16/02/2014 Sunday Politics West


Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, interviews and debate.

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Good morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics. It would be


extremely difficult, if not impossible, for an independent


Scotland to join the European Union, so says the President of the


European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, in a significant


development in the independence debate. It's our top story. He has


the power to bring travel chaos to the nation's capital. Bob Crow


joined us for the Sunday interview. Another by-election


The blame game over flooding. A local MP calls the chair of the


Environment Agency all sorts of rude look at his decisions and priorities


with the help of his chief of staff. With me, the best and brightest


political panel in the business The twits will be as incessant and


probably as welcome as the recent rain. A significant new development


in the debate over Scottish independence this morning, the


President of the European Commission, President Jose Manuel


Barroso, has confirmed what the Nationalists have long denied, that


an independent Scotland would have to reply to join the European Union


as a new member, that it would require the agreement of all 28


member states and that would be in his words, extremely difficult, if


not impossible. In case there is a new country, a new state coming out


of a current member state, it will have to apply and, this is very


important, the application to the union would have to be approved by


all of the other member states. Countries like Spain, with the


secessionist issues they have? I don't want to interfere in your


democratic discussion here, but of course, it will be extremely


difficult to get the approval of all of the other member states, to have


a new member coming in from one member state. We have seen that that


Spain has been opposing even the recognition, for instance, so it is


a similar state. It is a new country. I believe it is great to be


externally difficult, if not impossible. Well, he says he doesn't


want to interfere, but he has just dropped a medium-sized explosive


into the debate on Scottish independence? A huge story. Alex


Salmond must be wondering what is going to go wrong next. His pitch to


the Scottish people is based on two things, the currency union with


England and the rest of the United Kingdom, which was blown apart last


week, and this morning, his claims that Scotland would automatically


get into the European Union has been dynamited. He's not only saying that


they would have to apply, it is also saying it might be impossible to get


the agreement of all 28 members to allow Scotland in. That's even more


significant than the application? The reference to Spain is


interesting, we talk about Catalan independence, an economic and active


area that Spain does not want to be independent. About five other


countries are blocking Kosovo's accession to the EU. There is no


reason they would want to encourage the secessionist in their country by


letting Scotland do the same. If Scotland does have to apply, and it


does get in, it solves the currency problem because all new members have


to accept the Euro? At the moment, the SNP are rejecting that quite


strongly. What an interesting intervention today. However, I know


that those arguing that Scotland should stay in the union are worried


that the polls are tightening. A lot of these interventions, parents care


arguments, they don't look like they are convincing the Scottish people.


We haven't had any polls yet? We haven't, but we have since the


currency debate was reignited in the last few weeks and it shows the


polls tightening slightly. I think Alistair Darling's campaign would


prefer to be much further ahead at the stage. They are worried that


these technical commandments are not having much sway. Are the polls


tightening slightly? They could be within the statistical margin for


error. They are, but not much. Alex Salmond's main page is one of


reassurance. He wants to say you can vote for independence, a pound in


the pocket will be the same as before and you will still be a


member of the European Union. In the last three or four matter days, both


of those claims have been blown apart. Angus MacNeil has already


told BBC Radio 5 Live that the remarks are nonsense and he is


playing more politics. We hope to speak to the SNP's finance minister,


John Swinney, a little bit later in the programme. It is not just the


constant rain that London commuters have had to deal with. There was


also a strike on the tube that disrupted the travel of millions. A


second stoppage was on the cards, but it was called off at the last


minute. The leader of the biggest


underground workers union, the RMT, is Bob Crow, who has led his members


into 24 strikes on the tube since 2005, as well as disputes on the


national rail network. Under his leadership, the union's membership


has grown from 57,000 in 2002 to more than 80,000, at a time when


union membership overall has been shrinking. The current dispute has


seen Bob Crow squaring up to Boris Johnson over the mayor's plans to


close tube station ticket offices. The 48-hour stoppage at the


beginning of this month is estimated to have cost the London economy ?100


million. The two sides have agreed a truce, for now, but Mr Crow has


threatened further action if the mayor imposes his changes.


Bob Crow joins me now for the Sunday interview.


Welcome to the Sunday Politics. You have suspended the strike for the


moment. What will it take to call it off entirely? Want to know first of


all wider booking office has to close. The Mayor of London made it


quite clear in his election programme that the booking offices


would remain open. It was strange, really, because Ken Livingstone


wanted to close them down and the mayor thought it was popular to keep


them open and put in his campaign to keep them open. However, we have not


the news figures. We are being told only 3% of people use the booking


offices. That's not true. In research done, if somebody does to a


booking office with somebody sitting there and asks for a ticket of less


than ?5, they are not allowed to sell them a ticket, it is madness.


Do you use the ticket office? When it is open, yes. You said to ITV


that he didn't. I don't know what I said to ITV, I don't know what time


people use them, sometimes they are open and sometimes they are closed.


People make out that these ticket office staff are people that sit


behind barriers like a newsagent. I'm not knocking a newsagent,


however, these people were the same people treated like Lions when they


were helping people named in the terrorist incidents, taking them out


of the panels. Suddenly they are lazy people that sit in ticket


offices. My understanding is that the people would come from behind


and be out and about now. It is the management wants to run the


underground without ticket offices, isn't that their prerogative? They


are paid to manage, not you, not your members, they are the managers?


Managers are there to manage, and we want good managers. But we've got


some really bad managers that are not looking at the railway as a


whole. This is a successful industry, not an industry in


decline, one of the most successful in Britain. It is moving 3.4 million


people a day. All of the forecast is or it will move to 3.6 million per


day. The mayor wants to run services on a Friday and Saturday night. We


are not opposed to that. However, it does not make sense that if more


people are going to be using the tube on Friday and Saturday, coming


home at two o'clock three o'clock in the morning, a lot of people


drinking, a lot of people not dragging, why take 1000 people of


the network that come to the aid of people that are looking to people? I


want to show you this picture. This is you. Taking a break in Brazil, I


think it is. I was trying to copy you. You deserve this break because


you have done a fantastic job for your members. Yes, I don't see what


that has got to do with it. Let s get every editor of the daily


newspapers and see where they go on their holidays, I would like to


know. What I choose to do... I'm not attacking you for doing that...


