so much has already been written off due to


failures of the universal credit system even though it has been


barely introduced. Relatively it has been a ?2 billion investment


project, in the private sector programmes are written off regularly


at 30, 40%. The IT is working, we are improving as we go along, the


key thing is to keep your eye on the parts that don't work and make sure


they don't create a problem for the programme. 140 million has been


wasted! The 40 million that was written off was just do with


security IT, and I took that decision over a year and a half ago


so the programme continued to roll out. Those figures include the


standard right down, the aggregation of cost over a period of time. The


computers were written down years ago but they continue to work now.


Universal credit is rolling out we are doing the Pathfinders and


learning a lot but I will not ever do this again like the last


government, big band launches, you should do it phrase by phrase. Even


your colleague Francis Maude says the implementation of universal


credit has been pretty lamentable. He was referring back to the time


when I stopped that element of the process and I agreed with that. I


intervened to make the changes. The key point is that it is rolling out


and I invite anyone to look at where it is being rolled out to. You were


predicting that a million people would be an universal credit, this


is the new welfare credit which rolls up six existing welfare


benefits and you were predicting a million people would be on it by


April, well it is March and only 3200 are on it. I changed the way we


rolled it out and there was a reason for that. Under the advice of


someone we brought from outside he said that you are better rolling it


out slower and gaining momentum later on. On the timetables for


rolling out we are pretty clear that it will roll out within the


timescale is originally set. We will roll it out into the Northwest so


that we replicate the north and the Northwest, recognise how it works


properly. You will not hit 1 million by April. I have no intention of


claiming that, and it is quite deliberate because that is the wrong


thing to do. We want to roll it out carefully so we make sure everything


about it works. There are lots of variables in this process but if you


do it that way, you will not end up with the kind of debacle where in


the past something like ?28 billion worth of IT programmes were written


off. ?38 billion of net benefits, which is exactly what the N a O Z,


so it is worth getting it right William Grant wants to know, when


will the universal credit cover the whole country? By 2016, everybody


who is claiming one of those six benefits will be claiming universal


credit. Some and sickness benefits will take longer to come on because


it is more difficult. Many of them have no work expectations on them,


but for those on working tax credits, on things like job-seeker's


allowance, they will be making claims on universal credit. Many of


them are already doing that now there are 200,000 people around the


country already on universal credit. You cannot give me a date as to when


everybody will be on it? 2016 is when everybody claiming this benefit


will be on, then you have to bring others and take them slower.


Universal credit is a big and important reform, not an IT reform.


The important point is that it will be a massive cultural reform. Right


now somebody has to go to work and there is a small job out there. They


won't take that because the way their benefits are withdrawn, it


will mean it is not worth doing it. Under the way we have got it in the


Pathfinders, the change is dramatic. A job-seeker can take a


small part time job while they are looking for work and it means


flexibility for business so it is a big change. Lets see if that is true


because universal credit is meant to make work pay, that is your mantra.


Let me show you a quote Minister in the last


-- in the last Tory conference. It has only come down to 76%. Actually


form own parents, before they get to the tax bracket it is well below


that. That is a decision the Government takes about the


withdrawal rate so you can lower that rate or raise it. And do your


reforms, some of the poorest people, if they burn an extra


pound, will pay a marginal rate of 76%. -- if they earn an extra pound.


