14/04/2013 Sunday Politics South West


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In the South West: The MP longing for even a pale imitation of Maggie


among today's Tories. And the man promising a return to


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Hello, I'm Martyn Oates. Coming up on the Sunday Politics in the South


West: This big fan of Margaret Thatcher is standing more candidates


in the local elections than ever before, but will UKIP be a


beneficiary of the Lady's legacy? And for the next 20 minutes, I'm


joined by Labour peer Brenda Dean, Sarah Wollaston the Conservative MP


for Totnes and Stephen Gilbert, Liberal Democrat MP for St Austell


Monday, we've been deluged by archive footage of the 1980s. I hope


you haven't reached saturation point yet, because we're starting today


with a bit more. Brenda Dean rushed back to London


from an earlier meeting in Leeds. She led women through the crowd.


the unions, the stalemate is costly, with more claims to come.


it is down to our determination, we will survive. Your career in many


ways sort of mirrored Margaret Thatcher's. You would first woman to


lead a major trade union. You were almost literally on the other side


of the barricades in the 1980s. There seems to be a political


consensus that she was right and you were wrong, do you accept that,


looking back? I don't think it is as simple as that. When we had that


dispute, we balloted our members. The overwhelming majority voted in


favour, because we'd reached the end of the road on negotiations. The


main stumbling block we had then was the labour laws, the anti trade


union laws that had been enacted by this is that China... But Labour has


done nothing. -- enacted by Mrs Thatcher. We held a ballot, we


followed the law, but because of the ramifications of that antiunion


legislation, what ever we did with the secondary action and the union


was then second straight. What is your general verdict on your old


adversarial? She wasn't directly my adversarial. Her achievement as a


woman in politics in the 1970s was remarkable. She was elected leader


of the Conservative party in 1975, when the position of women in


Britain and indeed globally was so poorly recognised and represented


that the UN declared it international woman's year. Women


like me on the opposite side of the political fence were optimistic


about her election, we thought that was good for women. Of course, as


Prime Minister, diametrically opposed to much of what she tried to


achieve. Sarah, this week you said she showed a generation of women


anything is possible, but there has been persistent allegations that


actually she didn't do very much for women when she was in power and she


didn't behave in the way that many women would be able to or want to -


a complete workaholic, are all night drinking whiskey, reading papers.


Yes, that point has been made. I was a sixth form in 1979 and she


certainly inspired me and suggested anything was possible now for a


woman. That attitude which persisted and that women couldn't achieve,


that was swept away. That legacy is important. A lot of people like you


would say the key thing is the work life balance. Sleeping four hours in


24 hours, there was no balance for her. No, she was absolutely


dedicated to her work and that is very clear. She would have been


keeping up that frantic work life balance even its she had been Prime


Minister today. That is the point, she was completely committed to


serving this country. She was potentially a good role model. Prime


Minister in 1979, first woman, and yet it took over 20 years for women


to do really start making it in Britain, whether that's in the


professions... Not much in the unions, either. Boring politics,


although that is changing. -- or in politics. Stephen, your political


background is in the country. How do you view Margaret Thatcher's legacy?


I think she was a very divisive character. You either loved her or


hate it out, and certainly the communities that I represent have


good reason to question some of the things that she did. I grew up in a


working-class family during the 1980s and was at the raw end of some


of the change is the last Conservative Government brought


through. One of my earliest memories, I was coming out of school


at 14, watching her resign on the steps of the French embassy. So


there is a mixed legacy. There is no doubt she will go down as one of the


most outstanding postwar British politicians, and there is no doubt


she has left a mark on the country, but it is not entirely a positive


story and it is worth just reflecting on that as we mark the


events recently. Usually at this point, I say, it is time for


something completely different. But this is a significant political


moment, so we are sticking with the iron Lady. One Tory MP this week


sighed and said, how I wish for even a pale imitation of her now. Not


exactly a ringing endorsement of his present leader! We've been looking


back at Margaret Thatcher's impact on the region.


She had no strong personal links to the south-west other than the fact


that Cornwall was a favourite holiday destination. But the effect


of a time as Prime Minister was profound. The historic election of


1979 brought the strongest ever representation of Conservative MPs


in the south-west. 18 out of the 20 seats were held by the Tories.


Today, they hold just 14. Gary was elected in 1992 after Alan Clark


resigned his seat. He is in no doubt Margaret Thatcher was the driving


force behind that success. They used to be an expression around the


Cabinet, there is no alternative. What Mrs Thatcher said went. But


that is what you need in tough times. Quite a few people today


think that is what the leadership needs. There is little doubt her


abrasive style and conviction sharply divided voters and proved an


acquired taste among many of her own MPs. Three years into her


premiership, those convictions were put to the test, and the south-west


stepped up to a major role in the Falklands War. God save the Queen.


