Browse content similar to 18/09/2011. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
The price of power. How can the Lib Dems woo back voters in the South
East and reestablish their identity while they are in Government?
And the price of a high salary. The Tories want to abolish the 50 pence
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2129 seconds
tax rate. Their Coalition partners Welcome to the Politics Show in the
South East. In the next 20 minutes. Paying the price of power, how can
the Lib-Dems bring back voters in the South East and re-establish
their identity while they are in government. The Tories want to
abolish the top rate of cash -- tax, their partners are fighting for it
to stay. Could two of our region's MPs lose their jobs if the proposed
boundary shake-up goes ahead? The Lib-Dem leadership has a task at
conference. It needs to persuade the party ministers are influencing
government policy and up holding party principles. The Lib Dems lost
half their council seats in the South East in the May elections. We
have this report. In the local elections, the Lib
Dems did badly, especially in the South East, where they lost half
their seats. After the election, they made resolutions for their
revival. Are they are on track? Nick Clegg had set out his plans.
There are lessons to be learned. The lesson I have learned,
listening to people, is people want a louder Liberal Democrat voice in
government. They want a louder Liberal Democrat voice and that is
what we will deliver. Why his -- while his words were intended to
appease the grass roots, it did not address the problem of MPs like
Norman Baker. He made interesting comments about the consequences of
increased rail fares. That is an issue for his constituents. It is a
classic example of how the Coalition traps one. Nick leg
cannot be seen to be opposing the Coalition agreement. The deputy
prime minister said when the Lib- Dems have success in the Coalition,
it needs to be communicated. Where we have done things, protecting
people on low pay, taking 900,000 people on low pay out of paying
income tax, we need to say loudly. To the Lib-Dems grass roots think
this has happened? Perhaps not as much as possible. It is always
difficult to get coverage. What people like most of all our
disagreements. We have never had the resources of the other main
parties to have an effective media unit that deals with stories.
local Lib Dems said it should be easy to communicate and message
that affects so many South East workers. There are many people in
the region on low wages. The Lib Dems brought the idea of lifting
the income tax threshold and taking thousands out of paying income tax.
That is brilliant. Shout from the rooftops. I do not get the
impression that people have this knowledge. The party has to get the
message out that the situation and the government would be worse if it
were not for the involvement of the Lib-Dems. Otherwise the damage will
be severe. Another commitment... People want to see us retain an
identity. We have to prove we have not. That is what will happen.
in Lewes this week, people were not clear about the Lib Dem identity.
Can we ask what you think the Liberal Democrats stand for? I do
not really know. Does anybody? not sure. I am not sure many people
are. Pretty spineless. Just to get a bit of fame and they are paying
the price. Now they are in the Coalition, it is difficult to know
where you stand. I would not vote for them any more. It's scenes they
have not achieved what they hoped. It is not surprising, given that
they are in Coalition. Is it possible for them to have a decent
influence while retaining their identity and appealing to
grassroots supporters? Is it one or the other? In the last 30 years
they have been good at local level and campaigning on local issues.
Often they did that by having distinctive local Policies. There
is nothing fundamentally wrong with that. It becomes impossible when
you are in a Coalition agreement. Local activists are disillusioned.
They are losing a distinct ability to do what they have done best,
which is to campaign on local issues. The Liberal Democrat's
continued to explore new territory. They are in government and want to
do well. There are two types of success. To be successful in terms
of power they need to be closer to the Conservatives in Coalition. To
be successful at grassroots level, they need to separate themselves
and establish their own identity. This week's conference will look at
what success they prefer. We can give a louder voice to the
transport minister and Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes. Norman Baker,
we heard you described as intelligent, articulate and brave.
Is it how you see yourself? I am happy to be in government. Most of
our manifesto is being enacted in the Coalition. Is it a one-way
street? It is not. There are compromises that are necessary from
both. That is the case went to parties come together. If you are
inside government, you cannot be as frank as you would like to be. But
you have more access to ministers and can get more done for your
constituents. I am happy. What are your successes? You in the
Department of Transport? We have the biggest railway investment
programme since the Victorian era. We have 560 million in a fund that
I am administering for a local sustainable transport fund. That
will be on cycling, walking, local transport, and we have counter to
the third runway at Heathrow. We are proceeding with high-speed rail.
What about rail fares? Your boss said the train service is a rich
man's toy. I find it regrettable that rail fares are going up. As
soon as the public finances allowed, we should try to bring them down.
What we have done is look at the railway structure. It is not
efficient. There is money to be secured. When we do that, the money
should be handed back to passengers. One think you said you are opposed
to is the rise to the motorway speed limit, which your boss wants.
We stop at? We have a different emphasis on this. The Secretary of
State is clear there needs to be consequences taken into account.
Were you stop it? I will wait to see what the evaluation says. I am
keen that we do not make road safety worse and in -- increase
carbon. This is the complaint, that you could be doing more.
Constituents are feeling frustrated by what you have not achieved.
is not fair. It is not as easy in government to be as vocal as in
opposition. But much of the manifesto is being delivered.
People are being taken out of taxation, a big Liberal Democrat
promise. We have 900 million allocated in the Treasury to tackle
tax avoidance. No number of the people in your constituency, -- and
none of the people are getting that message. There is a problem. I do
not think they have forgotten the message. Had we had 149 more votes
at the local elections we would have kept our council seats. I have
been around the circuit for over 20 years in politics. I have lost
count of the interviews I have done when I am asked if the Liberal
Democrats are finished. Whether it is Charles Kennedy leaving,
whatever the reason, we never finished. We always bounced back.
