06/04/2014 Sunday Politics South West


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Morning folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics.


Pressure on Culture Secretary Maria Miller mounts as the Tory press,


Tory voters and even a Tory Minister turn against her. That's our top


story. The economic outlook is getting


rosier. But Ed Miliband is having none of it. The cost of living


crisis is here to stay, says Labour. Shadow Minister Caroline Flint joins


us for the Sunday Interview. And we bring you the Sunday Politics


Gallery. But which former world leader is behind these paintings of


In the South West ` the badger cull world leaders?


In the South West ` the badger cull decision disappoints both sides.


And the railway reopens, but has the cost of being cut off been


overstated? new London borough. A blue flint for


regeneration or economic Armageddon? And with me as always, the best and


the brightest political panel in the business - Janan Ganesh, Helen Lewis


and Nick Watt. Their tweets will be as brief as a Cabinet Minister's


apology. A frenzy of betting on the Grand


National yesterday. But there was one book on which betting was


suspended, and that was on the fate of Culture Secretary Maria Miller,


now the 2/1 favourite to be forced out the Cabinet. She galloped


through her apology to the Commons on Thursday in just 32 seconds. But


speed did her no favours. There's been mounting pressure on her to


resign ever since, especially from Tories. And this weekend the


Chairman of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority,


Ian Kennedy, said it's time MPs gave away the power to decide how


colleagues who break the rules are punished. An inquiry into Maria


Miller's expenses claims was launch in 2012, following allegations he


claimed ?90,000 to fund a house she lived in part time with her parents.


She had designated this her second home. She was referred to the


Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, who recommended that


she repay ?45,000. But this week the Commons Standards Committee,


comprising of MPs from all parties, dismissed the complaint against


Maria Miller and ordered her to repay just ?5,800 for inadvertently


overclaiming her merge claimants. She was forced to apologise to the


Commons for the legalistic way she dealt with the complaints against


her. But Tony Gallagher told the Daily Politics on Friday: We got a


third call from Craig Oliver who pointed out, she is looking at


Leveson and the call is badly timed. I think if you are making a series


of telephone calls to a newspaper organisation investigating the


conduct of a Cabinet Minister, that comes close


After that interview Craig Oliver contacted us, saying there was no


threat in anyway over Leveson. I mead it clear at the time. Tony


Gallagher is talking rubbish about me, and you can use that. The Daily


Telegraph have released a tape of a phone call between Maria Miller's


aid, Joanna Hindley, and a reporter investigating her expenses claim.


Joanna Hindley said: Maria's obviously been having quite


a lot of editor's meetings around Leveson at the moment. So I'm just


going to kind of flag up that connection for you to think about.


