07/10/2012 Sunday Politics West


Andrew Neil and David Garmston with political news including Defence Secretary Philip Hammond from the Conservative Party Conference and Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander.

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In the West - David Cameron and the Police. Hundreds of thousands of us


are due to vote for new Commissioners in just a few weeks'


time. Can the Prime Minister convince you that it's worth the


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2132 seconds


Hello, we will soon be voting for new police and crime commissioners,


but what are we supposed to be voting for? I will ask the Prime


Minister if his big idea is what bothering with. I got into Downing


Street without upsetting the officers on the gate, they were


charming! Helping us with our inquiries today, Charlotte Leslie,


a Conservative from Bristol, and Tessa Munt, at the Liberal


Democrats. Anything you may say, it may be taken down in writing and


used against you, but I hope you will be brave and confess! What


about this idea of police commissioners? I am very for that


idea and more so as the campaign goes on. So many people ask why the


police are not doing more about anti-social behaviour, etc? People


now have someone who is accountable for the priorities of the police


and that is really good. We should not have politicised police


management. So I am not in favour. Having said that, I am completely


in favour of the Liberal Democrats -- in favour of the Liberal-


Democrat candidate in this area. We were obliged to put one up. Our man


cut all the funding -- Mr Maddock cut the funding for PCSOs and if we


had him in control, but we would have to challenge that stomach


there is not going to be much money floating around and Mr Madoc is


superb and has a lot of experience of my knitting for budget. --


managing. He has wasted money closing


libraries and spent three-quarters of a million pounds setting them up


again, he is out of control! A we will talk more later on, and


other candidates are available! They are on the website.


The exercise of voting for police commissioners will cost �75 million


across the country, so is it worth it? We have turned detective.


On the streets of the West, no sign of election fever. Almost no-one


seems to know. Please Commissioner, no! I know it is soon, but I do not


know when. I do not know! No idea. And never heard of it. I attitudes


may be linked to events, crime has been falling for nearly two decades


but a lot of public money is being spent so we can have a direct say


in how police forces are run. Election officers are grappling


with holding complicated votes using a different ballot paper that


people may not understand. So more expense. The Electoral Commission


is running gaffer's. He will explain how to fill in the ballot


paper. The money spent on this is just for starters. To run campaigns


across entire police force areas will cost parties a lot. In Avon


and Somerset, each candidate can spend more than �220,000. It has


brought protests from independents, who feel they are being priced out


of the process. The cost deters even the Liberal Democrats, who are


less enthusiastic about Commissioners than their coalition


partners, especially the Home Secretary. They will be highly


visible, chosen directly by the people and accountable by the


people -- to the people. This experiment take shape on November


15th, regardless of whether people vote or even care!


The expense is one of the issues I brought up with the Prime Minister.


I met him at Number Ten. Prime Minister, why are we spending


this money alerting Police Commissioner -- Police Commission


has come up when police forces in the West are cutting PCs on the


beat? A green league proper police accountability. -- we need. You


walk down a village or street and ask people who will is on the


police authority on what powers they have and they will not be able


to tell you. In the future, at elected police commissioners will


be seen by the public as their voice. Who wants them? I won at


them and I think the public will welcome them when they see when


they want to push the police to do more on domestic burglary and


challenge issues in the community, they have someone to talk to.


how can they do that when officers are being cut? The present had of


officers on the front line is going up. Difficult financial decisions


are being made in a climate when crime is falling, and public


confidence and law and order is going up. These are difficult


decisions, but we saw this week with the news saw this -- serve as


launch of one organisation providing helicopters for the


crease services and the country, you can save money and providing


better service. Bid chief Constable of Gloucestershire resigned earlier


this year and said his force was on the edge of the cliff -- the chief


constable. A do not accept that. The percentage of officers on the


front line is up, public confidence in law and order is up, crime is


down, and the police are doing an excellent job. They are not alone


in taking difficult decisions. Cuts across the board have been made,


except for the National Health Service. In the police, they have


done very well! This new police commissioners will impose the Cup.


-- the new. They are therefore accountability so when people are


not satisfied on when they want greater action on transport crime,


they want to bring to the attention of the police took a public order,


in future they will have one person they are accountable to. But still


has narrowly voted to have an elected Mayor -- Bristol. The sea


in principle, they will have one person they come praise -- it is


the same principle. It will be great for Bristol.


What will you give Bristol in return?


To say to the new Mayor of Bristol, what is it Bristol most wants? What


changes can you make to attract Bristol -- business to the city?