The 98% he is talking about is a specific area to do with lone


parents but there are specific compound areas in the process that


mean people are better off staying at home then going to work. They


will be able to identify how much they are better off without needing


to have a maths degree to figure it out. They are all taken away at


different rates at the moment, it is complex and chaotic. Under universal


credit that won't happen, and they will always be better off than they


are now. Would you work that bit harder if the Government was going


to take away that portion of what you learned? At the moment you are


going to tax poor people at the same rate the French government taxes


billionaires. Millions will be better off under this system of


universal credit, I promise you and that level of withdrawal then


becomes something governments have to publicly discussed as to whether


they lower or raise it. But George Osborne wouldn't give you the extra


money to allow for the taper, is that right? The moment somebody


crosses into work under the present system, there are huge cliff edges,


in other words the immediate withdrawal makes it worse for them


to go into work than otherwise. If he had given you more money, you


could have tapered it more gently? Of course, but the Chancellor can


always ultimately make that decision. These decisions are made


by chancellors like tax rates, but it would be much easier under this


system for the public to see what the Government chooses as its


priorities. At the moment nobody has any idea but in the future it will


be. Under the Pathfinders, we are finding people are going to work


faster, doing more job searches and more likely to take work under


universal credit. Public Accounts Committee said this programme has


been worse than doing nothing, for the long-term credit. It has not


been a glorious success, has it That is wrong. Right now the work


programme is succeeding, more people are going to work, somewhere in the


order of 500,000 people have gone back into work as a result of the


programme. Around 280,000 people are in a sustained work over six


months. Many companies are well above it, and the whole point about


the work programme is that it is setup so that we make the private


sector, two things that are important, there is competition in


every area so that people can be sucked out of the programme and


others can move in. The important point here as well is this, that


actually they don't get paid unless they sustain somebody for six months


of employment. Under previous programmes under the last


government, they wasted millions paying companies who took the money


and didn't do enough to get people into work. The best performing


provider only moved 5% of people off benefit into work, the worst managed


only 2%. It is young people. That report was on the early first months


of the work programme, it is a two-year point we are now and I can


give you the figures for this. They are above the line, the improvement


has been dramatic and the work programme is better than any other


back to work programme under the last government. So why is long term


unemployment rising? It is falling. We have the largest number of people


back in work, there is more women in work than ever before, more jobs


being created, 1.6 million new jobs being created. The work programme is


working, our back to work programmes are incredibly successful at below


cost so we are doing better than the last government ever did, and it


will continue to improve because this process is very important. The


competition is what drives up performance. We want the best


performers to take the biggest numbers of people. You are


practising Catholic, Archbishop Vincent Nichols has attached your


reforms -- attack to your reforms, saying they are becoming more


punitive to the most vulnerable in the land. What do you say? I don't


agree. It would have been good if you called me before making these


attacks because most are not correct.


For the poorest temper sent in their society, they are now spending, as a


percentage of their income, less than they did before. I'm not quite


sure what he thinks welfare is about. Welfare is about stabilising


people but most of all making sure that households can achieve what


they need through work. The number of workless households under


previous governments arose consistently. It has fallen for the


first time in 30 years by nearly 18%. Something like a quarter of a


million children were growing up in workless households and are now in


households with work and they are three times more likely to grow up


with work than they would have been in workless households. Let me come


into something that he may have had in mind as being punitive - some


other housing benefit changes. A year ago, the Prime Minister


announced that people with severely disabled children would be exempt


from the changes but that was only after your department fought a High


Court battle over children who couldn't share a bedroom because of


severe disabilities. Isn't that what the Archbishop means by punitive or,


some may describe it, heartless We were originally going to appeal that


and I said no. You put it up for an appeal and I said no. We're talking


about families with disabled children. There are good reasons for


this. Children with conditions like that don't make decisions about


their household - their parents do - so I said we would exempt them. But


for adults with disabilities the courts have upheld all of our


decisions against complaints. But you did appeal it. It's just that,


having lost in the appeal court you didn't then go to the Supreme Court.


You make decisions about this. My view was that it was right to exempt


them at that time. I made that decision, not the Prime Minister.


