02/02/2014 Sunday Politics West


Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, interviews and debate. With Paul Kenny, Malcolm Bruce, James Wharton and Natalie Bennett.

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Morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics. The unions helped


him beat his brother to the top Now Ed Miliband wants to change Labour's


relationship with them. Who will come out on top? We will be asking


one union baron what he thinks. Cracks in the coalition after


Education Secretary Michael Gove sacks the chairwoman of Ofsted. His


Lib Dem deputy is said to be hopping mad. We will be talking to the new


deputy leader of the Lib Dems, Malcolm Bruce.


Caught a bout of the EU blues? David Cameron has been drowning his


sorrows with the President of France. Who better? We will be


asking if the EU referendum bill is dead in the water.


And bad weather getting you down? Getting from A to B a bit of a


nightmare? Fear not! The leader of the Greens will be here with her


traffic and travel report. Dutch reassurance people want?


Yes, all that and more in today s action-packed Sunday Politics. And


blowing more hot air than I have had hot dinners, Helen Lewis, Nick Watt


and Iain Martin. After the row about candidate


selection in Falkirk, Ed Miliband said he wanted to reshape the


relationship between Labour and the unions. The biggest changes involve


union membership of the party, which in turn will affect future Labour


leadership elections. Some claim this is Ed's Clause 4 moment. But


the unions will continue to be powerful at conference and on the


party's ruling committees, and they will still be able to bankroll the


election campaign. Here is Labour's deputy leader, Harriet Harman,


speaking earlier. What he is proposing for the March the 1st


conference is a huge change in financing, in the election of the


leader, in what goes on at local level. In due course, it might have


implications for the NEC elections and conference. But this is already


a big issue to take forward. Joining me now is Paul Kenny,


general secretary of the GMB union and chair of the Trade Union and


Labour Party Liaison Organisation. Is this Ed Miliband's Clause 4


moment? I don't know about that It is certainly a bold move,


particularly to have an electoral college, which as you said was the


system which elected him in the first place. Everybody admits that


has needed reforming for some time. Moving to a one member, one vote


situation seems to me to be sensible. I know some people are


upset, mostly MPs, who will lose their golden share. But it is


nonsense that one MP should have the same vote as 1000 party members So


the MPs have lost out. Have the unions lost out? Well, the system is


currently that union members get a ballot paper, but they have to


declare that they are a Labour supporter and they have to sign to


that effect in order to participate. Then their vote is counted. At the


last election, about 200,000 trade union members gave that indication,


and they participated in that way. That will not change. The way it is


organised will be different. The big change in the electoral college is


that the logical weight given to MPs will disappear. I wonder if you have


really lost anything. At the moment, there are about 3 million people


automatically affiliated from the unions to the Labour Party. If only


10% of them opt in, that will still mean twice as many union individual


members, 300,000, versus about 180,000 Labour Party members. So


union members and maybe even the unions will have as big an influence


on the leadership elections as you do now, maybe bigger? Well, they are


individual votes. Different unions support different candidates. It is


lost in the media myth of barons and block votes, but there is an


individual vote. Different unions recommend different candidates, and


union members vote accordingly. Ed Miliband won more individual votes


by a country mile than David, but it got messed up in the process of this


electoral college. As I have understood the proposals so far


they are not a done deal. There is a lot of discussion. But it seems


there are three hurdles. Firstly, union members themselves will have


to agree whether they want to affiliate to the Labour Party. If


they don't, the rest of it falls. If they decide they do my they will ask


union members to support that an individual basis the next five


years, which will have financial implications. Then there will be a


third position, which is that people who may want to agree with the


union's position and affiliate with the Labour Party may want to go


further and become active supporters of the Labour Party, participating


in leadership elections. They will have to give their sanction to that


at a third stage. So the implications in terms of


constituency parties and so on are a lot less than the idea that the 3


million who are currently affiliated will change. At the moment, the


unions, because of the automatic affiliation, hand over a affiliation


fees of about ?8 million a year to Labour. You will now get to keep


that money, because the individuals will have to put up the money


themselves. You can keep that money and determine if you give it to


Labour to fight the election campaign, correct? Incorrect.


Firstly, the affiliation fees are paid from what is called the


political fund, which most unions have to set up in order to


participate. The union will continue to pay the ?3 a affiliation fee for


those members who want the union to be affiliated. But you get to keep a


lot more money. In reality, we will see a transitional period of a few


years. Less people will probably say yes, depending on how popular Labour


are, about whether they want the union to give money to the Labour


Party. The GMB has already done this. By the way, don't call me


kneel. It is Andrew or Mr Neil. The unions will have a bigger chunk of


money because the unions will not be handing over all of the money at one


time. But you could still play a major part in funding the Labour


election campaign. We'll how much you give the dependent on what the


Labour Party puts in its manifesto? Of course it will. It will have to


justify our support to Labour for the members who provide money to the


political fund. If we did not argue for the cert is social justice


campaigns and laws we want to see, we would be failing in our job. I


don't intend to hide that from anybody. The unions are there to


fight for their members. That is our job. So you will still be a major


part of the bankroll of the Labour campaign. You will still have 5 % of


the votes at a Labour conference, and you will still have a major part


in the Labour National executive committee and the policy committee.


