23/03/2014 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


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Morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics. The dust has barely


settled on George Osborne's Budget and, amazingly, for once it hasn't


all gone horribly wrong by the weekend. So, is this the election


springboard the Tories needed, and where does it leave Labour? Turns


out the big Budget surprise was a revolution in how we pay for old


age. The Pensions Minister says he's relaxed if you want to spend it all


on a Lamborghini. He'll join us later. And could the man with the


maracas be on his way to Westminster? Bez from the Happy


And coming up here: Anna Lo tells Mondays tells us about his unlikely


And coming up here: Anna Lo tells the Alliance conference she's no


regrets about going public with her support for a united Ireland, but


one veteran councillor tells us she was shocked. We talk to David Ford.


one veteran councillor tells us she stay in Axbridge. Are there ways of


making the European arrest warrant work better? -- Uxbridge. And who


better to help guide you through all of that than three journalists, who


dispense wisdom faster than Grant Shapps calls out the numbers in his


local bingo hall over a pint of beer. Yes, they're hard-working and


they're doing the things they enjoy. Cup of tea, number three. It's Nick


Watt, Polly Toynbee and Janan Ganesh.


So, George Osborne delivered his fifth Budget on Wednesday and had so


many glowing front pages the day afterwards he must be running out of


room to pin them up in on his bedroom wall. Although it's probably


a pretty big wall. For those of you who didn't have time to watch 3.5


hours of Budget coverage on the BBC, here's Giles with the whole thing in


three minutes. Budget days have a rhythm of their


own, driven partly by tradition, like that photocall at 11 Downing


Street and part logistics, how to get this important statement out and


explain to those whom it affects - us? Behind-the-scenes of a Budget


Day is much the same. This ritual red boxery may be the beginning of


the end of weeks of work behind the scenes in the Treasury and sets the


clock ticking on the process of finding out the answer to one


question. You got any rabbits in the box, Chancellor? Yes, there will be


something in the Budget we don't know about. Time marches steadily


towards the statement and already commentators are hovering over what


those potential surprises are. As Big Ben chimes, all focus returns to


the Commons, where there is Prime Minister's questions and the


Chancellor gets up and does his thing. Once he's on his feet and


remembering there is still no copy of the details, the major measures


are rapidly highlighted as they come and then put up on screen. A cap on


Government welfare spending set for 2015/16 at 119 billion. Income tax


personal allowance raised to ?10,500. Bingo duty halved, which


ticked boxes for some but was unlikely to make anyone a poster


boy. And the beer tax cut of 1p, or the froth on the top. And changes to


pensions allowing people to take their money out in one lump sum,


rather than being forced to accept a fixed annual pay-out, or annuity.


This is a Budget for the makers, the doers and the savers and I commend


it to the House. Not everyone can focus on the Budget by listening to


what the Chancellor says. We need to get a copy of the script. We do not


get that till he sits down. I'm going to go into the House of


Commons to get that right now. There will be a response on that and all


the other things from Mr Miliband. The Chancellor spoke for nearly an


hour but he did not mention one essential fact, the working people


of Britain are worse off under the Tories. It is a tricky job answering


the Budget at the best of times, though some, including Labour MPs,


think it is better to mention the Budget when you do.


Here we are. I am going to go. I am not the only journalist missing Ed


Miliband's speech. Many others leave the Chamber as the Chancellor sits


down to attend a special briefing from the Chancellor's advisory team.


I am hotfoot to the studio. There is a little more detail to the Budget


than the Budget Speech. That detail can be whether words unravel and


other interpretations emerge. By now the gaggle of supporters and


detractors are taking the debate onto the airwaves. Are you the BBC?


Have the Daily Politics packed up? No, we're still standing and, days


later, still trying to assess whether the measures announced still


seem fresh and appetising or have already gone stale in the minds of


voters? How significant are these two poles


this morning putting Labour and Tory nip and tuck? Osborne gave his party


a good bounce. It was an astonishingly theatrical coup. At


first glance, it seems like a huge gift to all people. That is where


all of the money has been channelled by this government. They have been


ultra-protected, triple locked. Pensioners have done very well and


others less well. It is not surprising. Normally a budget which


is well received on the day and the day after has unravelled by the


weekend. This time, it has not, so far. The dangerous thing for the


Labour Party now, George Osborne is the assessment this thing called the


baseline. He says, in government, you must control the baseline. The


Labour party controlled in 2001 and 2005 and he needs to control it next


time. He is controlling it on fiscal policy because labour is matching


them on everything. The danger for Labour on the big, headline grabbing


issue, which was freeing up annuities on pensions, that again


Labour was pretty much saying it was going to support it though it were


saying it has to be fair and cost-effective. On a big, policy


issue, they are following on behind George Osborne. George Osborne is


controlling the crucial baseline. Are we in danger of reading too much


into the political implications of the budget? The good thing about the


pensions policy is, if it does unravel, it will not happen for ten


years and, by that time, George Osborne will have left office.


Towards the end of his speech, I thought, that is not enough. There


is not an idea in your budget which is politically very vivid a year


before an election. What I underestimated was, how many


frustrated savers that are in the country. There are a lot of people


who are frustrated by low interest rates and tax rates on pension pots.


