11/05/2014 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


11/05/2014

The latest political news, interviews and debate in Northern Ireland.


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Morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics, where we're talking

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about the Europe-wide contest that really matters.

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about the Europe-wide contest that The European elections. There are

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local elections across England too on May 22nd. The party leaders are

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campaigning ahead of polling day. The results could be a pointer to

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the Big One, May 2015. We'll be speaking to the man in charge of

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Labour's election battle plan. Has the opposition really got its sights

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set on all-out victory in 2015? Or will it just be content with

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squeaking home? And you can't mention elections these days without

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talking about the impact of this man, Nigel Farage. I'll be asking

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Coming up in Northern Ireland: him if UKIP really

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Coming up in Northern Ireland: Another row between the first and

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deputy first ministers in of Giro fever.

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And election fever. We hear from the smaller parties hoping to make it

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big. smaller parties hoping to make it

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difference to the way you vote? And I'm joined by three journalists

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guaranteed to bring a touch of Eurovision glamour to your Sunday

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morning. With views more controversial than a bearded

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Austrian drag act and twice the dress sense, it's Nick Watt, Helen

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Lewis and Janan Ganesh. So you might have thought you've already heard

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David Cameron promise an in-out referendum on EU membership in 2017

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if he's still Prime Minister. Many times. Many, many times. Well he

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obviously doesn't think you've been listening, because he's been saying

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it again today. Here he is speaking to the BBC earlier. We will hold a

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referendum by the end of 2017. It will be a referendum on an in-out

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basis. Do we stay in a reformed European Union or do we leave? And

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I've said very clearly that whatever the outcome of the next election,

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and of course I want an overall majority and I'm hoping and

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believing I can win an overall majority, that people should be in

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no doubt I will not become Prime Minister unless I can guarantee that

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we will hold a referendum. Here's saying there that an overall

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majority there will definitely be a referendum. If these are the

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minority position, he won't form a new coalition unless they agree to a

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referendum, too. The Lib Dems a pulmonary agree to that. They

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probably will because the Prime ministers have a strong argument

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which is I gave you a referendum back in 2010 so the least I need is

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theirs and the Lib Dems are the only party who have stood in recent

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elections on a clear mandate to hold a referendum, so it is difficult for

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them to say no, there was interesting the interview he did

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earlier today. He named everything was going to ask for. The most

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controversial with him, as he said in his speech last year, he wants to

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take Britain out of the commitment to make the European Union and ever

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closer union. That is a very big ask, but the point is, he may well

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get it because the choice for the European Union now, France and

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Germany, is a clear wonderful do Britain in or out? Previously, it

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was can you put up with a British prime ministers being annoying? I

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think you'll find the answer is they are willing to pay a price but not

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any price to keep Britain in. In this scenario, Labour would have

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lost the election again because we are talking the slowly happen if Mr

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Cameron is the largest party or has an overall majority. Could you then

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see Labour deciding we had better go along with a referendum, too? I

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think that's unlikely because as I think that's unlikely because

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there's a huge upside for that for I think what's interesting is the idea

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he would for minority government. Would you get confidence and look at

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other options that might well happen with the way the arithmetic is going

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or is he going to hold out and say the only way I will be Prime

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Minister is in a majority Conservative government? No, the

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implication of his remarks was I wouldn't form a coalition government

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unless my coalition partners would also agree to vote for a referendum.

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He's basically talking about is negotiating strategy in those

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coalition talks. It's a red line and a huge opportunity for the Lib Dems,

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because they know David Cameron absolutely has to do, for accidental

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reasons, as a person who survives as Tory leader, to ask for that

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referendum, so they can ask anything they want in return and if I was

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Nick Clegg, I would work out in the next year one absolute colossal

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negotiating demand for those coalition talks. For a party around

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10% in the polls, they will do have the Prime Minister over a barrel on

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this one, assuming that coalition talks goes well. They could make

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Michael Gove Tbyte meeting. OK, we need to move on. So, the politicians

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are out and about on what used to be called the stump ahead of local and

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European elections in less than two weeks' time. But, without wanting to

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depress you on a damp Sunday morning, the party strategists are

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already hard at work on their campaign plans for the General

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Election next May. Yes, it's less than a year to go. They may have

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taken their time, but Labour's battleplan for 2015 is starting to

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take shape. As well as take promising to freeze your energy

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bills, and reintroduce the 50p rate of tax, Ed Miliband now says he

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wants to intervene in the housing market to keep rents down. There's

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even talk that the party leadership wants to bring more railway lines

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into public ownership. And Labour is gambling that its big push on the

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cost of living will see it through to the general election despite

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evidence that growth is firmly back. Labour's campaign chief Douglas

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Alexander hopes it all adds up to victory next May. But so far, the

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evidence is hitting home very thin. One survey today shows that 56% of

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people don't think Mr Miliband is up to the job of Prime Minister. As we

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head towards one of the least predictable general elections in 70

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years, has Labour got a message to win seats up and down the country?

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And Labour's election co-ordinator and Shadow Foreign Secretary,

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Douglas Alexander, joins me now. Welcome to Sunday Politics. A lot of

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these policies announced polar pretty well. By popular with the

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country. When you add them together, it's a move to the left and what

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would be wrong with that? I think is your packet suggests, the contours

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in the coming campaign are becoming clear. Our judgement is the defining

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issue of the year in British politics will be the widening gap

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between the wealth of the country and the finances of ordinary

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families. We believe it will be a cost of living election and we have

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been setting out our thinking in relation to energy prices and rent,

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but you will hear more from Labour Party in the coming months because

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we're now less than one year away from a decisive moment. If the

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leftish think tank suggested any of his policies in that Tony Blair

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years, you would have opposed them. Let's be clear, when not going for

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an interest but seeking to secure a majority for the only way to do that

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is not simply to appeal to your base, but to the centre ground. I

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believe we got genuine opportunities in the next year. You have the

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Conservatives in a struggle with UKIP on the right of politics. The

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Lib Dems 9% of trying to find their base, and there's a genuine

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opportunity in the next year for Labour to dominate the centre ground

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of politics and secure the majority Labour government we are planning

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for in the coming year. I notice you didn't deny you wouldn't have

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opposed. You say you have got an message for aspirational voters in

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the South. This is what John Denham said. He thinks you're talking too

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much to your core vote. He is right to recognise we took a

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terrible beating in 2010. 29%. If you look at what we've done in the

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last week, for example, the signature policy on rent Ed Miliband

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announced to launch the campaign, there's now more than 9 million

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people in the country in the private rented sector, more than 1 million

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families. Many of them are in the south-east. They are seeing

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circumstances where, suddenly, landlord will increase the rent and

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they put the pressure involved in schooling, health care facing the

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families, so it is important both in terms of policy and in terms of

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politics that we speak to the whole country, not simply to one part of

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it falls up what is the average rise in event last year? I don't know.

