23/03/2014 Sunday Politics East Midlands


Marie Ashby with the latest political news, interviews and debate. Andrew Neil is joined by pensions minister Steve Webb, Labour's Chris Leslie and Happy Mondays star Bez.

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 23/03/2014. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics. The dust has barely


settled on George Osborne's Budget and, amazingly, for once it hasn't


all gone horribly wrong by the weekend. So, is this the election


springboard the Tories needed, and where does it leave Labour? Turns


out the big Budget surprise was a revolution in how we pay for old


age. The Pensions Minister says he's relaxed if you want to spend it all


on a Lamborghini. He'll join us later. And could the man with the


maracas be on his way to Westminster? Bez from the Happy


Mondays tells us about his unlikely plan to


In the East Midlands: We are in Brussels at the European Parliament


with four of our MEPs. They will be arguing the


stay in Axbridge. Are there ways of making the European arrest warrant


work better? -- Uxbridge. And who better to help guide you through all


of that than three journalists, who dispense wisdom faster than Grant


Shapps calls out the numbers in his local bingo hall over a pint of


beer. Yes, they're hard-working and they're doing the things they enjoy.


Cup of tea, number three. It's Nick Watt, Polly Toynbee and Janan


Ganesh. So, George Osborne delivered his


fifth Budget on Wednesday and had so many glowing front pages the day


afterwards he must be running out of room to pin them up in on his


bedroom wall. Although it's probably a pretty big wall. For those of you


who didn't have time to watch 3.5 hours of Budget coverage on the BBC,


here's Giles with the whole thing in three minutes.


Budget days have a rhythm of their own, driven partly by tradition,


like that photocall at 11 Downing Street and part logistics, how to


get this important statement out and explain to those whom it affects -


us? Behind-the-scenes of a Budget Day is much the same. This ritual


red boxery may be the beginning of the end of weeks of work behind the


scenes in the Treasury and sets the clock ticking on the process of


finding out the answer to one question. You got any rabbits in the


box, Chancellor? Yes, there will be something in the Budget we don't


know about. Time marches steadily towards the statement and already


commentators are hovering over what those potential surprises are. As


Big Ben chimes, all focus returns to the Commons, where there is Prime


Minister's questions and the Chancellor gets up and does his


thing. Once he's on his feet and remembering there is still no copy


of the details, the major measures are rapidly highlighted as they come


and then put up on screen. A cap on Government welfare spending set for


2015/16 at 119 billion. Income tax personal allowance raised to


?10,500. Bingo duty halved, which ticked boxes for some but was


unlikely to make anyone a poster boy. And the beer tax cut of 1p, or


the froth on the top. And changes to pensions allowing people to take


their money out in one lump sum, rather than being forced to accept a


fixed annual pay-out, or annuity. This is a Budget for the makers, the


doers and the savers and I commend it to the House. Not everyone can


focus on the Budget by listening to what the Chancellor says. We need to


get a copy of the script. We do not get that till he sits down. I'm


going to go into the House of Commons to get that right now. There


will be a response on that and all the other things from Mr Miliband.


The Chancellor spoke for nearly an hour but he did not mention one


essential fact, the working people of Britain are worse off under the


Tories. It is a tricky job answering the Budget at the best of times,


though some, including Labour MPs, think it is better to mention the


Budget when you do. Here we are. I am going to go. I am


not the only journalist missing Ed Miliband's speech. Many others leave


the Chamber as the Chancellor sits down to attend a special briefing


from the Chancellor's advisory team. I am hotfoot to the studio. There is


a little more detail to the Budget than the Budget Speech. That detail


can be whether words unravel and other interpretations emerge. By now


the gaggle of supporters and detractors are taking the debate


onto the airwaves. Are you the BBC? Have the Daily Politics packed up?


No, we're still standing and, days later, still trying to assess


whether the measures announced still seem fresh and appetising or have


already gone stale in the minds of voters?


How significant are these two poles this morning putting Labour and Tory


nip and tuck? Osborne gave his party a good bounce. It was an


astonishingly theatrical coup. At first glance, it seems like a huge


gift to all people. That is where all of the money has been channelled


by this government. They have been ultra-protected, triple locked.


Pensioners have done very well and others less well. It is not


surprising. Normally a budget which is well received on the day and the


day after has unravelled by the weekend. This time, it has not, so


far. The dangerous thing for the Labour Party now, George Osborne is


the assessment this thing called the baseline. He says, in government,


you must control the baseline. The Labour party controlled in 2001 and


2005 and he needs to control it next time. He is controlling it on fiscal


policy because labour is matching them on everything. The danger for


Labour on the big, headline grabbing issue, which was freeing up


annuities on pensions, that again Labour was pretty much saying it was


going to support it though it were saying it has to be fair and


cost-effective. On a big, policy issue, they are following on behind


George Osborne. George Osborne is controlling the crucial baseline.


Are we in danger of reading too much into the political implications of


the budget? The good thing about the pensions policy is, if it does


unravel, it will not happen for ten years and, by that time, George


Osborne will have left office. Towards the end of his speech, I


thought, that is not enough. There is not an idea in your budget which


is politically very vivid a year before an election. What I


underestimated was, how many frustrated savers that are in the


country. There are a lot of people who are frustrated by low interest


rates and tax rates on pension pots. This was an explicit gesture for


them. That is what has paid off in the polls in the past few days. You


spend all of your money on your wardrobe, is that right? The bingo


poster was a kind of get out of jail card for Labour. It gave them


something to zoom in on. Everyone beat up on Grant Shapps, the Tory


chairman. We read in the daily Telegraph that the fingerprints of


the Chancellor were all over this poster. The Chancellor signed off it


-- off on it and so did Lynton Crosby. They referred to working


class people as, they are. How did it get into the Telegraph? We can


only presume but grant Shapps made it clear that it was not him. We had


a time when Labour politicians, we saw from the response of Ed Miliband


onwards, they were not quite sure how to react to this budget. A lot


of detail had to be absorbed. Suddenly, here is something we can


talk about. You can see the thinking behind the poster was very sensible.


