18/05/2014 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news. Ahead of the local and European elections, Andrew Neil talks to Sajid Javid, Simon Hughes and Hilary Benn.

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Good morning. Welcome to The Sunday Politics. Just four days to go until


election day, and be warned, coming to a street near you, a party leader


on a charm offensive. They all want your vote in the European elections


on Thursday, and in the local elections across England, too. Polls


are all over the place this morning. Your vote could make a


difference. This man is 11 points ahead in one poll, he has promised


an earthquake on Thursday, but what then? Our Adam has braved the


In the North East and Cumbria: How campaign trail, he has been asking


In the North East and Cumbria: How will council cuts affect the outcome


of this week's local elections? And disabled people in the region give


evidence to a this week, a last look at the euro


elections, and the 50th anniversary of the first elections to London's


32 boroughs. I am in the studio, with those who think they have got


all the big answers. Nick Watt, Helen Lewis and Janan Ganesh. So, it


is the European elections for everybody on Thursday, local


elections for England and a bit of Northern Ireland as well. They are


the last elections before the big one, the 2015 general election. Some


say that these European and local elections will not be much of a


pointer to how the big one goes. But that will not stop political


commentators and party gurus from examining them closely. So, what is


at stake? Thursday May the 22nd is local elections and European


Parliament elections. These local results should be known


by Friday. In the European elections, all 751 members of the


European Parliament will be elected across Europe. 73 MEPs will be let


it by people living in the UK. But the results will not be announced


until Sunday night, after voting has closed throughout the 28 member


states of the EU. Nick Watt, we are in a position where the polls this


morning cannot tell us what the outcome is going to be on Thursday,


and the general election is still wide open - we really are in


uncharted territory? Also it is difficult to know where we are,


because there is that ComRes poll which shows an 11 point lead amongst


those certain to vote for UKIP, and another poll in the Sunday Times


showing that it is a much more slender lead for UKIP. But we know


that will they win? We do not know, but clearly they will unsettle the


major parties. Fall or five months ago, we assumed that the UKIP


success would create panic in the Conservative Party, but that has


been factored into David Cameron's share price. The Conservative Party


is remarkably relaxed at the moment, and I wonder whether this time next


week, when we have the results, whether the two political leaders


who will be under pressure will be Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg. Nick


Clegg, because they could go down from 12 MEPs to maybe just three or


four. And Ed Miliband, because, one year before a general election, he


should be showing that he is a significant, potent electoral


force. So, they should all be worried about UKIP, but whereas a


couple of months ago, we would all have said David Cameron was the one


who should be worried, now, we are saying it is Mr Miliband and Mr


Clegg? And of the two, I think it is Ed Miliband who should be worried.


The Lib Dems are an incredibly resilient party. He described his


own party as cockroaches, and incredible resilience! I think the


Lib Dems are ready to take this one, but I think Labour are really wobbly


at the moment. What UKIP has done, to England, it means that England


has caught up with Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, England


now has a four party system, which makes it all the more uncertain what


the outcome will be? Yes, but whether UKIP finish first or second,


it will be the biggest insurgent event since the European elections


began in 1979. People talk about the Greens in 1989, but I think they


finished third. Were UKIP to win a national election or even finish


runner-up, it would be truly historic. It is reflecting on


something which is happening across Europe, pianist in Italy, Holland,


France and in this country. -- populist parties. And it makes first


past the post look absolutely ridiculous. You could be in a


situation after the next general election where Labour do not get the


largest percentage of the vote but they get the largest number of


seats. First past the post works fairly if there are only two


parties, but when there are four... We will talk more about that. Let's


speak now to Suzanne Evans of UKIP. She is at Westminster. Now, UKIP


claims that there is going to be an earthquake in British politics on


Thursday. Suppose there is, what does UKIP then need to do to become


a more grown-up, proper party? I think UKIP has very much become a


grown-up, proper party. We have been around for 20 years. What we are


going to be doing after the European elections, if we do cause this


earthquake, and the polls are looking like we are going to, is we


will be firmly looking towards 2015, getting our general election


manifesto out, to keep those votes on board from the euro elections and


putting forward common-sense policies which really will bring


Britain back to the people. We want to be able to hold the balance of


power come the general election. If we can do that then there will be a


referendum. That will be our aim. You say you are a more grown-up


party, but when you look at the stream of gaffes and controversies


created by your candidates and members, I will not go into them


this morning, at the very least, I would suggest you are needing a more


robust system of selection? You could say the same for the other


three parties, who have been around for a lot longer. They have got


nothing like the embarrassments you had. I am afraid they had. Just this


week, since Monday, we have had 17 Liberal Democrat, labour or


Conservative councillors either arrested, charged or convicted on


all manner of offences. In addition we have had 13 who have been


involved in some kind of racist, sexist or homophobic incident. I am


not saying I am proud of any of that. The whole of politics probably


needs to be cleaned up, but I certainly do not think we are any


worse than the other parties, who have much greater resources than we


do. Those other parties are even putting people in power who they


know have got criminal convictions or who have previously belonged to


far right, fascist parties like the BNP. Can you continue to be a


one-man band? The only time any other UKIP petition makes the


headlines is when they say something loony or objectionable? We have a


huge amount of talent in this party. We have fantastic spokespeople


across the patch, the huge amount of expertise in the party. Inevitably


the media focuses on Nigel Farage, who is a fantastic, charismatic


leader. But believe me, there is a huge amount of talent. When we get


our MEPs into power after the European elections, we will see many


more of them I think on television and radio and in the newspapers. We


are not a one-man band. Who runs your party? The party is run by


Nigel Farage, our leader. But he spends all his time running between


television studios and in and out of the pub! You would be amazed how


much he does, and of course we have a National Executive Committee, like


the other parties. So who runs it? The National Executive Committee, in


conjunction with Nigel Farage, the MEPs, the spokespeople, it is a


joint effort. Your Local Government Minister Stosur is, if you vote


UKIP, you go on to pledge that your councillors will not toe the party


line, how does that work? -- your local government manifesto says...


