02/02/2014 Sunday Politics East


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Morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics. The unions helped


him beat his brother to the top Now Ed Miliband wants to change Labour's


relationship with them. Who will come out on top? We will be asking


one union baron what he thinks. Cracks in the coalition after


Education Secretary Michael Gove sacks the chairwoman of Ofsted. His


Lib Dem deputy is said to be hopping mad. We will be talking to the new


deputy leader of the Lib Dems, Malcolm Bruce.


Caught a bout of the EU blues? David Cameron has been drowning his


sorrows with the President of France. Who better? We will be


asking if the EU referendum bill is dead in the water.


And bad weather getting you down? Getting from A to B a bit of a


nightmare? Fear not! The leader of the Greens will be here with her


traffic and travel report. Dutch Balancing the books.


lunchtime news. Balancing the books.


Will it provide the kind of reassurance people want?


Yes, all that and more in today s action-packed Sunday Politics. And


blowing more hot air than I have had hot dinners, Helen Lewis, Nick Watt


and Iain Martin. After the row about candidate


selection in Falkirk, Ed Miliband said he wanted to reshape the


relationship between Labour and the unions. The biggest changes involve


union membership of the party, which in turn will affect future Labour


leadership elections. Some claim this is Ed's Clause 4 moment. But


the unions will continue to be powerful at conference and on the


party's ruling committees, and they will still be able to bankroll the


election campaign. Here is Labour's deputy leader, Harriet Harman,


speaking earlier. What he is proposing for the March the 1st


conference is a huge change in financing, in the election of the


leader, in what goes on at local level. In due course, it might have


implications for the NEC elections and conference. But this is already


a big issue to take forward. Joining me now is Paul Kenny,


general secretary of the GMB union and chair of the Trade Union and


Labour Party Liaison Organisation. Is this Ed Miliband's Clause 4


moment? I don't know about that It is certainly a bold move,


particularly to have an electoral college, which as you said was the


system which elected him in the first place. Everybody admits that


has needed reforming for some time. Moving to a one member, one vote


situation seems to me to be sensible. I know some people are


upset, mostly MPs, who will lose their golden share. But it is


nonsense that one MP should have the same vote as 1000 party members So


the MPs have lost out. Have the unions lost out? Well, the system is


currently that union members get a ballot paper, but they have to


declare that they are a Labour supporter and they have to sign to


that effect in order to participate. Then their vote is counted. At the


last election, about 200,000 trade union members gave that indication,


and they participated in that way. That will not change. The way it is


organised will be different. The big change in the electoral college is


that the logical weight given to MPs will disappear. I wonder if you have


really lost anything. At the moment, there are about 3 million people


automatically affiliated from the unions to the Labour Party. If only


10% of them opt in, that will still mean twice as many union individual


members, 300,000, versus about 180,000 Labour Party members. So


union members and maybe even the unions will have as big an influence


on the leadership elections as you do now, maybe bigger? Well, they are


individual votes. Different unions support different candidates. It is


lost in the media myth of barons and block votes, but there is an


individual vote. Different unions recommend different candidates, and


union members vote accordingly. Ed Miliband won more individual votes


by a country mile than David, but it got messed up in the process of this


electoral college. As I have understood the proposals so far


they are not a done deal. There is a lot of discussion. But it seems


there are three hurdles. Firstly, union members themselves will have


to agree whether they want to affiliate to the Labour Party. If


they don't, the rest of it falls. If they decide they do my they will ask


union members to support that an individual basis the next five


years, which will have financial implications. Then there will be a


third position, which is that people who may want to agree with the


union's position and affiliate with the Labour Party may want to go


further and become active supporters of the Labour Party, participating


in leadership elections. They will have to give their sanction to that


at a third stage. So the implications in terms of


constituency parties and so on are a lot less than the idea that the 3


million who are currently affiliated will change. At the moment, the


unions, because of the automatic affiliation, hand over a affiliation


fees of about ?8 million a year to Labour. You will now get to keep


that money, because the individuals will have to put up the money


themselves. You can keep that money and determine if you give it to


Labour to fight the election campaign, correct? Incorrect.


Firstly, the affiliation fees are paid from what is called the


political fund, which most unions have to set up in order to


participate. The union will continue to pay the ?3 a affiliation fee for


those members who want the union to be affiliated. But you get to keep a


lot more money. In reality, we will see a transitional period of a few


years. Less people will probably say yes, depending on how popular Labour


are, about whether they want the union to give money to the Labour


Party. The GMB has already done this. By the way, don't call me


kneel. It is Andrew or Mr Neil. The unions will have a bigger chunk of


money because the unions will not be handing over all of the money at one


time. But you could still play a major part in funding the Labour


election campaign. We'll how much you give the dependent on what the


Labour Party puts in its manifesto? Of course it will. It will have to


justify our support to Labour for the members who provide money to the


political fund. If we did not argue for the cert is social justice


campaigns and laws we want to see, we would be failing in our job. I


don't intend to hide that from anybody. The unions are there to


fight for their members. That is our job. So you will still be a major


part of the bankroll of the Labour campaign. You will still have 5 % of


the votes at a Labour conference, and you will still have a major part


in the Labour National executive committee and the policy committee.


