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
the number of cows being slaughtered because of TB but farmers and
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2152 seconds
the Sunday Politics here in the West. Coming up: We are days away
from the first shots being fired in a cull of badgers. The Government
says killing them will help stop the spread of TB to cattle so they'll be
shot in two trial zones in Somerset and Gloucestershire. But with
animals rights campaigners against it, will it turn into badger wars? A
farmer and a protestor will be going head to head later in the programme.
But first, let's welcome two politicians to our set. They are the
Conservative MP in the Cotswolds, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, and for
Labour, Glyn Ford, who was a member of the European Parliament for 25
years. Let's talk about Europe, first of all. Geoffrey, is all this
banging on about Europe in the public interest? The UK Independence
party vote has focused everybody's minds, particularly the
Conservatives, as to how this might affect things next year and the
general election. Is it another Conservative civil war in the
offing? There is no civil war! The party are not clear about what
policies they want. What way would you vote? At the moment, if there is
no negotiation, I would probably vote to come out. I don't know why
he should stay on. I am involved in writing a book at the moment saying
the problem with Europe is too much of a Tory Europe. I say we need a
very different Europe that ends austerities. For his Europe, fine!
For the Europe I would like to see, people will want to stay in. What
this is about is saving David Cameron's career. He wants a
referendum in 2015. That's what it's about. If you're serious, do it
now! Why hasn't it become a much loved institution in this country:
The European Parliament? We don't expect every local institution to be
loved, do we? May be respected because we do make decisions that
shape peoples lives and the difference between where the
political centre of gravity is does make a difference. If you want a
different Europe, vote on another way.
The Government's cull of badgers is due to get underway very soon and
the first animals to be shot will be here in the West Country. Two zones
have been selected to try out the scheme and they are in Somerset and
Gloucestershire. But do the arguments for a cull stack up? We'll
be debating that shortly. First, here's Paul Barltrop.
Diseased and doomed. It's a dozen years since David Barton's farm near
Cirencester was first afflicted by bovine TB. But here, as elsewhere,
it's getting worse. This week, two more tested positive. I have been
doing this for ten, 11 years. When I have a lorry turn up taking all
these cars of mind that I have been breeding for years, that's a real
pain. He invited in the media on Friday to show how farmers suffer.
Also on the guest list were local councillors, among whom opinion
seems to be hardening against Government policy. The cull
continues to face considerable political opposition. This week, it
was once again debated by Gloucestershire County Council. They
voted that they didn't want it taking place on council-owned land
and called on the Government to concentrate on alternatives like
vaccination and improved biosecurity. In the Chamber, there
was much sympathy for farmers but more doubt than ever that shooting
badgers is the answer. It's important to put a marker down that
we believe the coal is the wrong way of going about this problem.
Vaccination is the way forward and we want to send a clear message out
to the Government to that end. Science is central to this argument.
Britain's biggest ever culling trial took place a decade ago in the West.
10,000 badgers were killed. In the end, scientists concluded culling
wasn't worth it. But a change of Government, and lasting benefits
from those trials, brought a change of tack. 100,000 badgers will be
killed for a reduction in bovine TB of 12-16%. Having looked at all the
evidence, I am utterly convinced that badger control is the right
thing to do. But MPs were not persuaded. In October, they voted to
abandon the cull. Can we have an indication from the Government that
the Government will go back and look again at the whole policy of the
badger cull and respect the democratic voice of this Parliament?
But ministers can - and have - ignored the vote. The shooting of
badgers could start within days. The benefits to cattle could take years
to emerge. Joining us is John Hore, who's a
farmer and NFU spokesperson in the West, but not from the cull zone,
and Jay Tiernan from Stop the Cull. How do you plan to stop the coal?
work week in, week out to stop hunts from a distance, and we will try and
stop the marksman by using light and sound. That sounds pretty
intimidating! It's not meant to be intimidating. Isn't it about going
into a pub and saying, no 1's going to get hurt if you do as we say?
