19/01/2014 Sunday Politics West


Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, interviews and debate. Guests include chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander.

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Morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics. Nick Clegg says


Chris Rennard must apologise. "What for?", say his friends. We'll ask


senior Lib Dem minister Danny Alexander whose side he's on.


What about the voters? What do they make of the Lib Dems? We hear the


views of a Sunday Politics focus group. A


And can governments ever legislate against violent extremism? Muslim,


Portsmouth MP Penny Mordaunt's plunge from the highboard from who


else but the Minister for Portsmouth.


And with me, as always, the best and the brightest political panel in the


business: and in London, Boris Johnson has pledged to recruit more


volunteers. Nick Watt, Helen Lewis and Janan Ganesh, who'll be tweeting


throughout the programme. First this morning, Nick Clegg is


considering a fresh investigation into the behaviour of the party s


former chief executive, Lord Rennard. Last week, a lawyer


appointed by the party decided that no action could be taken against


him, but that women who had accused the Lib Dem peer of inappropriate


behaviour "were broadly credible". More than 100 party activists are


demanding an apology. Chris Rennard say he's nothing to apologise for


and the party whip must be returned to him. Helen, this is not going


away. It is turning into a crisis for the Lib Dems? They have only got


seven female MPs. There is no female Cabinet Minister. There is a


reasonable chance that after the next election there might in no


female Liberal Democrat MPs at all. A scandal like this will not


encourage women into the party. Have they made a complete mess of it You


feel for Nick Clegg, because he launched an utterly rigorous


process. He called in a QC. The QC looked at it and decided that the


evidence did not meet the burden of proof in a criminal trial. But


clearly he felt that the evidence from these women was very credible


and serious. He said it was broadly credible. Clearly it was serious.


Rennard is being advised by Lord Carlisle, fellow Liberal Democrat


peer, who is giving purely legal advice. He is saying it has not


reached that edge-mac, so do not apologise. This is a political


issue, so the agony continues. Nick Clegg was hoping to keep the party


whip withdrawn. But they did not launch an enquiry, the Webster


enquired it was not an enquiry, it was a legal opinion. You're right,


it was an internal opinion. The Lib Dems distinguished themselves from


the other two parties not with policy, but with ethics. They


presented themselves as being cleaner, and in possession of more


Robert Jay than Labour and the Conservatives. That will be harder


to do now. -- more probity. There are a Lib Dem peers that are more


relaxed about taking him back and letting him pick up the party whip.


That is the problem. There is a generational issue. The older Lib


Dems in the House of Lords, the kind of thing, he did not do anything


that wrong. The younger activists and those outside the House of


Lords, they think it is a pollen. Yes, there is definitely a sort of


what you are complaining about sort of thing. That is symptomatic of a


cultural difference. The report last year found that they tried to manage


the allegations. They did not do what any company would do if there


was an allegation of sexual harassment. If there had not in the


by-election in Eastleigh, this story may not have got the attention it


did. Channel four news are the one that really drove this. Without


their reporting, this might not have come out. It is not going to go


away, because the issue of whether he gets the party whip back will


come week. -- will come up this week.


So it's not been a great week for the Liberal Democrats and none of


this will help public perceptions of a party already struggling in the


polls. In a moment, I'll be talking to the second most senior Liberal


Democrat in the land, Danny Alexander. First, Adam Fleming went


to Glasgow to find out what voters there made of the party.


Let's put the Lib Dems under the microscope in Glasgow. We have


recruited some Glaswegians who have voted for them, and some who have


not. Hello, John. Let's get started. I will be watching them through the


one-way mirror, along with the former Liberal Democrat MP John


Barrett. Let's get to the heart of the matter straightaway. If the Lib


Dems were a biscuit, what would they be? Tunnock's Teacake. Hard on the


outside but soft in the middle. They give in. There is no strength of


character there. They just give in to whoever. Ouch. Rich Tea. A bit


bland and boring. Melts and crumbles under any sort of heat and pressure.


Morrison's own brand of biscuit not top of the range like Marks


Spencer or Sainsbury's or Waitrose. A custard cream, sandwiched between


David Cameron and the Tories. I think they were concerned that they


had one exterior, but something else was really inside. They did not find


it too definitive, too clear, too concise, too tasty, too appealing.


Which means? It is a worry. If that is their gut reaction, literally,


let's find out what is behind it. The context of them being stuck


between a rock and a hard place for them as a party, I feel slightly


sorry for them. I think people who voted for them will think they are


victims as well, being sold down the river by going to the coalition I


think the ones, particularly student fees, that was an important one to a


lot of people. People felt cheated. I agree. Just going back on that, so


publicly and openly, it makes you think, well, what do they stand for?


It is trust. Harsh. But our group is feeling quite upbeat about the state


of the economy. What have the Lib Dems contributed to that? I am not


quite sure. It is George Osborne, a Conservative, who is the Chancellor,


so it is mostly down to him. The Liberal Democrats are mostly on


their coat tails, if you know what I mean. Have the Lib Dems done


anything, anyone? I think the Liberal Democrats were responsible


for increasing the tax allowance, ?10,000 for next year. I think they


have played a major role in that. Yes. I am glad somebody noticed


that. We will have helped everyone who is receiving a salary, and it is


interesting that nobody has mentioned that. Now, let's talk


about personalities. Everyone knows him, but what about say, this guy?