You've got a picture up there, I've got to say, why don't they go and


follow Boris Johnson when he was away on holiday, when the riots were


taking place in London, and he refused to come back? Why don't they


go and view the editors of newspapers, where they go on


holiday? Why do they look at you when you go on holiday? They


sometimes do, actually. The basic pay of a tube driver will soon be


?52,000. Ticket office workers are already earning over ?35,000. Never


mind a holiday on Copacabana beach, or membership by your house for what


you have done for them? When you look at the papers this morning I


see that Wayne Rooney is going to get a ?70 million deal over the next


four deals. I see NHS doctors are getting ?3000 a shift. I see a lot


of people that do a lot of people that, in my opinion, don't do


anything for society. The top paid people in this country should be


doctors and nurses. Unfortunately, we live in a jungle. If you are not


strong, the bosses will walk all over you. The reason why we got good


terms and conditions is because we fought for them. The reality is all


of these three political parties, liberals, Tories and Labour, they


have all put no programme that to defend working people. So we have to


do it on our own. And that is why you have done such a great job for


your members and why union membership has been rising, people


want to be part of a successful operation. But it has come at a cost


for less well-paid workers, who travel on the cheap? If everyone


believes if London Underground tube workers take a pay freeze they are


going to redistribute the money to the rest of the workers that work on


the cheap... But the people that travel on the tube, let's look at


some of them, they are the ones that suffer from your strike action. The


starting salary of a cheap driver now, ?48,000. The starting salary


for a nurses only ?26,000, ?22, 00 for a young policeman, ?27,000 for a


teacher starting out. As your members have spread, they have had


to live through 24 strikes in 1 years to push up your members


wages. It's I'm all right Jack? The have put a pay freeze on by


conservatives and liberals. The police constables, so have the


teachers. We have had the ability to go and fight. The reality is, at the


end of the day, as I have said before, no one is going to put up


the cause for workers. Not one single party in parliament are


fighting the cause for workers. They all support privatisation, they all


support keeping the anti-trade union laws, they all support illegal wars


around the world. Unless they have a fighting trade union, our members


pay would be as low as some others. You said we could not care less if


we have 1 million strikes. But these people, the lower paid people who


travel on the tube, who need it as an essential service, they care Of


course they care, I've said before that I apologise to the troubling


public for the dispute that took place. 24 strikes in 13 years? It


two to tango. If the boy never imposed terms and conditions on us


against our will... But you've got great terms and conditions! But it's


a constant battle, they are trying to change them. Drivers are having


their pay going up to ?50,000. You said they are making it worse, it is


going up. They are trying to make things worse for workers. You said


at the start of the interview that the tube strike cost ?100 million in


two days. It means that when members go to work for two days it is worth


?100 million. That demonstrates what they are worth. Only a fighting


trade union can defend workers out there. Your members should enjoy


what you have got for them, because it's not going to last, is it?


Technology will change the whole way your business operates. As Karl Marx


says, you said I was a mixture of Karl Marx, Only Fools And Horses and


the Sopranos. I thought that was quite funny... The Karl Marx part of


it, the only thing that is constant is change. We have been crying out


for new technology. But for who To put people on the dole, so they


can't do anything and do anything for society, or technology so


everybody benefits, lower fares better service and better terms and


conditions for the workers. But you have made Labour so expensive on the


underground that management now has a huge incentive to substitute


technology for Labour. And that s what it's going to do, it is closing


the ticket offices and very soon, starting in 2016, the driverless


trains coming. What I am saying is that your members should enjoy this


because it's not going to last. Driverless trains are not coming


in, it is not safe. We have them in Nuremberg, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, it


is not safe? These are new lines that have been built so that when it


breaks down, people can get out of the tunnel. Would you want to be


stuck on a summers day on the Northern line? A pregnant woman who


cannot get off the train? Absolute panic that takes place, the reality


is simple, it is a nonsense. It s not going to happen because it is a


Victorian network. On Docklands railway for example it is driverless


but when the train breaks down, it is above ground on a very small


section. All of these other cities managed to have it. You remind me


about Henry Ford in the 1930s when he said, you see that robot over


their, he cannot buy a car. All sorts of new jobs are being created


all the time in other areas. Come back to the ticket offices, not many


people use the ticket offices any more, what is wrong with getting the


stuff out of the ticket office on to the concourses, meeting and


greeting, helping disabled people and tourists and making it a better


service? They can do more on the concourse than they can in the


ticket office. Andrew, he took the decision to close down every single


ticket office. You cannot compare for example Chesham with the likes


of Heathrow. Are you telling me people are going to be on a long


transatlantic flight, arrived at Heathrow and cannot get a ticket.


The stuff will be redeployed on the concourse. The simple problem is


that it is not just about the booking office, it is about people


having a visual. If you are partially sighted, you cannot use


the machines. If British is not your first language, you cannot use the


offices. How many languages do your members speak? I don't know, I


struggle with English. The machines can speak many different languages.