This was an explicit gesture for them. That is what has paid off in


the polls in the past few days. You spend all of your money on your


wardrobe, is that right? The bingo poster was a kind of get out of jail


card for Labour. It gave them something to zoom in on. Everyone


beat up on Grant Shapps, the Tory chairman. We read in the daily


Telegraph that the fingerprints of the Chancellor were all over this


poster. The Chancellor signed off it -- off on it and so did Lynton


Crosby. They referred to working class people as, they are. How did


it get into the Telegraph? We can only presume but grant Shapps made


it clear that it was not him. We had a time when Labour politicians, we


saw from the response of Ed Miliband onwards, they were not quite sure


how to react to this budget. A lot of detail had to be absorbed.


Suddenly, here is something we can talk about. You can see the thinking


behind the poster was very sensible. We are not Tory toffs, we are


interested in helping people who do not come from our backgrounds. The


wording was awful and played into every cliche. It was all his fault.


It shows how unsophisticated he was. There were people from Tory HQ


who agreed the budget. A month down the line will the budget look as


good? Probably. Once people look at it, pensions are fiendishly


conjugated. Once they look and see what it will do with people having


to pay for their own care because they can now take capital at their


pension, that will come as a shock to a lot of people with small


savings. It all be gone on their care. The polling will be neck and


neck all the way. In the past, George Osborne has been accused of


using his Budgets to tinker at the margins or pull cheap tricks on his


political opponents. Perish the thought. But the big surprise in


this year's statement was a genuinely radical shake-up of the


pensions system that will affect most people who've yet to retire. At


the moment, everyone is saving money into a defined contribution pension,


that is the type most common in the private sector. They can take 25% of


the pot is a tax-free lump sum when they retire. The rest of the money,


for most people, they are forced to buy an annuity, a form of insurance


which provide a guaranteed monthly income until they die. Annuities


have hardly been a bargain since interest rates were flat slashed


following the financial crash. Even with a ?100,000 pension pot would


only get an income of ?5,800 a year at current rates. From 2018,


pensioners will not be forced to buy an annuity. They can do what they


like with their money, even taking the entire pot as a lump some but


paying tax on 75% of it. With an average pension pot closer


to around ?30,000, pensioners would be more likely to buy a Skoda


instead of a Lamborghini. Most newly retired people who take the cash are


more likely to spend the money paying off their mortgage, helping a


family member to buy a property or investing the money elsewhere. Well,


earlier I spoke to the Pensions Minister. He's a Lib Dem called


Steve Webb. I began by asking him if he still thought the reforms might


lead to pensioners splurging all their savings on supercars. What


this reform is about is treating people as adults. For far too long,


we have said, we will make sure you save for your old age and then we


will control each year how much is spent on what you spend it on. What


we are saying is because we have formed -- reformed the state


pension, we will be much more relaxed about what people do with


their own money. The evidence is that people who have been frugal and


saved hard for retirement do not generally blows a lot. They will


spin it out. It is treating people as adults and giving them choices


they should have had all along. It is a red herring, isn't it? The


average pension pot is between 25000 and 30,000. Lamborghinis aren't an


option, correct? I gather only about 5000 people a year retiring can buy


a flashy Italian sports car. It might be about paying off a


mortgage, paying off outstanding debts. Maybe spending more money


earlier in retirement when they are fit and able and can enjoy it more.


We will give people guidance. We will make sure when they retire,


there is someone to have a conversation with talking through


the implications of spending the money early and options of investing


it. This will be a real step forward. Even if you have a much


bigger pension pot, say half ?1 million, which is way bigger than


the average, even then the marginal rates of tax will be a disincentive


to take it all out at once. You will lose huge chunks of it at the 40%


band and then the 45% band. The tax system gives you the incentive to


spread it out if the tax threshold is a bit over 10000 and the state


pension is a bit over 7000, the first 3000 you draw out in a given


year is tax-free. The next band is at 20%. Spreading your money will


mean you pay less tax. That is why, in general, people will not blow the


lot up front. They will spread it out over their retirement. You have


kept this policy quiet. Not even a hint. How did you test it? How did


you make sure it would be robust? You did not do a consultation. I


have been talking about freeing up the annuity market for a decade. The


idea of giving people more choice. The government has relaxed rules


over this Parliament. It was not a completely new idea. We know in


places like Australia and America, people have these freedoms. We


already have something to judge it by. We will spend the next year


talking to people, working it through. There will be a three-month


consultation. I want people to have choices about their own money. There


is detail still to be worked out and we are in listening mode about how


we implement it. When you announce something you cannot do widespread


consultation, for the reasons I have given, you do run the risk of


unforeseen consequences? Pension companies this morning are


indicating, you, the government can write you are looking for ?25


billion of infrastructure investment from us. You hold our shell below


the water line. That may not happen. We spoke internally about the


implications for instruction -- infrastructure. It seems to me there


will still be long-term investments. Many people want to turn their whole


pot into an income. I understand the insurance companies are lobbying,


but I'm convinced there will still be plenty of money for investment


and infrastructure. If the Chancellor's pro-savings measures


work, that will generate more savings. With no requirement now to


buy an annuity, surely it is the case that pension pots are another


ordinary savings fund, so why should they continue to get favourable tax


treatment? Bear in mind that a lot of the tax treatment of pensioners


is tax deferred so most people pay tax at the standard rate. If they


put money into a pension, they don't pay tax when they earn it, but they


do at retirement. We do want, we will still have automatic enrolment


into workplace pensions, we do want people to build up, because at age


20 and 30 nobody thinks about retirement. It is still vital that


people do reach retirement to have these new choices with a decent


sized pension pot. Pensions. Tax breaks because they were supposed to


provide an income in retirement, that is how it was structured, but


that is no longer a requirement, surely that undermines the case that


if they get tax breaks, other forms of savings should get tax breaks.