Alexander. Danny, they got it straightaway. I actually quite like


him. I think he talks very clearly and it is easy to understand what he


says. Fellow redhead Charles Kennedy is popular as well. He is very


charismatic and it is through him that I voted Liberal the last few


times. But who is this? I recognise him but I cannot tell you his name.


That is the party's leader in Scotland, Willie Rennie, and the


party's role in the upcoming referendum on independence draws a


blank as well. It does not feel like they have featured, it is SNP and


Labour and Conservative. They are last in a four horse race. We have


been talking about the biggest issue in Scottish politics, independence


and the referendum and the Lib Dems are nowhere. They are not mentioned


and they seem to think it is all about Labour and the SNP. The Lib


Dems are part of the Better Together campaign and we are being drowned


out among that. Looking to the future, what messages do voters have


for the Lib Dems? Get a backbone. Do not go back on your policies or your


word. Be strong and decisive. If you will pardon the expression, man up.


DIY, do it yourself. Do not award bankers and other people for


failure. Stand up. Be your own person, party. If that focus group


represented the whole country, what would the result for the Lib Dems be


at 2015 in the election? If they get the message across between now and


then, the result could be OK. If they do not get the message across,


the result could be disaster. Maybe they would do a lot better on their


own. I do not think you are seeing the true Lib Dems because they are


in the coalition. They maybe deserve another chance. Crucially for the


Lib Dems, that means there is some hope, but there is also plenty of


anger, some disappoint, and a bit of bafflement as well.


And watching that with me, senior Liberal Democrat and Chief Secretary


to the Treasury Danny Alexander Welcome to the programme. One of the


things that comes through from the focus group is that if there is any


credit around for the economic recovery, it is the Tories that are


getting it, and you are not? What can you do about that? The first


thing to say is that the economy would not be recovering if it was


not for the Liberal Democrats. If it was not for our decision right


beginning in 2010 to form a strong, stable coalition government that to


deal with the problems, we would still be in the mess that Labour


left us with. Why are you not getting the credit? That was one


focus group. It was interesting to hear opinions. We have to work very


hard to get across the message that the economy would not be recovering


without the Liberal Democrats. People would not be seeing the


largest income tax cuts for a generation without the Liberal


Democrats. The ?10,000 threshold that one of the people referred to


is coming into peoples pay packets this year. Lots of people recognise


that. There was the one person in the focus groups. This is your


measure of success, raising the people at which people pay income


tax. But most of the voters do not even give you credit for that. The


role that we haven't British politics as a party, is that we are


the only party that can be trusted to deliver a fair society and a


strong economy. People know they cannot trust the Labour Party. We


saw it again from Ed Miliband this morning. You cannot trust the Labour


Party with the nation's finances. It may well be your policy, the income


tax threshold, but it is the Tories that are getting the credit? I do


not think that is true. I have spent lots of time meeting photos and lots


of people recognise that if it was not for the Liberal Democrats,


people would not be seeing those tax cuts. We are helping disadvantaged


children in schools. It is right that we have to work very hard


between now and polling day to do several things, to make sure that we


secure the recovery, there can be no complacency. The economic recovery


is in its early stages and we need to make sure it is sustainable. We


need to make sure the benefits of the recovery are shared out people


who have made sacrifices, people on low pay, people who have seen their


savings are eroded. The Tories have now hijacked another Lib Dem


policy, another big hike in the minimum wage. You spoke about the


need to make sure that people on low pay benefit from the recovery, a big


hike in the minimum wage. Did the Chancellor consulting on this? We


have been talking about it for some time. Vince Cable asked the low pay


commission for advice on this. Why did Vince Cable not make this


announcement, why was it the Chancellor? Let me say a few other


things about this. If we are going to secure the recovery, this year we


have to make sure that businesses start investing. We have got to get


Roddick typically rising. An increase in the minimum wage is


something that needs to follow that. We will not do it unless the low pay


commission adviser as it is important for the economy at this


stage. Did you know the Chancellor was coming out with that statement?


I did not know he was going to say something on that particular day. We


have worked together on it in the tragedy to see what the economic


impact would be, and to emphasise that it is the commission, which has


credibility with business, trade unions and government. It must not


be a politically motivated increase. So you did not know, and Vince


Cable, and it is properly a matter for him as the Business Secretary,


he did not make the announcement? I don't think that's right. I don t


clear every word I say with him I don't expect him to do the same to


me. The Lib Dems have told us before it was the Treasury that was


blocking this from happening. We were going to ask the low pay


commission to advise us on bringing the minimum wage back up. During the


financial crisis, wages have been lower-than-expected but it's also


right, we shouldn't act in a hasty way, we should listen to what the


commission has to say, and if they don't recommend an increase we have


to make sure economic conditions are there to get it right. Not only are


the Tories getting credit for that, our Scottish voters group showed


that people have still not forgiven you for ratting on tuition fees and


that was a broken promise that didn't even apply to the people in


Scotland, where there are no tuition fees! Nick Clegg has been very clear


about the issues that that brought up. If you look at our manifesto,


the University of London said we delivered about 70% of our policies


in the manifesto. They haven't forgiven you for the big one. The


big promise we made was to cut income tax the millions of people.