The Prime Minister is sticking by his Culture Secretary, but this


weekend's crescendo of criticism of her presents him with a problem and


he could be wishing Maria Miller would just fall on her sword. Even


over 80% of Tory voters in a Mail on Sunday poll think she should go. On


the Andrew Marr Show, the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan


Smith, defended his colleague. I've known her always to be a reasonable


and honest person. But is she doing the Government or her any good by


staying in office at the moment, do you think? This is a matter the


Prime Minister has to take consideration of and she herself. My


view generally is I'm supportive of Maria, because if we are not careful


we end one a witch-hunt of somebody. And I'm joined now by the


Conservative MP, Bob Stewart, and the man in the white suit, former MP


and anti-sleaze campaigner Martin Bell. Welcome to you both. Stuart


Stuart sturkts let me put this to you, a Conservative MP told this


programme, this is a quote, she has handled this appallingly. Downing


Street has acted like judge and jury, for Craig Oliver to get


involved is disastrous. She's been protected by the whips from the


start. What do you say to that? It's not great, is it? The fact of the


matter is the question one should ask is, did she deliberately try to


make money? Did she deliberately try to obscure ate? The answer is she


certainly didn't deliberately try to make money, in the system, which was


the old system, and with regard to obscure ago, I wasn't there, but


let's put it this way. She was going through a quasi-judicial process and


might have ended up in court, so she has a right to defend herself. Hold


on o you said she doesn't do it to make money, she remortgaged the


house a couple of times to earn more interest to us, the taxpayer, and


when interest rates went down she didn't reduce the amount she was


charging in expenses. Well, the point is the adjudicator said there


was ?45,000 she was owed. And then a committee, Standards Committee, said


actually it should be reduced. That was mainly MPs but there are three


lay members. Yes, but they don't have the vote. OK, fine, that is


where it is wrong and we've got to get it sorted. Let me put another


quote from our Conservative MP. He didn't want to be named. None of you


do at the moment. I'm being named. But you are backing her. George


young in cahoots. He's been leading on the Standards Committee to find


her innocent. The Standards Committee is unfit for purpose. I


think the Standards Committee should be revisited. I think the system is


still evolving. And I think actually we ought to have totally independent


judgment on MPs' pay and allowances. We haven't have not got there yet


and that is where it is wrong. Martin Bell, have MPs interfered in


the Maria Miller process and with the current Standards Commissioner


in the same way that they saw off a previous Commissioner they thought


was too independent? Andrew it is exactly the same. Yesterday I looked


at a diary entry I made for May 2000, I said, dreadful meeting


standards and privileges, they are playing party politics. One of them


told Elizabeth fill kin to her face the gossip in the tea room was she


had gone crazy. Nothing's changed. What this shows is most of all,


what's the committee for? If it is just going to rubber stamp what the


party wants and its mates, I don't see any point. But it hasn't rubber


stamped. It's changed it. Well, it has watered down. That's why we


should make it totally independent and it shouldn't be involved in the


House of Commons. It is plus plus ca change isn't it? MPs', scandal, and


MPs closing ranks for one of their own. Has the Commons learned


nothing? And this is after the expenses scandal, where everything


was out for everybody to see, you would think MPs would be careful.


This is before the expenses scandal. We are looking at an historical


event, during your time, Martin, not mine. I'm clean on this. You


campaigned for him as an independent. I did, he was a good


friend of mine. And now you've joined the club. And now you are


defending Maria Miller? I'm defending someone who hasn't been


proved guilty of anything beyond the fact she was rather slow to come


forward with evidence. My point on that, is I understand that. MPs are


being lambasted the whole time these days. There were a heck of a lot of


them, Martin, who are utterly decent. She didn't try to make


money. We've just been through that. I don't think that's right. The jury


is out on that. What should have happened in the Miller case, Martin


Bell? I don't think there should be a committee on standards. I think


the Commissioner should make a report. There has been to be justice


for the MP complained against. Then the committee of the whole House can


consider it. But we are, the House of Commons, then as now is incapable


of regulating itself. That's been proving yet again. She made a


perfunctory apology. She threatened and instructed the Standards


Commissioner investigating her, and her special adviser linked expenses


to Leveson, when trying to stop the Daily Telegraph from publishing. I


mean, is that the behaviour of a Cabinet Minister? Well, it's


probably not the behaviour of someone that's got time on their


hands. She's a very busy Cabinet Minister. Well, she had enough time


to write lots of letters to the Standards Commission ser. She felt


under such threat. She had the time. She had to make the time. Die know


the lady is not trying desperately to make money. I disagree but on


that. The fact of the matter is, this was an old, old system, that


we've tried to put right, or the Commons has tried to put right. I


agree that MPs shouldn't get involved in this. Should we get rid


of this committee? It serves no purpose except to cause trouble. The


adjudicator has said that and it should be the end of it. It


shouldn't come back to the Commons. Although her special adviser


threatened them over Leveson she was and is the Minister responsible for


trying to introduce something like Leveson and that is something a big


chunk that the press doesn't want. She is a target. It has a good


record on this issue. It played wit a straight bat. The facts aren't in


dispute are they? Will she make it to the next cabinet reshuffle and


then go? Iain Duncan Smith said it is a matter for the Prime Minister.


In my view, as things stand, I question did she deliberately want


to make money? I don't think she did. Should she go? No. Should she


be reshuffled? I don't know. Goodness me, you are asking someone


who will never be reshuffled, because he will never make it. I was


only asking for your opinion, not your ability to do it. This is a


problem for Cameron isn't it? It is a problem for Cameron. There is


nothing wrong with returning to be badge benches, as you know. Hear,


hear. To that. Stick with me. Helen, can she survive? Is I'm going out of


the prediction game when I said Clegg is going to win the date, so I


owe Janan a tenner on that one. Grant Shapps has supported her. She


was ringed by Sir George young and Jeremy Hunt... This is pretty


devastating. On past form David Cameron hates having to bounce


people out of the cabinet. He will want to keep Maria Miller until the


summer reshuffle. This is a question mark on whether she survive this is.


