16/02/2014 Sunday Politics East


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Good morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics. It would be


extremely difficult, if not impossible, for an independent


Scotland to join the European Union, so says the President of the


European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, in a significant


development in the independence debate. It's our top story. He has


the power to bring travel chaos to the nation's capital. Bob Crow


joined us for the Sunday interview. Another by-election and another


find out the latest on the weather on the radio.


With me, the best and brightest political panel in the business The


twits will be as incessant and probably as welcome as the recent


rain. A significant new probably as welcome as the recent


in the debate over Scottish independence this morning, the


President of the European Commission, President Jose Manuel


Barroso, has confirmed what the Nationalists have long denied, that


an independent Scotland would have to reply to join the European Union


as a new member, that it would require the agreement of all 28


member states and that would be in his words, extremely difficult, if


not impossible. In case there is a new country, a new state coming out


of a current member state, it will have to apply and, this is very


important, the application to the union would have to be approved by


all of the other member states. Countries like Spain, with the


secessionist issues they have? I don't want to interfere in your


democratic discussion here, but of course, it will be extremely


difficult to get the approval of all of the other member states, to have


a new member coming in from one member state. We have seen that that


Spain has been opposing even the recognition, for instance, so it is


a similar state. It is a new country. I believe it is great to be


externally difficult, if not impossible. Well, he says he doesn't


want to interfere, but he has just dropped a medium-sized explosive


into the debate on Scottish independence? A huge story. Alex


Salmond must be wondering what is going to go wrong next. His pitch to


the Scottish people is based on two things, the currency union with


England and the rest of the United Kingdom, which was blown apart last


week, and this morning, his claims that Scotland would automatically


get into the European Union has been dynamited. He's not only saying that


they would have to apply, it is also saying it might be impossible to get


the agreement of all 28 members to allow Scotland in. That's even more


significant than the application? The reference to Spain is


interesting, we talk about Catalan independence, an economic and active


area that Spain does not want to be independent. About five other


countries are blocking Kosovo's accession to the EU. There is no


reason they would want to encourage the secessionist in their country by


letting Scotland do the same. If Scotland does have to apply, and it


does get in, Scotland does have to apply, and it


problem because all new members have to accept the Euro? At the moment,


the SNP are rejecting that quite strongly. What an interesting


intervention today. However, I know that those arguing that Scotland


should stay in the union are worried that the polls are tightening. A lot


of these interventions, parents care arguments, they don't look like they


are convincing the Scottish people. We haven't had any polls yet? We


haven't, but we have since the currency debate was reignited in the


last few weeks and it shows the polls tightening slightly. I think


Alistair Darling's campaign would prefer to be much further ahead at


the stage. They are worried that these technical commandments are not


having much sway. Are the polls tightening slightly? They


having much sway. Are the polls within the statistical margin for


error. They are, but not much. Alex Salmond's main page is one of


reassurance. He wants to say you can vote for independence, a pound in


the pocket will be the same as before and you will still be a


member of the European Union. In the last three or four matter days, both


of those claims have been blown apart. Angus MacNeil has already


told BBC Radio 5 Live that the remarks are nonsense and he is


playing more politics. We hope to speak to the SNP's finance minister,


John Swinney, a little bit later in the programme. It is not just the


constant rain that London commuters have had to deal with. There was


also a strike on the tube that disrupted the travel of millions. A


second stoppage was on the cards, but it was called off at the last


minute. The leader of the biggest


underground workers union, the RMT, is Bob Crow, who has led his members


into 24 strikes on the tube since 2005, as well as disputes on the


national rail network. Under his leadership, the union's membership


has grown from 57,000 in 2002 to more than 80,000, at a time when


union membership overall has been shrinking. The current dispute has


seen Bob Crow squaring up to Boris Johnson over the mayor's plans to


close tube station ticket offices. The 48-hour stoppage at the


beginning of this month is estimated to have cost the London economy ?100


million. The two sides have agreed a truce, for now, but Mr Crow has


threatened further action if the mayor imposes his changes.


Bob Crow joins me now for the Sunday interview.


Welcome to the Sunday Politics. You have suspended the strike for the


moment. What will it take to call it off entirely? Want to know first of


all wider booking office has to close. The Mayor of London made it


quite clear in his election programme that the booking offices


would remain open. It was strange, really, because Ken Livingstone


wanted to close them down and the mayor thought it was popular to keep


them open and put in his campaign to keep them open. However, we have not


the news figures. We are being told only 3% of people use the booking


offices. That's not true. In research done, if somebody does to a


booking office with somebody sitting there and asks for a ticket of less


than ?5, they are not allowed to sell them a ticket, it is madness.


Do you use the ticket office? When it is open, yes. You said to ITV


that he didn't. I don't know what I said to ITV, I don't know what time


people use them, sometimes they are open and sometimes they are closed.


People make out that these ticket office staff are people that sit


behind barriers like a newsagent. I'm not knocking a newsagent,


however, these people were the same people treated like Lions when they


were helping people named in the terrorist incidents, taking them out


of the panels. Suddenly they are lazy people that sit in ticket


offices. My understanding is that the people would come from behind


and be out and about now. It is the management wants to run the


underground without ticket offices, isn't that their prerogative? They


are paid to manage, not you, not your members, they are the managers?