That is a policy which is putting money back into the pockets of


working people. It is only possible because we are delivering our


economic plan in government with the Conservatives. Now we have to make


sure, through tax cuts, through looking at issues like the minimum


wage and other groups who have made sacrifices, make sure that benefit


is shared. I am not going to agree to anything which undermines the


confidence of businesses to invest in this country over the next 1


months. Speaking of Scotland, the Lib Dems, why do they now look


largely irrelevant in the battle for the union? Not one of our focus


group even knew who your Scottish leader is. I don't accept that. I


have spent a lot of time with Alistair Carmichael and others, we


are all making the case every day. If Scotland votes to be independent,


it will be in a much worse financial position within the European Union.


Scotland will be contributing to the rebate for the UK, rather than


benefiting from it. It has been a disaster for your Scottish based to


have joined a coalition with the Tories. It may have been the right


thing to do, you say it is in the national interest, but Scottish Lib


Dems did not expect to be in a coalition with the Tories. By the


way I think it is also in the national interests and the interests


of the people for Scotland, cutting the income tax of Scottish people,


stabilising the economy. We are now seeing good growth. But you are in


meltdown. I don't accept that. We will see what happens in the 20 5


election. I think we have a record to be proud of, we have played a


very important role in clearing up the mess Labour made in the


economy, of making sure the Coalition government tackles the


problems in this country, but does so in a fair way. I think the


biggest risks to the economic recovery over the next few years is


either a majority Labour government or a majority Conservative


government. Labour you cannot trust with the finances, the Tories want


us to play chicken with the European Union which would truly be a


disaster to investment in this country. You announced this week


that if Scotland votes to leave the UK, it would be the British Treasury


that would guarantee all British government debt. There wouldn't be a


negotiation, but the backstop would be that even if they didn't take


anything, we would still guarantee the debt. What was happening in the


markets that you needed to calm them down? We were getting quite a few


questions from the people we rely on to lend us money. We are still


borrowing billions of pounds every month as a country. Those people


were asking us to clarify this point. It was becoming a serious


concern? It wasn't reflected in the guilty yields. I follow the bond


market quite carefully and there was no sign this was having an impact.


That's why the right thing to do was to clarify this point now, rather


than the concerns being reflected in what you imply, and I think it is a


bad idea for Scotland to vote for separation but it would be wrong to


allow for the fact that question is on the table to cost taxpayers in


the UK more money and higher interest payments simply because


Alex Salmond has put that question on the table. That's why I think it


was the right thing to do. There were a lot of calls from the focus


group that you need to be different. Nick Clegg has embarked on this


aggressive differentiation. Where you can be different is the


bankers' bonuses. What conceivable reason could there be for anybody at


RBS getting a bonus twice in their salary? We have not been approached


by RBS in terms of those votes. I would be sceptical about an approach


from RBS if it can. It shows what we have presided over as a party in


government, massive reductions. . I'm not asking you about that, I'm


asking what conceivable case there can be for a bank that has failed to


sell its branches even though ordered by the Government, still has


38 billion of toxic debt on its balance sheet, I ask again what


possible reason should they get twice salary as a bonus? Your right


to say RBS is in a very different position to other banks, it is


mostly owned by the state. RBS hasn't put a case to us but they


might do so I would like to look at what they would say, but I would be


sceptical as to whether a case could be made given some of the things you


said, but also the fact that it is a bank that has benefited from the


taxpayer standing behind it. Now RBS has to focus more on domestic


retail. Let me turn to Chris Rennard, ten women have accused him


of sexual harassment. He denies every case. Who do you believe? We


have been through a process on this as a party. A report has been issued


on this. I agree with Alistair Webster on this, he has made clear


that while he cannot prove what happened to a criminal standard


that there is clear there has been considerable distress and harm


caused. I agree with him about that and that's why it is necessary for


Chris Rennard to apologise as he has been asked to do. If he refuses to


apologise, should he be denied the Lib Dem whip in the Lords? I don't


think he should be readmitted to the Liberal Democrat group in the House


of Lords until such time as the disciplinary process, including the


apology, has been done properly We are very democratic party, it is a


matter for our group in the House of Lords in due course to make that


judgement. Party HQ has had a lot of complaints from party members about


the fact no apology has been made. The appropriate committee would need


to look at that and decide what action needs to be taken because


these are very serious matters. We as a party have learned a lot, taken


a long, hard look at ourselves, to change the way we work. The apology


does need to be made. We are told that Lord Newby, the Chief Whip of


the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, we are told he has shaken


hands with Chris Rennard and welcomed him back. That decision has


not been taken yet. I think Lord Newby would share my view on this.


Have you shaken his hand and welcomed him back? No, I haven't.


Does Nick Clegg have the power to deny Chris Rennard as the whip? I am


making it clear that a lack of apology is totally unacceptable and


therefore we have to take steps if that is not forthcoming. His view


and my view is that Lord Rennard should not be readmitted to the


House of Lords if that is not forthcoming. In our party, our group


in the House of Lords has two in the end take a view for itself. And they


can override Nick Clegg's view? I hope that when they look at this...


Do they have the power to override Nick Clegg? They have the power to


decide who should be the whip. The failure to follow up the simple


human demand for an apology for the stress that has been caused is


totally unacceptable. Your party is totally down lighted on this --


divided on this. Here is what Lord Carlile had to say. A total


nonsense, hyperbole. It is a ridiculous statement to make and we


have seen Alistair Webster, the QC who did this investigation, comment


on that himself this morning. He has followed the process the party laid


down in its rules, which sets the standard for the investigation which


asked him to report on the evidence he has found, but he also has a duty


of confidentiality and responsibility under the data


protection legislation as well. Here is what your activists have said in


a letter to the Guardian. This shows there are strong opinions, but why


should Chris Rennard apologise for something he denies, unproven


allegations, on an unpublished report that Chris Rennard has not


been allowed to read? He should apologise because he wants to


continue to be a member of the Liberal Democrats and this is the


recommendation that has been made by the internal disciplinary process.


