23/03/2014 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


23/03/2014

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


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

:00:36.:00:42.

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

:00:43.:00:45.

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

:00:46.:00:48.

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

:00:49.:00:52.

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

:00:53.:00:56.

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

:00:57.:01:00.

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

:01:01.:01:06.

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

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

:01:09.:01:13.

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

:01:14.:01:16.

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

:01:17.:01:19.

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

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

:01:22.:01:25.

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

:01:26.:01:37.

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

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

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

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

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Watt, Polly Toynbee and Janan Ganesh.

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

:01:59.:02:03.

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

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

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

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

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three minutes. Budget days have a rhythm of their

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

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

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

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

:03:06.:03:08.

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

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

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

:03:16.:03:18.

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

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towards the statement and already commentators are hovering over what

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

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

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

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

:03:40.:03:42.

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

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

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

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

:04:00.:04:04.

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

:04:05.:04:07.

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

:04:08.:04:11.

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

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

:04:21.:04:23.

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

:04:24.:04:27.

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

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

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

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

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

:04:46.:04:48.

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

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

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

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

:05:00.:05:06.

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

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

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

:05:18.:05:20.

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

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other interpretations emerge. By now the gaggle of supporters and

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

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

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later, still trying to assess whether the measures announced still

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

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voters? How significant are these two poles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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before an election. What I underestimated was, how many

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Telegraph that the fingerprints of the Chancellor were all over this

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:10:05.:10:08.

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

:10:09.:10:13.

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

:10:14.:10:21.

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

:10:22.:10:24.

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

:10:25.:10:27.

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

:10:28.:10:30.

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

:10:31.:10:32.

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

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

:10:44.:10:47.

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

:10:48.:10:53.

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

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

:10:59.:11:01.

which provide a guaranteed monthly income until they die. Annuities

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have hardly been a bargain since interest rates were flat slashed

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

:11:15.:11:19.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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lead to pensioners splurging all their savings on supercars. What

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

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

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

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

:12:32.:12:34.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:13:06.:13:10.

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

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mortgage, paying off outstanding debts. Maybe spending more money

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

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

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there is someone to have a conversation with talking through

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the implications of spending the money early and options of investing

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

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

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

:13:45.:13:49.

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

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

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

:14:02.:14:05.

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

:14:06.:14:11.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:15:03.:15:04.

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

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

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

:15:15.:15:16.

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

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unforeseen consequences? Pension companies this morning are

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

:15:25.:15:28.

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

:15:29.:15:34.

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

:15:35.:15:51.

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

:15:52.:16:01.

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

:16:02.:16:08.

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

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

:16:12.:16:17.

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

:16:18.:16:22.

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

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

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

:16:36.:16:41.

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

:16:42.:16:46.

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

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

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

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

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

:17:10.:17:16.

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

:17:17.:17:22.

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

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

:17:28.:17:31.

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

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

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

:17:45.:17:58.

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

:17:59.:18:07.

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

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

:18:11.:18:16.

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

:18:17.:18:20.

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

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

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

:18:32.:18:37.

from the Government's policy of keeping interest rates abnormally

:18:38.:18:42.

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

:18:43.:18:48.

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

:18:49.:18:51.

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

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

:18:58.:19:02.

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

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

:19:09.:19:18.

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

:19:19.:19:23.

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

:19:24.:19:29.

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

:19:30.:19:34.

was predominantly people in retirement have not had the benefit.

:19:35.:19:42.

Obviously people of working age will have benefited from the tax

:19:43.:19:50.

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

:19:51.:19:56.

yet even when the Office for Budget Responsibility takes into account

:19:57.:19:59.

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

:20:00.:20:05.

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

:20:06.:20:12.

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

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

:20:17.:20:21.

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

:20:22.:20:25.

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

:20:26.:20:30.

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

:20:31.:20:36.

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

:20:37.:20:41.

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

:20:42.:20:46.

people are little profligate with their private pensions, they will

:20:47.:20:50.

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

:20:51.:20:55.

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

:20:56.:21:00.

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

:21:01.:21:05.

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

:21:06.:21:12.

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

:21:13.:21:17.

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

:21:18.:21:21.

