05/05/2013 Sunday Politics South West


05/05/2013

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In the South West: The local elections dealt body blows to the

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coalition parties, new footholds for Labour and the breakthrough UKIP had

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2227 seconds

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

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West...we'll hear from some of the region's brand new UKIP Councillors.

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First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you,

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and then you win. And for the next 20 minutes, I'm

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joined by Conservative MP George Eustice and the Lib Dem peer John

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Burnett. Strangely enough, we're kicking off with UKIP. In Thursday's

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elections they took their first seats on each of the four South West

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councils up for grabs. Across the patch that breaks down to one

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councillor in Dorset, three in Somerset, four in Devon and six in

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Cornwall. George, three of those are in your very marginal constituency.

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You must be worried about that. Look, my constituency has always had

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a strong UKIP contingent, I myself was a UKIP candidate before, I have

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never hidden that fact or the reason why I left, which is that I felt

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UKIP are counter-productive to the cause they claim to support. In the

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case of the euro debate ten years ago, they said you couldn't keep the

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pound and stay in the union, they have been proven wrong on that. Now,

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they are counter-productive to the debate we are having about

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negotiating. I've got a majority of 66, and with that majority, you are

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never complacent. You can either threat -- fret about your components

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or you can roll your sleeves up and get things done and have a record to

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stand on for the next election. That's what I've been doing.

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Nationally, I have read a campaign. John, you are a Euro-sceptic Lib

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Dem. Many people probably don't even believe that exists! I remember Nick

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Clegg wrote a paper about eight or nine years ago and the thrust of it

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was Europe should do less and do it better. I hope he dusts that down. I

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always was against the euro. What was George, campaign director of the

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anti-euro group? I'm not Euro-sceptic, I'm a euro realist. I

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don't believe the British people want to see that. I think David

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Cameron's speech earlier this year hit the nail on the head in many

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ways. We always have a problem in mid-term. Economy, immigration and

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the EU are all important issues. In a moment we'll be joined by the

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UKIP chairman Steve Crowther, to find out what we can expect from

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UKIP councillors in office. But first, here's John Henderson with a

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look a the rise of UKIP in the South West.

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Making history, Cornwall's first ever UKIP councillor celebrates.

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flabbergasted. We're very close in many seats and I think the main

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parties are shocked. Perhaps picking up votes from its opposition to gay

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marriage and a type of renewable energy. Wind turbines are a big

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issue here. Not least because of the increasing recognition of the

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concern over health effects. They won in Somerset. It sends a very

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important message to the Government that the people are not happy with

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issues surrounding the European Union. They won in Devon. Everyone

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seems fed up, is the best way I can put it. With everything. And they

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won in Dorset. Gandhi once said first they ignore you, then they

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laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win. You get started

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life in the early 1990s. They got their first MEP in 1999. In 2004,

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they got any other, and the party still got to South West MEPs. At

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times, they made a lot of noise. This was William Dartmouth getting

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high rate a few years ago. The Tories branded them a party of

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clowns, but they cranked up their push in the South West. Nigel Farage

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brought the party bus into battle. The party put up over 200 candidates

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across the four Southwest counties, a record number with its leader keen

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for even more. If anyone is here who is not yet a UKIP candidate, please

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come forward. One such candidate was Susan Bowen. She bowed out as the

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UKIP candidate after being disowned for speaking at a BMP perform a

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rally in 2010. Some in the north Cornish town were nonplussed.

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don't like the BNP as an organisation. There was no sign of

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her on the campaign trail, but her name remained on the ballot paper.

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She came second, beating the Conservatives. Immigration is what

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we're all talking about but nobody listens to it. UKIP is a way of

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protesting. Until Friday, UKIP councillors were thin on the ground

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in the south-west. Julian Parrott has been the sole UKIP voice in

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Torbay. For the past few years, he has been brushing shoulders with the

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established political classes, the mainstream, which he says has run

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out of ideas. We're seeing the breakdown of tribal boating on the

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basis of one out ideology. Where is the bedrock Labour and Conservative

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support? That now is a thing of the past. We're now talking about a

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society which is very differently structured. UKIP remains a long way

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from council control, but it has made a lot of people in the region

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wonder, what might be next? George, is it not likely that UKIP

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is making this breakthrough because, frankly, it is offering policies

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which appealed to Tory voters when you are not, and in fact you often

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dismiss and deride these policies? think what is absolutely true if

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this is a big protest vote. There is a lot of disillusionment, and we

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need to listen to that protest and respond to it. But when I've been

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going around and talking to people, I find when I explain to them what

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we've already done, promising an EU referendum and cutting immigration

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by a third, sorting out the welfare system, they actually don't realise

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the things we've achieved. So it is about helping people to understand

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what this Government has achieved. Well, UKIP are opposed to gay

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marriage, wind farms, they will protect the countryside. Aren't

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these key things which are pressing buttons on the countryside? Yes. I

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would say probably the majority of UKIP voters are former Tory voters.

