21/04/2013 Sunday Politics West


21/04/2013

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.

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2072 seconds

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

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

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

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

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

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Conservatives Stephen Williams. Before we start, the funeral of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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the Conservative Party, in particular the attitude towards the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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up for grabs. Last time the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats

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

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

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

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Bristol will herald a wider revival where over successive elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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could once more be the biggest party on the council.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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representations to the mayor. They are looking for someone who

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understands their community and their national policies should

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

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

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

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employers meeting the cost. Politics is always a question of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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making people redundant and then hiring consultants because they

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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seen as representing the aspirational working class. We are

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

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

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

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

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that white Ed Miliband is busy apologising about immigration?

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

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

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

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

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We have different contests around the region. What about Bristol

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

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

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

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

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

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the coalition fighting it out. There are some independents who

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could make headway in these elections.

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

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These men and women are independent candidates vying to become

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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doubt many people are disenchanted with conventional party politics.

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

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

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

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

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

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heading in the wrong direction, economically and environmentally.

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

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That is creating some real opportunities for us. The trade

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

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are also the other is independent members.

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

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Green Party and the Independent Bristol campaign. Birtles took

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about green policy first. You want reliable transport and better

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

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

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

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

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

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

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we can influence and basically stop the invasion of big supermarkets

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

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

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you were talking about the significant change of the power of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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party whipping system is destroying modern politics. A repeat the

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

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good citizens standing for the benefit of the community and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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been given is to be associate himself from the independent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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work regular look back through the week in 60 seconds.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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