18/05/2014 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


18/05/2014

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Coming up in an extended programme, campaign trail, he has been

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Coming up in an extended programme, with just days to polling in the

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local government election, the big with just days to polling in the

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this week, a last look at local government election, the big

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five parties local government election, the big

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this week, a last look at the euro local government election, the big

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five parties join this week, a last look at the euro

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elections, this week, a last look at the euro

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five parties join me this week, a last look at the euro

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elections, and the 50th this week, a last look at the euro

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five parties join me live this week, a last look at the euro

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elections, and the 50th anniversary this week, a last look at the euro

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five parties join me live to elections, and the 50th anniversary

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of the first elections, and the 50th anniversary

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five parties join me live to debate the challenges facing our news super

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councils. the challenges facing our news super

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of the first elections to London's 32 boroughs. I am in the studio,

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with those who think they have got all the big answers. Nick Watt,

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Helen Lewis and Janan Ganesh. So, it is the European elections for

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everybody on Thursday, local elections for England and a bit of

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Northern Ireland as well. They are the last elections before the big

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one, the 2015 general election. Some say that these European and local

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elections will not be much of a pointer to how the big one goes. But

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that will not stop political commentators and party gurus from

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examining them closely. So, what is at stake? Thursday May the 22nd is

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local elections and European Parliament elections.

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These local results should be known by Friday. In the European

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elections, all 751 members of the European Parliament will be elected

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across Europe. 73 MEPs will be let it by people living in the UK. But

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the results will not be announced until Sunday night, after voting has

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closed throughout the 28 member states of the EU. Nick Watt, we are

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in a position where the polls this morning cannot tell us what the

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outcome is going to be on Thursday, and the general election is still

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wide open - we really are in uncharted territory? Also it is

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difficult to know where we are, because there is that ComRes poll

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which shows an 11 point lead amongst those certain to vote for UKIP, and

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another poll in the Sunday Times showing that it is a much more

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slender lead for UKIP. But we know that will they win? We do not know,

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but clearly they will unsettle the major parties. Fall or five months

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ago, we assumed that the UKIP success would create panic in the

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Conservative Party, but that has been factored into David Cameron's

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share price. The Conservative Party is remarkably relaxed at the moment,

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and I wonder whether this time next week, when we have the results,

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whether the two political leaders who will be under pressure will be

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Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg. Nick Clegg, because they could go down

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from 12 MEPs to maybe just three or four. And Ed Miliband, because, one

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year before a general election, he should be showing that he is a

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significant, potent electoral force. So, they should all be

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worried about UKIP, but whereas a couple of months ago, we would all

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have said David Cameron was the one who should be worried, now, we are

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saying it is Mr Miliband and Mr Clegg? And of the two, I think it is

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Ed Miliband who should be worried. The Lib Dems are an incredibly

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resilient party. He described his own party as cockroaches, and

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incredible resilience! I think the Lib Dems are ready to take this one,

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but I think Labour are really wobbly at the moment. What UKIP has done,

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to England, it means that England has caught up with Scotland,

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Northern Ireland and Wales, England now has a four party system, which

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makes it all the more uncertain what the outcome will be? Yes, but

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whether UKIP finish first or second, it will be the biggest insurgent

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event since the European elections began in 1979. People talk about the

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Greens in 1989, but I think they finished third. Were UKIP to win a

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national election or even finish runner-up, it would be truly

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historic. It is reflecting on something which is happening across

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Europe, pianist in Italy, Holland, France and in this country. --

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populist parties. And it makes first past the post look absolutely

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ridiculous. You could be in a situation after the next general

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election where Labour do not get the largest percentage of the vote but

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they get the largest number of seats. First past the post works

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fairly if there are only two parties, but when there are four...

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We will talk more about that. Let's speak now to Suzanne Evans of UKIP.

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She is at Westminster. Now, UKIP claims that there is going to be an

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earthquake in British politics on Thursday. Suppose there is, what

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does UKIP then need to do to become a more grown-up, proper party? I

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think UKIP has very much become a grown-up, proper party. We have been

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around for 20 years. What we are going to be doing after the European

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elections, if we do cause this earthquake, and the polls are

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looking like we are going to, is we will be firmly looking towards 2015,

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getting our general election manifesto out, to keep those votes

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on board from the euro elections and putting forward common-sense

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policies which really will bring Britain back to the people. We want

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to be able to hold the balance of power come the general election. If

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we can do that then there will be a referendum. That will be our aim.

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You say you are a more grown-up party, but when you look at the

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stream of gaffes and controversies created by your candidates and

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members, I will not go into them this morning, at the very least, I

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would suggest you are needing a more robust system of selection? You

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could say the same for the other three parties, who have been around

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for a lot longer. They have got nothing like the embarrassments you

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had. I am afraid they had. Just this week, since Monday, we have had 17

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Liberal Democrat, labour or Conservative councillors either

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arrested, charged or convicted on all manner of offences. In addition

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we have had 13 who have been involved in some kind of racist,

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sexist or homophobic incident. I am not saying I am proud of any of

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that. The whole of politics probably needs to be cleaned up, but I

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certainly do not think we are any worse than the other parties, who

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have much greater resources than we do. Those other parties are even

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putting people in power who they know have got criminal convictions

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or who have previously belonged to far right, fascist parties like the

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BNP. Can you continue to be a one-man band? The only time any

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other UKIP petition makes the headlines is when they say something

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loony or objectionable? We have a huge amount of talent in this party.

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We have fantastic spokespeople across the patch, the huge amount of

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expertise in the party. Inevitably the media focuses on Nigel Farage,

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who is a fantastic, charismatic leader. But believe me, there is a

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huge amount of talent. When we get our MEPs into power after the

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European elections, we will see many more of them I think on television

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and radio and in the newspapers. We are not a one-man band. Who runs

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your party? The party is run by Nigel Farage, our leader. But he

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spends all his time running between television studios and in and out of

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the pub! You would be amazed how much he does, and of course we have

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a National Executive Committee, like the other parties. So who runs it?

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The National Executive Committee, in conjunction with Nigel Farage, the

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MEPs, the spokespeople, it is a joint effort. Your Local Government

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Minister Stosur is, if you vote UKIP, you go on to pledge that your

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councillors will not toe the party line, how does that work? -- your

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local government manifesto says... On the main policies, they will toe

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the party line, because that is obviously what people will be voting

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for. It is no good putting forward a manifesto like the Lib Dems did on

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2010 and going back on it. We have put forward a lot of positive -- a

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lot of policies at local government level, and those we will stick to.

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But when it comes to individual, local issues, say, a particular

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development or the closure of a school, whatever, UKIP then will

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vote what they think is in the best interests of the people in the

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borough, and not according to any party whip system. This plays out

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really well on the doorstep, I find. People do not want their politicians

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to be in the pockets of their party, putting party first, ahead of

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the people. You want people to vote to leave the European Union in a

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referendum - have you published a road map as to what would then

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happen? Yes, there will be a road map. The Lisbon Treaty for the first

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time gave us that exit opportunity. Have you published a road map? I am

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not the legal expert on this but there are ways in which you can come

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out of Europe fairly quickly. There is a longer you all as well. But

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have you published any of that detail? Not that I have read. But

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certainly there are ways to do it. We are the sixth strongest world

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economy, I think we are in a strong position having left the EU to be

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able to negotiate a very good trade deal with the European Union. It is

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what people voted for in 1975. What would be our exact status? It would

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be I think what people voted for back in 1975. An independent,

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sovereign country in a trade agreement, a very positive and

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valuable trade agreement with the European Union. I voted in that

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referendum, I remember it well, 1975 involved the free movement of people

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's... That is something which I do not think UKIP or the country wants.