This isn't damaging to the Conservative or the Labour Party, it


is damaging to everyone. This is catastrophic damage to the entire


political establishment. Every single speech that David Cameron and


Ed Miliband have given since 2009, talking about restoring trust, they


can wipe them from their computers, because voters are going to look


that there and say, this lot haven't learnt anything. They are giving


perfunctory apologies and then you have MPs sitting in judgment on MPs


and rather than paying back ?45,000, she pays back ?5,800 after MPs have


been into it. Damage is huge. Just getting rid of one Cabinet Minister,


you will need to do more than that. You will notice that Labour haven't


made huge weather of this. No, goodness me, they have their own


skeletons. Exactly. The person who has made hay out of this is Nigel


Farage, who has not been backwards in coming forward. He doesn't seem


to care about skeletons. The Prime Minister has be-Gunby backing her,


but that's not popular even with Tory voters. How does he get out of


this? This is the problem for him. Five years ago his reaction to the


expenses scandal was seen by many Tory backbenchers as excessive. They


felt hung out to dry by a man who is independently wealthy. To go from


that to making a special exemption to Maria Miller because it is


politically suitable is more incendiary and provocative. It is


not just upsetting the voters and the Daily Telegraph but a good


number of people behind him. I think they will get rid of her. I think


the Government, to paraphrase Churchill, will zoo the decent thing


after exhausting all options, of the European elections a reshuffle. The


culture department has gone from a baulk water in haul to one of the


most politically sensational jobs because of its proximity to the


Leveson issue. She has to be replaced by someone Lily skillful


and substantial. Mr Cameron is not short of smart women? Nikki Morgan,


the education department, these are absolutely outstanding women and the


problem that the generation elected in 2005, Maria Miller generation,


there are some really good people elected in 2010. You are not


responsible for hacking into the culture Department's Twitter account


last night? I was out at the time! They all say that! One so, Maria


Miller is like a modern-day Robin Hood... She robs the poor to help


the rich. Which one of us has not embezzled the taxpayer? I reckon it


is the lady. You have the perfect cover. We would not know how to,


would we? You cannot tweet from a mobile device, can you? Play it


safe. No, do something dramatic. Have lots of pledges. Have just a


few pledges. Ah, there must be a Labour policy review reaching its


conclusion because everyone has some free advice for the party about its


message and the man delivering it. Here's Adam. He is well liked by the


public don't quite buy him as a leader. The papers say he is in hock


to the unions and the party has a lead in the polls but it is not


solid. Bartenders Neil Kinnock. That is what they said Winnie who lost


the 1982 election. The whole country deserves better and we will work to


ensure that the day will come when with the Labour government, the


country will get better. Someone who was there can see some spooky


parallels. The important lesson from 1992 is it cannot rest on your


laurels and hope for the best, you cannot sit on a lead of seven points


because the election narrows that and you cannot rely on the


government not getting its act together because the Conservative


Party was well funded and organised, the double whammy posters, the tax


bombshell, but incredibly effective and the message was unified and they


beat us on the campaign. The lesson for Labour today is this lead will


evaporate quite possibly over the next few months and we might go into


the election behind in the polls. But Ed Miliband is getting


conflicting advice about how to avoid 1992 happening. Be bold, be


cautious and then, the idea that Labour can squeak into office with


just 35% of the vote, which worries some people. Each month, the Labour


Party meets around the country and last week, everybody spoke about the


dangers of this 35% strategy. They were increasingly unhappy and it is


very important that those people around the leader naturally have a


duty to protect him and they make sure he gets this message that while


there is total support for him, they do want this key year in the run-up


to the General Election to be putting out an alternative which we


can defend on the doorstep. The doorstep where Neil Kinnock made his


concession speech is crammed with Spanish back hackers. The old Labour


offices are no a budget hostel. Labour headquarters is down the road


and they are putting the finishing touches to a speech Ed Miliband will


give this week about the cost of living and I am told he will drop


hints about new policies in juicy areas like housing, low pay, growth


and devolving power. As for the charge that they are not radical


enough, his people say they want to be bold but they have to be credible


as well. They say that Labour is more united than it has ever been


but there has been some grumbling that the cost of living campaign is


not the same as a vision for the country. And that Ed Miliband was


not statesman-like enough at Prime Minister's Questions and one figure


who sat at the same table in the Neil Kinnock years summed it up like


this. Things are OK but it feels like we're playing for the draw.


Shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint joins me now for the Sunday


Interview. This 35% victory strategy, it does not sound very


ambitious? I am campaigning to win this election with a majority


government and everybody else around the table is also. But we want to go


to every corner of the country and win votes for Labour and win seats,


that is what we are working towards. To avoid last time, the coalition


bartering. But that 35% is a victory strategy so are you saying there is


no 35% strategy and that no one at the heart of Labour is not arguing


for this? We are working to win around the country and to win all of


those battle ground seats and we must have a strategy that appeals to


a cross-section of the public but within that, that broad group Queen


Elizabeth Olympic Park and. You could do that with 35% of the vote?