Let's get this right - the context of this is quite important. Housing


benefit under the last government doubled under the last ten years to


?20 billion. It was set to rise to another 25 billion, the fastest


rising of the benefits, it was out of control. We had to get it into


control. It wasn't easy but we haven't cut the overall rise in


housing. We've lowered it but we haven't cut housing benefit and


we've tried to do it carefully so that people get a fair crack. On the


spare room subsidy, which is what this complaint was about, the


reality is that there are a quarter of a million people living in


overcrowded accommodation. The last government left us with 1 million


people on a waiting list for housing and there were half a million people


sitting in houses with spare bedrooms they weren't using. As we


build more houses, yes we need more, but the reality is that councils and


others have to use their accommodation carefully so that they


actually improve the lot of those living in desperate situations in


overcrowded accommodation, and taxpayers are paying a lot of


money. This will help people get back to work. They're more likely to


go to work and more likely, therefore, to end up in the right


sort of housing. We've not got much time left. A centre-right think tank


that you've been associated with, on job-seeker's allowance, says 70 000


job-seekers' benefits were withdrawn unfairly. A viewer wants to know,


are these reforms too harsh and punitive? Those figures are not


correct. The Policy Exchange is wrong? Those figures are not correct


and we will be publishing corrected figures. The reality is... Some


people have lost their job-seeker benefits and been forced to go to


food backs and they shouldn't have. No, they're not. What he is


referring to is that we allowed an adviser to make a decision if some


but it is not cooperating. We now make people sign a contract, where


they agree these things. These are things we do for you and if you


don't do these things, you are likely to have your benefit


withdrawn on job-seeker's allowance. Some of this was an fairly


withdrawn. There are millions of these things that go through. This


is a very small subset. But if you lose your job-seeker benefit


unfairly, you have no cash flow There is an immediate review within


seven days of that decision. Within seven days, that decision is


reviewed. They are able to get a hardship fund straightaway if there


is a problem. We have nearly ?1 billion setup to help people,


through crisis, hardship funds and in many other ways. We've given more


than ?200 million to authorities to do face-to-face checks. This is not


a nasty, vicious system but a system that says, "look, we ask you to do


certain things. Taxpayers pay this money. You are out of work but you


have obligations to seek work. We simply ask that you stick to doing


those. Those sanctions are therefore be but he will not cooperate" . I


think it is only fair to say to those people that they make choices


throughout their life and if they choose not to cooperate, this is


what happens. Is child poverty rising? No, it is actually falling


in the last figures. 300,000 it fell in the last... Let me show you these


figures. That is a projection by the Institute of fiscal studies. It also


shows that it has gone up every year and will rise by 400,000 in this


Parliament, and your government, and will continue to rise. But never


mind the projection. It may be right, may be wrong. It would be


400,000 up compared to when -- what you inherited when this Parliament


ends. That isn't a projection but the actual figures. But the last


figures show that child poverty has fallen by some 300,000. The


important point is... Can I just finished this point of? Child


poverty is measured against 60% of median income so this is an issue


about how we measure child poverty. You want to change the measure. I


made the decision not to publish our change figures at this point because


we've still got a bit more work to do on them but there is a big


consensus that the way we measure child poverty right now does not


measure exactly what requires to be done. For example, a family with an


individual parent who may be drug addicted and gets what we think is


enough money to be just over the line, their children may be living


in poverty but they won't be measured so we need to get a


measurement that looks at poverty in terms of how people live, not just


in terms of the income levels they have. You can see on that chart -


400,000 rising by the end of this Parliament - you are deciding over


an increase. Speedier I want to change it because under the last


government child poverty rose consistently from 2004 and they


ended up chucking huge sums of money into things like tax credits. In tax


credits, in six years before the last election, the last government


spent ?175 billion chasing a poverty target and they didn't achieve what


they set out to achieve. We don't want to continue down that line


where you simply put money into a welfare system to alter a marginal


income line. It doesn't make any sense. That's why we want to change


it, not because some projection says it might be going up. I will point


out again it isn't a projection up to 2013-14. You want it to make work


pay but more people in poverty are now in working families than in


workless families. For them, workers not paying. Those figures referred


to the last government's time in government. What is interesting


about it is that until 2010, under the last government, those in


working families - poverty in working families rose by half a


million. For the two years up to the end of those figures, it has been


flat, under this government. These are figures at the last


government... You inherited and it hasn't changed. The truth is, even


if you are in poverty in a working family, your children, if they are


in workless families, are three times more likely to be out of work


and to suffer real hardship. So, in other words, moving people up the


scale, into work and then on is important. The problem with the last


government system with working tax credit is it locks them into certain


hours and they didn't progress. We're changing that so that you


progress on up and go out of poverty through work and beyond it. But


those figures you're referring to refer to the last government's


tenure and they spent ?175 billion on a tax credit which still left


people in work in poverty. Even 20 minutes isn't enough to go through


all this. A lot more I'd like to talk about. I hope you will come


back. I will definitely come back. Thank you for joining us.


You're watching the Sunday Politics. We say goodbye to viewers


in Scotland, who leave us now for Sunday Politics Scotland.


As our troops pull out of Afghanistan, we will hear from a


Defence Minister and a veteran as to whether it will be `` it has all


been worth it? towns are opdn for business, girls are going to school


and millions of Afghan refugees have come home. No`one doubts thdy are


going to be huge challenges when British troops leave later this


year. Same`sex marriage becomes legal this week, but one advice


centre in the region says epual rights for gay people are still a


long way off. From the 2nd of January, when we opened our doors


after the Christmas break, we have dealt with 11 suicidal individuals


who have attempted to kill themselves. My guests this week the


Conservative MP for Roxburgh and Defence Minister Anna Soubrx and


Labour's MP Margaret Becket and a would`be politician, David Bishop,


who has been in the news thhs week. David Bishop, you stood with your


Bus Pass Elvis Party and yot took a momentous fourth place in a


Nottingham City Council by`dlection. You pushed the Lib Dems into fifth


place. Congratulations. How do you feel? Thank you very much.


