14/04/2013 Sunday Politics South West


14/04/2013

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

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

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2186 seconds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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with a bit more. Brenda Dean rushed back to London

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Britain and indeed globally was so poorly recognised and represented

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

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

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

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

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

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anything is possible, but there has been persistent allegations that

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

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

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

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

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certainly inspired me and suggested anything was possible now for a

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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of the change is the last Conservative Government brought

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

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

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

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most outstanding postwar British politicians, and there is no doubt

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

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

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

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something completely different. But this is a significant political

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

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

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

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back at Margaret Thatcher's impact on the region.

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

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that Cornwall was a favourite holiday destination. But the effect

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

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1979 brought the strongest ever representation of Conservative MPs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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abrasive style and conviction sharply divided voters and proved an

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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factor in that downfall was undoubtedly the community charge or

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2001 general election rally in Plymouth. A delighted audience found

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

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

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

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fully recovered. Sarah, by implication, criticism of

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

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that clip was conviction. Margaret Thatcher was a conviction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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influential working behind the scenes with ministerial colleagues

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

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must change their minds that this settlement and then suddenly you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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conviction politicians are incredibly eloquent, shouting from

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the sidelines throughout the careers. The problem with Margaret

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

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

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consensus. We ended up with record unemployment, particularly among

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

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

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

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

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

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

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two of the major parties launching their campaigns ahead of next

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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that the UK leader launched the local election manifesto in Exeter

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at the recent spring conference. Immigration from Eastern Europe was

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

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

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

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

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

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local Government inspectors at Whitehall, local people could be

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completely overwritten. That is not localism. We believe certain

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

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overridden by central Government. Paula Black made history when she

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was elected as a Green party councillor on to Devon county

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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week, launching their campaign. party is fielding 28 fewer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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good, political, professional candidates who are looking to put

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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influence things such as immigration. You are there to make

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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running Cornwall Council did not even managed to collect rubbish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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policy. Time now for our regular roundup of

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

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

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says the plans are unacceptable and dangerous and should be dropped

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

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grows, which makes it more dangerous.

:58:37.:58:40.

Devon and Cornwall's police commissioner denies his force is

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

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

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

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down and also to reduce the fear of crime.

:58:57.:59:04.

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

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

:59:09.:59:12.

Government Inspectorate. And after 11 years of illegal

:59:12.:59:22.
:59:22.:59:23.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:00:06.:00:10.

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

:00:10.:00:15.

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

:00:16.:00:18.

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

:00:18.:00:22.

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

:00:23.:00:28.

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

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

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

:00:37.:00:42.

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

:00:42.:00:46.

Andrew Neil and Martyn Oates with the latest political news, interviews and debate, including the Sunday Interview with Conservative party chairman, Grant Shapps MP. Also, former CBI boss, Lord Jones and TUC leader, Frances O'Grady go head to head on trade union reform, and former cabinet minister, John Reid, on Tony Blair's warning to Labour.


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