They are dehumanising things. You phone the bank, all you hear is


press one for this, two for that. People want to hear it human being


and what makes the London Underground so precious is that


people want to see people. Having well-dressed, motivated people out


on the concourse, what part of that don't you like? They will be on the


concourse and they will have machines. The fact is that London


Underground did a risk assessment of closing down their booking offices


and it is clear that if you are disabled, if you are partially


sighted, London Underground becomes more dangerous. You are posing the


closing of ticket offices, opposing driverless trains, when you opposed


to the Oyster card when it came in? No, Oyster cards, it is how you deal


with it. It is not the only way They should supplement the staff and


the job. If more people used the London Underground system, you want


more staff to deal with them. Let's look at your mandate to strike. Of


your members who work on the Tube, only 40% bothered to vote. Only 30%


voted for the strike, so 70% actually didn't vote to strike of


your members, but the strike went ahead. Isn't it right to have a


higher threshold before you can cause this disruption? It would be


lovely if everyone voted but the Tories took that away. We used to


have ballots at the workplace. What I'm trying to say to you is that we


used to have a ballot box at the workplace and the turnouts were


higher. The Tories believe that if they can have a secret ballot where


ballot papers went to people's home addresses, where they could be


persuaded by the bosses, votes would be different. Let's go back to the


workplace ballot because you get a bigger turnout. Will the RMT


re-affiliate to the Labour Party? I have no intention to. We got


expelled from the Labour Party. But you will give some money to the


Labour councils? Those that support our basic policies get money, we


don't give money directly to MPs, we give it to constituencies. Are you


going to stand for re-election in 2016? I might do, I might not. You


haven't decided yet? No, but more than likely I will do. And will you


stand again as an anti-EU candidate? Yes, I am standing in London, and


right across, completely different to UKIP's policies. They are


anti-European, they believe all of the faults of Europe are down to the


immigrants. We are anti-European Union. If London Underground is as


badly run as you think, why don t you run for mayor? That is down the


road, it has not come up yet. I m not ruling anything out. I'm not


ruling out getting your job on the Sunday Politics. You have got to


retire as well, you have got to put your feet up. I will get you to


renegotiate my package. Shall we go on strike first? If I could have


your wages, I would have two trips to Rio every year. Good luck. And if


you're in the London region they'll have more on the Tube strike later


in the programme. Let's get back to those comments from Jose Manuel


Barroso, and reaction to these comments from John Swinney. Scottish


Nationalists denied all along you would have to reapply, we have now


heard it without any caveats, you will and you might not get in. I


think Jose Manuel Barroso's comments were preposterous this morning. He


compared the situation to the one in Kosovo. Britain is the member,


Scotland is not the member. If you go independent, you will have to


reapply, he says. All of the arrangements we have in place are


compatible with the workings of the European Union because we have been


part of it for 40 years. The propositions we put forward work


about essentially negotiating the continuity of Scotland's membership


of the European Union and that position has now been explained and


debated and discussed and reinforced by comments made by experts. We are


talking about the president of the European commission and we have


spoken to him since he gave that interview on the BBC this morning,


it was an intervention that he made that he wanted to lay out that


Scotland should be in no doubt that if they vote for independence they


will have to apply for European membership and they may not get it


if it is vetoed by other members. What he didn't say is that no state


of the European Union have indicated they would veto Scottish


membership. The Spanish foreign minister has. They have said that if


there is an agreed process within the UK that Scotland becomes an


independent country, then Spain has got nothing to say about the issue.


That indicates to me clearly that the Spanish government will have no


stance to take on the Scottish membership of the European Union


because it is important that Scotland is already part of the


European Union, our laws are compatible with the European Union


and we play our part. The only threat to Scotland's participation


in the European Union is the potential in/out referendum that


David Cameron wants to have in 017. It has not been a great week for


you, has it? Everything you seem to want, the monetary union, that has


been blown out of the water by the Westminster parties, now Jose Manuel


Barroso has said you will have to reapply to the European Union, it


has not been a good week. You will follow the debate closely, and the


Sunday newspapers are full about the backlash taking place within


Scotland at the bullying remarks of the Chancellor and his cohorts. Is


Jose Manuel Barroso a bully is well now? He is making an indirect


comparison between Scotland and Kosovo. If you vote for independence


and you do have two apply again to join, if you do get in it solves


your currency problem because you will have to accept the euro. We


have set out an option on the currency arrangements which would be


to establish the currency union You would have to adopt the euro. That's


not rate because you have to be part of the exchange-rate mechanism for


two years before you can apply for membership and an independent


Scotland has no intention of signing up to the exchange rate mechanism or


the single currency. We are concentrating on setting out our


arguments for maintaining the pound sterling, which is in the interests


of Scotland and the UK. Thank you for joining us this morning.


This week's least surprising news was that Labour won the safe seat of


Wythenshawe and Sale East in a by-election, following the death of


the MP Paul Goggins. With the result so predictable, all eyes were on


whether this would be the sixth time this parliament that UKIP would come


second. And whether they'd chip away at Labour's vote, not just the


Tories and the Lib Dems. Adam stayed up all night to find out what it all


meant. Forget the hype. Forget the theorising. And yes - everyone has a


theory. UKIP are learning from us. What have they picked up from you?


To be silly. Thanks to this week's by-election we've got some hard


evidence in paper form that helps answer the question: How are UKIP


doing? Turns out the answer is well, but not well enough to beat Labour.


I'm therefore claim -- declare that Mike Cane is elected. So UKIP have


come second and increased their share of the vote quite


significantly. But their performance isn't as good as their performances


in some of the other by-elections this parliament. Just don't suggest


to them that their bandwagon has ground to a halt. A week ago you'd


told me you were going to win, what happened? No, I didn't, I said I


wanted to win. My mistake. How are you feeling? It is a Labour


stronghold, we always knew it was going to be a fight. Labour were


running scared of letting us present our arguments. UKIP's campaign in


Wythenshawe didn't point to the right but to the left, with leaflets


that branded Labour as a party of millionaires who didn't care about


the working class. It wasn't a winning strategy but it did help


them beat the Tories who focused on dog mess and potholes instead.