Webster himself said this was not an inquiry, it is an opinion. If Chris


Rennard apologises on this basis, he opens himself to civil lawsuits He


says he is not going to do it. As a Liberal Democrat you join the party


because you believe in its values, you abide by its rules. One of those


rules is that we have a process if there are disciplinary allegations.


The committee of the party supported Webster's recommendations, one of


which was that an apology should be made because he clearly found


distress had been caused. Will there now be a proper inquiry? I don't


think any of these legalistic things, I don't think he can have it


both ways. Will there be a proper inquiry? Alistair Webster did do a


proper inquiry. There was a proper report into what happened at the


time and we have learned a lot from this is a party, and the most


important thing now is that Chris Rennard apologises. You have made


that clear. What kind of biscuits are you? Are you a Tunnocks? Soft on


the inside? It is good of you to be advertising a Scottish product. We


just wondered if you weren't tough enough to take on Ed Balls. Thank


you. More than tough enough is the answer to that.


Generally governments are a bit rubbish at IT projects. They tend to


run way over budget and never quite achieve what they promised. So the


revelations of a former spy that the US and British security agencies


were in fact astonishingly efficient at eavesdropping on the digital


communications of their citizens came as a bit shock. But just how


worried should we be about their clandestine activity?


In his latest revelation, former US by Edward Snowden has claimed that


America's National Security Agency operates a secret database called


Dishfire. It collect 200 million mobile phone messages every day from


around the world, accessed, he says, why British and American spies. This


week, the president has outlined a series of surveillance reforms,


including Ning to the storage of the phone call information of millions


of Americans, and no Morse -- and no more spying on allies like Angela


Merkel. Critics say that the British intelligence agencies have refused


to acknowledge even the need for a debate on the issue. The Foreign


Secretary William six says that we have a very strong system of checks


and balances. -- William Hague. ?? new line Nick Pickles is director of


the pressure group Big Brother Watch. The Labour MP Hazel Blears in


on Parliament's Intelligence And Security Committee. They're here to


go head to head. Welcome to both of you. Hazel


Blears, let me come to you first. President Obama has made some major


changes as a result of what we have learned that the NSA in America was


up to. But British politicians seem to, they are not up for this kind of


thing, they are hoping it will go away? It is not going away and that


is why my committee, the Intelligence And Security Committee,


has decided to launch an enquiry into whether the legal framework is


up-to-date. We have had massive technological change. We have had a


call for evidence. Some of the sessions will be open so that people


can see what the evidence is. Obviously some of the information


will have to be classified, but on the committee, there is a real


commitment to say, there is a big debate going on, let's see if the


system is as Rob asked as we can make it. The big question is


oversight and the call for evidence that the committee has issued is not


mention oversight. It is ten years since the Foreign Affairs Committee


said that the committee should be a fully elected committee chosen by


Parliament and not the Prime Minister. It has changed, actually.


The Prime Minister nominates people and the house gets to him -- gets to


approve. In America, they have a separation of power, the president


does not nominate Kennedy. Basically, Hazel Blears, you're an


establishment lackey? I do not think so. Most of the people on the


committee have some experience of intelligence and these issues. In


this country, we have robust scrutiny, compared to some of her


European neighbours. We have Parliamentary scrutiny, the


interception commissioners, and ministers have to sign the warrants.


But there may be room for improvement, which is why we are


having the enquiry. Do not forget, President Obama said that the agency


should not have the ability to collect data, he wanted to put more


safeguards in. That is essential for the work of the agencies. If you


cannot see the data, you cannot take the connections and see the


patterns. Some people never talk about the threat from terrorism it


is all about travesty. There are several thousand people in this


country, as we are talking, who are actively planning to do a country


harm. When this debate started in the US, the NSA head stood up and


said there are 54 plots that have been detected by this capability


that has detected and that in bulk. Now the head of the NSA has admitted


that the number is actually zero. It is not the intelligence committee in


the US that did the work to reduce that number, it was a Judiciary


Committee. The fact that we have two different bodies doing this in this


country, it means that you do not get the correct view. How can people


have confidence in a body when if you go around Europe, for example,


or the world, we are not at the end not requiring judges to not sign


warrants? I do not accept that the committee failed on that range of


issues. You look at the reports on 7/7. Two reports by the committee


get to the heart of it. If you look at that terrorist attack on our


country, people will say, why did you not have them on the radar? The


agencies are between a rock and a hard race. They have got to be


subject to oversight, but beanie capability. Did you know about


Dishfire? We go to GCHQ on a regular basis and I know about the


capabilities that we have got. Some of the names of these programmes, we


would not necessarily know. But did you know that GCHQ had the


capability to use Dishfire, or to get Dishfire material from the NSA?


I knew and my committee knew that we had the capability to collect data,


and these days, people do not write letters, they do not use landline


telephones, they use the Internet and text in, so it is important that


the agencies are able to keep up with that take the logical change.


