12/02/2012 Sunday Politics West


12/02/2012

Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, interviews and debate including cabinet minister Eric Pickles on the government's NHS bill.


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We're finding out why your Parish or Town council could be set to

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raise your bill by up to 20% whilst bigger councils are told they have

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1703 seconds

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Hello, in the Sunday Politics in at the West...

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Local authority staff Ocean charges but don't think you can't a tax

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won't be going up. Your parish or count hat -- town council may still

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increase their part of the bill, some bite �20 per home. The will

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ask if it is worth it. Our guests today is Neil Hamilton,

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a prominent member of you kept -- UKIP. He is married to the famous

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Christine Hamilton. We are grateful to her for letting you are this

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afternoon! Next to him, a euro enthusiast,

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Graham Watson, a staunch republican who has just been knighted. He says

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he was happy to accept the honour for his public service.

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Why did you accept that when you don't really want a monarchy?

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country has its system of honours, ours happens to be given out baby

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monarchy. I would have preferred to receive it from an elected

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president. There is no both of allegiance involved. It was given

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on the recommendation of the Prime Minister rather than the

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recommendation of the monarch and I have no problem accepting it as an

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honour for my contribution to society, not for my contribution to

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the monarchy. Your fellow Euro MEP for this region said it was

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hypocritical to accept it. Is this the same flawed. With here is an

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hereditary peer? -- Lord DARD wife. It has been my view and it has been

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for many years that when the current monarch retires, we should

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become a republic. I think she has done excellent service for the

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country. I do not think there is as much public confidence in as many

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of her successors as there is in the Queen. We should prepare to

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have an elected president. You are a firm monarchist? I would much

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rather have the Queen as our head of state or somebody -- rather than

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some the like Tony Blair. The honours lists are different. What

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do they mean nowadays? So many of these titles are dished out. Graham

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has been a conscientious MEP for 20 years and does a very good job. I

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don't agree with his politics but as a public servant I have no

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difficulty in agreeing with his assessment of himself in this

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respect. Do we really need these Ruritanian baubles any more? Don't

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you feel that it is like something out of a Gilbert and Sullivan

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operetta? Would U-turn one down? course I would. I should get a

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medal for living with my wife for all these years!

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Local authorities across the West have almost all agreed to freeze

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what they charge of next year. If you think that means you can't to

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tax bill will not go up, think again. -- you're council tax bill.

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Parish and town councils are free from this and some are still

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spending. In towns and villages across the

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West Country their responsibilities range from street cleaning and

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flower beds to youth clubs and CCTV. The more they do, the more towns

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and parishes charge taxpayers. Frome in Somerset is a pretty place

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and people want to keep it that way. On historic Catherine Hill, the

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town council leader meets a shopkeeper concerned it is not

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always properly cleaned. It doesn't take that much to pick up rubbish,

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as you know. I came by one Saturday morning and with the deputy chief

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executive of the town council, moved stuff that should have been

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moved by the district council. is the responsibility of Mendip

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District Council, who have been making cuts. Frome councillors are

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having talks about helping fund street cleaning. They are prepared

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to step forward or others are stepping back. They will put up

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their part of the council tax by almost a parte -- quarter. But is

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not the most popular decision we have ever made and it was not easy

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to make the decision. 23% represents �19 per year, so if we

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spend unwisely, I am hoping the residents will understand why it

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had to happen. -- if we spend wisely. They have plans such as

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improvements at the Cheese and Grain Arts Centre and supporting

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the services. Cuts by Somerset County Council means the recycling

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centre is not open as much as it used to be. The town council is

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offering �9,000 to ensure it opens on Sundays. They hope this will win

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over any locals who are not convinced about the merits of

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paying more tax. The skip being open when I wanted to be is

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beneficial. In if they improve the services then definitely. If it was

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a tenor it would be better. It is not necessary to raise the council

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tax. It is not just about replacing what has been cut. The council

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hopes it will boost from economically. If they are using

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their money sensibly, if it improves quality of life and makes

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from a better place to do business or two level, shop, -- then people

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will see it as a good thing. -- to live or work to shop. Local people

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are being encouraged to do more and change it if they do not like it.

