21/04/2013 Sunday Politics West


Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, interviews and debate. With shadow communities secretary Hilary Benn and Conservative MP Dominic Raab.

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Here in the West - Labour were hammered in the local elections.


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2072 seconds


Will they be the comeback kids on Welcome to the Sunday Politics,


here in the West Country. On the programme to date - Labour on the


up. They were hammered four years ago in the label elections and they


last beat Bristol Mail will -- and they lost the Bristol mayoral


elections. We have with us for Labour kerry McCarthy and for the


Conservatives Stephen Williams. Before we start, the funeral of


Lady Thatcher - were you there? was not there and I have not seen


any coverage. One thing I did do is to go and see her coffin in the


chapel in Parliament. I think it was more the sense of occasion. It


was not to pay tribute. Was she an inspiration to you? A lot of people


think you should be inspired because she was a woman, but you


should be inspired by people who do things you want to aspire to. In


some ways I was ashamed she was a woman because I disagreed with what


she was doing. The general thrust, her ideology, her attitude towards


the working class people in this country and many other people as


well, I don't see much there to admire. I think there are other


female role models in politics that I would aspire to. Did British


politics changed after the funeral of Lady Thatcher? I don't think her


funeral has changed anything. She still casts a be a shadow over the


modern Conservative Party. It is a problem for them. Even though she


has died, her memory will last for a long time yet and will influence


the Conservative Party, in particular the attitude towards the


European Union. I have to say, I alone Thatcher -- I loathed


Thatcher all the time she was Prime Minister. She actually inspired me


to get into politics. And negative inspiration rather than a positive


one. The local elections are round the corner. Last week we looked at


the county councils. This week it is the turn of Bristol to come


under the microscope of the Sunday Politics. All eyes are on Labour.


A giant ballot box has gone on show in Bristol as the first postal


voting papers start landing on doorsteps. They could be a decisive


shift in political fortunes in Bristol. A third of the seats are


up for grabs. Last time the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats


won all of them, but it could change. Leading the charge for


Labour, Ed Miliband came campaigning in the city. The do not


be fatalistic. We can make a difference. He hopes success in


Bristol will herald a wider revival where over successive elections


they have fallen a long way. South of England is a place where


we did very badly in 2009. But I have any message, a one nation


message and it is relevant to all parts of the country. At regional


headquarters, and energise team are working the phones to make sure the


disenfranchised come out to vote. Ed Miliband was here last Saturday


and that shows that Bristol is on Labour's radar nationally. It is a


fantastic opportunity. So the party that overtook them in the council


chamber are trying to keep politics at street level. We are in


government and we have to make tough decisions, but when I talk to


people on the doorstep, they recognise we were left with a


financial mess and they don't necessarily blame us for that. I


think another issue is people do realise that they don't change the


government at these local elections. Brave words. I voted Liberal


Democrats and Nick Clegg got in. No thanks. We won the seat in 2009.


There is a tendency for things to become a referendum on the


coalition. But this election is about local councillors. It is 10


years since Labour lost their grip on Bristol. Within two weeks, they


could once more be the biggest party on the council.


Will that happen again? I am unwilling to make a prediction.


There are five wards up for grabs in my constituency, so let's see


what happens. We have a mayor who it is an independent, so why


bother? A lot of power is now concentrated in the mayor, but if


you look at some of the negotiations and you turns that had


been made, there were forced -- they were forced upon him. I think


we have demonstrated that we have been an effective opposition in the


last five months or so and it is important there is that


representation there. We don't wanted to be a one-man dictatorship.


What are the Liberal Democrats stand-in for in the local


elections? I used to get a bit fed up when I was a councillor and I


was first selected to Avon and Bristol council 20 years ago when


the media said this is yet another referendum on national politics, I


think that is now even less relevant because we have been mayor


who runs the city. What people will be electing on 2nd May is the


person they think he will be the best local champion for their part


of the city. Who they think knows their community, knows the issues


for this course, what goes on in the high streets and can make


representations to the mayor. They are looking for someone who


understands their community and their national policies should


feature it even less in this selection. But to talk about some


of the Labour policies. They want to fight the bedroom tax, increase


minimum wage. How would that be paid for? The living wage would be


employers meeting the cost. Politics is always a question of


priorities, so you would look at the budget and how you could make


savings and Bunt things like that. The important thing is if we want


to get the economy moving, public sector workers are a key part of


that. No-one denies that, but if it meant increasing salaries by �1.20


a day, it is a substantial bill. He will pay for it? In it is a matter


for the council has to decide. Personally I don't because I am the


MP. When Marvin Reyes ran for Bristol mayor, he did to a lot of


research around the funding, but we would be in a different position


now that the budget has been introduced. We have to see what


situation we inherit before we figured out how we do that. But it


is a question of priorities. Your priority at the time of cuts is to


give the staff a pay increase? is important. The council had been


making people redundant and then hiring consultants because they


realise they do need them to do that job and some of them are being


paid three figure amounts per out what to do that. The country cannot


go on spending and spending without bringing money in. I think most


people in Bristol and the West Country in general would find it


extraordinary that the Labour Party's priority is to give staff


on the council a pay rise. We are talking about the lowest paid staff.


There are a lot of people who are paid a bar of the national average.