It is right to say the unions are still at the heart of Labour, are


they not? Well, if you sick to break the affiliated link between trade


unions and the Labour Party, the whole thing collapses. That is what


anchors the Labour Party as far as we are concerned. Many of our


members think that when they want to look for ferrochrome and rights


social justice, housing and the health service, Labour are better it


quipped to deliver that for working people than the current parties


That is why we have traditionally supported them. But not at all of


our members support Labour, which is why we don't affiliate all of them


to Labour. There are over 30 million people in the British labour force


now. Union membership is only 6 5 million out of that 30. A 6.5% of


that do not vote Labour, they vote Tory or liberal or nationalist in


Scotland. So you are a relatively small pressure group. Why should


Labour be in thrall to you? We are the biggest voluntary organisation


in this country. Sorry about that, but that is the fact. People make


conscious choices. My own union the GMB, has been growing for eight


years. So this dying picture you are trying to paint... In terms of


accounting for the fact that some do not support Labour, that is why


unions do not affiliate all of their members to the Labour Party. We have


adjusted to that. If you don't like being called Neil, I don't like


being called a barren either. What about Mr Baron? I don't like that


either. We are representatives of working organisations. It may be


inconvenient for politicians to have to listen to working people, but we


will continue to press. Lord Baron, thank you very much.


So, is this a Clause 4 moment for Ed Miliband? Not really, but to his


credit, he is going ahead with this. There was a point at which it looked


as though Ed Miliband would back away from reform. To his credit he


is trying to create a mass membership party again. But when it


comes to the crucial business of funding a general election campaign,


these reforms will make Labour more reliant on large donations from


trade unions. They could have more power now, because they get to hold


back this money, whereas beforehand, they had to hand it over


automatically. As Mr Kenny just said, how much they handover will be


dependent on good behaviour. Yes, but these are pragmatic reforms The


fact that Ed Miliband has a lot of capital in not being seen as a


Blairite has helped him get these through . The response has been


muted, which suggests good party management on his behalf. That may


be because they will still have 50% of the votes at a party conference.


Mr Kenny was clear that that could be deal-breaker if they tried to


take that away. They have more places at the NEC than anyone else,


and party members, if only 10% of them signed up, they will outweigh


individual members in the constituencies. It was interesting,


how relaxed Paul Kenny was. He was taking thousands of pounds from the


Labour Party a few months ago because he was annoyed about these


reforms, and now he is relaxed because they still have 50% of the


vote at Labour Party conference and Labour Party Parliamentary


candidates are still selected in the same way. But there is a simple


point here. Yes, you can pick apart what Ed Miliband said and said the


unions have too much influence, but the only way he could have gone all


the way was to break the link with the trade unions, and he was not


going to do that. It was not the Labour Party that founded the


unions, it was the unions that founded the Labour Party. Even Tony


Blair did not break the link. In that context, Ed Miliband has gone


incredibly far. For the last 50 years, this opting into the union,


you have to turn to page 50 of your union terms and conditions to say,


do you want to opt out of the political levy 's that is going to


go, which will mean that when the next Labour leader is elected from


the union votes, they will get their ballot from the Labour Party and you


will append the fast where ballots went out from Unison macro and GMB


with a picture of Ed Miliband on the front of the ballot paper saying,


vote for aid. They were Stasi and Saddam Hussein ways of trade union


members electing the Labour leader, which will go. I am sorry his


Lordship is not still here to answer that question.


HMS Coalition is not a happy ship. The lovey-dovey days in the rose


garden are long gone. It is not a loveless marriage, perhaps even an


open one. The latest split is over the decision by Education Secretary


Michael Gove to replace Labour peer Sally Morgan as head of the schools


inspectorate, Ofsted. Mr Gove's deputy, Lib Dem David Laws, is said


to be spitting blood about her removal, although only through


surrogates. He has not said a word on the record. Here was the


Education Secretary a little earlier. If there is another


opportunity for Sally to serve in a different role at a different time,


then I would be delighted to support her in the role which she thinks it


is appropriate to do. There is nothing wrong with Sally but there


is a principle across government that there should be no automatic


reappointment, and that after three or four years, it is appropriate to


bring in a fresh pair of eyes. That is good corporate practice in order


to ensure that you refresh boards, bring a new perspective, and have


tough questions asked. We're joined now by the newly elected deputy


leader of the Liberal Democrats Malcolm Bruce. He's in Aberdeen


Welcome to the Sunday Politics. David Laws is said to be furious


with Michael Gove, is he? I think he is because Sally Morgan has been


doing a good job and that has been generally agreed across the whole


spectrum. I think Ofsted is an impartial body that inspects all


schools and it shouldn't be subject to some kind of political direction.


That is the concern, that she is being removed when she was doing a


good job and most people thought she should be reappointed. It is


strongly rumoured her successor will be a high-ranking Tory backer. Why


hasn't David Laws said this himself, have you spoken to him? I have, and


I know he is not very pleased about it but he will want to speak to


Michael Gove himself when he gets to see him on Monday. The question you


have to take on board is that David Laws is the schools minister,


effectively the one who has engagement with Ofsted, and he is


seeing it being undermined by the Secretary of State. There is a


question that if Michael Gove is so pleased with Sally Morgan why is he


replacing her, and who will he be replacing her with, and on what


basis? Maybe parliament should have a confirmation hearing so that we


can be assured that whoever is put in charge is there because they are


good at it. Why has he licensed his surrogates to save this rather than


saying it himself? He didn't, he knew I was on the programme this


morning so I am giving you the answers as best I can. David is


perfectly capable of speaking for himself. He hasn't so far. You asked


me to come on this programme and David was anxious for me to know he


wasn't happy about it, and I can certainly tell you that. I can also


give you my own opinion which is that Ofsted is not the Department


for Education, it is an independent body. The question you have to ask


is will Michael Gove but someone in charge of Ofsted who will have a


political agenda? If so, that is not what Ofsted should be used for.