Professional UKIP-watcher Rob Ford from Manchester Uni thinks they


could be on the right track. He s analysed the views of 5,000 UKIP


voters for a new book, which could confound the received wisdom about


the party. The common media image of the typical UKIP voter is a ruddy


faced golf club and -- member from the south-east of the UK and many


UKIP activists do resemble that stereotype to some extent, they do


pick up a lot of activists from the Conservative party, but UKIP voters


are older, more working class, more likely to live in Northern, urban


areas, and they are much more anti-system than anti-EU. And


they're precisely the voters that the Tory MP David Mowat needs if


he's to hold on to his narrow majority in the constituency just


down the road. Do you have a UKIP strategy in your seat? Our UKIP


strategy is to point out that if they want a referendum on if they


want to be in the EU or not, there is one way to get it, for the


Conservatives to form their next government and for me to be their


MP. UKIP could accidentally destroy what they want? I'm not sure it will


be accidental. People need to realise that if Ed Miliband is the


Prime Minister, there will be no referendum on the EU and UKIP may


have made their point but they would not have got their referendum. Over


at UKIP local HQ, it is tidying up time. Not helping, Nigel? I had


major surgery on the 19th of November and I am still weak as a


kitten. I can barely lift a pint with my right hand, it is as serious


as that. The answer is, Carreon chaps, you're all doing a very good


job. There will be carrying on to the European elections in May, which


will provide more evidence of if the UKIP and wagon is powering on or if


it is just parked. -- bandwagon With me now is the Conservative MEP


Vicky fraud and UKIP director of medication is Patrick O'Flynn. He


will also be a candidate in the upcoming European elections. You


came second in Manchester, but it was not a close second. -- Vicky


Ford. There is nothing that is a game changer? I think it is very


unusual for any insurgent party like the liberals used to be, to


actually win a safe seat of the opposition. Those shocks, going back


to Walkington etc, it tended to be winning seats against an unpopular


government. We did extraordinarily well in Wythenshawe. Labour


compressed the campaign down to the shortest possible time and maxed out


the postal vote. Whatever we think about Labour, they do have an


efficient machine, lots of union activists signed a lot of people


with a lot of know-how. It pushed you into third place and showed the


increasing irrelevance of the Tories in the North? Tory minded voters in


the North Sea more inclined to vote for UKIP than you? I think


by-elections are by-elections. The same day, we took a seat from Labour


in Birmingham. Well, that was a by-election as well, so we should


discount that as well. You should learn from them, and we need to look


forward to the elections in 201 . That is in May this year, when we


have a chance to really grab this change in Europe, grab this change


that we were talking about just now. You don't worry, particularly in the


north, if people want to vote against Labour your supporters are


drifting to UKIP? I think people vote UKIP in a European election and


they have done that for many years. They vote that because they want


change. The problem is, Patrick s party have had MEPs since 1999 and


they cannot deliver that change They can't because they don't have


seats in Westminster. It was on that video, the only way we are going to


get the change we want in Europe is to have that referendum and have the


renegotiation, and that means vote Tory. What do you say to that? Let's


get real, the Conservative Party has not won a Parliamentary majority in


22 years. But the only way you will get a referendum, if that is what


motivates you, and with UKIP it is, the only way it will be a referendum


on Europe in this country as if there is a majority Conservative


government at the next election And you could well stop that from


happening? I don't accept that. I believe, just as we forced David


Cameron and into a referendum pledge he explicitly ruled out making


before through our success, and I was there in PMQs, when his MPs


asked him and he said it would not be in the national interest because


he didn't want to leave, our electoral success forced that


pledge. I believe by winning the European action this May we can


force Ed Miliband, again, against his will, to match that pledge.


Then, whatever formulation varies in the next Parliament, we will get a


referendum. Labour MPs have just had the chance to say we want a


referendum. They refused to do it. The only way you are going to get a


renegotiation, a change in our relationship with Europe and an in


or out referendum is to have a Conservative Government. Please


UKIP, stop pretending that you can deliver, because you don't deliver


and you don't... We have delivered, we forced David Cameron to give a


pledge for a referendum he didn t want to make. We will know if you


are right about Ed Miliband or not, you will have to tell us going into


the campaign. If you are wrong, what do you do then? There are still


loads of reasons for people to vote UKIP. A referendum is one thing


David Cameron, and I asked him directly, thermally wants to stay


in. He wants to be the Edward Heath of the 21st century. The Tories are


going to say, vote UKIP, get Ed Miliband. What would you say to


that? I would say we have probably maxed out the Tory vote we are going


to get because David Cameron has been incredibly helpful in sending


them in our direction. Our potential for growth now, would we are


concentrating on, his those disenchanted former Labour voters


and more and more of them are coming towards us on things like


immigration and law and order. We want to renegotiate our relationship


with Europe. We need to have people who are going to turn up to


negotiate with people like Barroso. That meant a Prime Minister that is


not Ed Miliband but David Cameron. UKIP MEPs do not turn up to


defenders. If President Hollande is as good as his word and says there


will be no substantial renegotiation, certainly no treaty


change this side of 2017 when he is up for the election, what do you do


then? He is a French Socialist Prime Minister, I don't expect him to


agree. But you can't bring anything of substance back with these


negotiations. Then people will vote to leave. The Prime Minister has


been very clear that British public opinion is on a knife edge and


unless we get what we want from a renegotiation, we will leave. You


would vote to leave? Let's see what we get with the deal on the table in


2017. If the status quo was what we have today, I would vote to leave.


But I want to renegotiate. We will have to move on. For those viewers


lucky enough to live in the East of England, they will be seeing more of


Patrick in a moment. You are watching Sunday Politics. Coming up


in just over 20 minutes, I will be talking about, what else, the


weather, with our Thank you, Andrew. Good morning and


welcome to the Sunday Politics here in the West. Once again, the


floodwaters have washed in another wave of politicians. But did the


arrival of the Westminster welly brigade make a jot of difference to


those waist deep in flood water As the political classes point the


finger of blame at each other, we will consider why we always need a


scapegoat in a crisis. Well, here to discuss this week's political


weather we have two darlings of the right. Conservative Jacob Rees`Mogg


has been dubbed by some as the right honourable member for the 19th


century. He is also the current MP for North East Somerset. And Gawain


Towler is a new face on a show. He is running for UKIP in May's


European elections. Welcome to you both. Let's start with overseas aid


and calls for that money to be used for flood victims here. What is the


justification for that? The justification is pretty simple. The


money that the Government raises for assistance of those in need is money


for assistance for those in need. It's not Bangladesh though, is it?


However bad it is? No, it is the UK and people in the UK are in need and


that's why we believe that in this crisis, in situations like this


that some of the money that is currently earmarked to be sent


abroad... And remember this is particularly development aid, not


humanitarian aid, there is a truism that it is for rich people in rich


countries trying to support poor people in poor countries. Better


that money is spent at home, looking after our own. Jake, the Prime


Minister has completely ruled that out? the Prime Minister has a


manifesto commitment to increase the overseas budget and won the


election. I never happened to believe that was a good promise I


think overseas aid is an inappropriate use of taxpayers'


money. I think the best way to get poor countries to be rich is to


trade with them. And that overseas aid is a matter for private charity,


not for taxpayer money. And the rain keeps on falling and there is still


no end in sight for those affected by the flooding. Tempers have been


getting frayed with many people including politicians, looking for


someone to blame. The Bridgwater MP has not minced his words, calling


the chair of the Environment Agency a g`i`t and threatening to flush his


head down the toilet. Ruth sent this support from the Somerset levels on


the blame game. You know, people said he was OK but I find him an


arrogant out`of`touch and a really rather sad man. It is fair to say


Ian Liddell Grainger and Lord Chris Smith aren't the best of mates. He


is an out of touch, arrogant man. He is a quango king of the worst type.