Other forms do get tax breaks, of course. The return with ISAs is tax


free. The point with pensions is that you are simply deferring your


earnings. There is a bit when high tax rate payers get a kick when they


are working and then retire on standard rate, so there is the issue


of the top getting too many tax breaks, but the basic principle that


you pay tax when you get the income seems right to me and isn't affected


by these changes. You have announced save friendly measures, are we right


to look at them as a consolation prize because savers have suffered


from the Government's policy of keeping interest rates abnormally


low? It is certainly the case that very low interest rates have been a


huge boon to people of working age with mortgages, and people who have


retired said they thought they could have got a better deal on their


savings. I think there is a recognition that whilst we have done


the right thing with pensioners on the state pension, we have brought


in the triple lock, and many will bent on -- benefit from these


changes. Why don't savers who are not pensioners get the same help?


They have been hit by low interest rates as well. Those of working


age, many of them say they have benefited from low interest rates


was predominantly people in retirement have not had the benefit.


Obviously people of working age will have benefited from the tax


allowance so it is a myth to say the Budget was all about pensioners. And


yet even when the Office for Budget Responsibility takes into account


your new measures, it still shows that over the next five years


households will save less and less, indeed the savings ratio falls by


50%. You haven't done enough. One of the things we know is that the


economy is picking up strongly, and as we have more confidence about the


future they will be more willing to consume now, so without these


measures it may be that the saving rate would have fallen further. We


want people to save and spend, it is about getting the right balance. As


the economy picks up, people will want to spend more of their money


and it is about getting the balance right. You make the point that if


people are little profligate with their private pensions, they will


have the state pension to fall back on and it will be higher than it has


been, but it is also the case that in these circumstances they will


still be entitled to housing benefit and even to perhaps some council tax


benefit as well. Do you know by how much this could put the welfare bill


up? We think the impact will be relatively modest because the sort


of people who save for a pension and make sacrifices while they are at


work are not the sort of people who get to 65 and decide to blow the lot


for the great privilege of receiving council tax benefit or housing


benefit. There will be people on the margins and


benefit. There will be people on the who retire with some capital want to


put some money away for their funeral. People like to save even


into retirement so the myth of the spendthrift pensioner I don't


believe. I think this has been rightly welcomed. Ever fancied a


Lamborghini yourself? If you turned the camera around you would see my


2-door Corsa! What's your favourite thing about an


election? Could it be the candidates ringing on your door while you're


having dinner? The leaflets piling up on your doormat? Or the endless


adverts aimed at hardworking families? Well, if you thought that


was bad enough, then you might want to consider going overseas for the


2015 election because the parties are going to be aiming their message


at you like never before. Adam's been to Worcester to find out more.


One of the most famous political figures in history lived here, she


is called Worcester woman. She was in her 30s, working class with a


couple of kids, aspirational yet worried about quality of life. But


she wasn't a real person, she was a label for the kind of voter new


Labour were trying to reach and she was later joined by Mondeo man and


several others. Doesn't that all seem a bit 90s? The technique,


called segmentation, was used by George Bush in 2004. Then refined by


Barack Obama. Rather than focusing on crude measures like cars and


hometowns, they delved into the minds of voters. It is not just


women, not just people who live in cities, but if you start to put


together these groups of people you can even in an anecdote or way


imagine who they are, what types of language and imagery might relate to


them. We have been given access to a new polling model being used here by


this firm, which is pretty close to the one we are told is being used by


the Tories. It carves the country into six personality types, and we


are trying it out on Worcester woman and wast of man. We are using an


online quiz to work out who is in which segment. Meet new monk,


Susie. She feels well represented. I know the Budget and the increases to


childcare, I think at the moment I am fairly represented. This puts her


in the category of optimistic contentment, people who feel they


are doing OK. Terry, on the other hand, isn't happy about Britain


today. Health and safety and all that! I hardly recognise the country


a living in any more? Yes. Are you ready for the result? He is Mr


comfortable nostalgia, they tend to favour the Tories and UKIP. They


dislike the cultural changes they see as altering Britain for the


worst. That sums me up. Tony is worried as well but feels much less


secure. I look forward to the future with optimism or anxiety? Anxiety.


Optimist or pessimist? Pessimist. His category is... You feel a bit


insecure, you think the Government could probably help you more? Yes.


Labour picks up a lot of these voters. This man is being asked to


do more and more at work, but he is getting less and less. I am getting


more towards the despair side. Things are getting tougher,


generally? It puts him into the segment called long-term despair,


people who feel left out. Finally, this is ever thoughtful Carol. I am


a bit of an idealist. Her idealism makes her a cosmopolitan critic. I


am a liberal person. Apparently a lot of the media fit into this


category as well. There is one group of voters we have not come across,


people who show calm persistence. They hope things will get better but


don't expect them to. They are coping, rather than comfortable.


Presumably they are all out of work. Which group are you win? You can


take the poll on the BBC website, and in the coming weeks we will be


doing our own polling using the six segments to see of the politicians


really have worked out how we think. And as Adam said, if you want to try


the survey for yourself, you can go to the BBC website and click on the


link. And we're joined now by the


pollster, Rick Nye. Welcome to Sunday Politics. We have had


Worcester woman, Worcester man, is this any different? It is a


recognition that or politician -- all politics these days is like


this. It enables them to cut them more finally. You think all politics


is coalition politics, you think they have to put together these


groups of people, not that the Lib Dems will always be in power? No,


and if you listen to the coverage these days you might think it is


about grumpy old men on the one hand with Guardian readers on the other.