Let's move on to your own position. You are 69, white male,


middle-class, what is your answer to the party with diversity problems? I


don't think that is what they voted on. They felt I had a wealth of


experience that would be vulnerable to the party from the period now


until the election, not least because the central issues that will


concern voters are the economy, and I have a track record of promoting


the party's economic policy over many years. But you are not even


standing at the next election. No, but we need to get to the next


election and my colleagues have confidence that I can do a useful


job for the party in that situation. We have developed and delivered


policies that I have helped to shape and I want to persuade people to


understand the Liberal Democrats have made a fundamental difference


to the economic recovery. But you know what has been happening with


the Liberal Democrats and their problems with women. Wasn't this a


chance to select a woman in a major part? You only have seven female MPs


out of 57, not a single Lib Dem woman in the Parliament. Again, why


you rather than making a break and bringing someone in onto major


positions? My colleagues have concluded that the role I am best


qualified to do it, that is why they voted for me. We do only have seven


women and that is an issue we need to address. Two of those women are


ministers, one is a government whip. We seem to have lost our line to


Aberdeen, just as Malcolm Bruce was in full flight defending his


position. I'm not sure if we can get the line back, just bear with me for


a few seconds to see if we can get it. It looks as if we have lost


Malcolm Bruce, I do apologise to Malcolm Bruce and the viewers that


we were not able to continue that interview.


Fierce winds, torrential rain and a tidal surge have brought more misery


to thousands. Official records show that southern England has seen the


wettest January since records began in 1767. I remember it well. The


Somerset Levels have been hit by weeks of flooding, with little


respite from relentless rain. And, the residents of one village on the


Levels, Muchelney, has been cut off for almost a month. We sent our Adam


out with his wellies and a properly filled out risk assessment form The


very wet road to Muchelney. This village of about 100 residents has


been cut off for about four weeks, and like the weather vane, it feels


a little bit spooky. It came up to here and your front door was there.


Anita is just relieved the water stopped here, practically on her


doorstep. Now it is the practicalities that are the problem.


Driving around for food is quite a hassle. You are foraging. It's not


as bad as that but we do have a few bits in the vegetable garden still,


and we had some nice apples until the rats ate them but we are not


doing too badly on that score. It sounds like the medieval! That's


what it feels like. Talking of retro, who knew Somerset still had a


Coleman, this is Brian's first delivery since Christmas. Everything


has gone old-fashioned. We are now talking to neighbours we might never


have seen before or spoken to so we are getting to know more people in


the village. She's right, there has been an outbreak of Dunkirk spirit,


quite literally. The council and the Fire Brigade have put on this boat


service to get people to work and school. The church has become an


unofficial flood HQ. This is where people pick up their mail, and this


is where the people who run the boat stopped for their tea breaks. It all


seems quite jolly, if a bit boring, but it is no fun for the homes and


businesses that have been inundated, or for the farmers whose land is


underwater, an area the size of Bristol, or for the villages which


are less isolated but where the flooding is worse. People like the


parish chairman are starting to get angry with how the Government has


responded. It was all a bit late. We knew what was going to happen with


the amount of rain on the fields and the Government was so slow to


react. The county council got the boat going quickly but it was


another four weeks nearly before the button was pressed for the major


incident. Right on cue, the cavalry arrived in the shape of emergency


crews from other parts of the UK. The rumour is that they will bring


in a hovercraft but the bad news is that the weather is becoming more


grim this weekend. There has been a surge in bookings at the campsite


where people have seen the Somerset Levels on holiday and would like to


come on holiday, if it ever stops raining. I'm delighted to say we


have got the line back to Aberdeen, somebody has put a shilling in the


meter. We can go back to Malcolm Bruce. We were talking about the Lib


Dem women and your election, I suppose the point some people are


making is that your party has as many knights in Parliament as it has


women and you are one of them. The good news is that for the five MPs


who are standing down, who have had candidates elected in their


constituencies so far, all five candidates that have been selected


are women. We need to fight hard to get behind those women and get them


elected so that we have a much better balanced parliament in the


future, but given that we have few women, you really have to pick


people appropriate for the job and we have appointed the women as I


have said but we need our image to be balanced. How many women


candidates will there be come the next election? At the moment, 1 ,


five more than we have now, and we haven't finished selection. Where


there are men sitting and standing again, that is not likely to change,


but where they are standing down we are overwhelmingly choosing women,


and in my view good and very able women. What I would want to say to


people is that if you want to see the Lib Dems have more women, go to


those seats and help us hold them. We are told that only 20% of the 57


seats have female candidates and in the unlikely event that you were


able to hold onto them all, it still wouldn't be a sea change to have


20%. The point is you have to build them up. We are supporting female


candidates. These are really good candidates who will make first-class


MPs and I certainly believe you will gradually see the Liberal Democrats


taking them on. We don't have 3 0 seats that we currently hold like


other parties, but what I can tell you is that increasing --


increasingly we will have female candidates. One newspaper has said


that you will deal with the Chris Rennard fallout quickly and


privately, what does that mean? It means I will not be telling you


because these things are not helped by comments on the airwaves. I hope


it will be possible to have a resolution without people going to


court but I don't think it helps anybody for me to comment on any


aspect of how this will be done and I'm not prepared to do so. If you


are not in full possession of the facts, why did you say you will deal


with this privately? I have come into this halfway through, I don't


have full possession of the facts, I doubt you do, and we have a process


that needs to be followed through. Any comments in public do not help.