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Can you tell me? 1%. 1% not in real terms. I'm not sure what the problem

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is. It will happen to wages in last year, we are facing circumstances

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where people will be worse off, up to ?1600 off worse and frankly, if

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our opponents want to argue that the economy has healed and they deserve

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a victory lap, good luck to them because actually, what we are

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hearing from the Buddhist public, not just in the north and south, is

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not the cost living crisis is continuing and it affects families.

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There was nothing aspirational about your party election broadcast for

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the European elections. It looked like crude class war to money

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people. That's a bit of it. Bedroom tax. Isn't it going to look bad that

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two thirds of those affected are disabled? Who cares? They can't

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fight back. Shall be lay-offs and NHS nurses? The National Health

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Service? Oh yes. Mr Cameron? Who said that? Me. My gosh. The man has

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shrunk. He's actually shrunk. What shall we do with him? Can we hunt

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him? Nothing about Europe, Labour policy.

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him? Nothing about Europe, Labour result in negative campaigning and

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smear. You didn't tell you would be result in negative campaigning and

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to have most people reaching for the remote control these days are the

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words, there now follows a party but the broadcast. I make

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words, there now follows a party but the factory to be innovative in how

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we presented. It's factual. It the factory to be innovative in how

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policy -based critic of this government. And the Lib Dems role

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within it. So you're claiming it's factual to betray the camera and

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cabinet is not even knowing factual to betray the camera and

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NHS is, -- the Cameron Cabinet. They attack the disabled because they

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can't fight back. The Pinellas Tanner severely Prime Minister Sun

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and he was treated during a short life by the NHS. It's a fact many

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disabled people across the country including in my constituency have

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been directly affected by the bedroom tax. And ultimately, this

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Conservative led government, including the Lib Dems, will be held

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accountable by the politicians. You say that, the Prime Minister, who

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had a severely disabled son of. I you not ashamed about? I shadowed

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Iain Duncan Smith of five months also they don't have the excuses of

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seeing that saying nobody told them the consequences of the bedroom tax.

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They went into this with their eyes open. They knew about the hardship

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and difficulty. If they were one-bedroom properties available

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across the country for people to move into, their argument would be

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OK but they knew they were dealing with the most vulnerable people. Did

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you sign off that part of the broadcast? Of course I stand by the

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fact of it. I wish David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith would apologise to

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the disabled people of the country and the poorest people for the

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effects of the bedroom tax. I hope we get that apology between now and

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election. As someone who thinks integrity is important in politics,

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not ashamed of this kind of thing? It's important we scrutinise the

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policies of this government as well as adding a positive agenda for

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change. You want that you won't promise this is the last time we'll

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see such a negative press campaign? I don't think it is negative or

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personal to scrutinise the government. So we'll get more of

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this? I'm less interested in the background of the cabinet than their

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views. You call the upper-class twits. It's for the British public

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to make a judgement in terms of the British... That's how you depicted

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them. We are held in accountable for the bedroom tax, the NHS, taxation,

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and our record they have to defend. One reason are so fearful in this

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election is actually because they know they have a poor record. Let's

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look at other part of the election campaign. This poster. Particularly

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digitally doing the rounds. On that shopping basket, can you tell us

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which items take the full 20% VAT? It's representative of household

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shopping, which includes items like cleaning products, and we know that

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food is not that trouble. People don't go to the supermarket and say

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this is -- vatable. So you are denying that ?450 extra is being

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paid? Yes, where'd you get that figure? For an average family to pay

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?450 a year extra VAT, they would have to spend ?21,600 a year on

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vatable products at 20%. The average take-home pay is only 21,009. They

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have got to spend on all sorts of things which are zero VAT. So in

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addition to the items, has a range of products people face in terms of

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VAT. How could an average family of ?21,000 a year spent 21,006 and the

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pound a year on 20% vatable items? It's not an annual figure, is it? So

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what is it then? If it's an annual, what is it? The increased VAT in

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this parliament is calculated over the course of a Parliament. For the

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whole of the Parliament? And you're illustrated this with a shopping

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basket which almost has no VAT on it at all? People will be buying a

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weekly shop in the course of this Parliament every week. Did you sign

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off on this as well? Of course. It didn't dawn on you you're putting

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things on it which have no VAT? If you want to argue some people go to

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the shops and say these are vatable or not, I disagree. Even your rent

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cap announcement went wrong. You're working on the rent rises and it

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turns out it wasn't. It was a post your policy. It is the exception

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rather than the rule to have the position we have at the moment. In

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Northern Ireland we have seen the continued rise in terms of the

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rented sector but there is a widespread recognition that for

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those people in the rented sector, change is necessary. Are you

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coordinating this campaign? It seems accident prone. This is a party that

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has set the agenda more effectively than a Conservative party that said

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when David Cameron was elected he wasn't going to bang on about

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Europe. The day after the election we expect the Conservative party to

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be engulfed in crisis. I'm proud of what we talk about and I think there

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is a clear contrast about a party talking about issues people care

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about, and a Conservative party talking about exclusively a

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referendum. Are you in charge of the campaign? I am coordinating the

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campaign is, yes. The expensive election guru you have hired, has he

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been involved in any of this? We have started our discussions with

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him. You are going to have to brief him about British politics because

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he doesn't know anything about it. I make no apology for hiring him. He

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has a lot of experience in winning tight elections and that is what we

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are expecting. If you are expecting us to say, they have passed and we

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have to hold them accountable, then I am sorry but we have a campaign

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that holds the Government and the Conservatives to account for what I

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think is a very hopeless record in government. Thank you.