On the main policies, they will toe the party line, because that is


obviously what people will be voting for. It is no good putting forward a


manifesto like the Lib Dems did on 2010 and going back on it. We have


put forward a lot of positive -- a lot of policies at local government


level, and those we will stick to. But when it comes to individual,


local issues, say, a particular development or the closure of a


school, whatever, UKIP then will vote what they think is in the best


interests of the people in the borough, and not according to any


party whip system. This plays out really well on the doorstep, I find.


People do not want their politicians to be in the pockets of their


party, putting party first, ahead of the people. You want people to vote


to leave the European Union in a referendum - have you published a


road map as to what would then happen? Yes, there will be a road


map. The Lisbon Treaty for the first time gave us that exit opportunity.


Have you published a road map? I am not the legal expert on this but


there are ways in which you can come out of Europe fairly quickly. There


is a longer you all as well. But have you published any of that


detail? Not that I have read. But certainly there are ways to do it.


We are the sixth strongest world economy, I think we are in a strong


position having left the EU to be able to negotiate a very good trade


deal with the European Union. It is what people voted for in 1975. What


would be our exact status? It would be I think what people voted for


back in 1975. An independent, sovereign country in a trade


agreement, a very positive and valuable trade agreement with the


European Union. I voted in that referendum, I remember it well, 1975


involved the free movement of people 's... That is something which I do


not think UKIP or the country wants. 70% of people now are deeply


concerned about immigration. So it would not be 1975, then? Andrew, it


sounds like you are complaining that we might have something which is


better than 1975. I am just trying to find out what it is! That sounds


like positive to me. We will negotiate a trade deal and all


manner of issues, whatever is best for the British people. We want our


sovereignty back, we want our country back. Would you be upset if


a bunch of Rumanian men moved in next door to you? Where I live, I am


surrounded by one and two-bedroom flats. If ten Rumanian men moved in


next door to me, I would want to ask questions. That is very different


from say a Robinho family moving in next door. I would think, are they


being ripped off, are they up to no good or are they perhaps being


trafficked by a gang master? So I think it would be of concern, and I


do not think there is anything wrong with that, it is a humanitarian


approach. That would be different from a family moving in who were


learning to speak English, who wanted to contribute to the British


economy. Maybe if your boss is watching, he will now have found out


how to answer that question. Now, what is more glamorous, 24


hours in the life of a counter-terrorism agent, or 12 hours


in the life of Adam Fleming, on the campaign trail? I will let you make


up your own mind. So, it is eight o'clock in the morning here in


Westminster. Today's challenge is, how much campaigning for the local


and European elections can we fit into 12 hours? See you back here at


eight o'clock tonight. Wish me luck. With my cameraman and


producer, we went to Thurrock in Essex first. I got a very, very warm


welcome from Abe buoyant UKIP. They have never had this much attention.


One candidate's misdemeanour ends up on the front page. But you have got


Lib Dem candidates being convicted of racially aggravated assault, and


that was not on the front pages of the newspapers. Houdini is fine but


it must be applied evenly. Have you had to sack Thurrock UKIP members


for dodgy tweets or anything? Oh, God, no. Next we head to meet a top


Tory in a different area. We are heading to Eastbourne. But stuck in


traffic. We are going to miss William Hague. We got there, just in


time, to ask the really big questions. David Cameron went to


Nando De Colo last week, where are you going to go for lunch? I do not


even get time for lunch. I think something in the back of the car. We


will go down the street and see what people have got to say. Even the


Foreign Secretary has depressed the flesh at election time? Even the


Foreign Secretary meets real people. The message William Hague impresses


upon everyone he meets is that the Tories are the only party offering a


referendum on our membership of the EU. He's off for lunch in the limo.


