17/02/2018 Dateline London


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17/02/2018

Foreign correspondents currently posted to London look at events in the UK through outsiders' eyes, and at how the issues of the week are being tackled around the world.


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LineFromTo

Hello, and a very warm

welcome to Dateline London.

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I'm Carrie Gracie.

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This week we discuss a British plea

on European security,

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South Africa after President Zuma,

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and the continuing absence of

a government for Northern Ireland.

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My guests this week are the Guardian

columnist Polly Toynbee,

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Dr Vincent Magombe of

Africa International,

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the Irish writer and

broadcaster Brian O'Connell,

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and Thomas Kielinger

of Germany's Die Welt.

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Welcome to you all.

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The British Prime Minister,

Theresa May, has urged

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the European Union to sign up

to a security treaty to ensure that

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cooperation continues

after Britain leaves.

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Addressing the Munich

Security Conference,

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she warned that if the EU's aim

in the Brexit talks was to avoid

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cooperation then the security

of all would be damaged.

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If the EU's aim is to

avoid cooperation,

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Thomas Kielinger, is the EU's aim to

avoid co-operation and if so, why?

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I have long given up to try to

figure out what goes on in the mind

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of our leaders and this phrase is

totally puzzling. She seems to hold

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hostage the British security

involvement in Europe to the outcome

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of the Brexit talks, and she is in

no way to speak that language. She

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must work for flexibility,

cooperation and so on. Any

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intimation of trying to demand

something else is totally misplaced.

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She is on a sticky wicket, as we

know, and there is no consensus. We

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are still waiting, as was said

yesterday, for what the British

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people really want, the British

Government rather. She is not

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frustrated but curious. -- as Angela

Merkel said. Wells should be on the

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huge of riding issue... We would

like a mutually agreeable agreement

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on the Brexit conditions, until that

is sorted out there is no way for

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Theresa May to threaten British

cooperation with Europe. Besides,

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the whole speech about security is

beside the point.

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So it is a distraction?

Absolutely a distraction.

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And cart before the horse.

Very much so. The defence and

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military issues are her first car

because Britain is deeply involved

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in the defence of Europe and that is

uncontroversial. -- that is her

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first card to play. When she is

talking about issues at the moment

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do not believe our mind of what

needs to be done.

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Let's open it out. Polly Toynbee,

the message that UK is a contributor

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to defend in Europe and has

expertise uncovered on

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counterterror.

Even extreme Brexiters want security

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and Interpol relationship with the

rest of Europe. No doubt about that.

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But even there she threw a spanner

into the works to think, ideological

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league... They are so pragmatic

compared with us, the whole Brexit

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conundrum is about British ideology.

To accuse particularly in the

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context of security Angela Merkel

and the Europeans of this is an

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absurdity and it bodes ill.

To be fair to her, she only said if

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ideological... She did not say they

were ideological.

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The question is, as G in this speech

said, which you may have done, that

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she is willing to accept -- has she

said this is that she is willing to

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accept the European Court of Justice

as an arbitrator on a treaty over

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security? Across as one of her red

lines if she does not accept that,

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it will not happen then. She must

accept with any treaty on any issue

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whatever that there is always an

international adjudicator on any

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trade deal wherever in the world. In

Europe it happens to be the ECJ. She

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must swallow this.

And Brian O'Connell, as another

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European looking in on this, do you

think the European arrest warrant

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and Euro poll and all that can be

taken for granted, low hanging

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fruit?

We should be able to take it for

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granted and people's security is

paramount above trade and everything

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else, but the tone of the remarks

probably betrays the level to which

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this relationship between Britain

and the EU counterparts in this

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negotiation have reached, they are

really poor relationships. You must

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have an independent arbitrator and

it will probably be the ECJ anything

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crosses one of her red lines I think

she will have to suck it up in the

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end because she will have no choice.

You cannot go into Brexit without

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some form of deal on extradition and

basic things like that, and cyber

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stuff and intelligence agencies will

talk to each other anyway whether or

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not there is a deal. I think the

tone is very illustrative of where

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things are at the moment.

Obviously, your specialism is a

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different continent, a complex

patchwork security, economics,

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politics, as an outsider looking at

this?

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I live in a European country today

though I am an outsider, so it

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balances me what happens. I would

not be surprised and we will hear a

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lot of this. What is happening is

mind games. I pity Theresa May

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because she is like a tool that is

being used by both sides. One day

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she says the bin to appease the

remainders and another date to

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appease the Brexiters.

Not much to appease the remainders,

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mostly people who voted Brexit are

appeased.

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Tim Tams that is the problem... The

lack of compromise. -- sometimes

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that is the problem. For the country

getting out of Europe, they need to

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be friendly and welcoming to Europe

afterwards. If one of these days she

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can just over say things that can

end up giving Britain a bad deal.

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Thomas Kielinger, another thing we

saw in the last week was Boris

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Johnson the Foreign Secretary

beginning that series of speeches we

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now expect from British Government

ministers. Did that go some way to

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healing any of this?

I am afraid not. There is a basic

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and religion in his speech where he

says, friendly, understanding people

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who voted remain have legitimate

concerns about the place in Europe.

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Before he came to that phrase he

said it would be a betrayal if we

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reversed the Brexit decision and

there is no way we go anywhere else.

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He was quite adamant that not to

give a single inch. His offer to be

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nice to the people who voted remain

sounded false. Basically Brexiteers

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are still in denial of the real

problems they face. Everyone is now

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using a bit of words that eventually

will not prevail anyway, so we are

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in a moment when as journalists we

have a hard time taking any of this

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seriously.

A lot of what she said in Munich is

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probably for home consumption,

anyway.

