Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, including an interview with the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.
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In the west: In less than two weeks Bristol will
vote on having a directly elected Mayor. But is Lord Heseltine right
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1733 seconds
when he says a Yes vote would help Welcome. Coming up: Bristol on the
cusp. Thousands will vote in less than two weeks in whether the city
should elect a mayor. Is Lord Heseltine right when he says a yes
vote could transform the city? An interview with him coming up soon.
I hope you are not too worn out after the London Marathon. It's
exhausting sitting on the sofa, watching them. I am joined by two
fine athletes to talk local politics. Charlotte Lesley is a
boxer and Conservative MP. Labour's Dawn Primarolo knows how to fight a
political scrap but now the days -- nowadays she is a deputy speaker in
the House of Commons. Welcome to you both. Charlotte, the
Conservatives are falling in the polls. Has the Prime Minister had a
disastrous week? The country is in a mess after 13
years of Labour. We've got a difficult job to do. We are not
ahead at the moment. No surprises there. There is a long way to go.
Is it one of those things, Dawn? Is this the start of bigger things for
Ed Miliband? I think we have to wait and see
where the government -- whether the Government's get a grip of being in
government. They've had a disastrous couple of months and not
just the Budget. It makes you think, did they have a list of people who
they wanted to upset because those that they haven't is smaller, from
granny tax to pass these two caravans. The problem is beginning
to be the mantra that it was all the Labour government's fault and
we are going to make the economy work has worn out. Unemployment is
Unemployment is going down, actually.
In Bristol, it is going up. The change was very small over the
whole country. We are still at a 25 year high for Women in unemployment.
Not at all. The reason we are in the mess we are in his governments
have -- politicians have been doing knee-jerk politics and don't have a
long-term plan for the future of this country.
Our main story this week, does Bristol need eight directly elected
mayor? The debate on both sides is hotting up ahead of the referendum
on 3rd May. One of the main advocates is Lord Michael Heseltine,
the man they used to call tar sand. He thinks that without a Mayet,
Bristol will sink into the mud. It will just go on with the same
problems it has now. The most acute one, there have been six different
leaders of the council in 10 years. If you have that degree of chopping
and changing, you don't get a coherent policy, you don't follow
things through, you don't get decisions taken. There is a general
disenchantment in the way the city is run.
We need a city dictator, do we? I think that's silly. A phrase
invented by those who try to protect their own power base. There
has always got to be a job gone. Look across the world and show me a
sophisticated economy like us with whom we have to compete which has
not got a directly elected leaders in their major cities.
Do you accept there is a risk, if Bristol were to decide to have a
mayor, what if you get the wrong one?
You can get the wrong end p, you can get the wrong chief executive,
you can get the wrong council leader.
You can't do anything about it, though.
There is always a downside, risk, in human societies, papers are full
of the downside risks. You say a mayor of Bristol might
become a nationally known or even internationally known figure. Are
you serious? I'm more than serious and that is
the essence of the case. Bristol, along with other great English
cities is fighting for inward investment, for higher standards of
service, for the prestige of its environment. That is all tied up
with having someone who represents that case, puts the case to the
local people, and is elected by the local people. If they are so well-
known, who is a fudge them? -- Dave Hodgson?
We don't have them in the country yet.
He is the mayor of... You have never heard of them. You are making
my point. They don't have the power that is necessary to make the job
worthwhile. This government is offering the chance to devolve real
power. And have we got the calibre of people in Bristol, do you think?
You asking that question terrifies me. Are you telling me there is no
one in Bristol capable of leading Bristol? What has gone wrong in our
society that cities that were world peacemakers 100 years ago are now,
in your language, not even capable of producing a leader.
I just ask you if you knew anybody. I believe the people of Bristol
would recognise such a person if they emerged and whatever you think,
the fact that there have been six different leaders in 10 years tells
me something is radically wrong with the leadership of Bristol.
Thank you, Lord Heseltine. Joining me is Bill Martin, and
Alderman in Bristol and a former councillor and Lord Mayor. He is
leading the No campaign in the city. You heard Michael Heseltine sailing,
get a grip. -- saying. I think that is rich from Michael
Heseltine. He took more powers away from local councils than any
government before or since. What are they offering? We don't know.