Managers are there to manage, and we want good managers. But we've got


some really bad managers that are not looking at the railway as a


whole. This is a successful industry, not an industry in


decline, one of the most successful in Britain. It is moving 3.4 million


people a day. All of the forecast is or it will move to 3.6 million per


day. The mayor wants to run services on a Friday and Saturday night. We


are not opposed to that. However, it does not make sense that if more


people are going to be using the tube on Friday and Saturday, coming


home at two o'clock three o'clock in the morning, a lot of people


drinking, a lot of people not dragging, why take 1000 people of


the network that come to the aid of people that are looking to people? I


want to show you this picture. This is you. Taking a break in Brazil, I


think it is. I was trying to copy you. You deserve this break because


you have done a fantastic job for your members. Yes, I don't see what


that has got to do with it. Let s get every editor of the daily


newspapers and see where they go on their holidays, I would like to


know. What I choose to do... I'm not attacking you for doing that...


You've got a picture up there, I've got to say, why don't they go and


follow Boris Johnson when he was away on holiday, when the riots were


taking place in London, and he refused to come back? Why don't they


go and view the editors of newspapers, where they go on


holiday? Why do they look at you when you go on holiday? They


sometimes do, actually. The basic pay of a tube driver will soon be


?52,000. Ticket office workers are already earning over ?35,000. Never


mind a holiday on Copacabana beach, or membership by your house for what


you have done for them? When you look at the papers this morning I


see that Wayne Rooney is going to get a ?70 million deal over the next


four deals. I see NHS doctors are getting ?3000 a shift. I see a lot


of people that do a lot of people that, in my opinion, don't do


anything for society. The top paid people in this country should be


doctors and nurses. Unfortunately, we live in a jungle. If you are not


strong, the bosses will walk all over you. The reason why we got good


terms and conditions is because we fought for them. The reality is all


of these three political parties, liberals, Tories and Labour, they


have all put no programme that to defend working people. So we have to


do it on our own. And that is why you have done such a great job for


your members and why union membership has been rising, people


want to be part of a successful operation. But it has come at a cost


for less well-paid workers, who travel on the cheap? If everyone


believes if London Underground tube workers take a pay freeze they are


going to redistribute the money to the rest of the workers that work on


the cheap... But the people that travel on the tube, let's look at


some of them, they are the ones that suffer from your strike action. The


starting salary of a cheap driver now, ?48,000. The starting salary


for a nurses only ?26,000, ?22, 00 for a young policeman, ?27,000 for a


teacher starting out. As your members have spread, they have had


to live through 24 strikes in 1 years to push up your members


wages. It's I'm all right Jack? The have put a pay freeze on by


conservatives and liberals. The police constables, so have the


teachers. We have had the ability to go and fight. The reality is, at the


end of the day, as I have said before, no one is going to put up


the cause for workers. Not one single party in parliament are


fighting the cause for workers. They all support privatisation, they all


support keeping the anti-trade union laws, they all support illegal wars


around the world. Unless they have a fighting trade union, our members


pay would be as low as some others. You said we could not care less if


we have 1 million strikes. But these people, the lower paid people who


travel on the tube, who need it as an essential service, they care Of


course they care, I've said before that I apologise to


course they care, I've said before public for the dispute that took


place. 24 strikes in 13 years? It two to tango. If the boy never


imposed terms and conditions on us against our will... But you've got


great terms and conditions! But it's a constant battle, they are trying


to change them. Drivers are having their pay going up to ?50,000. You


said they are making it worse, it is going up. They are trying to make


things worse for workers. You said at the start of the interview that


the tube strike cost ?100 million in two days. It means that when members


go to work for two days it is worth ?100 million. That demonstrates what


they are worth. Only a fighting trade union can defend workers out


there. Your members should enjoy what you have got for them, because


it's not going to last, is what you have got for them, because


Technology will change the whole way your business operates. As Karl Marx


says, you said I was a mixture of Karl Marx, Only Fools And Horses and


the Sopranos. I thought that was quite funny... The Karl Marx part of


it, the only thing that is constant is change. We have been crying out


for new technology. But for who To put people on the dole, so they


can't do anything and do anything for society, or technology so


everybody benefits, lower fares better service and better terms and


conditions for the workers. But you have made Labour so expensive on the


underground that management now has a huge incentive to substitute


technology for Labour. And that s what it's going to do, it is closing


the ticket offices and very soon, starting in 2016, the driverless


trains coming. What I am saying is that your members should enjoy this


because it's not going to last. Driverless trains are not coming


in, it is not safe. We have them in Nuremberg, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, it


is not safe? These are new lines that have been built so that when it


breaks down, people can get out of the tunnel. Would you want to be


stuck on a summers day on the Northern line? A pregnant woman who


cannot get off the train? Absolute panic that takes place, the reality


is simple, it is a nonsense. It s not going to happen because it is a


Victorian network. On Docklands railway for example it is driverless


but when the train breaks down, it is above ground on a very small


section. All of these other cities managed to have it. You remind me


about Henry Ford in the 1930s when he said, you see that robot over


their, he cannot buy a car. All sorts of new jobs are being created


all the time in other areas. Come back to the ticket offices, not many


people use the ticket offices any more, what is wrong with getting the


stuff out of the ticket office on to the concourses, meeting and


greeting, helping disabled people and tourists and making it a better


service? They can do more on the concourse than they can in the


ticket office. Andrew, he took the decision to close down every single


ticket office. You cannot compare for example Chesham with the likes


of Heathrow. Are you telling me people are going to be on a long


transatlantic flight, arrived at Heathrow and cannot get a ticket.


The stuff will be redeployed on the concourse. The simple problem is


that it is not just about the booking office, it is about people


having a visual. If you are partially sighted, you cannot use


the machines. If British is not your first language, you cannot use the


offices. How many languages do your members speak? I don't know, I


struggle with English. The machines can speak many different languages.