I've got five minutes by the beach. This is the best thing about


elections, lunch. Do you want one? And chips are weirdly relevant at


our next stop - the Green Party battle bus which is parked in


Ashford in Kent. What is special about this vehicle? It runs from


chip fat oil so it is more friendly to the environment. But boss was


boiling. The next stop is Gillingham to see Labour. Labour have just


hired Barack Obama's election guru David Axelrod to help them craft


their message. What does David Axelrod know about the people who


live on the street? I know the local details but you handle those. Ed


Miliband and his party have had to handle a few dodgy opinion polls


lately, prompting some leadership speculation from one activist. Who


is your favourite Labour politician? Ed Balls. Back in the car and we're


flagging. Final stop, Southwark in south London. We are in the right


place, this is Simon Hughes' Lib Dem taxi. The Lib Dems are campaigning


as the party of in. But are they in trouble? Your party president said


the party would be wiped out and lose its MEPs. Is that helpful? If


he did say that, then no, that's not terribly helpful. And let's not


forget, every London council is having elections too. I have 40


minutes to get back to the office in Westminster, which calls for


something drastic, like this. After 212 miles, but will be make it home


for eight? We have made it, aided, 12 hours of pure politics. Happy


elections, everyone. Adam Fleming impersonating Jack


Bauer! Natalie Bennett is in our studio, welcome back. The Greens


used to be the upcoming party in Britain, now it is UKIP. What went


wrong? We are in a very good place, looking towards travelling our MEPs


and we could be the fourth largest group in Parliament after these


elections. More and more people are recognising we are the only party


calling for real change, the only party saying we have two stop making


poor, disadvantaged young people over the mistakes bankers. You have


made a strong pro-environment stands synonymous with the politics of the


left, why have you done that? Why should an equal minded Conservative


vote for you? I think one of the reasons why many Conservatives, I


met them in Chester where they are stopping coalbed methane


exploration, lots of Conservatives are looking to vote for us beyond


issues like fracking and the Green belt, and many of them are concerned


about the fact we haven't reformed the banks. This morning we had the


Bank of England chief coming out and saying we have a huge house price


bubble and people recognise that many of the parties offering the


same are not working. And yet the polls show that the hardline


greenery is not winning. We are looking to travel our number of MEPs


and we have people recognising that we have to change the way our


economic 's, politics and society works so that everyone has


sufficient resources within the limits of the one planet because one


planet is all we have got. You want all electricity to be generated by


renewables, is that right? So where would the electricity come from on


days when the wind is not blowing? Most of the electricity is there. It


is mature. We need to be hooked into a European wide grid, we need a


smart grid that will allow for demand to be adjusted according to


supply. So we would take French nuclear power, would we? We need to


work with a partnership across Europe. We are being left behind and


we are losing opportunities. 50% of German renewable electricity is


owned by communities and it stays within communities, rather than the


big six energy companies. So you have still got to take the French


nuclear power. What we need to do... Nuclear is a dead technology,


going down in the developed world. At the moment the Government


proposes the most expensive proposal for Britain and yet the last two


plans took 17 years to bring online, way too slow for what we need now.


We know what the Green council would be like if you were to win more


seats on Thursday because you run Brighton. Your own Green MP joined


strikers against the council, the local Greens are at each other's


throats, a council ridden with factionalism, attempts to raise


council tax to 5%, attempted coups against the local Green leader by


other Greens and you have had to bring in mediators. If you look at


the life of people in Brighton and Hove, it has seen its visitor


numbers go up by 50,000, it has become the top seaside resort in


Britain, we have seen GCSE results going up significantly. These are


the things affecting people's lives in Brighton and Hove. 60% of


Brighton and Hove people think life is better and the Greens. We have a


debate to be had from next year's election and perhaps we can have


that debate next year. But you hold up Brighton as the way the city


should be run? We have made huge progress, we have found money to be


brought into the city to improve Green spaces. I was on the big ride


in London yesterday, and we need to change our roads so they worked the


people as well as cars. Which side of the picket line were you on in


Brighton? With Caroline Lucas? I was in London, travelling around as I do


most days. From Penzance to Newcastle and many areas in between.


Probably a good move. Thank you. I'm joined now by the Conservative MP,


the Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes and Sajid Javid. We want to see a


European Union resolutely focused on the single market, free trade, and


only we can bring about that change. Labour and Lib Dems are happy with


the status quo, in fact they would like more integration, and a UKIP


party can not deliver the change. Hilary Benn, at this stage positions


usually romp home in European elections and no party has gone on


to form a government without winning the European elections first. Now it


suggests you could become second, you haven't handled UKIP very well


either. There is a lot of alienation from politics around, globalisation


has left some behind and people are concerned about that but UKIP will


not provide the answer. Nigel Farage only talks about Europe. We are to


hear it would not be in the interests of British people to come


out of Europe. We do want a season change in Europe, for example we


want longer periods when new member states come in. We don't think child


tax credits should be paid to children not living in the UK, but


Nigel Farage is also proposing to charge us when we see the GP, to


halve maternity pay, and he wants a flat tax. UKIP is not the answer to


the problems we face and we will continue to campaign as we have done


to show that we are putting forward policies on energy prices, and in


the end that is what people will look for. Simon Hughes, you will be


lucky to come forth. The voters decide these things. Really? I never


knew that. My response to the UKIP question is that they get support


because they have never been in power, they are never likely. A bit


like the way you used to never get into power. I accept that, but now


we are in government. The reality is that laws made in Brussels, we make


together by agreement, and it is the case from the Commons figures that


only seven out of 100 laws are made in Brussels. Actually they have been


shown not to be the only ones. 14 out of 100. If we were to come out


of Europe, we would seriously disadvantage our economics and the


jobs... 3 million jobs depend on the European Union. If the Conservatives


comes third or even a poor second, it will show that people don't


really trust your promise about European referendum. They have been


there before, they don't trust you. What we have already shown, despite


being in coalition with Liberal Democrats, we have shown progress on


Europe, we have vetoed a European treaty when people said we


wouldn't, we have cut the European budget which is something Liberal


Democrats and Labour MEPs voted against, we cut it by ?8 billion.


But overall we are still paying more. We have still cut it. We have


taken Britain out of the bailout fund that Labour signed us up to. We


are now going to take that same energy to Europe and renegotiate our


relationship and let the British people decide in a referendum. Why


has Ed Miliband become such a liability for your party? Even your


own MPs are speaking out against him. If you look at the polls, we


have been in the lead almost consistently. The voters will


decide. Ed Miliband is a decent man, but what really marks him out is


that he is thinking about the problems the country faces. Simon


and Sajid both support the bedroom tax, we will scrap it. Ed Miliband


said the energy market doesn't work for consumers, we will freeze energy


prices while we change the system. So why are his ratings even lower


than Nick Clegg's? They will be voted for next year in the general


election, and if I were David Cameron I would ask myself this


question - the economy is recovering, why is it that David


Cameron and the Conservatives have been behind in the polls? Because in


the end the big choice in British politics is between the two parties


that say, if we sought the deficit everything is fine, and Labour who


say that there are things about this country, the insecurity that has


given rise for support for UKIP, and we are the ones talking about doing


something about zero hours contracts. The more your leader


bangs on about Europe, the worse your poll ratings get. He is out of


the kilter with British people. It may not be a majority of people who


think that we ought to stay in the European Union, but when you speak


to people about it, people understand that we are better in


them out. In the elections on Thursday, that is not about who runs


Britain, that is for next year. In terms of the local councils, we have


battles on the ground, like in my community, where we are trying to


take it back from the Labour Party. Affordable housing has just not been


delivered. We have delivered that in office and we had admitted to that.