Isn't it hypocrisy of a high order to hear from a party that is


constantly calling for transparency in other institutions but when it


comes to your own, you say, I am not going to talk about it. There are


all sorts of disputes that happen in the world and often people don't


talk about them because talking about them aggravates the


situation. I believe you have to deal with them privately and I don't


think trial by media in this context is helpful and I don't believe that


those who choose to make those comments are making it easier to


solve them. There are problems in other walks of life and the Liberal


Democrats are not the only ones with these problems. We are trying to


change that culture and I think we will do it effectively in our own


way. We have a pastoral care officer now and I think that is the right


way to do it. Thank you for that. Let's now go back to the story of


the flooding in Somerset. We are joined by the leader of the Green


party, Natalie Bennett in Millbank. Natalie Bennett, don't the Green


party bears some responsibility for these floods? You have sided with


the Environment Agency in the decision not to dredge rivers and


that is one of the reason why these places have been flooded. Firstly I


want to give my sympathy to everyone dealing with these floods. The


homeowners, the farmers seeing sodden fields for weeks and weeks.


We get that, we all have huge sympathy, particularly because so


little seems to be done to help them. What is the answer to my


question? I think there is strong evidence that dredging is not the


answer. If you think about the flow of the river, where the pinch points


are is things like bridges, weirs and towns. If you dredge the river


in between those barriers, you just make the water faster to those


points. The experts are saying that dredging is not the answer, it may


be in particular cases, but you have to look at each river system on its


own merits and very often the best way of dealing with this is working


out ways to slow the watered down and make sure that people don't


suffer unduly while you are doing that. The west of England


agricultural Society, which I would venture knows more about the


Somerset Levels than either of us, has said that without dredging, this


was a disaster waiting to happen. The local drainage boards have been


calling for years for dredging to be resumed. The National Farmers' Union


has called for it, and the chairman of the West Sussex flood defences


has called for more drainage, and he is a drainage engineer by


profession. So I don't know where your experts are, but the experts on


the ground am not the urban ones in London, seem to think this has not


been caused, but made worse by the failure of the Environment Agency to


continue to dredge. If you look at the example of the planning and


climate change coalition, which is led by the town and country planning


Association, who you would not describe as a group of radical


greens, these people have said we have to look at how we deal with


flooding in the future. But not in Somerset. These are the people


currently being flooded, not somebody sitting in a quango office


in London. They have asked for this to happen and it hasn't, and they


are now flooded in definitely. We have to look at what is happening on


a case-by-case basis. If you look at Germany, there are many cases there


were, to deal with flooding, many farmers are paid to hold water on


their land. Maybe we need to introduce those systems, because we


have to protect farmland, but we also have to protect urban areas for


safety. We saw a horrible flood in Wales were lines were endangered --


where lives were endangered. That is the priority, to protect lives,


property and farmland. Lives are endangered at the moment,


particularly as this stagnant water turns toxic. And yet we are in a


situation, again encouraged by the Greens and the lobbying Environment


Agency, it says it does not want to dredge because dredging is


expensive, yet it spends millions on a bird sanctuary. That is getting


everything totally wrong. The government is getting everything one


by cutting on flood defences. It has not cut on a bird sanctuaries. I


don't know the details of that. But looking at the broader issue, we


have to prepare for climate change. The government has slashed funding


to the Environment Agency and has cut back on the number of staff


available to deal with it and has removed the requirement on local


councils to plan for climate change. These are all gambling the future of


our lives and property and the future of our environment. Hasn t


the high watermark of greenery now gone well past? You don't come out


of the Somerset Levels with any great reputation. The UK government


is now going to start fracking as quickly as it can. Brussels is


loosening the CO2 obligations for 2030. The President of America is


about to give the go-ahead to the keystone pipeline, a totemic issue


for American greens, and your party is in a state of civil war in


Brighton. It is over, isn't it? Absolutely not. We are seeing large


amounts of extreme weather around the world. Any one event is whether,


but we are seeing a lot of it and people are recognising that climate


change is happening. If we are going to quote international experts, I


can quote to you Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, not known as a


radical green, and he said after the IPCC report came out that the heat


is on and we must act. If you go to Christine Lagarde, head of the


International Monetary Fund, again not a radical green, she was asked


what kept her awake at night, and she said, we are not doing enough


about climate change. So actually, people around the world are looking


at what is happening around them are both people on the ground and people


in high positions are saying we have to act on climate change. And in the


case of Britain, that should absolutely not mean fracking. Sorry


to interrupt, but I have evidence that you are planning a little


career change. Don't go away. This is what happens when you let Nigel


Farage present the weather. One thing leads to another and low and


behold, the Sunday Politics now has a new traffic and travel reporter.