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

:21:22.:21:28.

for the great privilege of receiving council tax benefit or housing

:21:29.:21:31.

benefit. There will be people on the margins and

:21:32.:21:43.

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

:21:44.:21:43.

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

:21:44.:21:50.

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

:21:51.:21:56.

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

:21:57.:22:02.

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

:22:03.:22:17.

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

:22:18.:22:20.

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

:22:21.:22:23.

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

:22:24.:22:26.

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

:22:27.:22:29.

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

:22:30.:22:32.

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

:22:33.:22:35.

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

:22:36.:22:41.

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

:22:42.:22:46.

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

:22:47.:22:51.

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

:22:52.:22:55.

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

:22:56.:23:00.

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

:23:01.:23:07.

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

:23:08.:23:11.

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

:23:12.:23:18.

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

:23:19.:23:24.

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

:23:25.:23:27.

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

:23:28.:23:33.

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

:23:34.:23:39.

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

:23:40.:23:47.

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

:23:48.:23:52.

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

:23:53.:23:58.

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

:23:59.:24:03.

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

:24:04.:24:09.

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

:24:10.:24:17.

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

:24:18.:24:24.

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

:24:25.:24:29.

in the category of optimistic contentment, people who feel they

:24:30.:24:34.

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

:24:35.:24:42.

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

:24:43.:24:51.

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

:24:52.:24:58.

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

:24:59.:25:02.

dislike the cultural changes they see as altering Britain for the

:25:03.:25:08.

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

:25:09.:25:16.

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

:25:17.:25:24.

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

:25:25.:25:34.

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

:25:35.:25:41.

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

:25:42.:25:47.

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

:25:48.:25:55.

more towards the despair side. Things are getting tougher,

:25:56.:26:00.

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

:26:01.:26:06.

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

:26:07.:26:16.

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

:26:17.:26:23.

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

:26:24.:26:27.

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

:26:28.:26:32.

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

:26:33.:26:37.

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

:26:38.:26:42.

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

:26:43.:26:47.

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

:26:48.:26:51.

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

:26:52.:26:59.

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

:27:00.:27:03.

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

:27:04.:27:05.

link. And we're joined now by the

:27:06.:27:14.

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

:27:15.:27:21.

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

:27:22.:27:28.

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

:27:29.:27:41.

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

:27:42.:27:49.

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

:27:50.:27:54.

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

:27:55.:28:00.

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

:28:01.:28:06.

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

:28:07.:28:11.

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

:28:12.:28:14.

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

:28:15.:28:22.

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

:28:23.:28:27.

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

:28:28.:28:31.

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

:28:32.:28:37.

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

:28:38.:28:40.

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

:28:41.:28:46.

but you will probably have different kinds of conversations because

:28:47.:28:51.

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

:28:52.:28:58.

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

:28:59.:29:02.

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

:29:03.:29:07.

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

:29:08.:29:10.

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

:29:11.:29:16.

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

:29:17.:29:22.

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

:29:23.:29:27.

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

:29:28.:29:33.

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

:29:34.:29:38.

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

:29:39.:29:45.

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

:29:46.:29:48.

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

:29:49.:30:05.

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

:30:06.:30:14.

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

:30:15.:30:19.

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

:30:20.:30:25.

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

:30:26.:30:32.

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

:30:33.:30:37.

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

:30:38.:30:42.

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

:30:43.:30:49.

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

:30:50.:30:53.

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

:30:54.:30:59.

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

:31:00.:31:10.

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

:31:11.:31:15.

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

:31:16.:31:19.

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

:31:20.:31:23.

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

:31:24.:31:30.

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

:31:31.:31:35.

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

:31:36.:31:39.

Republican and the blue-collar workers and some academics and

:31:40.:31:43.

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

:31:44.:31:48.

in America voted Democrat. That is an attitude thing.

:31:49.:31:49.

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

:31:50.:31:53.

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

:31:54.:31:58.

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

:31:59.:32:03.

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

:32:04.:32:11.

temperament and lifestyle and manageable. In America there were

:32:12.:32:21.

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

:32:22.:32:26.

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

:32:27.:32:31.

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

:32:32.:32:40.

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

:32:41.:32:47.

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

:32:48.:32:53.

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

:32:54.:32:55.

Miller band. Thank you for being with us today.