It is right to say the unions are still at the heart of Labour, are


they not? Well, if you sick to break the affiliated link between trade


unions and the Labour Party, the whole thing collapses. That is what


anchors the Labour Party as far as we are concerned. Many of our


members think that when they want to look for ferrochrome and rights


social justice, housing and the health service, Labour are better it


quipped to deliver that for working people than the current parties


That is why we have traditionally supported them. But not at all of


our members support Labour, which is why we don't affiliate all of them


to Labour. There are over 30 million people in the British labour force


now. Union membership is only 6 5 million out of that 30. A 6.5% of


that do not vote Labour, they vote Tory or liberal or nationalist in


Scotland. So you are a relatively small pressure group. Why should


Labour be in thrall to you? We are the biggest voluntary organisation


in this country. Sorry about that, but that is the fact. People make


conscious choices. My own union the GMB, has been growing for eight


years. So this dying picture you are trying to paint... In terms of


accounting for the fact that some do not support Labour, that is why


unions do not affiliate all of their members to the Labour Party. We have


adjusted to that. If you don't like being called Neil, I don't like


being called a barren either. What about Mr Baron? I don't like that


either. We are representatives of working organisations. It may be


inconvenient for politicians to have to listen to working people, but we


will continue to press. Lord Baron, thank you very much.


So, is this a Clause 4 moment for Ed Miliband? Not really, but to his


credit, he is going ahead with this. There was a point at which it looked


as though Ed Miliband would back away from reform. To his credit he


is trying to create a mass membership party again. But when it


comes to the crucial business of funding a general election campaign,


these reforms will make Labour more reliant on large donations from


trade unions. They could have more power now, because they get to hold


back this money, whereas beforehand, they had to hand it over


automatically. As Mr Kenny just said, how much they handover will be


dependent on good behaviour. Yes, but these are pragmatic reforms The


fact that Ed Miliband has a lot of capital in not being seen as a


Blairite has helped him get these through . The response has been


muted, which suggests good party management on his behalf. That may


be because they will still have 50% of the votes at a party conference.


Mr Kenny was clear that that could be deal-breaker if they tried to


take that away. They have more places at the NEC than anyone else,


and party members, if only 10% of them signed up, they will outweigh


individual members in the constituencies. It was interesting,


how relaxed Paul Kenny was. He was taking thousands of pounds from the


Labour Party a few months ago because he was annoyed about these


reforms, and now he is relaxed because they still have 50% of the


vote at Labour Party conference and Labour Party Parliamentary


candidates are still selected in the same way. But there is a simple


point here. Yes, you can pick apart what Ed Miliband said and said the


unions have too much influence, but the only way he could have gone all


the way was to break the link with the trade unions, and he was not


going to do that. It was not the Labour Party that founded the


unions, it was the unions that founded the Labour Party. Even Tony


Blair did not break the link. In that context, Ed Miliband has gone


incredibly far. For the last 50 years, this opting into the union,


you have to turn to page 50 of your union terms and conditions to say,


do you want to opt out of the political levy 's that is going to


go, which will mean that when the next Labour leader is elected from


the union votes, they will get their ballot from the Labour Party and you


will append the fast where ballots went out from Unison macro and GMB


with a picture of Ed Miliband on the front of the ballot paper saying,


vote for aid. They were Stasi and Saddam Hussein ways of trade union


members electing the Labour leader, which will go. I am sorry his


Lordship is not still here to answer that question.


HMS Coalition is not a happy ship. The lovey-dovey days in the rose


garden are long gone. It is not a loveless marriage, perhaps even an


open one. The latest split is over the decision by Education Secretary


Michael Gove to replace Labour peer Sally Morgan as head of the schools


inspectorate, Ofsted. Mr Gove's deputy, Lib Dem David Laws, is said


to be spitting blood about her removal, although only through


surrogates. He has not said a word on the record. Here was the


Education Secretary a little earlier. If there is another


opportunity for Sally to serve in a different role at a different time,


then I would be delighted to support her in the role which she thinks it


is appropriate to do. There is nothing wrong with Sally but there


is a principle across government that there should be no automatic


reappointment, and that after three or four years, it is appropriate to


bring in a fresh pair of eyes. That is good corporate practice in order


to ensure that you refresh boards, bring a new perspective, and have


tough questions asked. We're joined now by the newly elected deputy


leader of the Liberal Democrats Malcolm Bruce. He's in Aberdeen


Welcome to the Sunday Politics. David Laws is said to be furious


with Michael Gove, is he? I think he is because Sally Morgan has been


doing a good job and that has been generally agreed across the whole


spectrum. I think Ofsted is an impartial body that inspects all


schools and it shouldn't be subject to some kind of political direction.


That is the concern, that she is being removed when she was doing a


good job and most people thought she should be reappointed. It is


strongly rumoured her successor will be a high-ranking Tory backer. Why


hasn't David Laws said this himself, have you spoken to him? I have, and


I know he is not very pleased about it but he will want to speak to


Michael Gove himself when he gets to see him on Monday. The question you


have to take on board is that David Laws is the schools minister,


effectively the one who has engagement with Ofsted, and he is


seeing it being undermined by the Secretary of State. There is a


question that if Michael Gove is so pleased with Sally Morgan why is he


replacing her, and who will he be replacing her with, and on what


basis? Maybe parliament should have a confirmation hearing so that we


can be assured that whoever is put in charge is there because they are


good at it. Why has he licensed his surrogates to save this rather than


saying it himself? He didn't, he knew I was on the programme this


morning so I am giving you the answers as best I can. David is


perfectly capable of speaking for himself. He hasn't so far. You asked


me to come on this programme and David was anxious for me to know he


wasn't happy about it, and I can certainly tell you that. I can also


give you my own opinion which is that Ofsted is not the Department


for Education, it is an independent body. The question you have to ask


is will Michael Gove but someone in charge of Ofsted who will have a


political agenda? If so, that is not what Ofsted should be used for.