It's about trying to stop badgers from being shot in a culvert should
not be happening. I shouldn't have too organise this campaign. What do
you feel about that? As farmers, we have been given the go-ahead by
government. What is being proposed is totally legal. I just hope that
the anti-coal protesters remain on the legal side of the law. They have
said they will but they are talking about direct action. Intimidation
comes in all forms, doesn't it? That is a great concern to farmers. TB is
out of control to such an extent this is something we have to go
ahead with. This is the only option on the table at the moment. But it
is not that effective. We would dispute those figures of 10-15%.
That is relating to the trials that were done. Since they were done, the
areas have been increased, so we would expect a much better result
than 17%. Shouldn't risk -- shouldn't you respect the views of
people who work the land? Maybe they should respect scientists wishes. I
have been told there are not even any scientists and deaf at the back
of the coal. There are no scientists behind it, Parliament doesn't want
it. As far as I can see, it is the NFU and big business pushing through
something that is not wanted. They have to be seen to be doing
something. But no one kills badgers for fun. If you look on Facebook,
there are many people on pro-badger cull groups who are looking forward
to shooting them. If there was a better way, do you think as farmers
and politicians we would adopt that way? This is the only thing on the
table at the moment. Vaccination is probably ten years of way. I am in
favour of the coal because those figures show there are a large
number of farmers who are suffering. It's a real emotional
loss when they lose cattle. It's just how effective it is. We believe
this will produce a big reduction. Where it has been tried and done
properly around the world, it has produced a significant reduction. If
this is done properly and allowed to proceed, we will see a significant
reduction. It is reasonable to take that point and say, let's just try
to zones. The results have shown a reduction. So would going to wipe
out all badgers to see if it might work? There is no intention to wipe
out all badgers. You don't have many badgers there are! The coal was
called off in September, November, because of the new figures of badger
numbers. And another a lot of figures came out in February and
they were lower. The coal would not have succeeded. Parliament voted
against it and yet it is still going ahead. It was an unofficial vote on
a Thursday afternoon. On his intimidation point, we will put on a
website, to try and intimidate us. This sort of intimidation is
unacceptable. I would say to him and his colleagues, this has been
decreed by a democratically elected government. Let's see if it works.
They will breed again. Over 250,000 cattle have been killed over the
last ten years. You can't win on finances. Labour didn't actually
tackle this, did it? That's true. That doesn't mean to say we have to
follow this. I'm convinced on the economic is an environmental impact.
What we're trying to do... I understand farmers are suffering. I
live in the Forest of Dean. What I'm suggesting is this seems to be, we
have to do something and we're not sure whether this is the right to
do. All we are after is a healthy countryside, healthy badgers.
will it work? Badgers aren't even going to be tested for TB. The whole
thing is a farce! What percentage would be tested? 10%. Of the ones
that are killed, you will be able to One of the biggest beasts in the
political jungle was in Bristol this week, urging councils to storm the
barricades of Westminster in the quest for more money and power. Lord
Heseltine was trying to rouse what he called a "peasants' revolt". He
thinks it could reverse decades of decline in local government. Here's
In the 19th century heyday of local government, your council could do it
all: Building the roads, putting in parks, piping your gas and supplying
your water. But now, town halls like this one have been reduced in size.
The short summary is we've got centralisation on steroids in the
sense that central government keeps taking power away from the local
level and it's done this over 20 or 30 years now to the point that local
government is really a pale shadow of what it used to be in the past.
They may be a shadow of their former selves, but councils do still have
some important jobs to do, like providing housing and care for the
elderly. But as demands in these areas grow, it's becoming a big ask,
not least because councils on reducing budgets hold very few of
their own purse strings. Local authorities don't have that much
freedom to raise their own money. 60% of money is central government
grants. There are a an awful lot of rules governing how local
authorities raise that money. We would like to see a bit more
autonomy for local government. week, the Mayor of Bristol held a
summit. The keynote speaker was in a rabble-rousing mood, calling for up
to �80 billion of government money to be returned to the regions. But
can we, outside of London, be trusted with such sums? The general
question about the competence of the localities is a very good one. So
what's the solution, more centralism or put right the problem of local
administration? My own view, and every international precedent
supports that view, you've got to have effective local administration.