They are dehumanising things. You phone the bank, all you hear is


press one for this, two for that. People want to hear it human being


and what makes the London Underground so precious is that


people want to see people. Having well-dressed, motivated people out


on the concourse, what part of that don't you like? They will be on the


concourse and they don't you like? They will be on the


machines. The fact is that London Underground did a risk assessment of


closing down their booking offices and it is clear that if you are


disabled, if you are partially sighted, London Underground becomes


more dangerous. You are posing the closing of ticket offices, opposing


driverless trains, when you opposed to the Oyster card when it came in?


No, Oyster cards, it is how you deal with it. It is not the only way


They should supplement the staff and the job. If more people used the


London Underground system, you want more staff to deal with them. Let's


look at your mandate to strike. Of your members who work on the Tube,


only 40% bothered to vote. Only 30% voted for the strike, so 70%


actually didn't vote to strike of your members, but the strike went


ahead. Isn't it right to have a higher threshold before you can


cause this disruption? It would be lovely if everyone voted but the


Tories took that away. We used to have ballots at the workplace. What


I'm trying to say to you is that we used to have a ballot box at the


workplace and the turnouts were higher. The Tories believe that if


they can have a secret ballot where ballot papers went to people's home


addresses, where they could be persuaded by the bosses, votes would


be different. Let's go back to the workplace ballot because you get a


bigger turnout. Will the RMT re-affiliate to the Labour Party? I


have no intention to. We got expelled from the Labour Party. But


you will give some money to the Labour councils? Those that support


our basic policies get money, we don't give money directly to MPs, we


give it to constituencies. Are you going to stand for re-election in


2016? I might do, I might not. You haven't decided yet? No, but more


than likely I will do. And will you stand again as an anti-EU candidate?


Yes, I am standing in London, and right across, completely different


to UKIP's policies. They are anti-European, they believe all of


the faults of Europe are down to the immigrants. We are anti-European


Union. If London Underground is as badly run as you think, why don t


you run for mayor? That is down the road, it has not come up yet. I m


not ruling anything out. I'm not ruling out getting your job on the


Sunday Politics. You have got ruling out getting your job on the


retire as well, you have got to put your feet up. I will get you to


renegotiate my package. Shall we go on strike first? If I could have


your wages, I would have two trips to Rio every year. Good luck. And if


you're in the London region they'll have more on the Tube strike later


in the programme. Let's get back to those comments from Jose Manuel


Barroso, and reaction to these comments from John Swinney. Scottish


Nationalists denied all along you would have to reapply, we have now


heard it without any caveats, you will and you might not get in. I


think Jose Manuel Barroso's comments were preposterous this morning. He


compared the situation to the one in Kosovo. Britain is the member,


Scotland is not the member. If you go independent, you will have to


reapply, he says. All of the arrangements we have in place are


compatible with the workings of the European Union because we have been


part of it for 40 years. The propositions we put forward work


about essentially negotiating the continuity of Scotland's membership


of the European Union and that position has now been explained and


debated and discussed and reinforced by comments made by experts. We are


talking about the president of the European commission and we have


spoken to him since he gave that interview on the BBC this morning,


it was an intervention that he made that he wanted to lay out that


Scotland should be in no doubt that if they vote for independence they


will have to apply for European membership and they may not get it


if it is vetoed by other members. What he didn't say is that no state


of the European Union have indicated they would veto Scottish


membership. The Spanish foreign minister has. They have said that if


there is an agreed process within the UK that Scotland becomes an


independent country, then Spain has got nothing to say about the issue.


That indicates to me clearly that the Spanish government will have no


stance to take on the Scottish membership of the European Union


because it is important that Scotland is already part of the


European Union, our laws are compatible with the European Union


and we play our part. The only threat to Scotland's participation


in the European Union is the potential in/out referendum that


David Cameron wants to have in 017. It has not been a great week for


you, has it? Everything you seem to want, the monetary union, that has


been blown out of the water by the Westminster parties, now Jose Manuel


Barroso has said you will have to reapply to the European Union, it


has not been a good week. You will follow the debate closely, and the


Sunday newspapers are full about the backlash taking place within


Scotland at the bullying remarks of the Chancellor and his cohorts. Is


Jose Manuel Barroso a bully is well now? He is making an indirect


comparison between Scotland and Kosovo. If you vote for independence


and you do have two apply again to join, if you do get in it solves


your currency problem because you will have to accept the euro. We


have set out an option on the currency arrangements which would be


to establish the currency union You would have to adopt the euro. That's


not rate because you have to be part of the exchange-rate mechanism for


two years before you can apply for membership and an independent


Scotland has no intention of signing up to the exchange rate mechanism or


the single currency. We are concentrating on setting out our


arguments for maintaining the pound sterling, which is in the interests


of Scotland and the UK. Thank you for joining us this morning.


This week's least surprising news was that Labour won the safe seat of


Wythenshawe and Sale East in a by-election, following the death of


the MP Paul Goggins. With the result so predictable,


the MP Paul Goggins. With the result whether this would be the sixth time


this parliament that UKIP would come second. And whether they'd chip away


at Labour's vote, not just the Tories and the Lib Dems. Adam stayed


up all night to find out what it all meant. Forget the hype. Forget the


theorising. And yes - everyone has a theory. UKIP are learning from us.