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He leads a party with zero MPs but his media presence is huge. He's had

:18:19.:18:21.

an expenses scandal, but the public didn't seem to mind. He's got a

:18:22.:18:24.

privileged background but he's seen as an anti-establishment champion.

:18:25.:18:27.

Nothing seems to stick to him, not even eggs. I speak

:18:28.:18:29.

Nothing seems to stick to him, not Nigel Farage. We'll talk to him in a

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moment, but first Giles has been Nigel Farage. We'll talk to him in a

:18:32.:18:34.

on the campaign trail ahead of elections that could make or break

:18:35.:18:36.

the UKIP leader. Nigel Farage likes a stage, and at

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this stage of the Euro and local election campaign he is, like his

:18:41.:18:44.

party, in buoyant mood. They feel they are on the verge of what they

:18:45.:18:48.

see as causing an earthquake in British politics. Today Nigel is

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filling thousands seat venues and bigger. Not that there's much sign

:18:54.:19:03.

of that at this press launch. But it's a threat with serious money

:19:04.:19:05.

behind it, that they believe the media and the political elite just

:19:06.:19:08.

haven't realised yet, much less learned how to counter it. Not that

:19:09.:19:11.

it's all been plain sailing. Offensive comments from some

:19:12.:19:14.

candidates has not only seen UKIP labelled as racist, but necessitated

:19:15.:19:17.

a rally by the party to visibly and verbally challenge that. The

:19:18.:19:25.

offensive idiotic statements made by this handful of people have been

:19:26.:19:27.

lifted up and presented to the great British public as if they represent

:19:28.:19:32.

the view of this party, which they do not. They never have and they

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never will. APPLAUSE I don't care what you call us, but

:19:36.:19:51.

from this moment on, please do not call must trust a racist party. We

:19:52.:20:02.

are not a racist party. The need to say that is not just

:20:03.:20:05.

about the European and local elections even at that campaign

:20:06.:20:08.

launch it's clear UKIP's leader has set his sights firmly on the

:20:09.:20:10.

ultimate prize. I come from the south of England and I would not

:20:11.:20:12.

want south of England and I would not

:20:13.:20:15.

heading to the north, north Norfolk or whatever it will be. I

:20:16.:20:18.

heading to the north, north Norfolk my mind up and stand in the

:20:19.:20:20.

heading to the north, north Norfolk election for somewhere in Kent, East

:20:21.:20:26.

Sussex, Hampshire, somewhere in my home patch. Back at UKIP HQ they are

:20:27.:20:30.

still drilling down how the last fortnight of campaigning should go.

:20:31.:20:40.

They aren't taking any chances, and one imagines having offices above

:20:41.:20:43.

those of Max Clifford is a reminder how fragile built reputations can be

:20:44.:20:46.

of the bubble bursting. They want their reputation to be built on

:20:47.:20:49.

votes and they know anything but significant success on May 22nd and

:20:50.:20:52.

some seats in Westminster in 2015 isn't going to be good enough. And

:20:53.:21:00.

after that, having sold yourselves as the honest outsiders, that stance

:21:01.:21:03.

is harder to maintain once your people are on the inside. And subtle

:21:04.:21:06.

changes from the past are already noticeable. The ordinary man of the

:21:07.:21:12.

people stance is still working. Characteristically outside a pub,

:21:13.:21:15.

Nigel Farage is glad handed by a customer. Two weeks to go, let's

:21:16.:21:21.

cause an upset. Wouldn't that be great? The only sign that such an

:21:22.:21:27.

interaction is different now is the ever presence of bodyguards who

:21:28.:21:38.

shadow his every move. Over lunch ahead of Question Time, a radio

:21:39.:21:41.

appearance, and then off to Scotland, I ask him if some of those

:21:42.:21:45.

minded to vote UKIP who see him as a man they'd be comfortable having a

:21:46.:21:49.

drink with are the sort of people he'd be entirely comfortable sitting

:21:50.:21:51.

down with. Every political party attracts support from across the

:21:52.:21:53.

spectrum and there will be some magnificent people who vote for us

:21:54.:22:02.

and some ne'er-do-wells. The one common thing about UKIP voters is

:22:03.:22:07.

that they are often not very political. And it's that people's

:22:08.:22:11.

army that if UKIP can get to a polling booth might just create that

:22:12.:22:13.

earthquake they want. Nigel Farage joins me now. When you

:22:14.:22:21.

decided not to stand at the new work by election coming said if you lost

:22:22.:22:24.

it that the bubble would have burst. What did you mean by that? I

:22:25.:22:44.

was asked at seven 20p -- at 7:21pm if I would stand, I have decided by

:22:45.:22:50.

the next morning that I would not. I didn't know he was going to resign.

:22:51.:22:57.

You claim only a handful of UKIP candidates have ever said things

:22:58.:23:00.

that are either stupid or offensive, I'm right on that, yes? 0.1%, I'd

:23:01.:23:09.

rather it was non-. But why have you chosen a candidate to fight this

:23:10.:23:12.

by-election that has said many things most people would regard as

:23:13.:23:19.

stupid or offensive? Roger is fighting this for us, someone of 70

:23:20.:23:24.

years of age who grew up with a strong Christian Bible background,

:23:25.:23:29.

in an age when homosexuality was imprisonable. He had a certain set

:23:30.:23:33.

of views which he maintained for many years which he now says he

:23:34.:23:37.

accepts the world has moved on and he is relaxed about it. The comments

:23:38.:23:43.

about homosexuality are not from the dark ages, they are from two or

:23:44.:23:50.

three years ago. From when he was a Conservative, yes, so will you be

:23:51.:23:56.

asking David Cameron that question? I have never seen a single comment

:23:57.:24:00.

from Roger that would be deemed to be offensive. Do you regard his

:24:01.:24:05.

comments on homosexuality as offensive? When he grew up,

:24:06.:24:11.

homosexuality was illegal in this country. But this was in 2012 but he

:24:12.:24:20.

said that. Most people have his age still feel uncomfortable about it --

:24:21.:24:30.

of his age. In 2012 he said, if two men can be married, why not three,

:24:31.:24:38.

why not a commune. Many people in this country are disconcerted by the

:24:39.:24:42.

change in the meaning of marriage and in a tolerant society we

:24:43.:24:45.

understand that some people have different views. But he has changed

:24:46.:24:51.

his views now in only two years? He says he is more relaxed about it.