:32:56.:33:11.

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

:33:12.:33:15.

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

:33:16.:33:18.

Scotland. Coming up here in 20 minutes:

:33:19.:33:30.

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

:33:31.:33:35.

Party conference was held yesterday amidst the storm which followed Anna

:33:36.:33:38.

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

:33:39.:33:41.

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

:33:42.:33:44.

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

:33:45.:33:49.

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

:33:50.:33:55.

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

:33:56.:33:58.

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

:33:59.:34:01.

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

:34:02.:34:05.

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

:34:06.:34:09.

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

:34:10.:34:12.

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

:34:13.:34:19.

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

:34:20.:34:23.

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

:34:24.:34:26.

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

:34:27.:34:32.

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

:34:33.:34:35.

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

:34:36.:34:38.

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

:34:39.:34:41.

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

:34:42.:34:45.

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

:34:46.:34:53.

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

:34:54.:34:58.

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

:34:59.:35:02.

Since her comments supporting a united Ireland appeared, the party

:35:03.:35:06.

refuse all requests for interviews with the European candidate. But

:35:07.:35:11.

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

:35:12.:35:15.

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

:35:16.:35:21.

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

:35:22.:35:25.

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

:35:26.:35:30.

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

:35:31.:35:35.

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

:35:36.:35:39.

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

:35:40.:35:44.

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

:35:45.:35:48.

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

:35:49.:35:54.

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

:35:55.:35:59.

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

:36:00.:36:03.

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

:36:04.:36:09.

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

:36:10.:36:18.

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

:36:19.:36:23.

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

:36:24.:36:29.

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

:36:30.:36:36.

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

:36:37.:36:41.

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

:36:42.:36:45.

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

:36:46.:36:52.

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

:36:53.:36:57.

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

:36:58.:37:01.

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

:37:02.:37:05.

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

:37:06.:37:11.

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

:37:12.:37:14.

Some are motivated by the continuation of the United Kingdom.

:37:15.:37:23.

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

:37:24.:37:28.

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

:37:29.:37:34.

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

:37:35.:37:40.

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

:37:41.:37:45.

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

:37:46.:37:52.

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

:37:53.:38:01.

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

:38:02.:38:10.

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

:38:11.:38:15.

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

:38:16.:38:20.

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

:38:21.:38:27.

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

:38:28.:38:31.

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

:38:32.:38:35.

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

:38:36.:38:39.

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

:38:40.:38:45.

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

:38:46.:38:49.

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

:38:50.:38:52.

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

:38:53.:38:58.

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

:38:59.:39:04.

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

:39:05.:39:08.

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

:39:09.:39:12.

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

:39:13.:39:18.

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

:39:19.:39:23.

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

:39:24.:39:27.

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

:39:28.:39:30.

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

:39:31.:39:36.

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

:39:37.:39:42.

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

:39:43.:39:48.

commitment is to building a united community recognising the three sets

:39:49.:39:52.

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

:39:53.:39:56.

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

:39:57.:40:02.

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

:40:03.:40:06.

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

:40:07.:40:10.

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

:40:11.:40:14.

diverse range of backgrounds, because the defining issue of what

:40:15.:40:19.

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

:40:20.:40:26.

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

:40:27.:40:31.

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

:40:32.:40:35.

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

:40:36.:40:40.

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

:40:41.:40:44.

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

:40:45.:40:51.

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

:40:52.:40:55.

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

:40:56.:41:00.

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

:41:01.:41:03.

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

:41:04.:41:07.

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

:41:08.:41:11.

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

:41:12.:41:16.

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

:41:17.:41:21.

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

:41:22.:41:26.

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

:41:27.:41:31.

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

:41:32.:41:36.

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

:41:37.:41:42.

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

:41:43.:41:47.

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

:41:48.:41:51.

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

:41:52.:41:56.

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

:41:57.:42:02.

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

:42:03.:42:06.

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

:42:07.:42:09.

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

:42:10.:42:14.

concentrated, or her response concentrated on the key points about

:42:15.:42:18.

the three relationships and the principle of consent and she

:42:19.:42:22.

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

:42:23.:42:25.

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

:42:26.:42:29.