They have been on the website and query to what extra funding would
be made available, what extra powers would Bristol get, and they
won't tell us until not only after the referendum but after the
election. Bristol has to plod along, just the
way it has always done things? You say that. I don't think Bristol
just plods along. It is a great city and I enjoy living here. It
has got many things that keep people here. Also people come to
our university and stay. A graveyard of ambition, some
people call it. Nevertheless, it doesn't mean to say the council is
particularly dynamic and in Wales, where they have a strong political
voice, occasionally we miss out. I take that point but of course,
Wales has greater powers in terms of the Welsh Assembly.
You were offered powers and you are not taking them.
We are not told what they are. Let's bring in are over two guests.
A nice job for one of you? Know, find you.
Not for me. I've got Bristol North West to take care of. I think the
attitude we've seen is exactly why Britain is punching below its
weight and maybe a few people in the council house like to think we
are not but nationally, look at our transport record. We've got some of
the lowest investment per head in the country in terms of the
transport structure. I am a Bob Dylan fan. If he comes to the area,
he goes to Cardiff. I want him to come to Bristol.
But you are not a councillor any more. You have been complacent?
That's not true. Basically, government has decided how much
money local councils Gadd. Without money, you cannot build. There was
an arena with the government in the south-west and the plug was pulled
on it. That wasn't the city council's fault, that was the
government. He said he was not going to go for
it but are you in favour or not? In principle, I like the idea of
Meyer's but let me be frank, there are no extra powers being offered.
We are told to wait and see. Secondly, there are huge challenges
that Bristol faces, things like housing and transport. The mayor
would have power to deal with those. Thirdly, can somebody explain to me
how concentrating all the power in one person who is there for four
years will work? One city that has been there and
got the T-shirt is Doncaster. That is up north. They've decided to
have an elected mayor and it has been a roller-coaster ride ever
Like Bristol, it's got some nice Georgian buildings and a few
historic churches. Both places are at regenerating and benefit from
attractive waterways but yes, it still seems bizarre to be looking
at Doncaster in South Yorkshire. Of the 11 places that have had elected
mayors for a decade, Doncaster is the most comparable to Bristol in
terms of population and is also one of the most interesting. Mayors
have proved controversial and politics has been bruising. When
postal votes on 3rd May, people here will be deciding whether to
get rid of theirs. Doncaster is the Labour heartland. One of its MPs is
Ed Miliband. They dominate the council and won the first mayoral
robes. There was shock in 2009 with the election of Peter Davis of the
English Democrat party. A blunt Yorkshireman, he remains
controversial. He likes to put the boot into political correctness and
meddling bureaucrats. I was able to come in here and say, right, a new
start. Let's clear the desk -- clear the decks and reduce spending.
Let's make government more efficient and more people centred.
One of his first savings was to halve his own salary. Now he is
planning to get rid of most councillors. The people pick the
mayor, not some cabal of councils in the background. There are far
too many of them. 63 in Doncaster. They are impotent and they know
they are impotent, which makes them frustrated. In the council chamber,
I meet the chief troublemaker, Labour councillor Sandra Holland.
It has been a nightmare. Not only has it been a challenged and tested
our skills and abilities but I've got 44 Labour councillors who are
passionate about Doncaster, passionate about moving it forward,
and they feel terribly frustrated by having no say and no power in
their town. She is campaigning for an end to
elected mayors. It is wholly undemocratic and also
costly because nearly half a million pounds is spent on a
mayoral election every four years. That is money that could be spent
on frontline services and all the assets that they say an elected
mayor brings to a town can be done by a leader.
Out on the High Street, I talked to a BBC reporter who has covered
Doncaster's turbulent politics. What people here will tell you is
the last 10 years, the town centre has been transformed but certain
things such as children's services, another core service, have not been
managed particularly well. The government is still helping to run
the council. Among the 300,000 residents, there
is plenty of knowledge and opinion about the mayor. What would your
advice be to people in Bristol? Don't have elected mayors. They get
all powerful. He's got a very strong personality,
I know that. He is not a pushover. I think he is good for Doncaster.
I would say be careful about who you choose.
This is what I like about him. He does Staudt -- sort things out.