We are not Tory toffs, we are interested in helping people who do


not come from our backgrounds. The wording was awful and played into


every cliche. It was all his fault. It shows how unsophisticated he


was. There were people from Tory HQ who agreed the budget. A month down


the line will the budget look as good? Probably. Once people look at


it, pensions are fiendishly conjugated. Once they look and see


what it will do with people having to pay for their own care because


they can now take capital at their pension, that will come as a shock


to a lot of people with small savings. It all be gone on their


care. The polling will be neck and neck all the way. In the past,


George Osborne has been accused of using his Budgets to tinker at the


margins or pull cheap tricks on his political opponents. Perish the


thought. But the big surprise in this year's statement was a


genuinely radical shake-up of the pensions system that will affect


most people who've yet to retire. At the moment, everyone is saving money


into a defined contribution pension, that is the type most common in the


private sector. They can take 25% of the pot is a tax-free lump sum when


they retire. The rest of the money, for most people, they are forced to


buy an annuity, a form of insurance which provide a guaranteed monthly


income until they die. Annuities have hardly been a bargain since


interest rates were flat slashed following the financial crash. Even


with a ?100,000 pension pot would only get an income of ?5,800 a year


at current rates. From 2018, pensioners will not be forced to buy


an annuity. They can do what they like with their money, even taking


the entire pot as a lump some but paying tax on 75% of it.


With an average pension pot closer to around ?30,000, pensioners would


be more likely to buy a Skoda instead of a Lamborghini. Most newly


retired people who take the cash are more likely to spend the money


paying off their mortgage, helping a family member to buy a property or


investing the money elsewhere. Well, earlier I spoke to the Pensions


Minister. He's a Lib Dem called Steve Webb. I began by asking him if


he still thought the reforms might lead to pensioners splurging all


their savings on supercars. What this reform is about is treating


people as adults. For far too long, we have said, we will make sure you


save for your old age and then we will control each year how much is


spent on what you spend it on. What we are saying is because we have


formed -- reformed the state pension, we will be much more


relaxed about what people do with their own money. The evidence is


that people who have been frugal and saved hard for retirement do not


generally blows a lot. They will spin it out. It is treating people


as adults and giving them choices they should have had all along. It


is a red herring, isn't it? The average pension pot is between 25000


and 30,000. Lamborghinis aren't an option, correct? I gather only about


5000 people a year retiring can buy a flashy Italian sports car. It


might be about paying off a mortgage, paying off outstanding


debts. Maybe spending more money earlier in retirement when they are


fit and able and can enjoy it more. We will give people guidance. We


will make sure when they retire, there is someone to have a


conversation with talking through the implications of spending the


money early and options of investing it. This will be a real step


forward. Even if you have a much bigger pension pot, say half ?1


million, which is way bigger than the average, even then the marginal


rates of tax will be a disincentive to take it all out at once. You will


lose huge chunks of it at the 40% band and then the 45% band. The tax


system gives you the incentive to spread it out if the tax threshold


is a bit over 10000 and the state pension is a bit over 7000, the


first 3000 you draw out in a given year is tax-free. The next band is


at 20%. Spreading your money will mean you pay less tax. That is why,


in general, people will not blow the lot up front. They will spread it


out over their retirement. You have kept this policy quiet. Not even a


hint. How did you test it? How did you make sure it would be robust?


You did not do a consultation. I have been talking about freeing up


the annuity market for a decade. The idea of giving people more choice.


The government has relaxed rules over this Parliament. It was not a


completely new idea. We know in places like Australia and America,


people have these freedoms. We already have something to judge it


by. We will spend the next year talking to people, working it


through. There will be a three-month consultation. I want people to have


choices about their own money. There is detail still to be worked out and


we are in listening mode about how we implement it. When you announce


something you cannot do widespread consultation, for the reasons I have


given, you do run the risk of unforeseen consequences? Pension


companies this morning are indicating, you, the government can


write you are looking for ?25 billion of infrastructure investment


from us. You hold our shell below the water line. That may not happen.


We spoke internally about the implications for instruction --


infrastructure. It seems to me there will still be long-term investments.