Let's go back to Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett. Thanks, Andrew It


is easy out that, so let's start with our airports. I am pleased to


say that Heathrow's third runway, Boris Island and all short-haul


flights are, just like our arguments, well grounded. We suggest


making or alternative arrangements, like a re-nationalised rail


network, although it would be a glaring omission if we did not admit


that that plan is currently being delayed by Labour Party foot


dragging. Speaking of trains, we are hearing that high-speed two may well


be derailing, or at least getting bogged down in political fog. One


viewer, Ed Balls, has texted in to say he is completely lost. Thanks


for the update, Ed. You are not alone among political commuters


Meanwhile, dumped UKIP manifestoes are causing major tailbacks across


the South, apparently stretching all the way to Brussels. This does make


driving road tricky, but UKIP's MEPs can, of course, just hop on their


gravy train. The tree had a roundabout is blocked after reports


of a political earthquake. It seems that a green unwound his beard to


block a dodgy gas extractor. A motorist who turned out to be the


environment minister object into the delay and was told to frack off as


furious badgers demanded that he stopped moving the goalposts.


Unregulated traffic in the city of London continues unchecked.


Pedestrians should try to block bankers with sacks of loot rushing


for the payments. But do beware the Lib Dem Exodus that is clogging up


the motorways. Although they are in a jam, or is it a fudge, we are


happy to make way for them, as, like all refugees, we say they are


welcome here in muesli green. That is the travel. Back to you, Andrew.


Natalie, I think you make my point. You are now preparing a new career


in traffic and travel. Well, I do believe in lifelong education and


that was an example of it. We know you have had a tough time today to


get to our studio. Thank you for the effort.


You are watching the Sunday Politics. Coming up in just over 20


minutes, we will have Hello and welcome to the part of the


changing the face Hello and welcome to the part of the


programme just for us here in the East. I'm Etholle George.


Coming up: Setting their budgets. The huge savings our local


authorities need to make, which could change how our councils work


completely. It is a massive contribution. It is 40% of our


budget. And we put Labour in the spotlight


as problems surface over party democracy in Luton. In parts of the


local party local democracy has stopped working.


Let's begin by meeting our guests for this week, Andrea Leadsom, the


Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire and Bob Blizzard,


the former Labour MP and now the party's parliamentary candidate, for


Waveney. I wanted to start with the flooding.


After another wet week there's no sign of flood warnings receding any


time soon. This week council leaders went to


London to lobby the Floods Minister for more money to help cover the


cost of the clear up operation. Several councils in Norfolk and


Suffolk say they are seriously out of pocket. This is money that we


have not budgeted for. We have financial restraints. We would


welcome any funding the Government is able to give us. Local Government


minister said an extra ?6.7 million is available at councils will have


to bid for it. Is there enough money to cover the


cost of the damage? David Cameron is always going on about his economic


plan. Part of that plan has been to cut the budget for flood defence in


our region every single year he has been in office. Andrea Leadsom, in


Northamptonshire the flood defences have held up so far, but it is a


densely populated area. You benefit more from funding. We have had


enormous problems over recent years. The huge issue is the amount of


planning requests for holding on the flood plains. Northamptonshire has


awful problems with flooding. There was a death in Northampton in the


late 1980s. We have got a number of houses that regularly flood that are


quite recently built. Planning and making sure that you do not build on


flood plains is vital. Now, at this time of year our councils have to


set their budgets. Since 2010 council funding has been plunging.


They've lost 40 per cent of their Government grants.


?1.2 billion worth of savings needs to be made over the next five


years. So what will that mean for the


services they provide ` for our schools, our libraries, our roads?


Local Government is transforming, through outsourcing, sharing


backroom staff and money making schemes. Cambridgeshire is going


into property development, Peterborough is pinning hopes on


solar farms and as Deborah McGurran found out,.Northamptonshire is going


into partnership with utility companies. It is really


challenging. We want to play our part in balancing the national


budget. We have got to save this year another ?34 million. That is


part of ?147 million we had to see over the next four years. A dozen


top of the ?177 million that we have already saved. # wrote that is on


top of the 177 million pounds. We are looking with this gas at the


smart meter broke. `` smart meter approach. If somebody always gets up


at the same time such as the kettle on and it goes on day after day and


then suddenly does not go on at the same time we can now that. We can


send people to make sure it is OK. How do you see the balance between


Vermont funding and local funding in the future? I do not think we will


see a shift. It would not be likely that central Government having got


its grip on strategic decisions would want to relax that grip. The


shift is already showing between central funding and local funding.


Local funding through the local council tax for the last three years


we have had as usual base. This year there will be a slight increase. It


will not be in our base budget for future years. We need that security


to provide the additional services. You are not in agreement with Mr


pickles? We are. We do not know what he is going to do. He is threatening


us with the lowering the 2% ceiling. I think he has done a good job. You


are happy to put up with him for the time being. He is very welcome to


come to Northamptonshire. Well, we met up with Mr Pickles in


Great Yarmouth and asked him whether councils can cope with the planned


savings in the East. People have said that from the beginning and


they have been proved wrong time and again. He had made the savings.


Balances have increased by slightly over ?2 billion. My view is that


what councils have got to do now is sheer services, officers. They


should cut down on fraud. There is still plenty of opportunities for


them to improve the service without going back to the council tax there.