There is lots of polling and everyone looks at this about what we


need to do to get seats and we want to have a comprehensive majority at


the next election to win to govern this country. Last week, we have


been reading reports of splits in the party over policy and on


tactics, even strategy. A struggle for control of the General Election


manifesto, we are told. What are you arguing over? I said on the


committee and just listening to the film before, it is about being


radical but also credible and we are talking about evolution and that is


an important subject but we are also united and to be honest, in 2010


people were writing us off saying we would turn on ourselves and that has


not been the case. We are not arguing about the fundamentals, we


are discussing the policies that are coming up with different colleagues


and talking about how we can make sure they are presented to the


public and that is part of a process. That is a discussion, not


disagreement. The Financial Times, which is usually pretty fair,


reports a battle between Ed Miliband's radical instincts and the


more business fiscal conservatism of Ed Balls. What side are you on? I am


for radical change, I am for energy and I believe strongly we must be


formed the market and people might portray that as anti-business but


this is about more competition and transparency and others coming into


this market so our policy on this is radical, not excepting the status


quo. It is also for business. Opinion polls show that few people


regard Ed Miliband as by Minister material -- Prime Minister material.


That has been true since he became leader. And in some cases, they have


been getting worse. Why is that? Opinion polls say certain things


about the personalities of leaders, David Cameron is not great either.


And they were not great when he was in opposition. At this stage, he was


getting 49% as Prime Minister real material and Ed Miliband, 19. --


Prime Minister material. When you look at certain questions that the


public is asked about who you think you would trust about being fair in


terms of policy towards Britain, who understands the cost of living


crisis, they very much identify with Ed Miliband. We are ahead in the


polls. Ed Miliband has made that happen. We have one more


councillors, we have been running in by-elections and we have held this


government over the barrel over six months on energy prices. That is to


do with his leadership. The more that voters save him, the less they


seem convinced. In 2011, he had been leader for one year, and only 11%


regarded him as weird, by 2014, that was 41%. Look at that! Look at that


weirdness! What people need is to know where the Labour Party stands


on fundamental issues. And in those areas, particularly the cost of


living and fairness and people being concerned that we are entering into


a period where people will be worse for the first time ever at the end


of the Parliament, these things are important and Ed Miliband is part of


our success. Definitely. I think this is ridiculous, to be fair, he


is not a politician that says, I am dying with the Arctic monkeys, I


know who is the number one. He did not play that game. -- down. He is


not either there to portray himself as someone who was with the


children, I know everything about popular culture. His authenticity is


the most important thing. People do not think he is authentic, unless


they think we were at is authentic. Is it true that his staff applaud


him when he comes back after giving even a mediocre speech? I have never


heard that. I have never heard about him being applauded. And I am


pleased to applaud him with he makes speeches, I have given him a


standing ovation. You have to do that because the cameras are


rolling! No, he made a good speech. Five minutes without notes. It took


a long time to memorise I don't blame him! The cost of living.


Focusing on that, it has paid dividends. But inflation is falling


and perhaps collapsing, unemployment is falling faster than anybody


thought, as we can see. Wages are rising, soon faster than prices.


Retail sales are booming, people have got money in their pockets.


Isn't the cost of living crisis narrative running out of steam? I do


not think so and I should say that I welcome any sign of positive changes


in the economy, if anybody gets a job in Doncaster, I am pleased by


the end of this Parliament families will be over ?900 worse off because


of tax and benefit changes and the working person is ?1600 worse off


and it is the first government since the 1870s where people will be at


the end of the Parliament. We believe the government made wrong


choices that lead the rich off at the expense of those on middle and


lower incomes. -- let the rich. The average family ?794 worse off from


tax and benefit changes. That has been backed up. They are those


figures. But he has skewed these figures by including the richest,


where the fall in tax and the penalty they pay is highest. If you


take away the richest, it is nowhere near that figure. Everybody agrees


and even the government and knowledges that at the end of their


tenure in Parliament, people will be worse off. 350,000 extra people who


would desperately like full-time work who are working part-time and 1


million young people unemployed and the reason the cost of living has a


residence is people feel that. I was in a supermarket and at Doncaster


and someone summed this up, he said I work hard and at the end of the


week, beyond paying bills, I have got nothing else. If you take away


the top 10% who are losing over ?600,000, the average loss comes


down to around ?400, less than half of what you claim. That figure is


totally misleading. These are the figures from the IFS. It still


shows... Whatever way you shape this, people will still be worse


off, families worse off because of these changes to tax and benefits


and working people because wages have not kept up with prices. Your


energy portfolio, you back the enquiry into the big six companies


and you intend to go ahead with the price freeze and reconfigure the


market even before it reports. If you win, this is a waste of time?


