28/04/2013 Sunday Politics West


Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, interviews and debate including Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to The Treasury, Danny Alexander.

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In the West: With a few days left of campaigning in the local


elections, Government ministers are being asked to stay away as Tories


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2294 seconds


and Lib Dems distance themselves By the coming up on the Sunday


Politics South here in the West. Will the coalition in Westminster


cost the Conservatives and Lib Dems boards in the local elections? In


Gloucestershire Government ministers are being asked to stay


away. You can cut the tension with a knife in the Sunday Politics


studio. I am joined by two guests who are fighting tooth and nail. A


Labour MP who is trying to get her job back and her Conservative


opponent. Is that personal opponents? What is it like sitting


next to each other? It cannot be personal, you would go wonder if


you made it personal. We have to take a step back and be


professional about it. Yes, but does that work in practice? Yes, of


course, we have been crossing swords for 10 years. You do not


need to be personal. We keep it professional, keep it clean and it


is a good fight. And it is your job. I badly wanted her job the last


time around and that is how deep real turned. No you are going to


make it the best of three because it is one each at the moment. I


believe in the Labour policies, it he believes in Conservative


policies and we can have a bust up of a policy but not personal stuff.


One of the big issues for both of them would be the economy. Swindon


is struggling with job losses at Honda and the local construction


trade is on its back. Money is not there. It is making sure you are


finding work to pay for her wages, cover costs, then you are trying to


find the next job which might be a bit more to cover costs. We see


workers, labourers, builders of all types, they are usually flat out at


this time of year but we are finding that there is not be


outside work they like to do and they are having to take warehouse


jobs. We avoided the triple dip recession. But things are not


suitable for a town like Swindon. Swindon has done its very best to


weather a tough storm. Let's not pretend, it has been very difficult


for the individuals involved. But speaking to local developers there


is a strong sign things are turning for the better. There are a large


number of smaller companies that are picking up business and working


very hard to continue the success story that has been Swindon. Still


a long way to go. Labour do not seem to think it is necessary to


have a creditable economic alternative. I think it is the


Tories who do not have a credible alternative. They are flat lining


the economy. I have not spoken to anyone in Swindon are who thinks


the economy is turning up. They are worried about the cost of living,


wages are stagnating or going down. Price rises are huge. The people


are very, very desperate. It is not just the Honda redundancies but the


knock-on effect of those redundancies on the other


businesses in the town. I was speaking to someone today who was


running a small business and they thought they might have to shut


because they are not getting business. I think what would happen


if we looked at a cut in VAT, that would get the manufacturing sector


going and the building sector going again. It is slaughtered at the


moment. We are not seeing construction sectors doing at all


well. In the past we have been a boom town. Can the Government do


anything to get things going? Government is right drink --


underwriting more and more investment projects. The last


Labour Government cut infrastructure spending which was a


mistake. We are moving through that period now into more or


construction underwriting, 1.2 5 million more jobs in the private


sector since 2010. The private sector is going to be the engine of


growth. Let's not talk our great down -- great town down in. It is


the Government I am talking down. Things started to go horribly ill


and wrong for our town in 2008 under Labour. It is the private


sector that will lead other way out of recession. It is towns like


Swindon with a big emphasis on the private sector that are growing.


had 13 years, 10 of which were absolute boom time for Swindon.


What you have done is cut to heart. What would you do about the


deficit? I am just saying. You are borrowing more a. What is Labour


going to do? What I am going to say to you is that we would have


invested more into the economy of Swindon and the rest of the country


where you have been cutting Swindon and not investing at all.


infrastructure was you plan in 2010. We will leave it there. It is not


personal! The local elections are just around the corner and


candidates and exhausting themselves trying to persuade you


to vote for them. Normally these humble footsoldiers would


appreciate the glamour of a Government minister to inject some


stardust into their campaign but now a cabinet ministers are being


asked to stay away. What is going on? David Cameron made a big


appearance this week in Gloucestershire courtesy of the


Labour Party. The took a poster than two areas where they are


expecting to do gain reports on Thursday. -- Ian votes on Thursday.