But they are free to do so. Hilary Benn is joining us from


Leeds. You said that front line services


would be hit by these cuts in funding but they haven't. Councils


have protected them. You were wrong. Councils have worked hard to protect


front line services. I pay tribute to what they have done very


different circumstances. The way that Government is cutting funding


to local authorities is profoundly unfair. The 25 most deprived local


authorities in England are facing a reduction in their spending power


ten times greater than the 25 lease deprived. If your databases like


great Yarmouth and Peterborough they are facing reductions in funding


that are greater than other councils. There are some in the


country that are having in pieces. David Cameron's own council is


getting a rise in funding. That cannot be fair. Councils have been


losing staff where they can by voluntary means. Trying to reduce


back office costs. At the pressure is rising. There is a growing


elderly population. These cats will continue. It will be harder in the


year to come to protect front line services.


Would Labour continue to tighten the finances or loosen them and give


more money back to councils? We will stick with the spending plans that


we inherit if we win the election in 2015. But the one pledge I made is


that I will look at the formula because the money is being allocated


in an unfair way at the moment. We need a fairer distribution of


resources. We have got to address this funding crisis that local


authorities base. Would you loosen the grip? We would. We would bring


together the people dealing with an issue. That produces results. The


work programme is not successful in finding employment. We need a


fundamental change both because of the funding crisis and because I


want local communities and local authorities to do more things for


themselves in the months and years ahead. What do you say to the comics


that it is unfair? `` to the statement that it is unfair. What


councils have done is get creative. They get different levels of the


funding so they have to get creative in different ways. In the past there


has been enormous amounts of money sunk into those councils that have


been Labour run councils. If there have been changes in the funding it


is to make it fairer, not to make it unfair. The fact that there may have


been greater cats suffered in certain areas has been to make it


fairer for everybody. I would dispute the basis of his point.


Earlier we heard it said that this was an opportunity for titles. Some


councils are still wasting money. One council is spending 40 million


on new offices and 5 million on a footbridge that the public do not


want. But my main concern is the impact on social services


departments, in particular care of the elderly. Older people are having


to go more and more to Accident and Emergency at the General Hospital


because they are not getting the care in the community. When they are


in the hospital but are having to stay longer in the expensive


hospital bed because there is nobody to look after them in the community.


That is having an impact on the entire NHS. That is part of David


Cameron's economic plan failure. What about outsourcing? We have


heard of contracts going wrong. In South Northants district council


they are shaving leadership with another council. `` shaving


leadership. They are reaching out to other councils to share overheads.


When you are pushed to do more with less it is amazing how successful


you can be. The Mayor of Liverpool was saying that in Liverpool their


municipal golf courses were costing them half ?1 million per year in


subsidy. Now that they are in the private sector they are making a


profit of ?200,000 per year. Is this the end of local Government as we


know it? Local Government seems to be doing less and less. I can


understand that you always try and get best value and in some cases


save money. That there is a problem to do with responsibility. Sometimes


you complain at the council says it is the thing to do with them, it is


the people who are contracted. It is harder to get something fixed. How


can councils really shape their communities and take them forward if


all they are is minimalist providers of services? That is a classic


statist approach. Why did councils have two read their communities?


Communities lead their communities. We've spent the last few weeks


talking about problems within some of the Conservative associations in


our region. Now we've learnt that there are serious concerns about the


Labour party in Luton South. It follows a number of complaints that


a small group of people are signing up dozens of new members with a view


to influencing the outcome of internal elections. It's called


membership packing. There have been claims of bullying, a councillor has


resigned and the local MP has told us that in parts of his constituency


democracy no longer exists. Here's Andrew Sinclair.


Ed Miliband in Luton just a couple of months ago. This is the town that


has kept the Labour flame alive in the Eastern region. An example of


good party organisation to inspire others. But behind the smiles


there's resentment and a lot of infighting. In parts of my local


party local democracy has stopped working.


Here in Luton south 340 new people have joined the party since the last


election but are they all legitimate members? I find it irregular that an


entire household would become Labour supporters.


Yaqub Hanif, a Luton councillor, is one of several people who's told us


that membership packing is widespread. Do they even know that


they be long to the Labour Party? In some parts of my constituency the


person who gets selected is not the best person, it is whoever has


signed in members. We've seen internal party documents


that show that in four of the seven wards in Luton south membership has


increased by an average of 119 per cent over the last three years. But


in Farley and Caddington ward it's up by 179 per cent, in Biscott ward


by 314 per cent while in Dallow it's gone up by 400 per cent.


We've also seen a letter from the party chairman which notes that here


in Biscott wards 70 per cent of new members were recruited by the same


two people. Nobody has done anything to deal with the issue. The issue


has been flagged up many times. Recently it has become more apparent


how this is working against long term decent young men and women who


want to be candidate and fight on behalf of the Labour Party.


Last week a long standing councillor Robin Harris resigned accusing his


colleagues of using underhand tactics and bullying. He didn't want


to be interviewed but he told us he believed the process for choosing


candidates was being manipulated. None of the people who're allegedly


involved in membership packing returned our calls ` but they've


told friends that many of those complaining have failed to be


reselected and are just bad losers. But there is deep frustration among


many at the party's inability to deal with the problem. Despite the


efforts of a good constituency team and good people trying to challenge


this practice we have found ourselves in a position where the


rules do not allow us to deal with it as effectively as we might want


to. There is no formal investigation underway. But I understand that


officials in the regional party are closely watching Luton South. They


have adjusted the rules about who can vote in elections and I am told


they will take further action if they think it is necessary. If they


were real and remembers talking to the public, knocking on people 's


doors, engaging in political debate and driving forward the values of


the Labour Party, if that was happening, which does not, they


would not be a problem. The problem exists because people are not


joining for the right reasons. This isn't a scandal on the scale of


Falkirk. It's an internal party matter that at the moment doesn't


affect people outside the Labour party. But it's an issue which many


in the party want to see sorted out very soon.


