18/09/2011 The Politics Show East


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We're in Birmingham for the Lib Dem Conference. After a drubbing at the


polls in the east, grassroots members want this week to help turn


that around. And plans for dramatic changes to


our political boundaries - old names like Ely return while Saffron


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2131 seconds


Hello and welcome to the programme. This is the ICC in Birmingham,


where the Lib Dems are gathering for their autumn conference. Later,


we will be looking at the proposed boundary changes for the Eastern


region. We will have met Norfolk now. Let's


4th will replace north-east Hertfordshire.


As system which has become so disproportionate and so unfair


clearly had to be changed. And the disturbing case is


supported by an MP's charity, which helps people needing artificial


ones. First to the Lib-Dems. Opinion


polls now put support for the party in single figures. The praise it


has had to pay for being in coalition. That is why, this week,


members of the party will be looking to the leadership he give


them a new sense of direction. Every Liberal-Democrats will


remember 5th May for many years to come. Across the region, more than


100 councillors lost their seats, majorities became wafer-thin and


previously strong Lib Dem councils changed hands altogether. For Brian


Moore, defeat was particularly painful. The former leader of


Northampton council came 5th in his own seat. The Lib Dem group there


was reduced to just four. We are suffering for be the scapegoat to


the bad decision saw, rather than being recognised for the good


decisions. You do not feel better? I am very disappointed. But it is


right that we, as local and national politicians, do the right


thing for the town and for the country. Despite everything, Mr


Walker is still sign up to the coalition, and believes it is doing


the right thing. That is the surprise about this conference.


There is but the anger and bloodletting that many commentators


were expecting. It is told that you have been a councillor for many


years and have lost a seat. There are a lot of councillors who are up


for election next year two are thinking, what is the right thing


to do? What is striking, even amongst the most unhappy of the


defeated councillors, there is almost nobody who is saying that


being in coalition was the wrong thing. The question people will be


discussing his, over the next year, how much stronger and the Liberal


Democrat influence on government the? After nearly 18 months of


being nice to its Gorleston partners, there is a growing


feeling of -- there is a growing feeling in the Liberal Democrats


that the party must assert itself more. We must get across the


distinctiveness that the Democrats -- the Liberal Democrats are


bringing across at the national level. We must bring across the


improvement in schooling and the pupil premium. These are things


that only Liberal-Democrats would have achieved in government. We


must get the credit. The fear in the party is that if the leadership


does not assert itself, the Lib Dems may not survive. A party


strategy once told me that for every lead them kids will see that


is lost, the party loses 10 activist. That is why many within


the Lib-Dems are worried at the moment. The grassroots support is


vital for any fight back. The question is, when the fightback


comes, will be grassroots support still be there? Steve Hobson was


one of the few Lib-Dems to buck the trend in May, increasing his


majority as mayor of Bedford. He said he won because he kept


trumpeting his successes. That is what the one party leadership must


do. We must make sure that we are not the fall guys for the


Conservative-dominated government. It is more their fault if things go


wrong than ours. We must make sure that it is not our sports people


who are put up to give the bad news, and Conservatives put up to give


the good news. Last night, the regional party gathered for its


conference reception. They have had quite a few tufts taken out of them


over the past year. They know there is worse to come. They seem to be


up for it. Joining me here are the Norfolk MP


Norman Lamb, who is Nick Clegg's political adviser, and also Julian


Huppert, the MP for Cambridge. Norman, starting with you, Lib-Dem


said yesterday that the party must stress what it is achieving for


government and not be the fall guys for the Conservatives, so how much


of this master of liberalism are we going to see? I think that it is


really important for us to their estates to British people what we


are bringing to the table. One of the points that was made in the


club by Brian in Northampton was the tax cuts for people in low-paid.


I suspect that most people in the country do not realise that people


on the basic rate of income tax at getting significant cuts in tax


read this Parliament due to the Lib Dems. Millions will be taken out of


tax altogether at the lowest end of the income scale. We must get that


across to the public to demonstrate what we are delivering. How can you


be in coalition and that the same time criticise your partner?


think we have to be responsible about it. We have to be mature. We


must not pick fights for the sake of it. But demonstrate what we are


delivering asked him -- as Liberal- Democrats in government. There must


be good, stable and effective government. As Norman said, Julian,


it is about seizing opportunities. Already, be a scene that the party


has rejected an offer to discuss further health reforms. What does


that say to the public? I think it is a slightly odd story. There has


been a lot of story that we have not discussed tell that the


conference. It is being debated on Tuesday and Wednesday and in a


range of smaller meetings. It is very much on the agenda. The


question is how many other things US to discuss. There are lots of


things happening in the government. Things we need to develop arguments


on. We must not just spend all the time on one issue. The country has


a lot of things that need to happen. There are disagreements on health


that needs to be discussed, are the? There are disagreements on a


lot of things. Fundamentally, you have to different parties with


different approaches, tried to work together in the national interest.


