19/05/2013 Sunday Politics West


19/05/2013

Andrew Neil and David Garmston are joined by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander and discuss Conservative UKIP electoral pacts with Conservative MPs.


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shooting of thousands of badgers. The Government says it will reduce

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the number of cows being slaughtered because of TB but farmers and

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2152 seconds

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the Sunday Politics here in the West. Coming up: We are days away

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from the first shots being fired in a cull of badgers. The Government

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says killing them will help stop the spread of TB to cattle so they'll be

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shot in two trial zones in Somerset and Gloucestershire. But with

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animals rights campaigners against it, will it turn into badger wars? A

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farmer and a protestor will be going head to head later in the programme.

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But first, let's welcome two politicians to our set. They are the

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Conservative MP in the Cotswolds, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, and for

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Labour, Glyn Ford, who was a member of the European Parliament for 25

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years. Let's talk about Europe, first of all. Geoffrey, is all this

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banging on about Europe in the public interest? The UK Independence

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party vote has focused everybody's minds, particularly the

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Conservatives, as to how this might affect things next year and the

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general election. Is it another Conservative civil war in the

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offing? There is no civil war! The party are not clear about what

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policies they want. What way would you vote? At the moment, if there is

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no negotiation, I would probably vote to come out. I don't know why

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he should stay on. I am involved in writing a book at the moment saying

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the problem with Europe is too much of a Tory Europe. I say we need a

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very different Europe that ends austerities. For his Europe, fine!

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For the Europe I would like to see, people will want to stay in. What

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this is about is saving David Cameron's career. He wants a

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referendum in 2015. That's what it's about. If you're serious, do it

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now! Why hasn't it become a much loved institution in this country:

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The European Parliament? We don't expect every local institution to be

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loved, do we? May be respected because we do make decisions that

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shape peoples lives and the difference between where the

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political centre of gravity is does make a difference. If you want a

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different Europe, vote on another way.

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The Government's cull of badgers is due to get underway very soon and

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the first animals to be shot will be here in the West Country. Two zones

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have been selected to try out the scheme and they are in Somerset and

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Gloucestershire. But do the arguments for a cull stack up? We'll

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be debating that shortly. First, here's Paul Barltrop.

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Diseased and doomed. It's a dozen years since David Barton's farm near

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Cirencester was first afflicted by bovine TB. But here, as elsewhere,

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it's getting worse. This week, two more tested positive. I have been

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doing this for ten, 11 years. When I have a lorry turn up taking all

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these cars of mind that I have been breeding for years, that's a real

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pain. He invited in the media on Friday to show how farmers suffer.

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Also on the guest list were local councillors, among whom opinion

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seems to be hardening against Government policy. The cull

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continues to face considerable political opposition. This week, it

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was once again debated by Gloucestershire County Council. They

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voted that they didn't want it taking place on council-owned land

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and called on the Government to concentrate on alternatives like

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vaccination and improved biosecurity. In the Chamber, there

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was much sympathy for farmers but more doubt than ever that shooting

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badgers is the answer. It's important to put a marker down that

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we believe the coal is the wrong way of going about this problem.

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Vaccination is the way forward and we want to send a clear message out

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to the Government to that end. Science is central to this argument.

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Britain's biggest ever culling trial took place a decade ago in the West.

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10,000 badgers were killed. In the end, scientists concluded culling

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wasn't worth it. But a change of Government, and lasting benefits

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from those trials, brought a change of tack. 100,000 badgers will be

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killed for a reduction in bovine TB of 12-16%. Having looked at all the

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evidence, I am utterly convinced that badger control is the right

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thing to do. But MPs were not persuaded. In October, they voted to

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abandon the cull. Can we have an indication from the Government that

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the Government will go back and look again at the whole policy of the

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badger cull and respect the democratic voice of this Parliament?

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But ministers can - and have - ignored the vote. The shooting of

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badgers could start within days. The benefits to cattle could take years

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to emerge. Joining us is John Hore, who's a

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farmer and NFU spokesperson in the West, but not from the cull zone,

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and Jay Tiernan from Stop the Cull. How do you plan to stop the coal?

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work week in, week out to stop hunts from a distance, and we will try and

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stop the marksman by using light and sound. That sounds pretty

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intimidating! It's not meant to be intimidating. Isn't it about going

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into a pub and saying, no 1's going to get hurt if you do as we say?