Let's move on to your own position. You are 69, white male,


middle-class, what is your answer to the party with diversity problems? I


don't think that is what they voted on. They felt I had a wealth of


experience that would be vulnerable to the party from the period now


until the election, not least because the central issues that will


concern voters are the economy, and I have a track record of promoting


the party's economic policy over many years. But you are not even


standing at the next election. No, but we need to get to the next


election and my colleagues have confidence that I can do a useful


job for the party in that situation. We have developed and delivered


policies that I have helped to shape and I want to persuade people to


understand the Liberal Democrats have made a fundamental difference


to the economic recovery. But you know what has been happening with


the Liberal Democrats and their problems with women. Wasn't this a


chance to select a woman in a major part? You only have seven female MPs


out of 57, not a single Lib Dem woman in the Parliament. Again, why


you rather than making a break and bringing someone in onto major


positions? My colleagues have concluded that the role I am best


qualified to do it, that is why they voted for me. We do only have seven


women and that is an issue we need to address. Two of those women are


ministers, one is a government whip. We seem to have lost our line to


Aberdeen, just as Malcolm Bruce was in full flight defending his


position. I'm not sure if we can get the line back, just bear with me for


a few seconds to see if we can get it. It looks as if we have lost


Malcolm Bruce, I do apologise to Malcolm Bruce and the viewers that


we were not able to continue that interview.


Fierce winds, torrential rain and a tidal surge have brought more misery


to thousands. Official records show that southern England has seen the


wettest January since records began in 1767. I remember it well. The


Somerset Levels have been hit by weeks of flooding, with little


respite from relentless rain. And, the residents of one village on the


Levels, Muchelney, has been cut off for almost a month. We sent our Adam


out with his wellies and a properly filled out risk assessment form The


very wet road to Muchelney. This village of about 100 residents has


been cut off for about four weeks, and like the weather vane, it feels


a little bit spooky. It came up to here and your front door was there.


Anita is just relieved the water stopped here, practically on her


doorstep. Now it is the practicalities that are the problem.


Driving around for food is quite a hassle. You are foraging. It's not


as bad as that but we do have a few bits in the vegetable garden still,


and we had some nice apples until the rats ate them but we are not


doing too badly on that score. It sounds like the medieval! That's


what it feels like. Talking of retro, who knew Somerset still had a


Coleman, this is Brian's first delivery since Christmas. Everything


has gone old-fashioned. We are now talking to neighbours we might never


have seen before or spoken to so we are getting to know more people in


the village. She's right, there has been an outbreak of Dunkirk spirit,


quite literally. The council and the Fire Brigade have put on this boat


service to get people to work and school. The church has become an


unofficial flood HQ. This is where people pick up their mail, and this


is where the people who run the boat stopped for their tea breaks. It all


seems quite jolly, if a bit boring, but it is no fun for the homes and


businesses that have been inundated, or for the farmers whose land is


underwater, an area the size of Bristol, or for the villages which


are less isolated but where the flooding is worse. People like the


parish chairman are starting to get angry with how the Government has


responded. It was all a bit late. We knew what was going to happen with


the amount of rain on the fields and the Government was so slow to


react. The county council got the boat going quickly but it was


another four weeks nearly before the button was pressed for the major


incident. Right on cue, the cavalry arrived in the shape of emergency


crews from other parts of the UK. The rumour is that they will bring


in a hovercraft but the bad news is that the weather is becoming more


grim this weekend. There has been a surge in bookings at the campsite


where people have seen the Somerset Levels on holiday and would like to


come on holiday, if it ever stops raining. I'm delighted to say we


have got the line back to Aberdeen, somebody has put a shilling in the


meter. We can go back to Malcolm Bruce. We were talking about the Lib


Dem women and your election, I suppose the point some people are


making is that your party has as many knights in Parliament as it has


women and you are one of them. The good news is that for the five MPs


who are standing down, who have had candidates elected in their


constituencies so far, all five candidates that have been selected


are women. We need to fight hard to get behind those women and get them


elected so that we have a much better balanced parliament in the


future, but given that we have few women, you really have to pick


people appropriate for the job and we have appointed the women as I


have said but we need our image to be balanced. How many women


candidates will there be come the next election? At the moment, 1 ,


five more than we have now, and we haven't finished selection. Where


there are men sitting and standing again, that is not likely to change,


but where they are standing down we are overwhelmingly choosing women,


and in my view good and very able women. What I would want to say to


people is that if you want to see the Lib Dems have more women, go to


those seats and help us hold them. We are told that only 20% of the 57


seats have female candidates and in the unlikely event that you were


able to hold onto them all, it still wouldn't be a sea change to have


20%. The point is you have to build them up. We are supporting female


candidates. These are really good candidates who will make first-class


MPs and I certainly believe you will gradually see the Liberal Democrats


taking them on. We don't have 3 0 seats that we currently hold like


other parties, but what I can tell you is that increasing --


increasingly we will have female candidates. One newspaper has said


that you will deal with the Chris Rennard fallout quickly and


privately, what does that mean? It means I will not be telling you


because these things are not helped by comments on the airwaves. I hope


it will be possible to have a resolution without people going to


court but I don't think it helps anybody for me to comment on any


aspect of how this will be done and I'm not prepared to do so. If you


are not in full possession of the facts, why did you say you will deal


with this privately? I have come into this halfway through, I don't


have full possession of the facts, I doubt you do, and we have a process


that needs to be followed through. Any comments in public do not help.


