10/02/2013 Sunday Politics West


Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, interviews and debate. Guests include environment secretary Owen Paterson and energy secretary Ed Davey.

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In the West, who gets to choose those who'll hold the safest seats


in Parliament? Some say picking the lucky candidates should be done by


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2463 seconds


ordinary folk - not just the party Welcome to the programme here in


the West. Coming up: The MPs with a job for life and without any


That's coming up, but firstly, to our political class room, where


some of us struggled to get an O- level. John Glenn, and the Labour


Mark Dempsey then 0 Swindon. Welcome to U-boat. -- welcome to


you both. Michael Gove made a huge U-turn this week. Do you ever think,


what is going on? I think Michael Gove is an extremely brilliant man


and Education Secretary. I think the U-turn is the gloss the media


want to put on it. He consulted on it, there been tweaks, and what


he's trying to do is improve the overall reputation and integrity of


the qualifications. What he did is trashed the GCSE, and now he is


saying, actually, it's fine. think you're making mischief with


those words. He said it wasn't fit for purpose. So there are


significant reforms we will be taking. These things are difficult


to get right. It is right that he consulted teachers, and there are


some changes to what he proposed. The key thing is the outcome -


Improved qualifications that prospective employers can rely on.


So you don't think he made a mess? It would always be ideal if you


could get every detail right of every policy first time, but that


is not the reality. Let's bring in labour. I'm sure you won't make


political capital out of this! He changed his mind, what is wrong


with that? I been it was an embarrassing climbdown. He showed


have listened to the teachers, the parents. One problem is he's stuck


in a bit of a 1920s view of education. Actually, I think you


should really be focused on building education systems for the


20 twenties. -- 2020s. That is where we should be aiming our


education system. Academic standards were quite high in the


1920s, actually! Yes, but we need to build an economy for the future.


Now, few of us feel completely safe in these days of redundancies, but


for some MPs, a job for life is just round the corner. If they get


elected to fight one of the West's safe seats, they are quids in. All


they have to come -- all they have to do is convince a handful of


activists that they are the right person for the job. But some people


think that should change. This is Bristol South, one of the


safest seats in the West Country. Even in Labour's bad defeat in 2010,


they won it comfortably. The MP is departing at the next general


election and the real contest to six-seater won't be in 2015. It


will take place in the next few weeks, with the choice being made


by fewer than 200 people. These are some of them. A South


Bristol pub was the venue for this Labour gathering. Any supporter


could attend and vote. However, this was not to choose a candidate,


it was to pick policies the party should adopt. The idea of having


open primaries with all local voters able to take part has won


influential backing in labour. Frank Field especially wants them


in safe seats. Once the system is under way quickly, the electorate


would realise they were offering a big say in the real choice, not in


the circus, biting and turning up in a contest that they know before


they set out from home who the winner will be. The Conservatives


sometimes hold open primaries. In 2010, all voters in the safe seat


of Salisbury were invited to the meeting which elected John Glenn.


The party went even further in Totnes, Devon. Constituents didn't


have to go to a selection meeting. There was a postal vote, and a


quarter of electors took part. Political scientist Elizabeth Evans


says research suggests it can be good for democracy a. Given the


less than 1% of the population is a member of a political party, that


is very few people involved in the future politicians who will be


sitting in Westminster. So having a primary way you allowing more


people to hear the candidate will be, you engage more people in that


prose and only be a good thing, given people in the UK are not


engaging with formal political parties in the way they used to.


Backings are Bristol, the votes had been passed. Labour members will


soon meet again to pick a candidate. Ordinary voters and our cameras


won't be allowed in. Joining as his mate and Hartley, a Liberal


Democrat councillor in Bath and deputy leader of the cancer that


the stop -- deputy leader of the council there. Do you share the


concern that this method is unhealthy? I think the primaries


other way forward. I was selected in an open primary in Salisbury.


There were 400 people there, over half those people were not party


members. Where seat has been in one party's hands for one time, there


is less chance there will be movement at the general election,


it is important there will be that selection. Do you think you would


not have got selected if you did not have an open primary? That is


not for me to say. But over half the people and that Rome were not


party members. Of course, when you are an MP, you have to act everyone


in the constituency, so it is only right that people who don't


necessarily support you have a say in who the candidates is likely to


be. It is also about the outcome as well as the process. We need to put


the represent back into representative. People saw I was


collected -- connected to the community, and I think that's what


they wanted. But the Conservatives back in 1950 had 3 million members.