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It's about trying to stop badgers from being shot in a culvert should

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not be happening. I shouldn't have too organise this campaign. What do

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you feel about that? As farmers, we have been given the go-ahead by

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government. What is being proposed is totally legal. I just hope that

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the anti-coal protesters remain on the legal side of the law. They have

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said they will but they are talking about direct action. Intimidation

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comes in all forms, doesn't it? That is a great concern to farmers. TB is

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out of control to such an extent this is something we have to go

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ahead with. This is the only option on the table at the moment. But it

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is not that effective. We would dispute those figures of 10-15%.

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That is relating to the trials that were done. Since they were done, the

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areas have been increased, so we would expect a much better result

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than 17%. Shouldn't risk -- shouldn't you respect the views of

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people who work the land? Maybe they should respect scientists wishes. I

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have been told there are not even any scientists and deaf at the back

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of the coal. There are no scientists behind it, Parliament doesn't want

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it. As far as I can see, it is the NFU and big business pushing through

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something that is not wanted. They have to be seen to be doing

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something. But no one kills badgers for fun. If you look on Facebook,

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there are many people on pro-badger cull groups who are looking forward

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to shooting them. If there was a better way, do you think as farmers

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and politicians we would adopt that way? This is the only thing on the

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table at the moment. Vaccination is probably ten years of way. I am in

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favour of the coal because those figures show there are a large

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number of farmers who are suffering. It's a real emotional

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loss when they lose cattle. It's just how effective it is. We believe

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this will produce a big reduction. Where it has been tried and done

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properly around the world, it has produced a significant reduction. If

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this is done properly and allowed to proceed, we will see a significant

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reduction. It is reasonable to take that point and say, let's just try

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to zones. The results have shown a reduction. So would going to wipe

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out all badgers to see if it might work? There is no intention to wipe

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out all badgers. You don't have many badgers there are! The coal was

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called off in September, November, because of the new figures of badger

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numbers. And another a lot of figures came out in February and

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they were lower. The coal would not have succeeded. Parliament voted

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against it and yet it is still going ahead. It was an unofficial vote on

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a Thursday afternoon. On his intimidation point, we will put on a

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website, to try and intimidate us. This sort of intimidation is

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unacceptable. I would say to him and his colleagues, this has been

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decreed by a democratically elected government. Let's see if it works.

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They will breed again. Over 250,000 cattle have been killed over the

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last ten years. You can't win on finances. Labour didn't actually

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tackle this, did it? That's true. That doesn't mean to say we have to

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follow this. I'm convinced on the economic is an environmental impact.

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What we're trying to do... I understand farmers are suffering. I

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live in the Forest of Dean. What I'm suggesting is this seems to be, we

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have to do something and we're not sure whether this is the right to

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do. All we are after is a healthy countryside, healthy badgers.

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will it work? Badgers aren't even going to be tested for TB. The whole

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thing is a farce! What percentage would be tested? 10%. Of the ones

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that are killed, you will be able to One of the biggest beasts in the

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political jungle was in Bristol this week, urging councils to storm the

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barricades of Westminster in the quest for more money and power. Lord

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Heseltine was trying to rouse what he called a "peasants' revolt". He

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thinks it could reverse decades of decline in local government. Here's

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In the 19th century heyday of local government, your council could do it

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all: Building the roads, putting in parks, piping your gas and supplying

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your water. But now, town halls like this one have been reduced in size.

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The short summary is we've got centralisation on steroids in the

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sense that central government keeps taking power away from the local

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level and it's done this over 20 or 30 years now to the point that local

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government is really a pale shadow of what it used to be in the past.

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They may be a shadow of their former selves, but councils do still have

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some important jobs to do, like providing housing and care for the

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elderly. But as demands in these areas grow, it's becoming a big ask,

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not least because councils on reducing budgets hold very few of

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their own purse strings. Local authorities don't have that much

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freedom to raise their own money. 60% of money is central government

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grants. There are a an awful lot of rules governing how local

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authorities raise that money. We would like to see a bit more

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autonomy for local government. week, the Mayor of Bristol held a

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summit. The keynote speaker was in a rabble-rousing mood, calling for up

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to �80 billion of government money to be returned to the regions. But

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can we, outside of London, be trusted with such sums? The general

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question about the competence of the localities is a very good one. So

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what's the solution, more centralism or put right the problem of local

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administration? My own view, and every international precedent

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supports that view, you've got to have effective local administration.