-- we are committed to that. Labour have actually demolished homes. So,


people want more affordable homes. One issue which is behind people's


antipathy towards immigrants is that they cannot get the affordable


housing they need. We as a government have delivered more


affordable housing in this Parliament -170,000 new properties


earning and more, over the next three years. That does not work out


that very many per year. Overall housing is a lot less than it was in


2006. Let me tell you, under the Labour government, we lost nearly


half a million affordable homes. Fewer built than under Mrs Thatcher


or under the coalition. What is your last ditch message to the millions


of Tory voters thinking of voting UKIP on Thursday? First, what I


would say is, Ed Miliband also said that we should not tackle the


deficit, it was not a priority. As a result of our resolute focus, we now


have the fastest growing economy in the developed world, and more people


employed than ever before. I am sure you will have more chance to say


that at the general election, what is the answer to my question? We


need a Europe which is focused on free trade and the single market.


Labour and Lib Dems are happy with the status quo, we are not. We are


the only party which can bring about change, UKIP cannot bring about any


change. Hilary Benn, why not have a referendum on Europe? If you think


like Nigel Farage that you should get out of Europe, I do not agree


with him, because Britain's future lies in Europe. My message simply


would be, vote for a party which wants to tackle insecurity in the


workplace, to give more security to the 9 million people who are now


privately renting, build more homes. What Simon has just said about the


coalition's housing record, it has been appalling, the lowest level


since Stanley Baldwin was Prime Minister. With Labour, you have got


a party which will freeze energy prices, more childcare, policies


which directly address the problems which people face. I think the


public will realise that. UKIP offers absolutely nothing at all for


the future of the country. You used to be in favour of a referendum? We


are in favour, we voted for one, we have legislated for one. The next


time there is a change between Britain and Europe, in the


relationship, there will be a referendum. We have supported that.


We voted for it. You would obviously want to vote yes in any referendum.


We would. But if you had one now, it would be for coming out or staying


in, and you are going to wait until there is another step son shall


transfer of powers to Brussels, and then say to people, either vote for


this substantial transfer or vote to leave! Of course they will vote to


leave! Yes, we are not natural partners with the Conservatives, but


we do not want to be distracted at the moment by a referendum in the


future in relation to Europe. Because what we have done is built


our own economy back. That has been the priority. We do not want


artificial priorities. The Tories want an artificial date plucked out


of the air for their own advantage. We say, let's get on with being


positive about being in Europe, and many people on the doorstep


absolutely understand that. Yesterday, the Energy Minister said


that he thought the party would be willing to campaign for a British


withdrawal from the EU if there was not a successful negotiation, a


successful repatriation, do you agree with that? First of all, I am


very optimistic... I got that I am going into these negotiations with


confidence but Michael Fallon is one of your ministerial colleagues, he


said that if we cannot get a deal on substantial repatriation, then the


party should be willing to campaign for a British withdrawal - do you


agree? My view is that I am confident we will get a deal, and


then we will put it to the British people. But you will have to take a


line. If you do not get substantial repatriations, will you side with


Michael Fallon all with the Prime Minister, who seems to want to stay


in regardless? I may only have been in politics for four years, but I am


not going to ask that kind of hypothetical question. Every


question I ask is hypothetical, that is the fascination of the programme!


I go into these negotiations with complete confidence. If you look at


our track record, it suggests we will be successful. Hilary Benn,


what is the difference between your attitude and that of the Lib Dems


towards a referendum? We have been very clear that if it is proposed at


sometime in the future, further powers would be transferred, then,


we would put that to the British people in a referendum. That is the


Lib Dem position. This is our position, which I am planing to you.


It would be an in-out referendum. We would only agree to a transfer of


powers if we thought that it was in the interest of Britain. But we


believe that Britain's place remains and should remain in Europe, for


economic reasons. But we also want to see some changes in our


relationship with Europe, and electing Labour MEPs on Thursday


will be a way of boosting that argument. In what way is everything


you have just said not entirely sell my must with the Lib Dem position? I


am not worried about that. -- entirely synonymous. It is the


dividing line between us and UKIP, because they somehow believe that


Britain leaving the European Union would be good for our economy. Truth


is, it would be really bad, because so many jobs depend on being part of


a large market in an increasingly globalised world. I have got one


more question for you on the locals. We seem to have lost our connection


with Leeds. What is the single most important reason that people should


vote for you in the local election? Because taxpayers' money is just


that, it does not belong to the politicians, and we can do a lot


more and get more for less with taxpayers money. If you look at


Conservative councils up and down the country, most of them have not


been raising council tax, they have been getting more for less, and that


is what people deserve. We will produce the maximum amount possible


of affordable housing to meet the housing needs of Britain, instead of


the richest minority having flats and houses that nobody can afford.


We seem to have lost Hilary Benn. I can answer for him. I will do it -


he would certainly say, vote Labour. You are watching The Sunday


Politics. We say goodbye to viewers in Scotland, who now leave us for


Hello and a warm sunny welcome to Sunday Politics Scotland.


Hello and a warm sunny welcome to the part of the show where we look


at the political stories that matter here in the North East and Cumbria.