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

:42:30.:42:33.

the principle of consent and the nature of the various relationships

:42:34.:42:37.

which were cemented under the Good Friday agreement. She described

:42:38.:42:42.

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

:42:43.:42:49.

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

:42:50.:42:55.

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

:42:56.:43:00.

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

:43:01.:43:06.

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

:43:07.:43:10.

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

:43:11.:43:16.

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

:43:17.:43:21.

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

:43:22.:43:26.

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

:43:27.:43:34.

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

:43:35.:43:40.

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

:43:41.:43:44.

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

:43:45.:43:48.

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

:43:49.:43:53.

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

:43:54.:43:56.

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

:43:57.:44:00.

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

:44:01.:44:09.

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

:44:10.:44:14.

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

:44:15.:44:19.

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

:44:20.:44:25.

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

:44:26.:44:29.

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

:44:30.:44:34.

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

:44:35.:44:39.

united community which is different from what both unionists and

:44:40.:44:43.

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

:44:44.:44:48.

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

:44:49.:44:57.

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

:44:58.:45:03.

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

:45:04.:45:10.

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

:45:11.:45:14.

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

:45:15.:45:18.

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

:45:19.:45:22.

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

:45:23.:45:29.

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

:45:30.:45:32.

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

:45:33.:45:37.

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

:45:38.:45:42.

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

:45:43.:45:49.

project and there are six fewer interfaith structures, because work

:45:50.:45:52.

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

:45:53.:45:57.

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

:45:58.:46:00.

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

:46:01.:46:05.

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

:46:06.:46:12.

issues you mentioned in your speech. Six sb interfaith structures

:46:13.:46:17.

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

:46:18.:46:25.

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

:46:26.:46:31.

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

:46:32.:46:35.

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

:46:36.:46:39.

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

:46:40.:46:47.

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

:46:48.:46:50.

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

:46:51.:46:57.

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

:46:58.:47:01.

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

:47:02.:47:05.

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

:47:06.:47:10.

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

:47:11.:47:13.

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

:47:14.:47:21.

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

:47:22.:47:26.

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

:47:27.:47:33.

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

:47:34.:47:38.

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

:47:39.:47:43.

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

:47:44.:47:51.

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

:47:52.:47:57.

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

:47:58.:48:03.

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

:48:04.:48:08.

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

:48:09.:48:14.

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

:48:15.:48:18.

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

:48:19.:48:24.

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

:48:25.:48:31.

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

:48:32.:48:38.

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

:48:39.:48:45.

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

:48:46.:48:52.

soft nationalist votes. However I think the speeches yesterday from

:48:53.:48:56.

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

:48:57.:49:01.

damage of the situation and capitalise on an opportunity to set

:49:02.:49:07.

Alliance as a party that contain nationalist and unionist

:49:08.:49:10.

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

:49:11.:49:15.

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

:49:16.:49:21.

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

:49:22.:49:25.

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

:49:26.:49:34.

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

:49:35.:49:38.

unionist party background, because she sees the perspective of building

:49:39.:49:49.

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

:49:50.:49:55.

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

:49:56.:49:59.

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

:50:00.:50:04.

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

:50:05.:50:09.

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

:50:10.:50:15.

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

:50:16.:50:19.

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

:50:20.:50:25.

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

:50:26.:50:30.

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

:50:31.:50:42.

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

:50:43.:50:49.

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

:50:50.:51:04.

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

:51:05.:51:08.

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

:51:09.:51:10.

there this week, the Local Government Act cleared a major

:51:11.:51:14.

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

:51:15.:51:17.

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

:51:18.:51:20.

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

:51:21.:51:23.

Councillors have countered that by citing their increased

:51:24.:51:25.

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

:51:26.:51:28.

councils mean? The Vice President of the Northern Ireland Local

:51:29.:51:30.

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

:51:31.:51:37.

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

:51:38.:51:42.

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

:51:43.:51:46.

increased responsibilities the councillors will have, Sigg

:51:47.:51:51.

captainly -- significantly increased responsibilities, planning,

:51:52.:51:56.

community planning, local investment opportunities, economic development,

:51:57.:51:58.

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

:51:59.:52:04.

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

:52:05.:52:09.

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

:52:10.:52:13.

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

:52:14.:52:18.

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

:52:19.:52:24.