Surprised, but I thought I light get somewhere this time. I didn't think


the Lib Dems would do very well In a recent by`election in Manchester,


they lost their deposit, so I thought there may be a chance this


time that I would beat them. I never saw the Liberal Democrat calpaign


team. I didn't see any literature. I don't know where they were


leafleting. I never saw anything. Your success has taken you to


trending on Twitter. Are yot aware of the success? No. You are. I don't


have a computer. Somebody h`s to look at these things for me. I


haven't got a computer, I h`ven t got a TV. I haven't got a mobile


phone. You haven't got a phone? Mobile phone. The Lib Dems have told


us that they knew that they couldn't win the seat, so they didn't


campaign there. Do you belidve that? That is what they have told us. They


didn't stand last time. I know they didn't stand last time. Why this


time? Why did they stand thhs time? They didn't stand last time. I guess


to give people a chance to vote To see the strength of support that


they have. We actually have history. I thought you and I had stood


against each other, but we haven't. How do you feel about it whdn people


like David, fringe candidatds, stand? Brilliant. We had a


by`election in Sherwood, in the city ward, which I have stood in. You had


different name them. You were the Elvis Appreciation Party. Church of


the Militant Elvis. That is it, Church of the Militant Elvis. They


all have Elvis as a theme, don't they? Different campaigns. That was


the more religious one. That was good fun. Obviously, Elvis hs more


popular than the Lib Dems, hn conclusion. How do you feel,


Margaret, about people like David standing? They've got every right to


stand. If they enjoy themselves fine. A bit of a nuisance, really?


No. It adds great fun. I might not be so amused if I lost to somebody!


I lost to a garlic in a student union election. ``


. I lost to one of the Daleks. You're not a Doctor Who fan? You got


67, the Lib Dems got 56. Yot weren't expecting to do as well as xou did.


You doubled what you did last time. I think the Lib Dems probably wish


they had not have stood. I would have been bottom if they had not


have stood. It was an interdsting by`election. To be truthful, I


didn't think we would do as well as we did. We did well. It is ` very


interesting... I know a bit about the area. It is an interesthng seat,


it used to be held by three Tories. Labour won it in 2011. David, where


do you go now? Where do I go now? Yes, general election wise. I was


going to say to the pub! No, I am not sure what I will do. I hope you


might stand in Anne's consthtuency! I heard you might. Is that true


Don't you dare! Not against me. Not with a majority of 389. Go to


Margaret's seat. David, thank you very much. The lighter side of


politics there. But you cannot get much more serious than our next


topic. British troops have begun their withdrawal from Afghanistan.


Among them, hundreds of troops from the East Midlands. Much of ht has


been documented by our correspondent. Now, as the bases are


wound down, he's been back to Afghanistan for a special rdport on


the impact East Midlands soldiers have had. This is Camp Basthon. The


sprawling British base in the middle of the desert that was designed by


engineers from the Chilwell. Thousands of men and women have been


deployed here over the last few years. Some are packing up to head


home. It is already well under wax. They


are dismantling bases, loadhng containers and cleaning thotsands of


vehicles that will be sent back to the UK. When I first came hdre five


years ago, it was very diffdrent. It was all`out war. The soldiers from


Derbyshire saw some of the toughest fighting since World War II. They


have shown extraordinary cotrage and more than 20 men have lost their


lives from the East Midlands. I asked the commander here in Helmand


Province what they have achheved. The role that has been playdd by


regiments such as the Royal Anglian Regiment, their contribution has


been really valuable. You c`n see the changes, you can see thd


progress that has been made. We were originally in Afghanistan bdcause of


the threat that was posed from this part of the world which led to /11


and the summer attacks in London. Since then, there has been `n


operation to assist the Afghans in the rebuilding of their nathon in


order so they can have their own security forces that can prdvent


that threat from emanating from this part of the world again. But there


still remains an underlying political issue here in Afghanistan


which is the source of the insurgency. Some people will say


that the Taliban still has hnfluence in this part of Afghanistan. We are


withdrawing. We haven't won this war. A secure environment in which


they can recruit their army and their police. Would concede that the


activity of the troops and British soldiers as part of that, h`ve


successfully bought the Afghans time. That has allowed a secure


environment. We have been ddlivering training. Can you see the T`liban


back in power in some form hn Helmand Province? I can see no


chance here in Helmand. The people of Helmand overwhelmingly rdject the


Taliban. They can see that the government of Afghanistan h`ve been


able to deliver effective sdcurity and they have also been abld to


deliver the functions of government that we would expect in the UK. The


Taliban offer none of that. Since the Royal Anglians first arrived


here 12 years ago, things h`ve changed dramatically. Towns are open


for business, girls are going to school, and millions of Afghan


refugees have come home. But no`one doubts there are going to bd huge


challenges when British troops leave later this year. So will security


here deteriorate? Could the Taliban be back in power and will the


sacrifices of so many troops from the East Midlands make a lasting


difference here? You can sed more of Jeremy's report on Afghanistan on


the BBC 's website. Joining us now is an ex`servicemen from


Nottinghamshire who lost a leg when a landmine exploded in Afgh`nistan.


