14/10/2012 Sunday Politics West


Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, including an interview with the Conservative Party Chairman Grant Schapps and a debate on the future of Scotland.

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In the west, The North Somerset MP Liam Fox hits out at the elite


within his own party. Who can he mean? And has he still


got his eye on the top Conservative job.


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2175 seconds


Thank you, Andrew. Welcome to Sunday Politics in the West. Today:


A doctor's prescription for making the Conservatives more attractive.


Liam Fox tells us why David Cameron and the Westminster elite should


listen to people like him. I have been putting him on the spot.


Giving us an injection of political wit and experience are our guests


today. They are the Lib Dem Don Foster, who has been given a


ministerial job under Eric Pickles, and the Conservative from Wiltshire,


Justin Tomlinson. Don, congratulations on becoming a


minister. It is great fun. Incredibly hard work, and a huge


steep learning curve. Within 24 hours of being appointed, I was


leading a debate on the topic of building regulations. I had to stay


up all night to learn about the issues. Within three days, I was


giving evidence in front of the select committee, then within a


week, stand at the Despatch Box and answer questions. You were our sort


of a new boy. Do you aspire to ministerial office? He was a


natural at the dispatch box. It is a wonderful opportunity. We are


seeing more opportunities as backbench MPs to actually shape the


direction of policy. It is an exciting time, hard work, and


sometimes things take a long time. First, can the correlation between


the Conservatives and Lib Dems last? Attentions are coming to the


surface, and Liam Fox does not try to hide his disappointment that the


liberals are watering down Tory policies -- tensions at coming to


the surface. Two conferences, two weeks and 170 miles apart, but at


times, the gap appeared much bigger. Playing to their audiences, Tories


and Lib Dems are made jibes at each other. A lead the Conservatives be


in no doubt, we will hold them to their promises on the environment.


No other party make that commitment. Not Labour, not the Liberal


Democrats, just us, the Conservatives. I will not allow us


as a party to be bound hand and float to Tory spending plans across


next Parliament. Sitting at, but speaking up a bit more these days


his former defence secretary Liam Fox. He has just launched a new


group, Conservative Voice, which aims to push the party further to


the right. I think it is actually a very healthy that we are able to a


spouse clear conservative viewpoint distinct from the coalition. Other


partners growing apart? The Tories will do their damnedest to Gullit


alone after the next election. The Lib Dems are wondering who they


might get into bed with after 2015, although not all are happy to say.


What was the question? Who is your preferred coalition partner?