Their campaign supremo was one of several Labour big guns to come to


the county. The coalition partners dominate the chamber here but


Government cuts and other changes could affect them on the second.


There have been no big-name visits from senior visitors --. The ruling


Conservatives are trying to defend their majority without outside help.


Why are you not getting visits from big Conservative figures, can


administers for example? -- cabinet ministers. I believe in speaking to


people on the doorstep. It is a personal service. He has faced


plenty of flak for cuts to council services but says most voters


understand. Where you see what is happening in communities that have


stepped up and met the challenge on youth or library services, there


things are going well and we are unable to spend more money on


things like adult here than ever before. Gloucestershire's main


opposition party criticise the cuts but know they will likely continue.


There possibly might have to be more cuts but we will look at the


State of the council finances. We will be kinder and feed her to the


people of Gloucestershire in the services we provide and we will not


just go and cut budgets for the sake of it. The Conservatives I


think rather enjoys slashing and burning public services. Some


issues do feature large in the campaign. It is not a choice


between landfill and incineration. At this debate there was much about


the troubled plan by the Council for a waste incinerator. The best


environmental choice is not supported by a whole stack of


organisations. What we need to do is to reduce our waste and not just


look at recycling. Labour are happy to focus on national issues. How


much are you finding discontent with the coalition is working in


your favour? It is but there is an anti-politics mood out there. It is


about people saying you're are all the same and we are not going to


vote or we will give UKIP a chance. The dominant parties in the county


council expect to suffer and the underdogs to thrive. Joining us is


a professor from the University of the West of England. Thank you for


popping in, you are in expert on these things. I'll be local


elections about local issues or national events? I think it is a


mixed picture. Many people are taking the national picture into


account when they go to the polls. Many are also driven by the local


picture which I think they should be. What is troubling is the amount


of voter turnout in local elections. It is quite troubling. We will come


on to that but let's take this extraordinary scene of Lib Dems and


Conservatives apparently telling their readers to clear off. Does


that tell you there is a disconnect between what is happening


nationally and locally? Whatever party happens to be in power, you


will get a drawing away from local issues. The leader of Gloucester is


right to talk about local issues. It is a county-wide election. The


decisions he and his colleagues have to make our on local issues


and things like adult social care. Focusing on these issues I think is


the best way to increase participation and turnout. We have


heard there is an anti-politics feeling out there as well. I think


there has been an anti-politics feeling for as long as I can


remember. I have been doing it for 20 years and in the first election


I to Parkin I was told watch out, they will set dogs on you. -- took


part in. Or on the fauns and doorstepped there are millionaires


getting tax cuts which annoys people. There is a lot of


resistance to the culture of the country. People feel at this


empowered. This is not the fault of one party. It is a general drift


which is really quite worrying. Thousands of people in Wiltshire


will miss out on the chance to vote in the elections. Six of the seats


are going uncontested. People have said how pleased they are I will be


going on for another four years but it is probably the fact that the


opposition, mainly the Liberals and UKIP have looked at the whole


picture, they have seen where people had a large minority at the


last election, the look at their resources and say these are the


ones we will go for, we cannot cover the lot and that is what we


will do. I think that is what happened in this case. If only all


elections were that easy but what does that say about democracy that


Labour are not planning to put up candidates? We have more candidates


in the south-west and we had four years ago so we are putting up


candidates but these are elections in mainly true-blue Tory territory


so for our people it is difficult in some the areas but we have got


100% in certain area is and we are hoping to pick up gains in Bristol


and Gloucestershire. Do you think there is any point having


represented -- elected representatives in some wards?


do want to see a contest for the local vote and certainly for a


unitary as authorities, there are important functions, maybe you


could argue in certain parishes, it might be difficult to get a contest


in every seat but when it comes to a unitary a authority I really


think voters should have a choice. Do you think it is odd that people


can be elected to reasonably important posts without any


competition? I think it is unnerving. I think it is strange


that other parties cannot give people a choice. The concept of


uncontested seats is alien to us. One thing that has been said about


these elections is that the turnout will be really law. Our people even


aware they are going on and will be bother to vote? Do you know


anything about the local elections? Do you think they are important?