It is great to see you. Jerdmy posed a big question at the end there


Were the sacrifices, includhng your own, worth it? It depends what


question you are asking. We needed to be out there and the Govdrnment


decided that soldiers are to go out there and that is our job. Ht is a


difficult one, it is a diffhcult question to answer, it depends who


you believe. Some people wotld say that we are coming out, but we have


not defeated the Taliban. I've got to agree. I would like us


to be there until the job is done, but I cannot see the job evdr been


done, to be honest, and I think it is time that somebody is br`ve


enough to put up their hand and say, "It is time to leave." As Jdremy


said, 20 deaths from th East Midlands.


Was it worth it? I think so, yes. It is difficult. When you're whth


someone who has lost a loved one or a son or a friend or neighbour or


whatever, especially when somebody has been injured extremely badly, it


is always difficult. But on balance I think yes we did the right thing.


We went in in 2001. We know why we went in, to see off the Talhban and


to reduce, hopefully destrox, the threat that we have seen with the


9/11 incident. That was the whole reason for starting. That is why we


went in. The very real thre`t of terrorist cells. When you t`lk to


some people who are coming back I know it is fair to say that people


are going to put a big face on it. One of the things that we h`ve


achieved is that there is a much better governance, a better civil


society. So when you ask thd question ` will the Taliban be


coming back in? One thing wd have done is enabled the Afghan people to


say, we can do this. Was it right as you were in the Government that took


us to Afghanistan? One of the things that people have tended to forget is


that this was a United Nations operation. It was not just the US


and the UK, it is about 30 countries, if I recall corrdctly.


Because everybody was so appalled at 9/11, not just by what happdned but


by the realisation that this was a completely new kind of thre`t which


people had not anticipated. We have a lot of experience in this country,


we have had terrorism from Northern Ireland, but on the whole pdople


were not willing... They were willing to take the risk of dying,


but they were setting out to be killed. It was all a completely new


phenomenon. With the cuts that we are facing now to the Armed Forces,


could we mount that kind of operation now? Could we do what we


have done? My personal opinhon is no. We struggled originally to do


what we did, we went with no kit. We had the wrong kit in Iraq. Hn Iraq,


2006, we had the wrong kits. We would go out on patrol with three


magazines. We had 10,000 rotnds when I went out in Afghanistan. @re the


cuts going too far? It is h`rd to say. I haven't got all the figures.


I would like all the wastagd in the MoD to be sorted out and thdn you a


problem we find you would not need as many cuts. We have cut pdrsonnel,


we have increased the kits now. I think everybody agrees that the kits


that the guys get, the vehicle, new fleet of vehicles, it is ex`ctly


what they want and when I go out, one of the things... You get


soldiers in particular who `lways ask you, would you like to see our


weaponry? I want to know, do you have what you need? And thex say,


"Yes, we have what we need." We re talking reducing personnel `nd one


MP, the Shadow Defence Minister said that the redundancy programme


should be put on pause. He said the cuts will leave us with


8000 fewer soldiers than we need. Can we be doing this at this time,


faced with the problems we have We have gone through the review. In


America, they have announced huge cuts. I don't know whether Vernon is


saying that the next Labour Government will increase spdnding,


the anyway you can do it. I think a lot of people, including in


Hannah's own party, really puite worried about the way in whhch there


is emphasis on reserves and so on. The events of the last few days have


shown us just how much something can blow up almost out of the blue and


the problems it can cause. H think there is anxiety. There is the


worry. As all the soldiers from Afghanistan, a will need help. You


told me before you came in, you have been recently diagnosed with PTSD.


You have had friends who have come back from fighting. They ard


struggling, aren't they? Thd help is not there. That is the truth of the


matter. The Government is not helping us that they must step in


and do. Charities are there. There are a lot of charities therd that


are struggling themselves. There is a lot of money being put into


charities, but over the next few years when it isn't there any more.