Isn't it hypocrisy of a high order to hear from a party that is


constantly calling for transparency in other institutions but when it


comes to your own, you say, I am not going to talk about it. There are


all sorts of disputes that happen in the world and often people don't


talk about them because talking about them aggravates the


situation. I believe you have to deal with them privately and I don't


think trial by media in this context is helpful and I don't believe that


those who choose to make those comments are making it easier to


solve them. There are problems in other walks of life and the Liberal


Democrats are not the only ones with these problems. We are trying to


change that culture and I think we will do it effectively in our own


way. We have a pastoral care officer now and I think that is the right


way to do it. Thank you for that. Let's now go back to the story of


the flooding in Somerset. We are joined by the leader of the Green


party, Natalie Bennett in Millbank. Natalie Bennett, don't the Green


party bears some responsibility for these floods? You have sided with


the Environment Agency in the decision not to dredge rivers and


that is one of the reason why these places have been flooded. Firstly I


want to give my sympathy to everyone dealing with these floods. The


homeowners, the farmers seeing sodden fields for weeks and weeks.


We get that, we all have huge sympathy, particularly because so


little seems to be done to help them. What is the answer to my


question? I think there is strong evidence that dredging is not the


answer. If you think about the flow of the river, where the pinch points


are is things like bridges, weirs and towns. If you dredge the river


in between those barriers, you just make the water faster to those


points. The experts are saying that dredging is not the answer, it may


be in particular cases, but you have to look at each river system on its


own merits and very often the best way of dealing with this is working


out ways to slow the watered down and make sure that people don't


suffer unduly while you are doing that. The west of England


agricultural Society, which I would venture knows more about the


Somerset Levels than either of us, has said that without dredging, this


was a disaster waiting to happen. The local drainage boards have been


calling for years for dredging to be resumed. The National Farmers' Union


has called for it, and the chairman of the West Sussex flood defences


has called for more drainage, and he is a drainage engineer by


profession. So I don't know where your experts are, but the experts on


the ground am not the urban ones in London, seem to think this has not


been caused, but made worse by the failure of the Environment Agency to


continue to dredge. If you look at the example of the planning and


climate change coalition, which is led by the town and country planning


Association, who you would not describe as a group of radical


greens, these people have said we have to look at how we deal with


flooding in the future. But not in Somerset. These are the people


currently being flooded, not somebody sitting in a quango office


in London. They have asked for this to happen and it hasn't, and they


are now flooded in definitely. We have to look at what is happening on


a case-by-case basis. If you look at Germany, there are many cases there


were, to deal with flooding, many farmers are paid to hold water on


their land. Maybe we need to introduce those systems, because we


have to protect farmland, but we also have to protect urban areas for


safety. We saw a horrible flood in Wales were lines were endangered --


where lives were endangered. That is the priority, to protect lives,


property and farmland. Lives are endangered at the moment,


particularly as this stagnant water turns toxic. And yet we are in a


situation, again encouraged by the Greens and the lobbying Environment


Agency, it says it does not want to dredge because dredging is


expensive, yet it spends millions on a bird sanctuary. That is getting


everything totally wrong. The government is getting everything one


by cutting on flood defences. It has not cut on a bird sanctuaries. I


don't know the details of that. But looking at the broader issue, we


have to prepare for climate change. The government has slashed funding


to the Environment Agency and has cut back on the number of staff


available to deal with it and has removed the requirement on local


councils to plan for climate change. These are all gambling the future of


our lives and property and the future of our environment. Hasn t


the high watermark of greenery now gone well past? You don't come out


of the Somerset Levels with any great reputation. The UK government


is now going to start fracking as quickly as it can. Brussels is


loosening the CO2 obligations for 2030. The President of America is


about to give the go-ahead to the keystone pipeline, a totemic issue


for American greens, and your party is in a state of civil war in


Brighton. It is over, isn't it? Absolutely not. We are seeing large


amounts of extreme weather around the world. Any one event is whether,


but we are seeing a lot of it and people are recognising that climate


change is happening. If we are going to quote international experts, I


can quote to you Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, not known as a


radical green, and he said after the IPCC report came out that the heat


is on and we must act. If you go to Christine Lagarde, head of the


International Monetary Fund, again not a radical green, she was asked


what kept her awake at night, and she said, we are not doing enough


about climate change. So actually, people around the world are looking


at what is happening around them are both people on the ground and people


in high positions are saying we have to act on climate change. And in the


case of Britain, that should absolutely not mean fracking. Sorry


to interrupt, but I have evidence that you are planning a little


career change. Don't go away. This is what happens when you let Nigel


Farage present the weather. One thing leads to another and low and


behold, the Sunday Politics now has a new traffic and travel reporter.


Let's go back to Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett. Thanks, Andrew It


is easy out that, so let's start with our airports. I am pleased to


say that Heathrow's third runway, Boris Island and all short-haul


flights are, just like our arguments, well grounded. We suggest


making or alternative arrangements, like a re-nationalised rail


network, although it would be a glaring omission if we did not admit


that that plan is currently being delayed by Labour Party foot


dragging. Speaking of trains, we are hearing that high-speed two may well


be derailing, or at least getting bogged down in political fog. One


viewer, Ed Balls, has texted in to say he is completely lost. Thanks


for the update, Ed. You are not alone among political commuters


Meanwhile, dumped UKIP manifestoes are causing major tailbacks across


the South, apparently stretching all the way to Brussels. This does make


driving road tricky, but UKIP's MEPs can, of course, just hop on their


gravy train. The tree had a roundabout is blocked after reports


of a political earthquake. It seems that a green unwound his beard to


block a dodgy gas extractor. A motorist who turned out to be the


environment minister object into the delay and was told to frack off as


furious badgers demanded that he stopped moving the goalposts.


Unregulated traffic in the city of London continues unchecked.


Pedestrians should try to block bankers with sacks of loot rushing


for the payments. But do beware the Lib Dem Exodus that is clogging up


the motorways. Although they are in a jam, or is it a fudge, we are


happy to make way for them, as, like all refugees, we say they are


welcome here in muesli green. That is the travel. Back to you, Andrew.