It's a no`brainer. He can't be that stupid. Ian Liddell Grainger isn't


the only one pointing the finger and the chair of the Environment Agency


isn't the only one at the receiving end. There are lots of others


responsible for fund work also. All are likely to be


All are likely to be sucked into the blame game as time goes on. This is


North Curry on the Somerset Levels, where some homes and businesses are


under water for the second time in two years. Local people are looking


for someone to blame. It is a coping strategy, I believe. It's so bad out


here. All the locals are saying it has never been anywhere near as bad


down here and I think having something to focus on, blame, it


helps. There's a lot of talk about blame. Do you blame anyone? Oh,


definitely the Environment Agency. After the 2012 flooding, they were


told by all the local people about the rivers needing dredging. They


took a gamble and it has failed and we are paying for the consequences


now. We all can't be wrong blaming the Environment Agency. Meeting


people like Keith, you can see why he wants someone to blame. Others


say that is not constructive. Phil Stones lived in North Curry for 25


years. A former district councillor, he wants action, not nasty words. A


lot of people are in desperate circumstances and that's the natural


reaction, to look at who is responsible. And I think the time


will come for that, to look at how we got here and what we now need to


do to try and ensure we don't get here in the future. And he's not


convinced MPs speaking out like Ian Liddell Grainger are helpful. Some


of the things that Ian said are valid but I think he is focusing too


much on the blame and not enough on what positive action is now required


when there is so much to be done. I mean, it's quite entertaining but


it's not very constructive. The Environment Agency says it's


concentrating on protecting people and properties in the extreme


weather, rather than getting involved in allegations of blame.


But its chair, Lord Smith, did use an article in the national press to


say the Government was using his agency as a political football.


People are concerned about police presence, police visibility. Are our


properties secure? At a meeting for flood`hit residents near Bridgwater


this week, the local MP did seem slightly repentant. You've blamed


the Environment Agency, Chris Smith in particular. Is blaming anyone the


right thing to be doing right now? No, and I think that's fair. There


are occasions when you're up against it and even I let off steam. And I


just felt it was so unfair to tell people who had been living here for


generations that they have to make a choice and it was their fault in the


first place. I thought that was unfair. And you look back and you


think, should I have said that? And the answer is probably not but the


professional side of me is that I am not prepared to have my constituents


being given a choice. Their lives matter more to me, and their


livelihoods, than Chris Smith. Are you looking for someone to blame so


people don't point the finger at you? No, I am happy to stand up in


front of everybody. That is why I'm here. You know, I am not a shrinking


violet. You know that! You know that very well. No, if people want to


come and shout at me, and people have, I am quite happy to take it.


And he might have to take that flak for some time. The water is slow to


recede and those affected desperate for someone to blame.


Joining me in the studio is Doctor Tim Harries. He is an expert on


human behaviour from Kingston University and he studied the impact


of flooding on mental health. Thank you very much for coming in. What


are the flood victims going through? Many mixed and very different


emotions. I mean, shock and anger are some of the first ones, of


course. We have heard lots of that on the radio and on the television.


Disbelief. And what this kind of mix leads to then, inevitably, one of


the things it leads to in the short term is a kind of denial. Because


the shock is actually too great for us to handle easily so we need to


find some way of coping, as the lady on the clip mentioned. One of the


coping mechanisms is actually to blame someone else. So we all will


tend to think, " Who can I blame? Who is not me? Who is not part of my


little community or home?" And politicians and the Environment


Agency are going to be in the front line, are they not? They are the


natural scapegoats. And to some extent, it is understandable that


they get some of the blame. The problem with that of course is that


they are also the ones who are looking after us and protecting us.


Let's bring in the politicians. Jacob, when you heard your fellow


conservative Ian Liddell Grainger calling someone a git and wanting to


put their head down the toilet, did it make you feel proud? Ian speaks


his mind and that is a thoroughly good thing for politicians to do. I


speak my mind in a slightly different way from Ian but he has


made his criticisms very forcefully and I think there is an important


underlying point, which is that the Environment Agency made policy


decisions that made the problem worse. Now, I thought it would be


useful to bring the 2008 policy document from the Environment


Agency. Right. It says that directed flooding on the Somerset Levels and


moors has the potential to enhance already significant nature


conservation interests. So in 2 08, the Environment Agency suggesting


that actually flooding the Somerset moors was an allowable thing to do.


Here we are in 2014 with a serious flooding problem, mainly because


because there has been a lot of rain rather than because of the


Environment Agency but policy decisions made it worse. Now if this


is to be put right in future, we have to examine the mistaken


policies that were chosen and put new ones in place. And that is where


you need some element of blame because we need to work out what...