Do the rules needs to be tightened up? We have got robust rules. I do


not see what more you can do. I do not know the details. This is the


first to have heard of anything like this? Yes. What I want to say is


that in all parties, when you have a hotly contested selection, rival


candidates will try and get their supporters along to a meeting to


vote for them. It has happened for years. The people who lose,


obviously they do not like losing, and they often complain about things


being and democratic. That is part of the hurly`burly of all attacks.


Is it the hurly`burly of politics? I am inclined to agree with Bob


Blizzard. People if they are trying to win an election will win over


people to their side. There is a line between bat and actually trying


to fix the votes which transgressors the law as well as internal party


rules. We need to be constantly the joint. Are the allegations


damaging? It is not a good story. Able do not like parties that are


arguing amongst themselves. I would say keep your eye on the big


picture. It is important to get the best candidate. They get down to


factionalism that is not good. This week we've heard that it's not


simply us with empty pockets these days but even the Queen is feeling


the pinch. Here's our weekly round up, all in 60 seconds. Peterborough


was named this week as the UK's fastest growing city with another


27,000 people over the last ten years needing homes.


But it was the Queen's homes causing concern to the Public Accounts


Committee, who think Her Majesty's palaces are in need of repair. The


wiring in the Buckingham Palace has not been renewed since 1949.


While it was the energy supply on the mind of Essex MP Brooks Newmark,


who told the House of Commons that the planning controls on solar farms


aren't strict enough. Andrea Leadsom won backing for her


manifesto supporting the bond between baby and carer, which has


profound lifelong consequences. Did you know that 36% of all serious


case reviews involve a baby under the age of one?


But Robert Halfon was jeered for talking up Harlow's artistic


pedigree. Harlow is the cultural capital of east of England.


I grew up in Hull. I am a great supporter of the arts. I would not


agree that he alone was quite the capital. Did you get a promise to


back the campaign? The Minister said Government policy is changing as a


result of the work that I and my colleagues have been doing. We want


to focus on giving people a better birth experience.


That is all for now. You can keep in birth experience.


Not a complete denial! Hopefully a Conservative mayor again.


Not a good week for David Cameron on the tricky European front last week.


President Hollande said he was not interested in major treaty reform


for 2017. That is when Mr Cameron hopes to hold his in-out referendum.


And the private member's bill to put that referendum on the statute bill


was killed by Labour and Lib Dem peers in the Lords. James Wharton


was the Tory MP behind the bill and he joins me now. What happens now?


It is out of my hands what happens now, because Labour and the Liberal


Democrats conspired in the Lords to kill off my bill. One of the options


is for another private member to bring a bill forward when they have


the next private member's bill at, and we can try again. The prime


minister has indicated that he will support that. But whatever happens,


it will be in the Conservative manifesto at the next election. Do


you accept that cost this is Tory policy and not government policy


that the government policy elite macro cannot bring forward a bill?


That is the problem. The Liberal Democrats, despite having promised a


referendum in their manifesto at the last election, now will not allow


government time for a bill to enshrine that in law. That was why I


brought it forward as a private member's bill. David Cameron and the


Conservative Party through everything behind that. To many


people's surprise, we got it through all the House of Commons stages


Sadly, to their discredit, Labour and Liberal Democrat peers, doing


the bidding of their masters in the Commons, is conspired to kill it. Do


you accept that it is Conservative policy, but not government policy,


that you could not use the Parliament act to get this through


the Lords? That is not the case The Parliament act is clear that if a


public bill passes through the House of Commons twice in one


Parliamentary period, there is a certain amount of time that has to


be between both bills being presented. There are some procedural


steps to be overcome, but there is no legal reason why the Parliament


act could not come into effect. I was talking about you not having a


majority in this case. That remains to be seen. We saw previously that


Labour and the Liberal Democrats sent enough people to frustrate its


progress to make it as difficult as possible, but not huge numbers to


vote against it. On a Friday, huge numbers of MPs do not attend


normally. Getting that number might prove difficult. The Parliament act,


which is a bit of an atomic bomb in constitutional terms, if that was


used, they would turn up to vote against you. Is it not the case that


after the countryside Alliance tried to involve the courts in the hunting


ban that it was made clear that the Parliament act was not to be used


for constitutional issues? I don't think we know how many would turn up


and we don't know how they would vote. One of the things that has


been revealed as I have gone through the process of getting this bill to


get a referendum through the Commons is that there are big splits in the


Labour Party. One of the reasons we did not see them turning up in large


numbers to stop this bill from happening was that Ed Miliband knew


that if he tried to lead his own MPs through the lobbies to block a


bill, the only purpose of which is to let Britain decides to give


people a say on membership of the union, a lot of his MPs may not have


followed him. It is all fantasy politics anyway. The French


president has made clear that he has no interest in treaty change this


side of 2017. He would need a referendum as well . And he needs


that like a hole and had. Merkel is not keen, as she is in coalition


with the social Democrats. Without the French or the Germans, it will


not happen, end of story. The policy is that we will try to negotiate on


getting a better deal. I hear what you are saying, but I don't


recognise it as reality. We have a strong bargaining position. But


whatever the result of that negotiation, it will be put in an


in-out vote to the Britain people. It is time people were allowed to


decide. It has been over a generation since we last had a say.