What power can we devolve to you to do that? It is much easier with one


person. And she will deliver? course. And this is the year it you


tried to tax static caravans and pastries, you do not get working


people, do you, that is what true opponents say? We have taken the 2


million lowest-paid people in this country out of income tax. When you


are dealing with a budget deficit bigger than Greece, you have to


take difficult decisions. Sum you can follow through with. And some


we have taken and have had to make changes, you do that in government.


But we are in government in a difficult time and I think people


understand that and understand you do not get everything right.


The Prime Minister. A lot to talk about. Very robust defence of these


police and crime commissioners. What do you reckon the turnout in


your pot of the world will be? would not want to put money on that


-- I would not. I imagine quite low because just the recognition of the


fact there is a date in the diary this is going to happen is low. I


feel strongly no information is being sent out to people and the


way that would normally happens. were be difficult for people to


vote on party lines -- it will be. They all want the same, roughly, so


how do people choose? He it will be difficult and the information has


not been supplied -- it will be difficult. This is the first one


and it will be en grande and our political experience. Every time


there is the first time election it will be difficult. But it will be


interesting as people begin to realise in a few years' time that


they are collecting the person who drives the priorities for the


police force. Up Prime Minister's run which was interesting. I


challenge him about the falling number of officers and he said the


proportion of officers on the front line is higher, and that is true,


but there are fewer, that is the truth. It is interesting speaking


to the police, they want better communication gadgetry. The


replication of information they have to do when they rests on his


extraordinary. Why do police not have technology that can make a


difference? Particularly when time is tight. Police commissioners can


be good at pushing forward that kind of thing. A week to talk about


whether your leader is out of touch with ordinary people -- we talked


about. He had to do you turns on a caravan Tax, for example. It does


he gets it? Completely. If you do not listen to people when they say


you are wrong, people say you are out of touch. If you change things,


people say, you should not have changed things. There were


anomalies on the pastry tax, he does get it. But it is a really


difficult task. They arrive at a lot of people -- there are a lot of


people who could have told the Chancellor and David Cameron those


were bad ideas before they were put forward. We should listen before we


speak and think about things beforehand, then we do not get into


such a mess by putting forward these proposals. It would not have


been very difficult to ask people in Yorkshire for example what would


happen if you applied VAT to static caravans. We had to explain it at


the Treasury. We went to the Treasury, who listened. He was


ignored! I do not know! Dave it can rent is keen on saying that we have


taken 2 million ordinary people out of tax -- David Cameron. That was


front page of the manifesto, but let's see if we go further. Our


policy for our party has a target of 12 million.


It is one of the biggest white elephants and the West, the


regional fire control centre in Taunton has not taken his single


999 call, and yet it is costing us all �100,000 a month. Now, in a bid


to recoup some of the wasted money, the government is going to rent out


the building. In an emergency, every second


counts. The quicker your call is answered, the quicker help will


arrive. Mack your call is answered by a local person in your area. --


your calls. Currently, there are five control centres across the


West, like this one, but the last government promised to change


things by merging the centres into one centres. -- one that centre. No


longer will calls be diverted between centres, but a pledge to


create a super control centre in Taunton, with state of the art


computer systems are making things quicker and cheaper. It was under


Labour in 2004 that the fire control project was first set up to


improve efficiency and technology within the fire service, and to


make the country better prepared for a national emergencies and


major incidents. The plan for Tom Turner was that 999 cause would be


handled from Wiltshire through to Cornwall -- at for Taunton. The


unions always hated the idea. made it clear to the government


these proposals could not and would not work -- we made it clear. The


idea to close seven control rooms across the South words -- South


West and replace it with one facility was madness. We made it


clear to government these plans would not work in that form. To


replace highly professional emergency control operators with


microchips was deeply flawed from the outset! And Noel emergency call


has been answered here -- no emergency call. The project was


mothballed by the coalition and 2010. They lay the blame with


Labour politicians, including the fire minister at the time. It now


costs of the �6,000 in electricity, nearly �29,000 in maintenance, over


�100,000 in rent every single month. Total cost to the tax payer, �1.6


million each year. Bit were told from the start it would not work


but they pushed ahead regardless -- they were told. Hundreds of


millions of pounds has been squandered. The first Labour


government gave us this building, the coalition government had failed


to capitalise for use it. Taxpayers' money has been wasted


and no-one has been held to account. Built as a private finance


initiative, police will not run out until 27th so it is up for rent as


a solution, yours at just far hundred and �50,000 a year. --


�450,000. But the unions say the government has failed to learn from


this costly mistake. To joining the debate is former


Labour MP David Drew. How does the Labour government think this is a


good idea? It was a shambles from the start and as Tam McFarlane


explains, they were told and they were warned and they ignored it.