Labour had one million. Now, the Conservatives are down to 150,000,


tops. There are only a few activists left in party politics,


so it does mean you're not really representing anybody apart from


then. I think you're right and you see people starting a career in


private school, going on to university, to work at Conservatory


Central Office, and then into Parliament without any real


experience. That leads to MPs who are out of touch and distant from


the community. The Lib Dems don't have many say seats, do they? --


safe seats. I think power needs to be in their hands of as many people


as possible. If there are marginal seats, people can decide to


recurrent democratic process, but this issue is more about tackling


it the safest seats that the two larger parties have. At least the


Lib Dems and the Conservatives have embraced this idea. Labour have not.


I think Labour have always been at the forefront of modernising


Parliament. We're the first black MP, the first openly gay MP. 33% of


our MPs are women, only 15% of the Conservatives are. I think there


are a selection processes have changed, so anybody can put...


do the trade unions have such a big role? They don't. They do -


massively. They shouldn't have a monopoly on the selection of Labour


candidates. The Lib Dems and the Conservatives in the coalition


document said they would pay the 200 primaries in safe seats, and


that promise has been dropped quietly. Why is that? It cost


�40,000 per seat to do a postal priory, and I suspect some of the


cost put pressure on that. The next best thing is to have an open


primary way you are not a member of the political party, as happened in


Salisbury. That has to be better than having a closed-shop


arrangement they you see with Labour. We must move on. More of


you contacted your MP about this issue than anything else recently -


gay marriage. The vote went through and exposed deep divisions within


society and the Conservative Party. But will the bill to deliver the


quality it promises? And at what price for the Conservatives?


What I would say from colleagues on -- to colleagues on all sides who


are opposing what we're trying to achieve today it is please have


some empathy for what your fellow citizens have been through.


Equality is not something that can be delivered partially. It is


absolute. An impassioned plea from Bristol's first openly gay MP, on


the day the personal became political. But will gay marriage


really be on an equal footing? Generally, I am pleased about it.


At his offices in Bristol, as he is working on the next issue of Viz


magazine. He is in a civil partnership, and welcomes the bill,


with one cabbie at. I'm a bit concerned with the legislation as


it stands. They still haven't dealt with this issue of adultery. At the


moment, I still couldn't see my partner if he were to have an


affair with someone else. There is not for equality in that sense.


Adultery is grounds for divorce if it is committed with someone of the


opposite sex. So not much use the game married couples. One MP who


abstained this week shed these concerns. -- not much use for gay


married couples. I am bigger concerns for the way the Bill was


laid out. There are issues with it, I'm not sure that it will be equal.


They inevitably will be important distinctions between same-sex and


opposite sex marriages. So, could some married couples be more equal


than others? Some politicians want to keep things as they are to avoid


confusion and changing the nature of marriage. This ludicrous


situation underscores why otherwise provision of civil partnerships of


nearly a decade ago was made. To ensure that same-sex couples can


make an equally valid commitment in law, receiving all the legal rights


and privileges conferred by marriage, but it would have to


remain different in name. Equality, then - just under different labels.


What went equal is the political fall-out. The Prime Minister faces


dissension on his doorstep and even resignations. I don't speak but the


chairman, I know many keel and very angered, as I do, about this issue.


Chiefly because, and sat in only, because of the impact its having on


our volunteers and members. -- and saddeningly. In the end, the in


quality -- the equality enshrined in this Bill may be partial, but


enough for some. And too much of others now divorced from a party


they helped to elect. My guests are here to discuss that. -- Nathan


Hartley is still here with us. What do you think of this development?