:24:52.:25:02.

Was he your candidate? He is a first-class campaigner who has had

:25:03.:25:06.

30 years in industry, he served in the European Parliament, he is a

:25:07.:25:11.

good candidate. This morning's papers suggest you are about to

:25:12.:25:15.

select Victoria Ayling for Grimsby, but she is on camera saying that, of

:25:16.:25:21.

immigrants, I just want to send a lot back. This is all very

:25:22.:25:25.

interesting, and we can talk about it, all we could talk about the fact

:25:26.:25:29.

that in 12 days we have a European election and every voter across the

:25:30.:25:34.

UK can vote on it and it is really interesting. Are you happy to pick a

:25:35.:25:40.

candidate that says of immigrants, I just want to send a lot back? I have

:25:41.:25:48.

seen the tape, it is a complete misquote and she says it in the

:25:49.:25:55.

context of illegal immigrants. I have seen the full quote and in the

:25:56.:26:01.

context it is not about illegal immigrants. Let's come onto the

:26:02.:26:05.

European campaign, you have used a company that employs Eastern

:26:06.:26:10.

European is to deliver leaflets in London and the Home Counties. Have

:26:11.:26:14.

we? I'm told that in Croydon one branch might have done that. Have

:26:15.:26:20.

you found some indigenous Brits to deliver leaflets in Europe? We have

:26:21.:26:25.

thousands joining the party every month and they are not all

:26:26.:26:29.

indigenous because what is interesting is that in today's

:26:30.:26:35.

opinion polls, UKIP is above the Lib Dems and the Conservatives amongst

:26:36.:26:47.

the indigenous voting. We have not agreed a manifesto for

:26:48.:27:01.

the general election, we will do over the course of the summer. This

:27:02.:27:09.

is in your local election. We are having local elections in some part

:27:10.:27:13.

of the country but we are fighting a European election. It is impossible

:27:14.:27:16.

with the British media to have an intelligent debate on the European

:27:17.:27:23.

question. But as I say, we are also fighting the local elections too.

:27:24.:27:28.

You have promised these tax cuts, how much will they cost? I have met

:27:29.:27:33.

-- read the local election manifesto and it doesn't make those promises.

:27:34.:27:38.

We do talk about local services, we do talk about the need to keep

:27:39.:27:43.

council tax down but we don't talk about income tax. Absolutely not. In

:27:44.:27:51.

local election campaigning you say you would restore cuts to policing,

:27:52.:27:57.

double prison places, restore cuts to front line NHS, spend more on

:27:58.:28:05.

roads, how much would that cost? You are obviously reading different

:28:06.:28:09.

documents to me. We are voting for local councillors in district

:28:10.:28:13.

councils who have got little local budgets. Every party in a manifesto

:28:14.:28:20.

puts his aspirations in it. Have you read it? Of course I have, cover to

:28:21.:28:26.

cover, which is why I'm saying you are misquoting it. By the way, on

:28:27.:28:32.

the bubble bursting, you told that to Norman Smith of the BBC. 75% of

:28:33.:28:39.

British laws are now made in the European Union. Now AstraZeneca is

:28:40.:28:44.

potentially going to be taken over by Pfizer. The BBC is refusing to

:28:45.:28:49.

show the public that that decision cannot be taken here but by an

:28:50.:28:53.

elected European commissioner, and we sit and argue about what is in or

:28:54.:29:01.

not in the local election manifesto. It is my job, but let me come on to

:29:02.:29:11.

AstraZeneca. Is it your view that a British government should stop the

:29:12.:29:19.

takeover of AstraZeneca? It cannot. Can we please get this clear. I sat

:29:20.:29:28.

next to Chuka Umunna the other day at question time and he said what

:29:29.:29:34.

could and couldn't be done. He said I am being studiously neutral, and

:29:35.:29:37.

the reason is we don't have this power. That is what the European

:29:38.:29:45.

elections is about. Should France have the takeover of the food

:29:46.:29:57.

company Danan? We seem to do things to the Nth degree and nobody else

:29:58.:30:05.

does, perhaps because we have this culture and we obey it. In your

:30:06.:30:10.

view, you don't think Pfizer should be able to take over AstraZeneca?

:30:11.:30:18.

There is some good science within AstraZeneca which is in danger of

:30:19.:30:23.

being asset stripped and lost. Because it is run by a Swede and a

:30:24.:30:29.

Frenchman and most of its employees are overseas. I understand that but

:30:30.:30:35.

there are still some good science being produced here. What did you

:30:36.:30:38.

think of the Prime Minister saying he would not form a government after

:30:39.:30:43.

the election unless he was able to have a referendum in 2017? I sat

:30:44.:30:52.

here talking to you and you said to me that David Cameron had given a

:30:53.:30:56.

cast-iron guarantee that if David Cameron becomes Prime Minister he

:30:57.:30:59.

will have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, but he didn't deliver on

:31:00.:31:05.

that. He knows that people struggle to believe the renegotiation is

:31:06.:31:09.

worth a row of beans. He is saying he will not form a government unless

:31:10.:31:14.

he can go forward with the referendum. I know he is desperately

:31:15.:31:18.

trying to pretend to be Eurosceptic whilst at the same time saying he

:31:19.:31:21.

will campaign for Britain to remain in. In a sense, that is what this

:31:22.:31:27.

election is about. We have three traditional parties, all of whom

:31:28.:31:30.

passionately believe in the continued membership of the European

:31:31.:31:34.

Union and we have UKIP saying we want trade and cooperation but there

:31:35.:31:38.

is a bigger and better world out there. You are now travelling with I

:31:39.:31:46.

think four bodyguards, has this affected you and your family life? I

:31:47.:31:53.

can't stand it. I've always wondered about the place and on my own thing.