Natalie, I think you make my point. You are now preparing a new career


in traffic and travel. Well, I do believe in lifelong education and


that was an example of it. We know you have had a tough time today to


get to our studio. Thank you for the effort.


You are watching the Sunday Politics. Coming up in just over 20


minutes, we will have Good morning and welcome to the part


of visual just for us here in the West. Flooding in Somerset has made


national news all week, the government message has been far from


clear. First, the military were coming and then they were not. Then


David Cameron appeared to overrule his own minister who was mobbed on a


visit. We will examine how the coalition is coping any crisis with


a professional spin Doctor. Joining me this week are to aspiring


parliamentarians, a Labour member hoping to unseat illiberal member in


the West in 2015, and a Liberal Democrat who wants to date Wiltshire


from the Conservatives. Welcome to you both. Let's start by talking


about labour's plans to bid at the top rate of tax to 50p. With the Lib


Dems support that? I will say that what Israeli


important is that the economy works, and for that we have got to say


Europe is the big issue, not really the top rate of tax. It is


absolutely essential that we stay in Europe.


Slightly off`piste, but why has Labour gone off on this one? Why is


it so important when for 13 years they did not have a top rate of tax


of 50p? Towards the end of the Liberal


government we did introduce the top rate of tax, and I am fully


supporting introducing its next year because this is about fairness. It


is about reducing inequality and promoting equality, and this where


those with the broadest shoulders take the greatest share.


Is it just a slogan? It is not, it is about how we pay


for our schools and hospitals, and those who are earning the most are


not going to be taxed 50p on every penny, just those over ?150,000 If


you are a millionaire, you're only going to be being top tax on


850,000, I think they can cope. Roads, public transport, those


things all need money and it has to come from somewhere.


As she have a point? I Don Everly have a problem with that.


Good! There is some worried by the


Conservatives that the top rate of tax would lead to a lack of


confidence in the economy. The real fear must be in terms of overseas


investment what happens with Europe, and that is where the Conservatives


are rather letting us all down. As we speak, people living on the


Somerset Levels are grappling with the floods which are continuing to


blight their lives. Afterlife complaints from locals and some


terrible headlines in the national press, the Prime Minister took


personal charge of the government's response. But like the floodwater,


the criticism is not going away It was not meant to be like this.


Why have you only started doing this now?


When the Environment Secretary visited the Somerset Levels he was


berated by angry locals. His plan, that there would soon be a plan


proved to be short lived. It was washed away in Westminster by a


deluge of calls for action. And area the size of Bristol


underwater for a month. The severe flooding in the Somerset


Levels is causing acute distress. The Prime Minister stepped in.


Dredging will start as soon as it is practical, soon as the waters have


started to come down. It was a slap down. He has completed


change the approach of the government to what is going on down


there, and all of a sudden we have seen the kind of urgency and


intervention that could have happened weeks ago.


Trying to seize the initiative again, the Minister cheered a


meeting of the government's emergency Cobra meeting and called


in the military. The Minister of defence and the


Department of local government are discussing how we could deploy


specialist vehicles. The next day some soldiers were


originally brought before the cameras, to the bewilderment of


locals. I think it is actually going to be a


bit too late. We are managing quite well.


Dare I say it is a bit over the top? We are managing.


Amphibious vehicles were not needed. Road supplies had resumed to


the village. Four weeks would have been stockpiled in the church. No


local authorities were putting on more of a show, only big as


conference only to see the military were not needed.


We are very comfortable that with the civil contingencies we have in


place and the resources we have we can manage this.


One consolation for ministers, the media can misjudge things badly as


when a Page three girl was brought to the area by the Sun newspaper.


You are taking the make. This is not a zoo.


It began with a torrent of headlines making sometimes uncomfortable


reading for the government. This could run and run.


If you are flowed so, our thoughts are with you. We did ask to speak to


the Environment Secretary about his handling of the floods but he was


not available. We can, however, mulled over the performance of the


government this week with a man who trains in the art of crisis


management. How do USS the government's handling of all this?


I think they have taken a long time to work out of the actually had a


crisis on their hands, and what we had last week was a knee jerk


reaction to the media and local people.


What is the one key thing that companies or governments ought to do


when there is a crisis? Companies and governments need to


understand that most crises that cause damage come from issues that


are unaddressed, and it has become clear in last week that they failed


to address the whole issue of dredging. At the beginning of this


flood, at the beginning of the year, it was not a crisis because it was


felt to be a natural disaster. Nobody can control the rain, not


even David Cameron or the Liberal Democrats, it is rain, it is flood,


it is a natural disaster. But now people are saying, maybe it was not


a natural disaster, maybe what has gone wrong is the dredging. And that


is what has turned the story into a crisis.


How important is it to be seen to be doing something?


It is very important, and important to be seen to be doing something


quickly. Even afford your doing does not matter?


You need to take some action. As you did at the beginning of this, you


should your condolences, should some sympathy to the people in the


floods. What happened this week when the environment Minster went there,


he went and stood in front of some pumps, or less to say, look, we have


done something. He should have been chatting to the people who were


affected by this. Should some sympathy for them, and then taking


some action. Brian, what did you make of the way


the common's handled this? I'm actually water engineer in my


real`life. I've spent a lot of time with Water Aid, and normally that is


looking at supplying water rather than getting rid of it, but here, it


really seems to be a problem that goes back 20 years. That's from when


the dredging stopped, and it is crazy, when you look at the ecology


of the area and the systems that are in place, they go back must to Roman


times. It is a competitive drainage system


they have got there, but what Martin was saying that the government needs


to feel your pain. Do you think it did?


I think in terms of what has been going on, they have formed a local


task force to deal with it and called on people, although it may


have been slow to get off the starting line, I think now they


really are trying to work together properly with the locals.


