14/04/2013 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news, interviews and debate, including the Sunday Interview with Conservative party chairman, Grant Shapps MP.

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In the North East and Cumbria: A region divided over Mrs Thatcher's


legacy, we speak to her admirers and to the critics.


Plus who'll come out on top in the county council elections? We report


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2183 seconds


Hello and welcome to your local part of the show. What was Mrs


Thatcher's legacy to the region? We will be asking her admirers and


critics. And in 18 days, voters go to the polls but can the Liberal


Democrats stay in charge in Northumberland? We will have the


names of the candidates who want to be David Miliband's successor in


South Shields. Where will you be when the funeral


of Margaret Thatcher takes place on Wednesday? Many people want to pay


tribute to what one more piece Conservative this week called the


greatest leader of our age. But others in the former mining


communities of County Durham will be celebrating her passing. This is


the publicity for that party, it should have happened 50 years ago,


better late than never, join us to celebrate the demise of one of the


most hated figures in British politics. Is that tasteless and in


appropriate? I understand people's views with regard to Margaret


Thatcher, she was one of the most reviled politicians in the UK. It


was the press who said she was loved or loathed in equal measures.


I am in the latter category, I loathe her as a politician, because


I was a young man fighting not for money and wages but for a future in


my children and children's children. She took everything away from my


communities. But that show a lack of respect? I am not sure who wrote


that, it would not be the words that I would use. Your thoughts on


parties to mark Margaret Thatcher's death? It demeans people that they


have comments such as that. I understand their opinions on both


sides, at the end of the day, she was an old lady, 87 years of age.


She has children and grandchildren. To write comments like that is, it


says more about the people who produce the comments like that.


Most of them are too young to have remembered her legacy. They are


judging it from false myths and news reports, they never lived


through the Times. A lot of people would be the offended by the cost


of the funeral. She was a prime minister she is entitled to a


ceremonial funeral, I am sure other leaders will have the same. Most of


the cost is about the security because of the anarchists and left


wish -- left-wing demonstrators. There a lot of world leaders coming


in for the funeral, they are entitled to protection. Other prime


ministers have not have that in the past. The last from was Winston


Churchill. Where should we draw the line between protest, even


celebration of her death, and respect? It is reasonable that


people respect -- protester during her time as Prime Minister, there


were things that they disagreed with. Like the poll tax, although


it sometimes went to violence, it was every reason to protest at a


been grossly unfair. But when the woman dies many a year later, she


is entitled to this respect. The Labour Party had time to reverse


things that Mrs Thatcher did, they chose not to do so, because some


other things were necessary, and others... We will discuss some of


what she did and her legacy in a murmured. It is bitterly contested,


the trade unions blame her for the closure of suedes of industry,


whether it be steelmaking, coal- mining or shipbuilding. Her


supporters say that the industries were dying anyway and she


represented New Investment, for example in the Nissan plant. What


would remain of the North's industrial base if Mrs Thatcher had


Margaret Thatcher divides opinion, perhaps she always will. One thing


is for certain. After she was Prime Minister, the North really did not


look the same. Shipbuilding disappeared, mining went as well.


Where I am standing now, there was once a steel works employing 4000


people. Now we have got a cycle way and two rather interesting booking


statues. What did the North East's industrial landscape have looked


like without Margaret Thatcher? Near Sunderland, in the 1970s, this


local pit employed 1300 workers, producing 3000 tonnes of coal a day.


It closed in 1986. The blade and MP Dave Anderson used to work there


and says without Mrs Thatcher and, it would be a thriving coal


industry. She destroyed organised labour in this country, and that


was mine workers. We had huge reserves of coal that could have


still been tapped. We could have been working now. He would have at


least had -- he would have had three pits in the north-east, there


are four collieries that could have still produced coal. 25 miles away,


an empty field, also once part of the north-east mining industry. It


was Fishburn coke works. In the late Seventies, it provided 80% of


male employment in the area. In 1986, it closed with the loss of


250 jobs. Some say the mining industry would have declined


without Margaret Thatcher. Durham coalfield was in decline for


a very long period of time, since the end of the First World War. The


Labour Party was tremendously involved in the pit closure


programmes, particularly in the period in the late 1960s. Huge


numbers of pits closed, people put out of work. What was the key


difference in the way it was handled under Margaret Thatcher?


was the speed at which the decline came in the 1980s and Nineties, the


speed of decline was enormous. A for 115 years, the skies over


concert were field with a haze of iron and oxide dust, a visible mark


of the steel industry. Closure of the industry of the town with 35%


and employment but clearer skies. Today there are shopping centres


and houses instead of steel making. Mrs Thatcher's supporters say the


area just had to move on. Margaret Thatcher was not responsible for


the closure of the steelworks, that has already -- that was already


decided by the British Steel Corporation, a nationalised


industry. If you look around now, it has a boom town with an


unemployment rate was 4%. In 1927, the apparent golden age, -- golden


age, it was 28%. You see an economic legacy left by Margaret


Thatcher which has transformed this country for the better. Many of the


North's archive industries are the safest -- stuff of archive film. --


traditional industries. Good Margaret Thatcher kill them off


before their time or hasten the inevitable? -- did Margaret


Thatcher kill them off before their time or hasten the inevitable?


cannot pin is all on Margaret Thatcher, the decline map -- began


much earlier than the 1970s. closed last tranche of my eyes, she


took a beating heart of the community as well. -- of the 9th.