Whilst we have had this process before the announcement, we always


feel if it goes that way, there might be areas we have not thought


of that the enquiry will also draw attention to that we might want to


add on. You are right, our basic reforms for the new regulator, to


separate generation supply, we will pursue that. What happens if this


report concludes that your plans are not correct? You will still go


ahead? I don't think so. Actually, if you look at the report that Ofgem


produced, some of the issues Labour has been drawing attention to like


vertical integration, they cover that. I was asking about the


Competition Commission? The report last week is a result of working


together and I think it is clearly accepted in this sector, look at SSE


last week, they will separate the business. We are pushing at the open


door. It has already pulled out of gas. So it follows if you freeze


energy prices across the market, it might be the right thing to do but


there will be a cost in terms of jobs and investment, correct? Well,


I met with SSE last weekand the chief executive and talked about


these issues. The jobs changes are partly about them looking at how


they could be more efficient as a company. On offshore wind that


wasn't really to do with the price freeze. That was more to do with


issues around confidence in that area and therefore willing to put


the money into it, as well as technical issues as well But


there'll be job losses. Is that a price worth paying? We believe the


reason we are having a price freeze is these companies have been


overcharging customers and haven't been investing in their


organisations and making them more efficient. I do not believe a price


freeze is linked to job losses. These companies do need to be more


efficient. Goal for all of us is realising the fantastic opportunity


for more jobs and growth from an energy sector that has certainty


going forward. That's what Labour will deliver. Caroline Flint, thank


you. It's 1130 and you're watching The


Sunday Politics. We say goodbye to viewers in Scotland, who leave us


now for Sunday Politics Scotland. Coming up here


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


West. The sunshine after the rain `


dredging is under way in Somerset, but are ministers doing enough to


protect us from future floods? And for the next 20 minutes, I'm


joined by a brace of Defra ministers, past and present, which


is excellent news, given today's bill of fare. The Exeter MP Ben


Bradshaw and Farming Minister and Cornish MP George Eustice.


Our main rail line is finally open again. Now the focus is shifting to


making it more secure and providing a storm`proof alternative. But have


claims about the economic damage caused by the Dawlish disaster been


grossly exaggerated? A professor at the Institute for Transport Studies


has told the Sunday Politics they almost certainly have.


One of the last replacement bus services to serve Plymouth station.


Reopening the track at Dawlish brings two months of inconvenience


to an end. Or does it? To the honest, it is even faster! It is


beef `` it has been pretty efficient. But businesses and


council leaders have been extremely gloomy Abadi economic cost of the


Dawlish closures. I needed an immediate ?8 million a day hit for


the Cornish economy. We are talking about and Plymouth, ?4 million or ?5


million a day. But this is less than clear cut as well. The Economist


crunching the figures say that he has had a lot of difficulty finding


businesses that are significantly affected. We tend use passenger


surveys, asking about the extent to which their journeys have been


elongated, whether they have cancelled any of the journeys they


had done. It has been difficult in the Dawlish case. Because the rail


replacement services are slightly faster than the traditional rail.


Indymedia to wake of the Dawlish disaster, David Cameron encouraged


hopes of faster and more frequent strains. Since then, First Great


Western has proposed introducing one earlier train from Paddington. Could


that be all the PM was hinting at? If that is it, I think the voters in


the South West are going to take it out on the Prime Minister at the


coming elections. Because that not acceptable. Yes, it is welcome to


have it open, `` to have another train, but we were expecting that


anyway under the new franchise deal. Then, a number of your colleagues


said it was costing millions a day. That looks a bit dubious now. I


think you pays your money, you pay `` you pays your money you takes


your choice. It is difficult to measure this. I don't think that


there's any doubt that losing a railway line has been serious for


our economy. For day`to`day activity and also the image of projects to


the rest of the world. Let's not exaggerate it, but let's not


underestimate it. George, the fact that a replacement bus was faster


than the rail link we are returning to with such great celebration, is a


pretty sad indictment of the rail link? I think the first thing to say


is to take our hats off to First Great Western to get it back so


quickly and running such an effective replacement service. I


agree with what Ben said, it is disruptive to our economy to have


that break in the service. It is all very well saying it did not cost


people any more and the service was faster, but it is a lot more


inconvenient to have to get on and off with all your bags. The bad news


around the Dawlish line and those images of the line being destroyed


around January, left an impression around the country that Cornwall is


difficult to get to. So it is great that we have this back on track and


our train line is up and running. It has always been difficult to make


accurate assessments of the damage in economic terms to the economy and


we can argue about that. But now that we have it up and running, we


have got the service. Everybody agrees we want something better,


loss of disagreement about what form it should take. Tudor Evans and


Labour colleagues are keen on faster trains. Is that a priority? Of


course, it would be additional `` it would be nice if the additional line


would speed up at busy times. You can understand that everywhere would


welcome that. But let's await the outcome of this review. Let's hope


that it takes the wider economic benefit and the climate change


resilience factors into account and then make a judgement then. The


Prime Minister has suggested that faster trains are the thing. Is it


your position? When you are right down in West Cornwall, it is a long


journey. It will always take a long time. If we can improve journey


times, great. There are a number of projects that Cornwall Council


working on, to have a more frequent service from Penzance to Plymouth, a


half hourly service. Bringing forward investment in signalling so


that we can get slightly faster journey times. But we have to live


with the reality that it will always be a five`hour journey to West


Cornwall. That means the sleeper service is very important. It is


good that we got that extended and we have additional rolling stock. I


would like to see that improved as well. When you are in West Cornwall,


it is a long journey and you need to make it as comfortable as possible.