:31:54.:31:57.

Sadly we have a couple of organisations out there headed up by

:31:58.:32:02.

senior Labour Party figures who purport to be against fascism and

:32:03.:32:05.

extremism, who received funding from the Department of communities, from

:32:06.:32:10.

the trade unions, who have acted in a violent wait more than once. You

:32:11.:32:13.

are saying the Labour Party is behind the threats? No, I said a

:32:14.:32:20.

taxpayer funded, trade union funded and headed by senior Labour Party

:32:21.:32:23.

figures, and I'm happy for them to come to my meetings and have an

:32:24.:32:27.

itinerant with me, but it's not so much fun when there are banging you

:32:28.:32:30.

over the head. I is still keen to be an MP? Yes, what UKIP will then do

:32:31.:32:36.

is target before the general election next year for the one life

:32:37.:32:41.

be easier if you just went to the Lords? That's the last thing I want

:32:42.:32:46.

to do. There's an awful lot to do. Most of all, I will not rest until

:32:47.:32:52.

we are free from political union and government from Brussels. Nigel

:32:53.:32:54.

Farage, thank you for being with us. It's just gone 11.30am. You're

:32:55.:32:55.

watching the Sunday Politics. We say Hello and welcome to Sunday Politics

:32:56.:33:12.

in Northern Ireland. Stormont may have turned pink for

:33:13.:33:16.

the Giro, but should we have red faces as another row erupts between

:33:17.:33:19.

the First and Deputy First Ministers when our Italian guests are in town?

:33:20.:33:22.

So is it electioneering, or just another example of how difficult

:33:23.:33:25.

their working relationship has, in fact, become? It's a matter of

:33:26.:33:33.

recognising that we do face serious challenges. I don't think dragging

:33:34.:33:38.

those controversial issues to enabling like this is the right

:33:39.:33:40.

thing to do. And as we countdown to Election Day,

:33:41.:33:44.

we hear the pitch from four of the smaller parties aiming big on May

:33:45.:33:46.

22nd. And joining me this week to discuss

:33:47.:33:50.

all of the above in this slightly longer programme are the former

:33:51.:33:52.

Victims' Commissioner, Patricia McBride, and News Letter's political

:33:53.:33:58.

correspondent, Sam McBride. They're usually on their best

:33:59.:34:01.

behaviour when Northern Ireland finds itself hosting a major event,

:34:02.:34:05.

but with the eyes of the world on us for the opening of the Giro

:34:06.:34:08.

d'Italia, a new row has erupted between the first and deputy first

:34:09.:34:11.

ministers. Martin McGuinness accused Peter Robinson of cowardice and of

:34:12.:34:14.

showing no leadership in east Belfast. The DUP has described the

:34:15.:34:19.

comments as outrageous. So is it just electioneering, or are the two

:34:20.:34:22.

men really struggling to hold their working relationship together? Some

:34:23.:34:27.

are asking how much longer they can continue to grin and bear it. Here's

:34:28.:34:30.

how they handled a joint interview just hours after Martin McGuinness

:34:31.:34:33.

hit out at his partner in government. A lot of things have

:34:34.:34:41.

been said over the course of the last ten days. Tonight, this is

:34:42.:34:46.

about the Giro. They're been plenty of opportunities for people to say

:34:47.:34:51.

what they want, in terms of their view. And that has been the same

:34:52.:34:55.

opportunity for me. I'm not going to dwell on that tonight, we've had our

:34:56.:35:00.

say. It is a matter of recognising we face serious challenges. I think

:35:01.:35:06.

everybody recognises what tonight is about. It's a showcase event for the

:35:07.:35:14.

Giro. I don't think dragging those controversial issues to an evening

:35:15.:35:18.

like this is the right thing to do. We are agreed on many things. Of

:35:19.:35:21.

course there are many things we disagree on, but we agree on having

:35:22.:35:25.

major events, we agree on having investment and we will continue to

:35:26.:35:29.

push those issues. Let's see what my guests of the day

:35:30.:35:32.

make of that. Joining me are Patricia McBride and Sam McBride. No

:35:33.:35:36.

relation! Sam McBride - Mike Nesbitt says it's

:35:37.:35:39.

an example of dysfunctionality and mixed messages at the heart of

:35:40.:35:47.

government. Is he right? Certainly a large element of faster burst,

:35:48.:35:50.

because it's becoming so common to lurch from Peter Robinson and Martin

:35:51.:35:55.

McGuinness to laughing together and joking together to having these

:35:56.:36:01.

extraordinary outburst against each other. There is always an element of

:36:02.:36:07.

tension in any coalition government, particularly here, where

:36:08.:36:10.

the two leaders are so radically different in their outlook, but it

:36:11.:36:15.

does seem that in the past year things have really gotten a lot

:36:16.:36:19.

worse and the issue of welfare reform has recently reignited this.

:36:20.:36:24.

I don't think it is just about Alex nearing. -- electioneering. I think

:36:25.:36:39.

there is that element of discomfort in the relationship, one that did

:36:40.:36:47.

not exist previously. There is certainly a fear within the DUP of

:36:48.:36:54.

having to cosy relationship. That is something they were criticised in

:36:55.:36:57.

the past and they will be wary of that, especially coming up to an

:36:58.:37:05.

election. The difficulties for the Coalition Government here are that

:37:06.:37:09.

they must work together. It is mandatory. So they are going to

:37:10.:37:10.

they must work together. It is to get over it and find ways of

:37:11.:37:15.

being civil to each other to effect positive change.

:37:16.:37:18.

In the midst of this row about lack positive change.

:37:19.:37:22.

of leadership, it's emerged that the DUP was being entertained to drinks

:37:23.:37:23.

with the PM at Number Ten. DUP was being entertained to drinks

:37:24.:37:27.

Guardian ran the story and here's the paper's political editor, Nick

:37:28.:37:30.