In the case of Bristol, you need a mayor. Now you've got one, I believe
it's having a very salutary effect. What about the cuts? In this
five-year period, they are cutting back funding by a third. I don't
have any problems about the cuts. If you actually look at the graph, you
find this huge explosion under Gordon Brown. We were administered
perfectly well before the splurge and we can't afford it. There have
to be cuts and the public sector has to face its share of it. Those cuts
seem to be hitting the services councils aren't obliged to provide
by law the hardest, services like the arts. Some question whether
galleries like this one in Bristol should receive a penny of public
subsidy when services for vulnerable people are under threat. I used to
appear on the television defending the arts for the Arts Council.
Someone put up a slide for a care home that's about to close and you
thought, "Uh-oh! I'm losing the argument." It's very, very difficult
but there are hard arguments about the arts and I think - as Keynes
said - poverty of aspiration is as important as the other five giants
of physical poverty, and those days, it was seen as up there on a level
with public funding for education, of health and all those things that
were renewed after the War, but public funding for the arts was seen
as important for all of those. God, we've slipped since then! It's about
time we went up the agenda again. the future of an increasingly
strained local government seems to lie in restoring the glories of its
past. Next month, we'll find out if Lord Heseltine's cry to put the
regions in charge of billions of pounds of public spending has been
taken seriously by Westminster. In the meantime, Westminster has
promised to devolve down more borrowing powers. But without a
significant transfer back of money and power, our squeezed councils may
soon find themselves with a giant So are councillors capable of
running bigger budgets? Yes, absolutely. What Michael Heseltine
did in the 1980s, these were all done with local partnerships.
Councillors are capable of spending more money, but they should not be
spending it for the sake of it. is the mentality in Westminster?
Each local area is different from the next one. You need to unlock
local enterprise and energy to see how you can improve the area.
no reason why politics should not be reflected in the local council. I
was a local councillor for eight years. We introduced Japanese,
Arabic and Russian into the school curriculum. We abolished film
censorship. When you do decentralise, people say it is a
postcode lottery. You can get this service in Bristol but not in
Cheltenham. It is a reflection of different politics. It's perfectly
possible for Bristol council to have a different set of policies than
what they do in the Cotswolds or Liverpool, Glasgow or Cornwall.
better councils will produce more jobs and more investment and a
better standard of life for people. And that's democracy.
It's been a busy week. Let's take a look at some of the other political
stories making the headlines. Things were as heated as in Gordon
Ramsey's kitchen when the Bristol Mayor was caught on camera swearing
at a member of the public. George Ferguson claims Paul Saville was
harassing him so he told him to F off! But Mr Saville says he was just
raising a democratic point. I'm not a programme politician and I will
occasionally react in what might not be seen as the best way.
The family of right-to-die campaigner Tony Nicklinson from
Wiltshire have been back to court in a bid to make voluntary euthanasia
legal. They hope judges will overturn last year's ruling that
blocked him from ending his life with a doctor's help.
And Liam Fox, the Conservative MP from North Somerset, has been in
court, suing a Dubai businessman who revealed details about his unusual
working relationship with his friend Adam Werritty. Dr Fox resigned as
Defence Secretary over the allegations.
Every member of staff at Wiltshire Council is to be asked if they want
to take redundancy. 340 jobs are to go as the council tries to save
millions of pounds. Let's pick up on the swearing. Is it
ever right for a politicians to use the F word? Occasionally, we get
provoked to the extreme! Swearing is never acceptable, but sometimes,
it's difficult not to. Have you ever been tempted to do a John Prescott?
Very tempted! Why should politicians just sit there and be called scum or
whatever by other people? It's not very far between swearing and
getting violent. Once you start swearing, you have lost the
argument. Easier said than done, but it is incumbent on politicians to
set a example. Not a lot of politicians, is there? There's
probably less respect now than for a while. People never desperately
looked up to politicians in the past, but as a class, no.
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.