What have they picked up from you? To be silly. Thanks to this week's


by-election we've got some hard evidence in paper form that helps


answer the question: How are UKIP doing? Turns out the answer is well,


but not well enough to beat Labour. I'm therefore claim -- declare that


Mike Cane is elected. So UKIP have come second and increased their


share of the vote quite significantly. But their performance


isn't as good as their performances in some of the other by-elections


this parliament. Just don't suggest to them that their bandwagon has


ground to a halt. A week ago you'd told me you were going to win, what


happened? No, I didn't, I said I wanted to win. My mistake. How are


you feeling? It is a Labour stronghold, we always knew it was


going to be a fight. Labour were running scared of letting us present


our arguments. UKIP's campaign in Wythenshawe didn't point to the


right but to the left, with leaflets that branded Labour as a party of


millionaires who didn't care about the working class. It wasn't a


winning strategy but it did help them beat the Tories who focused on


dog mess and potholes instead. Professional UKIP-watcher Rob Ford


from Manchester Uni thinks they could be on the right track. He s


analysed the views of 5,000 UKIP voters for a new book, which could


confound the received wisdom about the party. The common media image of


the typical UKIP voter is a ruddy faced golf club and -- member from


the south-east of the UK and many UKIP activists do resemble that


stereotype to some extent, they do pick up a lot of activists from the


Conservative party, but pick up a lot of activists from the


are older, more working class, more likely to live in Northern, urban


areas, and they are much more anti-system than anti-EU. And


they're precisely the voters that the Tory MP David Mowat needs if


he's to hold on to his narrow majority in the constituency just


down the road. Do you have a UKIP strategy in your seat? Our UKIP


strategy is to point out that if they want a referendum on if they


want to be in the EU or not, there is one way to get it, for the


Conservatives to form their next government and for me to be their


MP. UKIP could accidentally destroy what they want? I'm not sure it will


be accidental. People need to realise that if Ed Miliband is


be accidental. People need to Prime Minister, there will be no


referendum on the EU and UKIP may have made their point but they would


not have got their referendum. Over at UKIP local HQ, it is tidying up


time. Not helping, Nigel? I had major surgery on the 19th of


November and I am still weak as a kitten. I can barely lift a pint


with my right hand, it is as serious as that. The answer is, Carreon


chaps, you're all doing a very good job. There will be carrying on to


the European elections in May, which will provide more evidence of if the


UKIP and wagon is powering on or if it is just parked. -- bandwagon


With me now is the Conservative MEP Vicky fraud and UKIP director of


medication is Patrick O'Flynn. He will also be a candidate in the


upcoming European elections. You came second in Manchester, but it


was not a close second. -- Vicky Ford. There is nothing that is a


game changer? I think it is very unusual for any insurgent party


like the liberals used to be, to actually win a safe seat of the


opposition. Those shocks, going back to Walkington etc, it tended to be


winning seats against an unpopular government. We did extraordinarily


well in Wythenshawe. Labour compressed the campaign down to the


shortest possible time and maxed out the postal vote. Whatever we think


about Labour, they do have an efficient machine, lots of union


activists signed a lot of people with a lot of know-how. It pushed


you into third place and showed the increasing irrelevance of the Tories


in the North? Tory minded voters in the North Sea more inclined to vote


for UKIP than you? I think by-elections are by-elections. The


same day, we took a seat from Labour in Birmingham. Well, that was a


by-election as well, so we should discount that as well. You should


learn from them, and we need to look forward to the elections in 201 .


That is in May this year, when we have a chance to really grab this


change in Europe, grab this change that we were talking about just now.


You don't worry, particularly in the north, if people want to vote


against Labour your supporters are drifting to UKIP? I think people


vote UKIP in a European election and they have done that for many years.


They vote that because they want change. The problem is, Patrick s


party have had MEPs since 1999 and they cannot deliver that change


They can't because they don't have seats in Westminster. It was on that


video, the only way we are going to get the change we want in Europe is


to have that referendum and have the renegotiation, and that means vote


Tory. What do you say to that? Let's get real, the Conservative Party has


not won a Parliamentary majority in 22 years. But the only way you will


get a referendum, if that is what motivates you, and with UKIP it is,


the only way it will be a referendum on Europe in this country as if


there is a majority Conservative government at the next election And


you could well stop that from happening? I don't accept that. I


believe, just as we forced David Cameron and into a referendum pledge


he explicitly ruled out making before through our success, and I


was there in PMQs, when his MPs asked him and he said it would not


be in the national interest because he didn't want to leave, our


electoral success forced that pledge. I believe by winning the


European action this May we can force Ed Miliband, again, against


his will, to match that pledge. Then, whatever formulation varies in


the next Parliament, we will get a referendum. Labour MPs have just had


the chance to say we want a referendum. They refused to do it.


The only way you are going to get a renegotiation, a change in our


relationship with Europe and an in or out referendum is to have a


Conservative Government. Please UKIP, stop pretending that you can


deliver, because you don't deliver and you don't... We have delivered,


we forced David Cameron to give a pledge for a referendum he didn t


want to make. We will know if you are right about Ed Miliband or not,


you will have to tell us going into the campaign. If you are wrong, what


do you do then? There are still loads of reasons for people to vote


UKIP. A referendum is one thing David Cameron, and I asked him


directly, thermally wants to stay in. He wants to be the Edward Heath


of the 21st century. The Tories are going to say, vote UKIP, get Ed


Miliband. What would you say to that? I would say we have probably


maxed out the Tory vote we are going to get because David Cameron has


been incredibly helpful in sending them in our direction. Our potential


for growth now, would we are concentrating on, his those


disenchanted former Labour voters and more and more of them are coming


towards us on things like immigration and law and order. We


want to renegotiate our relationship with Europe. We need to have people


who are going to turn up to negotiate with people like Barroso.


That meant a Prime Minister that is not Ed Miliband but David Cameron.