Thangam, will you impressed with David Cameron when he seized control


this week? That showed just how out of touch


with people he is. UBC from that clip that people actually in


Somerset have taken control the situation themselves and look very


fed up, it too little too late. They have been under water for weeks and


has affected their lives, children's ability to go to school,


but the people of Somerset have taken control. I think it is adding


insult to injury to turn up a bit late and turn up with all sorts of


different ideas. In the course of the last 17 days they have changed


their minds and not looked decisive at all. It would not inspire


confidence in me. It was very interesting that a


minister went down a couple of weeks ago, the moment secretary went down


and said we will come up with a plan in six weeks. There were some bad


headlines in the Daily Mail this week, by Minister got hold of it and


then things happen. It is the something must be done


approach that worries me. Just being seen to do something without it


being thoughtful. Actually, this was a preventable disaster. Rain is not


preventable, but having contingency plans, that is something you should


do. If you cut the Environment Agency, which is what David Cameron


did very quickly in 2010, with Nick Clegg's help, if you cut the


Environment Agency it will have consequences. We have seen those


consequences this week, the Environment Agency doing their best,


but they are struggling. What will the Prime Minister's spin


doctors be advising him on this at the moment?


We will probably say that this will go a quickly once the flood waters


subside, but they then have to follow through with promises they


have made. This is a typical unresolved issue that turned into a


crisis. Too little and too late is what most of the people in Somerset


are saying, it may not be too little, it certainly is too late.


They should have been in the very beginning doing something. It is a


typical example of politicians following the media. The media story


at the beginning of this was, as we saw, it was a fun story and it has


now turned into a serious story Thank you very much.


It may be a British institution but the number of pubs closing down is


rising at an alarming rate. Politicians blame the pub companies


which on one third of our pubs. Landlords are being forced to buy


beer at inflated prices. E`mail or click a landlord, as with


over 14,000 other publicans, Nigel is pulling pints behind the bar


owned by one of the big pub companies. Their leases are known as


ties, and many are complaining that they are just too binding. Here is


how it works . Republican guest only pub they could not otherwise


afford. We should get some support from the pub company. In turn, that


chicken must stop beers supplied by the company. That could be a mark`up


of more than 50%. When a Wetherspoon is opened almost next door serving


cheaper drink, this landlord was annoyed that an agreed discount on


the beer was not renewed by his landlords. Anger at the system and


ill`health has prodded him to retire.


These big pub companies are bullies. They believe leaseholders


and tenants because they know it might of hours that worked, the fact


that we have to buy the beer from Punch, it is on flow lines, they


know exactly what we are dispensing. We have to keep the beer


at the correct temperature. To do that, the electricity bills are in


the region of ?7,000 every year We probably buy or spend with Punch in


the region of ?200,000 per year When you total out over 56 years, it


is a lot of money. Punch taverns sent us this


statement. " Punch complies with illegally


binding code of practice which sets out what a tenant can expect from


Punch. Then that is an objective or any tenant at a cost of ?200 to


refer Punch to the industry's arbitration service. Today, Mr


Warren has not chosen to take any specific grievance with us to that


body. " complains over the beer tie are a common refrain, as are the


cost of repairs and fixtures and fittings.


But why would you landlords to undermine the business of one of its


own tenants? The Campaign For Real Ale has its own theory.


They are keen to turn assets into cash when they can. If there is an


opportunity to turn a pub into a supermarket they will do so, as


opposed to saying, what can we do to keep this as a viable business?


The estimate that a local pub can contribute as much as ?100,000 a


year to the local economy, but despite this, 26 pubs are set to


close each week, and 57% of publicans earn less than ?10,00 per


year. At this brewery, the past is


celebrated. They are also keen not to repeat historic mistakes.


Politicians are talking again of regulation three statutory code of


practice. It could sever beer ties, meaning Ted Macleays can buy the


beer on the market. I'm a bit nervous. There has been a


fair bit of consultation. We have not seen what other people would put


in stop Mike there could be some resistance. There is debate as to go


around the table. If there is to be legislation we have to go back to


what we were talking about earlier. If you push something through and


put in what you're done, can cause a problem further down the road.


But speed seems to be of the essence for a government that knows that pub


politics plays well with voters Labour has tried to push for


legislation this summer, but the coalition said it needed more time


to sift through the response to its consultation. Vince Cable has


likened a lot of the tight landlord to David against Goliath. He knows


many more Davids make all time at the bar before this is resolved


Johnny as is the Chief Executive of the British Beer And Pub


Association. What do you make of pub landlords in


tied establishment earning ?10, 00 per year?


The tie is a wonderful way to run your own business. If you had to buy


public properly cost you ?250,0 0. You could be running a tight pub for


around ?30,000. Pub companies but huge investment, investment that


anyone in the high Street, would love to have. It's about ?2 million


per year. Specifically, some of the complains we're getting about people


who took on long leases when the economic limit was very different,


some of them also bought a premium, so they have a mortgage on top of


what they are having to buy from the pub company.


Body you say to the allegation that it is an abusive relationship, and


you hold all the trump cards? I think it is a supportive


relationship, and if we lost the tie, there is a real danger that


many more pubs would close because they would not have the support of


the benevolent landlord. You are a benevolent landlord which


insists that you buy beer at one and a half times the price you can get


it at the supermarket. The way it works is that you pay


more for your wet rent. QPR in January, you haven't got the


customers in January, you don't sell much beer. You haven't got the cost


of the increase of costs in this month. In me, you will pay more for


your beer budget and have lower rent.


Wire summary landlord quitting if it is such a great deal?


There are not many landlords quitting. Actually, there are more


pubs closing that are independent and pubs that are tied. That is a


fact. This year and every year for the last four years beer has been


cheaper in tied pubs than an independent pubs.