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70% of people now are deeply concerned about immigration. So it

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would not be 1975, then? Andrew, it sounds like you are complaining that

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we might have something which is better than 1975. I am just trying

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to find out what it is! That sounds like positive to me. We will

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negotiate a trade deal and all manner of issues, whatever is best

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for the British people. We want our sovereignty back, we want our

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country back. Would you be upset if a bunch of Rumanian men moved in

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next door to you? Where I live, I am surrounded by one and two-bedroom

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flats. If ten Rumanian men moved in next door to me, I would want to ask

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questions. That is very different from say a Robinho family moving in

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next door. I would think, are they being ripped off, are they up to no

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good or are they perhaps being trafficked by a gang master? So I

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think it would be of concern, and I do not think there is anything wrong

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with that, it is a humanitarian approach. That would be different

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from a family moving in who were learning to speak English, who

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wanted to contribute to the British economy. Maybe if your boss is

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watching, he will now have found out how to answer that question.

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Now, what is more glamorous, 24 hours in the life of a

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counter-terrorism agent, or 12 hours in the life of Adam Fleming, on the

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campaign trail? I will let you make up your own mind. So, it is eight

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o'clock in the morning here in Westminster. Today's challenge is,

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how much campaigning for the local and European elections can we fit

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into 12 hours? See you back here at eight o'clock tonight. Wish me

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luck. With my cameraman and producer, we went to Thurrock in

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Essex first. I got a very, very warm welcome from Abe buoyant UKIP. They

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have never had this much attention. One candidate's misdemeanour ends up

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on the front page. But you have got Lib Dem candidates being convicted

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of racially aggravated assault, and that was not on the front pages of

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the newspapers. Houdini is fine but it must be applied evenly. Have you

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had to sack Thurrock UKIP members for dodgy tweets or anything? Oh,

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God, no. Next we head to meet a top Tory in a different area. We are

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heading to Eastbourne. But stuck in traffic. We are going to miss

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William Hague. We got there, just in time, to ask the really big

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questions. David Cameron went to Nando De Colo last week, where are

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you going to go for lunch? I do not even get time for lunch. I think

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something in the back of the car. We will go down the street and see what

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people have got to say. Even the Foreign Secretary has depressed the

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flesh at election time? Even the Foreign Secretary meets real people.

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The message William Hague impresses upon everyone he meets is that the

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Tories are the only party offering a referendum on our membership of the

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EU. He's off for lunch in the limo. I've got five minutes by the beach.

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This is the best thing about elections, lunch. Do you want one?

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And chips are weirdly relevant at our next stop - the Green Party

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battle bus which is parked in Ashford in Kent. What is special

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about this vehicle? It runs from chip fat oil so it is more friendly

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to the environment. But boss was boiling. The next stop is Gillingham

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to see Labour. Labour have just hired Barack Obama's election guru

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David Axelrod to help them craft their message. What does David

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Axelrod know about the people who live on the street? I know the local

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details but you handle those. Ed Miliband and his party have had to

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handle a few dodgy opinion polls lately, prompting some leadership

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speculation from one activist. Who is your favourite Labour politician?

:16:52.:17:00.

Ed Balls. Back in the car and we're flagging. Final stop, Southwark in

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south London. We are in the right place, this is Simon Hughes' Lib Dem

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taxi. The Lib Dems are campaigning as the party of in. But are they in

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trouble? Your party president said the party would be wiped out and

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lose its MEPs. Is that helpful? If he did say that, then no, that's not

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terribly helpful. And let's not forget, every London council is

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having elections too. I have 40 minutes to get back to the office in

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Westminster, which calls for something drastic, like this. After

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212 miles, but will be make it home for eight? We have made it, aided,

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12 hours of pure politics. Happy elections, everyone.

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Adam Fleming impersonating Jack Bauer! Natalie Bennett is in our

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studio, welcome back. The Greens used to be the upcoming party in

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Britain, now it is UKIP. What went wrong? We are in a very good place,

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looking towards travelling our MEPs and we could be the fourth largest

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group in Parliament after these elections. More and more people are

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recognising we are the only party calling for real change, the only

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party saying we have two stop making poor, disadvantaged young people

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over the mistakes bankers. You have made a strong pro-environment stands

:18:55.:19:00.

synonymous with the politics of the left, why have you done that? Why

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should an equal minded Conservative vote for you? I think one of the

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reasons why many Conservatives, I met them in Chester where they are

:19:11.:19:17.

stopping coalbed methane exploration, lots of Conservatives

:19:18.:19:23.

are looking to vote for us beyond issues like fracking and the Green

:19:24.:19:27.

belt, and many of them are concerned about the fact we haven't reformed

:19:28.:19:32.

the banks. This morning we had the Bank of England chief coming out and

:19:33.:19:37.

saying we have a huge house price bubble and people recognise that

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many of the parties offering the same are not working. And yet the

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polls show that the hardline greenery is not winning. We are

:19:56.:19:59.

looking to travel our number of MEPs and we have people recognising that

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we have to change the way our economic 's, politics and society

:20:05.:20:08.

works so that everyone has sufficient resources within the

:20:09.:20:11.

limits of the one planet because one planet is all we have got. You want

:20:12.:20:19.

all electricity to be generated by renewables, is that right? So where

:20:20.:20:24.

would the electricity come from on days when the wind is not blowing?

:20:25.:20:30.

Most of the electricity is there. It is mature. We need to be hooked into

:20:31.:20:36.

a European wide grid, we need a smart grid that will allow for

:20:37.:20:41.

demand to be adjusted according to supply. So we would take French

:20:42.:20:48.

nuclear power, would we? We need to work with a partnership across

:20:49.:20:56.

Europe. We are being left behind and we are losing opportunities. 50% of

:20:57.:21:01.

German renewable electricity is owned by communities and it stays

:21:02.:21:05.

within communities, rather than the big six energy companies. So you

:21:06.:21:16.

have still got to take the French nuclear power. What we need to

:21:17.:21:27.

do... Nuclear is a dead technology, going down in the developed world.

:21:28.:21:33.

At the moment the Government proposes the most expensive proposal

:21:34.:21:38.

for Britain and yet the last two plans took 17 years to bring online,

:21:39.:21:44.

way too slow for what we need now. We know what the Green council would

:21:45.:21:48.

be like if you were to win more seats on Thursday because you run

:21:49.:21:53.

Brighton. Your own Green MP joined strikers against the council, the

:21:54.:21:59.

local Greens are at each other's throats, a council ridden with

:22:00.:22:03.

factionalism, attempts to raise council tax to 5%, attempted coups

:22:04.:22:09.

against the local Green leader by other Greens and you have had to

:22:10.:22:14.

bring in mediators. If you look at the life of people in Brighton and

:22:15.:22:19.

Hove, it has seen its visitor numbers go up by 50,000, it has

:22:20.:22:24.

become the top seaside resort in Britain, we have seen GCSE results

:22:25.:22:31.

going up significantly. These are the things affecting people's lives

:22:32.:22:37.

in Brighton and Hove. 60% of Brighton and Hove people think life

:22:38.:22:43.

is better and the Greens. We have a debate to be had from next year's

:22:44.:22:48.

election and perhaps we can have that debate next year. But you hold

:22:49.:22:53.

up Brighton as the way the city should be run? We have made huge

:22:54.:22:58.

progress, we have found money to be brought into the city to improve

:22:59.:23:06.

Green spaces. I was on the big ride in London yesterday, and we need to

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change our roads so they worked the people as well as cars. Which side

:23:12.:23:15.

of the picket line were you on in Brighton? With Caroline Lucas? I was

:23:16.:23:24.

in London, travelling around as I do most days. From Penzance to

:23:25.:23:30.