UKIP MEPs do not turn up to defenders. If President Hollande is


as good as his word and says there will be no substantial


renegotiation, certainly no treaty change this side of 2017 when he is


up for the election, what do you do then? He is a French Socialist Prime


Minister, I don't expect him to agree. But you can't bring anything


of substance back with these negotiations. Then people will vote


to leave. The Prime Minister has been very clear that British public


opinion is on a knife edge and unless we get what we want from a


renegotiation, we will leave. You would vote to leave? Let's see what


we get with the deal on the table in 2017. If the status quo was what we


have today, I would vote to leave. But I want to renegotiate. We will


have to move on. For those viewers lucky enough to live in the East of


England, they will be seeing more of Patrick in a moment. You are


watching Sunday Politics. Coming up in just over 20 minutes, I will be


talking about, what else, the weather, with


Hello and welcome to Sunday Politics in the East. Later in the


programme, the struggle to keep SureStart centres open.


We always feel it. We are in small villages and I feel like we need it,


really. And calls to reduce the cost of tax


on bingo clubs. We are not asking for a hand`out or


a subsidy. We are asking for a level tax.


But first let's introduce our guests, Stewart Jackson, the


Conservative MP for Peterborough, and Patrick O'Flynn, who is UKIP's


lead candidate for the eastern region in the forthcoming European


elections this May. And we will begin this week with some good news


for flood victims. The government has announced that


people who suffered flooding on the East Coast will be entitled to


compensation because financial help will now be backdated to include the


whole winter. That means that people who were flooded here during the


tidal surge in December should qualify.


There was a worry that with all the subsequent flooding elsewhere we


might have missed out. Yes, I was in King's Lynn on the day


of the first storm in December and doing a UKIP meeting in the area and


I remember driving back in the evening and the wind whistling. I


think it was the day that they announced that Nelson Mandela had


died, said the media coverage for the storm was small. I am pleased


that the East have been acknowledged, but people will feel


that the flooding in the Thames Valley has elevated that.


What about that? People are saying that it is the flooding in the south


that has prompted the surgeon money?


Clearly, we have had exceptional circumstances and appalling weather,


unlike anything that we have seen since 2007. I think the government


have acted as quickly as possible. The Prime Minister has taken direct


action and seized the moment with chairing Cobra, looking at the


scheme that gives the funding but the local government.


So it has nothing to do with the marginals? No, it is not a party


political issue. MPs from across the divide have been very good at


representing the concerns of their constituents, not least in


Somerset. I think the government has acted in terms of asking the


Treasury to look again at funding and working with local authorities


to review the scheme said that more money can go to them.


To the money that we will all pay on our council tax. Budgets are being


set all across the region at the moment, before bills go out in


spring. This is the picture in our 51 district authorities. Next year,


the number of council jobs expected to go across the region is at least


786. There are 25 councils who are


sticking with the government's advice and freezing council tax, but


16 district authorities are going to increase theirs, three, all in


Essex, are managing a cut and a handful have yet to make up their


mind. Altogether the districts plan to make savings of ?439 million, put


that together with the ?402 million spending reduction by our shire and


unitary councils and the total save this year is ?841 million. That


means a reduction in children's services. Started by Labour in 1998,


SureStart centres were funded by the government and aimed to support


families, as well as improve early education and childcare. Local


authorities took them over in 2005 and now cuts to their funding mean


the service is being targeted only at the most disadvantaged families.


Tom Barton has this report from Essex.


Hello, hello, it is good to see you.


Every week, new mothers and fathers bring their babies to this parenting


group in Braintree. It is one of the number of classes that the centre


runs to help new parents, along with a drop`in service everyday.


It is free and is open to everyone, so that is great. Everything else is


quite expensive to do. This is my first child, so I did not have much


experience. Coming here, it is good to know that you can ask people any


questions that you have. It is brilliant, they do loads of


groups. We come to two a week. We have found that it has helped with


our little girl's developments. But across Essex, children's centres


facing cuts. These mothers and fathers are the lucky ones. This


centre is not being affected by the cuts. But, across Essex, of the 82


centres that will be open after the cuts, more than half of them will


face a reduction in their opening hours.


These mothers are among those affected by the cuts. The


children's centres that they attend having their hours slashed. One will


go from being open eight hours a day Monday to Friday to being open for


just five hours each week. We do a lot of courses, baby Matt


Sarge. `` baby massaging. We would not have that opportunity if it was


not that the children's centre. This group has been campaigning


against the cuts, saying that their area has been disproportionately


affected. Now that they have made the cuts, I


see that it will only get worse. People that have had their centre


cut from 40 hours to five hours. When they make the next cut, this is


where the centre will shut. As always, we are the ones that feel


it, because we are in small villages. I feel that we are the


kind of people who need it, really. I think there is a long`term impact


in terms of the effect that it has on families, but also the wider


community. SureStart children's centres run out of community


facilities. If you take the children's centre away, it


undermines the viability of the centres.


The education minister says that decisions about children's centres


should be local. Ultimately, it is the responsibility


of the local council to make sure that those children get a good start


in life and stop we have been clear in our government guidance that


there should be a strong network of SureStart centres.


But, with councils facing the effects of cuts to central


government grants, increasing demand and a limit on council tax rises,


services that were once universal will inevitably end up serving only


those in the greatest need. Hickory decree dock. That was


beautiful. Joining me now, the leader of the


County Council, David Finch. Why are you making these cuts?


What we are doing is re`profiling the service so that we are placing


where there is the greatest need the resources in the area and we have


been very careful about the profiling of the centres so that we


are actually reaching those people who have the greatest need. In fact,


if you look at the cost reduction that we have achieved, it isn't


around people, it is about building rates, electricity bills. It is all


those fixed costs that are associated with the centres. We have


been able to re`profile because we have adapted the workforce in those


centres appropriately to the needs of the communities and re`profiled


the cost as well. You heard the mothers in the films


saying 40 hours down to five hours. Effectively, the places close down.


