02/02/2014 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news, interviews and debate. With Paul Kenny, Malcolm Bruce, James Wharton and Natalie Bennett.

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


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


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


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


one union baron what he thinks. Education Secretary Michael Gove


sacks the chairwoman of Ofsted. His Lib Dem deputy is said to be hopping


mad. We will be talking to the new deputy leader of the Lib Dems,


Malcolm Bruce. Caught a bout of the EU blues? David


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


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


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


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


And bad weather getting you down? nightmare? Fear not! The leader of


the Greens will be here with her traffic and travel report. Dutch


was activated. It was an airborne alarm and


In the North East and Cumbria: Eric In the North East and Cumbria: Eric


Pickles is accused of neglecting the region.


Is it time he paid us a visit? And could this be the first place in


Cumbria to vote reassurance people want?


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


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


and Iain Martin. After the row about candidate


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


relationship between Labour and the unions. The biggest changes involve


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


individual votes. Different unions support different candidates. It is


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


individual vote. Different unions recommend different candidates, and


union members vote accordingly. Ed Miliband won more individual votes


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


electoral college. As I have understood the proposals so far


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


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


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


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


union members to support that an individual basis the next five


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


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


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


further and become active supporters of the Labour Party, participating


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


at a third stage. So the implications in terms of


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


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


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


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


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


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


Labour to fight the election campaign, correct? Incorrect.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


in the Labour National executive committee and the policy committee.


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


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


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


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


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


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


quipped to deliver that for working people than the current parties


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


these reforms will make Labour more reliant on large donations from


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


individual members in the constituencies. It was interesting,


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


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


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


vote at Labour Party conference and Labour Party Parliamentary


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Lordship is not still here to answer that question.


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


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


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


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


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


to be spitting blood about her removal, although only through


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


Education Secretary a little earlier. If there is another


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


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


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


is a principle across government that there should be no automatic


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


understand the Liberal Democrats have made a fundamental difference


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


we were not able to continue that interview.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


constituencies so far, all five candidates that have been selected


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


increasingly we will have female candidates. One newspaper has said


that you will deal with the Chris Rennard fallout quickly and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


constantly calling for transparency in other institutions but when it


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


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


talk about them because talking about them aggravates the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the Environment Agency in the decision not to dredge rivers and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


agricultural Society, which I would venture knows more about the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


currently being flooded, not somebody sitting in a quango office


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


property and farmland. Lives are endangered at the moment,


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


situation, again encouraged by the Greens and the lobbying Environment


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


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


everything totally wrong. The government is getting everything one


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


making or alternative arrangements, like a re-nationalised rail


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


that that plan is currently being delayed by Labour Party foot


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


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


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


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


Meanwhile, dumped UKIP manifestoes are causing major tailbacks across


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


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


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


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


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


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


furious badgers demanded that he stopped moving the goalposts.


Unregulated traffic in the city of London continues unchecked.


Pedestrians should try to block bankers with sacks of loot rushing


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


get to our studio. Thank you for the effort.


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


minutes, He's not easy to miss, yet the big


personality that is Eric Pickles is a rare sighting in the North East.


We've been on his trail. And could Cumbria be about to get


its first elected mayor? Campaigners in Whitehaven hope so. But can they


persuade the public? In the studio to pick over a busy


political week: The Labour MP for Houghton and Sunderland, Bridget


Phillipson and the Conservative who'll be fighting Middlesbrough


South at the general election, Will Goodhand.


But let's start with the north`south divide, and this week's report by


the research organisation Centre for Cities which suggests it's getting


wider than ever. Eight out of every ten new jobs that


have been created in the private sector between 2010 and 2012 were in


London. That is leading to something of a brain drain. With some 6000


people leaving the north`east to live in London.


Bridget, is any of this surprising? People have been attracted to London


for a long time. We don't want to see our brightest and best leave the


region. We have great potential and we have seen some success. We need


skilled people to bring forward the region and lead us to greater


success. It is a great concern. Will, the Government has thought


about rebalancing the economy. This report suggests that the economy is


getting worse. I can take the example of my own area. In the past


year, we have seen 11.8% reduction in the number of people claiming


jobseeker's allowance. We have to do more, of course, we have to keep


working at it. We have a tease valley city deal. We have the


apprentice programme which I see many people... People come and get


involved in that. There is more to do. It is no secret that you don't


come from the area originally. When you come here, you wonder why people


leave or do you think, you know, the bright lights of London, I can see


why? I live in Middlesbrough South, there is a huge amount of skill and


talent on Teeside. Yes, we need to do more. Yes, we need to get the


industries connected. I think there is a typical Labour approach to this


which is obviously just to see whether we can spend more? The


conservative approach is to ask whether we are spending wisely? How


can we empower people to drive things forward themselves? Bridget,


Middlesbrough has a low number of businesses created, a falling


population. Is that worrying? We have a challenge in Sunderland.