It is far more complicated than that, there is a lot of churning


going on underneath which is driven by people's value systems. A lot of


this has been pioneered in the United States, very sophisticated on


their election techniques, and in Britain we are always the first to


grab whatever the New Year will is from America. How do you think this


will translate to this country? I think it means that if you are


target photo you will still get the same of leaflets and people calling,


but you will probably have different kinds of conversations because


people on the other side, the party campaigners, will think they know


more about you. Will I know who you are? If I am a party campaigner,


will I know, looking down the street, who fits into which


category? You will be able to approximate that with all of the


other data that you have gathered through polling, or doing local


campaigning, that is the idea to make sense of this vast quantity of


data people have about voters. We asked our panel to fill in your


survey. Nick is optimistic contentment, 99%. He was 1%


cosmopolitan critic, which is how he keeps his job at the Guardian.


Polly's job could not be more secure, 100% cosmopolitan critics,


and Janan Ganesh, optimistic contentment, which is what you would


expect from a financial Times columnist. What do you make of this


technique? Why are you only 99? It sounds really clever. 95% of the


population five years ago voted Labour or the Conservatives. We have


got away from that. It is coalition politics. You need sophisticated


methods. Presumably you must not lose touch with basic points. You


said it was used in the US presidential elections. Wasn't there


them moment emit Romney 's sweet when the initial response was, we


did not know the sort of people voted. His next response was, we did


not know these people existed. Unless you know about certain key


demographics, you are wasting your time. Is it important in modern


campaigning? I think it is useful because it is about attitude. We


have got Mosaic. We have got Acorn. It does not tell us very much. What


people think and feel may be different to their income. You can


be quite a high earner and anxious. You can be quite a low earner and


feeling aspirational and optimistic about the future. I think this does


get something else. In days gone by, particularly in America,


overwhelmingly, if you are in the better of segment, you would be


Republican and the blue-collar workers and some academics and


Liberals voted Democrat. In the last election, the richest 200 counties


in America voted Democrat. That is an attitude thing.


in America voted Democrat. That is an attitude thing. Income does not


tell you how people will vote. There is a huge, working-class base of


support for the Republicans. It is unavoidable. Add a time when people


no longer identify with ideologies or class blocks, you have to go the


temperament and lifestyle and manageable. In America there were


128 segments according to lifestyle and Outlook. Once you get to that


stage, it becomes close to useless. We were talking about the budget


earlier. What other polls saying about the budget? The lead of labour


has been narrowed over the Conservatives. -- Labour. Osborne


and Cameron as an academic team have always had a lead over Miller band


and Balls. This week it is about economic management. -- over Mr


Miller band. Thank you for being with us today.


It's just gone 11:30am. You're watching the Sunday Politics. We say


goodbye to viewers in Scotland, who leave us now for Sunday Politics


Scotland. Coming up here in 20 minutes:


Hello and welcome to Sunday Politics in Northern Ireland. The Alliance


Party conference was held yesterday amidst the storm which followed Anna


Lo expressing her support for a united Ireland. She was unrepentant


about those remarks, but one veteran councillor told us she was less than


impressed. I was surprised at what she said, but I do realise that it


was her own personal opinion and it is certainly not mine. I felt quite


shocked to be honest. The Alliance leader, David Ford, joins me in


studio to discuss the fall-out from his European candidate's comments.


The new super councils took a step closer at Stormont this week, but


just what will our new super councillors be doing to earn their


50% pay rise? And with their views on those stories and the rest of the


week's political highlights, I'm joined by Gladys Ganiel and Brian


Feeney. "My motivation isn't a united Ireland, but a united


Northern Ireland" - the words of Alliance's European candidate, Anna


Lo, at her party's annual conference yesterday. It was an attempt to set


the record straight after she'd caused a storm by expressing her


support for Irish unity in a newspaper interview last week. But


one long-serving Alliance councillor has told this programme she was


shocked by Anna Lo's comments. Our Political Correspondent, Gareth


Gordon, was at the conference. She is as you know a one woman publicity


machine! Welcome to the Alliance Party conference, otherwise known as


the Anna Lo show. I'm not convinced there are any other candidates.


Since her comments supporting a united Ireland appeared, the party


refuse all requests for interviews with the European candidate. But


there was no ducking the issue here. The official party line is their


relaxed about Anna Lo's united Ireland comments. But others in the


party are anything but. Geraldine Rice has been an Alliance councillor


for 25 years. I was surprised at what she said, but I realised it was


her own personal opinion and it is not mine. But she is your European


candidate. She is. And she has been elected by the majority of the


people who were at her selection campaign. So I cannot say anything


about that. That was her... It was good at the time that she was


running. But to say about the united Ireland, I felt shocked about it. Of


the others we spoke to, some found oom's remarks -- Anna Lo's remarks


harder to swallow. She wasn't saying anything against what we have agreed


to in the Good Friday agreement that we will reflect and acknowledge what


we think. She wasn't wise to say that. I think she was naive. I don't


shi she saw -- she saw the full implications of it. Do you think she


will lose the party votes? I think she probably will. There's certainly


some. But what of Alliance's only MP who, many believe could suffer


because of the unionist nature of her constituency. Int didn't come as


a surprise, what was a surprise with us that anyone thought it was


surprising. Would it be better if she didn't say it? I think if


politicians can't be candid. I think the public are tired of spin and


people being told what to say. Anna is Anna, people love her for it and


like the fact she is direct. I like the fact she is direct and it


doesn't change what Alliance stands for. The leader dealt with it like


this. Some in society are motivated by the hope of a united Ireland.