No, I think it is reasonable. We would have profile Turbat about how


long the centre was opened a week and how many hours it was used a


week. We have been very careful about profiling all of these centres


and outreach places so that we are maximising their use and maximising


the opportunity. The mother in the film does not feel


that she has been profiled. She fills that she is missing out on


something that she and her child enjoy.


Your pro `` programme has profiled this in terms of the outreach


centres as cuts. If you give that message out, people pick that


message up and think it will be worse in the future. What we have


been doing as Essex County Council over the last four years is


re`profiling our surfaces `` services, looking at how we can be


adaptable and profiled the finances and give value to money for the


taxpayer. You are going to raise tax, it at


the 11th hour you decided not to. You could have saved these


services, continue? I think that we have saved the


services. The work that has been done has been appropriate. What we


have done interims of accepting the grants is on the basis of what we


have seen as an increase in the tax base from the collections at the


District Council level. That has come through to us. We have acted


sponsored Bailey and profiled `` we have acted responsibly and profiled


the money. Stewart Jackson, Peter Brook is also


facing these cuts. Mothers `` Peterborough are also facing cuts.


Mothers in your areas will be missing out?


Most of that is not my area of the place, but there will be some


changes. The changes to try and focus the greatest number of


resources on the greatest need and I think that is the most important


thing to do. In the case Peter borough, we will have children's


services hopes, areas, where you have things like postnatal


depression, the most pressing issues will have a focus and stop it will


not be focused just on the buildings.


SureStart was supposed to be about support and guidance for parents.


UKIP's idea of more 'Nursery Voucher' provision isn't the same at


all ` don't you believe in supporting families? Is that not


about time spent away from the home?


I think David and Stewart are wrong to be addressing this up in jargon.


We should be honest and say that the services are being cut, but they are


being cut because the last Labour government is left this country in a


huge... What would you do? I think the key question is, are the cuts


being made in the right place? When you have the Foreign Office paying


diplomats to send their children to private schools at ?25,000 a year


and you have the Ministry of Defence with highly paid people staying at


4`star hotels, you would expect that Whitehall has not tried very hard.


You will see cuts at the front line for not very much money spent are


affecting human it. I would leave the Labour Party. And it has left


the country in a mess. But how will your nursery vouchers


help people? I would say that SureStart is not the worst idea that


the Labour Party has stopped I think it does need focusing on children


from more deprived backgrounds. When they were throwing money at


everything, it seemed that it was mainly affluent parents who were


having the services. I would argue that we should do something more to


help parents to do their best. David Finch? I wanted to say that


the track record of Essex is very clear over the last four years up we


have saved ?364 million, we have re`profiled our service. Sorry if we


are using jargon, but we are delivering results in Essex because


we are a Conservative administration who knows what they are doing.


But to be honest about it. What about the council tax, why not


have a referendum and ask the people of Essex what they want to do?


When we had the returns from the councils on the 3rd of February, the


amount that we thought we would get was ?4 million and that was based on


the forecast from the districts. We ended up with ?10.8 million. I


decided that we would take the freeze grants was because I could


afford to do all of the things that we plan to do with the additional


tax money and still do things like put money into flood relief, I could


put more money into education, more money into highways, money into


other services. Why would I not do that if I could keep council tax at


the freeze level for the residents of Essex?


Thank you. We're going to talk about bingo.


It's a pastime that's brought communities together for


generations. But in recent years, there's been a big drop in the


numbers taking part. Is it simply going out of fashion? Or could it


have something to do with the fact that while most gambling activities


are taxed at 15%, bingo is taxed at 20%? The industry is now lobbying


for a change in the law and it's campaign in Parliament is being led


by one of our MPs. Eyes down for Andrew Sinclair.


Six and five, 65. It is a wet Wednesday in Harlow, and


80 people are spending the evening in the loco `` local bingo hall.


For ?10, they can take play of 14 games, to potentially win ?50. On


other nights, the prize could be ?500. But everyone here says it is


not about the money. It is a night out not in front of


the television and the chance to have a win if we are lucky. You talk


to people, have a joke. The winning is not important. It is an evening


out, a social evening. We can have a chat top we enjoy it.


Is that two fat ladies? Even party leaders have had a go,


but David Cameron struggled when he had to go in 2009. According to the


industry, bingo is in crisis. In 2007, there were 542 clubs, now


there are just 200. `` 400. Now just 41 million visits a year. The


industry says that the smoking ban has played a part, also the high


rate of tax. It makes bingo companies reluctant


to invest. The bingo industry would like to build more modern


state`of`the`art premises so that we can attract more numbers.


Could a reason for this fall in numbers be because people do not


want to play bingo anymore, there are other more attractive games?


See, there is more competition in the leisure retail market and


online, so we have to up our game as well. We're not asking for a


hand`out or a subsidy, or we are asking for A`level tax.


Bingo profits are taxed at 20%, compared to 15% for other forms of


booking. Just 12% for lottery tickets will stop it all goes back


to the budget of 2009 when Alistair Darling axed the 80 on bingo halls


and increased gross office tax. He said that it would save the industry


money, but it has not happened. The industry's tax has won the backing


of MPs in Westminster. They say it would be fair and not expensive.


Where would the people get the ?20 million? They are taxing online


gaming which should raise ?300 million. They should use that to cut


bingo tax. Thousands of people enjoy this past time and it is incredibly


important. If they have the money and can invest in the clubs and can


employ more people, there will be able to get even more people to come


to the clubs, stop the closures and bingo will thrive and stop.


The Treasury is making sympathetic noises. I understand that ministers


believe that the Wingo industry has been unfairly treated. But in these


times, can the Chancellor find money for a in go tax cut. `` bingo.


They hope to get half a million signatures on a petition that will


be handed into Downing Street later this month. It is hoped that the


Chancellor will announce a change of heart.