She closed coal mines and call me at -- coal-mining communities. She


left them to wither on the economic wind, and communities are still


scarred to this day. They should have -- did she not just accept the


inevitable? No, she ripped out the heart of communities. She was a


conviction politician, she did not want to see the communities the


right. -- communities thrive. She got rid of the trade unions, she


wanted to see the demise of those communities. A it was all personal,


basically, and if she had not done that, it would we not have had


these pits producing valuable coal? No, you're 0.2 Ian was valid. Twice


as many pits closed in the 1970s under Labour than closed under


Margaret Thatcher. She did not close and, she said that -- she did


not close them, she just said that public subsidies were removed.


There is nothing to stop anyone opening a pit of now. The last ship


yard closed under Labour, the last steelworks in Teesside closed under


Labour, and then reopened under a coalition government. There is an


awful lot of myths talked about this. I understand it is paid for


fork thickly disease concerned but this -- painful for the communities


concerned, but this process of industrialisation in a long-term


process. You saw the whole of the Thatcher government from the


opposition benches, what in your view did it do to the north-east


was wrecked was it necessary -- and it's the north-east? Was it


necessary? She was determined to have a fight to the finish, and was


-- and Arthur Scargill did as well. We could have had a more gradual


closure programme and better investment. It was not just call,


it was shipbuilding as well. were so baffling -- suffering from


other parts of the world which were produced in ships moored people put


-- cheaply. The accusation from Ilie it -- Ian Lavery is that she


was callous about this. There was something quite personal about her


desire to see off Arthur Scargill, she did not want to see two or


three trade unions hold the country to ransom. It be can -- it became a


personal battle and he played into her hands and called a lot of


suffering to a miner families by playing into her hands. He is now


challenging his own trade union to keep privileges that they cannot


afford to pay four. Even if you think Margaret Thatcher was brittle


in the way she did this, did she not so the seeds of the things like


-- so the seas of the things like the Nissan plant? By constituency


has suffered greatly. Every time there is an issue raised about the


economics of the north-east, people referred to Nissan. The fact of the


matter is that Nissan could go like that if David Cameron and there


Tories get their way in terms of money you... Everyone tells you


about the devastation, but when you go to the town it has survive.


does not flourish like he suggested, it is not flourishing now.


Regardless of the cold by the communities, you mentioned the


shipyards and manufacturing. A lot of people who work in these


industries now have not had jobs for generations. Nor have their


children. As a result of Margaret Thatcher's vindictive policy is.


There is much still to do in the north-east, there are many areas of


deprivation, but the question that Ian has to alter, they had 13 years


of Labour government who made no attempt to open any of these


industries because they did not want to continue subsidising them


either. There is nothing stopping you open -- opening pits or


shipyards or ship -- steelworks. It is very difficult to compete in a


globalised environment so we have to look towards new industries.


Nissan is a long way from your constituency but there are also


hundreds of smaller companies that thrive... One of the problems is


that Margaret Thatcher believed anything -- everything could run


from London, she had no concept that the North could run anything


themselves. She also misunderstood what was happening in Europe. She


believed a the single market, she opposed German reunification. If


she had not been -- if we would not have been in Europe, we would not


have Nissan. 34% of people in the north-east voted for Margaret


Thatcher in 1983, 32% in 1987, more than now. If she was so bad, why


were people voting for her? We live in a democracy, people vote for who


they want. If you come to my constituency and have a ballot or a


poll on whether people supported Margaret Thatcher, it would not be


34%. I would invite you to do that. That is a reality on the ground


with the mining communities. There are different areas with different


views. What about the point that this carried on under Labour? This


carried on under Labour. What carried on under Labour?


decline of manufacturing. It was set into being by Margaret Thatcher


and his determination to get rid of the family silverware. She


prioritised, closed and Chris abide communities. We could talk --


crucified communities. We could talk for another 20 minutes, but we


have got no time. In a fortnight is the county


council elections come up for grabs our county councils in Cumbria,


Durham and North Yorkshire. But in Northumberland one of the fiercest


battles have been fought. Liberal Democrats have been running the


council since 2008, but with a slump in their national fortunes,


can they hold on to their last remaining stronghold in the north-


east? Than romantic views of Northumberland, rolling hills,


vibrant wildlife and bracing shores. The reality is rather more complex.