We must move on. Badger culls will continue this year


as part of the government's strategy to tackle TB in cattle. But only in


the two existing areas in Somerset and Gloucestershire. The government


this week ruled out more widespread culling after an independent report


criticised the effectiveness and humaneness of the cull so far.


The Environment Secretary leaned heavily on the science when he made


his long`awaited announcement on the future of the badger cull. What we


are saying is that there are clear lessons to learn from the panel


report. There are clear lessons in practical terms which we learnt. And


so I think we are sensibly continuing with the existing two


pilots so that we can perfect this system of removing diseased


wildlife. The Liberal Democrats were quick to claim it as a political


victory for themselves within the coalition. "Lib Dems halt spread of


badger cull", boasts this press release. At least one Conservative


ruefully agrees. I am afraid it is national politics played again and I


wish we could just cull in the areas where we have the most disease.


Keeping everybody happy in this most contentious of issues was never


going to happen but Lib Dems aside, it is difficult to find anyone else


who is pleased about this decision. Farmers and anti`cull protesters are


united...in disappointment. Politically, surely that is a


lose`lose situation for the government. Massive disappointment


that we are not rolling out the cull. I see that as the only way


we'll get on top of this disease. This trial cull was never effective


so it would be madness to continue culling. `` neither effective nor


humane. To discuss this, we're joined by one


of the Lib Dems who opposed the extension of the cull ` Stephen


Gilbert. I want to begin with George. A week ago, the government


was quite clear that the Lib Dems have scuppered Conservative plans to


amend the hunting act. Do you accept that they have done the same thing


in terms of stopping a wider roll`out of the badger cull? I


don't. But this is a government decision. There was a consensus. It


is important that we get the methodology of the skull right


before we roll it out. The concerns of the panel around the


effectiveness and some of the marksman, the right thing to do is


to focus nonetheless, as we always said we would, at improving Yeost


two, three, four. Then we can get a roll`out. `` at improving years two,


three, and four. Is it the Lib Dems what one it? No, I think it is the


science. So this Lib Dem pamphlet proposing a political victory is


wrong? I have opposed a badger cull. But when the government's own


independent panel says that the cull is inhumane and vast the more


expensive than anticipated, the evidence, it would have been full


Hardy for the government to extend the cull. I know you believe that,


but are you saying there has not been weeks of haggling and basically


Nick Clegg has blocked a conservative wish to roll this out?


What I am saying is that the independent panel has said that


culling is ineffective and inhumane and would not work to combat the


spread of bovine TB. What we are all united on is saying that TV in our


farming communities is having a devastating effect and we need to


invest in a programme of vaccination to make sure that we can vaccinate


badgers as well as cattle. But culling will not work. Then,


irrespective of how this came about, is it not a reasonable position to


say that we are learning as we go along, the independent panel has


made decisions we have taken `` and make criticisms as we had taken


aboard, and we want to learn. Let's set aside this artificial argument.


Of course it makes sense. But what I don't understand about what the


government has done is that they have cancelled the roll`out, but


they are carrying on with the pilot. If the pilots have been a failure,


why continue them? The reality is that there is no example anywhere in


the world of a country that has eradicated TB with the reservoir of


the disease in the wild population. Unless you do some culling, you


don't get the disease benefits `` the root disease reduction benefits.


Three sites had a slow start in year one, removing between 30% and 40% of


the badgers. They have carried on for a subsequent two years and


increase the reduction of the disease. But what worries me is that


there will not be oversight of the trials. There will be. This is the


right thing to do. It is not popular, and if there was an


alternative, we would be doing it. But the more I have looked at this,


the truth is that it is a very different disease to fight and you


need to pursue a range of options. Yes vaccination, yes cattle control.