Many people want to turn their whole pot into an income. I understand the


insurance companies are lobbying, but I'm convinced there will still


be plenty of money for investment and infrastructure. If the


Chancellor's pro-savings measures work, that will generate more


savings. With no requirement now to buy an annuity, surely it is the


case that pension pots are another ordinary savings fund, so why should


they continue to get favourable tax treatment? Bear in mind that a lot


of the tax treatment of pensioners is tax deferred so most people pay


tax at the standard rate. If they put money into a pension, they don't


pay tax when they earn it, but they do at retirement. We do want, we


will still have automatic enrolment into workplace pensions, we do want


people to build up, because at age 20 and 30 nobody thinks about


retirement. It is still vital that people do reach retirement to have


these new choices with a decent sized pension pot. Pensions. Tax


breaks because they were supposed to provide an income in retirement,


that is how it was structured, but that is no longer a requirement,


surely that undermines the case that if they get tax breaks, other forms


of savings should get tax breaks. Other forms do get tax breaks, of


course. The return with ISAs is tax free. The point with pensions is


that you are simply deferring your earnings. There is a bit when high


tax rate payers get a kick when they are working and then retire on


standard rate, so there is the issue of the top getting too many tax


breaks, but the basic principle that you pay tax when you get the income


seems right to me and isn't affected by these changes. You have announced


save friendly measures, are we right to look at them as a consolation


prize because savers have suffered from the Government's policy of


keeping interest rates abnormally low? It is certainly the case that


very low interest rates have been a huge boon to people of working age


with mortgages, and people who have retired said they thought they could


have got a better deal on their savings. I think there is a


recognition that whilst we have done the right thing with pensioners on


the state pension, we have brought in the triple lock, and many will


bent on -- benefit from these changes. Why don't savers who are


not pensioners get the same help? They have been hit by low interest


rates as well. Those of working age, many of them say they have


benefited from low interest rates was predominantly people in


retirement have not had the benefit. Obviously people of working age will


have benefited from the tax allowance so it is a myth to say the


Budget was all about pensioners. And yet even when the Office for Budget


Responsibility takes into account your new measures, it still shows


that over the next five years households will save less and less,


indeed the savings ratio falls by 50%. You haven't done enough. One of


the things we know is that the economy is picking up strongly, and


as we have more confidence about the future they will be more willing to


consume now, so without these measures it may be that the saving


rate would have fallen further. We want people to save and spend, it is


about getting the right balance. As the economy picks up, people will


want to spend more of their money and it is about getting the balance


right. You make the point that if people are little profligate with


their private pensions, they will have the state pension to fall back


on and it will be higher than it has been, but it is also the case that


in these circumstances they will still be entitled to housing benefit


and even to perhaps some council tax benefit as well. Do you know by how


much this could put the welfare bill up? We think the impact will be


relatively modest because the sort of people who save for a pension and


make sacrifices while they are at work are not the sort of people who


get to 65 and decide to blow the lot for the great privilege of receiving


council tax benefit or housing benefit. There will be people on the


margins and benefit. There will be people on the


who retire with some capital want to put some money away for their


funeral. People like to save even into retirement so the myth of the


spendthrift pensioner I don't believe. I think this has been


rightly welcomed. Ever fancied a Lamborghini yourself? If you turned


the camera around you would see my 2-door Corsa!


What's your favourite thing about an election? Could it be the candidates


ringing on your door while you're having dinner? The leaflets piling


up on your doormat? Or the endless adverts aimed at hardworking


families? Well, if you thought that was bad enough, then you might want


to consider going overseas for the 2015 election because the parties


are going to be aiming their message at you like never before. Adam's


been to Worcester to find out more. One of the most famous political


figures in history lived here, she is called Worcester woman. She was


in her 30s, working class with a couple of kids, aspirational yet


worried about quality of life. But she wasn't a real person, she was a


label for the kind of voter new Labour were trying to reach and she


was later joined by Mondeo man and several others. Doesn't that all


seem a bit 90s? The technique, called segmentation, was used by


George Bush in 2004. Then refined by Barack Obama. Rather than focusing


on crude measures like cars and hometowns, they delved into the


minds of voters. It is not just women, not just people who live in


cities, but if you start to put together these groups of people you


can even in an anecdote or way imagine who they are, what types of


language and imagery might relate to them. We have been given access to a


new polling model being used here by this firm, which is pretty close to


the one we are told is being used by the Tories. It carves the country


into six personality types, and we are trying it out on Worcester woman


and wast of man. We are using an online quiz to work out who is in


which segment. Meet new monk, Susie. She feels well represented. I


know the Budget and the increases to childcare, I think at the moment I


am fairly represented. This puts her in the category of optimistic


contentment, people who feel they are doing OK. Terry, on the other


hand, isn't happy about Britain today. Health and safety and all


that! I hardly recognise the country a living in any more? Yes. Are you


ready for the result? He is Mr comfortable nostalgia, they tend to


favour the Tories and UKIP. They dislike the cultural changes they


see as altering Britain for the worst. That sums me up. Tony is


worried as well but feels much less secure. I look forward to the future


with optimism or anxiety? Anxiety. Optimist or pessimist? Pessimist.


His category is... You feel a bit insecure, you think the Government


could probably help you more? Yes. Labour picks up a lot of these


voters. This man is being asked to do more and more at work, but he is


getting less and less. I am getting more towards the despair side.


Things are getting tougher, generally? It puts him into the


segment called long-term despair, people who feel left out. Finally,


this is ever thoughtful Carol. I am a bit of an idealist. Her idealism


makes her a cosmopolitan critic. I am a liberal person. Apparently a


lot of the media fit into this category as well. There is one group


of voters we have not come across, people who show calm persistence.


They hope things will get better but don't expect them to. They are


coping, rather than comfortable. Presumably they are all out of work.


Which group are you win? You can take the poll on the BBC website,


and in the coming weeks we will be doing our own polling using the six


segments to see of the politicians really have worked out how we think.


And as Adam said, if you want to try the survey for yourself, you can go


to the BBC website and click on the link.