Do you care about bingo? Yes, I do. I think that the


discrepancy in tax between bookmakers and bingo is untenable


and we need to look again at making it fairer.


Do you think it will make it to the budget? Yes, I do, because Robert


Hoffman has a track record of pushing the issues forward to the


Treasury, which is not always taken on`board straightaway, but he is one


out in the end by people power and strong campaigning. I think he will


win the day. Robert Halfon is good at tapping


into issues important to everyday people and not going back to a


bygone era, something that people accuse your party of?


I don't know about a bygone era, but Robert Halfon does have a talent at


appealing to people. Can I just say something in favour of bingo is that


it is a fixed state communitywide of having a flutter. You do not hear


about bingo addicts and stop due think it is more about community?


I have 82 of these gaming machines in my constituency, 21 bookmakers.


They have used loopholes in planning legislation to pretend that they are


building societies and banks. It is addictive, in terms of social


cohesion it is a disaster. Why are we supporting that and not bingo


halls? We are singing from the same hymn


sheet, I agree. When is the right time to hang up


your boots. It's a question that's been vexing one of our MPs this


week, here's Deborah McGurran with the 60 second round`up.


Another of our long`time MPs, Alan Hazlehurst, has faced questions


about his future after concerns that he could be too old to do the job


will stop. Not so, claims another MP.


The culture of youth is not what it is all about.


The new boss of the East of England Ambulance Service came in for praise


after meeting the health minister. He has stopped the old strategy that


he said would not work and has set up new priorities.


A rail maintenance firm has teamed up with a local college to employ


local young people, and have given ten jobs.


Whilst energy companies were pushed to reduce bills for those who do not


pay by direct debit in his own style. We will hear from the man in


the conker style suit. Stewart Jackson, could you do your


job at 82 years old? Yes, absolutely. The cult of youth


is overrated. There is a quiet wisdom, experience from older


people. I think we are wrong to disregard that. My leader Nigel


Farage says that it is a bunch of college children who are leading the


country in a wrong direction. This MP is a great person for


Westminster. If he can go one to convince his electors that he is up


to the job, then why not? It is wrong that many people stop


working at the age of 65 and MPs carry on?


That is not true, people cannot be forced to quit their jobs at 65.


Some people have a good relationship with their electorate, others do


not. That is all for now. You can have a


look at our website for political updates. We will not be here next


week, but we will be back in a updates. We will not be here next


direction? No, in real terms now the rent is falling in London. Andrew,


back to you. Welcome back. Let's start by talking


about the weather. What could be more British? It has been


practically the only topic of conversation for the past few


weeks. This morning, Ed Miliband has made the direct link, declaims,


between this exceptionally wet and windy weather and climate change.


That's an interesting development, taking place. Ed Miliband is the


author of the 2008 Climate Change Act, so he has to stick to that line


or his life 's work goes up in smoke. When he passed it, there was


Westminster consensus. Now the Tories are beginning to appeal off.


UKIP has definitely peeled off. Labour and Lib Dems are sticking to


their guns, there is now a debate? It has moved from consensus to very


fragile consensus. It's an interesting tactic for Ed Miliband


to take. He could either approach the floods talking about government


failures and handling, instead he has gone for the intellectual


argument, try and turn this into a debate about ideology and climate


change. I think he will find that quite difficult. Partly, I don't


think the public I get listening to an argument like that. Partly


because only one in three of the public totally agree with him. The


polls for The Times think that about one in three think that man-made I'm


a change is responsible for these floods, the rest do not. I'm not


sure that the interventions floods, the rest do not. I'm not


particularly well picked up. It puts David Cameron in a difficult


position. He was hugging those huskies, it was going to be the


greenest Government ever, and now he has an Environment secretary that


doesn't really believe in climate change. Well, we don't know where he


stands. That is not where he was in 2010. It has always been sold to us


that he is statesman-like and pragmatic, but that drifts into he


doesn't really believe anything This is a worldwide phenomenon now.


You've got the Canadian government, they are pretty sceptical these


days. The new Australian government is pretty sceptical. The Obama


administration has been attacked by the green movement across the United


States, he is probably about to approve the keystone pipeline that


will take over the Texas refineries. What was a huge consensus across the


globe is a guinea to break down Probably started to break down about


the time of the financial crisis, the age of austerity, when suddenly


people had more to worry about than green issues. Even at home it is a


slightly risky tactic for Ed Miliband. The idea there is a


scientific consensus on this, there isn't. You look at Professor Collins


this morning, climate systems expert, saying, actually, the jet


stream is not operating further south because of climate change Or


if it is, it is beyond our knowledge. He flies in the face of


what Ed Miliband as saying. He's saying the wet weather is caused by


global warming, the head of science at Exeter University says the IPCC


originally looked at whether climate change could affect what happens to


the jet stream and, because it had no evidence it had any effect, it


decided not to include it at all in the IPCC report. The problem we have


got is that any individual phenomenon is difficult to attribute


to climate change. But the Labour Leader just have? And The Met Office


have done the same thing. It's a fragile in, but overall we can say


we are getting more extreme weather than ever. The most extreme weather,


hurricanes and tropical storm is, they have been in decline. Equally,


we have had ten of the hottest summers in the last ten years since


1998. Overall, there is a case that can be made that we are getting


more. Each individual thing is difficult to say. Until recently,


almost everyone agreed with that case. Now the parties are reflecting


differences. I wanted to move on, what did you make of two interesting


things that happened with the interview with UKIP and the Tories,


one Cory saying I am voting to come out, and the UKIP chap saying we are


maxed out on Tory defectors, we can't get any more? I think that was


a dangerous admission from Patrick O'Flynn from UKIP, essentially


saying that their vote has peaked. Looking at the by-elections, I'm not


sure that was a particularly wise reflection on that. They got 18 ,


23% last year. The case he is making is that there are more votes to be


gained by attracting former Labour voters than former Tories. I'm not


sure that red UKIP, the bit of UKIP that tries to make benefit


protection and some other kind of social issues at the heart really


sits comfortably with their insurgent, anti-state message. I


don't think it will do particularly well. This is why they are pushing


the message, it is their response to the idea and suggestion of a Tory


rallying cry that they vote for Nigel Farage, and it is really a


vote for Ed Miliband. Patrick is a very good journalist, a very good


commentator. He answered almost as a commentator rather than head of


communications for a political party. The Government are still


trying to rid itself of troublesome priests, an attack on welfare


reforms from the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster. Let's have a look