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In the case of Bristol, you need a mayor. Now you've got one, I believe

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it's having a very salutary effect. What about the cuts? In this

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five-year period, they are cutting back funding by a third. I don't

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have any problems about the cuts. If you actually look at the graph, you

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find this huge explosion under Gordon Brown. We were administered

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perfectly well before the splurge and we can't afford it. There have

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to be cuts and the public sector has to face its share of it. Those cuts

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seem to be hitting the services councils aren't obliged to provide

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by law the hardest, services like the arts. Some question whether

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galleries like this one in Bristol should receive a penny of public

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subsidy when services for vulnerable people are under threat. I used to

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appear on the television defending the arts for the Arts Council.

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Someone put up a slide for a care home that's about to close and you

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thought, "Uh-oh! I'm losing the argument." It's very, very difficult

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but there are hard arguments about the arts and I think - as Keynes

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said - poverty of aspiration is as important as the other five giants

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of physical poverty, and those days, it was seen as up there on a level

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with public funding for education, of health and all those things that

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were renewed after the War, but public funding for the arts was seen

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as important for all of those. God, we've slipped since then! It's about

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time we went up the agenda again. the future of an increasingly

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strained local government seems to lie in restoring the glories of its

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past. Next month, we'll find out if Lord Heseltine's cry to put the

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regions in charge of billions of pounds of public spending has been

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taken seriously by Westminster. In the meantime, Westminster has

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promised to devolve down more borrowing powers. But without a

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significant transfer back of money and power, our squeezed councils may

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soon find themselves with a giant So are councillors capable of

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running bigger budgets? Yes, absolutely. What Michael Heseltine

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did in the 1980s, these were all done with local partnerships.

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Councillors are capable of spending more money, but they should not be

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spending it for the sake of it. is the mentality in Westminster?

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Each local area is different from the next one. You need to unlock

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local enterprise and energy to see how you can improve the area.

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no reason why politics should not be reflected in the local council. I

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was a local councillor for eight years. We introduced Japanese,

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Arabic and Russian into the school curriculum. We abolished film

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censorship. When you do decentralise, people say it is a

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postcode lottery. You can get this service in Bristol but not in

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Cheltenham. It is a reflection of different politics. It's perfectly

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possible for Bristol council to have a different set of policies than

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what they do in the Cotswolds or Liverpool, Glasgow or Cornwall.

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better councils will produce more jobs and more investment and a

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better standard of life for people. And that's democracy.

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It's been a busy week. Let's take a look at some of the other political

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stories making the headlines. Things were as heated as in Gordon

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Ramsey's kitchen when the Bristol Mayor was caught on camera swearing

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at a member of the public. George Ferguson claims Paul Saville was

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harassing him so he told him to F off! But Mr Saville says he was just

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raising a democratic point. I'm not a programme politician and I will

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occasionally react in what might not be seen as the best way.

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The family of right-to-die campaigner Tony Nicklinson from

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Wiltshire have been back to court in a bid to make voluntary euthanasia

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legal. They hope judges will overturn last year's ruling that

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blocked him from ending his life with a doctor's help.

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And Liam Fox, the Conservative MP from North Somerset, has been in

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court, suing a Dubai businessman who revealed details about his unusual

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working relationship with his friend Adam Werritty. Dr Fox resigned as

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Defence Secretary over the allegations.

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Every member of staff at Wiltshire Council is to be asked if they want

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to take redundancy. 340 jobs are to go as the council tries to save

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millions of pounds. Let's pick up on the swearing. Is it

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ever right for a politicians to use the F word? Occasionally, we get

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provoked to the extreme! Swearing is never acceptable, but sometimes,

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it's difficult not to. Have you ever been tempted to do a John Prescott?

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Very tempted! Why should politicians just sit there and be called scum or

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whatever by other people? It's not very far between swearing and

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getting violent. Once you start swearing, you have lost the

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argument. Easier said than done, but it is incumbent on politicians to

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set a example. Not a lot of politicians, is there? There's

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probably less respect now than for a while. People never desperately

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looked up to politicians in the past, but as a class, no.

:00:12.:00:16.

Andrew Neil and David Garmston are joined by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander and discuss Conservative UKIP electoral pacts with Conservative MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg and Jackie Doyle-Price. As well as all of the weekend's other political news, and debate with the weekly panel of journalists.


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