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

:52:25.:52:29.

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

:52:30.:52:33.

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

:52:34.:52:39.

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

:52:40.:52:44.

massive function coming to local government and councils will be

:52:45.:52:46.

charged with developing the community plan that will require

:52:47.:52:52.

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

:52:53.:52:57.

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

:52:58.:53:02.

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

:53:03.:53:09.

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

:53:10.:53:15.

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

:53:16.:53:19.

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

:53:20.:53:24.

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

:53:25.:53:28.

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

:53:29.:53:34.

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

:53:35.:53:38.

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

:53:39.:53:43.

see the powers that are coming and the responsibilities of the

:53:44.:53:47.

councillors, there will be a different acceptance. Maybe they

:53:48.:53:51.

wonder about council headquarters and expensive new buildings have

:53:52.:53:56.

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

:53:57.:54:01.

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

:54:02.:54:05.

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

:54:06.:54:10.

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

:54:11.:54:14.

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

:54:15.:54:19.

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

:54:20.:54:23.

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

:54:24.:54:30.

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

:54:31.:54:34.

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

:54:35.:54:37.

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

:54:38.:54:43.

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

:54:44.:54:48.

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

:54:49.:54:54.

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

:54:55.:55:02.

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

:55:03.:55:04.

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

:55:05.:55:12.

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

:55:13.:55:16.

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

:55:17.:55:22.

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

:55:23.:55:30.

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

:55:31.:55:34.

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

:55:35.:55:38.

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

:55:39.:55:43.

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

:55:44.:55:48.

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

:55:49.:55:55.

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

:55:56.:55:58.

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

:55:59.:56:02.

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

:56:03.:56:06.

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

:56:07.:56:11.

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

:56:12.:56:16.

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

:56:17.:56:18.

in London. decision, she will weigh up the

:56:19.:56:23.

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

:56:24.:56:38.

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

:56:39.:56:43.

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

:56:44.:56:48.

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

:56:49.:56:58.

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

:56:59.:57:00.

comfortable reading for Labour with two separate polls showing the

:57:01.:57:03.

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

:57:04.:57:06.

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

:57:07.:57:10.

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

:57:11.:57:13.

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

:57:14.:57:25.

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

:57:26.:57:32.

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

:57:33.:57:37.

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

:57:38.:57:41.

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

:57:42.:57:47.

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

:57:48.:57:53.

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

:57:54.:57:58.

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

:57:59.:58:02.

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

:58:03.:58:12.

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

:58:13.:58:16.

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

:58:17.:58:21.

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

:58:22.:58:26.

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

:58:27.:58:30.

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

:58:31.:58:37.

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

:58:38.:58:41.

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

:58:42.:58:50.

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

:58:51.:58:53.

Budget. The borrowing figures were announced and Ed Miliband made

:58:54.:58:59.

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

:59:00.:59:04.

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

:59:05.:59:09.

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

:59:10.:59:14.

remodel world capitalism whilst George Osborne is firing some love

:59:15.:59:18.

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

:59:19.:59:22.

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

:59:23.:59:27.

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

:59:28.:59:33.

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

:59:34.:59:40.

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

:59:41.:59:44.

in favour of the pension reforms announced by the Chancellor on

:59:45.:59:48.

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

:59:49.:59:58.

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

:59:59.:00:05.

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

:00:06.:00:12.

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

:00:13.:00:16.

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

:00:17.:00:21.

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

:00:22.:00:26.

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

:00:27.:00:29.

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

:00:30.:00:34.

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

:00:35.:00:38.

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

:00:39.:00:46.

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

:00:47.:00:52.

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

:00:53.:00:57.

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

:00:58.:01:00.

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

:01:01.:01:08.

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

:01:09.:01:17.

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

:01:18.:01:21.

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

:01:22.:01:24.

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

:01:25.:01:30.

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

:01:31.:01:33.

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

:01:34.:01:38.

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

:01:39.:01:42.

whether people are optimistic because they see figures as if they

:01:43.:01:47.

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

:01:48.:01:52.

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

:01:53.:01:57.

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

:01:58.:02:02.

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

:02:03.:02:08.

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

:02:09.:02:12.

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

:02:13.:02:19.

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

:02:20.:02:25.