Just briefly, I see you are disputing the claim of fellow Lib


Dems that they defeated this, if you look at occasions when Nick Clegg


has weighed in and stop policy, you are left with laws reform, the


hunting act and possibly this. `` the Lords reform. Interesting


priorities. Hold on, we also stop the Conservatives making profits out


of state schools and plans to allow employers to fire at will. And in


the Commons a couple of weeks ago, Conservative MPs were asking for a


full list of what Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems have stopped. I would like


to see that list published. We have to leave it there, Stephen, thank


you very much. The head of the Environment Agency


has admitted he should have pushed a lot harder for dredging in Somerset


and he says more money should be spent on maintaining watercourses in


future. He was giving evidence to the Environment Select Committee's


inquiry into this winter's floods. The Environment Secretary also


appeared but had little to say about more money for maintenance. Just as


well we've got George here to tell us more ` after this report by Jenny


Kumah. February 14th and Kingsand is hit by


a storm that would make national news headlines. Alan Hudson and his


wife had to escape their seafront property through a window. And the


water depth on the roadside was four foot. So as soon as we opened the


kitchen window to get out, that flowed back in this way. And that


was a disaster. When we were evacuated through the window. The


moment we got out, we were swamped because the water went straight over


us. Alan wants to apply for a new government grant this week. The


repair and renew scheme means you can get up to ?5,000 to help protect


your property from future damage. I need to improve the storm proofing


of the shutters if as much as I can, and the windows in here. And the


roof. The Flood Minister, Dan Rogerson, visited Newland this week


to promote the scheme but he faced difficult questions over plans to


cut hundreds of staff who deal with flooding. `` visited new Lynn. The


Environment Agency has confirmed that 350 jobs are to go by October.


That is a lot lower than the 1,700 that were originally earmarked to go


and that is because of the ?140 million of flood money that has been


announced in the recent budget. Stop the cuts! Save the jobs! Earlier


this year, the unions protested against the original proposals. They


are still worried about the reduced job cuts even though the Environment


Agency says it will protect front`line jobs. When there are


emergencies, like we have recently seen, staff can be deployed in from


the offices. So to take another 350 out of that, it means that when we


have these emergencies, the staff will not be there to be deployed to


respond to the problems and to deal with what are very serious issues.


This week, dredging started on the Somerset Levels after years of


campaigning. On Wednesday, Chris Smith, who is chairman of the


Environment Agency, admitted to a select committee that he should have


pushed harder for this. George, the environment select


committee produced a report last July which said that the government


should dredge and spend more money on maintaining watercourses, not


necessarily building watercourses. They have been proved right? This


was the wettest winter for 250 years, said these were exceptional


service `` circumstances. But the Environment Agency had a partnership


scheme on the Somerset levels so they did do some dredging on the


pinch points. Since these floods, we have now committed to dredge a major


part around the Somerset levels. But it is wrong to say that nothing was


done. There was money on the table. The focus from the Environment


Secretary about what is being done this week but the committee members


were interested in looking ahead, what money there might be for


maintenance of watercourses. I think sometimes people confuse... There


are three things. We will be spinning record amounts on flood


infrastructure and we have already spent more in the past four years


than in the previous four years. And sometimes, the investment that you


may, the capital investment, is all about improving existing


infrastructure. Upgrading or replacing it. So it is wrong to say


that it is just new capital projects. Sometimes they are adding


to what is there. And we are pursuing partnerships funding which


makes it easier to get new money in. Not much money, though, is it? It


has brought in additional money. That sounds pretty good, doesn't it?


Well, no, in short. I don't agree have not `` I don't think we have


yet risen to the size of this challenge. A report this week says


that we have to be much more serious about long`term resilience and flood


defence. I am also looking for a holistic approach to flood


management. Dredging is all very well, but it won't solve all the


problems and in some cases it could make things worse. Land management


is really neglected and could make an important contribution.


Now our regular round`up of the political week in sixty seconds.


Communities are asked to take on more than half of Devon's libraries


as the County Council cuts its support. It is a difficult position


to be in but I'm confident that we still have the support of the


council. We have not totally been abandoned. The council has also


withdrawn funding from three centres for vulnerable women in Exeter.


Worst case scenario, there will be deaths because of this. We really


hope that that is not the case, that that is not the reason why people


sit up and take note. Let's try and prevent that.


Ofgem says that we produce more renewable energy for the


government's feed`in tariff than anywhere else in the country. ``


supported by the government's feed in tariff.


And Devon fishermen want stricter controls on fishing with nets over


wreck sites. Too many nets are lost on the wrecks. We catch pollock, but


they have been caught in the nets, they are damaged.


George, confirmation that the South West is a leader in renewable


energy. And we hear about another attempt by some Tory MPs to fight


back against wind farms, to reduce wind farms. Where is the government


going? There is a role to play for wind turbines, they are the most


efficient generation technology we have at the moment. I was starting


to get concerned about the sporadic development of single, solitary wind


turbines all over the place. Yes to having some wind turbines but we


have to get the planning right. Also solar panels, this commit `` this


can remove agricultural land. I prefer waiver generation. That is


the kind of technology I would prefer us to focus our attention on.