And would you also blame the local authorities who didn't contribute to


dredging? The dredging stopped in 1995 and my godfather, who was a


Somerset County Councilor in the 1980s, said that at the time that


not dredging would lead to these problems and so once you've got very


heavy rainfall, you are in a position where it was going to have


a worse effect because of policy. It is interesting the Conservatives


didn't come into power and override the Environment Agency. But bringing


in Gawain, you blame Brussels, presumably. In part. There are. . A


problem has many fathers. It is as the levels are a man`made


environment, the problems are largely man`made. Yes, of course we


have had the problems with the weather but the ability to deal with


it has been hampered by the taking over by the Environment Agency of


the responsibility of drainage from the Rivers Authority. It was once


the case that the water companies were responsible for everything


Then when they were privatised, that authority, that responsibility, was


split between about six different agencies, most of which are


mentioned in your film. The problem now is the buck does not stop


anywhere. The blame is being put on Chris Smith. To a large extent I


think reasonably. And I think what Jacob has brought up is key. What is


driving the policy that thinks it is a good idea to flood the levels And


I would say there you're looking at the habitat directive, you're


looking at the water framework directive, and various other


aspects. Is it simply an act of God, actually, and there is not much that


any of us can do about it? I would like to just come back to the


difference between blame and understanding. So it sounds that we


are talking about how can we understand why Somerset has flooded


so badly. Now, that is right and good as far as I'm concerned. What


we often see from residents and on occasion from politicians is very


emotional blaming. Now that is a negative part. Of course we have to


understand if the Environment Agency can change and of course we need to


see why they did what they did. With probably good intentions. But the


blame potentially has quite a negative effect, in that we need,


for example, a very good relationship between the Environment


Agency and householders and farmers and small businesses in order that


together they can actually work this through. What we have had in the


past is antagonism, which has actually pushed the two parties


apart. So should the politicians then be trying to smooth things over


and be diplomatic, rather than going in this rather adversarial way that


we have seen? It is very tempting I am sure for a politician to be


adversarial but they do, if they want the best for Somerset, rather


than for their own votes, they do need to be thinking about a less


adversarial approach. Can I say one thing? Very quickly. I think there


is a problem that so many of these responsibilities have been given to


quangos. When politicians had direct responsibility, they had to defend


the decision that they had made Now, we can pass it on to nominally


independent third parties and I think that makes the blame game a


good deal worse and cuts out the direct response policy to the


politicians. We have to leave it there. I am sorry. Doctor Tim, I


appreciate it. Thank you. So how many are being hurt by the Somerset


floods? Most certainly tens of thousands. Not because they have


been flooded out but because business is suffering. Visitors


think the county is a disaster zone so are staying away. With the


exception of journalists and politicians, though their presence


may not be welcome. It is half term week, which usually


brings a welcome influx to places like this. Tourism is worth ?1


billion to the county. But 2014 is getting off to a grim start. A local


guesthouse reports bookings down a quarter. The owner brings together


other local businessmen who are also suffering. We have got a similar


problem at the Regal theatre. We have got three shows on, three shows


booked for half term, not many people actually coming at the


moment. Local people are turning up but the visitors just aren't


happening at the moment. People think the whole of Somerset is


flooded. You know, we have had so many people who have cancelled


coming down because of the floods. As they are using a booking system,


we cannot stop them. Other people phoning up to enquire. It is


ridiculous. The problem is more acute for places closer to floods.


This village says despite reassuring people who phone that they are open,


footfall is down. Business leaders say Somerset has got a real image


problem. Inevitably, when people think about Somerset, they think


about gloomy faces and lifeboats and the Prince sitting on a bench coming


to Somerset. They think about water. And they don't think about all the


other good things that are happening in the county and all the parts of


the county that are functioning pretty well. These are the pictures


that have mesmerised for the past month and a half, a sea the size of


Bristol covering 80 square kilometres. But for all the dramatic


views, the reality is that this is actually around 2% of Somerset. And


of course, its thinly populated flood plain. The number of homes


that have been flooded is around 100. And while it's been eagerly


seized upon by the media, the public view has also been shaped by the


procession of visiting politicians. On Monday it was Nick Clegg,


following hot on the heels of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, just days after


the Prime Minister visited. First on the scene had been Environment


Secretary Owen Paterson. the Prime Minister visited. First on


the scene had been Environment When he came back on Tuesday, the PM met


emergency services and military personnel tackling the floods.


he came back on Tuesday, the PM met emergency services and I sent in the


Army to help here in Somerset and initially councils said that they


didn't need that help. Now they are using that help very effectively and


the army are properly stood up here in Somerset, helping repair


sandbags, helping local communities. So there will be more military boots


on the ground but fewer half term visitors. The bill for dealing with


the floods will be huge. Somerset 's laws will be much greater. `` loss.


Gawain, should we be applying for help from the European Union? Yes.


After all, it's our money. So there are benefits to being in the EU


Well, I am not going to say thank you will we give them ?1 and get 50p


back. I don't see that as being a good deal. But yes, the money is


there and we should be getting it, thank you very much. It's our


taxpayers who funded it. Jacob, it is very interesting to see all of


the politicians coming down. You always talk about the need for a


small state, a state that does not get involved. And yet there is an


emergency like this and suddenly David Cameron comes and says, well,


money is no object. It doesn't make sense, does it? I think the most


important visit was the visit of the Prince of Wales, actually, which


made people more that the highest in the land would serve them. I did


very much that he actually did that but I thought that really reassured


people that the Royal family and the Queen were concerned about what was


going on. The British people... I didn't ask you that, Jake! No, I


know. In this small state that you have always been asking for,


something happens to your people and Somerset and you want the Army and


you want money to be no object? Going back to what I was saying


about the Environment Agency's report in 2008 and the degree to


which they made the situation worse. I do believe in free markets. I


believe that if people make a voluntary decisions that have


consequences, they must be responsible for those consequences.


However, the failure to dredge. . The Somerset Levels have made the


problem much worse and therefore, through decisions made by


governments, people have suffered. Private companies aren't lining up


now, I be, to dredge the rivers and to pump the water out? When there is


an emergency, you need the state. You agree? Of course I agree with


that. There is a role for the state but... But it has to be a small


state when its other people on benefits but a large state when its


farmers with airline flooded? `` with their land flooded. I think the


two are completely separate things. The state is always there for an


emergency. That is the whole point of the welfare system. I support


welfare to help people in an emergency situation, when they


cannot cope on their own. I don t support the state taking decisions


for everybody about how they lead their lives. It's a balance. OK


thank you. Well, let'sdim the lights. Feed up the romantic music.


Because it's Valentines weekend So a good time to test whether love


might be in the air between the Conservatives and UKIP. Here is our


very own Cilla Black, Robert Markwell.


The surge of UKIP support in last May 's local elections prompted the


Conservative member for North East Somerset to drop this political


bombshell. Why not do a deal with the Eurosceptic party which appears


to be sporting their vote? `` splitting. I think there should be a


combined election to say that we support each other across the


country. I would like to see Nigel Farage replace Nick Clegg as the


deputy premise. `` Deputy Prime Minister. I think that would be a


better bet for conservatism and the right wing in British politics. UKIP


continued to rain on the Conservatives's parade. They pushed


them into third place in another by`election this week. Perhaps


that's why support for a deal between the two parties is growing


among the Tory grassroots. A survey by the Conservative home website


revealed almost half of 1000 activists polled would back a deal


with the other side. The PM isn t so sure. I don't believe in pacts and


deals. So it is now to Jacob? Jacob has many good ideas, this is not one


of them. UKIP has said it would be up to local branches to decide if


they wished to field candidates against the Tories. Here in Wales in


2010, the UKIP branch defied an order from the then leader, Lord


Pearson, and chose to stand anyway. The Tories then lost the seat to the


leads Lib Dems by a whisker. Now, with Mr Farage is tipped to top the


polls in the European elections more and more Tories believe a


special relationship could be the key to keeping the man in Number Ten


next year. Well, let's see if there is a romantic atmosphere here.