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A lot of people in your party agree with these policies. Well, we have

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been trying to get the planning policy changed so that we can reject

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more wind farms. We are doing a lot to sort out the school system. You

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don't have to go back to grammar schools to improve the education

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system. Steve, is this a protest boat? It isn't just a protest vote.

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There is this language in politics which party is used to explain away

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bad results at half term. That is not what is happening. We've spent

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20 years building up to where we are. What's interesting is you

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mentioned a number of things to George. They are not conservative

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policies, they are the policies of all the other parties. There is

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nothing to choose between them. This is why UKIP has gained a seats

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nationally. It is not any EU vote, it is about disillusionment.

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Essentially, there is no differentiation between the other

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parties in Government. A lot of those things they are supporting,

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people do not like. There is no question that a lot of your policies

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appealed to Tory voters. We've got to get away from this idea that UKIP

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takes away Tory voters. It has taken away large numbers of labour and Lib

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Dem voters. It has also done one other thing, which I'm very proud

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of, which is bringing new people back into the democratic process. In

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the Eastleigh by-election, 15% of people were those who hadn't voted

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in years. We believe in renewable energy, of course we do. That is

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what the planning system is all about. We are fully supportive of

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the academy programme. If you ask the Labour Party now, they would be

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against that programme. So let's just look at it in the context of

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history. I don't dismiss lightly what UKIP have done, but only a

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third of people went to vote last time, and in addition to that...

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Sorry, I just want to come back to the policy on and -- on wind farms.

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Is their concern over the health associated with wind turbines?

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something we are looking very closely at. But I would like to

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point out this is not about wind farms. It is about energy. Well,

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your objection to wind farms is people argue they are ugly. That

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isn't our objection. Our objection, the problem is - and it is the great

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illustration of where we have come from dashed the other governing

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parties have left us in a pickle. They have entirely failed to equip

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this country with the resources that we will have need of. There will be

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soaring prices and massive energy poverty. All the governing parties

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have contributed to that. That is why we find ourselves rising in

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popularity. We have been utterly let down by our governing parties. Even

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the chairman of gem is coming on to the BBC, saying we're facing a

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catastrophe. Are you at all concerned that any of your

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councillors might embarrass you in office in the way some of your

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candidates in Paris due during this campaign? I'm very campaigned -- I'm

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very proud of our candidates. happens very embarrassing incidents

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during the campaign. I'd like to point out less than 0.5% of the

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candidates were in any way embarrassing. But you don't

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routinely get this with other parties, do you? The media would be

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on it like a shock if one of the governing parties had an

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embarrassing candidate who spoke at a BNP rally, for example. The point

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is, there was a concerted effort by the other parties to actually trawl

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through every word that any of our candidates had any -- had ever put

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on the Internet and tried to find embarrassing things. If we had done,

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it would've been a more fair playing field, to be honest. I'm very proud

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of our candidates. They are ordinary folk who have worked for years. You

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will see now what it means to elect UKIP could representatives. They

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will work at the grassroots and represent the views of their

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electorate. Steve Crowther, thank you. Now, with

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a whistlestop tour of how all the other parties did on Thursday,

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here's Ben Woolvin. The Tories kept control of Devon and

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Somerset county councils, their relief almost palpable. The people

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of Somerset have spoken, they said they clearly understand some of the

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tough decisions we've had to make, but they'd seen the plan we have for

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the future, the plan for jobs, for investment, for looking after

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vulnerable children. They've said yes to that plan, and I'm really

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happy. But voters had a different message for the Conservatives of

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Cornwall, who now face the prospect of opposition, having lost 18

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councillors, including their former leader, Alec Robertson. It's really

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sad. I was a council leader myself mid-term, and it is really awful

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when hard-working councillors who have served their communities well

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lose their seats because people want to send a message to Westminster.

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It's really sad. The Lib Dems only lost two seats here, making them the

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biggest party on Cornwall Council. In Dorset, the Lib Dems lost four,

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in Devon, where they once enjoyed control, the party has been reduced

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to nine. The man who leads them is preparing for the bunker. I love an

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old saying by our party president which is that after the nuclear

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war, the two things that would be left would be cockroaches and

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Liberal Democrats with leaflets knocking on doors. Around here, we

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claim to be indestructible because we aim to serve the public well.