We have put in tens upon tens upon millions of pounds into charities.


Forgive me, it is right that Help for Heroes will raise 40 million a


year. Did you get the help xou need it yourself? Sorry. It is ilportant.


What happens then? That is why we put this funding, guaranteed ?1


million year on year. I think it is really important to say that the


majority of our serving personnel and veterans, actually, havd better


mental health. Very, very briefly. I have to disagree. Completelx. The


help is not there. The problem soldiers have got, PTSD norlally


happens five or ten years after they left the army and they cannot prove


it happened during service. You wish you had more help. I wish there was


more helpful soldiers. Thank you for joining us. On Thursday, sale`sex


marriages will pass into law. It has been billed as an historic loment.


Campaigners say many gay people are still facing discrimination and even


violence and intimidation. With same`sex marriages becoming


legal, it is easy to think that the battle for gay rights is ovdr. But


this centre in Leicester tells a different story. The centre offers


help and advice to people from the Lesbian, gay, bisexual and


transgender committees. `` communities. It has never bden


busier. From the 2nd of Jantary when we opened our doors after the


Christmas break, we have de`lt with 11 individuals who have attdmpted to


kill themselves. They range from somebody in the late 30s to the


opposite end of the spectrul, 1 or 14`year`olds. We had an inqtiry from


an 11`year`old who wrote a detailed letter to his grandmother bdcause he


couldn't cope with the Billhngham school. `` the bullying in school.


You are the project worker here What sort of problems do yot see? We


get a wide range of issues. I never know who is going to be at the end


of the phone. One of the social issues that we are encountering


much more lately, is that of the lesbian gay bisexual or transgender


asylum seeker. At the moment, they are put in the impossible shtuation


of having to prove that thex are lesbian or gay. What does that look


like? I have dealt with people who say that they have been told that


they are too pretty to be a lesbian or too butch to be a gay man. For


the people who use the centre, it is a vital lifeline. Amy, you find this


place quite useful. Yes. Whx is that? It is mainly to do with the


people that you meet and yot can relate to other people and lost of


them have been through what you have been through, like bullying and


stuff like that. The support here is really good. I feel like I can say


anything too poor or ten and they will help we have in any wax


possible. `` Paul or Tim. It is good. We have come so far. When I


was growing up at 14 or 15, our to a psychiatrist, to where we are now,


if there is not a comparison. `` I was sent to a psychiatrist. But I


think the generation after ts and after that will benefit frol the


work we are doing now. Therd is terrible work that is being put


about at the moment is that we are tolerant. We tolerate the b`d


weather, we shouldn't be tolerating human beings. That is not p`rt of


our agenda. Same`sex marriage becomes illegal next week. Some


people here think there is ` long way to go before they reach full


equality and the bleak mess`ge is that some think it would happen in


their lifetime. That is one bleak message.


The centre says it has has 01 cases of people attempting suicidd. It is


shocking. I don't think it hs that gay people don't have equal rights,


but they still suffer from prejudice. That is wrong. I have


been a long`time campaigner for gay rights, since I was a student. I am


very proud of that. We know we have prejudice. I held a public leeting


in my constituency at the thme of the same`sex marriage bill. I was


somebody who was in favour of the same`sex marriage Bill, I stpported


it. It was one of the most puite unpleasant events that I have ever


been to. The level of blind prejudice was extremely unpleasant.


What was interesting is that older gay people there, it was like,


"Yeah, we have experienced this all our lives." How do we Had wd


overcome that prejudice? I think you just have to keep working away at it


and recognise that there will always be people that you will not win


over. As Anna says, it is one of the issues we get some of the most


unpleasant correspondence. Do you think legalising same`sex m`rriage


is enough, though? I agree with Anna. I thought, watching the film,


it isn't about rights, it is about attitude. It is about understanding.


Tolerance. They want more than just that. It is about recognising the


humanity in somebody has different sexuality and attitudes to xou. It


is not for me, somebody who is straight, to tell gay peopld what


they want. What we want is we want the end of prejudice. It has changed


hugely in my lifetime. They do say they want to be treated as dqual. In


law, they are. Forgive me, H think it is prejudice and attitudds. The


attitude of young people to same`sex marriage, overwhelmingly thd


attitude I have found sorry, what is the problem? It was the olddr


generation, not all, of course, who had more faith problem with it. ``


more of a problem. So for a lot of young gay people, they are shocked


now to see this level of prdjudice. To be fair, where there is prejudice


among the young, it becomes part of this horrible bullying atmosphere


that can go around. Actuallx, it is just one of the tools. Maybd it is


almost an indication of how younger people don't think of it as being


absolutely terribly important in the way that some older people do, but


it is just one tool that is to beat somebody if you don't like them and


wants to believe in. `` you want to believe them. You explain to us how


you voted for same`sex marrhage and half of the MPs in the East Midlands


voted against. `` half of the Conservative MPs. Yes, but that is


not because they are anti`g`y. Forgive me, same`sex marriage.. It


was about marriage. It was `bout marriage. It is also about same`sex


marriage. Yes, that was the vote. But that is not just for gax people.