It's just four days until we go to the polls and this week we're


concentrating on the elections for our local councils. With me in the


studio is Lord Shipley, who ran Newcastle Council in the heady days


when the Lib Dems were in charge. Today he's in the Lords. I'm also


joined by the Labour MP for North Tyneside Mary Glindon and for the


Conservatives, the MP for Skipton and Ripon, Julian Smith. Also coming


up: Disabled people who've criticised the Government's new work


capability assessments give evidence to a Parliamentary inquiry in


Newcastle. But let's start on the campaign trail and the Prime


Minister was at the Port of Tyne in South Shields on Friday. It came in


the week that unemployment in the North East went up, the only region


in the country to see an increase on the last quarter. But David Cameron


was in upbeat mood pointing to the region's economic successes. The


last unemployment figures were disappointing but in the past


quarter and the past year, the percentage of people employed in the


North East was growing faster than any other part of the country. Van


London, the Southeast. We are having a recovery. I wanted to be further


and faster will stop Nissan are making more cars than the whole of


Italy. We are fabricating oil rigs on the Tyne just a few miles away


from here. We have got a recovery underway but we have got to


safeguarded by sticking to the long`term economic plan. Mary


Glindon, despite that rising unemployment, more jobs are being


created than anywhere else in the country and a recovery is happening.


Nobody doubts that the coverage is happening but I think one of the


issues that the Prime Minister was, the biggest issue is that they have


not invested enough to get the skills we need to get more young


people employed. We still have 850,000 young people not employed.


In my constituency, we have 25% of people, almost 25% earning less than


the living wage. Jobs on the Tyne are fantastic. We want more of them.


People on low paid jobs and zero while contracts, it is not giving


people enough money to live on. `` zero hour contracts. As Mary Glindon


says, the quality of the jobs might not be up to that much. And the idea


that we are narrowing the gap with the South does not wash. I think it


is narrowing a fit. It goes down everywhere else. `` a little bit.


What has happened could simply be a temporary blip. Employment is also


rising. The critical thing is that the eye that sector, especially in


high`tech industries, these are creating more jobs. The high`tech ``


the high`tech sector. There are many friendships in the private sector.


If there is not clear evidence that that North`South divide has


narrowed, would that not be a failure? It would not be. London has


been growing. London has investment from outside the UK. It has become a


world city. It is helping pass. Because tax revenue coming in to


government is being generated in London and redistributed. `` helping


us. The gap will narrow in the course of the next few years. When I


pushed the prime minister on whether or not he was being complacent about


the North East, he said the same thing as before, the regional growth


fund, which has been criticised, and lower taxes. It has not narrowed the


divide. I think we need to look at long`term statistics. They show that


there is around 40,000 new private sector jobs which have been created


under the Government. We have doubled apprenticeships. We have


?350 million of regional growth fund money coming in. The investment from


foreign companies. Then why has unemployment gone up? As we turn the


economy around, in some situations it does not go as quick as you would


have liked. But the long`term trend is good. I do not accept the talking


down of the local economy. We have got big opportunities to attract


business. We are creating more businesses. 11,000 businesses have


set up since the last election. You are accused of talking the region


down. I want the best for the region to address the issues and the big


issue is employers on the Tyne and other employers, we look at these


futuristic industries, they are telling us that the skills gap is


not being met. The issue is how to do that and we hope that might be


resolved. There's local elections across large


parts of of the region, from Craven and Harrogate in North Yorskhire to


Carlisle in the west, as well as the whole of Tyne and Wear. But whatever


party runs your town hall, councillors have all been grappling


with the same problem, dealing with big cuts to their budgets. So how


will those cuts affect the way people choose to vote on Thursday?


Mark Denten went to Labour`run Newcastle to find out. Marching in


the streets. Protests outside council meetings and even in the


pool. People in Newcastle have been getting well stirred up. Angry about


the Coalition. Sometimes angry at Labour councils. Hopping mad about


cuts. This man used to swim at the city pool in Newcastle six days per


week. It has now shut after a round of council cuts. It was brilliant.


It is a community that used to come and everybody knew each other.


Seemingly, the council decided that it was not viable. The council has


lost more than ?97 million in grants since 2010. But the local Labour


council has had to decide where to make the cut, closing the pool,


axing the arts budget and cutting jobs. The question for the voters at


the election is who is the villain of the piece? Ministers in Whitehall


several hundred miles away, or the local council just up the road? To


the critics, the Liberal Democrats are tainted, part of a Coalition


hell`bent on starving local councils of funding. But they say Labour have


come from places. They had a budget of three of ?450 million over three


years. A fraction of that, 3 million would have done at the swimming


pool, it would have allowed a private operator to come in and run


it, running costs would be small in relation to the city budget. It is a


which was wrong. The man in the middle of making the cuts says that


clearly it is the Government's fault. They have faced


disproportionately big cuts. In the lifetime of the parliament we should


have had ?38 million more than we have had. Because of the ideology of


the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. Eric Eccles has a


strategy to shift the blame onto local councils, who have two front


up to local residents. `` Eric Pickles. What about a party that has


not had any councillor since 1996, the Conservatives irrelevant? There


are a lots of people that vote Conservative. Look at what will


happen in the election. And it is influence that we can have in the


party in government. The most important thing is to protect front


line services. And what is the potential for significantly larger


savings to be made from the way that the councils are run? Hoping to row


from a spec to a major player, UKIP, say that they would cut waste. We


should focus on front line services and retaining them by reducing


backroom services. You have got virtually no track record in local


government and none in this city. Why should voters trust you to make


the cuts and balance the budget? We have got an attendance record


unparalleled in government. We have got people with a sensible business


background and they know how to run large organisations effectively.


While politicians argue, the swimming baths remain shut. Who does


this lifelong Labour voter blame? Labour. If we want an easy target.