Newcastle and many areas in between. Probably a good move. Thank you. I'm

:23:31.:23:46.

joined now by the Conservative MP, the Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes and

:23:47.:24:16.

Sajid Javid. We want to see a European Union resolutely focused on

:24:17.:24:20.

the single market, free trade, and only we can bring about that change.

:24:21.:24:25.

Labour and Lib Dems are happy with the status quo, in fact they would

:24:26.:24:30.

like more integration, and a UKIP party can not deliver the change.

:24:31.:24:37.

Hilary Benn, at this stage positions usually romp home in European

:24:38.:24:41.

elections and no party has gone on to form a government without winning

:24:42.:24:46.

the European elections first. Now it suggests you could become second,

:24:47.:24:53.

you haven't handled UKIP very well either. There is a lot of alienation

:24:54.:24:58.

from politics around, globalisation has left some behind and people are

:24:59.:25:03.

concerned about that but UKIP will not provide the answer. Nigel Farage

:25:04.:25:08.

only talks about Europe. We are to hear it would not be in the

:25:09.:25:12.

interests of British people to come out of Europe. We do want a season

:25:13.:25:17.

change in Europe, for example we want longer periods when new member

:25:18.:25:24.

states come in. We don't think child tax credits should be paid to

:25:25.:25:28.

children not living in the UK, but Nigel Farage is also proposing to

:25:29.:25:34.

charge us when we see the GP, to halve maternity pay, and he wants a

:25:35.:25:40.

flat tax. UKIP is not the answer to the problems we face and we will

:25:41.:25:44.

continue to campaign as we have done to show that we are putting forward

:25:45.:25:54.

policies on energy prices, and in the end that is what people will

:25:55.:25:59.

look for. Simon Hughes, you will be lucky to come forth. The voters

:26:00.:26:06.

decide these things. Really? I never knew that. My response to the UKIP

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question is that they get support because they have never been in

:26:12.:26:17.

power, they are never likely. A bit like the way you used to never get

:26:18.:26:23.

into power. I accept that, but now we are in government. The reality is

:26:24.:26:31.

that laws made in Brussels, we make together by agreement, and it is the

:26:32.:26:36.

case from the Commons figures that only seven out of 100 laws are made

:26:37.:26:45.

in Brussels. Actually they have been shown not to be the only ones. 14

:26:46.:26:52.

out of 100. If we were to come out of Europe, we would seriously

:26:53.:27:01.

disadvantage our economics and the jobs... 3 million jobs depend on the

:27:02.:27:07.

European Union. If the Conservatives comes third or even a poor second,

:27:08.:27:10.

it will show that people don't really trust your promise about

:27:11.:27:15.

European referendum. They have been there before, they don't trust you.

:27:16.:27:20.

What we have already shown, despite being in coalition with Liberal

:27:21.:27:26.

Democrats, we have shown progress on Europe, we have vetoed a European

:27:27.:27:29.

treaty when people said we wouldn't, we have cut the European

:27:30.:27:34.

budget which is something Liberal Democrats and Labour MEPs voted

:27:35.:27:40.

against, we cut it by ?8 billion. But overall we are still paying

:27:41.:27:48.

more. We have still cut it. We have taken Britain out of the bailout

:27:49.:27:53.

fund that Labour signed us up to. We are now going to take that same

:27:54.:27:59.

energy to Europe and renegotiate our relationship and let the British

:28:00.:28:04.

people decide in a referendum. Why has Ed Miliband become such a

:28:05.:28:13.

liability for your party? Even your own MPs are speaking out against

:28:14.:28:18.

him. If you look at the polls, we have been in the lead almost

:28:19.:28:23.

consistently. The voters will decide. Ed Miliband is a decent man,

:28:24.:28:27.

but what really marks him out is that he is thinking about the

:28:28.:28:34.

problems the country faces. Simon and Sajid both support the bedroom

:28:35.:28:46.

tax, we will scrap it. Ed Miliband said the energy market doesn't work

:28:47.:28:49.

for consumers, we will freeze energy prices while we change the system.

:28:50.:28:58.

So why are his ratings even lower than Nick Clegg's? They will be

:28:59.:29:07.

voted for next year in the general election, and if I were David

:29:08.:29:11.

Cameron I would ask myself this question - the economy is

:29:12.:29:17.

recovering, why is it that David Cameron and the Conservatives have

:29:18.:29:21.

been behind in the polls? Because in the end the big choice in British

:29:22.:29:26.

politics is between the two parties that say, if we sought the deficit

:29:27.:29:31.

everything is fine, and Labour who say that there are things about this

:29:32.:29:35.

country, the insecurity that has given rise for support for UKIP, and

:29:36.:29:43.

we are the ones talking about doing something about zero hours

:29:44.:29:46.

contracts. The more your leader bangs on about Europe, the worse

:29:47.:29:51.

your poll ratings get. He is out of the kilter with British people. It

:29:52.:30:01.

may not be a majority of people who think that we ought to stay in the

:30:02.:30:04.

European Union, but when you speak to people about it, people

:30:05.:30:10.

understand that we are better in them out. In the elections on

:30:11.:30:14.

Thursday, that is not about who runs Britain, that is for next year. In

:30:15.:30:18.

terms of the local councils, we have battles on the ground, like in my

:30:19.:30:23.

community, where we are trying to take it back from the Labour Party.

:30:24.:30:26.

Affordable housing has just not been delivered. We have delivered that in

:30:27.:30:33.

office and we had admitted to that. -- we are committed to that. Labour

:30:34.:30:38.

have actually demolished homes. So, people want more affordable homes.

:30:39.:30:44.

One issue which is behind people's antipathy towards immigrants is that

:30:45.:30:48.

they cannot get the affordable housing they need. We as a

:30:49.:30:51.

government have delivered more affordable housing in this

:30:52.:30:57.

Parliament -170,000 new properties earning and more, over the next

:30:58.:31:02.

three years. That does not work out that very many per year. Overall

:31:03.:31:11.

housing is a lot less than it was in 2006. Let me tell you, under the

:31:12.:31:18.

Labour government, we lost nearly half a million affordable homes.

:31:19.:31:21.

Fewer built than under Mrs Thatcher or under the coalition. What is your

:31:22.:31:29.

last ditch message to the millions of Tory voters thinking of voting

:31:30.:31:35.

UKIP on Thursday? First, what I would say is, Ed Miliband also said

:31:36.:31:40.

that we should not tackle the deficit, it was not a priority. As a

:31:41.:31:45.

result of our resolute focus, we now have the fastest growing economy in

:31:46.:31:49.

the developed world, and more people employed than ever before. I am sure

:31:50.:31:53.

you will have more chance to say that at the general election, what

:31:54.:31:57.

is the answer to my question? We need a Europe which is focused on

:31:58.:32:02.

free trade and the single market. Labour and Lib Dems are happy with

:32:03.:32:06.

the status quo, we are not. We are the only party which can bring about

:32:07.:32:09.

change, UKIP cannot bring about any change. Hilary Benn, why not have a

:32:10.:32:20.

referendum on Europe? If you think like Nigel Farage that you should

:32:21.:32:24.

get out of Europe, I do not agree with him, because Britain's future

:32:25.:32:28.

lies in Europe. My message simply would be, vote for a party which

:32:29.:32:31.

wants to tackle insecurity in the workplace, to give more security to

:32:32.:32:36.

the 9 million people who are now privately renting, build more homes.

:32:37.:32:43.