Some are motivated by the continuation of the United Kingdom.


What unites us all in Alliances is a commment to building a united


community. This is the most important speech Anna Lo made she


chose her words carefully. When I got involved in politics, I did not


join Sinn Fein or the SDLP, parties that define themselves as


nationalist, or for whom the border question is their motivation. No, I


joined the Alliance Party, because my motivation isn't a united


Ireland. But a united Northern Ireland. At the end, the ovation was


loud and long and seemed tinged with relief. Thank you Anna, I think that


has put the record straight. Alliance will hope that is the end


of the matter, while unionist opponents will try to ensure that it


is not. And joining me now is the Alliance leader, David Ford. Do you


think your opponents will let the matter lie there? I have no doubt


unionists will try to make a big issue of it. But what are they


trying to say? We are a party that says we are for everyone and brings


together from a diverse range of backgrounds and unionism makes a big


issue of it, because one candidate having expressed her view that the


principle of consent is important, then goes on to talk tab potential


for a long time and even said it was probably beyond her lifetime. It is


confusing, Anna Lo said she joined Alliance, because it stood for a


united Northern Ireland. So why did she say in the Irish News she


supports a united Ireland. They're not the same thing. Because she


talked about it in the context of a very long-term referendum. So why is


it wrapped up as if it is a big issue. If another member of the


party said in the long-term my aspiration is Northern Ireland


remains within the United Kingdom would unionisms have made a fuss?


No, they would agree with that. The understanding of your position is


row you're a unionist party with a small U. Our default position our


commitment is to building a united community recognising the three sets


of relationships that we were talking about before others were. It


is not just unionists who were concerned, you saw Geraldine Rice


expressing reservations, saying I was surprised by what Anna Lo said


and I was shocked by it. You talked to one local councillor, yes, but


that is the nature of Alliance. We have a diverse range of views, a


diverse range of backgrounds, because the defining issue of what


unites us is the commitment to building a united community. That is


our key int point. -- that is our key point. What about the other


cashing per who say -- character who said Anna Lo was naive and perhaps


didn't see the full implications of her comments. And it may lose some


votes for the party. That was an ordinary party member, an elderly


party member. And his views don't count? Clearly his views count. But


I have seen in polling evidence that Alliance has a strong support among


younger people and poms show that younger people are much less likely


to be concerned about the 1921 argument about the border. So yes


there are some members who take a different view. Because that is the


nature of the party we are. Here is the problem, if the party faithful


are prepared to say what they said in front of a camera, you must be


concerned that some voters in the privacy of the ballot box will put


their marks elsewhere. You could lose votes over this and that is w


it matters. If I can go back to the first time I was elected and one of


my neighbours told me he had voted for me, because it wasn't a


constituencialish -- constitutional issue. But it was the nature of the


programme. So why did Anna Lo mention it. She didn't, the Irish


News asked her and she is an honest politician who tells the truth. What


a scary thought, politicians give the answers when they're asked the


questions. If you listen, in detail to the interview that she did, with


the reporter from the Irish News. She volcano unner toad --


volunteered the informationches she wasn't painted into a corner. This


was offered openly during the course of the interview. But the interview


concentrated, or her response concentrated on the key points about


the three relationships and the principle of consent and she


talkeded about -- talk about a long-term view. Whether that pleases


everyone in the party is not the issue. She was giving an honest


answer, having given the view which everyone in the party holds about


the principle of consent and the nature of the various relationships


which were cemented under the Good Friday agreement. She described


Northern Ireland as artificial, but she wants a united Northern Ireland.


That is a contradiction. No, every border in Europe is artificial. I


don't think there is one country that has stayed the same. It does


not alter the need to unite the community. In the politic world you


don't necessarily have to say things that might land you in trouble. So


you're relaxed she said it and if you could wind the clock back, you


couldn't say, don't say it? The reality is we would have been


talking about party conference and not this one issue if Anna hadn't


said that. Maybe it would have given me more chance to give our views


during this, you're choosing to make a issue of it. People are not saying


that in general terms. I am not sure people will think that. Others have


reacted to it. Members of your party have criticised it. Members of our


party have been asked and given a view. Which is critical. And we have


said all along this is not the defining issue for Alliance. You


don't want it to be the defining issue, but others see it


differently. Yes, people who think politics is solely confined to the


orange/green spectrum. But that is nottous. That is not what we are


about. That is not what people think about. You said in your speech


yesterday, Alliance is not a split the difference party whose vision is


limited to what might keep unionists and nationalists happy. The reality


is you are, that is what the Alliance Party is. Stuck in the


middle between two blocs. No, we are setting out a vision of a shared and


united community which is different from what both unionists and


nationalist are saying. You can't drive that forward. You made that


point in your speech. Remind me who the the MP for east Belfast is.


Naomi Long. The person who couldn't get the seat. You say we are going


nowhere. We are going somewhere. You think Anna Lo's comments will help


Naomi Long hold on the that position. When you talked about the


flags protest, it was said it would be the end of the Alliance party.