It is something people vote for. You have the conference ahead. What
will you do to attract voters in Birmingham? We have a good agenda.
What I am proud of by a -- of my party is that we make decisions and
we have to take the instructions back can deal with them. Last year,
the NHS, we took instructions back and the NHS Bill has been altered
to take account of those views. Shirley Williams would like you to
go further. Of course. We have negotiated a good outcome that will
enable us to proceed with cost- saving initiatives. We will give
more power to local GPs. Is everybody happy with everything in
the equation? Probably not. But there will be opportunities when
people can put their views in House of Lords. You also had the
announcement that your seat could be abolished. We've fight that? It
is an the days. -- it is early days. I have not had a chance to discuss
it with my constituency party. We should take things slowly and
calmly and not jump to conclusions. It will be a problem at Uckfield,
which is a Tory stronghold. bottom end... Uckfield is a county
council seat for the Liberal Democrats. You're coming back to
saying we are on our way out. not say that! I wish I had �10 for
every time I hear that. We cannot give you that out of the licence
fee! We will return to Norman Baker. One issue testing the Coalition is
the 50p tax rate, which affects a small proportion of the population
and in over �150,000. Almost a quarter of the 67,000 people leap -
- it in the South East. This week, a study said that the tax rate
costs the government, rather than raising money. This has led to
calls for the abolition of the tax rate. The Liberal Democrats want to
keep it. Chris Huhne said getting rid of the tax will help the
Conservatives' friends in the city. Mr Johnson. It would look unfair
for the poorer people if they are hit by your austerity programme and
then this tax rate is abolished. have helped out people on lower
incomes, ensuring that we are working towards a new rate band of
�10,000 for the lowest earners. I do not subscribe to the view that
we should have rates of taxation that are necessary. If we are not
getting revenue from this tax rate, it should not be there. It might
not be bringing in money. But it is symbolic. If George Osborne got rid
of it, it will look like he is helping his friends in the city.
the tax band does not bring in any revenue, we should be getting rid
of it. We do not make the poor richer by making the rich poorer.
It is not a -- an incentive for people to stay in the country.
Successful people will not be inclined to come to this country if
we had tax rates that are higher. we will cross to Norman Baker. If
it does not make any money, this rate is surely silly? Were eight do
not know if it loses money. This comes from a particular think tank.
The estimate I sought was that it raises 7.7 billion. We should see
what the consequences of this are. What I hope we agree with in the
Coalition is that we want a fair system that helps those at the
bottom end. We want a system that means those who can afford to pay
more should pay more. Does it have to be this form of tax? Would you
be happy with another sort of tax increase? The principle is a
progressive tax. Income tax is a well understood process. It is more
difficult to avoid than other taxes. I am inclined towards income tax. I
am open-minded. People on very high incomes, they ought to pay their
fair share, particularly at a time of economic difficulties. If this
rate is not working, we should look at something else that is more
difficult to avoid, such as the mansion tax, so we can catch the
Russians over here with vast amounts of money and not paying any
tax. The wealth gap is increasing. We have to do something about that,
surely? If the 50p tax rate is not bring in anything in to the
Treasury, we should get rid of it because it is pointless. How else
would you narrow the gap? I would carry on with what we are
endeavouring to do. Helping those on the lowest of incomes to come
out of taxation. That is the Coalition's priority. That is what
we will do before any other tax cuts. It does not make sense to put
in a rate band that does not bring in revenue. We should find out the
situation as to whether it is bringing money in. The Chancellor
said he did not want to change his spending plans because of the
worsening situation in Europe. Chancellor wants to see what income
comes in from this rate. If it is insufficient, I hope we get rid of
it. It sounds as if you are open to that, Norman Baker, if it does not
bring in enough money? This is from a think tank. They are independent.
They tend to come from the right or left. This one is from the right.
If it is proven it loses money, we would be daft to keep it. I would
be surprised. Is this something your party has to do to make a
difference? We do not want a gesture politics. What we agree on
is that the most important thing is to get the people at the bottom and
out of taxation. And to make sure we protect those who are vulnerable
and in work trying to make a living. The principle of progressive
taxation is important. Those who earn the most should pay the most.
Thank you both. As we heard, Norman Baker is one MP
feeling uncomfortable in his seat after the Boundary Commission
announced plans to change the political landscape. Another could
be the MP for Faversham and Mid Kent. The commission is
recommending fewer constituencies, which would lead to fewer MPs. How
could this changed the map in the South East? As you said, the
highest-profile casualty, two ministers actress, but Hugh
Robertson, the Olympics minister, his seat would go. That is because
the electorate would be divided between Canterbury and another. I
spoke to him and he said he is disappointed because it is the
place where he was born and he brought his family up there. He
said on a political level, he agrees with the need to reduce the
number of seats to 600 from 650. Norman Baker would not be drawn,
but half of his constituency will be going into Brighton. He is
looking for vulnerable because of that. If you look at the way they
want to draw it, they propose that because the constituencies are
small, Lewes and the neighbouring constituency, would come together
as Lewes and Brighton East. Lewes is held by a Conservative. If they
take away part of it, it might be more difficult for a Liberal
Democrat MP to hang on to it. Particularly somebody who has voted
for decisions such as tuition fees. These changes will not definitely
happen. What impact could it have on politics? We will not know the
actual impact after the 2013 election. Neighbours say it will be