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Labour made 17 gains across the region. They now have eight

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councillors in Cornwall, including a former MP. They lost the only seat

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they were defending here. Jude Robertson was beaten by 40 votes.

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The Greens got their first councillor in Cornwall and held on

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in Totnes. The Cornish nationalists gained one. But the people of

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Cornwall once again find themselves with no overall control. The Lib

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Dems have started power-sharing talks, but with very little love

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lost between them and some of the more influential independents, those

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negotiations are likely to be seated. We're joined now by two more

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guests, Michael, the new Labour councillor in Cornwall, and

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political analyst Adrian Lee. I want to begin with you, Michael, because

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your result is very interesting indeed. There are few places in the

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south-west which are traditional pockets of support. There is really

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no recent tradition where you are from. Yes, Labour went from fifth to

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first and I'm aware that is a very strong personal boat. Across

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Cornwall, I think Labour went from one councillor to eight. There are

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no no-go areas for the Labour Party. When you say it was a personal

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boat, are you suggesting it is a one-off? I'm proud to be Cornish and

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Labour and that was an important part of me standing. I'm very proud

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of my principles, which I've had that over 20 years. People knew I

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was a strong Labour candidate, someone who would stand up for our

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local area, so I think it is a combination of trust for me as a

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politician and a representative to speak up for the people, but also a

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recognition that I have strong principles, a progressive programme,

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a positive approach to working together, and standing up for our

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communities. Adrian, has significant do you think this is? We pore over

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the traditional Labour areas after every car -- after every election,

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don't we? Well, Labour had a disastrous result in 2009. This

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time, they have made considerable headway. We now back to where they

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were in the 1990s. The fact there is no Liberal Democrat representation

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in Exeter any more, it is entirely Labour apart from a couple of

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conservative areas. Elsewhere they did fairly well, particularly well.

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And of course getting seats like gun is late, which was almost a

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hereditary Labour supporting position. Elsewhere, in Somerset,

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they held onto Wellington. They've got a base upon which they can

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expand, but they were starting from a very low base indeed. George, the

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Conservatives had a really grim day, didn't they, in Cornwall?

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was disappointing, and we lost a lot of good councillors because a lot of

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our support voted UKIP. In some cases, that allowed UKIP candidates

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to win outright, but in other places it allowed the Lib Dems to take

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seats from is. That is disappointing but we have to listen to that. It is

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always sad when hard-working people lose their seats as a result of a

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protest vote. A drink, how bad was it for the Lib Dems? Pretty bad.

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They held on better in Cornwall than elsewhere, especially south

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Cornwall. But in Devon, Dorset and Somerset, therefore in the share of

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the vote was fairly uniform. The only bright spot for the is of

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course their position in Cornwall. John, you must be worried, not least

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if Labour is spreading into fresh areas, because you two have had

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Billy -- had the region basically sewn up. We did well in Cornwall, we

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didn't gain any seats, we didn't lose any seats. Devon wasn't good

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for us, I admit that. What is interesting for others is to see the

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protest vote not just being with Labour, but Labour and UKIP. I think

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history does teach us lessons. Labour is on the march in the

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south-west, you will suffer, when you? We will. But let's see. The

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economy is not in a good position, if it has improved by the election,

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I think the governing parties will get the recognition that. The

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deficit has gone down by a third. We will have a good story to tell and

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we will concentrate on the policies of the other two parties. We've got

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to draw the line there I'm afraid in. It's time for our political

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round-up of the week in 60 seconds. Demand for food banks continues to

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increase, bringing the total in the region to 18, according to one of

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the biggest providers. This is an ongoing thing, not just a recent

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thing. Concern from doctors as a private

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company takes on the running of nonemergency ambulances across most

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of the south-west. This has to be a concern.

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Solicitors claim legal aid cuts will damage justice. They are going to be

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pressurised to plead guilty. Somerset farmers asked the

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Government health -- help after a year of disastrous flooding. People

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are still adamant that they want the job done.

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And Plymouth submits its bid for UK city of culture 2017.

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John, you are a lawyer. Do you share these concerns? All I would say is

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legal aid for all criminal matters has been retained, anything to do

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with children has been retained, and at the end of the cutbacks, we will

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still have the most generous legal system probably in the whole of

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Europe. George, do you sympathise with the lawyers? We've got a lot,

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the biggest legal aid bill and we need to reduce it. I think we should

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Andrew Neil and Martyn Oates with the latest analysis of the local election results, including interviews with the Conservative Party chairman, Grant Shapps, former Tory frontbencher, David Davis and shadow justice secretary, Saddiq Khan. He also asks what next for UKIP with Godfrey Bloom MEP.


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