And we're joined now by the pollster, Rick Nye. Welcome to


Sunday Politics. We have had Worcester woman, Worcester man, is


this any different? It is a recognition that or politician --


all politics these days is like this. It enables them to cut them


more finally. You think all politics is coalition politics, you think


they have to put together these groups of people, not that the Lib


Dems will always be in power? No, and if you listen to the coverage


these days you might think it is about grumpy old men on the one hand


with Guardian readers on the other. It is far more complicated than


that, there is a lot of churning going on underneath which is driven


by people's value systems. A lot of this has been pioneered in the


United States, very sophisticated on their election techniques, and in


Britain we are always the first to grab whatever the New Year will is


from America. How do you think this will translate to this country? I


think it means that if you are target photo you will still get the


same of leaflets and people calling, but you will probably have different


kinds of conversations because people on the other side, the party


campaigners, will think they know more about you. Will I know who you


are? If I am a party campaigner, will I know, looking down the


street, who fits into which category? You will be able to


approximate that with all of the other data that you have gathered


through polling, or doing local campaigning, that is the idea to


make sense of this vast quantity of data people have about voters. We


asked our panel to fill in your survey. Nick is optimistic


contentment, 99%. He was 1% cosmopolitan critic, which is how he


keeps his job at the Guardian. Polly's job could not be more


secure, 100% cosmopolitan critics, and Janan Ganesh, optimistic


contentment, which is what you would expect from a financial Times


columnist. What do you make of this technique? Why are you only 99? It


sounds really clever. 95% of the population five years ago voted


Labour or the Conservatives. We have got away from that. It is coalition


politics. You need sophisticated methods. Presumably you must not


lose touch with basic points. You said it was used in the US


presidential elections. Wasn't there them moment emit Romney 's sweet


when the initial response was, we did not know the sort of people


voted. His next response was, we did not know these people existed.


Unless you know about certain key demographics, you are wasting your


time. Is it important in modern campaigning? I think it is useful


because it is about attitude. We have got Mosaic. We have got Acorn.


It does not tell us very much. What people think and feel may be


different to their income. You can be quite a high earner and anxious.


You can be quite a low earner and feeling aspirational and optimistic


about the future. I think this does get something else. In days gone by,


particularly in America, overwhelmingly, if you are in the


better of segment, you would be Republican and the blue-collar


workers and some academics and Liberals voted Democrat. In the last


election, the richest 200 counties in America voted Democrat. That is


an attitude thing. Income does not tell you how people will vote. There


is a huge, working-class base of support for the Republicans. It is


unavoidable. Add a time when people no longer identify with ideologies


or class blocks, you have to go the temperament and lifestyle and


manageable. In America there were 128 segments according to lifestyle


and Outlook. Once you get to that stage, it becomes close to useless.


We were talking about the budget earlier. What other polls saying


about the budget? The lead of labour has been narrowed over the


Conservatives. -- Labour. Osborne and Cameron as an academic team have


always had a lead over Miller band and Balls. This week it is about


economic management. -- over Mr Miller band.


Thank you for being with us today. It's just gone 11:30am. You're


watching the Sunday Politics. We say goodbye to viewers in Scotland, who


leave us now for Sunday Politics Scotland. Coming up here in 20


We are in the European Parliament. In a few weeks time, we be voting in


those important elections. We have four MEPs with us and we will be


putting your questions to them as we take a closer look at Europe and


what it means to us. If we stay in the EU, we would carry on with


better subsidies but if we came out, we wouldn't have as much red tape.


It would be nice if they tell us more about the benefits because we


don't know any different. I can name the Parliamentary MPs but not the


MEPs. Welcome to the plush TV studio at the European Parliament in


Brussels. Let's meet our guests. A Conservative MEP for the East


Midlands. The Liberal Democrats. Dennis Wilmot is the Labour MEP for


our region. And here is one of two UKIP MEPs. Two months ago. I you


excited? `2 months to go. Are you excited? I'm really excited. It is


our chance every five years to tell people what we've been doing and


what our policies are. We have a really clear message that the


selection that if you want real change in Europe and if you want to


have a referendum on the Conservative Party is the party to


vote for. Is there a buzz about the place? Since the Lisbon Treaty came


in a few years ago which changed the powers, this election matters


enormously about what kind of Europe we are going to have in future. The


Liberal Democrats want to stay in because we want to keep influence


for Britain. How important do you think these elections are? They are


very important but for a different reason. All three of the old parties


have promised the British people a referendum on the European question.


All three have failed to deliver. What we are saying is, this is your


referendum. If you like Europe and want to stay in Europe, that's


fine, you can vote for any of the old parties. If you want to make a


statement and vote against British membership of the European Union,


vote for UKIP. These elections are a taste of things to come. We are very


excited about it because we are doing very well in the polls. It is


also our chance to say why it is important that we have membership of


a single market of 500 million people. That's a massive advantage.


It means many thousands of jobs in the East Midlands. That's really


important. There is a lot riding on this. We are constantly told that we


want to be in the EU for jobs in the East Midlands. When we leave, trade


will continue. China, America, Canada can all sell into Europe and


so will we. And not worried about the jobs they think we are going to


lose. I am worried about the jobs we are losing out because of European


energy policy, immigration policy and the damage that the euro is


doing, because of overregulation in the labour market. This is costing


jobs today. We want out. It's absurd what Roger says. Shell, Nissan,


Toyota, all sorts of enormous companies have all said Britain has


to stay in, otherwise they could well move away from Britain. Where


do the Tories sit on this? It is very clear. The choices for the


people. You can vote Liberal Democrat, they want to stay in,


Labour to stay in. UKIP Want to stay out. They don't have that power. If


you vote Conservative, you will get your referendum and then the British


people can decide. Our own research of voters tells us there is a good


deal of confusion out there about what goes on here in Brussels. We've


asked our political reporter to give us a tour of the European Parliament


and explain everything you ever wanted to know about what goes on


here but were too afraid to ask. This is the grand entrance of the


European Parliament. Faces from 28 countries are staring down at me.