What Simon has just said about the coalition's housing record, it has

:32:44.:32:46.

been appalling, the lowest level since Stanley Baldwin was Prime

:32:47.:32:50.

Minister. With Labour, you have got a party which will freeze energy

:32:51.:32:54.

prices, more childcare, policies which directly address the problems

:32:55.:33:00.

which people face. I think the public will realise that. UKIP

:33:01.:33:03.

offers absolutely nothing at all for the future of the country. You used

:33:04.:33:08.

to be in favour of a referendum? We are in favour, we voted for one, we

:33:09.:33:13.

have legislated for one. The next time there is a change between

:33:14.:33:17.

Britain and Europe, in the relationship, there will be a

:33:18.:33:23.

referendum. We have supported that. We voted for it. You would obviously

:33:24.:33:28.

want to vote yes in any referendum. We would. But if you had one now, it

:33:29.:33:35.

would be for coming out or staying in, and you are going to wait until

:33:36.:33:39.

there is another step son shall transfer of powers to Brussels, and

:33:40.:33:45.

then say to people, either vote for this substantial transfer or vote to

:33:46.:33:51.

leave! Of course they will vote to leave! Yes, we are not natural

:33:52.:33:59.

partners with the Conservatives, but we do not want to be distracted at

:34:00.:34:04.

the moment by a referendum in the future in relation to Europe.

:34:05.:34:07.

Because what we have done is built our own economy back. That has been

:34:08.:34:14.

the priority. We do not want artificial priorities. The Tories

:34:15.:34:18.

want an artificial date plucked out of the air for their own advantage.

:34:19.:34:23.

We say, let's get on with being positive about being in Europe, and

:34:24.:34:26.

many people on the doorstep absolutely understand that.

:34:27.:34:30.

Yesterday, the Energy Minister said that he thought the party would be

:34:31.:34:34.

willing to campaign for a British withdrawal from the EU if there was

:34:35.:34:41.

not a successful negotiation, a successful repatriation, do you

:34:42.:34:47.

agree with that? First of all, I am very optimistic... I got that I am

:34:48.:34:57.

going into these negotiations with confidence but Michael Fallon is one

:34:58.:35:00.

of your ministerial colleagues, he said that if we cannot get a deal on

:35:01.:35:05.

substantial repatriation, then the party should be willing to campaign

:35:06.:35:09.

for a British withdrawal - do you agree? My view is that I am

:35:10.:35:14.

confident we will get a deal, and then we will put it to the British

:35:15.:35:18.

people. But you will have to take a line. If you do not get substantial

:35:19.:35:23.

repatriations, will you side with Michael Fallon all with the Prime

:35:24.:35:26.

Minister, who seems to want to stay in regardless? I may only have been

:35:27.:35:32.

in politics for four years, but I am not going to ask that kind of

:35:33.:35:34.

hypothetical question. Every question I ask is hypothetical, that

:35:35.:35:41.

is the fascination of the programme! I go into these negotiations with

:35:42.:35:44.

complete confidence. If you look at our track record, it suggests we

:35:45.:35:52.

will be successful. Hilary Benn, what is the difference between your

:35:53.:35:56.

attitude and that of the Lib Dems towards a referendum? We have been

:35:57.:36:01.

very clear that if it is proposed at sometime in the future, further

:36:02.:36:06.

powers would be transferred, then, we would put that to the British

:36:07.:36:10.

people in a referendum. That is the Lib Dem position. This is our

:36:11.:36:15.

position, which I am planing to you. It would be an in-out referendum. We

:36:16.:36:21.

would only agree to a transfer of powers if we thought that it was in

:36:22.:36:26.

the interest of Britain. But we believe that Britain's place remains

:36:27.:36:29.

and should remain in Europe, for economic reasons. But we also want

:36:30.:36:36.

to see some changes in our relationship with Europe, and

:36:37.:36:42.

electing Labour MEPs on Thursday will be a way of boosting that

:36:43.:36:49.

argument. In what way is everything you have just said not entirely sell

:36:50.:36:54.

my must with the Lib Dem position? I am not worried about that. --

:36:55.:37:01.

entirely synonymous. It is the dividing line between us and UKIP,

:37:02.:37:04.

because they somehow believe that Britain leaving the European Union

:37:05.:37:08.

would be good for our economy. Truth is, it would be really bad, because

:37:09.:37:14.

so many jobs depend on being part of a large market in an increasingly

:37:15.:37:26.

globalised world. I have got one more question for you on the locals.

:37:27.:37:30.

We seem to have lost our connection with Leeds. What is the single most

:37:31.:37:33.

important reason that people should vote for you in the local election?

:37:34.:37:38.

Because taxpayers' money is just that, it does not belong to the

:37:39.:37:42.

politicians, and we can do a lot more and get more for less with

:37:43.:37:46.

taxpayers money. If you look at Conservative councils up and down

:37:47.:37:49.

the country, most of them have not been raising council tax, they have

:37:50.:37:52.

been getting more for less, and that is what people deserve. We will

:37:53.:37:58.

produce the maximum amount possible of affordable housing to meet the

:37:59.:38:01.

housing needs of Britain, instead of the richest minority having flats

:38:02.:38:05.

and houses that nobody can afford. We seem to have lost Hilary Benn. I

:38:06.:38:15.

can answer for him. I will do it - he would certainly say, vote Labour.

:38:16.:38:18.

You are watching The Sunday Politics.

:38:19.:38:30.

Hello and welcome to Sunday Politics in Northern Ireland. You know it's

:38:31.:38:32.

election time when the studio gets a make over! The local government

:38:33.:38:35.

elections are just four days away, so how are those we send to our new

:38:36.:38:40.

super councils going to deal with contentious flags and emblems in

:38:41.:38:46.

their brave new world? It does not matter what you do in terms of new

:38:47.:38:50.

institutions, at the heart of everything there is still a

:38:51.:38:54.

dichotomy between Sinn Fein and the DUP, between republicanism and

:38:55.:38:58.

unionism. In this special extended programme we'll hear from

:38:59.:39:00.

representatives of the five main parties ahead of Thursday's poll.

:39:01.:39:03.

And with social media playing a more important role than ever in the

:39:04.:39:06.

council and European elections, we ask how our politicians are facing

:39:07.:39:10.

up to the online challenges and opportunities. That is the first

:39:11.:39:15.

place that a lot of people will go when they want to get information on

:39:16.:39:18.

what is happening with the parties, individual candidates, policies and

:39:19.:39:23.

the general campaigns. And to discuss all of that and more, I'm

:39:24.:39:27.

joined by the academic Orna Young and the journalist and commentator

:39:28.:39:33.

Paul McFadden. Thursday's elections will decide who represents us in

:39:34.:39:37.

Europe and in the eleven new super-councils. But as ever it's at

:39:38.:39:40.

Stormont where the major political game is played out, and it looks as

:39:41.:39:45.

if the next head to head battle will be centred on getting a budget

:39:46.:39:48.

through. The Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton, told me on The View last

:39:49.:39:52.

week that a deal has to be done next month or else every department in

:39:53.:39:55.

the Executive will face serious cuts come August. But Sinn Fein says the

:39:56.:39:59.

DUP needs to join it in telling Westminster to back away from its

:40:00.:40:02.

decision to start penalising Stormont for not implementing

:40:03.:40:04.

welfare reform. Let's hear the thoughts of today's commentators,

:40:05.:40:11.

Orna Young and Paul McFadden. You're both welcome. Nice to see you. Do

:40:12.:40:18.

you think, Paul, voters getting ready for the polling station will

:40:19.:40:21.

see this as part of election rhetoric or is it sinking in that

:40:22.:40:25.

there is a real problem that needs to be sorted? I assume that Simon

:40:26.:40:33.