Unfortunately, the picture that he is painting is a partial one. In his


error, as in mind, we have seen long`term use on a blunt co`op and


wages fall. The Government must take action. We are seeing a growing


North South divide and it is bad for the UK. We will have to leave that


there. Well, the Government has tried to do


something to reduce that north`south divide this week with tax breaks for


High Street retailers and a potential university enterprise zone


in Newcastle. You might have thought that the Local Government Secretary


Eric Pickles would have headed north to trumpet that sort of good news.


After all he's taken plenty of flak over cuts to council budgets. But


you'd be wrong. As Mark Denten discovered, a visit to the North


East and Cumbria from Mr Pickles is a rare thing indeed. Gateshead


library, still open, but hit by cuts. They used to be council


staff, now they are volunteers. Opening hours have been cut. The


council leader says cuts that the area has faced make grim reading.


The level of cuts have been ?75 million in the last four years.


We'll Apple bring have to make 45 million further cuts. `` we will.


The Government says it is... In terms of getting access, I wrote in


2010. I had to write again in January and I'm still waiting. He is


the Secretary of State for local Government and is acting as if he is


against it. The Sunday Politics programme in a Freedom of


Information request. This is what we asked: Where Eric Pickles has made


official visit in England since the coalition was formed? We were told


that providing the information would cost an excessive amount of money as


it would involve going back over his diary over a period of 3.5 years.


But Mr pickles has been a rare sight in the region. That is unlike some


of his Government colleagues. We understand Vince Cable has been to


the north`east and Cumbria eight times since 2010. Nick Clegg has


made ten official visits and the Prime Minister David Cameron has


been to the region 12. Eric Pickles, he has made one official visit and


that was back in June 2011. While this Pittman is not holding his


breath for a sighting `` in man. Does he know where Gateshead is?


Does he get out of London? We only have three men now to do the area.


The people of Gateshead can see what is happening. They can see the


streets aren't being swept on a regular basis. The beans aren't


being emptied once a week. The flower beds aren't there. All of


this has gone. He must be in denial if he thinks that we can deliver the


service that we used to deliver four or five years ago. Maybe the


Government is listening. Greg Clark agreed to meet all north`east MPs at


Westminster every six weeks. Conservatives say that the Eric


Pickles row is about political mischiefmaking. This is a Labour


spin. A nice track to remove all blame from them. They have choices


to make and they want Eric Pickles to come up. We know that local


Government has had to face some horrendous cuts. But get on with it,


stop whingeing. We wanted to interview Eric Pickles or one of his


assistants but was told that no one is available. They say that


ministers at Westminster have what they call an open door policy.


What has Eric got against us? I'm not the keeper of Eric Pickles's


diary. I am expecting him to make a visit up to my area soon. But that


is probably to campaign for you. Actually, no, it isn't to listen to


local people. `` it is. I think it is mistaken for the gentleman on the


report to refer to him as the anti`local Government secretary. The


truth is that he makes an offer to councils that if they keep council


tax the same, there is extra cash for them. Local councils, some of


them, have gone against that and put it up. But this is not necessarily


party political. What I pick up when I talk to people around


Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland is that people don't talk


about being neglected by Eric Pickles, they talk about being


neglected by their own counsel. That is a massive concern. People are


actually feeling let down by the local councils. You can hardly say


that the Government is ignoring us. Given the Prime Minister's visits


and the Deputy Prime Minister's visits, they've been here a lot. You


only have to look at the cuts to the local councils to understand that it


is an issue. I don't understand why Eric Pickles's department cannot


provide what is an easy figure to reach and I hope the BBC will appeal


that decision. It is ludicrous. I don't know why he does not want to


get out around the country and come to the north`east and see the


impacts that are being made by his policies. The Prime Minister and


Deputy Prime Minister have been here. Does it really matter if he is


not talking to the leader of Sunderland Council every other week?