was delighted. We need to it allow gay people to get married. You are


a gay man? No, I am not. I am a heterosexual Christian but a strong


believer in equal rights for all people, which is part of the


inspiration behind setting up this group. John, would you like to


explain to gay people watching this programme why they shouldn't have


the same rights as you? I believe they do have the same rights, that


is why Parliament brought in the civil rights partnership. There's


never been a suggestion that there on UN -- that there are not equal


rights under law. If there is no difference, why bother opposing it,


if it is just a word? And I think it is important that this is seen


as being about protecting marriage. Marriage is distinct, it involves a


certain things. You will not actually have equality of treatment


under this proposed legislation. Adultery will not apply in the same


way. If you remove the notion of fidelity in marriage, then it


undermines marriage. And you think the Western world can't find a way


around that? Well, it seems Parliament has passed the


legislation, and you have to accept that. But my contention is the


label of marriage is diminished, because it when in the same thing


that it does at the moment. -- it won't mean. It's not just about


love and commitment. Belgium has had equal same-sex marriage the 10


years and there's been no attack on heterosexual marriages. Now this


battle has been one, and it looks almost certain it will be passed,


how long before you campaign for gay marriages to take place in the


Church of England? Not long at all. We are frustrated the Church of


England have a get-out clause that it will be illegal. I know a number


of ministers who are pro gay marriage and their various


frustrated -- they are very frustrated. But this was one of the


concessions, that because will absolutely not be made to marry gay


people. -- that vicars. A lot of parishes in rural areas have a lot


of control over what they do. They can set their own church policy in


terms of whether they marry divorcees or not. So I think they


should also be entitled to make the decision as to whether they allowed


to people of the same sex to get married in their churches.


Conservatives are leading social change in this country! I think


they have shown they are still deeply divided. This is exactly the


right thing to do. Why didn't you bring it in before 2010? Well, you


bought in civil partnerships. Your party when it was last in


government had section 28, which was an utterly repugnant


homophobic... Don't bring up ancient history. It's not that long


ago! Your party is split down the scenes over this. -- seams. It is


absolutely the right thing to do, everybody should be able to


celebrate love. I got married last year - the best day of my life, and


everybody should be able to celebrate their love through


marriage. But people have a right not to approve of it without being


they are marginalised and victimised as well, do you think?


respect the views of people with fake, but they should not enable


discrimination. -- people with faith, but faith should not enable


discrimination. Do you think you're on the wrong side of mystery? In 10


years, perhaps people will look back and say, it is like you voted


the slavery. That is a very unfair comparison. His time to step into


the 21st century. There are lots of questions that have not been


answered. Time now to take a regular look at the rest of the


The commission of their Avon and Somerset Police continues her bumpy


ride in office. A police and crime a panel almost derailed her plans


to freeze what we pay the police from the council tax pot. The


commissioner campaigned to freeze the tax, but hinted she would have


to raise it in future years. Millions of pounds are on their way


to improve flood defences. Hundreds of homes across the rage and were


affected by torrential rain and late last year. -- across the


region. Anti-war campaign is prevented from


joining a campaign in Gloucestershire against the Iraq


war whenever legal battle against police. They were on coaches


stopped from reaching the protest in 2003.


And a former guest on this show, Amanda Ramsey, who could fight


Bristol South a Labour next election settled a hacking case


One story which wasn't there but dominated the national agenda is


what went on amid Staffordshire Hospital, fortunately not a


hospital in our region. But do you fear we may have a similar story


somewhere here in the West Country? A I desperately hope not. It shows


since tragic -- some tragic cases. Despite all the Investment we put


in as a Labour government, you need the management in place in order to


make sure hospital functions properly. I be Labour and deserve


some credit for pumping lots of money into the NHS, but money needs


to be spent wisely. Be issued this week has really thrown into a


focused the quality of care. -- the issue this week. We need to have an


inspectorate would Teague back and not look at the quality of care.


And -- inspectorate with teeth. To this point, we have not had such an


inspectorate, we have focused on targets, and that was manipulating


the way that hospitals were run. We need to recognise that our


constituents and the people that use our hospitals want high quality


of care, and that is where things went wrong. Would Labour now say,


no more managers, and hospitals should be managed and run by


clinicians? No, I think you need managers in place. It is absolutely


crucial to have managers in place to make sure these incidents don't


happen. But you also need the doctors and nurses in place. I


guess I am worried the big top-down reforms the Conservatives are


bringing in will bring greater disruption to the NHS. I been we


need stability and to make sure the care people are getting is top


class. We have to leave it there. Thank you very much for coming in.


They are good friends really! I'm just saying that, they're probably


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