away. I am not saying. As a minister, you have to juggle many


balls. A I could not possibly comment. Liam Fox doesn't just


disapprove of Lib Dem policies. He is also critical of his own party's


leadership, suggesting there out of touch and remote. He calls them a


metropolitan elite. I asked him who he had in mind. Not just the Tory


party, I was talking about politics in general. We spend a great deal


of time and effort talking about House of Lords reform. That is an


issue for the metropolitans, for the Westminster village. It is not


an issue they talk about in Portishead or in my constituency,


where people talk about employment and about prosperity, about


pensions and their economic future. The implication is that you get it,


but Mr Cameron doesn't. No, I think there is a tendency in Westminster


to be very Westminster Oriented. I think it affect all the political


parties. I think that is one of the things the party conference season


does, it gets politicians out amongst activists and other parts


of the country. I hope that at the end of the three weeks of


conferences, we go back to Westminster with a better


understanding about what the voters want to talk about rather than


self-indulgent political discussions. Truth in the London


elite -- do you think the Tory party should be run by somebody


from a more rural area, like Somerset? I think what we simply


need to do, as have the other parties, is to recognise them is a


world outside London. I think we need to listen more widely. I would


not say North Somerset was the one place you have to listen to! This


is a shot at the Prime Minister. is not. It is a genuine attempt to


say if the party want to get re- elected in 2015, it needs to be in


tune with the voters. We have seen the Chancellor setting out his


stall with the economy. I think it has been a very good week, from a


party that knows what needs to be done and is not likely to change


course. I think some people will say, actually, Liam Fox spends too


much time with the party faithful, and you do not get ordinary people


because you were in the thick of it there. It is an odd argument for


someone who has spent their life working in the National Health


Service and who grew up on a council estate! A people to worry


about public services, they worry about the economy and what will


happen to their taxes. I do not think they do worry about


constitutional issues in the way politicians do. I am happy with my


agenda and I think it is one people broadly agree with. Dr Fox, thank


you very much. Just then, does he speak for you? He makes some very


interesting points. You are reminded what the priorities are in


the conference. We all have different priorities. Liam has to


acknowledge we did not win the election outright. It is a


coalition. We all have to compromise on some issues. By and


large, we have been working very well with a were coalition partners.


What about this talk of a metropolitan elite? I think if you


ask any MP if they consider themselves to be in touch with the


public, they would say that they are. When you represent a marginal


seat, you are very conscious about the priorities of the people you


represent. How popular with the agenda be -- how popular would the


agenda be? I am economically on the bright, socially on the left. I am


not a member of any pressure groups within the party. I am quite


relaxed about individuals putting forward their ideas. But it is a


meeting of mind and finding compromises. You share government


benches with Liam Fox. He is towards the right of the party. Are


you comfortable with that as a man towards the left of the Lib Dems?


think we should listen to people in local communities, and that was


interesting when he said that. Independent political parties need


to develop their policies. Liberal Democrats are doing that, the


Tories are doing that, Labour and others are doing it. I agree with


that. Two political parties had to come together given a collection


circumstances. I am comfortable working alongside our coalition


colleagues on the agenda we have, which is be dominated do with the


economic mess this country is in. He does not mean I have suddenly


become a Tory! -- it does not mean. The proposal of an extra �10


billion in cuts, what about that? There will be a lot of discussions


on that. We have got a situation where our welfare packages are a


third of government expenditure. It has ballooned in recent years, and


we must address that. You have your endorsing Policies. If you look at


the number of private sector jobs that are being created, it is quite


phenomenal. If you look at the infrastructure developments, they


ran lots of things. -- there are lots of things. If you look at what


we are achieving in the creative economy, we are beginning to lead


there. We know how difficult it is, and that is why we have to take


tough decisions. We must crack on. The coalition are promising that


council tax will be frozen again. That would leave local authorities


very short of cash. This is how democracy looks in Gloucestershire.


At its heart, the county council, then the six smaller district


councils. 320 councillors, over 6,000 employees, at a cost to the


taxpayer of over �463 million. But do we really need seven different


councils? Would warm super council do the job? This man thinks he can


make things simpler and is even prepared to sacrifice his job.


would say closer integration and joint working are somewhere along


the path to a unitary authority. If it can be shown that we can work


together on various topics, then why not make a formal decision to


join up completely, rather than maintain the overheads, separate


staff, working on the same subject in seven local-authority is?


his proposals have upset others, who say the current system ain't


broken. You can spend a lot of time talking about rearranging does deck


chairs. Actually, there are opportunities already where we can


work close and better together, get rid of duplication, act as a single


public sector team. How would it be if these seats were no longer


warmed by county councils, -- county councillors, but by a new


unitary councillors instead? think every council should look at


it and see what savings might be made. If you can get rid of the


tier of government, it has to be more efficient. That's the theory,


but councillors from Gloucestershire only need to travel


50 miles to see what happens when it is put into practice. In 2009,


will share lost a whole tier of local government. Out when the


borough and district councils, and the county council as well. It was


replaced by a super unitary authority. Three years on, I have


come to Chippenham, to find out whether people have noticed a


difference. Three years ago, when she got rid of his district and


borough councils and County Council, and replaced it with one authority.