People need to be realistic before they take one issue and suggest that


is the end of things. You said yesterday in your speech, you talked


about issues like welfare, Maze, Long Kesh, education, all things you


want to see progress on, but there is no progress, because the other


power blocs don't want to progress the issue. That is a key point. I


talked about things where we have seen progress like the united youth


project and there are six fewer interfaith structures, because work


is being done in justice and we cannot make other people in the


Executive do the work that needs to be done, but we can demonstrate


where we have the responsibility that we are making a difference. You


acce those are in the margins. So sorry -- sorry? Compared to the big


issues you mentioned in your speech. Six sb interfaith structures


removed. United of o' how many? Out of 50. How were removed in the


preceding 20 years? None. It only started to happen since we have been


there. We are only seeing progress with the united youth project. Where


are the shared campuses. The only place where there is movement is


where Steven and I have been driving it. We need to leave it there. Thank


you for joining us. Joining us now with their thoughts are commentator


Brian Feeney and academic Gladys Ganiel. Brian Feeney does David Ford


make a stout defence of Anna Lo's position. He has to make a stout


defence of her, because she is the European candidate. But I think the


reaction to what she said has been one of sided. It is the unionists


who have gone crazy about it. The dog that didn't bark is the


interesting thing. Her comments, which she volunteered to the Irish


News are shrewd. The Alliance Party will lose votes in Belfast, but we


are only talking about a total Alliance vote of about 26,000. Now,


what they're going to do result of Anna Lo's comments is make inroads


into the SDLP vote. She is going to be much friendlier to nationalists


and they need nationalist votes. It is, the Alliance Party is a doughnut


around Belfast. They got 300 votes in Foyle over 400 in mid Ulster, so


they need nationalist votes and they're more likely to get it


because of her remarks. Do you think it could be an advantage? Yes they


will lose unionist votes, because of the last 18 months and they will


lose votes in Belfast. But it isn't just because of her united Ireland


comments, but she comes across as a modern woman and a lot of people who


would vote for the SDLP will vote for Anna Lo, because they don't like


the holy Joes in the SDLP. Are you saying that she did it deliberately?


Yes. She needs support from nationalists. A how do you view it?


I would take a different view. The trade off isn't worth it to go for


soft nationalist votes. However I think the speeches yesterday from


the platform at the conference did a decent job of trying to limit the


damage of the situation and capitalise on an opportunity to set


Alliance as a party that contain nationalist and unionist


perspectives and still work together and could be a hopeful vision. David


Ford, I can't close without asking you, was it it a calculated comment


to seek nationalist transfers. Not to the best of my knowledge. But


Gladys made an interesting point, one of the people you showed Duncan


Morrow, the spern who spoke before Paula Bradshaw, who came from a


unionist party background, because she sees the perspective of building


a united community. Thank you. Now, with a review of the political week


in 60 seconds, here's Gareth Gordon. The Alliance candidate in the


European election caused controversy when she said she would like see a


united Ireland. But her party leader supported his MLS. People describe


it as a nationalist, but she sits in the Assembly with the designation


united community. That is her primary focus. As it is for the rest


of the group. Local government reform dominated at Stormont. But


old rivalries surfaced. I understand Dr Paisley did have some Irish blood


in his vains. I haven't one drop of it in my mine. But MLSs still --


MLAs still voted for a 50% pay rise for councillors. One Sinn Fein MLA


was caught napping in the Assembly. Sorry. Top Tall. What number? Where


is it? Sorry. I was asleep. Sinn Fein's Sean Lynch caught on the hop


- Gareth Gordon reporting. Staying at Stormont, after marathon sessions


there this week, the Local Government Act cleared a major


hurdle and is now entering the final stretch before becoming law.


Councillors came under a degree of criticism from some quarters when it


emerged they were in line for a 50% pay rise after the election.


Councillors have countered that by citing their increased


responsibility and workload. But what will being on the new super


councils mean? The Vice President of the Northern Ireland Local


Government Association, Councillor Sean McPeake, joins me now. You did


take a bit of flak over this pay rise. Do you think it is fair in the


current circumstances? I don't think it is fair. When you look at the new


increased responsibilities the councillors will have, Sigg


captainly -- significantly increased responsibilities, planning,


community planning, local investment opportunities, economic development,


a swathe of additional functions that come in. And councillors will


have to and be required to step up to the mark. We heard from Brian


Wilson, a councillor, on the view who said, councillors can will have


less to do and it is a waste of money. He said it is a part-time job


and people should wise up. Brian would need to read himself further


into what is coming. There is no, I heard no one else reiterate that.


You might not, because they have a vested interest. When you look at


the functions, councils will be the local economic drivers for bringing


in investment. Major investment. The power of community planning is a


massive function coming to local government and councils will be


charged with developing the community plan that will require


resources being tar getted for the first time into local areas. A 50%


pay rise at a time of austerity when people working in the public sector


are being offered 1%. How could you defend that? 50% coming from a very


low base. When you look at 9,000 was what councillors were getting. Which


wasn't a salary. No, it was an allowance. To bed is to do the -- to


be asked to do the work that is required, it was an independent


panel that came up with the figure. You have no difficulty, you hit the


is justified and people just need to accept you all work hard and are


worth it? Given the new roles, I think there is a deficit in the


public's understanding of what the councils will be doing and once they


see the powers that are coming and the responsibilities of the


councillors, there will be a different acceptance. Maybe they


wonder about council headquarters and expensive new buildings have


sprung up. We don't know where the new super councils will be head


quartered. We have had a boundary commission saying they will be white


elephant and we will be paying for them for generations to come.


Councils will have to take their own responsibility for that. There have


been investment. But at least the investment is done. Should it have


been done? That is up to the new councils perhaps they needed them.