Hamilton when he says what he does is getting reliable information from

:40:34.:40:38.

his counterpart in the Treasury. I accept it when he says that we are

:40:39.:40:42.

only going to get so much money here, but I also say, when you

:40:43.:40:49.

consider that the DUP say that they managed to wangle certain

:40:50.:40:53.

concessions out of Westminster, for example on issues like bedroom tax,

:40:54.:40:57.

that says to me that had people gone with a solid case, they might have

:40:58.:41:03.

managed to secure more out of Westminster and the Treasury and I

:41:04.:41:07.

think if you imagine if our politicians had gone together, there

:41:08.:41:13.

would have been an opportunity to do something significant. That is

:41:14.:41:16.

difficult to achieve. There is an all followed of the text that they

:41:17.:41:21.

did not seem to agree on. Behind-the-scenes we hear that there

:41:22.:41:26.

is a paper which all sides had agreed on. Looking at it from one

:41:27.:41:32.

perspective, it shows mistrust between the parties generally, in

:41:33.:41:35.

terms of working together. I think we need to look at it in terms of

:41:36.:41:41.

more productive workings from the Assembly more generally, in terms of

:41:42.:41:47.

singing of the same hymn sheet, but also working work productively on

:41:48.:41:51.

the ground, putting measures in place, these cuts are coming, it

:41:52.:41:57.

will happen. It is about preparing people for these changes. It is a

:41:58.:42:02.

double whammy, we have more austerity cuts coming, that is in

:42:03.:42:08.

the public realm. We have these other potential cut according to

:42:09.:42:14.

Simon Hamilton as well. We are looking at DETI which is responsible

:42:15.:42:22.

for supporting the City Of Culture in Londonderry. The figures are

:42:23.:42:32.

quite frightening. If you speak to people at a community level, they

:42:33.:42:36.

are suggesting that the cuts could be even more severe. The impact will

:42:37.:42:41.

be felt in places like Londonderry, the impact of these cuts could be

:42:42.:42:48.

catastrophic. We will hear more from you later. Very soon the existing 26

:42:49.:42:58.

councils will begin to more of in to just 11. They will get extra powers

:42:59.:43:03.

to deal with planning and tourism, but the new generation of

:43:04.:43:11.

councillors will face challenges. Symbols, flags, emblems, councils

:43:12.:43:16.

already have to deal with some of the most divisive issues in Northern

:43:17.:43:20.

Ireland and sometimes the impact of those decisions affect the wider

:43:21.:43:24.

political climate. In 2012, one decision had an impact well beyond

:43:25.:43:29.

its locality. Belfast City Council's vote to fly the union flag

:43:30.:43:34.

on designated days, sparked weeks of protest, and number of which turned

:43:35.:43:40.

violent. The talks chaired by Richard Haass aim to find a

:43:41.:43:44.

solution, but there was no agreement. The legislation on local

:43:45.:43:48.

government reform does not mention flags so the issue may feature in

:43:49.:43:53.

the new meetings of the councils. Those will be hugely difficult. It

:43:54.:43:58.

is like everything, no matter how much you agree on planning or the

:43:59.:44:03.

environment, the big issues will be the flags and parades. I would like

:44:04.:44:07.

to think that these councils will look at it at a local level and

:44:08.:44:23.

think what is the best thing for the towns and villages, what is the best

:44:24.:44:26.

way to make this place more attractive and ease tensions. I fear

:44:27.:44:28.

that they will take their steer from the headquarters and if they say it

:44:29.:44:31.

is the flag 360 by days or nothing, they will go for that. The danger of

:44:32.:44:34.

that is that this will cause divisions. Among the other decisions

:44:35.:44:41.

is whether to carry over freedoms of the borough, Unionist councils have

:44:42.:44:45.

given these two military regiments. There are questions about what other

:44:46.:44:49.

symbols will feature outside council buildings. This will depend on the

:44:50.:44:56.

political make-up of the councils. We can tell from previous election

:44:57.:44:59.

results that of the 11 councils there will be split, six will be

:45:00.:45:05.

Unionist dominated, four will dominated by Sinn Fein and Belfast

:45:06.:45:13.

will remain split with Alliance are holding the rounds of power. Some

:45:14.:45:17.

places may see more profound changes than others. The biggest council in

:45:18.:45:22.

terms of landmass will stretch all the way from the north-west to the

:45:23.:45:27.

eastern coast. Two Unionist controlled councils will merge with

:45:28.:45:32.

two councils with nationalist majorities. The newly formed

:45:33.:45:38.

Causeway Council will take on some of our most famous tourism aspects

:45:39.:45:41.

and it will be very politically diverse. This is Dungiven at the

:45:42.:45:47.

western end of the new district. The street names and street art

:45:48.:45:52.

indicated the political allegiances. Dungiven is currently

:45:53.:45:57.

in a council area which has an nationalist majority. When the new

:45:58.:46:01.

local authority takes over, but is unlikely to be the case. It is

:46:02.:46:04.

thought that the new super council will have a small Unionist

:46:05.:46:09.

majority. The editor of the local newspaper says it will be a

:46:10.:46:16.

different experience for nationalist councillors. It will be an

:46:17.:46:20.

unsettling time for their -- for them to adjust. Equally, for

:46:21.:46:28.

Unionist members, I know the way that the super councils were chosen,

:46:29.:46:33.

Unionist members were more pleased with it than the nationalist

:46:34.:46:38.

members. In contrast to Limavady, cold rain council is predominantly

:46:39.:46:43.

Unionist and it is one of several local authorities which fly the

:46:44.:46:54.

union flag every day -- Coleraine. It flies there all year and that is

:46:55.:46:59.

the way it has always been. Sinn Fein are on record as saying that

:47:00.:47:02.

they will have an issue with that. They will have an issue with all the

:47:03.:47:07.

trappings of unionism which they say are present in the council chamber

:47:08.:47:12.

in Coleraine. That is the obvious one which will kick things off

:47:13.:47:19.

macro. I do think it is important to remember that councils need to deal

:47:20.:47:24.

with bins and leisure centres and on these issues, councillors tend to

:47:25.:47:29.

get on very well. That is generally true of most local authorities, so

:47:30.:47:33.

will the new councils be characterised by divisions or

:47:34.:47:38.

agreements? This is how we have to form relationships. It is about

:47:39.:47:42.

working together, thinking together, representing January.

:47:43.:47:49.

These are important issues. Even in Belfast, things have improved,

:47:50.:47:53.

councillors work in a more unified way. Years ago, when it was easy to

:47:54.:47:59.

do so, they did not do it and councils can be a beacon for some

:48:00.:48:03.

sort of normality. It does not matter what you do in terms of new

:48:04.:48:08.

institutions, at the heart of everything, there is still at I got

:48:09.:48:13.

it between Sinn Fein and the DUP, between unionism and nationalism. --

:48:14.:48:29.

dichotomy. There are few places where symbolism is as politically

:48:30.:48:34.

important as their -- as it is in Northern Ireland. Our consular steel

:48:35.:48:37.

with this, will help determine if the new councillors will become

:48:38.:48:41.

symbols of political progress -- councillors. Chris Page highlighting

:48:42.:48:48.

some of the challenges ahead for local government - and joining me

:48:49.:48:51.

now are representatives of the five biggest parties contesting the

:48:52.:48:54.

elections to the new councils on Thursday. With me around the table

:48:55.:48:57.

are Mark Cosgrove from the Ulster Unionist Party, Gavin Robinson from

:48:58.:49:00.

the DUP, Sinn Fein's Deirdre Hargey, Duncan Morrow from the Alliance

:49:01.:49:06.