Just rejoice at that news. Victory in the South Atlantic propelled the


Government to electoral success once more in 1983, but there was little


rejoicing in subsequent years at the dockyard, which had played a vital


part in preparing the Falklands task force. By 1987, it had felt the full


impact of the Thatcherite Industrial Revolution. Here, the unions fought


hard but in vain to hold back the tide of privatisation. It was


somebody who was good at destroying things. I'm not sure whether she was


good at creating or mending things, and that was her downfall. Another


factor in that downfall was undoubtedly the community charge or


poll tax. In 1990 in the south-west and across the country, there were


angry protests on the streets. Mrs Thatcher resigned that November, but


Dorset NP Richard Drax who met her said she was a strong leader,


unafraid to make tough decisions. She didn't court popularity or focus


groups or spend, which so many politicians do today. She followed


her gut and everyone respected her. Whether you agreed with her or not,


she gained respect, and that is missing in politics today.


swansong in the south-west came a decade later when she addressed a


2001 general election rally in Plymouth. A delighted audience found


the Ireland Lady as indomitable as ever. -- the Iron Lady. She was a


strong leader but also hugely divisive. She split not just the


election but also her own party. Today, many feel it still has not


fully recovered. Sarah, by implication, criticism of


the present leadership. I don't see it that way. What we came across in


that clip was conviction. Margaret Thatcher was a conviction


politician. The implication is you don't see that today. Well, the


words used which is by save -- were divisive, sometimes hated.


suggestion seemed to be there is not that level of conviction in politics


today. I think this is a week to remember her excellent qualities,


and those were her excellent qualities. In many ways, you are a


conviction politician. It's got you into a bit of trouble with the


whips, occasionally. It probably isn't hastening your rise in the


ranks of Government, but you think it is right. I think people like and


respect politicians when they know what they stand for and are prepared


to stand up for it. Stephen, in terms of when politician should be


driven by conscious or conviction, I'll give you a recent example. The


local Government settlement, I know you and a lot of others said it was


hugely unfair for role regions. All of those MPs venture fully voted it


onto the statute books. If you'd voted with Labour, you would have


forced them to re-examine it. think you are right, there are


moments when you need to show conviction to the public. There are


other times, and this is one of them, when you can be more


influential working behind the scenes with ministerial colleagues


to get them to look again at the issue. But you began by saying they


must change their minds that this settlement and then suddenly you


said, we will change it later. in my case I was not able to make


the vote for personal reasons. I am determined to make sure Cornwall


Council gets a fair share of the national funding. We're not getting


it at the moment and I'm continuing to use my influence with colleagues


in Government to make that happen. Brenda, in tones of conviction


politicians, I guess what you want to be is a conviction politician but


also a winner. Not necessarily selfishly, but to implement your


policies. But you've got in Powell on the right, Michael foot,


conviction politicians are incredibly eloquent, shouting from


the sidelines throughout the careers. The problem with Margaret


Thatcher was her conviction was with confrontation. And that did not give


people who wanted to see a different way a chance to be part of a


consensus. We ended up with record unemployment, particularly among


young people, Holmes stopped being built. That legacy here in the


south-west, you can see that now. A very serious housing problem. So


simply to say, well, we need more conviction, what you need is


conviction in someone who will lead with consensus in the country to


take people forward. I believe that in Edmonton and we've got that


person. OK, OK! Lady Thatcher's death coincided with


two of the major parties launching their campaigns ahead of next


month's local elections. But some of the smaller parties have been quick


to claim they are the real conviction politicians of the 21st


century. Jenny Kumah's been talking to some of them.


More than 200 UK candidates are standing in the region's local


elections - a record number. If any of their candidates were to be


successful this time, Nigel for Raj would be celebrating the parties


first breakthrough. -- Nigel Farage. The last time, they fielded 33


candidates. This year, they have twice as many, fighting in almost


every single ward. They are hoping to build on the support shown for it


in the recent by-election in Eastleigh, where basic -- where they


came second to the Lib Dems. Let's hear the Eastleigh raw! No surprise


that the UK leader launched the local election manifesto in Exeter


at the recent spring conference. Immigration from Eastern Europe was


top of the Bill, and issue Councillors have no control over.


But the party says it matters. It also says it offers real localism.