751 MEPs will be voted in in May. Let's have a look inside. Inside,


artwork like this. This piece is supposed to represent the unity of


the European Union will stop there are eight buildings like this. There


are a symbol that similar number in Strasberg with 14,000 people working


inside. That's about the same number of people who work in our councils


across the East Midlands. Plenty of TV crews, plenty of media


attention, perhaps not for our British MEPs though, of which there


are five and East Midlands. Each earns around ?75,500 a year, more


than a British MP come up but on top of that, they can claim ?250 in a


daily allowance. This is the main debating chamber. I would love to


show you inside but unfortunately, the reef is falling in. Some might


see a metaphor in that. It will only be open for one more session before


the all important elections in May. Tim finished by talking about the


European elections and they are the most keenly awaited in years. The


big question is, how well UKIP will do and the damage they will inflict


on the three main parties. How will you do? We think we are going to do


well. I've been an MEP for 15 years. I've been campaigning throughout


that period. I have never seen such a positive reaction on the doorstep,


in the street. The best thing I can give you is a poll from a couple of


days ago, when we were on 30%, Labour on 28%, conservatives on 21%


and the Liberal Democrats on 8%. That is the running order now. How


many in the East Midlands? To MEPs. We can be pretty clear. We can take


those results. If we plug goes in to the system, you can be accurate. It


is the public 's choice. They can vote as they choose. Are you


worried? We have a very clear message from our party. If you want


real work done here in Europe, if you want real reform and a real


referendum and sundry that can deliver that, you have to vote


Conservative. They can shout at the wind as much as they want to, UKIP,


but we cannot get results for the UK. You worried about them? No, not


really. Many people are voting UKIP cars they are a protest party. We


have two concentrate on the issues that matter to people, issues like


rights at work. People get four weeks paid holiday because of


legislation in Europe. I would never ever be complacent. You never know


the result until it is finished. I'm not being complacent. Let's be


honest, predictions for your party are not good. You about to lose your


seat? That is up to the public to decide. When we have the debate on


BBC between Nick and Nigel, Nick is going to elevate the pro`Europeans


and the Lib Dems would do a lot better than the 8% currently in the


polls. You don't sound show yourself as to whether you will keep your


seat. No politician should be sure. Are you worried? Some of those


predictions are pretty dire. Senior Liberal Democrats are talking


privately about the party being wiped out. The public will decide.


We say we've got to stay in Europe for jobs and there are a large


number of pro`European people in the East Midlands and we would like them


to vote Lib Dem. Reject the ridiculous ideas of UKIP. Cameron's


promise of a referendum is a cynical party management device, designed to


get Eurosceptics of his back. He cannot get a significantly


negotiation. He is unlikely to get into a position where he can


deliver. The way to vote against British mentorship of the EU has to


be to vote UKIP. The point about this is, we need to do what is in


Britain's interest. It's in Britain's interest to be part of the


EU. There are so many benefits. It would be stupidity to leave. We


really have got to get across our message to people why it is


important and why it's important we stay in the EU. Many jobs depend on


it. 300,000 in the East Midlands alone. If we are on the inside, we


can affect the future. We have an ability to vote. Outside, we will


drift. We have very little influence here. We have about 8% of the vote.


We do not have much influence. Roger's attendants that attendants


record is bad. It's better than the average of your Lib Dems. Would you


like to apologise? That's not true. You are not here yesterday. He


didn't turn up. No, I was actually campaigning. I was campaigning in


the region, like utility to. I was working in a region. No, you are


not. You are an absentee. Should he be there all the time? He should be.


I do serve the people of the East Midlands. The point I must make and


I will make again, by voting dash my voting participation rate in the


European Parliament is almost exactly the same as Bill's. It is


higher than the average of Liberal Democrat MEPs. Is that important to


people in the East Midlands? Let's get back to the issue. We have more


say as a global player being part of Europe than we do on our own. This


is about influence for the people we represent. We get more influence


being part of the EU than not being part of the EU. Sometimes it seems


you work against each other. Do you work together? People with nonsense


policies want us to throw away all our influence. We need to listen to


the people and it is people listening to politicians fighting


amongst themselves which they are sick to death. This puts off


politics. You are coming from different sides. There are things


that we have to work together on and sometimes we put together. In this


Parliament, we have to build alliances. Sometimes we do and


sometimes we disagree. It depends on the issue. Let's leave that one


there for the moment. What about you? We've been in Brussels and our


political editor has been sampling local delicacies. Are there any


connections with the folks back home?


I am in the heart of the Belgian capital and it is celebrated for its


lace, beers and chocolates. What else has it got that we haven't got?


Where is that chocolate shop? Utopia does a fine line in chocolate as


well but they are made at the company's shop in Nottingham. There


is a definite Belgian influence here. They find being able to source


supplies and packaging within the EU is a useful spin off from the


European Union. It makes it easier to buy things in Europe. There are


more convocations a few why anything outside the European Union. ``


convocations. It is simpler to do tax and returns, things like that.


In Brussels, they fancy themselves up making knockout beer. At places


like this brewery, we can match them all the way. Traditional English


ales and yet the brewery was built with 40% funding from Europe.