What should happen? The proper legal framework should include, if a


company is cooperating, as Google and Facebook do, it should be


illegal for GCHQ to hack into them. In the US, Lundberg estimate that


this has driven a 35mm and hole in the US economy because people do not


trust but there are systems are secure. We need to know that GCHQ


are not trying to use a different door into the system, whether by


hacking or foreign intelligence We need judicial oversight with judges


and not politicians signing off The final 30 seconds to you. As a result


of the changes in the Justice and Security act, the committee is


accountable to Parliament and not the Prime Minister. Those changes


are taking place, and I am up for the debate if we need more change or


not. But I want British agencies to have more power to protect the


people in this country. Thank you to both of you. It's coming up to


11:40. You're watching the Sunday Politics. Coming up in just over 20


minutes, we'll get the verdict of the Minister for Portsmouth on that


dive from the Portsmouth MP. Ouch! The government prides itself on


localism, so we'll be asking if councillors really have any choice


to do anything but freeze their rates. Today, we'll be talking


politics with both sides of the coalition. Neil Carmichael is a Tory


MP for Stroud. And we have a Lib Dem MP from Bath as well. Let's start by


talking about the contentious badger cull in the West. We discovered


costs would just five times more than expected and the government was


forced to admit it may have overstated the number of herds with


TB due to a computer glitch. This is a farce, isn't it? Well, we know how


many cattle have been slaughtered because of TB. We also know how many


farmers across my area at least have then back I have been punished for


it. The number of slaughterings that have taken place have been


considerable. What we have to do is get this right for the badgers as


well. Don Foster, it seems to be incompetence. We've learnt a great


deal from these trials. We have a very serious problem. Sadly, we


haven't got a vaccine and were told we won't have one for quite some


time to come. That is why we had these trials. I think the government


now is to come forward to Parliament to be very clear about what has


happened with the trials and then to bring to Parliament proposals for


what we do next. It is not a foregone conclusion we will see a


expansion of the current programme until we've got right some of the


things that you rightly say we clearly need to sort out. Raise


council tax if you dare. That is the tough message from Eric Pickles On


a visit to the West Country on Thursday he put the boot into one


Conservative run council and gave a strong hint he will clamp down


harder than ever on those who refuse to freeze the tax.


He is the man they love to hate A politician who talks tough to


councils. Eric Pickles was in Somerset and Butcher on Thursday. He


toured council officers hearing how they found new ways to save money.


Here, council tax laws back back pack `` council taxes will not rise.


Somehow it seems as if he wants to get his own back on us. Actually, we


are the most efficient deliveries of public services. We are taking by


far the biggest hit in the austerity gut. That did not go down too well


with the minister. It is convenient for people to hide behind the cap.


The cap is gone. They have to make a decision. I don't think it shows


much leadership to put an increased slightly below the cap. Alaska men


used to cap the amount council tax increased will stop back at the last


government this year, it could be 1.5%. That could be a problem for


police forces. On Wednesday, Wilts's Police and Crime


Commissioner set out the reasons why. Wilts is one of the third most


efficient forces in the country as far as spending goes. Our spending


on local policing is lower than the average, so there is no reason why


we shouldn't come back up to where we are. That is what people want.


The final decision will be taken next month. By then, a 2% rise could


be enough to prompt a referendum, judging by the Minister's response.


They have to take the electorate into their confidence. I'm quite


blind to politics. I will treat conservatives, labour, the Lib Dems,


independence, exactly the same way. But his power over our tax bills


does have some limits. Many parish council is also rising taxes. The


main reason? Cuts in government central funding have been passed


down the line. The cuts will keep coming. A new report by experts ones


that some are approaching a tipping point, especially in the South West.


It could mean a local authority not being able to set a balanced budget,


it could mean little failures in several services which mount up to


critical levels, if you like. It could be the inability to deliver


statutory services, which could be catastrophic. Eric Pickles will not


be swayed. The Tory big hit ended his visit in Chippenham, helping to


launch a campaign to cut parking charges levied by his fellow


conservatives on the council. Tony Lake is one of the most the


zebras `` vociferous protesters We don't disagree with the spending


cuts, we understand the need to get the spending deficit under control.


I think a lot of good things come out from them. Cut to the chase


What is your complaint? Are cut `` our complaint is they are now


talking about late February go before we even know what the cap is.


So you want to know if the cap is 2% and then you will raise your tax by


1.9%? Not at all. We have not done that in the past. We haven't decided


what were going to do. We have a spending gap left on a budget of


about 1.5 million. We've already identified the banks `` the best


part of 17% of that. You used to work in the love `` the local


government and then you were a minister. Why is local government


taking the hit these days? The local government spends about ?120 billion


a year, a quarter of all government spending. So when our cuts across


all areas, it's not surprising local government has taken a hit as well.


The cuts mean spending power will be be juiced on average by 2.9%. It's a


1.8% cut, a relatively small cut to find, for Tony. Our calculation on


the spending gap, the lack of government funding, it's more like


9%. This isn't about reserves. That is nonsense. We get this from Eric


every few weeks saying the council have massive reserves. We have two


types of reserves. Earmarked reserves which we cannot use and a


small amount of revenue non`earmarked which any sensibly run


business would have in case it gets hit. The one thing I will accept is


it is very difficult for local government. But what we've seen in


recent years is local govern working much more efficiently and


effectively, working with each other, combining back office space


and so on, getting more of the council tax they are entitled to.