The people will decide on 3rd May and in Doncaster, polls suggested
support for keeping elected mayors but what matters most in -- is
whose supporters will be bothered to vote.
That is the experience in Doncaster. Dawn, the point you're making
before the film, what is wrong with having so much power in one
person's hands? I thought that the argument for
Meyer's was about greater accountability and responsiveness
to an area and the problem with a mayor is you have a mayor erected -
- elected and a council with a democratic mandate. I would say
that structures don't change things. The vision, the dynamism that Lord
Heseltine speaks about is what actions do.
If you do things by committee, things don't get done.
That is absolutely not true, David. You have lived in the city as long
as I have. Look at the great things that have gone on. The visions of a
Labour council to say, let's develop the city docks. It was
almost a vision to fill them meant with concrete, wasn't it?
It was but it didn't happen. Do we need more elections?
It is democratic because how many people vote for councillors? 800?
1,000? You say that but the turnout for
referenda for elected mayors is less than 30%. If it is a close
vote it is something like 15 or 16% of Bristol's electorate is decided.
We are going down a one-way street for an elected mayor. Other places
can go back to the people and get rid of that office. We in Bristol
are not being given that opportunity. I guess we would have
to vote for the right person? But we still can't get rid of the
Office of elected mayor. What is so interesting about
Doncaster is actually, the vested interest in the status quo. They
have had their world disrupted and they don't like it. If you ask the
people of Bristol what they think of Bristol politics, they say it's
a shambles. You've got party- political bickering, the colour of
the city changes every so often. I didn't vote for the council leader.
But you can vote them out. I think you should let the people decide
but tell them what they are deciding on. Tell them what powers
the Mail would need. Would they be able to run transport? How would we
deal with the fact that so much that effects Bristol happens in
south Gloucestershire? He once the local mayor to be like
Alex Salmond. Certainly, demanding change.
Forgive me but that is it. People are entitled to be treated like
grown-ups when they are making a decision like this. Tell them what
the powers are, how it would be different and how it would work.
With the city Deal, you can do things over transport.
But you can't. People were injured when the
government says, you've got freedom. The key thing is this, you've got
one person running the city who you can vote in and out. Which way do
you think it is going to go, Bill? Let's be fair, the No campaign are
fighting an uphill battle because the Conservative Party are fighting
eight Yes campaign. They are bringing in the big hitters like
Lord Heseltine. It is cross-party. On Monday, a more important party
is coming. The Conservatives are bringing these people in.
They want to win it. Party-political bickering has
tracked Bristol down for so long. The Conservatives have rarely, if
ever, controlled those cities in the normal democratic process.
Thank you for joining us. Time for the round-up of today's week's
It is the end of an era as the Bristol Evening Post changed its
name and cuts the Saturday edition of the paper. Staff protested
against using -- losing 19 of its 57 staff. The controversial Tory
leader of Somerset County Council has stood down to run as one of the
government's new Police Commissioner's while in office he
was responsible for driving through a cuts agenda to balance the budget.
The West is the most successful -- successful region in the country
for convicting those responsible for hate crime. Offenders who
target victims because of their disability, race or sexuality will
be brought to justice. Able to man who is fighting for the right to be
killed by a doctor says the commission on assisted dying has
let him down. Tony let Clinton has locked-in syndrome -- niggling son.
He says the law needs to be changed to help people like him.
That Was the Week in 60 seconds. Let's talk about the Evening Post
and those cutbacks there. The Bath paper has gone to a weekly.
It is a difficult situation when you've got a changing war --
changing world and more people are going digital. Local papers are
having to adapt and different industries are having to adapt,
like the book industry. I hope with dealing like things -- with dealing
like things like electronic readers, we adapt to.
I know the Evening Post hasn't always been friendly towards you
but it is a great paper with great tradition?
I agree it's very sad. There are challenges to the media industry
and newspapers in particular but they depend on advertising.
Advertising is either going elsewhere or going down and I think
that for Bristol, it is really important that we maintain at least
a daily newspaper and I would be incredibly sad to see the slow,
painful demise of the Evening Post. I think we are all agreed on that.
Very quickly, go ahead. I think we over estimate how many
people have digital access as well. That is all we've got time for this