Despite that cash help, the talk here is whether there is a financial


case for staying in or pulling out. We need value for money. We need a


clear strategy as to where we are going. We either join them for lawn


or we don't. My personal view is that we join them. If we are not


going to, let's step straight out. There is lamb on the menu here and


the likelihood is it is British. It's one of the many exports from


the East Midlands. It was valued at 1000 million pounds last year. For


our farmers, the EU is or was on the menu. In Derbyshire, at the Bakewell


cattle market, they are torn. They are aware that the EU, with its


agricultural subsidies, is very pro`market but frustrated by red


tape and wondering if it would be better if we left. The worst thing


that happened was as going into the common market. We should be


self`sufficient. We shouldn't be in this situation, ruled by what they


do and everything. We should be on our own. Farmers would be better if


we stayed in the European Union. We would carry on with better


subsidies. But if we came out, we wouldn't have as much red tape like


this EID system for the lambs. We are the biggest sheep industry in


Europe. We should be saying what goes on. I am not sure that Britain


as a whole would be better off staying in. I believe we would be


better off out. From my own personal view, from making a living in the


sheep trade, we are definitely better in. Act, react, impact. It is


a slogan we will hear a lot of over the next few months as the European


Parliament and the EU explain to us voters what these elections are all


about. It would be nice if they did tell us more about what the benefits


are because we don't know any different. Everyone is talking about


the referendum but nobody actually knows the full detail. I could name


a Parliamentary MPs but I never see them. The constituency is too big.


Places like this can be a long way from home but with Europe going up


the political agenda, many voters may have an appetite for more


information about Europe and whether to embrace the EU or whether it is


time to ask for the bill and to check out for good.


Some interesting views and what seems to come across is that people


are not necessarily hostile to Europe dashed towards Europe. Among


those farmers there, there was a reluctant agreement that they are


better off in. Top delete with macro there are some very powerful


arguments for being in favour. Every pound you get in European grant


funding costs them British Parliament threepence. I am very


concerned about his idea that we wouldn't be able to trade if we


left. The other point that I want to make is about farmers. Everybody


agrees that in today's world, British farmers need a subsidy


regime. Our point is quite simple. British farmers would be better off


with a British subsidy regime, designed in Britain, rather than


with a subsidy regime designed in Brussels for French farmers. Did you


hear what the farmers said? They recognise there is a financial need


to union, whether they personally felt they wanted to be in it.


Financially, they felt they had to be. They were making the assumption


that in the EU, they get payments but if they leave, that's the end of


farm subsidies. My job is to reassure. We would have less


regulation. You were sceptical about this. When we joined the European


Union, it was for a common market, for the benefits of trade. It's a


substantial contributor to the UK economy. What is in question is the


level of interference we are having. We have been working hard in cutting


that red tape and making sure people are actually working towards


building an economy that is going to spill on growth and jobs. There is


no getting away from it, there were a lot of sceptics in that film. I


think partly because we don't get the message across well enough. When


Emma talks about red tape, but the Conservatives are talking about are


cutting rights at work, cart `` writes for part`time workers and for


maternity provision. What is always said about the cost... I heard Roger


talking about it. The CBI did a survey and each family is ?3000 a


year better off... It's about information. They don't know who you


are. Why is that? Some of you have been in Parliament in Europe for so


long. We have to represent 3.5 million people in the East


Midlands. It is physically impossible... Is that the problem?


The cost of postage of a second`class stamp is 50p so we can


certain letters out as well. It is physically impossible to reach these


people. We don't get on national TV. This sounds like you're blaming us.


The last thing is, the people who get the national media attention and


are able of `` able to inform people other national leaders at


Westminster. No party leader has ever talked about Europe in


favourable terms. It would help if people in the East Midlands knew


what it is you are doing for them. Can I give an example? I have a vote


in a couple of weeks time on clinical trials. That means we will


have medical research made easier and quicker. That brings new


medicines to people in the East Midlands. I did that because I met


cancer patients at the Nottingham hospital. That will be better for


all of these patients suffering from those diseases. That is something we


have done here. That's something practical. I can give an example.


This very morning, I was arguing in a meeting that was taking place with


the commission, that they should be reducing green energy subsidies,


having the effect of reducing energy prices. I have brought into place,


through working on the professional qualifications directive and alert


mechanism so we will know if health care professionals working in this


country have been struck off in another country. There will be an


alert sent out to all countries in the EU and to also allow us to


language test our professionals. That is something concrete that will


change people 's lives. Mobile roaming charges would be got rid


of. It's practical things that people care about. And also things


like if you are bumped off your aircraft with your flight is


cancelled, how you can actually make a claim for those sorts of things.


It is not going to get us to the barricades. They don't know this


comes from Europe. They think it is national legislation. The point I am


making is this is European legislation. Glenys made a good


point. The national ministers comeback from Brussels and claim the


credit. They say I did this and that. They don't actually say it is


the European Parliament. Another debate about whether we should be in


Law out. Isn't that the time we gave voters once and for all the chance?


You have to decide whether you think it is in Britain's interest. That is


what you expect you to do. They expect you to take a lead. We


believe it is in Britain's interest to be in the EU. We have been quite


clear, there will be a referendum if there is any move of powers back to


Brussels from the UK. There will be an in out referendum. That is our


position. That is a sensible position to take. The uncertainty


that the Conservatives are causing at the moment is for investment.