Watt, with his thoughts on what's going on... The point about this

:37:31.:37:36.

meeting, this reception, was that the DUP felt it was quite lavish, he

:37:37.:37:41.

was wooing them, the Prime Minister was having an eye to what you might

:37:42.:37:46.

need in a year's time. He might need their help if there is another hung

:37:47.:37:50.

parliament. Sinn Fein were complaining at the time that they've

:37:51.:37:54.

not had this sort of treatment. Sinn Fein would not want to have drinks

:37:55.:37:58.

in the Downing Street garden, but Martin McGuinness has said he would

:37:59.:38:02.

like the Prime Minister to meet Sinn Fein as a party because they have

:38:03.:38:05.

their concerns they would like to raise. Obviously, Sinn Fein may have

:38:06.:38:12.

five MPs but they don't take their seats at Westminster said they

:38:13.:38:15.

wouldn't be much use in a hung Parliament. The DUP may not be

:38:16.:38:21.

looking for political concessions. I think they will be looking for

:38:22.:38:27.

cash, funding for pet projects and obviously under the new dispensation

:38:28.:38:31.

in Northern Ireland the office of First Minister and Deputy First

:38:32.:38:34.

Minister are joint, everything has to go together. So if the DUP is

:38:35.:38:41.

able to wrangle extra cash out of London for Northern Ireland, we

:38:42.:38:45.

probably find it would have to be distributed reasonably fairly. Sam,

:38:46.:38:54.

do you think there is something significant going on? The DUP were

:38:55.:39:04.

fierce opponents and critics of the joint conservative oldster project a

:39:05.:39:10.

few years ago. That has completely gone away really now and we've seen

:39:11.:39:15.

very small incremental steps. There was an interesting piece online, on

:39:16.:39:21.

a grassroots conservative website where one backbencher was making an

:39:22.:39:24.

argument for the sort of arrangement a few weeks ago. Patricia,

:39:25.:39:30.

politicians do deals, they have private drinks. Is Sinn Fein right

:39:31.:39:38.

to feel marginalised's well, the Unionist party are going to feel

:39:39.:39:45.

that they are cosying up. I think it's highly inappropriate that such

:39:46.:39:53.

a sensitive issue as victims was on at -- the agenda at a garden party.

:39:54.:40:00.

Certainly what Nick was saying, it will be interesting to see what pet

:40:01.:40:04.

projects the DUP is looking for funding for if they are going to

:40:05.:40:07.

support a Conservative government in the next election. Interesting to

:40:08.:40:13.

your thoughts. We will speak to you both more later.

:40:14.:40:22.

It's taken Stormont years to agree on how many there will be, months to

:40:23.:40:26.

debate what powers they will or won't have, and on May 22nd you'll

:40:27.:40:30.

get the chance to decide who your representatives will be on one of

:40:31.:40:33.

eleven new super councils. The re-organisation of local government

:40:34.:40:36.

from 26 to 11 councils means Stormont is giving away some of its

:40:37.:40:39.

powers to the new local authorities. From next April they'll have

:40:40.:40:42.

responsibility for urban regeneration, economic development

:40:43.:40:44.

and - most significantly - planning. Chris Page reports.

:40:45.:40:52.

Spring is here, so it's time for pruning, cutting back councils, that

:40:53.:40:57.

is. There are currently 26 local authorities, but they are being

:40:58.:41:01.

trained to 11. But every gardener knows that pruning can stimulate

:41:02.:41:05.

growth, and the seeds have been sown for a new season in local

:41:06.:41:09.

government. Councils already have responsibility for all sorts of

:41:10.:41:14.

things. For example, in this garden, council staff lovingly tend

:41:15.:41:18.

to the plants and flowers every day. But the new local authorities will

:41:19.:41:25.

take on a whole range of new powers. The new responsibilities include on

:41:26.:41:28.

street parking, local economic development and tourism. Tied up

:41:29.:41:33.

with all that, there is another very important change. By far the most

:41:34.:41:39.

powerful is a range of planning powers, things the environment

:41:40.:41:43.

Department has been doing. Things like making new plans for the local

:41:44.:41:50.

areas, deciding most planning applications, apart from the most

:41:51.:41:55.

serious, and things like planning enforcement as well. So when people

:41:56.:41:59.

don't follow the rules of planning, the councils are going to step in.

:42:00.:42:06.

This planning consultant thinks the transfer of powers to local governor

:42:07.:42:12.

is a good move. It's a great thing. The 40 odd years we've had a

:42:13.:42:15.

centralised planning body taking decisions on local planning issues

:42:16.:42:21.

and local people have had an input, but not as much as there is likely

:42:22.:42:25.

to be with the council is taking the decisions. Local representatives

:42:26.:42:30.

reflecting properly what local people want for their area. The

:42:31.:42:36.

changes may have big implications for entrepreneurs, but the

:42:37.:42:39.

organisation which represents independent retailers says people

:42:40.:42:42.

need to recognise the significance of what is happening. It is crucial

:42:43.:42:48.

the private sector in gauges and build relationships -- in gauges and

:42:49.:43:00.

builds relationships with these councils. I think it is a good

:43:01.:43:05.

thing. They are setting an ambitious timetable and we need to ensure that

:43:06.:43:08.

they hit the ground running and start delivering. And businesses may

:43:09.:43:14.

regard as -- development in urban areas as one sign. The rise in

:43:15.:43:20.

online shopping and the recession has hit the high street hard. The

:43:21.:43:24.

generating town centres will be a major challenge for the new

:43:25.:43:29.

councils. Here, several million pounds are being spent on

:43:30.:43:32.

improvement works. Local entrepreneurs say the new councils'

:43:33.:43:35.

extra powers should make a positive difference. I think the fact that

:43:36.:43:41.

they are responsible for new generation in general means we can

:43:42.:43:47.

actively work towards bringing more living into the city centre, more

:43:48.:43:51.

office accommodation to increase the footfall in the city centre. So

:43:52.:43:56.

there is a general package there that the council will be more in

:43:57.:44:02.

control of. Outside towns and cities, planning is no less of an

:44:03.:44:06.

issue. Farmers say they want councils to make consistent

:44:07.:44:11.

decisions. I think what we want to see is that these larger super

:44:12.:44:16.

councils do still have a local knowledge of what is required in

:44:17.:44:21.

local areas. Certainly, still trying to retain that local aspect to

:44:22.:44:29.

planning is going to be vitally important. I think the one thing

:44:30.:44:33.

that stands out all the time is consistency in their decisions.

