Sunday shows: Conservatives “selling out communities”, says Labour

Trevor Phillips on Sunday

Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary Steve Reed accused the Tories of “paying back developers by selling out communities” when discussing the government’s proposed reforms to the planning system.

  • On the Chesham and Amersham by-election: “Voters took their own decisions about the best way to defeat the Conservative candidate in that by-election. So, Labour voters lent their support to the Liberal Democrat.”
  • On the implications for Labour and its electoral prospects: “In a general election, there will be only two alternatives for Prime Minister – Boris Johnson or Keir Starmer – so things may look differently then.”
  • On whether he feels that Labour should join a ‘progressive alliance’ to beat the Tories: “I’m not attracted, at all, to the idea of politicians trying to stitch up the choices available to voters in their own localities.”
  • On Conservative planning reform: “It takes away the rights of local people, of local communities, to object to developments… Power is shifted from elected councils and their planning committees to development boards.”
  • On donations to the Tories: “Under Boris Johnson’s leadership, donations to the Conservative Party from major developers have gone up 400%. So the Conservatives are paying back developers by selling out communities.”
  • Asked what Labour is doing in response to the move to reform the planning system: “We’re calling a vote tomorrow in the Commons to guarantee the rights of residents to object. Those Conservative MPs who have stood up in the chamber so far and said they don’t like this – well, put your money where your mouth is.”
  • On building more homes: “If you want to look at what the real problem is in this country that is stopping homes being built, it’s not the planning system that the government is trying to change. Because over the last ten years, a million homes have been given consent to be built – but were never built.”
  • He added: “What we need are better incentives to help developers go ahead and build the homes once they’ve got consent – not putting a gag around local people’s mouths so they can’t have a say about what happens on the street where they live.”

Former Conservative MP and Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow explained his recent defection to the Labour Party and described the Conservatives as “unfit to govern”.

  • “If you believe as I do that this government is bad news, unfit to govern and that the Prime Minister, though a successful campaigner, is a lousy governor. You have to ask yourself do you want rid of it?”
  • “The only credible vehicle for the removal of this government is the election of a Labour government committed to equality, social justice, internationalism and a fairer and more inclusive society – that’s the Labour brand.”
  • On his Labour membership, he said “in terms of values the Labour Party is preferable to the Conservative Party”, and he described Keir Starmer as “an honest, decent, intelligent person who has come into politics as the continuation of public service”.
  • He denied there had been any discussion with the Labour leadership about a peerage, saying: “There has been no barter, no trade, no deal whatsoever… The people who make what they think is that potent and coruscating criticism of me are operating to their own rather low standards.”
  • Asked whether Health Secretary Matt Hancock is “useless”, Bercow replied: “Well, I think it would be fair to say that I would buy Matt at my valuation, sell him at his, and realise a healthy profit in the process.”

The Andrew Marr Show

Andy Burnham, Labour’s Greater Manchester mayor, said Labour needed to rebuild its “emotional connection with people”. He argued against Scotland’s travel ban to Greater Manchester and the government’s policy of making the Covid vaccine compulsory for care workers.

  • On the Chesham result: “What it says to me is there are lifelong Conservatives who just cannot support this government.”
  • He defended Labour’s poor result, saying: “It’s not necessarily been Labour territory, has it, in the past?”
  • On whether he would have done better as Labour leader: “I probably have more reach in the north. I don’t think anything the party has done recently I would have done differently… [Keir has] got a real opportunity to win voters over.”
  • On Labour’s electoral challenge: “It’s about our emotional connection with people, that is what we’ve got to rebuild.” He added that the party needs to be “really setting out a clear bold alternative to the government”.
  • On Covid in Greater Manchester: “I certainly see huge amounts of work going on in our communities to contain the delta variant. Look at Bolton: you can see real encouragement there… I think we are coming through this.”
  • On the Scottish travel ban to GM: “I just think it’s double standards, it’s as simple as that. It’s hypocrisy. They’ve done to us exactly what they always complain that the UK government does to Scotland. So I’ll be writing to the First Minister today. I’ll be asking for compensation for the individuals who might lose holidays and the businesses who might lose bookings.”
  • He added: “The Scottish government can’t just impose things on parts of the north of England with no discussion with us – that is simply wrong and they need to live by the same standards they’ve always called for from others.”
  • On the Covid roadmap: “I don’t think we need to take unnecessary risks at this moment in time [… but] I don’t think we can ask people to put their lives on hold for much longer. I’m happy with the way things are going for now. What I’d like to see is even more progress on vaccination in the places where the case rates have been highest. It’s something we’ve asked the government to help us do. So far we haven’t had true support we need on that.”
  • On whether he will support the government making it compulsory for care workers to get the vaccine: “No, I’m not going to. Actually my patience snapped really this week with regard to how this government and other governments have treated this workforce… How can it be right that we single them out to be compelled to have the vaccine… but then we never single them out for decent pay, for PPE? It’s completely hypocritical.”
  • On his ambitions: “I’ve got the best job in the world in the best city region in the world. I’ve really enjoyed my life more since I left Westminster. This is liberating: I’m in the place that I love, with the people that I know, making real changes happen.”

Robert Buckland, the Justice Secretary, said he was “considering” asking the parole board to look again at the release of child murder Colin Pitchfork.

On the Chesham and Amersham by-election result, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey said: “The Liberal Democrats have shown [Boris Johnson] can be beaten.” He predicted that “dozens” of Tory MPs would be “looking over their shoulder” due to the “Lib Dem threat” at the next general election.

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