and see what he said. The basic safety net that was there to


guarantee that people would not be left in hunger or in destitution has


actually been torn apart. It no longer exists. And it is a real


real, dramatic crisis. The second is that, in this context, the


administration of social assistance, I am told, has become more and more


punitive. If applicants do not get it right, they have to wait and they


have to wait for ten days, two weeks, with nothing. Has the basic


safety net disappeared? I don't see how it is possible to argue that. It


is certainly the case that there have been reductions in various


benefits, some benefits have been scrapped and there is a welfare


reform programme. But this country is still spending ?94 billion a year


on working age benefits. Excluding pensions? The idea that this equates


to some sort of wiping out of the safety net is... He has


to some sort of wiping out of the full frontal assault on the Tory


reforms, not the kind of attack that Labour would be prepared to make?


No, they know that it doesn't play very well in the country. He's not


up for election. Whether or not you agree about the safety net, I think


the welfare reforms have been poorly managed and I don't think that is a


full dispute. Universal credit, it is in some very long grass. It had


some stupid ideas, like the idea that it would be paid monthly,


instead of weekly, meaning that people are more likely to run out of


money by the end of the month. It's interesting, in the past, when


members of the cloth have attacked the government for welfare reforms,


the Government have responded by trying to paint them as lefties


ideological driven. I think that is hard in this case, an assault made


ideological driven. I think that is somebody who feels they come from a


centre-right position. I think there will be a bit of awkwardness about


this intervention. It is not the kind of thing they wanted to see. Is


it politically damaging for the Government? It is if it makes them


look mean-spirited. But that is the problem with welfare reforms. You


can say all sorts of things about Iain Duncan Smith's competence. But


the whole thing springs from a moral mission, as he sees it, to liberate


the poor and extend opportunity One of the worst moments for the Tories


was blaming the low level of voting in Wythenshawe and sale in the fact


that the constituency had, in the words of one senior Tory, the


largest council estate in Europe inside its constituency boundary.


The point being what? Because you live in a council estate you don't


vote? That they don't see people living in council estate as one of


them, not an impulse that Margaret Thatcher would have had. I think


it's dangerous if they are painting is people as opponents rather than


trying to win them over. When they do vote, they determine elections!


The idea that there is no such thing as a working-class Tory is toxic. I


want to show you a picture. There we go. It is behind me, on the 5th of


February, it is all men. And then, on the next, look at that, the 2th,


there are a few women. Not exactly many, but some. It is an


improvement. But it is so transparent, isn't it? We phoned up


one of the women that sat behind David Cameron to ask, why the sudden


change? They said, I don't know why you are bothering to ask, it is


completely natural, we didn't do anything to stage manage it. Did his


nose gets longer? It is something that is very transparent and


depressing about the way politicians choose to react to these moments.


Every week they put two women behind David Cameron, so that a tight shot


shows them. It is called the doughnut. They don't have many women


to shuffle around, there are only four among 14 in the Shadow Cabinet.


Also, the fact that women, younger women in particular, are much less


likely to vote Tory than five or ten years ago. David Cameron, it drives


and furious, he is obviously aware this is one of the biggest potential


demographic problem is that they have. It also reminds us of how the


public can actually see the wiring behind a lot of the stuff. Do they


really think your blog so stupid that they will not notice that the


following week the front bench is packed with women? I think it just


increases contempt for the entire rocket. It is an issue where Labour


seem to have pulled ahead of the other parties. We are being told


that 50% of candidates in their 100 target seats will be female. It


looks like the composition of Labour continues to go towards a kind of


rough 50-50 split, eventually. Although that is true, I think the


faces we see on the telly, Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, Chris Leslie,


they are almost always men. There is a Rachel Reeves, a prominent female


face that goes up a lot. But really, the number of e-mails they put up is


proportionally a lot smaller. Is the Miliband team still a men's club?


Behind the scenes, it is very blokey. It's been described as a


kind of seminar room at a university. I think that is true.


The Observer did the cutout and keep of the people behind Mr Miliband. As


opposed to the Shadow Cabinet, with lots of women in it, it was very


male. The one reason Labour have all of these women to put up in


constituencies is all women short lists is. If Tories want to change


things, I know they can be prone to minute -- and in relation, but they


work. In ten years time, I think it will give Labour an immense


advantage. By then, I think they will have a woman leader. Who will


that be? Potentially somebody not even yet in the Commons. You can see


how quickly people can rise to the top, but the Labour Party is going


to be increasingly donated by women. Do you think there will be a Labour


Leader before Theresa May becomes leader of the Conservatives? I think


it is ultimately about Osborne trying to stop Boris. I think I


would be astonished if she managed it. The first female Labour Leader?


I would pick Rachel Reeves the way it is currently going, she knows her


stuff and does well on TV. That is all for this week. We have a week


off now. I'll be back in the week after next. Remember, if it is


Sunday, it's the Sunday Politics, unless it's a Parliamentary recess.


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