That pressure has made a real difference. Polls show that


confidence in public government has gone up the last years. But there is


money in reserves, there is more that they could get from council


tax. Do you think local governments should do anything other than freeze


the council tax? I think freezing it is the right thing to do because at


the end of the day we need to make it easier for people to live their


lives. The cost of living is all part of this. And it is critical to


encourage councils to become even more efficient at delivering


services. But you are making the council take the cuts and the blame


on Westminster does not make the cuts up there. Yes, we do. There are


certain areas we have not cut at all, like the NHS. Let's get back to


the referendum. As I understand it, councillors want to pick up the rate


by a certain amount that means they have two have a referendum. Why have


the parliament not told them what the cap will be? We are consulting


on this. Eric Pickles made clear that the announcement will be made


in the very near future. Most councils are already in a position


where they've done most of the copulation. They can do most of the


work and as Tony said there is a small bet that they're trying to


sort out. I understand the uncertainty, but we're getting on as


quickly as possible. On the question of the freeze band, let's take an


example. Our band D is about ?1 00. In another council, it is ?1300


That is because you've frozen the rate in the past when you didn't


have too. Yes, we have deliberately kept it down. But a 1% freeze grant


to that counsel you as the ?130 Bandy puts them even further away.


Slightly difficult to do the maths on a Sunday morning, but thank you


for coming in. Now, it might shock you to learn


that one of our studio guests spends his working week with being members


of his party. But we're told Don Foster never inflict any actual


pain. He is a government whip and years in charge of encouraging MPs


to toe the party line. It may not look like the wild West,


but listen carefully and you may hear the distant crack of a whip


around Westminster. It could be the parliamentary whips at work, getting


backbenchers into line. Three of them now come from the west, and


this is their story. Among those keeping the conservative cowboys in


order, our assistant whips Claire and John. The high Sheriff of Lib


Dem discipline and government Deputy Chief Whip is now Don Foster. From


the whips office, you must make sure his MPs turn up to vote and vote the


way his party wants. Gentle persuasion is the preferred


technique, but he admits his is a business of carrot and stick. We


could stop people being on the whip, which means you don't get any


of the information to sort your life out. We could make things difficult


in terms of the sort of office accommodation that you want and


possibly do nasty things in terms of cutting off party funding if


anything is going to your constituency. But the Lib Dems are


not flush with dosh so that is unlikely. It is the power of


persuasion. Each whip has a flock of around two dozen MPs. If it becomes


clear one of your sheep might be tempted to stray, you might bring


them to a posh restaurant like this one to administer some gentle but


well lubricated arm`twisting. I think I will have the lamb. I use


suggesting MPs can be persuaded by such fripperies? Are you denying


that perks don't come into it? MPs are just as fallible as anyone


else. So, yes, it can make a difference to some people, and


others not. At the end of the day, people are trying to stick up for


the local patch. That is what gets them out of bed in the morning and


it is the thing which will get them re`elected or not. That is a


powerful motivator. That is the dilemma for all MPs, the crunch


vote. To stay with the party on his ticket they were elected, all


rebel, and face the consequences. When I was saying I'm afraid I'm


going to rebel on Lords reform, it was suggested to me that I would


lose my big society ambassador role. And my response was, well, I'm


afraid I believe in it. You can t stop me believing in community


spirit, so do what you want with the titles. Television dramas like house


of cards gave whips a bad portrayal as masters of the dark arts. That


reputation has been difficult to shake, especially among those who


cannot see why that country has to pay for what is essentially a


political office. The stereotype is actually accurate. They know all the


secrets of the MPs. The whips have something called a dirt book with


all the information about whether an MP has a love life, a gambling


habit, drinks too much, maybe is overdrawn and therefore needs a bit


of extra money, so maybe wants to get onto a certain select committee.


All these things come into play and are all part of the leveraged, the


machinery, of influence and pressure that is brought to bear. If you


believe the whips in this place the business of whipping is no longer


than nasty, bullying backbiting processing might have been. They


insist that they need the law enforcers to whip the parties into


some sort of meaningful shape remains as acute as ever, but the


many outside these walls, the practice of whipping remains one of


the Sadie at `` shakiest in the saloon bar of British politics.