Party and Clare Hanna from the SDLP. You're all very welcome. Deirdre

:49:07.:49:11.

Hargey. Your party raised the flags issue in Belfast and that led to 18

:49:12.:49:14.

months of disagreement and debate across Northern Ireland. We don't

:49:15.:49:18.

want to go back over the specifics of the Belfast issue, but does Sinn

:49:19.:49:22.

Fein intend to make this an issue in the new councils? Sinn Fein have

:49:23.:49:26.

been very clear and consistent and our message in dealing with this

:49:27.:49:29.

emanates from the Good Friday Agreement where it clearly stated

:49:30.:49:33.

that people have a right to be British, Irish, both or none. We

:49:34.:49:40.

respect those rights, but there is a job of work for unionists to show

:49:41.:49:45.

how are Schmidt is reflected. The issue of the flags at City Hall was

:49:46.:49:55.

one of equality. This has to be reflected in equal manner. That is

:49:56.:50:01.

our position. The agenda by Sinn Fein is anything but. We would

:50:02.:50:05.

respect the right to be British, unionists have to show other people

:50:06.:50:10.

is how they reflect the right to be Irish. I am an Irish citizen, so how

:50:11.:50:17.

will unionists reach out to me and my community in reflecting this?

:50:18.:50:24.

Could the flags issue bedevil the new council? Of course. The Alliance

:50:25.:50:34.

has been consistent, and we have been consistent with the agreement

:50:35.:50:40.

as well. The sensitivity principle is there, the principle that we

:50:41.:50:44.

should fly flags with sensitivity and that this should be consistent

:50:45.:50:48.

across the whole of Northern Ireland. It should also be

:50:49.:50:52.

consistent with the equality condition, and it has been suggested

:50:53.:50:57.

that designated days are the best option. We have been entirely

:50:58.:51:02.

consistent and we believe it should fly across the whole of Northern

:51:03.:51:05.

Ireland and there should be no threat about violence, because the

:51:06.:51:13.

agreement put behind it is surely peaceful and democratic. Gavin

:51:14.:51:16.

Robinson, your party wants to fly the union flag every day of the year

:51:17.:51:22.

from public buildings, but that will not be acceptable to many new

:51:23.:51:24.

councils who will not be controlled by Unionists. I think it is

:51:25.:51:36.

important that, when they considered this discussion, not only is there

:51:37.:51:41.

an issue about consent, and people have accepted the sovereignty of

:51:42.:51:45.

Northern Ireland that we remain part of the United Kingdom, and we need

:51:46.:51:50.

to reflect that in our councils. We have pledged to support and defend

:51:51.:51:55.

symbols of the union. But we are also looking towards building

:51:56.:52:00.

consensus. The three parties to my left ignored consensus politics.

:52:01.:52:03.

They did not seek to reach an agreement was it to foster good

:52:04.:52:07.

relations. What they saw to do was, when they reached a majority, they

:52:08.:52:11.

put on the jackboot, and Sinn Fein, when it is well fast or

:52:12.:52:18.

elsewhere... Lets not get involved in the politics of Belfast

:52:19.:52:21.

specifically, but what other parties have said in the past is that there

:52:22.:52:25.

was a democratic vote and that is how it went. How do you address

:52:26.:52:31.

Deirdre Hargey's Irishness across the new 11 councils in Northern

:52:32.:52:35.

Ireland? New Year people talk of a shared future. It has been very

:52:36.:52:42.

clear whether it has been Belfast, or elsewhere. You do not have Sinn

:52:43.:52:50.

Fein interested in a shared future. They only offer a shared future if

:52:51.:52:55.

you share their view. How do you address her Irish identity? It is

:52:56.:52:59.

important that, given the consent principle, and we are part of the

:53:00.:53:04.

UK, that we reflect that appropriately and in a civic manner.

:53:05.:53:10.

Can that circle be squared? Mark Cosgrove, can you express your

:53:11.:53:17.

party's unionism and also Deirdre Hargey's and Claire Hanna's

:53:18.:53:25.

Irishness? Of course. The sovereign flag of the UK is freely expressed

:53:26.:53:31.

through the Belfast agreement, the union flag. The union flag should be

:53:32.:53:37.

above any form of sectarianism. It is an inclusive symbol. There are

:53:38.:53:41.

other public -- politicians who do not agree. I have no problems with

:53:42.:53:47.

anybody's Irishness or anything else. The United Kingdom has large

:53:48.:53:52.

ethnic minorities from every part of the world and I have no problem with

:53:53.:53:56.

people wanting to express their Irishness through any means they see

:53:57.:54:01.

fit, but the Unionist flag has to be above petty sectarian squabbles. It

:54:02.:54:06.

is the flag of the country. If you're going to have any principle

:54:07.:54:10.

behind not flying the symbol of the United Kingdom, don't take the ?10

:54:11.:54:16.

billion that comes with! How do you respond to that? This doesn't

:54:17.:54:22.

exercise the population as much as it does politicians. Flags on street

:54:23.:54:28.

furniture are a great concern to most people. It will be a tremendous

:54:29.:54:33.

waste if we go into the new councils with a sectarian Ding Dong in each

:54:34.:54:38.

setting the tone. There may be people sitting at home thinking, why

:54:39.:54:42.

are we discussing flags when we could be discussing the issues? The

:54:43.:54:49.

point is, this is going to be 80 issue for the new councils, and

:54:50.:54:56.

there will be opposing views. Absolutely, and we missed a trick by

:54:57.:55:00.

not addressing it. In the second half of last year, people hoped that

:55:01.:55:03.

some issues like flags and emblems and marching and parades and other

:55:04.:55:06.

contentious things would be addressed, but we missed a penalty

:55:07.:55:11.

kick and we have now kicked the can down the road into another set of

:55:12.:55:15.

discussions. We are Democrats and we will respond to any motion that is

:55:16.:55:19.

per towards us in the council, but it is about balance. Our approach is

:55:20.:55:29.

about levelling up, not taking away aspects of other people's cultures.

:55:30.:55:33.

We want to reflect the diversity of the city. There will be other people

:55:34.:55:42.

who say to you, your party supported the naming of a play part in Newry

:55:43.:55:51.

after an IRA man. If the new council decides to do that and continue

:55:52.:55:57.

naming the playpark, will your party support that? I don't think it will.

:55:58.:56:02.

So that was a mistake in the past? I think it was a mistake and there

:56:03.:56:06.

were efforts to try to redress the situation. In the wider agenda, it

:56:07.:56:15.

is about taking a sensitive approach. The flag issue was not

:56:16.:56:19.

thrown into a council meeting. There was about 18 months of negotiation

:56:20.:56:24.

in an attempt to soften the blow. It was not the flag coming down. It was

:56:25.:56:27.

inflammatory leaflets being delivered across Belfast that

:56:28.:56:32.

probably caused the violence that we saw, as much as a democratic

:56:33.:56:37.

decision made by Democrats. So without the leaflets nobody would

:56:38.:56:42.

have minded? Don't talk nonsense! The flag issue illustrates why the

:56:43.:56:46.

good relations question is so central. This will polarise our

:56:47.:56:50.

councils if we do not watch out. We have to be careful that we look for

:56:51.:56:53.

a solution that will work for everyone. The storming solution is a

:56:54.:56:58.

solution that everyone has bought into. It has the only possibility of

:56:59.:57:03.

working in a place like Belfast. We did not jump on a nonconsensual

:57:04.:57:08.

decision. There was a position where people had to choose between one

:57:09.:57:12.

view, which is put the flag up every day, or take it down altogether. We

:57:13.:57:16.

proposed an amendment which was to find consistency on the Stormont

:57:17.:57:22.

deal which reflects the agreement. I still say that, unless we are

:57:23.:57:25.

prepared to sit down and work this one through as parties, a trick was

:57:26.:57:31.

missed and we were told that we would not discuss the flag issue

:57:32.:57:33.

further and it was kicked into touch. It was a mistake and we will

:57:34.:57:38.

regret it. Do you think, briefly, the will will be there for parties

:57:39.:57:44.

to step out of that publicly stated positions and try to make some kind

:57:45.:57:48.

of compromise work across the new 11 councils so that they get off to a

:57:49.:57:52.

fair start? If that doesn't happen, we could be embroiled in discussions

:57:53.:57:57.

like this interminable. It is an important issue, and from the nature

:57:58.:58:01.

of this discussion you can see that it could vex councils, but it

:58:02.:58:06.

needn't rest with councils. It is a bigger issue than Fx local

:58:07.:58:10.

government. There is further discussion to be had. Sinn Fein and

:58:11.:58:17.

the Alliance Party may try to bring forward a motion in local areas and

:58:18.:58:24.