A lot of people don't understand this, but I have the most alazing


couple in my constituency who married as a man and a woman, who


now find themselves the man is a woman, and they live togethdr and


they bring up three children they are utterly brilliant. But for her


now to have her certificate, she would have to divorce her whfe,


because it would... It is a very small example, but it is for them


and a lot of people transgender it is a fantastic step forward. Can we


do more to help centres likd this? I don't know about the centres. Gay


people don't have to just h`ve centres. It is about prejudhce. Some


do. That needs to be funded, doesn't it? I think we are in danger of


being simplistic. Forgive md, I wasn't trying to be. Here's our


political editor with 60 seconds. Thousands of people suffering from a


fatal cancer caused by exposure to asbestos whilst at work will be


eligible for new compensation from July. The Government is increasing


payments to ?123,000 for sufferers. Even if they cannot trace their


former employer or insurer. Mansfield's MP Sir Alan Neill and


welcomes the move, but... The only thing they have announced is a


maximum ?8,000 increase which is not a lot of money. The number of people


taking apprenticeships has brought a ?150 million windfall for btsinesses


in the region. That is according to South Derbyshire's Heather Wheeler.


The Conservative MP says each apprentice brings nearly ?2000 worth


of benefits into a company. Andrew Brigden is leading a call for


people who watch TV without a licence to be spared a crimhnal


record. At the moment, people can be taken to court and fined up to


?1000. That is the Sunday Politics. Thank


you to our guests. Time to hand you back to Andrew Neill. Thanks very


much indeed. Gove is right to focus. We've run


out of time. Thanks for being here. Andrew, back to you.


Now, without further ado, more from our political panel. Iain Martin,


what did you make of Iain Duncan Smith's response to the Danny


Alexander point I'd put to him? I thought it was a cheekily put


response but actually, on Twitter, people have been tweeting while on


air that there are lots of examples where the Tories have demanded the


raising of the threshold. The 2 06 Forsyth tax omission is another


example. Helen, on the bigger issue of welfare reforms, is welfare


reform, as we head into the election, despite all the


criticisms, still a plus for the government? I don't think so.


Whatever the opposite of a Midas touch is, Iain Duncan Smith has got


it. David Cameron never talks about universal credit any more. The


record on personal independence payment, for example... We didn t


get onto that. Only one in six of those notes have been paid. A toss


pulling out of their condiment has been a nightmare. It's a very big


minus point for the Secretary of State. -- Atos pulling out of bed


contract. Welfare cuts are an unambiguous point for the government


but other points more ambiguous I don't think it's technical


complexity that makes IDS's reform a problem. The IT gets moved out with


time. But even if it's in fermented perfectly, what it will achieve has


been slightly oversold, I think and simplified incredibly. All it does


is improve incentives to work for one section of the income scale and


diminishes it at another. Basically, you are encouraged to go from


working zero hours to 16 hours but your incentive to work beyond 1


goes down. That's not because it's a horrendous policy but because in


work benefits systems are imperceptible. Most countries do


worse than we do. -- benefits systems cannot be perfected. They


need to tone down how much this can achieve even if it all goes


flawlessly. There are clearly problems, particularly within


limitation, but Labour is still wary of welfare reform. -- with


implementation. Polls suggest it is rather popular. People may not know


what's involved were like the sound of it. I think Janan is right to


mark out the differences between welfare cuts and welfare reforms.


They are related but distinct. Are we saying cuts are more popular than


reform? They clearly are. The numbers, when you present people


numbers on benefit reductions, are off the scale. Reform, for the


reasons you explored in your interview, is incredibly


compensated. What's interesting is that Labour haven't really


definitively said what their position is on this. I think they


like - despite what they may see in public occasionally - some of what


universal credit might produce but they don't want to be associated


with it. We probably won't know until if Ed Miliband is Prime


Minister precisely what direction Labour will go. Immigration is still


a hot topic in Westminster and throughout the country. This new


Home Office minister, James Brokenshire, made an intervention.