Joining us is Dawn Parry who used to be a conservative and stood in


Newport at the last election in Wales. Now, she says she is fed up


of party politics and will run as an independent in Bristol West last


time. What is wrong with being mated to tether party line? `` being made


to toe the party line? Instead of representing the views of those


individuals who perhaps elected you to parliament, you are forced into a


situation whereby you have to vote with the party and toe the line The


problem of the Dorna is if she does get elected as an independent, she


will realise she is a large number of decisions to make every single


day and there will not be the opportunity to go back and consult


your electorate on all of those issues. Therefore what happens in


political parties ` unsure it's the same as in the Conservatives ` we


get together and discuss the issues and agree collectively what we think


the line should be. By having a clear line from a political party,


the government then know what sort of things we care about and the


values we have. Is it right that Charlotte should have been


threatened with losing her job as a big society spokesperson? I'm not


going to comment on the techniques used by other whips. Let me make it


clear. The days of thumb screws are long gone, quite rightly. Parliament


now decides who will be members of select committees and who will chair


them, what the debates will be. So a lot of those tools have disappeared


and we have to do it by getting everyone together and getting those


policies right in the first place. You gladly rebelled at all, have


you? Well, I tend to agree with the overall agenda of the government. I


think the coalition is doing the right things, getting the deficit


down and having a long`term plan to solve the problems we were left with


by the last Labour government. And also there are lots of ways you can


influence the government. For instance, writing reports,


contributing to select committees. I would like to come back on something


that Don said which was about how important it is collectively that


elected members vote a certain way. Let's be honest. When a bill comes


forward and when people have to come up with a yes or no, surely 650


intelligent individuals who then elected by the people can make their


own decisions. People vote for the party, not the candidate. They vote


for Mr Cameron or Mr Gleick, they don't really vote for the Lib Dem


candidate. Well, let's talk about the people then. Because in the old


days people certainly did. There was a bat social difference. But this is


a television age now. Yes, but the way people move forward and how they


want to vote has changed enormously to the point where now a very small


number of people vote in elections and we have governments in power


would just a quarter of the populace. We have to leave it there.


Is it worth an extra ?41,000 a year, that job? I don't get anything like


that. I look forward to receiving my pager. I took a pay cheque from


being government minister to becoming a government Chief Whip.


You get ?41,000 more than a backbencher. I categorically do not


even get half that amount extra If you can tell me where the money is,


I look forward to receiving it and I will give it to a good cause.


41,000? ! Well, we'll check it. Now, it's been another busy week. Here's


a brief reminder 60 seconds. The Mayor of Bristol flushed away


his plans to close all but one of the city 's toilets. George Ferguson


said a rosier financial outlook in the toilets could stay. In bat,


parents and children demonstrated ever proposed cuts to children's


centres. Ruling Lib Dems insist no centres


will be closed but some may be handed over to other organisations


to run. Somerset paid its respect to a


former MP who died aged 90. He served at the battle and was awarded


a military Cross for his role as a tank commander.


The EU awarded West Country beef and Lamb protected status. The


recognition means our meat now ranks alongside other protected food like


Stilton cheese and Cornish pasties. And a Somerset MPs sent tongues


wagging again. He dismissed spending a quarter of


?1 million on portrait of politicians as mere chicken feed.


Do you think taxpayers should really be asked to pay for portrait of the


political classes? I've decided to save you a little bit and I've come


up with these. Perfect. I've got more hair than I expected. A serious


point. In times of austerity is it really wise to be paying for these


paintings? The sums of these money, 2000 up to 10,000, that is not


chicken feed by anybody's standards. But I do think it is right that we


have a record over the years of what happens. I do agree. The old part of


parliament is full of Victorian politicians and I think we should


have a reflection of the people in there now. Will the BBC donor those


to Parliament so that we save money? You can have them. Now thought, that


is it. You can keep up to speed with this programme on Twitter. For now,


back to London. houses being built by the mayor


Andrew, back to you. Welcome back. Now she made quite a splash last


night. I am talking, of course, of the Portsmouth North MP, Penny


Mordaunt. If you missed her first appearance in ITV's celebrity diving


competition show, here she is in action.


APPLAUSE Here is a lady who is more used to


campaigning for votes than diving for them. She created far too much


rotation. Hard work has gone into the start of this dive to try and


control it. That looked painful Now the Portsmouth North MP got voted


off the show last night but what about the verdict that really


matters? The newly appointed Minister for Portsmouth, Michael


Fallon, is here. Welcome to the programme. I would give her ten out


of ten for bravery. I was cheering her on. She was doing this for a


local charity, raising money for the local swimming pool. She was a good


sport. As Minister for Portsmouth, can we expect to see you in your


swimming trunks for the next series? I do not think I have the


spare time at the moment. But there is a big challenge in Portsmouth.


Penny Mordaunt and the other local MPs there have been remorseless in


asking ministers to help the city. They are losing jobs. There is a


goblin Trinity -- there is a big opportunity to create jobs. Should


she have been on a celebrity television show of their role these


problems in Portsmouth? This was in her spare time and it is raising


money for a good cause. I do not think we should eat two sniffy about


it. Did I not see you dressed up on Thursday night, doing your


programme? This is my job. This is not her job. It was in her spare


time, she was raising money for a local charity. Your Minister for


Portsmouth. Are we going to have a minister for every town? Are we


going to have a minister for Chipping Sodbury? Chipping Sodbury


does not have the issues that Portsmouth have -- that Portsmouth


has. There are jobs at risk in shipbuilding. The government puts in


a lot of money through the regional growth fund, some ?20 million. There


are range of government funding streams going into Portsmouth. My


job is to make sure that is properly coordinated. I need to make sure


that Portsmouth seizes this opportunity to develop a more


broadly -based marine and maritime economy. To make sure a marginal


seat stays Tory at the next election? There are marginal seats


everywhere. There is a Liberal Democrat marginal the -- seat. Vince


Cable and I have been working together for the issues that


Portsmouth is facing. We work on these things together. But I have


the very specific job of making sure that the effort on the ground is


coordinated. So Vince Cable is not the Minister for Portsmouth? I have


been there recently, so has Vince Cable. So there are two ministers


for Portsmouth? Just a minute. I am making sure that the effort is


properly coordinated on the ground. I am determined to turn this


challenging time into a proper opportunity. Should we be to Paul


faced about this? No, good honour. How much money would be have to pay


you to get into a swimming costume? Bid is not enough money in the BBC


covers. Good on her. It took seven years to get a leg there's an MP.