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

:02:26.:02:29.

sense that suddenly things will be getting better. Particularly the

:02:30.:02:32.

younger generation are really feeling quite down about the

:02:33.:02:38.

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

:02:39.:02:45.

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

:02:46.:02:50.

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

:02:51.:02:54.

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

:02:55.:02:58.

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

:02:59.:03:06.

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

:03:07.:03:10.

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

:03:11.:03:15.

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

:03:16.:03:21.

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

:03:22.:03:29.

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

:03:30.:03:34.

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

:03:35.:03:38.

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

:03:39.:03:42.

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

:03:43.:03:48.

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

:03:49.:03:51.

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

:03:52.:03:56.

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

:03:57.:04:02.

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

:04:03.:04:06.

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

:04:07.:04:11.

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

:04:12.:04:18.

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

:04:19.:04:23.

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

:04:24.:04:29.

can imagine they will be sufficiently nervous about that next

:04:30.:04:34.

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

:04:35.:04:42.

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

:04:43.:04:50.

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

:04:51.:05:02.

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

:05:03.:05:10.

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

:05:11.:05:14.

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

:05:15.:05:18.

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

:05:19.:05:22.

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

:05:23.:05:29.

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

:05:30.:05:32.

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

:05:33.:05:38.

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

:05:39.:05:41.

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

:05:42.:05:48.

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

:05:49.:05:57.

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

:05:58.:06:03.

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

:06:04.:06:08.

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

:06:09.:06:10.

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

:06:11.:06:14.

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

:06:15.:06:19.

in action. And Bez joins us from our Salford

:06:20.:06:47.

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

:06:48.:06:55.

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

:06:56.:07:04.

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

:07:05.:07:08.

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

:07:09.:07:14.

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

:07:15.:07:18.

mainstream politics who is discussing or saying anything about

:07:19.:07:23.

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

:07:24.:07:28.

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

:07:29.:07:38.

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

:07:39.:07:43.

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

:07:44.:07:49.

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

:07:50.:07:54.

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

:07:55.:08:01.

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

:08:02.:08:04.

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

:08:05.:08:08.

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

:08:09.:08:14.

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

:08:15.:08:18.

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

:08:19.:08:23.

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

:08:24.:08:31.

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

:08:32.:08:37.

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

:08:38.:08:41.

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

:08:42.:08:47.

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

:08:48.:08:53.

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

:08:54.:08:58.

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

:08:59.:09:05.

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

:09:06.:09:09.

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

:09:10.:09:14.

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

:09:15.:09:18.

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

:09:19.:09:23.

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

:09:24.:09:27.

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

:09:28.:09:35.

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

:09:36.:09:38.

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

:09:39.:09:44.

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

:09:45.:09:53.

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

:09:54.:10:01.

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

:10:02.:10:08.

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

:10:09.:10:14.

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

:10:15.:10:22.

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

:10:23.:10:28.

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

:10:29.:10:33.

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

:10:34.:10:39.

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

:10:40.:10:47.

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

:10:48.:10:53.

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

:10:54.:11:00.

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

:11:01.:11:03.

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

:11:04.:11:06.

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

:11:07.:11:10.

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

:11:11.:11:14.

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

:11:15.:11:21.

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

:11:22.:11:30.

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

:11:31.:11:37.

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

:11:38.:11:48.

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

:11:49.:11:54.

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

:11:55.:12:02.

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

:12:03.:12:10.

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

:12:11.:12:22.

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

:12:23.:12:25.

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

:12:26.:12:27.

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

:12:28.:12:30.

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

:12:31.:12:33.

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

:12:34.:12:41.

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

:12:42.:12:47.

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

:12:48.:12:52.

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

:12:53.:12:56.

delivering a popular line and responding to the second question of

:12:57.:13:01.

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

:13:02.:13:06.

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

:13:07.:13:09.

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

:13:10.:13:17.

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

:13:18.:13:24.

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

:13:25.:13:29.

European Union. That is unlike Eurosceptics who tie themselves up

:13:30.:13:34.

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

:13:35.:13:48.

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

:13:49.:13:52.

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

:13:53.:13:55.

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

:13:56.:13:56.

Sunday Politics.

:13:57.:14:02.

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