Perhaps they didn't? I would suggest a lot did need it to be upgraded and


that is just... It looks like self-interest on the headquarters


and the salaries, people don't like their politicians being


self-interested. You are supposed to servous. If you take mid Ulster,


there has been no new head quarters built. We will use the head quarters


we have and share the responsibility among the councils and there will be


no new head quarters built. What the council has done, we can't legislate


for that. Thank you. Let's hear a final word from Brian Feeney and


Gladys Ganiel. Gladys Ganiel, what do you make of it, 50% increase,


head quarters which may be surplus to requirements. I'm more bothered


tavb headquarters and are nervous about what will happen to them and


the potential for duplication of work at these buildings. Do you have


reserve wakeses? Yes, there are too many councillors, their standard is


poor. The increase may be an attempt to attract more able councillors.


That is what people in local government have said. That's right.


It may, well it is still an allowance and not a living salary


and not intended to be. And they will get expenses and the thing of


building new councils, it is the self-agran diezment that you get


among councillors who think they're important and now they will be more


important. But we are in the situation we are in. There is not


much we can do. Yes but to say it is a matter to tr councillors. It is a


matter to tr rate payers who are having to pay for these white


elephants. Thank you very much. That's it for now - back to Andrew


in London. decision, she will weigh up the


The big news is the popular server is struggling to control all of the


people who want to find out where they fit in the political spectrum.


It hasn't quite crashed but it is queueing up those people. Who would


have thought the Sunday Politics had so many viewers? It has never


happened on the X factor. This morning's papers don't make


comfortable reading for Labour with two separate polls showing the


party's lead over the Tories is down to just one point. And there's been


plenty of criticism of Ed Miliband's response to the Budget. Let's take a


look. You know you are in trouble when even the Education Secretary


calls you and out of touch bunch of elitist. Where is he? He is hiding!


I think he has been consigned to the naughty step by the Prime Minister.


The naughty step! And we're joined now by shadow chief secretary to the


Treasury, Chris Leslie. There was a widely criticised response by Ed


Balls to the Autumn Statement, now a widely criticised response by Ed


Miliband to the Budget. Does this show you are struggling at the


moment? Of course Ed Balls and Ed Miliband don't want to hear the fact


that in reality, for most people, life is getting harder and there is


the cost of living crisis. Did we get any mention of that in the


Budget? Of course we didn't. We were waiting for action on the cost of


living and it wasn't forthcoming. Ed Miliband came up with the tactic of


responding to the Budget without mentioning anything that was in it.


He mentioned the fact the personal tax allowance was a bit of a


giveaway but he takes more with the other hand. He is in favour of that,


right? Anything we can get but we need a lot more. Let me tell you


something else he mentioned, the fact the national debt has risen by


a third and George Osborne and David Cameron... They knew that before the


Budget. The borrowing figures were announced and Ed Miliband made


reference to those. There is not a lot of happiness on Labour


backbenchers about this, is there? And indeed not a lot of happiness in


the shadow cabinet. There is concern that Ed Miliband is on a journey to


remodel world capitalism whilst George Osborne is firing some love


bombs at Middle England by talking about freeing up the pensions market


and there is real nerves that what Ed Miliband is saying is not going


to be in tune with those middle income earners that the Labour Party


has got to attract if they are going to win the general election. When


Rachel Reeves used the medium of Radio 4 to announce you were broadly


in favour of the pension reforms announced by the Chancellor on


Friday night, was that a result of a decision taken by the shadow


cabinet? Is With annuities, they are a very old-fashioned product. There


are some serious questions which need to be addressed. Was that the


result of a Shadow Cabinet decision? We have not had a Shadow


Cabinet since the budget. We all want to make sure that we understand


the point about flexibility. No one is arguing with that. There are some


serious concerns. Let me give you a couple of examples. This is


something the Chancellor has done, he claims, for reasons of freedom


and flexibility. Is it a coincidence he is grabbing quite a lot of tax


from pensioners early on to plug a hole which is necessary because the


deficit has not gone down? Forgive me for being slightly cynical about


motives. For or against it? We need to have safeguards for protection of


pensioners. What will it do for the annuity market if most people still


want to have a steadying come for a third of their lives? -- steady


income. What does Labour have to do to get it show back on the road? The


question is, how do people feel? How many people will still not be


feeling better by the next election? Wages may be rising slightly but not


for a large and significant number of people. They were just looking at


the YouGov poll. If you look at the middle to low earners, they are


overwhelmingly pro-labour. Can Labour get those people out to vote?