-- far above the national average. We have supported pay we straight


across the public sector, but it is people at the lowest end, who


suffer the most. Let us talk about Ed Miliband and the advice he has


been getting from Tony Blair. Where do you stand on that? Is it wise to


move to the left and shore up your existing support? Or if he is going


to win, does he have to move towards the middle ground or the


right? I think Labour occupied the centre left ground and have done


for a while. Going back to Margaret Thatcher's times, Labour was not


seen as representing the aspirational working class. We are


caricatured as representing people on benefits. Where we were with New


Labour was about representing people who wanted to get on in life,


by a property and things like that. I think Ed Miliband needs to occupy


background, but also, we cannot forget those who feel left out.


that white Ed Miliband is busy apologising about immigration?


don't think he is. People accept that beat Eastern European


immigration could have been managed at a slower rate and it did have an


impact on jobs. That is not the same as the turf occupied by UKIP.


Where would be a satisfactory place for the Lib Dems in this election?


We have different contests around the region. What about Bristol


though? Well, a liberal Independent came first and he is doing a good


job. He is a good mayor and I support him and we worked together


for the best of Bristol and that is what we want. People want their


councillors to do that. I hope people will focus on local issues


rather than be coalition. Thank you for that. It's not just Labour and


the coalition fighting it out. There are some independents who


could make headway in these elections.


They started off as the magnificent seven. Now there are eight of them.


These men and women are independent candidates vying to become


councillors in Bristol. Their aim is clear - to unseat party


politicians taking advantage of the none of the above feeling of some


of the voters. They feel they can emulate the success of the


Independent men and the Police and Crime Commissioner. What we are


trying to do his ground-breaking. It is something new and fresh for


Bristol and is reflected in how people feel. Everyone is nervous


and intimidated to a degree, but everyone is positive. The is no


doubt many people are disenchanted with conventional party politics.


It is a difficult one to call. For some people it will be a protest


vote. They have had enough of the main parties. This time you might


be UKIP. That is why the Green Party are hopeful of success. They


are standing candidates in all 22 seats up for election. A lot of


people are looking for alternatives. It is clear this government is


heading in the wrong direction, economically and environmentally.


People are looking around and saying, we need something different.


That is creating some real opportunities for us. The trade


unionists are standing in 14 areas and UKIP are standing in six. There


are also the other is independent members.


Let us welcome at our other guests. We have representatives from the


Green Party and the Independent Bristol campaign. Birtles took


about green policy first. You want reliable transport and better


health care. How would you generate the money to pay for that? Here or


nationally? And talking about here. We need to invest more in the High


Street and medium-sized businesses. When you say we need to, what you


mean? I mean us as a council. Local Green councillors will work with


people in their wards and the mayor as well. Where is that money coming


from? It is not clear. The money is already there. There are policies


we can influence and basically stop the invasion of big supermarkets


and multinationals. What would the Independents do? Are we moving to


an era where the main political parties are not relevant? Earlier


you were talking about the significant change of the power of


the mayor, and it is true. The roar of the councillor will and is


changing. It began when the Cabinet were given more power were.


Championing the water is becoming the key thing. We now need people


whose policies are for their own ward and not a party policy. I


don't understand living wage and the bedroom tax been brought into


local politics. -- being brought into local politics. Are you saying


you want to make these guys redundant? I am not. For a start,


all candidates feature on the same election paper. I don't know what


each of them stand for. Furthermore, bed from tax is important. I have


written to the mayor to intervene in a particularly case. I don't


want to get into bed and tax, but on the question of independence, at


least if you vote for one of these two, you know what you're getting?


Do you?! You can get anyone standing for -- standing as an


independent. They are not mad. They are willing to stand by a high


moors and integrity. With independence, you don't have to toe


the party line there. We strongly agree with you on that, that the


party whipping system is destroying modern politics. A repeat the


question - do we move back to the period before the war went it was


good citizens standing for the benefit of the community and


therefore, what is your role? does need to be a separation of


politics at local level and Westminster level. It used to annoy


me when people asked about national issues when I wasn't representing


that. There needs to be a clear division and so people would be


able to vote for their local champions who can represent them in


the best way. Do you agree? sounds as if the line at Steven has


been given is to be associate himself from the independent


candidates. In America you have the federal election for the President.


You have the senator, the congressman, the governor. People


vote differently and they know what the powers have. In this country,


we seem to clump everything together. But the parties are not


popular. They have never been held in such low esteem. On that note I


will have to thank you very much for coming. It is time now for a


work regular look back through the week in 60 seconds.


Ministers are being urged to consider a dramatic tax cut for the


richest in society. The top rate of tax on incomes over �150,000 was


Cup by the government from 50 to 45 %. I think it should go further and


we should look to getting the high rate of tax down to 40% and perhaps


to that magic figure of 37 %. number of people out of work in the


West has fallen every work except Swindon. And an alleyway in swing


though that is too narrow for even the smallest of cars to drive down


has been painted with double yellow lines. Apparently contract as are


to blame. And patients at three GP surgeries are having to travel to


Wales for treatment because the surgery is part of a group of


surgeries registered in Wales. They will have to change doctors if they


want to receive treatment in Bristol. Let us talk quickly about


the top rate of tax. If it could be absolutely certain that 37 % would


get you more income than having a top rate of 45 or 50 %, would you


go for it? You wouldn't? I wouldn't. If I could prove to you that was


the case, or would you go for it? don't think you could prove it.


agree. It is a false hypothetical. I was in the chamber when Jacob


Rees-Mogg made his speech and he is very eloquent, but I don't agree


with him at all. He seems to think he can give the rich a tax cut, the


money will trickle down and everyone will benefit. I don't pick


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