Have you noticed any difference? Yes. What's the difference? It is


worse. North Wiltshire District Council represented the locality


much better. The until authority has been appalling. I personally


believe it has not been working. We had a few issues that came up last


year that needed support from our councils, and it physically was not


there to supporters and achieve what we wanted to achieve.


haven't noticed any difference. I was vaguely aware, yes. As a


taxpayer, it is meant to be better value for money. Have you seen a


shaming your council tax? No. might not be a resounding vote of


confidence, but members of the new unitary authority in Welsher say


they are saving �80 million a year. 18 million reasons why councillors


in Gloucestershire might even consider voting themselves out of


the job. The timescale is probably such that if it -- the timescale is


promise such that it would be beyond my time as leader, but I


would be prepared to make myself redundant. Joining the debate is a


Labour's Mark Dempsey, a councillor in Swindon. There is a unity


authority of will chair and a unity authority of Wilshere. -- Wiltshire.


And Swindon. You allow people to know how to get things to change. I


think decisions about moving towards unity authorities have to


be a decision made by the people. People are looking for leadership


from their local government. In Swindon, the big demand is a plan


for Gross, getting how young people back into work -- a plan for growth.


Let's talk about tax been frozen. Families are finding times are hard


at the moment. I voted for a council tax freeze twice. I think


it gives people the help they need. Overall, when council tax and


business rate at going down, what people really need is the hope we


can build a better future for them, to bring new jobs and the economy


and regenerate our town centres. Let's bring in our other guests.


None of us want to pay more council tax, but what's a point in having


men and women working in government if they can't decide the level?


They will be able to decide. What has been said is if council tax is


frozen, some of the money will be provided from that anyway. It is up


to local councils to make the decision whether they want to take


the money and have a freeze, or not take the money from central


government but razored through council tax. It is very important.


It is incredibly important for people on pensions. I remember my


times on the council went council tax went up massively. Hard-pressed


farmers will be very grateful for this. Yes, local authority will


have to find a contribution. Were it is the reality? -- what is the


reality? I think what people want is hope for now. That is the


critical thing. They want value for money and they want to believe we


will grow the economy. That is the leadership people want in local


government. Can you deliver without large cuts? This is the challenge.


This is where the cut and really biting. I knocked on the door in


North Swindon last weekend. A young mother was on child benefit and


that had been cut, her husband was facing redundancy and head bills


were going up. She said openly, I voted Conservative last year, will


not make the same mistake again. That is the problem people are


having, because of the cuts the Government are making. I am afraid


the legacy of the economy we inherited means we have to make


difficult decisions to balance the economy. How long will that excuse


wash for? We inherited a massive deficit. But you have been saying


that for long time. We will have to demonstrate by the general election


and we have made a difference. There is no hiding from that. In


2015, people can make their judgment. Thank you so much for


joining us. Now, let's take a race through this week's political


stories in one minute. Time to say, hello hello hello to the new police


and Crown Commissioners. But standing for office is hardly a


steal. The Greens have pulled out, and in Avon and Somerset, UKIP's


man withdrew, saying the party could not afford the �5,000 deposit.


In Gloucestershire, the woman standing on the Save the badgers


platform also threw in the towel. You need around �84,000 also to


spend on materials for advertising, marketing and so on. And politics


played its part in scuppering the biggest global defence deal. BAe


and the parent company of Airbus, EADS, have called the whole thing


off. The Green Party's new leader popped into the West Country this


week as anti-nuclear protesters clashed with police at Hinckley


Point in Somerset. At first it was all smiles on the Manchester


conference stage. This week, back to campaigning in Bristol. Marvin


Rees was joined on the street by the debt Miliband. -- stand on the


street by Ed Miliband. Let's pick- up on the story about the police


and Crown Commissioners. People are dropping at because they have to


find five grand, to put your name down, then you have to canvass


across a vast geographical area. It is not practical. I have sympathy.


You do need lots of candidates, whether from political parties are


independent. That �5,000 deposit I think is excessive. If you do well,


you will get the money back. One reason you have a deposit is to


stop... It would just be the main parties -- it would just be the


main parties standing. The key thing about this is it is a real


opportunity to have democratic accountability that we do not


currently have in this way. OK. We will wait and see what happens.


Before we go, we must end up best wishes to one of our local


politicians who was a regular guest here. Anne Snelgrove, who was a


Labour MP for South Swindon, has told us she is battling cancer


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