You are shaking your head? We have a lot of solar power in energy `` in


Exeter. But we will need all of these methods if we have any hope at


all of meeting our carbon reduction targets which we have to do if


Logitech are the kind of problems which have been dominating these


programmes. `` this programme. All of them.


That's the Sunday Politics Dobson. Tim Donovan is back in the


chair next week. And with that, back to Andrew. Welcome back and time now


to get more from our panel. So they can justify their meagre patents.


This cost of living mantra will last all the way until the election.


Cannot? Ed Miliband leaves he is onto something and for most of this


Parliament, inflation has outstripped wages. That is going to


go the other way and wages will rise, to which you say Ed Miliband


has nothing to say. He says if you think people are going to feel


better in the blink of an eye, you are a Conservative and do not


understand the depth of this and he is taking the message from a


presidential election in America in 2012 and make Romney was ahead on


some of the economic indicators but Barack Obama was ahead on the key


one, do you believe this candidate will make your family's life


better? The message that Ed Miliband will try to say is the next election


is about whose side are you on? And he believes Labour will be on the


side of more voters than conservatives. It would be crazy for


Labour not to talk about the cost of living because even if wages exceed


inflation next year, it is not as if voters will walk around feeling like


Imelda Marcos, they will still feel as if they were struggling and not


just compared... Retail sales are slowing? That is not the sign of


palpable disparity. Circumstances are better than three years ago but


not better than five years ago. The Reagan question will still be


employed, are you better off than at the last election? But things in


America were actually getting worse when he asked that. I covered that


election, that is why it resonated and they did get worse. The


Ayatollah had quadrupled the price of oil. This is based on things


getting relatively better, after a very long wait, so the cost of


living critique will have to adapt? It will but it gets out of a very


sticky spot and the IFS says wages will not outstrip inflation and by


that time they can start talking about other things, plans for the


railways and tuition fees and at the moment, everything is up for grabs.


Labour know that every time they talk about something they want to


do, the question is, how do you pay for it? They can talk about the


economy and they don't have substantial things to say. Is it


true that Mr Iain Duncan Smith was going to make a major announcement


on benefit cheats? Or something to do with that this morning? But he


decided against it because of the tobacco over Maria Miller? It would


be very odd to go on to The Andrew Marr Show to have a chat and see


what he is having for lunch. Patrick went from the Guardian said he was


going to set out higher financial penalty phase for providing


inaccurate information in claims. This is a bad day to do that, given


that MP expenses are treated far more lenient the than any one from


Joe public. That would be fascinating, if true. And he is


making a very big speech on well for tomorrow and this tweet from Patrick


went at the Guardian, he has proper sized on welfare matters and he


tends to know what is going on. But it would be deeply unfortunate if


that was the message today. How can he make a speech that has anything


about cracking down on benefit claimants? Not today but I am not


sure tomorrow. Do you get the impression that nobody in both main


parties is very confident of winning in 2015? I column last week said the


result, the most likely result from one year on is another hung


parliament and which government results from that depends on the


mathematical specifics of whether the Tories can do a deal as well as


Labour, leaving everything in the hands of Nick Clegg or whether one


party can do a straightforward deal but I do not detect any sense of


exuberance or confidence in either camp. And the Tories are still


shooting themselves over losing the boundary commission reforms because


that was going to net them 20 seats and they lost that because they


messed up the House of Lords reform and there are still furious with


themselves. The former US President, George W Bush, has been a busy boy


and here at the Sunday Politics we thought you'd like to see the


results of his artistic endeavours. Time for the gallery.


I was a prize to find myself saying, some of these are not bad! --


surprised. Vladimir Putin? I like the one of Tony Blair but his early


ones of dogs, to be in the presence of the master is to see his portrait


of a Joanne Love. He is not of the Turner prize but I was surprised. He


gets the mask of Vladimir Putin, also Tony Blair. I was impressed


that he did not allow personal or political grudges to influence his


artwork. Jacques Chirac, he comes out of this incredibly well! And


Angela Merkel comes out astonishingly well. Quite generous


as well. Tony Blair is the best one and the reason is he had the closest


relationship with them and he has talked about this portrait, saying


he was quite fond of him and you can see that. These are awful, they


would not get you an A-level but you must admire him to have the guts to


do this, and display them publicly! An A-level? Just doing joined up


numbers gets you that these days! What do you do when you retire? This


is less embarrassing than some of the other things people have done.


As good as Churchill? I don't know... No! Churchill was brilliant!


And on that! That's all for today. Tune into BBC Two every day at


lunchtime this week for the Daily Politics. And we'll be back at the


later time of 2:30pm next Sunday after the London Marathon. Remember,


if it's Sunday, it's the Sunday Politics.


International teams searching for the missing Malaysian airliner are


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