After all the noisy cuts and protest, people will go to the polls


in four days. Some services have been taken away and voters might


well be deciding who to punish. We have got a lifelong Labour voter and


he has looked at the facts and he has set your party is to blame. Does


that worry you? It is sad to hear somebody saying that. I am not


represented by Newcastle, and so... Your party has been moaning about


the cuts. Somebody has been personally affected handsets that


and that must suggest your message has not come across. I think we have


got our message in North Tyneside. Newcastle is not my area. But the


council leader made it clear that they have made hard decisions. The


decisions they have made I cannot personally comment on. They need to


do more to get to that gentleman and people like him. What the cuts have


done and how they have had to make hard decisions, I am glad we the


council tax frozen... I am sure they will be a dispute from the


Conservatives about your record. But it is not just Labour councillors


complaining. Conservatives in North Yorkshire are disappointed with the


budget cuts. Do you accept councils have taken too much of a hit? I do


not. I don't from a humble background. `` I've built up. I


accept it has been tough but there is more that we can do. We can share


services. We can, like in Harrogate and Selby, work more closely


together. We can do joint working with the private sector. Your


colleagues are just moaning minis? No, I said it has been a tough time.


But there is more creativity... Have you told the county council leaders


that they can be more creative? I think that they would find me quite


challenging in that I feel they can do more. I feel they can do more.


When there was a bit more money around, you were in the council, and


people are saying that it would be sweetness and light and libraries


would still be open? ?20 million of additional money came to the Council


for Public health. It would take 3 million to put the city pool right.


As we heard on the film. But Labour decided to spend 18 million doing at


the Civic Centre in the next few years. I think the public has a


right to expect where the priorities should live. You are not suggesting


councillors have had a good deal? Schools are being protected with the


next ?100 million with the pupil Renee in this region. The national


health service has been protected and pensions. Local government has


had a fairly tough time. But the fact of the matter is, choices can


be made, as we have heard in the film, and if you can spend ?18


million on the Civic Centre, why can you not... Mary Glindon, I suppose


what is puzzling is that they have been protests as we have seen. But


we do not see waves of anger which will necessarily cause problems for


the Coalition parties in this region. In North Tyneside I think,


we have only been back in power one year, and we came into power with


the Tories stopping the building of homes for older people and 800 new


houses. There were a lot of things out there that the Tories did in


North Tyneside. We have been canvassing in Tynemouth. They hoped


to return to cancel. You knock on the door now and this has happened


to me and others and they have said, we are not too bothered how we will


vote. When you see the former Tories might stand, they will be out and


voting again. That shows how strongly they feel. We will see what


happens. Would it mean very much if you have more council seats in


Harrogate and Craven if you cannot win in Newcastle and Gateshead? We


need as many councillors in the region as possible. Conservatives


have shown that they run councils efficiently. You cannot get enough


elected. We want more in the councils. What's the garment is


trying to do is encourage councils to create jobs and build homes and


keep the money themselves. `` government. We have got a new home


is bonus and we are giving them business rates to spend on more


investment. I'm sure we will try and defend your seeds in Newcastle but


you have got a dearth of candidates in South Tyneside and Sunderland.


``. You are not the main opposition. `` see is. `` seats. We are still


challenges. In the North East and Cumbria. It is not quite like that.


We do want to concentrate resources. We are defending a number


of them, 18 altogether. I am pretty certain we will hold them. And there


is a chance of gaining. You might be surprised. We will see what happens


on Thursday and Friday. One of the parties that will be


watched most closely in these elections is the BNP. Five years ago


they won a European Parliamentary seat in the North West and took


nearly 9% of the vote in the North East. Since then they've faced


internal divisions and a decline in support. The party is fighting in


the Euro elections, but doesn't have a single local election candidate in


Cumbria or the North East. So have other anti EU parties like UKIP


stolen the party's clothes? They have not at all. They have used


rhetoric which suits them taken from us. They are a different party


compared to the BNP. They have got a different immigration policy. We are


not ex`Tory members. And soon enough they will jump into bed with Labour


or the Conservatives. And when they do, the bubble will burst and they


will be bust Michael Liberal Democrats. `` like the Liberal


Democrats. The BNP. Now who is fit to work and


who should qualify for benefits? In most cases the answer to that


question rests upon a test, the work capability assessment. It's made


headlines recently as Atos, the private company which has been


carrying them out, ended its contract early. It follows criticism


from disability campaigners who complained about long delays and


branded the tests "ridiculously harsh and unfair". Well, a Select


Committee of MPs is investigating the whole issue and this week they


brought their inquiry to Tyneside. As Emily Unia reports, it was a


chance for some disabled people to finally have their say. She is 28


and registered blind. She had to have a work capability assessment in


2012 to find out if she was able to claim employment and support


allowance. It was a bad experience. She has come to Newcastle to tell


MPs investigating the system why she thinks it is unfair. It is very


specific. I think that the attitudes are very specific. They do not take


into account the visual impairment and other conditions can vary from


day to day. If I had a bad night sleep, my site might be worth the


next day. She had a chance to tell her story to the work and pensions


committee. I am registered blind. I have in since I was born. Up until a


few years ago I was on incapacity benefit. And I went onto the ESA. I


had jobs when I was younger. When I was 19. But because of confidence


issues and things like that I have not worked for a long time. They are


investigating the process carried out by Atos but why come to


Newcastle? Because we have not been here before has a committee. We were


keen to get out of London and make sure that we were not just hearing


metropolitan voices. The voices of people around the country, at the


sharp end, directly affected, we want to hear about. And in


particular to the changes to welfare and employment allowance and of the


work capability assessment. We need to fight back against this system.


