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The West Country at Westminster with Alastair Stewart

Catch up with this month's political show - The West Country At Westminster - presented by Alastair Stewart.

He's joined by Adrian Sanders, Liberal Democrat MP for Torbay, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative MP for North East Somerset, Labour's PPC for Kingswood Jo McCarron, and UKIP's PPC for N Devon and party chairman Steve Crowther.

Among the issues being discussed are : the rise of UKIP and calls by some Tories for a possible pact, Taunton Deane MP Jeremy Browne's recent surprise announcement that he's to step down at the next General Election.

Where does that leave the local Lib Dems? And following Ed Miliband's recent faux pas at his party conference, when he forgot to mention the deficit, are there any political gaffes our guests have made that they'd rather forget?

Transport Secretary urged to back Corsham station plans

Duncan Hames (right) at the Liberal Democrat autumn conference in Glasgow earlier this month. Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The Transport Secretary will today be asked to support plans to reopen Corsham railway station.

Local MP Duncan Hames says he's won the backing of business groups for rail services to stop in the town.

He says this could be linked to a new rail franchise for services between Bristol and Oxford, which were axed in 2003.


Local govt campaigner takes his fight to Somerset CC

David Orr is campaigning for a fairer system in local government Credit: ITV News

A local government campaigner will speak to Somerset County Council today to try to persuade it not to arrange long term appointments with people who work for their own limited companies.

David Orr says the current system allows the very highly paid to pay a lower rate of tax.

GCHQ head denies "mass surveillance"

GCHQ at Cheltenham Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

The outgoing head of GCHQ, the Government listening centre at Cheltenham, has issued an impassioned defence of its work, insisting it did not engage in "anything remotely resembling mass surveillance".

Sir Iain Lobban, who retires later this month after six years in charge, used his valedictory address to pay tribute to his staff, some of whom he said had made "the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty" - although he gave no further details.

After a tumultuous year overshadowed by the disclosures of the former US intelligence operative Edward Snowden, he insisted GCHQ was committed to the protection of the public from "the plotters, the proliferators and the paedophiles" who exploited the "darkest places" of the internet.

While he acknowledged that tracking down perpetrators online meant accessing the internet "at scale", he said that his organisation was committed to delivering security while protecting privacy "to the greatest extent possible".

Councillor says bedroom tax is affecting the vulnerable

A Stroud councillor says the so-called bedroom tax is hitting the most vulnerable people in society Credit: ITV News

The so-called bedroom tax - otherwise known as the under-occupancy charge - is hitting the most vulnerable people in society, according to a councillor in Stroud.

It was introduced to try to free up under-occupied properties for families but campaigners say it should be scrapped. The Green party in Stroud says that the bedroom tax is hitting the wrong people.

Former MP: Browne resignation timing 'really bad'

It's good that MPs don't think being a Member of Parliament is a job for life. [...] What I think is really bad about this particular case is to give the local party six months before a general election in which to find a good candidate and fight a good campaign."

– Jackie Ballard, former Taunton MP


  1. West Country (W)

Clegg pays tribute to Browne's 'strongly-held views'

Jeremy Browne has announced that now is the right time to announce he will not stand at the next election and the Liberal Democrats wish him all the best for the future. The Deputy Prime Minister regrets the decision that he has taken to leave politics as Jeremy has always had strongly-held views which he has expressed with great skill and conviction.

Jeremy has been a tireless constituency MP for the people of Taunton and served in two important ministerial roles in the early part of this government.

– Liberal Democrat spokesperson

Jeremy Browne: I am not changing to another party

In a resignation letter to his local Liberal Democrat party, Jeremy Browne MP has set out his reasons for deciding not to stand in the 2015 general election:

"By 2015 I will have been a member of parliament for Taunton Deane for ten years. That is generally long enough to do the same job. It is not my ambition to remain in Parliament until I retire. [...] It is time to do something different."

– Jeremy Browne MP

Jeremy Browne has also stated that he has no intention of changing parties, or taking up any other political role.

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