14/04/2013 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


14/04/2013

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

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

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

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2183 seconds

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

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

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

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Democrats stay in charge in Northumberland? We will have the

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

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South Shields. Where will you be when the funeral

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

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tribute to what one more piece Conservative this week called the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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supporters say that the industries were dying anyway and she

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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250 jobs. Some say the mining industry would have declined

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without Margaret Thatcher. Durham coalfield was in decline for

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

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Labour Party was tremendously involved in the pit closure

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

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

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difference in the way it was handled under Margaret Thatcher?

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

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

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

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

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and employment but clearer skies. Today there are shopping centres

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

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

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

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decided by the British Steel Corporation, a nationalised

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

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

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

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

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

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traditional industries. Good Margaret Thatcher kill them off

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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challenging his own trade union to keep privileges that they cannot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Regardless of the cold by the communities, you mentioned the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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industries because they did not want to continue subsidising them

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

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

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globalised environment so we have to look towards new industries.

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

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

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that Margaret Thatcher believed anything -- everything could run

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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with the mining communities. There are different areas with different

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

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carried on under Labour. What carried on under Labour?

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

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

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

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

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have got no time. In a fortnight is the county

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

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

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battles have been fought. Liberal Democrats have been running the

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

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

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east? Than romantic views of Northumberland, rolling hills,

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

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

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

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

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

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taking over the functions of the seven previous councils, most

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

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

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

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

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say they have done for Northumberland. The Conservatives

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

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

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across Northumberland are telling me how their accounts are going

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

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

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

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

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Northumberland was a Labour stronghold but they were beaten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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when they go to the polls on 2nd May.

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

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seemed stand accused of spending too much money in Labour

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

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

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In Rothbury, there is a massive commitments to broadband because

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

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

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

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which is closing facilities, slashing its arts and culture

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

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

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new leisure centre in your constituency, most services have

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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council. It is going to be a challenging financial environment

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

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

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

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trying to bring economic development into the council.

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

:57:48.:57:52.

You cannot change the basic economics of the country with one

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local authority but their priorities that you can do and the

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

:58:00.:58:05.

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

:58:05.:58:12.

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

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

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

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

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

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

:58:38.:58:43.

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

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

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

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

:58:57.:59:07.
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gone? I am afraid we have run out of time. We will be hearing from

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

:59:13.:59:16.

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

:59:16.:59:22.

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

:59:22.:59:31.

David Miliband's resignation. Benefit changes which will

:59:31.:59:34.

eventually affect millions of disabled people started this week.

:59:34.:59:38.

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

:59:38.:59:41.

living allowance to a new personal independence payments.

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Meanwhile unions in Newcastle held a protest against government plans

:59:45.:59:48.

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

:59:48.:59:53.

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

:59:53.:59:58.

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

:59:58.:00:02.

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

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International, we need good connections, which means a direct

:00:05.:00:10.

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

:00:10.:00:16.

The parties have started selecting candidates to fight the South

:00:16.:00:26.
:00:26.:00:29.

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

:00:29.:00:35.

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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