I would be prepared to welcome that progress. On other issues, planning

:58:25.:58:31.

is a big problem for new councils. There are extended powers being

:58:32.:58:34.

given to the new super councils. Trust is a big issue for the public,

:58:35.:58:39.

especially around planning. Parties do not have to publish the names of

:58:40.:58:43.

those who make financial contributions to party coffee is,

:58:44.:58:50.

but there are those who argue determinedly that developers should

:58:51.:58:55.

not have undue influence in new councils. Where do you stand on this

:58:56.:59:00.

issue? With the new powers, we have always wanted names to be published

:59:01.:59:04.

whenever we have a normal security situation, but we cannot sit here in

:59:05.:59:08.

a nice studio in Belfast and pretend that we live in that normal society

:59:09.:59:11.

that we are all trying very positively to build. There are still

:59:12.:59:17.

people who have the threat of their life for their political views, and

:59:18.:59:20.

I would love to see the time... They do not think the situation has

:59:21.:59:24.

changed from a security point of user that it would now be reasonable

:59:25.:59:27.

for names to be published? There would be people who would not

:59:28.:59:30.

support funding political parties if their names were published. The

:59:31.:59:35.

trust issue is very important. How do you square that circle? That is

:59:36.:59:39.

the difficulty, because at the end of the day you are asking people for

:59:40.:59:44.

money and political parties need money from people to exist. People

:59:45.:59:48.

won't give it if they feel as though their name being published and being

:59:49.:59:51.

put into the public domain could lead to a dissident terrorist threat

:59:52.:59:55.

on them or on their business. But I think that is not the name -- main

:59:56.:00:01.

issue on planning. The main issue is the opportunities that it affords

:00:02.:00:04.

the new council. This could be a game changer, because it is not just

:00:05.:00:08.

the devolution of those powers. It is the fact that each council is

:00:09.:00:13.

going to have to draw up its own area plan. All the 21 current policy

:00:14.:00:17.

planning statements, which makes it so difficult to attract inward

:00:18.:00:20.

investment into Northern Ireland, that is going to go. We're going to

:00:21.:00:25.

come up with one single area plan which could really transform

:00:26.:00:28.

Northern Ireland from an investment perspective and getting quick

:00:29.:00:33.

funding decisions. How do you persuade people that these

:00:34.:00:39.

challenges are challenges that the new councillors will be able to rise

:00:40.:00:42.

to? And how do you persuade them that we will not slip into the worst

:00:43.:00:49.

aspects of parish pump? We would publish any donations that come in,

:00:50.:00:53.

and we think any political process should be as transparent as

:00:54.:00:56.

possible. We see this as an excellent opportunity to devolve

:00:57.:01:01.

power to as close to the grass-roots constituents and bases as we can.

:01:02.:01:06.

What about the security issue? We are 16 years into the Good Friday

:01:07.:01:10.

Agreement and in a peace process that has been sustained, although

:01:11.:01:14.

recent events in the last couple of years have shown that we cannot take

:01:15.:01:17.

that process for granted. But we are committed to building the piece, and

:01:18.:01:22.

that is something that we are doing. We want to devolve powers to local

:01:23.:01:27.

councils are so they are closer to the man and woman on the street.

:01:28.:01:31.

There will be a code of conduct within planning powers. We have the

:01:32.:01:35.

new concept of community planning, which will change the lives of

:01:36.:01:38.

people on the ground and how services will be delivered to them

:01:39.:01:41.

and making sure that people have the same standards of service right

:01:42.:01:45.

across the board. I don't think anyone would argue with that. There

:01:46.:01:51.

also also few challenges, though. Yes, and one of the challenges will

:01:52.:01:55.

be the level of maturity required. Planning has seen smaller parties

:01:56.:02:03.

try to build up residential local fears, when planning policy will

:02:04.:02:07.

frustrate the development -- never frustrate the development they are

:02:08.:02:09.

seeking to bring forward. Parties will not be able to do that if --

:02:10.:02:15.

any more and people will have to be more honest about the planning

:02:16.:02:18.

applications and legislation that is there currently. That is good, open

:02:19.:02:23.

and important for local government, but local government getting

:02:24.:02:25.

planning powers is a wonderful opportunity. The idea that you

:02:26.:02:29.

represent a local area, in connection with that local area, you

:02:30.:02:33.

have a passion for the local area... It could lead to concerns on

:02:34.:02:38.

the part of the public that private conversations ensure that certain

:02:39.:02:43.

projects are favoured over others. Do you share Mark Cosgrove's

:02:44.:02:48.

concerns, or should developers that support parties be in the public

:02:49.:02:53.

domain? That is where openness and transparency are so important. Peter

:02:54.:02:56.

Robinson said last week he has no difficulty with the Westminster

:02:57.:03:03.

threshold of ?7,000 for revealing names. But the other party's

:03:04.:03:07.

accounts around this table, we don't get donations of that nature. Our

:03:08.:03:10.

party is supported by grass-roots members, individuals with small

:03:11.:03:14.

contributions, so the notion that people are giving large sums, large

:03:15.:03:19.

donations to parties to get their way to curry favour simply isn't

:03:20.:03:23.

true. Transparency is important to dispel that myth. We have history

:03:24.:03:28.

year. We have history of all sorts of money going in different

:03:29.:03:32.

directions, but this is a great opportunity to bring regeneration,

:03:33.:03:37.

community development and planning into a single space so we get

:03:38.:03:41.

coherence. It will depend on the maturity of politicians. It depends

:03:42.:03:44.

on transparency, and we are in favour of the publication of all of

:03:45.:03:50.

that information. Before Terry had -- we fought very hard to get that

:03:51.:03:54.

into the bill. We also believe that the issue of good relations is

:03:55.:04:02.

important. What we get in town and city needs to be access the ball

:04:03.:04:06.

for, available to the whole community, which is about

:04:07.:04:11.

forward-looking planning. The most vibrant and dynamic shared spaces in

:04:12.:04:14.

towns and cities are quite often High Streets and town centres. I

:04:15.:04:22.

think we need to prioritise that. The strategic planning statement

:04:23.:04:27.

brings together a lot of contradictory statements. Anyone who

:04:28.:04:31.

has had to make a case for or against a planning application will

:04:32.:04:35.

have found it very tickled to marry up the different priorities. I think

:04:36.:04:39.

there is much more of a role for local people. In my experience,

:04:40.:04:44.

people are sensible about planning. They understand the balance between

:04:45.:04:47.

economic regeneration and their own needs, and I think that councillors

:04:48.:04:51.

have to trust people to reflect that. We have to build capacity in

:04:52.:04:58.

consultation with planning professionals to make the best

:04:59.:05:03.

decisions. It is not just about developers in town centres, it can

:05:04.:05:06.

also be about councillors in the countryside who live next door to

:05:07.:05:10.

someone who wants to build a single dwelling in the countryside. What is

:05:11.:05:13.

your position on that? That can be a different kind of Russia, but it can

:05:14.:05:17.

be difficult for councillors in those circumstances -- a different

:05:18.:05:25.

kind of pressure. The opinion of politicians is so low that people

:05:26.:05:29.

think politicians will always make the grubby list decision possible,

:05:30.:05:32.

and they do not think that is true. We're not doing away with

:05:33.:05:35.

professional planners. People have spent years training up in the skill

:05:36.:05:39.

of town planning, and I think this will allow that to come out.