:44:34.:44:40.

There will be challenges and choices ahead for councillors. The new local

:44:41.:44:43.

authorities will take root after the elections. Planning can

:44:44.:44:47.

authorities will take root after the issue, and whether the councils

:44:48.:44:49.

blossom may depend on how well they handle it.

:44:50.:44:52.

blossom may depend on how well they With me now to discuss their vision

:44:53.:44:55.

for the new local political landscape are David McNarry from

:44:56.:44:58.

UKIP, Professor John Barry from the Green Party, Richard Cairns from the

:44:59.:45:03.

TUV and Basil McCrea from NI21. Where's the evidence that the new

:45:04.:45:04.

councils will have Where's the evidence that the new

:45:05.:45:07.

deal with controversial planning issues? Let me say first of all we

:45:08.:45:17.

are talking about local government, and thank goodness. It is a big

:45:18.:45:23.

thing and I wish all the candidates luck. It is a big thing for them to

:45:24.:45:29.

but their names forward. We are talking about super-sized councils.

:45:30.:45:33.

This is something new. They are going to be an amalgamation of

:45:34.:45:37.

previous old councils. I welcome it could take up to ten years for these

:45:38.:45:47.

councils to start delivering. In terms of planning issues, these are

:45:48.:45:51.

massive issues being handed to them. One instance would be, quite

:45:52.:45:56.

existing 26 councils and asked them existing 26 councils and asked them

:45:57.:46:02.

turbines. None of them existing 26 councils and asked them

:46:03.:46:07.

policy. So now we're handing this over to super councils, hopefully

:46:08.:46:12.

they will develop policies. So we're going to have ten years of bad

:46:13.:46:22.

policy-making's -- policy-making? Well, we have a different

:46:23.:46:33.

identities. We want to introduce local referendums because we want

:46:34.:46:37.

the people to actually have a voice in the local councils, particularly

:46:38.:46:41.

viz super councils, where the amalgamations are going to be so

:46:42.:46:48.

stretched you will be inviting people from one local area to

:46:49.:46:57.

another local area. If David is right, that could be a disaster for

:46:58.:47:04.

the Green Party. Could he be right? The reality is, this shift is really

:47:05.:47:08.

about the founding of local government. In terms of planning, we

:47:09.:47:16.

want community planning, we want people to have a say in the services

:47:17.:47:20.

and facilities they want. And also transparency in politics. Argue is

:47:21.:47:27.

we need a lot more transparently, including budgeting. We want to

:47:28.:47:35.

involve more citizens in how we spend the money councils have. That

:47:36.:47:38.

is an idea from Newcastle and Durham. It is sustainable

:47:39.:47:48.

development. Had we encouraged local town centre regeneration and not

:47:49.:47:53.

unsustainable out-of-town shopping centres... Which town centre? If the

:47:54.:48:08.

council wants to put money into Bangor, people need to say that is

:48:09.:48:12.

not fair. That is where I'm saying this transition is going to take

:48:13.:48:16.

quite a while. Town development, you know, we need to have the villages

:48:17.:48:24.

developed, let alone the towns! Foreign investment is not the right

:48:25.:48:30.

way and out-of-town shopping centres... The rates are going to go

:48:31.:48:35.

up and the people are really going to be in a dilemma. Do you think

:48:36.:48:44.

these new councils will have the capacity to deal with this new

:48:45.:48:47.

responsibility? It is very important for each and every of us. It is

:48:48.:48:53.

indeed and I hope the new councils will have the capacity and we will

:48:54.:48:58.

work together to represent our local communities. One thing I would like

:48:59.:49:07.

to say about standing for council from a new party is I am Catholic, I

:49:08.:49:19.

am black, I come from so many different parts of Northern Ireland

:49:20.:49:22.

that I think one thing that the councils need to come up with is

:49:23.:49:27.

what NI21 is about, and that is a united identity. Once we have that,

:49:28.:49:33.

something we can all identify with, we can work together. That is the

:49:34.:49:40.

big political picture, but what about the detail on the ground? Do

:49:41.:49:44.

you have the experience and knowledge to deal with things like

:49:45.:49:48.

planning legislation, economic generation, tourism? That is

:49:49.:49:51.

actually what people want to hear when they are deciding who to vote

:49:52.:49:57.

for. Yes, I do think we have the knowledge. These are the issues that

:49:58.:50:04.

are key to people, but every party, the new powers are going to be new

:50:05.:50:09.

to everybody. So, yes, we are new, but it is a new thing for everybody,

:50:10.:50:15.

so it is probably the best time for NI21 to be coming into council. Does

:50:16.:50:21.

it make sense for these new super councils to be given added planning

:50:22.:50:27.

responsibilities? I think we will only know that in time. Have you got

:50:28.:50:35.

reservations it might not be a good idea? As has already been mentioned,

:50:36.:50:42.

there is a link between big developments and big parties.

:50:43.:50:48.

Transparency issues, accountability, all that needs to be

:50:49.:50:52.

done in detail when it comes to the councils. They need a level of

:50:53.:51:01.

expertise. Have you got it? In terms of planning applications, I do a lot

:51:02.:51:07.

about myself so I know beings and outs. But there is more to learn, I

:51:08.:51:14.

think everybody as to say that. In terms of planning itself, there

:51:15.:51:18.

needs to be a joined up approach from council to Council, a

:51:19.:51:23.

consistent policy. And it needs to tie in with economic development.

:51:24.:51:27.

We've talked about town regeneration, yes, there is a big

:51:28.:51:31.

threat from out-of-town shopping. How do you combat that? There are

:51:32.:51:43.

many derelict town centres. Putting up artwork in empty shops looks nice

:51:44.:51:51.

but it is not fighting the problem. People need to be incentivised to go

:51:52.:51:55.

into local areas. The opportunity with this reform is innovation at a

:51:56.:52:01.

local level. What about having a municipal bond to raise funds in

:52:02.:52:12.

terms of innovative projects? Do you think there is a possibility that

:52:13.:52:15.

the new councils, when they get up and running and have to deal with

:52:16.:52:19.

big issues like planning, tourism and economic development, that they

:52:20.:52:24.

could be bedevilled by some of the day drudgery of politics in Northern

:52:25.:52:32.