Looking at the West, there is Europe and the 50p tax rate. That


is, and a sense, what to expect. These are two distinct parties.


Another Conservative, Jillian is not a Conservative, but we're


prepared to work together in the national interest. People are


really antis about the future. These are incredibly dangerous


times, globally. Having stable government during troubled times


there is really important. Let's talk further about that position.


You are more of a rebel, as I may say so, Julian. 11 sure, you voted


against health reforms. Last year one energy regulation. Is it better


to toe the line when you are in government, or is it better to be


designed? I think it is very important to try and achieve the


light -- the right conclusion that the end. Ultimately, it is a


question as to whether you agree the decision has gone... I voted


with the Lib Dem proposal to make the energy bills likely stronger. I


am not sure that makes me a rebel. The energy bill is a great success


that we are embarrassed to get through. It is about working with


the Conservatives, but keeping that separate identity. There is a drive,


particularly from the media, to suggest a rear together. We're not.


We do not agree on the fundamentals. -- that we are together. It is that


people with friends and family and business colleagues, you work with


people, does not mean you agree on everything. It is good to challenge


the -- it is good to challenge the tribal nature of our politics,


which we have had for decades. most of Europe, parties work


together. You work with people that you do not agree with. I just


wanted to touch a new leadership. Nick Clegg has gone from hero to


zero. He will go back again. Will the? I think that, in time, people


will recognise that the dead the brave thing, and the right thing.


Following a general a wreck -- following a general election, there


is no conclusive outcome. What people needed was stable government


when the international money markets were attacking governments


across Europe. We provided stability, and be assured that we


have a low interest rates going forward. Times are really tough


economic cliff for very many people. At least we have lower interest


rates. -- economic Glee. We have brought down the interest rates


decisively. In the future, we will be able to rebuild. In time, the


view of people have of next will be that he has done the right thing.


People talk more any moment. One of the biggest that other


changes to a little Burney's was announced this week. Under the be


decommissioned's plans to rewrite the political map, the eastern


region could lose two MPs and the future. That is because the


Government pledged to reduce the number of MPs by 10%, but Labour


has already complained that it will make their seats more difficult to


win. There are big changes in store for


our electoral boundaries. Changes that are likely to cause


controversy among the MPs and their constituents. The plans could see a


couple of our parliamentarians out of a job. Two seats in the East are


set to war, one effect Med Bedfordshire's has spoken MP.


will see what happens. I know that, for me, I have a 40 years of this


parliamentary term to serve for Mid Bedfordshire. And pretty Patel's


recently created Essex seat is likely to be merged with greasy,


losing a seat there. 50% of my seat is in the new Essex North West seat,


which is effectively the says the more than seat. I am not going to


prejudge anything, and I will decide at a later date would site I


decide to put myself forward for. All only 10 existing constituencies


will remain unchanged, including court jester, Cambridge and most of


support. Everywhere else will have their political boundaries changed.


Some so dramatically that they will change their names to


constituencies like Keynes line, Thetford and sport, and Letchworth.


Having fewer MPs should save millions from the public purse. But


everyone is convinced about the changes. They still on, a


traditional home for the Lib Dems. Still man is now being told to look


south for -- towards the Conservative stronghold, Great


Yarmouth. What do they do in Great Yarmouth? Nothing. The MP we have


at the moment has done good work for us. Then there is the home of


Horseracing and seat of West Sussex MP, Matt Hancock, who is passionate


about representing Newmarket. Just last week, he was and the time --


in the town of Reading the gallops. A boundary changes are the norm


here. Since the 1,800, the market has been bounced from support to


gain a share. An order to remarry lay with Newmarket, the market will


have to divorce Suffolk, and become part of Cambridgeshire.


ordinary person out there it does not think the changes will make any


difference. I am not very keen on it. For what reason? I am quite


happy with the way things are. Newmarket is not the only town said


to straddle counties. So too will new constituencies like wispy and


Panama market. Meanwhile, some constituencies only created before


the last election are being reformed. A system which has become


so this proportional and so unfair clearly had to be changed.


Equalising the size of constituencies, all the academics


agree, is a perfectly rational way of making the system fairer. Within


the next 12 weeks, it is up to all of us and our MPs to see what we


think about the proposals. The responses will be published next


spring. Final recommendations will be ready by next year. There are


already doubts as to whether that deadline will be met.