:05:40.:05:43.

Planners will not be boxed off into making minor individual decisions in

:05:44.:05:46.

consultation with political representatives. They will be able

:05:47.:05:50.

to take a wider look at a village or neighbourhood. I hope we do get into

:05:51.:05:56.

the situation where an individual would wave through planning policy.

:05:57.:06:02.

We have to make the whole process as open as possible so that people do

:06:03.:06:05.

not have the possession -- perception that things like that are

:06:06.:06:13.

happening. Local councils can begin to look at planning strategies which

:06:14.:06:17.

will allow for the coordination of services. Gavin Robinson. Your

:06:18.:06:28.

manifesto claims you are the party of low rates, but of the four

:06:29.:06:32.

councils with the lowest rates you have majorities on just TWO of them,

:06:33.:06:35.

so you can't say you are offering something others aren't... It is a

:06:36.:06:38.

political principle. No matter whether we are in control, or we

:06:39.:06:41.

have a strong voice, we continually pushed the message that money spent

:06:42.:06:45.

through councils is public money, it belongs to the people and unless

:06:46.:06:48.

they have confidence that the money is being used appropriately, we

:06:49.:06:52.

should not ask for more. When Belfast was controlled by other

:06:53.:06:57.

parties, there was a 10% rise and the last two years, the rate has

:06:58.:07:02.

been frozen and councils were we have an influence, rates have been

:07:03.:07:25.

frozen in, regional government, because that makes up the other half

:07:26.:07:28.

of the rate bill. We have frozen the rate since 2007 in real terms and

:07:29.:07:31.

when you look across the UK, our bills are half that of Wales. It is

:07:32.:07:34.

about 55% less than England and a third less than Scotland. We are

:07:35.:07:37.

making sure that money is being used appropriately. You talk about

:07:38.:07:43.

supporting tourism, how would you pay for these projects if you're

:07:44.:07:52.

wanting to keep rates low? The new powers that we will be getting, from

:07:53.:07:59.

planning and community powers, it will be about sustainable

:08:00.:08:02.

development and also within villages across the North. We want to work

:08:03.:08:07.

with the business community and protect the most vulnerable in terms

:08:08.:08:10.

of making the changes that need to be made. We have a good opportunity

:08:11.:08:15.

with tourism and that is why we want to invest in our arts sector and

:08:16.:08:22.

create a positive buzz about our town centres. We need to leave it

:08:23.:08:31.

there. We have given people food for thought in terms of this. Thank you

:08:32.:08:41.

for joining us. Thank you. Now, with a look back at the political week in

:08:42.:08:44.

sixty seconds, here's Gareth Gordon... No progress on welfare

:08:45.:08:49.

reform, the Finance Minister says he will slash department budgets by

:08:50.:08:54.

more than 1%. That is a lot of money. That's a lot of services

:08:55.:08:59.

which will go down, a lot of suffering. Disagreements over social

:09:00.:09:10.

housing in north Belfast. If the facts do not fit the theory, change

:09:11.:09:15.

the facts, Alberta and stirring, that is what gerrymandering looks

:09:16.:09:21.

like. The former leader of the PU P, Hugh Smith has died. Large crowds

:09:22.:09:27.

flood to the second Balmoral show to be held at the maze. At the North

:09:28.:09:33.

West 200, and ministers swapped his suit for leathers. He gives me the

:09:34.:09:39.

thrill of motorbike racing. Naughty MLAs said sorry for missing their

:09:40.:09:44.

slots at Question Time. He went along to the Speaker 's office and

:09:45.:09:49.

apologise. I apologise to the House. I want to apologise to the

:09:50.:10:05.

House. Gareth Gordon reporting. When Barack Obama was re-elected as US

:10:06.:10:08.

President in 2012, many commentators said his hugely effective social

:10:09.:10:11.

media campaign gave him the edge over his republican rival. And as

:10:12.:10:14.

the European and council elections approach, there's no doubt that

:10:15.:10:17.

local politicians are putting more effort than ever into their presence

:10:18.:10:20.

online. But just how effectively are they using Facebook and Twitter to

:10:21.:10:23.

communicate with the electorate? That's what we asked people

:10:24.:10:26.

attending a recent 'tweet up' in Belfast... Social media is hugely

:10:27.:10:28.

important and in particular, in the run-up to elections, because the

:10:29.:10:31.

political parties are launching campaigns, there is a huge amount

:10:32.:10:35.

more information and news coming with regards to the elections and I

:10:36.:10:39.

think that is the first place that quite a lot of people will go when

:10:40.:10:44.

they want to get information on what is happening with the parties,

:10:45.:10:49.

individual candidates, policies and the general campaigns. The political

:10:50.:10:53.

parties and candidates are taking to social media and it is a huge change

:10:54.:10:59.

from the last elections. If you really want to engage with people

:11:00.:11:07.

and particularly young people, social media is the quickest and

:11:08.:11:12.

fastest way to do so. We feel closer to our politicians because of it. It

:11:13.:11:17.

could be another way to push out the PR messages they want to hear that

:11:18.:11:23.

they want us to hear. Our politicians have not got to grips

:11:24.:11:26.

with it entirely, they do not see it as a conversation, which they need

:11:27.:11:32.

to. Once they start using it better and we all start using it and

:11:33.:11:35.

working out how the conversations work, it will have a bigger impact.

:11:36.:11:49.

Let us hear from our guests. Some politicians have connected with this

:11:50.:11:54.

and others still do not appear on Twitter. It is very imbalanced. The

:11:55.:12:00.

key thing is considering it is social media and what we are seeing

:12:01.:12:05.

a lot of the time is where politicians are engaging, they are

:12:06.:12:08.

doing it on party political broadcast level, rather than making

:12:09.:12:13.

themselves available to their electorate. Is there a danger that

:12:14.:12:18.

it is a small community preaching to itself? For the vast majority of

:12:19.:12:25.

people in Northern Ireland, is it irrelevant? I think it depends on

:12:26.:12:33.

how you use it. There are examples. Some can use it very well. Look at

:12:34.:12:38.

the Mayor of London who uses it effectively. -- Mayor of London

:12:39.:12:52.

Belfast. -- some people use it badly. I think looking at it, some

:12:53.:13:06.

people have not considered it as a social mechanism. It is important to

:13:07.:13:12.

get a version of yourself across and to communicate ideas, recruit people

:13:13.:13:17.

into politics they may not have considered before. Do you think

:13:18.:13:21.

people will turn out to vote on Thursday? I would not be surprised.

:13:22.:13:27.

I think it will be over 50%. Thank you. I will bring you all the

:13:28.:13:33.

results from the election as the begin to emerge on Friday. Join me

:13:34.:13:38.

for Stormont Today. Thank you for joining us.

:13:39.:13:49.

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