David Cameron has committed to delivering that referendum. The


Conservative Party will have it in our next manifesto for the election.


Whatever happens to my bill or any other of the bill that comes


forward. If people want a referendum, the only party that can


deliver that in British politics is the Conservatives. Let me bring the


panel in. Nick, where is this going? It is clear to me and anyone who


follows European politics that there is no appetite for major treaty


change in the short run, particularly for the kind of major


changes that Vista Cameron says he is going to get, and yet the Tories


are talking about Europe again when they should be talking about the


economy. And Francois Hollande is looking at 2017, the year we are


meant to have this referendum. There will be a French presidential


election going on, and Nicolas Sarkozy will be back in play by


then. But James has an interesting point, which is that it is down to


Angela Merkel. She would be more receptive to David Cameron's ideas


of reform than people assume. She has looked over the edge at a Europe


without the UK and said, that is not acceptable, and I am willing to pay


a price, not any price, but a price to keep the UK in the European


Union. And the French, because the UK and France are the only serious


military powers in Europe, will eventually come to that position. So


there is more support for David Cameron than people assume. The


French are also not a strong position in terms of the euro and


French economy. The Foreign Office seem a bit more optimistic about


it. Of course they are. Douglas Hurd once told me, we are winning the


arguments on the single currency. Of course anything from the Foreign


Office comes with a health warning, but if David Cameron had won a


majority and was determined to renegotiate, he is in a strong


position with Merkel. There is a possibility that the French could


eventually be talked around. So it is not entirely bleak on that front


for Cameron. When do the Tory party managers say, look, stop banging on


about Europe again? The economy is going away. We still have an


electoral mountain to climb. Let's just talk about that and not be


divided. They should have done that some time ago. It is already too


late. The Tories need a seven point lead in the polls to get image are


tea. The way things are, that would require a huge change from where we


are now . It is very unlikely to happen. So all this is happening in


some bizarre imaginary space with wonderful rainbows and sunshine But


we can detect the beginnings of a shift in the last couple of weeks.


If you talk to Tory backbenchers, Douglas Carswell is now saying in


public that it is time to stop the fighting. If they are to get even


close to winning the election, they can't do it if they are all against


each other. I don't think it is an imaginary space. It is likely that


David Cameron will have the largest party in the election. If it is a


hung parliament and it is the Liberal Democrats and the


Conservative Party, David Cameron will save to Nick Clegg we gave you


an AV referendum, I am having this referendum. And it will be difficult


for Nick to say no. Let me go back to Mr Wharton. You are going to get


a referendum in the manifesto. Other than Ken Clarke, everybody wants it.


So why don't you just banked that and get behind the leadership


Institute causing endless problems and coming across as a Europe


accessed, divided party? I am absolutely behind the leadership.


David Cameron announced the policy I am trying to bring forward in this


bill. It is in line with the speech he gave this time last year. But


getting that commitment into law will help to kick-start the


negotiation process and mean everyone will know where we stand.


But whatever happens, the Conservatives are committed to


delivering a referendum. And to address the point that we talk about


Europe too much, that is not the case. We have a good message on the


economy, on tackling immigration and reforming welfare. There is more to


do, but this is also an important part of policy. But at a time when


the economic news seems to be turning in your direction, you are


talking about the European referendum. Your backbench


colleagues are trying to change the Immigration Bill every which way.


Dominic Rather is putting in an amendment is and Mr Nigel Mills has


been on this programme, putting in amendments that are clearly illegal.


How is that helpful? The fact is that we are in a coalition, so there


are areas of policy where Conservatives might want to go


further and we are not able to do that. In other areas, we are


delivering good reforms. But this is not a matter of going further. The


mill 's amendment was clearly a contravention of the Treaty of Rome.


That is where you get the headlines from. Some of your colleagues have a


death wish? Would they rather have a Miliband government if the choice is


an impure Cameron one instead? I don't think anyone in their right


mind would rather have a Miliband government. Then why are they


behaving that way? We have had some disagreements into the leak and


debate within the party, but it was talked about on the panel just now.


The Conservative Party is behind David Cameron and focused on winning


the next election. Europe is one part of that. We have policies in a


range of areas, but we are getting back on the right track. Thank you


for being patient with us. Is this ghost story going to go


somewhere? Mr Laws is talking through surrogates at the moment,


but there is a strategy by the Lib Dems make these differential points


now. I think it is fantastic coalition sports and entertaining,


but in terms of out there, it has almost no traction whatsoever. I


don't think any voters know who Baroness Morgan is and it sounds


like one but politicians shouting at another bunch of politicians about


their ability to give each other jobs. There is a larger point about


the way Michael Gove runs his government. He is notoriously a very


polite man surrounded by Rottweiler is, his advisers. He has made


enemies of a lot of people in the media, and some of that will come


back on him in the next 18 months. We shall see if Mr Laws himself


sticks his head above the parapet. That is it for this week. The Daily


Politics is on throughout the week at midday on BBC Two, except on


Wednesdays, when we are on at 11:30am. I will be back next week at


the same time. Remember, if it is Sunday, it's the Sunday Politics.


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