Gent`mac to, as she convinced you that regulation is not necessary? ``


Thangam. The Labour Party has been really


pleased to try to push the government to introduce legislation


sooner rather than later. What would it entail?


It would provide a place for disputes to be settled, and that


would allow small landlords to be able to take on the pub company


fairly and with an independent arbiter. It would also allow them to


be able to have much more scope for negotiation. I think locking


landlords in like that is unfair, that is why we are on the side of


landlords who are trying to the thing I was told about recently,


the beer orders from 1988 allowed pubs, even tied pubs, to have guest


beers, and this seems to be something that either has been


forgotten or certainly needs to be brought back.


It is something that CAMRA are talking about.


CAMRA allege that you are not fussed if people give up because then the


building can be sold and turned into a supermarket and you can walk away


with a profit. Is that fair? Absolutely not. It costs companies


?40,000 if they even have to change a licensee. We're passionate about


pubs and a great pubs out their Is statutory regedit would cost ?1


million. We have a low`cost regulator at the moment, you can


complain about anything. Who else on the high street can make those sorts


of complaints? The beer orders were a complete disaster, we don't want


to go back on them. If you legislate in haste you will have problems in


the future. A lot of people say it was Labour's


ban on smoking which caused much of the decline.


Banning smoking in public places has improved the health of some of the


thousands and millions of people, I will never regret the ban on


smoking. It has helped smokers to give up, it does help children and


other adults not to be damaged by passive smoking. Closing pubs is not


directly to be deported a ban on smoking, however, Labour is trying


to support pubs and I think it is astonishing that the Lib Dems and


Tories voted against this. Charlotte Leslie did not even support this


legislation. There was plenty of political news


this week that it not involve the flooding in Somerset. Here is our


round`up in 60 seconds. The Kingswood MP, Chris Skidmore,


has called for tougher sentences for drivers who are repeatedly convicted


of dangerous driving. A suspended sentence is an injustice that few


can agree is acceptable. His comments followed the death of a


couple who were killed when a driver on drugs crashed into them while


they were out cycling. The West's biggest police force is


to axe more than 130 office posts as part of a review. Avon and Somerset


police said it was the biggest shake`up in the history of the


force. It is trying to find ?1 million in savings next year. More


than 700 fines were issued to parents in the West for taking the


children out of school last autumn. The government is tightening up


rules on allowing children out for holidays. Schools are calling on


travel operators to offer cheaper deals. And the leader of Wiltshire


Council has decided not to accept a rise in her allowances. Jane Scott


said she had changed her mind about taking a 40% increase because the


issue was overshadowing her work. Let's talk about taking children out


of school and fining parents who do. Brian, do you agree with that?


I think it should be up to the head, and it should be a debate between


the headmaster and parents. If it is an educational holiday, there may be


a good reason for doing that, but if it is just a matter of lying on the


beach. . I think it is why that's job and


should stay in schools the mac. And that's it from the West this


week. My thanks to Thangam and Brian for taking part. You can keep


up`to`date with the latest on the floods this week on your BBC local


radio station, and if you wish to watch this programme again it is


available on BBC iPlayer. Not a complete denial! Hopefully a


Conservative mayor again. Not a good week for David Cameron on


the tricky European front last week. President Hollande said he was not


interested in major treaty reform for 2017. That is when Mr Cameron


hopes to hold his in-out referendum. And the private member's bill to put


that referendum on the statute bill was killed by Labour and Lib Dem


peers in the Lords. James Wharton was the Tory MP behind the bill and


he joins me now. What happens now? It is out of my hands what happens


now, because Labour and the Liberal Democrats conspired in the Lords to


kill off my bill. One of the options is for another private member to


bring a bill forward when they have the next private member's bill at,


and we can try again. The prime minister has indicated that he will


support that. But whatever happens, it will be in the Conservative


manifesto at the next election. Do you accept that cost this is Tory


policy and not government policy that the government policy elite


macro cannot bring forward a bill? That is the problem. The Liberal


Democrats, despite having promised a referendum in their manifesto at the


last election, now will not allow government time for a bill to


enshrine that in law. That was why I brought it forward as a private


member's bill. David Cameron and the Conservative Party through


everything behind that. To many people's surprise, we got it through


all the House of Commons stages Sadly, to their discredit, Labour


and Liberal Democrat peers, doing the bidding of their masters in the


Commons, is conspired to kill it. Do you accept that it is Conservative


policy, but not government policy, that you could not use the


Parliament act to get this through the Lords? That is not the case The


Parliament act is clear that if a public bill passes through the House


of Commons twice in one Parliamentary period, there is a


certain amount of time that has to be between both bills being


presented. There are some procedural steps to be overcome, but there is


no legal reason why the Parliament act could not come into effect. I


was talking about you not having a majority in this case. That remains


to be seen. We saw previously that Labour and the Liberal Democrats


sent enough people to frustrate its progress to make it as difficult as


possible, but not huge numbers to vote against it. On a Friday, huge


numbers of MPs do not attend normally. Getting that number might


prove difficult. The Parliament act, which is a bit of an atomic bomb in


constitutional terms, if that was used, they would turn up to vote


against you. Is it not the case that after the countryside Alliance tried


to involve the courts in the hunting ban that it was made clear that the


Parliament act was not to be used for constitutional issues? I don't


think we know how many would turn up and we don't know how they would


vote. One of the things that has been revealed as I have gone through


the process of getting this bill to get a referendum through the Commons


is that there are big splits in the Labour Party. One of the reasons we


did not see them turning up in large numbers to stop this bill from


happening was that Ed Miliband knew that if he tried to lead his own MPs


through the lobbies to block a bill, the only purpose of which is


to let Britain decides to give people a say on membership of the


union, a lot of his MPs may not have followed him. It is all fantasy


politics anyway. The French president has made clear that he has


no interest in treaty change this side of 2017. He would need a


referendum as well . And he needs that like a hole and had. Merkel is


not keen, as she is in coalition with the social Democrats. Without


the French or the Germans, it will not happen, end of story. The policy


is that we will try to negotiate on getting a better deal. I hear what


you are saying, but I don't recognise it as reality. We have a


strong bargaining position. But whatever the result of that


negotiation, it will be put in an in-out vote to the Britain people.