Businesses tell me all the time they don't know whether to invest in


Britain because they don't know whether we are going to be out in a


couple of years time or not. We have to give that stability. We have said


yes, we are in and we will have an in out referendum if there are


powers... We need the referendum now. The reason why we cannot have


the referendum now is because we need to get legislation through the


House of Commons to have a referendum. These two parties won't


let that happen. The remedy is, if we are going to have a new


relationship with the EU going forward, needs to be the British


people who make that decision. We need a referendum. We need a plan in


place. There is no plan for the future from UKIP. We trust the


British people which Labour and the Lib Dems don't, to make that


decision. You don't have a plan because we don't know what is going


to be negotiated. We don't know what it is going to look like and what we


are going to vote on. It is not clearly outlined. There is no plan


because nobody knows. If you ask David Cameron, will he say yes or


no? You doesn't know because he doesn't know what he is going to


come out with. It's nonsense. He doesn't want to stay in the


casino... We have a referendum in 1975. The campaign started, they


were two to one against. After four weeks of campaigning, the public


voted in favour of staying in. For four weeks we will have all the


facts put forward. I'm very confident that the public will vote


yes to stay in. We will have to leave it there. That's it from


Brussels. Next, we will be slumming it


decision, she will weigh up the factors. Andrew, back


The big news is the popular server is struggling to control all of the


people who want to find out where they fit in the political spectrum.


It hasn't quite crashed but it is queueing up those people. Who would


have thought the Sunday Politics had so many viewers? It has never


happened on the X factor. This morning's papers don't make


comfortable reading for Labour with two separate polls showing the


party's lead over the Tories is down to just one point. And there's been


plenty of criticism of Ed Miliband's response to the Budget. Let's take a


look. You know you are in trouble when even the Education Secretary


calls you and out of touch bunch of elitist. Where is he? He is hiding!


I think he has been consigned to the naughty step by the Prime Minister.


The naughty step! And we're joined now by shadow chief secretary to the


Treasury, Chris Leslie. There was a widely criticised response by Ed


Balls to the Autumn Statement, now a widely criticised response by Ed


Miliband to the Budget. Does this show you are struggling at the


moment? Of course Ed Balls and Ed Miliband don't want to hear the fact


that in reality, for most people, life is getting harder and there is


the cost of living crisis. Did we get any mention of that in the


Budget? Of course we didn't. We were waiting for action on the cost of


living and it wasn't forthcoming. Ed Miliband came up with the tactic of


responding to the Budget without mentioning anything that was in it.


He mentioned the fact the personal tax allowance was a bit of a


giveaway but he takes more with the other hand. He is in favour of that,


right? Anything we can get but we need a lot more. Let me tell you


something else he mentioned, the fact the national debt has risen by


a third and George Osborne and David Cameron... They knew that before the


Budget. The borrowing figures were announced and Ed Miliband made


reference to those. There is not a lot of happiness on Labour


backbenchers about this, is there? And indeed not a lot of happiness in


the shadow cabinet. There is concern that Ed Miliband is on a journey to


remodel world capitalism whilst George Osborne is firing some love


bombs at Middle England by talking about freeing up the pensions market


and there is real nerves that what Ed Miliband is saying is not going


to be in tune with those middle income earners that the Labour Party


has got to attract if they are going to win the general election. When


Rachel Reeves used the medium of Radio 4 to announce you were broadly


in favour of the pension reforms announced by the Chancellor on


Friday night, was that a result of a decision taken by the shadow


cabinet? Is With annuities, they are a very old-fashioned product. There


are some serious questions which need to be addressed. Was that the


result of a Shadow Cabinet decision? We have not had a Shadow


Cabinet since the budget. We all want to make sure that we understand


the point about flexibility. No one is arguing with that. There are some


serious concerns. Let me give you a couple of examples. This is


something the Chancellor has done, he claims, for reasons of freedom


and flexibility. Is it a coincidence he is grabbing quite a lot of tax


from pensioners early on to plug a hole which is necessary because the


deficit has not gone down? Forgive me for being slightly cynical about


motives. For or against it? We need to have safeguards for protection of


pensioners. What will it do for the annuity market if most people still


want to have a steadying come for a third of their lives? -- steady


income. What does Labour have to do to get it show back on the road? The


question is, how do people feel? How many people will still not be


feeling better by the next election? Wages may be rising slightly but not


for a large and significant number of people. They were just looking at


the YouGov poll. If you look at the middle to low earners, they are


overwhelmingly pro-labour. Can Labour get those people out to vote?