She should be a minister. It is a pity she has the spare time to do


this. She is very talented. It is interesting about the Minister for


Portsmouth, up in the north-east they must be sad that they do not


have any marginal seats. Nick Brown as David Cameron last July, can we


have a minister for the north-east, and the Prime Minister is said no?


Does this mean that Portsmouth is more deprived economic late than the


north-east? No, it means it is a marginal seat.


The Labour Leader Ed Miliband was on the Andrew Marr programme this


morning and he outlined plans under a Labour government for an annual


competition audit. Here is what he had to say. The next Labour


government will have an annual competition at it, not just done by


the regulatory body. Alongside them will be the citizens advice bureau,


setting the agenda for the future, setting the agenda for how we can


ensure that competition will benefit consumers and businesses. I want to


see Labour going into the next election as the party of


competition, the party of the consumer, the party of hard-pressed


working families who are struggling. They need somebody to deal with


those issues and that is what the next Labour government will do. I


thought you were meant to be the party of competition? We are the


party of competition. This is the party that has given us some of


these problems. We have an annual competition review in the energy


sector. We have already tackling banking. What is interesting about


his proposal is it is the smaller ones who are less sure about this,


the smaller banks who think that this could inhibit the growth. It is


the smaller energy companies who think that through interfering with


the market, through his price freeze, that he will hinder


competition. We spoke about this before. It is a clever pitch that Ed


Miliband is making. Under the guise of token markets and claiming to be


the party of competition, he is creating the reason for state


intervention? -- broken markets Exactly, and it is state


intervention that does not work There is a proud tradition in


government of smashing open cartels. Teddy Roosevelt did it nearly a


century ago. The problem is, in those situations it was clear and


obvious that the consumers were suffering. I am not sure it is


entirely obvious in this country. In the banking sector we have free


current accounts in the high street. That is not true in all Western


countries. In the energy sector our bills are not outlandish they high.


It is when we take taxes into account the become unaffordable He


has to make the case that consumers are suffering as a result of these


monopolies. Ed Miliband would say it is not about state intervention but


about making markets work. The piece that was written by his intellectual


Duryea about the significance and the importance of Teddy Roosevelt.


He was the Republican president in the yearly -- in the early years of


the last century. He wanted markets to work. There is an interesting


debate on Twitter this morning. Tim Montgomerie is saying, why are we,


the Conservative Party, not seen as the party of Teddy Roosevelt? We are


seen as the party of business. There are smaller energy companies


competing against the big six. In banking, we have seen smaller


companies coming. It was the Labour government that created the big six


energy companies. I think Teddy Roosevelt also invaded Cuba and the


Philippines. That could give us a clue as to Ed Miliband's foreign


policy. Nigel Farage has promised to purge the party of its more extreme


candidates ahead of the European Council elections in May. But that


may not be going so well. Listen to this. The latest in this process is


these homosexual laws. And Thomas I shall manage. I believe that the


Prime Minister, who was warned that disasters would follow a three went


in this direction, he has persisted, and I believe that this is largely a


repercussion from this godlessness that he has persisted in. The


instructions I have got from now on, or is just not to answer in, and not


to give interviews such as this one. So you are ignoring them? I am not


ignoring them. But you are talking to me? You are the last one I shall


be speaking to. I think it is too late. Who would have thought it It


is not global warming that is causing the floods, it is gay


marriage? That explains it. Last year David Cameron offered a coded


retraction of his statement that UKIP is full of fruit cakes. I think


he will be tempted to retract the retraction. It is a warning to lots


of Tories who think that their best interests are served by flirting


with lace -- with UKIP. Nigel Farage is a very plausible guy, but several


layers down, there are people who are very different. Nigel Farage is


saying that he's going to clear the party out of what Mr Cameron called


the fruitcakes. If he is true to his word, Mr Sylvester's days in the


party should they numbered. If Nigel Farage falls under the bus, what is


left of place -- what is left of UKIP? People say that they like UKIP


because unlike other politicians, they speak their mind. But as it


turns into more of a proper organisation, people speaking their


mind will be less acceptable. The European elections are always a


protest vote. People are not happy with the elite. You will get people


saying utterly ridiculous things like that man in Henley-on-Thames.


But this is a chance to vote against the entire political establishment.


I am not sure that comments like that will make much of a difference.


There are lots of arguments about climate change. That was certainly a


new one! They are the only big protest party at the moment. Protest


party is obviously hoovered up lots of votes. We have got to be clear in


European message that we are the only party that can reform Europe


and give people a proper choice the first referendum in over 40 years.


Mr Sylvester used to be a conservative. You're probably glad


to see the back of him? David Cameron is right, there are probably


a few fruitcakes around there. I think that mainstream conservatives


will understand that this is the only party that can secure European


reform and give people the choice they have been arguing for. Whatever


happens in the European elections, it is a protest vote. We have almost


run out of time. We will see this week of Chris Rennard gets the party


whip act. There is a battle brewing between Danny Alexander and the


common side of the Liberal Democrats and the House of Lords. If he turns


up on Monday and asks to be let in, I they going to make a big scene at


the gate of Parliament? And the issue will stay in the papers? Yes,


they are clearly nervous that Lord Rennard might be tempted to mount a


legal bid. That is all for today. Thanks to all my guests. The Daily


Politics is back on Monday at midday on BBC Two. And I will be here again


next week. Remember if it is Sunday, it is the Sunday Politics.


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