do think the an important but I have no idea what they are about


really. Have you had any literature through? Have the candidates been


out campaigning? Do you think they are doing a good job? I have not


heard anything, not even through the door. The at the local


elections on 2nd May. That is all I know really. I have not had anyone


campaigning or putting things through my door. I have had one


young chap come to my door from the Conservative Party but I haven't


come across anybody else and don't know much about it except that the


ballot cards are sitting on the side ready to be used. Do you think


it will be about local issues or national issues? I will vote on


national issues. Do you tend to votes the same way for local and


national issues? It usually. should be about what is going on in


your council tax and things like that not what is happening in the


big picture. Do you think people are fed up with politics at the


moment? Definitely, they do not trust them. I have two doctors, 22


and 28, neither of them have ever voted than they do not want to


because they are not interested and do not trust what politicians say.


It does not matter what way you vote they will just carry on the


way the arts. I have spoken to the Lib Dem candidate in my area who is


the only one who has bothered so to be honest I might vote for him but


I am not sure what difference it will make. Those are some


interesting views. It is it -- is it the boaters fault that they do


not taking interest or default of the parties that they do not engage


us? -- the voters fault? average turnout in the 70s in local


elections was about 43%. It drifted down in the 90s to 36% and last


year it was the 31% actually turning out to vote in the local


elections. That is a significant downside. Voters are intelligent.


They can see that power has been ripped away from local authorities


sought they wonder why they bother voting. In other countries it is


not like this. Is it that there is really not much between you?


think there is quite a lot actually. I do feel a sometimes it is quite


difficult for the general public to find out about political parties


and what do from political parties stand for. It is not easy for


political parties to get the manpower, the person power to go


out and knock on doors and people expect that to happen. People do


not necessarily like politicians coming to the door but they do not


like it if they do not come. I find people are glad to see a politician


taking the time to engage and to try to make politics real. You do


see where political parties are working hard we do keep a good


voter contact going from all the political parties. I don't think


voters are never happy, I have to say, in my experience. We will


watch with great interest of course on Thursday. Thank you. Now it lets


take a look at the rest of this week's political news in 60 seconds.


It was a fraud on a national scale. Explosive detectors sold around the


world. It was described as an abhorrent trade. There should have


been a much quicker reaction at the time. I do not think there was


investigated at the earliest opportunity and it should have been.


There are threats that plans will be scuppered for and you nuclear


power station at Hinckley Point. Bristol is to follow in the


footsteps of order or by closing its city centre to traffic once per


month. The mayor pop onto as cycling piano this week. He hopes


it will attract street dance and guided walks. I could not quite


work out why the Mayor was on that piano. Perhaps it is me! Let's pick


up on that car story. Is there anything to be said for closing


city centres of and letting the town be once a month? I think in


cities like Bristol where there are massive congestion issues it is


worth a try. A town like Swindon has actually benefited from reduced


parking charges and we have seen an increased footfall in the town


centre which is welcome. You have to look at each city or town very


carefully before coming to a decision like that. In order to


save Bristol from the car a lot more has got to be done than


shutting the town centre for one weekend per month. I hope the mayor


is working on other measures. In Swindon I would like to see the


cycle path ETA. They should be finished off. It is quite dangerous


in some places in Swindon. The Magic roundabout is lovely.


cycling around that bad boy! Does it make you envious when they have


a mayor, a clear leader who can set an agenda and that you can follow


whereas perhaps in sending you have a council, a committee and all that.


We have had a debate about this in the past, I do not think there is a


groundswell of opinion to have a mayor in Swindon. I would love to


see a day when I could cycle with my children from where I live up


into town. That is a big issue I know my fellow residents agree with.


That is all we have time for today. Thank you to my guests for joining


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