It is time people were allowed to decide. It has been over a


generation since we last had a say. David Cameron has committed to


delivering that referendum. The Conservative Party will have it in


our next manifesto for the election. Whatever happens to my bill or any


other of the bill that comes forward. If people want a


referendum, the only party that can deliver that in British politics is


the Conservatives. Let me bring the panel in. Nick, where is this going?


It is clear to me and anyone who follows European politics that there


is no appetite for major treaty change in the short run,


particularly for the kind of major changes that Vista Cameron says he


is going to get, and yet the Tories are talking about Europe again when


they should be talking about the economy. And Francois Hollande is


looking at 2017, the year we are meant to have this referendum. There


will be a French presidential election going on, and Nicolas


Sarkozy will be back in play by then. But James has an interesting


point, which is that it is down to Angela Merkel. She would be more


receptive to David Cameron's ideas of reform than people assume. She


has looked over the edge at a Europe without the UK and said, that is not


acceptable, and I am willing to pay a price, not any price, but a price


to keep the UK in the European Union. And the French, because the


UK and France are the only serious military powers in Europe, will


eventually come to that position. So there is more support for David


Cameron than people assume. The French are also not a strong


position in terms of the euro and French economy. The Foreign Office


seem a bit more optimistic about it. Of course they are. Douglas Hurd


once told me, we are winning the arguments on the single currency. Of


course anything from the Foreign Office comes with a health warning,


but if David Cameron had won a majority and was determined to


renegotiate, he is in a strong position with Merkel. There is a


possibility that the French could eventually be talked around. So it


is not entirely bleak on that front for Cameron. When do the Tory party


managers say, look, stop banging on about Europe again? The economy is


going away. We still have an electoral mountain to climb. Let's


just talk about that and not be divided. They should have done that


some time ago. It is already too late. The Tories need a seven point


lead in the polls to get image are tea. The way things are, that would


require a huge change from where we are now . It is very unlikely to


happen. So all this is happening in some bizarre imaginary space with


wonderful rainbows and sunshine But we can detect the beginnings of a


shift in the last couple of weeks. If you talk to Tory backbenchers,


Douglas Carswell is now saying in public that it is time to stop the


fighting. If they are to get even close to winning the election, they


can't do it if they are all against each other. I don't think it is an


imaginary space. It is likely that David Cameron will have the largest


party in the election. If it is a hung parliament and it is the


Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Party, David Cameron


will save to Nick Clegg we gave you an AV referendum, I am having this


referendum. And it will be difficult for Nick to say no. Let me go back


to Mr Wharton. You are going to get a referendum in the manifesto. Other


than Ken Clarke, everybody wants it. So why don't you just banked that


and get behind the leadership Institute causing endless problems


and coming across as a Europe accessed, divided party? I am


absolutely behind the leadership. David Cameron announced the policy I


am trying to bring forward in this bill. It is in line with the speech


he gave this time last year. But getting that commitment into law


will help to kick-start the negotiation process and mean


everyone will know where we stand. But whatever happens, the


Conservatives are committed to delivering a referendum. And to


address the point that we talk about Europe too much, that is not the


case. We have a good message on the economy, on tackling immigration and


reforming welfare. There is more to do, but this is also an important


part of policy. But at a time when the economic news seems to be


turning in your direction, you are talking about the European


referendum. Your backbench colleagues are trying to change the


Immigration Bill every which way. Dominic Rather is putting in an


amendment is and Mr Nigel Mills has been on this programme, putting in


amendments that are clearly illegal. How is that helpful? The fact is


that we are in a coalition, so there are areas of policy where


Conservatives might want to go further and we are not able to do


that. In other areas, we are delivering good reforms. But this is


not a matter of going further. The mill 's amendment was clearly a


contravention of the Treaty of Rome. That is where you get the headlines


from. Some of your colleagues have a death wish? Would they rather have a


Miliband government if the choice is an impure Cameron one instead? I


don't think anyone in their right mind would rather have a Miliband


government. Then why are they behaving that way? We have had some


disagreements into the leak and debate within the party, but it was


talked about on the panel just now. The Conservative Party is behind


David Cameron and focused on winning the next election. Europe is one


part of that. We have policies in a range of areas, but we are getting


back on the right track. Thank you for being patient with us.


Is this ghost story going to go somewhere? Mr Laws is talking


through surrogates at the moment, but there is a strategy by the Lib


Dems make these differential points now. I think it is fantastic


coalition sports and entertaining, but in terms of out there, it has


almost no traction whatsoever. I don't think any voters know who


Baroness Morgan is and it sounds like one but politicians shouting at


another bunch of politicians about their ability to give each other


jobs. There is a larger point about the way Michael Gove runs his


government. He is notoriously a very polite man surrounded by Rottweiler


is, his advisers. He has made enemies of a lot of people in the


media, and some of that will come back on him in the next 18 months.


We shall see if Mr Laws himself sticks his head above the parapet.


That is it for this week. The Daily Politics is on throughout the week


at midday on BBC Two, except on Wednesdays, when we are on at


11:30am. I will be back next week at the same time. Remember, if it is


Sunday, it's the Sunday Politics.


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