The Tories talk a good game, but if you actually follow what they do,


talking about building houses, you could have every single person in


this area against having a new housing estate, but if it went to


local Government inspectors at Whitehall, local people could be


completely overwritten. That is not localism. We believe certain


policies should be taken by local people at the local level and not


overridden by central Government. Paula Black made history when she


was elected as a Green party councillor on to Devon county


council in 2009. But she defected to Labour last year, saying she felt


she would be more able to serve her community if she were part of a


bigger political group. One thing it demonstrates is how difficult it is


to be a single councillor representing a party in the council.


Unless you've got to councillors, you are not officially recognised as


a party, so one of our aims would be to have at least two Mac councillors


electors -- to councillors electors rather than having to work with


other parties on the council. The Lib Dem leader was in Cornwall this


week, launching their campaign. party is fielding 28 fewer


candidates in the county this time. The Conservatives are also down by


20. The number of independent -- independent candidates has also seen


a drop. But Labour has increased its offering. The Cornish nationalist


party is hoping the council tax row which has split the larger parties


will help them build on their six councillors. We are there to


actually look at what is best for Cornwall as a whole. When not


looking at narrow party politics or playing games, we have some very


good, political, professional candidates who are looking to put


Cornwall burst and make sure that whatever budget we have to deal with


is spent in the best way for the future of Cornwall and the long-term


future. While many of the smaller parties are putting up more


candidates in these elections, one is bucking the trend. The British


National Party fielded a team candidates in 2009. This year, they


are only putting up one, who is standing in Exeter.


Jenny Kumah reporting, and there will of course be more information


about next month's local elections and the candidates contesting them


on the BBC website. Sarah, are you worried that UKIP is


attracting people who don't like the modern face the Tories are


presenting? Well, as that clip said, as a local councillor you cannot


influence things such as immigration. You are there to make


sure your local area is properly served. Despite the fact the


Government says it is localising, you are saying you don't have much


planning power? Well, that is interesting. There was a huge public


meeting recently, and the Tories explained that localism doesn't mean


that you can say no to everything. You do need to provide homes for


people. What localism is about is saying where those homes should be,


not just saying, we're not interested in providing homes for


people, because there is a real housing crisis in the south-west.


After the Eastleigh by-election, polling showed that UKIP took as


many votes from the Lib Dems as they did the Tories. Is that worrying?


Well, let's wait for the local elections. I agree with Sarah, you


need to keep council tax low, and Lib Dems in Cornwall have delivered


that. You need to make sure the bins are collected. The Conservatives


running Cornwall Council did not even managed to collect rubbish


recently. It is about getting those basics right. Brenda, in terms of


housing, Labour have said you can choose whether houses go, but you


have to ill a certain number of houses. I used to be chairman of the


Housing Corporation, and certainly in the West Country and Cornwall a


lot of money was spent on social housing. But there still is an


enormous shortage. I think what was interesting on those clips you


showed, it was all about what they are going to stay top, not what they


are going to do. The gentleman said, well, when local people don't want


housing, it goes up to London and they decide. But people who are


homeless need housing. They are the people in the areas where UKIP want


to be elected. Sir I would challenge that strongly. We do have a housing


policy. Time now for our regular roundup of


The Fire Brigades union attacks what it describes as the biggest cuts to


frontline fire and rescue in Devon and Somerset in living memory. It


says the plans are unacceptable and dangerous and should be dropped


immediately. The longer you take to get to a fire, the more the fire


grows, which makes it more dangerous.


Devon and Cornwall's police commissioner denies his force is


standing still after a drop in crime figures simply cancels out a


previous rise. We're not by any means standing still and there are


many people in my own office and force working hard to drive crime


down and also to reduce the fear of crime.


Cornwall 's children's services come after several measures after OFSTED


notes significant improvements. It is now rated as adequate by the


Government Inspectorate. And after 11 years of illegal


occupancy, travellers next to will be given an official site.


What do you make of a fire service which on the one hand says increase


council tax but cut services? brand act knowledge is, there is an


economic crisis that we have to deal with. There are some difficult


decisions in relation to the age at which firefighters are expected to


continue... But in terms of this provision of services? The balance


should be left with a fire commander. But in terms of these


cuts to services, Brenda, presumably instinctively you are with your


colleagues in the union? Yes, instinctively, but not because they


are trade unionists. Because looking at the geography of the area we are


in, it is a very widespread area, you do need to have local services.


The coalition's policy is local services and they are now cutting


back on something which has been a really serious problem in Cornwall.


There have been some dreadful fires. I think people should think twice


before they get back -- they cut back on the services. The council


tax is going up and they are cutting services. There are some difficult


choices to make. But there is some good news, the number of fires has


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