Our guests are still with us. Norman Lamb, people on that film


bemoaning the fact that they could lose you. That is encouraging!


are seeing a lot of that there are three? We are, it is quite


uncertain times in a sense, we do not know what will happen. I think


that there is a danger from MPs that they will lose their jobs.


What people should do, communities, as they are not Tapply with the


proposals, they should contact the boundary commission. They can do it


though their MPs if they want. People's voices should be heard.


The new constituencies must make some sense geographically, in terms


of committees, rather than just meeting E-numbers targets. They


have got to be coherent. -- meeting of the numbers target. Julian, the


wanting system you wanted his ad, but that dream is now a shattered.


Cambridge voted for it, and I wish you could just have it in


Cambridge! As Norman says, there is the risk that what we get is lot of


MPs are saying that, my constituency might change. It is


not their constituency, it is their residence. We need to look more at


the effect it will have on people. It is right that people are


represented equally. What about the idea that Labour are saying, that


because of the expansion of the constituencies, that some of their


seats will become on Donald? Is that the same for the Lib Dems?


There will be some seeds, currently held by the Lib Dems which will be


lost. That is the case for all the parties. It is quite a significant


change, and that the moment, people are just try to assess what the


impact will be. Perhaps Labour should have supported voting reform.


They might have got a fairer deal. The system we have does distort the


way people vote. It ends up with people not been represented in


parliament the way they have voted. What about fewer backbenchers


representing people? That is a concern, isn't it? There is a


question of how many ministers are on the payroll. That should be


looked at gradually. I think the other thing to say is that, I am


concerned that this is becoming such a huge political story, when I


do not think it affects most people that much. If you have caused


people on the street what the top five things they are concerned


about the is, few of them will say that they are concerned that there


will be put in a constituency with the town down the road. Thank you


very much indeed. You may wonder what our MPs get up


to during recess. Many do voluntary work during the summer months. The


family charity of one other MPs springs from bitter personal


experience. Victoria Beckham, the wife of our South Norfolk MP has


been to Tanzania to visit her charity, which raises money to buy


prosthetic limbs for amputees. And see me does this film as a video


diary. You may find some of the report quite upsetting.


Tanzania is one of the few countries in Africa which has at


least enjoyed a sustained period of peace. This is barrier Salaam, the


capital city. The sprawling, noisy metropolis which overlooks the


Indian Ocean. My husband Richard spent one week here, as a volunteer


for voluntary services overseas. Idea ready? Hello, Mr Meacher.


was working with farmers' groups to raise the profile of small farmers,


helping them improve seeds and fertilisers. I joined him in


Tanzania for his second week, flying over Lake Victoria to a


region and the far north-west of the country. This is one of the


press of Tanzania's eight impoverished regions. I am here in


the extreme north-west corner of Tanzania, near the borders with


Uganda and Burundi, Uganda is over in the extreme right hand corner.


Burundi is on the left. Here is where an interesting experiment was


started with the World Food Programme. They have ruled out a


new play forward, which provides a steady market for small growers


Bender Syria, and the areas where red beans grow. They have the


ability to buy food from local producers. -- where. Beware also


visiting this corner of Tanzania to see people living with disability.


-- we all wear also visiting. There is the large number of amputees in


Tanzania. Road access are prevalent. Infection can lead to infection --


indexing can lead to amputation. Their lives they lead people to


hazards. Cooking is done over open fires, so it is no surprise that


many children and adults are burnt. They also face the next such as


crocodile attack. Some of the saddest of the amputee


victims he met were up by no children, whose arms had been


deliberately hack off after which doctors encouraged the belief that


the bones of an Alpine or child would bring the bare at good


fortune. Ins -- of an Alpine hotels would bring be better good fortune.


Most will by no children still have to leave their homes are for their


own safety. Ability at this children for -- at best home for


disabled children. There is a personal story behind their visits


to. I have recently set up a charity with my twin sister, Sarah,


called Elizabeth's legacy of old, which raises money for children in


developing countries to any prosthetics. -- Elizabeth's a


legacy of hope. Senna, our mother Elizabeth and Sarah's daughter,


Pollyanna, then just two years old, were all hit by a bus in London.


Mummy died sure they afterwards, and Pollyanna lost a leg below the


knee. Helping others helps us come to terms with what happened to her


family. The people of Kagera are the first we have been able to help,


through partnerships with a charity called Friends of the children of


Tanzania, who wants to offer hope to those who so urgently needed. --


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