has been one of the worst plans of New Labour. But why? Chief fire


officers and firefighters were saying they but successive


ministers did not listen, why? it was the vanity of John Prescott


among others who felt they knew best and it fitted the regional


agenda. We felt strongly in Gloucestershire, because we had an


excellent fire centre, and they just tried to drive it through. But


it was destined to fail from the word go and I was pleased to work


with a group to undermine it and make sure it did not work, because


it was the wrong approach. Sadly, the legacy still exists with the


costs. Worthies of a private -- worthies of a private finance


initiatives mistakes? -- work these. It was the only game in town


because we had the restraint of public sector borrowing


requirements, so this was seen as a smart way to borrow against future


requirements, but it has not worked. A even in the good times, the


Labour had Max doubt on their credit card and finding new way of


finding credit? -- maxed out. was about getting the credit going,


hospitals were in need of refurbishment, etc. But the deals


that were done were so bad and so costly and the people doing them,


as we have seen with the West Coast line this week, when not skills in


negotiating the price. I am just saying that people under taking


negotiating were not good at what they were doing. Is there any


defence of this? And would not want to defend it in the slightest -- I


would not. I think PFI it is an appalling way to go -- is an


appalling way to go. Coalition is a way to get us out of this hideous


mess and that is a good example of how we got to that stage. Berry �70


billion worth of borrowed money through PFI which we know already,


be estimates for paying back of 300 billion -- and there is. I think


you make sure you know exactly what you are doing before you borrow


money. This is pay-day loans for government and it is disgraceful!


If you did not have this, schools would not have been built and


hospitals. Firstly, it is about a Labour government who were out of


touch. Speak to any firefighter and they say the local knowledge was


crucial in getting the vehicle to way you wanted and you cannot


replicate that with a computer chip. And the public sector is


historically really bad at negotiating the private sector, so


you have private contractors running riot. Juice sort that out,


we need to look at how we negotiate those contracts -- to sort that out.


When you are in government, you seem to get this arrogance about


going ahead with a project everyone is advising you not to do, whether


it is Police Commissioner has all this. -- all this. Civil servants


are individually good people working hard, it is the system to


blame and not the individuals and the individuals do not often have


access to real world knowledge that you need to make good decisions.


And the way the system works, the - - we now have the luxury of a five-


year term, nobody can change the system. We have to rush ahead and


take a look back at the political week. Which only have 60 seconds


for it. -- we only have. A to the Labour conference.


8 David Letterman style welcome for the man who wants to be Mayor of


Bristol. Bristol is a fantastic city and if I can tempt you to


bring a future Labour Party conference here, you can taste it


for yourself! And Miliband mentioned he is a comprehensive boy


-- Ed Miliband. Up two a state school boys hoping for big things


in Bristol on November 15th. And T is going to be a great match of


Bristol! -- he is going to be. These vehicles are used at Heathrow


and could be coming to Bristol. Where is the driver to? And out in


a fresh batch of the countryside, the badger caught is proving to be


anything but black and white. -- cull. Three councils have said they


will not allow them to be shot on their land!


At conference, Ed Miliband said he was a conference -- a comprehensive


boy, he told us about 45 times! a bit of class does not go a miss!


-- a bit. A bit of class war is good. It is an issue but it will be


among other things, it is about competence of government and about


a lot of the issues this week. is the posh boy image of David


Cameron and his cabinet of millionaires, that will come up.


Miliband said, we are one nation as long as she went to a school like


me and my Cabinet. People want to see competence and do not want to


be dragged into an old class for which seems opportunistic and does


not do politics any good. I went to Badminton. Mack it is interesting


and offers scholarships to people who do not have a lot of money but


want to do sport, it is a good model of giving people access to an


amazing sports facilities if they have talent. Is that something you


will throw at your opponents? can hurl insults at ideas but you


want to keep it less personal -- you can. A good it is going to


stick with Mr Cameron, -- but it is. The fact that Ed Miliband went on


about it. It is an issue because we should be moving towards a


classless society but class is ever more important. Is he an ordinary


comprehensive boy? I do not think he had any special tuition and is


much the better for it. He lived in a rather nice part of London!


you talk about class, you talk about education and under Labour,


the gap between private and state school education widened, so that


is what matters. That is it! But do not go away because Andrew has more


Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, interviews and debate including Defence Secretary Philip Hammond from the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham and Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander.

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