Public hostility has been high. It announced in February it would end


its contract early after reports of staff receiving death threats. It


has not yet been decided who will run the system when the contract


finishes. But whoever takes over, she hopes that it will be a fairer


system. Julian Smith, what groups have said is that it is more about


disqualifying people from benefits rather than a genuine desire to get


people back working. I think we are all very sensitive to people that


are suffering in these reports that we have had. The government is doing


everything that it can to make it as good as possible. We have had for


reviews of the testing. The current one will be completed soon. Would


you accent mistakes have a mate? It is tough and we have to do better. I


think that they need to have improved tests for long`term


conditions. Blindness, mental health. These areas need to be


tested I think more effectively. But I think in general policy brought


hundreds of thousands of people off the benefit list and into work and


that is good for them and good for their families. They seem to have


given Atos the push here. They recognise that everything was not


right but are you satisfied? For all their criticism about Atos they did


renew their contract. And we are seeing the consequences. My


caseworker went along to the Select Committee and listens to terrible


stories about what has happened. It is seven months before people even


get their test. It is a yes`no answer. There is no way of


personalising it. We are finding so many appeals are coming forward. You


are still on a limited amount of money waiting for the appeal. It is


very demeaning for people. They are trying to put that right. The


principal that Julian Smith is saying that it is better to get


people back working for their own self`respect rather than leaving


them languishing on benefits for the rest of their lives. When Labour


started to look at incapacity benefit the purpose was to get


people back working that needed to get into work and that was the


purpose. Not to cut benefits in the way this government have done. Lets


be honest, it was a bit convenient to lead people there at times


instead of restoring their dignity and getting them to work. I do not


agree. Before I was an MP, we thought the Government were being


harsh to people on incapacity benefit. I do think Labour tried


their hardest. The issue now is that people are suffering because this is


failing them. And many people are saying, get rid of it and start


again. Are you proud of what the Liberal Democrats have been doing on


benefits? Not at all. But remember, Atos was appointed by the devious


Labour Gutman. It was right it was renewed in 2012 because I think they


hoped it could get it right. `` the previous Labour government. There is


something seriously wrong with the system. Thank you for that


discussion and I am sure we will come back to that. Now, what does a


Government Minister keep in his pocket? A hankerchief? A smartphone?


Or a bit of Teesside's political history? Well keep watching as Mark


answers that question, along with the rest of the week's political


news in 60 seconds. Rory Stewart has got a new job. Other MPs have chosen


him as the new chairman of the defence Select Committee. Who will


replace this man has the mail of Middlesbrough when he leaves the top


job that you mark they have selected Dave but as the candidate for the


elections next year. He has used a West Minster hall debates to voice


his concerns about ambulance delays in the North East. Greg Clark, born


and bred in Middlesbrough had a bit of a secret for the Newcastle MP


Nick ran, calling on re`establishing a minister for the North East.


Sometimes I carry around a medallion. It was struck to


commemorate a statue to the first Maher of Middlesbrough. I must say


we are still waiting for a move to direct the statue under the formal


regional Minister for the North East. I think we need to power local


leaders and what we are doing is the right way around. We are very


interested in the medallion... Goodness knows what else Ministers


are hiding in their pockets. And that's about it from us. If you want


to keep across the local election results and you don't mind a late


night, then join David Dimbleby and me on Thursday evening from 11.35


here on BBC One. I'll be in Carlisle with a panel of guests chewing over


the regional results with regular updates throughout the night. I


promise not to nod off if you don't. And of course we'll be back here


next Sunday morning at eleven. For now, it's over


thank you very much indeed. Back to Andrew.


Welcome back. Politicians always insist in public that opinion polls


do not matter. Even though their own parties each spend a small fortune


on private polling. If they take them seriously, so do we! Let's take


a closer look. First up, how the votes might fall for the European


Parliament. Back in January, Labour looked set to finish first. By


April, UKIP had edged into the lead. According to today's poles, Nigel


Farage's party is either down into place, or has soared ahead. Both


cannot be right. It is a similar picture for the general election.


Labour's lead has been cut back by the Tories. This is the most


unpredictable general election in a long time. It keeps us in a job! We


are joined now by the managing director of the pollsters, ComRes.


Welcome to the programme. While the polls all over the place on the


European election? We are trying to do two things, figure out who is


going to be voting, and how they are going to be voting. I think a lot of


the polls are predicting quite high turnout. They are looking at more


than 50% turnout, which is simply not can be the case. So, what we are


doing is predicting it based on those who are ten out of ten,


certain to vote, and it really benefits UKIP, it benefits them


democratically, demographically, with the older age profile, who are


going to vote. Another poll gives them only a one-point lead, so, come


the results coming out, you are either going to look away ahead of


your time or very stupid? Absolutely. That is the job of


pollsters. Somebody has to be wrong. Ultimately, we were spot on in 2009,


and we are hoping to be spot on on Thursday. So you were spot on on


voting intention in 2009? Yes. What does the indications of what is now


a four party system mean, does it change the nature of your methods?


It changes how we look at the polls, how we look at what is going to


happen as a result of the vote. Predicting the number of seats is


becoming more and more important and more difficult to do, because


distribution is becoming fundamentally important. Because it


is for parties? That's right. . Does the polling give us any evidence to


try to settle the matter of whether UKIP votes are coming from? Yes. We


know that over 50% of the UKIP vote share is coming from the


Conservatives come people who did vote Conservative in 2010. But


actually, the other 50% is coming from a wide range of different


sources. And what we are seeing is that ultimately, every single


establishment party should be worried, because the people voting


for UKIP are the people that really do not like politics at the moment.