I missed it -- mixture of industrial areas amid the vast


rural expanse. It makes the Liberal Democrats job of running the


council challenging, not least for may say they have had to trim a


more than �100 million from the budget. We have had a council


taking over the functions of the seven previous councils, most


people would not have noticed the difference in the level of 76 --


service they got. They will be able to see that we can attract business,


and there is a housing company that has got a part here, and a paint


factory near by. This business park is an example of what the Lib Dems


say they have done for Northumberland. The Conservatives


believe rural areas have been starved of funds, leaving them at


run-down and neglected as embodied by the Hexham bus station. People


across Northumberland are telling me how their accounts are going


downhill. We are here in Hexham today, the pavements are not kept,


the place is dirty, the bus station has had a better at four for five


years. Our number one priority is to fix a broken roads we have got.


-- the bus station has had no investment for four or five years.


Northumberland was a Labour stronghold but they were beaten


into third place in the elections in 2008. They are determined to


take control in May, and they have put house building in the centre of


their plans for the county's future. We have got a terrific housing


crisis, 12,000 on the social housing waiting list. 4% of the


population of Northumberland. We would like to tackle that as Labour


over the next five years. It is a major policy decision of hours,


moving towards getting down the housing list. That is what the


politicians say, what about the voters? What issues matter to them?


Everywhere else gets leisure centre, although they have already got one,


there is nothing round here. We are in this area near Rothbury, and one


of the major trunk route into the area has been closed and well


before the next year as -- at least. One of the things that people are


aware of is that the town centres like a blithe and Ashingdon seem to


be run down and are getting worse. There is another big store going in


Blyth, no one wants to do anything about it. It appears that way. Amid


market issues, local issues are at the forefront of people's minds


when they go to the polls on 2nd May.


Let's raise one of those local issues, it is odd that the Lib Dems


seemed stand accused of spending too much money in Labour


strongholds. It depends where you go, in one area they saved the


areas are being spent -- the money is being spent in the other areas.


In Rothbury, there is a massive commitments to broadband because


that is so important in rural communities. The county have had to


save �100 million without closing a single library. Without closing any


Sure Start centres. Compare that with Newcastle, run by Labour,


which is closing facilities, slashing its arts and culture


budget. We have done a challenging job very well. Labour amalgamated


all these councils, we have had to pick up the pieces. You have had a


new leisure centre in your constituency, most services have


been kept going in tough times, should you congratulate the Lib


Dems? When you mentioned the new leisure centre, there has not a


brick been built yet. Hopefully that will come in the future. What


East Northumberland means -- meet his investment in growth and jobs.


We need more people employed and more people off the streets. What,


the Lib Dems do? -- Watts, the Lib Dems cannot do that? They set their


own agenda. We have a huge queues for jobs. I use saying that the


Labour council would save economic problems? One of the main things,


apart from housing, one of the main things we have got to focus on in


Northumberland is jobs. We need jobs and growth and investment.


Everyone will accept that. Come the local elections, you would not vote


Conservative, would you? Of course you would if you want an efficient


council. It is going to be a challenging financial environment


in local government because of the debts that Labour ran out. So what


we are going to do is concentrate the scarce resources on the


priorities that people want, car parking charges, road repairs, and


trying to bring economic development into the council.


is �4 million for three parking, hat -- where you go to find that?


You cannot change the basic economics of the country with one


local authority but their priorities that you can do and the


Conservative administration would. How big a blow to your prayers he


would it be if you lose seats and you end up -- a party if you close


seats has back I think we will gain seats in these elections. I think


we will gain seats from the Conservatives. There are seeds that


we can win from Labour. I think the record stands well and what we are


doing nationally plays into local things. Cutting people's taxes,


putting money into schools with the people premium. These are things


that people want to see happening. That is the case for the Lib Dems.


The Lib Dems are not contesting every single seat in the council.


There has been a jumping from the ship of Lib Dem representatives.


For example, Ashington town council, there are 19 seats, they had 14


last time, they have only got to nominated people. Where have they


gone? I am afraid we have run out of time. We will be hearing from


UKIP and and the Green Party in the next few weeks.


There was any report in the state of the north-east economy this week,


and by-election campaigning has begun in South Shields. Following


David Miliband's resignation. Benefit changes which will


eventually affect millions of disabled people started this week.


The north-east and Cumbria is piloting the switch from disability


living allowance to a new personal independence payments.


Meanwhile unions in Newcastle held a protest against government plans


to cap benefit increases to 1% in the next three years.


A review into the north-east's economy chaired by Labour peer Lord


Adonis has caught -- called for a North East Bank and more investment


in the north-east railways. Have we are going to sell the Regent


International, we need good connections, which means a direct


flight to the USA and better connections to other City is.


The parties have started selecting candidates to fight the South


The by-election is expecting on May septum -- the by-election is


Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news, interviews and debate, including the Sunday Interview with Conservative party chairman, Grant Shapps MP. Also, former CBI boss, Lord Jones and TUC leader, Frances O'Grady go head to head on trade union reform, and former cabinet minister, John Reid, on Tony Blair's warning to Labour.

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