On the Politics Show, Sunday 07 October 2007, Jon Sopel interviewed the Liberal Democrat Leader, Sir Menzies Campbell.
JON SOPEL: Well let's speak now to the Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, who joins us in Edinburgh for the Politics Show. Sir Menzies Campbell, first of all, what we've seen over the past week, two weeks, where does this leave the whole argument about fixed term parliaments and what can you do about it.
MENZIES CAMPBELL: Well it's time we had fixed term, four year parliaments and two of my colleagues in the House of Commons, David Heath and David Howarth, will introduce a Bill this week to provide for that because I think it's now generally accepted that it's quite wrong that it should be within the discretion of the Prime Minister to decide when he wants a General Election, because inevitably, as the events of the last two or three weeks have shown, that decision will be based on what's thought to be best for the governing party, rather than what's thought to be best for the people of this country: that's my criticism of Gordon Brown.
For the last two or three weeks this charade has persisted and you've just got to ask yourself, what have Ministers been doing. Have they been planning the General Election or have they been getting on with the governance of the country. I don't think there's any doubt that it's the first of these.
JON SOPEL: Do you think that this does long term damage to Gordon Brown in general and the government in particular.
MENZIES CAMPBELL: Gordon Brown came in saying, it was all going to be different. No more Tony Blair, no more spin, nothing of that kind and of course the irony is that having abandoned that, gone back to the worse of Blairism, the government failed. I think it is deeply, deeply damaging and more than that, it's deeply damaging to politics.
You've heard politicians of all parties on your programme say, look we're really concerned about the fact that the public have such a low regard for the political process. The sort of thing we've seen in the last three or four weeks will simply underline and reinforce that, so it's damaging for Brown, damaging for Labour, but it's damaging for politics as well.
JON SOPEL: Where does it leave the Liberal Democrats? I've just got the Sunday Times YOU GOV poll in front of me, it puts Liberal Democrats on 11%. The polls may have bounced around a lot, but you haven't bounced around, you're at rock bottom.
MENZIES CAMPBELL: Well after our Party Conference we did bounce around, we bounced up. I think that's a poll which deals with the marginal seats, Tory, Labour seats, Labour, Tory seats and doesn't deal with our marginals and for example in these and local government by-elections, over the last two or three weeks, we've been having a steady average swing to us of 7% in the Tory ones and 5% in the Labour ones.
So we are doing very well, whenever real votes are being counted in real ballot boxes. Indeed, we had a stunning bi-election victory here in local government in Scotland, just on last Thursday.
JON SOPEL: And Sir Menzies Campbell, it looks like there's not going to be an election now until 2009. Are you still confident you'll be leading the Liberal Democrats into that election?
MENZIES CAMPBELL: Yes. I've made it clear, I'll lead the party through this parliament, through the General Election and in to the next parliament. Why do I want to do that? I want to do that because there are issues in this country about taxation and the fact that lower and middle income families have been so badly treated by this government. There are issues about fairness, about the authoritarian nature of this government and perhaps most significantly of all, there are issues about what we're going to do about climate change.
These are all issues upon which I feel extremely strongly and I shall continue to lead the party to make sure that we continue as we do at the moment, to have the policies which are necessary for Britain in the 21st Century.
JON SOPEL: Sir Menzies Campbell, I am grateful to you. Thanks very much for being with us.
END OF INTERVIEW WITH MENZIES CAMPBELL
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The Politics Show Sunday 07 October 2007 at 12:00 BST on BBC One.
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