They are wanting people to speak on their behalf, so it affects all of


them. There is evidence that there is now a move of some working-class


Labour votes to UKIP as well? That's right. That is what I mean about the


establishment vote, the people that they can really reach out to, who


are really interested in things like immigration, in those single issues,


where they do not feel the political parties of the mainstream are


representing them. I would suggest that for the European elections,


where turnout is low, ComRes may be right or wrong, but likely to vote


would seem to be the yardstick. I would say that is true in almost any


European election apart from this one. Because there has been so much


attention on this election, because of UKIP and the probably do that


they will win second, I wonder whether it is now such a big topic


of conversation, the subject of Nigel Farage, that people who would


otherwise talk a good game about voting UKIP but do not show up on


the day are this time around likely to show up on the day? I am not


entirely convinced by that. We underestimate how many people are


completely disengaged by politics. I think it is very easy for us to


think, and I agree that by any other standards, this is the most coverage


a European election has ever had in Britain, but still, most people


don't care. Instinctively, Nick, you would think, if you are a UKIP


photo, if you have made that choice, then you would probably be more


motivated to go and vote on Thursday? I am sure that is right.


Also, the publicity that Nigel Farage has had. And also, as


Catherine says, people are attracted to UKIP because they are annoyed


with the established parties. If you have made that big decision to do


it, then you will probably do it. The really big question which we


want to take out of these elections is, how many people who have left


the established parties, left the Conservative Party, in these


elections on Thursday, how many of them will stick with UKIP and how


many of them will go back? Nigel Farage is very confident, he is


saying that 60% of those certain to vote UKIP will stick with UKIP. If


that happens, it is a real problem for Downing Street. Downing Street


are basically saying that many Tories will have a fling with UKIP


but they will return to the marital home next year. You do two sorts of


polling, for the European elections, and for the general election, which


may be more relevant to the local election voters, but what is the


answer to his question? We do not know at the moment. We when you ask


people how likely they are to vote in the same way, they are thinking


that actually, I am going to vote in exactly the same way at the general


election, they are not going to say, I am going to split my vote. I think


the key point is, what happens in the Euros. We have a fixed term


parliament, which means momentum is crucial. What comes out of the Euros


will be a statement about how well UKIP can last for the next year, or


indeed, if it comes second, it is about momentum and feeling about the


parties. I do not think we can tell yet. If UKIP does well, there could


be some leadership crises we will have to cover. I want to look at a


couple of the headlines on the screen. Now, it seems, as you can


see from the Mail, Mr Miliband could be in some trouble. The Labour MP


for Rochdale talking about the mantra of misery which is Labour's


policy is not going down well. And there are also rumbles about, if Mr


Clegg comes fourth or even fifth in the European elections, that there


will be a plot to remove him. There are not many names behind that plot


yet, but Vince Cable does get an honourable mention! Not that he is


plotting, but he could take over! If Labour comes a poor second, and the


Tories are third, and Nick Clegg is nowhere, there is a


Clevedon-Miliband agenda, isn't there? It will be very different for


each man. The worst thing that could happen to Labour is if Nick Clegg


loses his job, because he will be replaced by somebody substantially


to the left of him, you would have to assume, someone like Tim Farron.


I think it is unlikely that David Laws Danny Alexander, the two


prominent figures who are to the right of him, would win the


leadership. If it is someone who is quite a way to the left of Nick


Clegg, then some voters might find the party a more attractive


proposition. Which is why the Tories want to hold on to Nick Clegg.


Absolutely. But I think you are right, there is a really big bubble


for Ed Miliband here. The second big thing, I do not know if you saw the


photo opportunity this week, Boris Johnson strolling through a garden


with David Cameron, they got off the chew one-stop early just to


appreciate the spring sunshine. But where are the shadow cabinet? I hear


rumours of a politician called Yvette Cooper, but I do not know


what she has been up to recently. And Rachel Reeves and Andy Burnham,


all of these big hitters are not lashing themselves to the mast of


the Labour election campaign. And some of these big hitters are


immensely talented, Rachel Reeves, Chuka Umunna, these guys are really


talented. You get the impression that they are watching this as you


say and biding their time. Ed Miliband has bet the farm on this


calculation that there has been this rupture between the rise in wages


and the rise in inflation, although that is now beginning to slow. The


calculation he is making is that in the 2012 presidential election, Mitt


Romney was ahead on many of the economic indicators, but Barack


Obama won because he said, I am on your side. He has bet the farm on


that. But there is a big difference between Miliband and Barack Obama,


which is that Barack Obama was elected in 2008 after the crash, so


everything he did was about rescue. The problem for Ed Miliband and Ed


Balls is that they were in power when the crash happened, so it is


difficult to make that comparison. Labour is nip and tuck with the


Tories, or ahead by a small amount - Mr Miliband's personal ratings are


much worse than what David Cameron's were at the same stage in


the political cycle, does that matter? I think personal ratings do


matter, particularly if things like Ukraine gained more prominence in


the media. It is a question of who you want as your statesman. But on


the economy specifically, actually, the economic ratings in terms of


confidence in the leader has not changed. That has not changed for


years now. It is pretty stable. Actually, the narrowing of the polls


could be due to the usual narrowing about 12 months out from the


election, and Labour really need to use the momentum. Thank you for


that. Plenty to talk about after you all go to the polls on Thursday.


There will be tonnes of election coverage and results on the BBC,


Thursday night, Friday, and of course, Sunday night, when the


European results come out. Daily Politics is back on BBC Two tomorrow


lunchtime. I will be back here next Sunday at 11 o'clock as usual for


The Sunday Politics. Remember, if it is Sunday, it is The Sunday


The Sunday before we go to the polls in local and European elections, Andrew Neil talks to the culture secretary Sajid Javid, Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes and Labour's Hilary Benn.

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