I think he should be. He would know that the cuts that are being made to


the budget are making very difficult decisions about what can be funded


in the future. Actually, money is being redistributed back to affluent


and leafy areas in the south and skewed from the North. Surely the


MPs can raise that. I was at the meeting with Greg Clark and that was


called because north`east MPs wants to meet with a Government minister


to make our case. The clerk is not a minister for the North East. Unlike


Portsmouth, minister for the North East. Unlike


particular challenge. We have the highest unemployment in the country,


we have rising levels of unemployment, we need special


attention and extra help to lead private sector investment to create


jobs. We're not getting that. Before we go into wider argument about


that, I want to talk about funding. Will you defend a funding situation


where Middlesbrough loses 24% of its spending power and others are seeing


it go up? We still have a situation where the most deprived councils are


getting ?1000, on average, per dwelling more than the least


deprived. The narrative that the Government is neglecting deprived


areas is not the case. That gap is closing, isn't it? Will you be


telling people in Middlesbrough at the election that they have not


fared worse than people in Surrey? The support is still there. Will you


tell people they are getting a fair deal in Middlesbrough? The


conversations that I have with local people, they feel frustrated with


their local councils because you have this situation where any time


of austerity, local Government spending is a quarter of all


Government spending, inevitably there will be pressure. How do


councils respond? Do they raise their game? Councils need to raise


their game and small money is being spent here. `` more money. It is not


just Labour is saying that. Others recognise it. We think that bias in


the funding formula that skews money away from our regions should be


ended. That is something we will review. We need a fairer funding


settlement for the region. Elected mayors haven't always been a


success. In Middlesbrough it's proved relatively popular. But in


Hartlepool, voters decided to abandon the experiment and go back


to the old`fashioned way of doing things with a council leader and


Cabinet. None of that has stopped campaigners in West Cumbria though.


They want a high`profile mayor to tackle the area's problems. Emily


Unia reports from Whitehaven. This family business was started by


this woman's family in 1908. But she is worried about the future of the


town. Nobody is busy at the moment. The footfall in Whitehaven has


decreased. Carla thinks that the directly elected mayor for the area


could make a difference, so she helped to gather nearly 4000


signatures calling for a referendum. She argues that a mayor


would be more answerable to the public. We have a leader that has


not been voted in. If we had an elected mayor, that gives people a


choice. That is the most important thing, democracy. We would be


allowed to decide that person, that person would be there for four


years. If they were no good, we could vote them out. Recent


decisions about the cuts have created discontents. Whitehaven's


Civic Hall cut because Copeland Council could not afford the running


costs. The tourist information Centre has gone and these public


toilets are due to be demolished. Other towns have lost amenities. It


is fair to say that directly elected mayors have not fired the


imagination of voters. Ten cities held a referendum, only one,


Bristol, voted yes. Closer to home, Middlesbrough and North Tyneside


have a mayor, but Hartlepool scrap the system. On the 22nd of May, what


will voters in Copeland say? I would vote yes to this idea. It is


probably a good idea. I would vote yes. I have yet to work that one


out. I don't know as of yet. And that is maybe the way forward. I


think it is a much more democratic process. Potential candidates for


mayor have yet to emerge. One well`known local figure has already


declined. He doesn't think a mayor will deliver the change people want.


It is easy to attack the Council for closing the toilet that if there is


genuinely no money, it is not a blame game, there is no money in the


country. There is not a magic pot of cash. If you elect `` if you elect a


mayor, there will still not be any money.


It could be expensive. At this time, when we have had to make budget


cuts, that is one of the biggest weaknesses if we go down the route


of elected mayor, you are looking at upwards of ?100,000 when we are


trying to save money. And we have to save ?1.6 million next year. People


living in Copeland will make that decision in May.


The local MP for Copeland is Jamie Reed. Does he think it is a good


idea. I welcome this. I think the fact that so many people think this


has been an interesting idea and happen interest in local Government


structures is a welcome development. What could a mayor do that the


council is not? Local Government in Cumbria is a mess. We are over


governed, we have too many politicians. There is a legitimate


question to ask. If the answer is that we do need another politician,


is the question right? There are some positive changes that could


happen in Copeland, one is a town council for Whitehaven. If we look


at the powers of a mayor, where they have been successful in the past,


they are in big areas than Copeland. But I don't have a vested interest


in either way. You have made the point yourself. If the problem is


politics, do we need another politician? Let's get the facts out.