Jacob, your idea of a packed with UKIP, I took it personally to the


Prime Minister on your behalf and he said no. Indeed but the week before


the election, he was going around saying, " what is the biggest joke


in UK politics?" To which the answer was Nick Clegg. So parties have to


deal with the reality of electoral situation. The reality of electoral


situation is the combined vote of the two right`wing parties is a


comfortable majority. If we divide, we risk losing. And yet together, we


can achieve the referendum that would give the rich, British


people... `` gives the British people. So you're still in favour?


Very strongly. And what do you feel about that? We feel that there are


more people in the Conservative party who are interested in a packed


and people in UKIP. We are on the rise. The only place that I am


certain that we have had, you mentioned the idea that we have a


party are saying now packed at the top but if the local branch is


interested and they think they like the cut of the jet of the sitting MP


or whichever then strike. Let's take the example of Wells, where there


was the most Eurosceptic Tory MP there. UKIP decided to stand against


him. The vote was split, he was out and now there is a Lib Dem who is


European in. `` pro`European. Where is the logic? We had a very clear


rule about standing down and we did stand down against some. Those who


had signed the better off out. Sadly, he had not done so and so


therefore the rule that was... So you've got a pro`European in there.


Yes, we do for now. Well, that's brilliant then, isn't it? You want


to be anti`European but you put .. We believe very strongly, in the


case of Wells, the issue of his expenses and the manure heap what


was probably more important than the UKIP position. Jacob, a lurch to the


right now by the Conservative Party would leave the Lib Dems and Labour


as frontrunners to win the election? I don't think they would.


If you look at the current polling, the Labour Party is consistently


ahead of the Conservatives but not clearly in majority territory. And


the Lib Dems have been in freefall since the election but the


right`wing vote is 45, 40 6%. `` 46%. That is combined a very healthy


majority. Well, Gawain, presumably at some stage we will have to know


some UKIP policies. Any idea when that might be, given as Mr Fry says


the last manifesto was a load of twaddle. `` Nigel Farage. Yes,


indeed. Of course we are going to be launching polishes for the European


election. We are going to be fighting the European election under


European policies. After that, is over, then we are going to be


launching our national manifesto. So we are not going into a European


election fighting on a Westminster manifesto. All right, we shall wait


with bated breath. Thank you. Well, flooding again dominated the


political agenda but that was not all that happened. Here is our


round`up in just one minute. Weston`super`Mare and Gloucester had


been identified as places needing urgent help with problem drinking.


Both places have been designated as local alcohol action areas by the


Home Office. It means they will receive extra support in tackling


drink fuelled crime. A top European politician has warned


British parties to stop pandering to the defaults. That Maxine unfolds.


He made the comments on a trip to Bristol. He called for a debate over


Europe based on facts and not myths. It has been revealed that Avon and


Somerset police has breached data protection laws more often than any


other force in the land. Over the last five years, there were almost


300 breaches of the rules, like releasing names to the media without


permission. And next week sees some of the


West's biggest councils set their taxes. Councillors in Somerset and


the all gave area will also vote on another round of spending cuts. ``


the Avon area. And that's just about it from us


this week. Thank you for battling through the rain to be with us


today. Whatever the weather, you can stay in touch with this show on the


BBCi player or two at. `` Twitter. But now, let's return to London and


direction? No, in real terms now the rent is falling in London. Andrew,


back to you. Welcome back. Let's start by talking


about the weather. What could be more British? It has been


practically the only topic of conversation for the past few


weeks. This morning, Ed Miliband has made the direct link, declaims,


between this exceptionally wet and windy weather and climate change.


That's an interesting development, taking place. Ed Miliband is the


author of the 2008 Climate Change Act, so he has to stick to that line


or his life 's work goes up in smoke. When he passed it, there was


Westminster consensus. Now the Tories are beginning to appeal off.


UKIP has definitely peeled off. Labour and Lib Dems are sticking to


their guns, there is now a debate? It has moved from consensus to very


fragile consensus. It's an interesting tactic for Ed Miliband


to take. He could either approach the floods talking about government


failures and handling, instead he has gone for the intellectual


argument, try and turn this into a debate about ideology and climate


change. I think he will find that quite difficult. Partly, I don't


think the public I get listening to an argument like that. Partly


because only one in three of the public totally agree with him. The


polls for The Times think that about one in three think that man-made I'm


a change is responsible for these floods, the rest do not. I'm not


sure that the interventions will be particularly well picked up. It puts


David Cameron in a difficult position. He was hugging those


huskies, it was going to be the greenest Government ever, and now he


has an Environment secretary that doesn't really believe in climate


change. Well, we don't know where he stands. That is not where he was in


2010. It has always been sold to us that he is statesman-like and


pragmatic, but that drifts into he doesn't really believe anything


This is a worldwide phenomenon now. You've got the Canadian government,


they are pretty sceptical these days. The new Australian government


is pretty sceptical. The Obama administration has been attacked by


the green movement across the United States, he is probably about to


approve the keystone pipeline that will take over the Texas refineries.


What was a huge consensus across the globe is a guinea to break down


Probably started to break down about the time of the financial crisis,


the age of austerity, when suddenly people had more to worry about than


green issues. Even at home it is a slightly risky tactic for Ed


Miliband. The idea there is a scientific consensus on this, there


isn't. You look at Professor Collins this morning, climate systems


expert, saying, actually, the jet stream is not operating further


south because of climate change Or if it is, it is beyond our


knowledge. He flies in the face of what Ed Miliband as saying. He's


saying the wet weather is caused by global warming, the head of science


at Exeter University says the IPCC originally looked at whether climate


change could affect what happens to the jet stream and, because it had


no evidence it had any effect, it decided not to include it at all in


the IPCC report. The problem we have got is that any individual


phenomenon is difficult to attribute to climate change. But the Labour


Leader just have? And The Met Office have done the same thing. It's a


fragile in, but overall we can say we are getting more extreme weather


than ever. The most extreme weather, hurricanes and tropical storm is,


they have been in decline. Equally, we have had ten of the hottest


summers in the last ten years since 1998. Overall, there is a case that


can be made that we are getting more. Each individual thing is


difficult to say. Until recently, almost everyone agreed with that


case. Now the parties are reflecting differences. I wanted to move on,


what did you make of two interesting things that happened with the


interview with UKIP and the Tories, one Cory saying I am voting to come


out, and the UKIP chap saying we are maxed out on Tory defectors, we


can't get any more? I think that was a dangerous admission from Patrick


O'Flynn from UKIP, essentially saying that their vote has peaked.