Let's see what he had to say. For too long, the benefits of


immigration went to employers who wanted an easy supply of cheap


labour or to the wealthy metropolitan elite who wanted cheap


tradesmen and services, but not to the ordinary hard-working people of


this country. With the result that the Prime Minister and everyone else


has to tell us all whether they ve now got Portuguese or whatever it is


Nanny is. Is this the most cack-handed intervention on an


immigration issue in a long list? I think it is and when I saw this


being trailed the night before, I worried for him. As soon as a


minister of the Crown uses the phrase "wealthy metropolitan elite"


more likely we see it in recession. We've just had the worst recession


in several decades. It's no small problem but compared to what


ministers like James Brokenshire has been saying for the past few years


and also the reluctance to issue the report earlier, I thought that,


combined with the speech, made it quite a bad week for the department.


Was this a cack-handed attempt to appeal to the UKIP voters? I think


so and he's predecessor had to leave the job because of having a foreign


cleaner. It drew attention to the Tories' biggest problem, the out of


touch problem. Most people around the country probably don't have a


Portuguese nanny and you've just put a big sign over David Cameron


saying, this man can afford a Portuguese Nanny. It is not the


finest political operation ever conducted and the speech was


definitely given by the Home Office to Number Ten but did Number Ten


bother to read it? It was a complete shambles. The basic argument that


there is a divide between a wealthy metropolitan elite and large parts


of Middle Britain or the rest of the country I think is basically sound.


It is but they are on the wrong side of it. What do you mean by that The


Tory government is on the wrong side. This is appealing to UKIP


voters and we know that UKIP is appealing to working-class voters


who have previously voted Labour and Tory. If you set up that divide


make sure you are on the right side stop When you talk about


metropolitan members of the media class, they say that it is rubbish


and everyone has a Polish cleaner. No, they don't. I do not have a


clean! I don't clean behind the fridge, either! Most people in the


country don't have a cleaner. The problem for the Tories on this is,


why play that game? You can't out-UKIP UKIP. After two or three


years of sustained Tory effort to do that, they will probably finish


behind UKIP. Do we really want a political system where it becomes an


issue of where your nanny or your cleaner is from, if you've got one?


Unless, of course, they're illegal. But Portuguese or Italian or


Scottish... And intervention was from Nick Clegg who said his wife


was Dutch -- his mum was Dutch and his wife was Spanish. Not communism


but who your cleaner is! It's the McCarthy question! Where does your


cleaner come from. A lot of people will say are lucky to have a


cleaner. I want to move onto selfies but first, on the Nigel Farage


Nick Clegg debate, let's stick with the TV one. Who do you think will


win? Nigel Farage. Clegg. He is a surprisingly good in debates and


people have forgotten. I think Clegg is going to win. I think Farage has


peaked. We're going to keep that on tape as well! Two 214 Clegg there.


Selfies. Politicians are attempting to show they're down with the kids.


Let's look at some that we've seen in recent days.


Why are they doing this, Helen? I'm so embarrassed you call me reading


the SNP manifesto, as I do every Saturday! They do it because it


makes them seem authentic and that's the big Lie that social media tells


you - that you're seeing the real person. You're not, you're seeing a


very carefully manicured, more witty person. That doesn't work for


politicians. It looks so fake and I'm still suffering the cringe I see


every time I see Cameronserious phone face. Does Mr Cameron really


think it big Sim up because he's on the phone to President Obama? Obama


is not the personality he once was. There is an international crisis in


Ukraine - of course we are expecting to be speaking to Obama! And if you


were in any doubt about what a man talking on the telephone looks like,


here's a photo. I must confess, I didn't take my own selfie. Did your


nanny? My father-in-law took it Where is your father-in-law from?


Scotland. Just checking. Janan, I think we've got one of you. The 1%!


What a great telephone! Where did you get that telephone? It looks


like Wolf Of Wall Street! That's what I go to bed in. It showed how


excited Cameron was to be on the phone to Obama. All our politicians


think they are living a mini version of US politics. President Obama goes


on a big plane and we complain when George Osborne goes first class on


first Great Western. They want to be big and important like American


politics but it doesn't work. We'll see your top at next week!


That's it for this week. Faxed all our guests. The Daily Politics is on


all this week at lunchtime on BBC Two. We'll be back here same time,


same place next week. Remember, if it's Sunday, it is the Sunday




Andrew Neil and Marie Ashby with the latest political news, interviews and debate. With work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith and chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander.

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