Would he or she have a salary or support staff? I don't think it


would mean the removal of a Chief Executive structure or the post of


council leader or anything like that.


Also, town councils, of course do not get paid. These are issues that


need to get considered. Copeland MP Jamie Reed there talking


to reporter Robin Chrystal. There has been flagging enthusiasm


for elected mayors. But there is perhaps an interest there. As you


say, it was labour that brought in these powers and I think it is right


that people in Copeland want an elected mayor, that is a choice and


whatever the people decide is right. Do you think it is more democratic


Western Mark I don't have a fixed view. We had a referendum in 2001


and we say no and I don't think there is a great appetite to revisit


it. If there is, local people can petition for that. It is not


something that people raise with me. They are more worried about


unemployment and jobs. Look at Middlesbrough, it is almost


impossible for one individual to make a transformational difference


to an area, isn't it? We had a referendum on it again in September


and people voted in favour of the idea of having an elected mayor in


Middlesbrough. The alternative perhaps was weighing on their mind,


not to be to party political, but otherwise it would be the Labour


group leader. Do think the public are enthusiastic about this idea? In


Middlesbrough. That is fine. How people choose to have their area


governed is entirely up to them. They have been given the choice and


that is the main thing. Middlesbrough have gone for it. We


will see what happens in May. Now, there's been a major falling


out between the Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh and sections of her


constituency party. It all culminated on Friday in an attempt


to have her de`selected. Here's Mark with the outcome of


that, and the rest of the week's news.


Anne McIntosh will not be the Conservative Party's candidate at


the next general election following the...


And inquiry into the alleged sexual exploitation of women and girls on


Tyneside will not be undermined by police cuts according to the Home


Secretary Theresa May. She responded to concerns from a Newcastle MP.


Will she assure that to me that Northumbria will have the resources


it needs to pursue this critical investigation? The Government says


it cannot pay for a clean`up at the River Tyne. Newcastle MP Nick Brown


says a solution needs to be found. The site to this day causes a


significant amount of water pollution in the adjacent River Tyne


as well as posing a risk to human health. The Lords have voted for a


ban on smoking in cars with children.


Let's talk more about smoking in cars. Will, where do you stand on


this? Do we need another law? The advertising valuations that have


happened `` evaluations, have had some effect. There was evidence that


what was being done was starting to be quite effective. Do we need a


law? I would go in favour of a law in terms of a free vote. I love my


parents dearly and they love me, but I ran the Saturday morning headaches


I got from a car full of cigarette smoke. With you want them to be


fined? Of course, they wore a seat belt, too, because the law said so.


Bridget, how would you vote? I support this. I think this is the


next logical step in stopping young people smoking in the first place.


One of my colleagues has been at the forefront of pressing for this


change and I think it is a welcome step. We know the impact it has on


health. Children don't have the choice. Bullets not take up a lot of


police time? `` will it not? It is an offence to use a mobile phone,


that is enforced. It is about the change in culture that takes place.


When smoking was banned in public places, we need to see it coming


down. And that's about it from us for this


week. Stockton South MP James Wharton may


have lost his referendum bill. But he's still got reason to celebrate


as winner of the Dods' Rising Star political award ` chosen in a vote


of all MPs and members of the House of Lords. , gradually and is. `` con


graduations. We always said he'd go far.


We're back same time, same place, next Sunday when we'll have a


special report looking at what impact the so`called


Not a complete denial! Hopefully a Conservative mayor again.


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


President Hollande said he was not interested in major treaty reform


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Conservative Party through everything behind that. To many


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


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


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


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


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


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


public bill passes through the House of Commons twice in one


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


be between both bills being presented. There are some procedural


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


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


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


Labour and the Liberal Democrats sent enough people to frustrate its


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


David Cameron has committed to delivering that referendum. The


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


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


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


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


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


follows European politics that there is no appetite for major treaty


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


some bizarre imaginary space with wonderful rainbows and sunshine But


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


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


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


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


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


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


hung parliament and it is the Liberal Democrats and the


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


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


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


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


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


Institute causing endless problems and coming across as a Europe


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


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


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


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


negotiation process and mean everyone will know where we stand.


But whatever happens, the Conservatives are committed to


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


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


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


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


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


talking about the European referendum. Your backbench


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


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


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


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


are areas of policy where Conservatives might want to go


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The Conservative Party is behind David Cameron and focused on winning


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


like one but politicians shouting at another bunch of politicians about


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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