Ireland? Like, for example, flags? That is why I wanted to start the

:52:33.:52:37.

idea of local referendums. Why not have a local referendum to decide

:52:38.:52:41.

whether the council will or will not fly a flag. I think all politics are

:52:42.:52:46.

local and that gets over a lot of hoops. It will be difficult enough

:52:47.:52:54.

to get people to vote on May the 22nd, never mind another poll! Well,

:52:55.:53:06.

going into Belfast council, they blighted the whole flag issue. What

:53:07.:53:11.

is NI21 going to do when the flag issue comes up in Belfast city? I

:53:12.:53:19.

don't want to talk about that specifically. Looking at the bigger

:53:20.:53:22.

picture, what is NI21 as a party going to do about the flag issue

:53:23.:53:31.

across the 11 new super councils? We would recommend flying flags on

:53:32.:53:38.

designated days, we would recommend handing the flags debate away from

:53:39.:53:41.

local councils and taking it back to an outside body. That's not local

:53:42.:53:52.

democracy. You should have confidence in people to decide...

:53:53.:54:04.

You just talked about a referendum. The big party political grab on a

:54:05.:54:07.

lot of these issues as to be taken away from them. I'm talking about

:54:08.:54:12.

local democracy, I'm saying, here is the controversial issue. There are

:54:13.:54:17.

more important issues than flags, to be fair, but here's one issue. Let

:54:18.:54:22.

the people in our locality decide. Why should it be that we want to fly

:54:23.:54:26.

the flag in this area, but because of the decision made somewhere we

:54:27.:54:33.

can't? What do you think the solution is? There was a prime

:54:34.:54:39.

opportunity to deal with it when the government bill was going through

:54:40.:54:44.

passage in the assembly. Parties had a prime opportunity to try to deal

:54:45.:54:48.

with that before going through. At the minute, this is being passed to

:54:49.:54:52.

each council to deal with. There could have been a wide-ranging

:54:53.:54:57.

approach. I would say our policy is very simple. It is Belfast has

:54:58.:55:02.

special status as the capital city of Northern Ireland and we believe

:55:03.:55:07.

the flag should fly three and the 65 days a year in that City Hall.

:55:08.:55:11.

Outside a Belfast, we believe in a policy called designated days plus.

:55:12.:55:18.

If you could have one part of the council previously not wanting to

:55:19.:55:22.

did fly the flag and the other part wanting to fly the flag, the two are

:55:23.:55:32.

not wanting to meet. There are obviously a lot of emotions. If you

:55:33.:55:37.

have a designated days policy across Northern Ireland, each council can

:55:38.:55:42.

vote to increase it above that. They cannot have less than the designated

:55:43.:55:47.

days. We think it is a very fair proposition. John, what is your

:55:48.:55:58.

position? The Green Party's view is designated days, but it is also

:55:59.:56:07.

about how do we combat our own generation of parties? With 11

:56:08.:56:19.

councils there will be even more con -- confrontation. There will be more

:56:20.:56:22.

minorities within bigger councils. But this is democratic politics,

:56:23.:56:29.

this is a rough-and-tumble point of view. Democracy is not about always

:56:30.:56:34.

agreeing, it is about respect the league disagreeing. So how can we

:56:35.:56:37.

deal with these contentious issues in a way that is democratic? I

:56:38.:56:45.

said, packed City Hall with those who want to support your particular

:56:46.:56:53.

policy. And we shouldn't forget those are all big issues which may

:56:54.:57:00.

colour people's votes. Let's pause now and reflect on the political

:57:01.:57:09.

week gone past in 60 seconds. The victims commissioner proposes a

:57:10.:57:12.

pension for those injured during the troubles. The First Minister said it

:57:13.:57:17.

was not as simple as that. I will not be putting my hand to any

:57:18.:57:21.

proposal that is going to reward those engaged in terrorism. A former

:57:22.:57:27.

victims advocates that there can be no more delays. They need to

:57:28.:57:30.

implement those proposals, no matter how difficult their riot -- how

:57:31.:57:39.

difficult they are. More racist attacks on Polish homes. Peter

:57:40.:57:43.

Robinson is accused of cowardice. This man has shown no leadership was

:57:44.:57:48.

so all in east Belfast. In the Republic, the Justice Minister

:57:49.:57:52.

finally resigns after a report criticising his department.

:57:53.:57:59.

And a new phase who paid tribute to a precedent. And pretty in pink,

:58:00.:58:05.

Northern Ireland goes our gap for the Giro. -- goes gaga.

:58:06.:58:15.

Martina Purdy reporting. Let's hear again finally from Patricia McBride

:58:16.:58:23.

and Sam McBride. Let's talk about the victims issue. You will obscene

:58:24.:58:32.

the proposals. A pension for people badly injured has been suggested,

:58:33.:58:36.

but Peter Robinson said he will have nothing to do with it if it benefits

:58:37.:58:43.

people who are part of the problem. I think Peter Robinson needs to be

:58:44.:58:47.

very careful about who use going to say shouldn't receive a pension. How

:58:48.:58:53.

is he going to bet these people? Are ex-security people going to be put

:58:54.:58:58.

through a vetting process to make sure they did not act

:58:59.:59:01.

inappropriately during the conflict? The issue about how we deal with the

:59:02.:59:05.

past is about getting the British and Irish governments involved

:59:06.:59:11.

again. Do you think Richard is going to be brought back with some kind of

:59:12.:59:15.

further attempt to solve the problem? When he last spoke, he did

:59:16.:59:20.

not give any impression he was itching to get back here. On the

:59:21.:59:24.

issue of victims and the pensions, it would be insane if someone who

:59:25.:59:29.

planted a bomb was to be given a pension from taxpayers.

:59:30.:59:40.

That's it from Sunday Politics. Join me for Stormont Today on BBC Two

:59:41.:59:45.

tomorrow night at 11.20pm. For now, though, bye-bye.

:59:46.:59:51.

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