They are really hurting. There are plenty of them. The question is


whether people are optimistic because they see figures as if they


look as if they are on the up or whether they vote according to how


they feel, which will still be very far behind. Cost of living has been


a major mantra from Labour. That's that this chart shows how things are


beginning to change. What this shows is that, sometime this year, after a


long time at which average earnings trailed inflation, they now overtake


it in the run-up to the election and they stay there for the forecast


period. What do you now do if your cost of living mantra is running out


of steam? I am not sure that, for most people, they will recognise the


sense that suddenly things will be getting better. Particularly the


younger generation are really feeling quite down about the


pressures they are facing to make ends meet. You can see the lines are


exaggerated because the Y axis on the side starts quite high up. It


does not start at zero. The other statistic from the OBR is that we


will not be getting back to the point where wages are exceeding


prices from the pre-banking crisis period until late 2017. There are


some really serious pressures that people are under. What they wanted


was a budget that would address concerns and, for the vast majority


of people, they will have heard the statement by George Osborne and


think, how is it really help them now? It did not address it. It is


clear that by 2015, average living standards will probably not have


returned to where they were in 2010. Average wages will not have


done that. On the other hand, the chart shows the sense of direction


is moving in the right way. Which one matters more with the


electorate? I suspect it is sense of direction. People sense of


prosperity does not need to be buoyant. It has to be something


worth preserving. We have to fear the all turn. That is what intrigued


me this week. People make too much of a fuss about the Parliamentary


response by Ed Miliband. People will forgive a bad day at the dispatch


box. What they will not forgive is the absence of a macro economic


mess. Labour have a very powerful message on living standards and lots


of popular, targeted interventions like the energy price freeze. You


can imagine they will be sufficiently nervous about that next


year. If living standards are not back to where they were, Labour can


say, are you better off now than when you were four years ago? The


reason why break and -- wallowed waken one that is because Jimmy


Carter mucked it up -- Ronald Reagan. Labour have to say, vote for


us and you will get 2 million homes. At the moment, the offer is very


modest. You need to find the money to do that. People need to


understand that housing is at the very heart of the economy, as well


as young people and their aspirations. At the moment, Labour


's offer is not spectacular in. If the focus group shows the cost of


living crisis have no longer has the attraction it did, what line do you


move onto? Yellow McCoy must remind people of the wasted years and the


cost of living pressures they have been under. -- we must remind


people. We want a recovery which has low growth, low wage. A race to the


bottom. They want a recovery that is felt by everyone, shared and felt by


all. Now, here's an idea to twist your melon. Mark Berry, better known


as Bez, it says here he's a member of something called The Happy


Mondays, wants to stand for parliament. He's best known for


being in a band, and not doing very much, so he might fit in. Here he is


in action. And Bez joins us from our Salford


studio. Good to see you. Is this a genuine candidacy or are you


twisting my melon? Amazing how time flies when you're having fun! You


having fun doing this candidacy? I am doing the job of the politicians


and standing up for the people and bringing attention to the horror of


fracking, which is a totally unsafe technology. There is no one in


mainstream politics who is discussing or saying anything about


it. It is an unsafe technology and it has been proven in America. You


see the process in America and the people out on the streets. The whole


atmosphere has been made toxic. These people are allowing it to


happen in the name of profit. This has been a Labour seat you are


fighting in Salford since 1945. It is a tough mountain. Supposing you


were to win, could you ever see yourself entering a coalition? With


a bit of luck I may be able to shame Labour politicians to do the job


properly and stand up for the rights of people. They are not and I am


having to do that job. All I am doing is causing debate and bringing


to attention the horror that is hanging on our doorsteps. It is not


only fracking but GM modified foods that they want to bring into this


country as well. Owen Paterson is one of the main lobbyists. Lobbying


is legalised bribery, by the way. It is run by the bankers. Basically, we


have to stop these monsters from getting into our country and turning


our land into a toxic waste. That is what I am trying to say. You are


raising the debate, as you are doing with us here. We do not really need


fracking. You have done that and you have talked about other things as


well. In terms of a new integrity, if you were to become an MP, would


you claim expenses? If I ever do get in charge, I would completely enter


the banking system and there would be expensive, but they would be like


bus passes and train passes. You behave like the people and you are


in touch with the people, you move with the people and do understand


what the people want. You do not live in acre Kuhn of your own making


of luxury, wealth and total disregard of everyone else. -- a


cocoon. If you did get into the Palace of Westminster and had to


mingle with all these people, who would you rather have in night out


with - Mr Cameron, Mr Miller band or Mr Clegg? I would be willing to


discuss politics with anybody. I would make them realise what they


are doing. I am glad too have a debate and with anyone. The people


of Salford, quite a lot people people behind me. I have been


speaking to Salford councillors. They are going to lend me their


support. The people of Salford, and not to forget the people of Eccles,


sending you much. We must stop this horror. There is a monster on our


doorstep and we must stop it, people. Do not forget to take your


maracas on campaign trail. Would you like a pair to shake yourself? You


shake your maracas against fracking! Thanks, Bez, goodbye. Thank you for


giving me a little platform to express my views. Now if there's one


thing that gets us hot under the collar here at the Sunday Politics


it's European elections. The only thing we like more than the


elections themselves is a TV debate about them. And we're in luck! Take


a look at this. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome leader of


the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg. Gives


the most fantastic welcome to Nigel Farage. I would challenge Nigel


Farage to a public, open debate, about whether she we should be out


all in of the European Union. I will do it for Nick Clegg. Since 2009, I


have taken part in 45% of votes in the European Parliament. Nigel


Farage has not tabled a single amendment since July 2009. Mr Clegg


has only taken part in 22% of votes in the House of commons. You can


watch the debate at 7pm on the 2nd of April over on BBC Two. And for a


chance to be part of the studio audience on the night and put your


question to the two party leaders, e-mail the question you'd like to


ask to [email protected] or tweet it using the hashtag


#europedebate. And Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage will be limbering up


this week with their first debate on LBC radio on Wednesday. Who is going


to come out the best? I suspect Nigel Farage. It is easy to portray


Nick Clegg as morally compromised, who has not asserted himself in


government. I do wonder about Nigel Farage, whether he is much better at


delivering a popular line and responding to the second question of


third question. Nick Clegg will win it hands over fist because he knows


this stuff. He is right. The evidence that he can produce about


what will happen if we pulled out of Europe will, I think, overwhelm


Nigel Farage 's one-liners. They will both be winners because you


will have the rare sight of the pro-European saying he likes the


European Union. That is unlike Eurosceptics who tie themselves up


in knots. 14 Nigel, one for Nick and one for both. There you go. Here is


a mess, it is Janen Ganesh. That's all for today. The Daily Politics is


on BBC Two at Lunchtime every day this week, I'll be back here next


week with Energy Secretary Ed Davey. Remember if it's Sunday, it's the


Sunday Politics.


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