Looking at the by-elections, I'm not sure that was a particularly wise


reflection on that. They got 18 , 23% last year. The case he is making


is that there are more votes to be gained by attracting former Labour


voters than former Tories. I'm not sure that red UKIP, the bit of UKIP


that tries to make benefit protection and some other kind of


social issues at the heart really sits comfortably with their


insurgent, anti-state message. I don't think it will do particularly


well. This is why they are pushing the message, it is their response to


the idea and suggestion of a Tory rallying cry that they vote for


Nigel Farage, and it is really a vote for Ed Miliband. Patrick is a


very good journalist, a very good commentator. He answered almost as a


commentator rather than head of communications for a political


party. The Government are still trying to rid itself of troublesome


priests, an attack on welfare reforms from the Catholic Archbishop


of Westminster. Let's have a look and see what he said. The basic


safety net that was there to guarantee that people would not be


left in hunger or in destitution has actually been torn apart. It no


longer exists. And it is a real real, dramatic crisis. The second is


that, in this context, the administration of social assistance,


I am told, has become more and more punitive. If applicants do not get


it right, they have to wait and they have to wait for ten days, two


weeks, with nothing. Has the basic safety net disappeared? I don't see


how it is possible to argue that. It is certainly the case that there


have been reductions in various benefits, some benefits have been


scrapped and there is a welfare reform programme. But this country


is still spending ?94 billion a year on working age benefits. Excluding


pensions? The idea that this equates to some sort of wiping out of the


safety net is... He has gone on a full frontal assault on the Tory


reforms, not the kind of attack that Labour would be prepared to make?


No, they know that it doesn't play very well in the country. He's not


up for election. Whether or not you agree about the safety net, I think


the welfare reforms have been poorly managed and I don't think that is a


full dispute. Universal credit, it is in some very long grass. It had


some stupid ideas, like the idea that it would be paid monthly,


instead of weekly, meaning that people are more likely to run out of


money by the end of the month. It's interesting, in the past, when


members of the cloth have attacked the government for welfare reforms,


the Government have responded by trying to paint them as lefties


ideological driven. I think that is hard in this case, an assault made


deliberately in the Telegraph from somebody who feels they come from a


centre-right position. I think there will be a bit of awkwardness about


this intervention. It is not the kind of thing they wanted to see. Is


it politically damaging for the Government? It is if it makes them


look mean-spirited. But that is the problem with welfare reforms. You


can say all sorts of things about Iain Duncan Smith's competence. But


the whole thing springs from a moral mission, as he sees it, to liberate


the poor and extend opportunity One of the worst moments for the Tories


was blaming the low level of voting in Wythenshawe and sale in the fact


that the constituency had, in the words of one senior Tory, the


largest council estate in Europe inside its constituency boundary.


The point being what? Because you live in a council estate you don't


vote? That they don't see people living in council estate as one of


them, not an impulse that Margaret Thatcher would have had. I think


it's dangerous if they are painting is people as opponents rather than


trying to win them over. When they do vote, they determine elections!


The idea that there is no such thing as a working-class Tory is toxic. I


want to show you a picture. There we go. It is behind me, on the 5th of


February, it is all men. And then, on the next, look at that, the 2th,


there are a few women. Not exactly many, but some. It is an


improvement. But it is so transparent, isn't it? We phoned up


one of the women that sat behind David Cameron to ask, why the sudden


change? They said, I don't know why you are bothering to ask, it is


completely natural, we didn't do anything to stage manage it. Did his


nose gets longer? It is something that is very transparent and


depressing about the way politicians choose to react to these moments.


Every week they put two women behind David Cameron, so that a tight shot


shows them. It is called the doughnut. They don't have many women


to shuffle around, there are only four among 14 in the Shadow Cabinet.


Also, the fact that women, younger women in particular, are much less


likely to vote Tory than five or ten years ago. David Cameron, it drives


and furious, he is obviously aware this is one of the biggest potential


demographic problem is that they have. It also reminds us of how the


public can actually see the wiring behind a lot of the stuff. Do they


really think your blog so stupid that they will not notice that the


following week the front bench is packed with women? I think it just


increases contempt for the entire rocket. It is an issue where Labour


seem to have pulled ahead of the other parties. We are being told


that 50% of candidates in their 100 target seats will be female. It


looks like the composition of Labour continues to go towards a kind of


rough 50-50 split, eventually. Although that is true, I think the


faces we see on the telly, Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, Chris Leslie,


they are almost always men. There is a Rachel Reeves, a prominent female


face that goes up a lot. But really, the number of e-mails they put up is


proportionally a lot smaller. Is the Miliband team still a men's club?


Behind the scenes, it is very blokey. It's been described as a


kind of seminar room at a university. I think that is true.


The Observer did the cutout and keep of the people behind Mr Miliband. As


opposed to the Shadow Cabinet, with lots of women in it, it was very


male. The one reason Labour have all of these women to put up in


constituencies is all women short lists is. If Tories want to change


things, I know they can be prone to minute -- and in relation, but they


work. In ten years time, I think it will give Labour an immense


advantage. By then, I think they will have a woman leader. Who will


that be? Potentially somebody not even yet in the Commons. You can see


how quickly people can rise to the top, but the Labour Party is going


to be increasingly donated by women. Do you think there will be a Labour


Leader before Theresa May becomes leader of the Conservatives? I think


it is ultimately about Osborne trying to stop Boris. I think I


would be astonished if she managed it. The first female Labour Leader?


I would pick Rachel Reeves the way it is currently going, she knows her


stuff and does well on TV. That is all for this week. We have a week


off now. I'll be back in the week after next. Remember, if it is


Sunday, it's the Sunday Politics, unless it's a Parliamentary recess.


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