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What makes you so sure that people are so happy to pay this extra

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amount? We tapped into a deep disillusionment with independent

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normal citizens. The ticket was about change, about making sure the

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town his bed for the future. The recession will end some time.

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are very tight and it is only �19. For a family that is a trip to the

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cinema or going out for a burger or a treat. You have decided to take

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that many of them. We have decided together, we will try and make sure

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that from is ready for the future. �19 a year is a significant sum of

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money for some families but it is three Mars bars a month. If every

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local of Gardai took that view it would be much more sizable,

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wouldn't it? -- local authority. We were aware that Battista council

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would not put up council tax. -- that the district council. Why is

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the coalition overriding local democracy by insisting there are

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friezes? It is not over riding. It is saying, we are making big cuts

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in public spending at national level. We do not want to see you

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increasing spending locally. In my view, there is an obligation on all

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of us to look at keeping our spending down. There is a perfectly

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legitimate case that says in future, perhaps more of our tax should be

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raised at the level at which it is spent. If you need to spend money

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locally, raised it locally, do not have local councils dependent on

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local government. Isn't that UKIP policy? A we want to reduce

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spending at government level as much as possible. We do not what

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decisions to be taken remotely. I am in favour of increasing the

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number of things that parish councils and town councils can do

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at the expense of the bigger councils that do them at the moment.

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This is the interface with the public and do things that really

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matter. One of the Lilley's policies is to abolish local

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politically correct services. What did you have in mind? All the usual

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stuff about promotion of causes that are close to the heart of some

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minorities, Ceri my gaze and the rest of it. Do you recognise that

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position? No. Let's go back to Europe. In France you have the town

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hall and the Mail has a standing in the community. The day centrally

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controlled what is raised? -- to date centrally controlled. There is

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more local control on the Continent and in the UK do it -- United

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Kingdom. Yes, there are gaps on local government spending. -- caps.

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In the case of Germany, it is between the federal government and

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a local member. Clearly, we need a solution that is going to allow

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local councils to make intelligent decisions about which local

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services can be afforded, which may need to be cut. Let's move on. If

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you decide to stand for election, do you think and the tax payer

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should its pay for your campaign? It would be one way of removing the

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power of the rich from election campaigns and idea -- and an idea

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gaining ground here in the West. A government came to power the

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Barling to banish scandals like cash for honours to the history

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groups. -- Levein. They promised to read

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politics Abed money. So far, little has happened. Then, this.

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government is committed to reforming party funding. This is

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best achieved as far as possible by consensus and it to be said I will

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write to the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition next week

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asking him to nominate representatives to take part in

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preliminary cross-party discussions. In the West, where most election

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struggles are races between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats,

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the Lib Dems are crying foul over money. While they said they enjoy a

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big share of the vote, they lack a share of the funds. Paul Harrod was

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runner-up in Bristol North West. He said he was outgunned by some

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serious spending by the Tories. are up against a Conservative Party

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that was heavily funded, particularly from Lord Ashcroft.

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That made a difference in the campaign. The system is broken at

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the moment. There is too much with trade unions and big business.

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welcomes the findings of an independent parliamentary committee

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which has proposed a cap on donations to the tune of �10,000.

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Reducing election spending by 50% and controversially, asking

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taxpayers to dig deep and fund political parties. This former

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English Democrat backs tax payer contributions but only if used to

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create a more transparent system. He was so meticulous in his

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election expenses he fired one receipt for letting out the widest

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band on his trousers. But he fired one receipt. I thought, it is for

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the election, so I must recorded. They said, if you have anything

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that you are spending as a result of the election you must declare it,

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so I did. In threadbare times, it is easy to argue that taxpayers

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should not be asked to foot the bill for rosettes and megaphones.

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It is estimated to cost the taxpayer of propping up political

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parties may only be 50p per voter. That is slightly more than the cost

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of voting on X Factor. That is one way of looking at it.

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Do you think rich people should be allowed to have influence on

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politics? We could be funded in UKIP by one person with �10 million

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by we would not be able to give anything in return. It all depends

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on the circumstances in which the gift is handed over. We know there

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have been widespread and dubious contributions in all parties to the

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political process. That is not a good thing, self evidently, but I

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am opposed to state funding of political parties. You can bet your

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bottom dollar that it would be the big three that would have all the

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money for themselves and the small parties would be frozen out. What

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is the cost of the standing for election, even locally? Zilch.