They are really hurting. There are plenty of them. The question is


whether people are optimistic because they see figures as if they


look as if they are on the up or whether they vote according to how


they feel, which will still be very far behind. Cost of living has been


a major mantra from Labour. That's that this chart shows how things are


beginning to change. What this shows is that, sometime this year, after a


long time at which average earnings trailed inflation, they now overtake


it in the run-up to the election and they stay there for the forecast


period. What do you now do if your cost of living mantra is running out


of steam? I am not sure that, for most people, they will recognise the


sense that suddenly things will be getting better. Particularly the


younger generation are really feeling quite down about the


pressures they are facing to make ends meet. You can see the lines are


exaggerated because the Y axis on the side starts quite high up. It


does not start at zero. The other statistic from the OBR is that we


will not be getting back to the point where wages are exceeding


prices from the pre-banking crisis period until late 2017. There are


some really serious pressures that people are under. What they wanted


was a budget that would address concerns and, for the vast majority


of people, they will have heard the statement by George Osborne and


think, how is it really help them now? It did not address it. It is


clear that by 2015, average living standards will probably not have


returned to where they were in 2010. Average wages will not have


done that. On the other hand, the chart shows the sense of direction


is moving in the right way. Which one matters more with the


electorate? I suspect it is sense of direction. People sense of


prosperity does not need to be buoyant. It has to be something


worth preserving. We have to fear the all turn. That is what intrigued


me this week. People make too much of a fuss about the Parliamentary


response by Ed Miliband. People will forgive a bad day at the dispatch


box. What they will not forgive is the absence of a macro economic


mess. Labour have a very powerful message on living standards and lots


of popular, targeted interventions like the energy price freeze. You


can imagine they will be sufficiently nervous about that next


year. If living standards are not back to where they were, Labour can


say, are you better off now than when you were four years ago? The


reason why break and -- wallowed waken one that is because Jimmy


Carter mucked it up -- Ronald Reagan. Labour have to say, vote for


us and you will get 2 million homes. At the moment, the offer is very


modest. You need to find the money to do that. People need to


understand that housing is at the very heart of the economy, as well


as young people and their aspirations. At the moment, Labour


's offer is not spectacular in. If the focus group shows the cost of


living crisis have no longer has the attraction it did, what line do you


move onto? Yellow McCoy must remind people of the wasted years and the


cost of living pressures they have been under. -- we must remind


people. We want a recovery which has low growth, low wage. A race to the


bottom. They want a recovery that is felt by everyone, shared and felt by


all. Now, here's an idea to twist your melon. Mark Berry, better known


as Bez, it says here he's a member of something called The Happy


Mondays, wants to stand for parliament. He's best known for


being in a band, and not doing very much, so he might fit in. Here he is


in action. And Bez joins us from our Salford


studio. Good to see you. Is this a genuine candidacy or are you


twisting my melon? Amazing how time flies when you're having fun! You


having fun doing this candidacy? I am doing the job of the politicians


and standing up for the people and bringing attention to the horror of


fracking, which is a totally unsafe technology. There is no one in


mainstream politics who is discussing or saying anything about


it. It is an unsafe technology and it has been proven in America. You


see the process in America and the people out on the streets. The whole


atmosphere has been made toxic. These people are allowing it to


happen in the name of profit. This has been a Labour seat you are


fighting in Salford since 1945. It is a tough mountain. Supposing you


were to win, could you ever see yourself entering a coalition? With


a bit of luck I may be able to shame Labour politicians to do the job


properly and stand up for the rights of people. They are not and I am


having to do that job. All I am doing is causing debate and bringing


to attention the horror that is hanging on our doorsteps. It is not


only fracking but GM modified foods that they want to bring into this


country as well. Owen Paterson is one of the main lobbyists. Lobbying


is legalised bribery, by the way. It is run by the bankers. Basically, we


have to stop these monsters from getting into our country and turning


our land into a toxic waste. That is what I am trying to say. You are


raising the debate, as you are doing with us here. We do not really need


fracking. You have done that and you have talked about other things as


well. In terms of a new integrity, if you were to become an MP, would


you claim expenses? If I ever do get in charge, I would completely enter


the banking system and there would be expensive, but they would be like


bus passes and train passes. You behave like the people and you are


in touch with the people, you move with the people and do understand


what the people want. You do not live in acre Kuhn of your own making


of luxury, wealth and total disregard of everyone else. -- a


cocoon. If you did get into the Palace of Westminster and had to


mingle with all these people, who would you rather have in night out


with - Mr Cameron, Mr Miller band or Mr Clegg? I would be willing to


discuss politics with anybody. I would make them realise what they


are doing. I am glad too have a debate and with anyone. The people


of Salford, quite a lot people people behind me. I have been


speaking to Salford councillors. They are going to lend me their


support. The people of Salford, and not to forget the people of Eccles,


sending you much. We must stop this horror. There is a monster on our


doorstep and we must stop it, people. Do not forget to take your


maracas on campaign trail. Would you like a pair to shake yourself? You


shake your maracas against fracking! Thanks, Bez, goodbye. Thank you for


giving me a little platform to express my views. Now if there's one


thing that gets us hot under the collar here at the Sunday Politics


it's European elections. The only thing we like more than the


elections themselves is a TV debate about them. And we're in luck! Take


a look at this. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome leader of


the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg. Gives


the most fantastic welcome to Nigel Farage. I would challenge Nigel


Farage to a public, open debate, about whether she we should be out


all in of the European Union. I will do it for Nick Clegg. Since 2009, I


have taken part in 45% of votes in the European Parliament. Nigel


Farage has not tabled a single amendment since July 2009. Mr Clegg


has only taken part in 22% of votes in the House of commons. You can


watch the debate at 7pm on the 2nd of April over on BBC Two. And for a


chance to be part of the studio audience on the night and put your


question to the two party leaders, e-mail the question you'd like to


ask to [email protected] or tweet it using the hashtag


#europedebate. And Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage will be limbering up


this week with their first debate on LBC radio on Wednesday. Who is going


to come out the best? I suspect Nigel Farage. It is easy to portray


Nick Clegg as morally compromised, who has not asserted himself in


government. I do wonder about Nigel Farage, whether he is much better at


delivering a popular line and responding to the second question of


third question. Nick Clegg will win it hands over fist because he knows


this stuff. He is right. The evidence that he can produce about


what will happen if we pulled out of Europe will, I think, overwhelm


Nigel Farage 's one-liners. They will both be winners because you


will have the rare sight of the pro-European saying he likes the


European Union. That is unlike Eurosceptics who tie themselves up


in knots. 14 Nigel, one for Nick and one for both. There you go. Here is


a mess, it is Janen Ganesh. That's all for today. The Daily Politics is


on BBC Two at Lunchtime every day this week, I'll be back here next


week with Energy Secretary Ed Davey. Remember if it's Sunday, it's the


Sunday Politics.


Marie Ashby with the latest political news, interviews and debate. Andrew Neil is joined by pensions minister Steve Webb to discuss the government's pension reforms, while Labour's Chris Leslie will talk about his party's response to the Budget. Finally, Happy Mondays star Bez will explain why he wants to become an MP.