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get no help? Do you have to print posters and so forth? We pay for

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that out of our own pockets. delight to see a mechanism in place

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so that is funded? -- would you like. Not at a local level. The

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political elite in this country are morally and ideologically bankrupt

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and we need to find a new way forward and it is the traditional

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political parties that hold the gateway to Parliament itself. Why

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can't we have more independence in Parliament? Might have we have

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people who have been successful as a head teacher for local business

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and allow them to stand for one term only, so they can achieve

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something in that term? At the moment, it is difficult for them to

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stand. The ground swell, which is there, has not been tapped into yet.

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Do you accept funding should be paid for by the tax payers? Already,

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but tax payer pays a certain amount for political parties. It is very

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small compared to the situation in some other countries. Nobody is

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proposing, Nick Clegg has said this is not the moment to increase

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funding. Other parties are saying, if you want to keep the big money

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out of politics, you have to have some state funding. How do you

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think the voters would react? voters would recognise it is not a

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healthy situation when one or two will be individuals can effectively

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by political parties. -- wealthy. Away the Tories have been

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bankrolled by big food chains has had an effect. But you for coming

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It has been a busy week. Here are This treetop protest against plans

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for a new nuclear reactor at Hinckley Point was short lived.

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Three men came down after just a day living in the cold. These are

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the serious faces of members of the Gloucestershire police operative.

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They voted for a freeze in the police budget despite serious

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warnings over funding from the Chief Constable.

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In a surprise U-turn, Conservative councillors in Taunton have

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scrapped their plans to raise council-tax. The plans were

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criticised by some in their own party and by Lib Dems in the area.

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The euro is in trouble and the world's financial markets are in

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turmoil. Bristol traders are stepping in with the launch of a

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new currency, the Bristol pound. It can be spent in Bristol shops and

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it is hoped it will keep money within the city.

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The mayor of Stroud has told a court he wants a full trial for

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refusing to fill in his senses form. John marjoram appeared at Bristol

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magistrates on Wednesday. My usual jog through the week that

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leaves me quite exhausted! Let's pick up the introduction of

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the Bristol pound. It brings us to the euro. If we join the euro eight

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Dec -- if we had joined the euro a decade ago, what situation which

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the country be in? It would depend on how much influence we would have

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had in the eurozone. We might not be in the situation we are in

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generally had rejoined. Would we be Greece or Germany? I hope we would

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be Germany. I suspect we would be somewhere in between. We have more

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flexibility at the moment, not having joined the euro, to manage

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our economy to deal with a difficult economic situation.

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very much, but some. So, he was right when he said don't join?

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think we will be in the euro one day but I think we will be in it at

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a time of our own choosing and when we can have an ear prints on what

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goes on. The difficulty with the euro is, they didn't get the ground

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rules right in the first place. Whose fault is that? We went in

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there so we could not implement it. In it will only work if everybody

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works at the same rate all the time. If they diverge stresses and

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strains appear. This is the same thing as the 50s and 60s on a wider

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canvas. It will not go away. If some countries are forging ahead,

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others are not going so quickly, and it is like building a bridge

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without expansion. What situation with the West Country be in if we

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had joined? It would have been a catastrophe. There is a single

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interest rate for the whole of Europe and that affects different

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countries in different ways. The boom in Greece and Ireland was

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fuelled by their joining the eurozone in the first place. Now,

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they are reaping the whirlwind because they have got much higher

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interest rates than they would have had outside the eurozone and they

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cannot devalue their currency. Argue losing the battle on Europe?

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I do not think so. I fit the eurozone will get through its

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difficulties. -- I think. They have accepted wheeze has to put in place

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an austerity policies and then there will be helped to get out of

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the situation and the euro will emerge as strong as it has ever

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been. It has been predicted in this country for years that it was going

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to collapse. It has not yet and I do not we did it will. Greece will

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not be held! We shall have to see. Thank you both for joining us. The

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