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The outcome will be a bunch what

ever happens.

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Boris Johnson had the political

opportunity of his lifetime if they

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wanted to show he was leadership

that are real. He started off by

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saying, I want to reach out and I

understand the grief and pain of the

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48%. Nearly half the country... Can

only give them nothing. Hard Brexit

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all the way to come out of the

single market and Customs union,

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absolutely no ECJ and not a mention

of... No detail on anything.

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We will come back to Ireland any

moment but first an entirely

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different continent to look at the

issues of South Africa over the

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week.

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After what seemed like days of

prevarication, Jacob Zuma resigned

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as South Africa's president,

saying he still didn't understand

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what he'd done wrong.

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Cyril Ramaphosa now

takes over a country

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with huge problems to solve.

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Vincent, you watch

these events closely.

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Can Mr Ramaphosa put

the country back on track?

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Is he the man to do with the

enormous challenges South Africa

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faces?

He is but he also may not be.

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Explained.

There are two things here. Of

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course, for the question itself, I

think you need to see it in two

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ways. In one way, what is it for

South Africa? The other, what are

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the implications for Africa? In

South Africa, Ramaphosa could

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succeed but he is somebody who came

from the workers' background and a

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millionaire, who worked with Western

business capitalists and succeeded.

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Now, he needs to radically reshape

his own attitudes towards what

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development and economic growth is

in a country like South Africa.

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Does he have a plan?

He has a country and an economy,

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according to capitalist ideas, but

he does not at the moment have a

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plan to share that wealth for the

90% or so of people in South Africa.

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If he does not, South Africa is just

not going to work. The other side,

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for me, I think another side is more

important. South Africa is

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democracy. To sort out those

problems is the obligations for

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Africa... Look, I come from Uganda

and I belong to a pro-democracy

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group called Free Uganda and we are

struggling in my country. The leader

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was in power for 35 years, changing

positions to be a life president. If

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Uganda and Sudan and Rwanda and

Zaire and so many of these African

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countries... Trump used a very

horrible word beginning with less to

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describe them. If we can learn from

south Africa about how democracy can

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help us resolve our problems, it

will be... -- Trump used a word

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beginning with S. To step away so we

can build our country...

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That example of South Africa must

succeed in order to provide

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something for the rest of the

continent.

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It needs to succeed and it does not

succeed, we as Ugandans and Africans

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from other countries, we are

watching carefully and we are

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telling people like the president

that look, next is you and if we

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don't have a dramatic graphic --

democratic process in which we can

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change things, and we are going back

to the Civil War of the battles of

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the past.

I don't know what you have made

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about South Africa over the past

week. We now have the ANC damaged,

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legitimacy in question by going for

a two elections in two years' time.

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I saw the TV pictures of Parliament

yesterday when he made his speech,

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his State of the union address, and

there was a feeling of such support.

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I thought that was incredible,

because I did not think that when

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this final week or two began that he

was going to be able to shift Jacob

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Zuma.

Ramaphosa, one thing is that he is a

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negotiator and he was influential in

getting this...

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You know that game where you have a

pile of sticks and must pull one out

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without the rest collapsing, it was

like that. And it is an amazing feat

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to get to where he did, without a

drop of blood being spilled so far.

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But he needs to now be a mediator

between, not between the political

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classes and political leaders but

between the political classes, the

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elites and the people. If he can

resolve that.

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There is so much hope invested in

him. If you think that most of the

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world will first have seen Cyril

Ramaphosa when he held the

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microphone for Nelson Mandela as he

came out and made his first speeches

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as he came out of jail. That is a

moment that anybody who was alive at

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the time remembers. He is now

they're as the man carrying the

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beacon for Mandela and his ideology.

It is whether he can rekindle that.

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I must say it that... Remember the

mothers of the miners, he was one of

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the directors of the company there.

He took the side of the employers.

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He did apologise for that later.

He apologised but he is a political

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leader and should have known better.

Now he is president of South Africa,

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will he be on the side of the

workers and miners or will he be on

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the side of business?

Thomas.

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This reminds me of when he held the

microphone for Mandela, as Polly

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said. The future of South Africa

rests as much as what happens with

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the ANC that they can resuscitate

their reputation and what happens to

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South Africa it self. The two are

essentially linked and we must see

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whether there is a possibility of

the emergence of a new opposition

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party.

Power corrupts and absolute power

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corrupts and you need a significant

opposition to make democracy.

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You do and the ANC will try its best

to clean up the Aegean stables, as

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it were, but we need a second

political force in the country and

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it is difficult in South Africa's

case because so much rests on the

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mythological charisma of ANC and it

is hard to replace that.

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If the ANC messes up this one,

within ten years we will get a shift

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of power. It may not be strong

enough to take power. But the voters

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could opportunistically combined our

forces to fight the ANC and they

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would be in a different position

then.

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Well that happen? It would

strategically make sense.

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Depends what Ramaphosa does. If he

develops South Africa the way he

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does business to succeed

economically but then radically

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share that wealth with the rest of

the country, South Africa will be

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better than Britain.

With the economy going, and it is

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shocking that the growth rate is

only 1%, of a country that was seen

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as one of the great powerhouses...

It is upon him to get the economy

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back.

You say, unless he does that, there

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is a division between whether he

helps workers or capitalism. He must

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do both and kick-start capitalism to

generate wealth and redistribute as

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well.

In the state of the union message

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yesterday, it was about

accountability. If he is as good as

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his words, he will be accountable to

the people, to the international

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watchers and to political elites in

this country. It is important,

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accountability is everything in a

democracy and we will see appears as

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good as his word.

We shall leave South Africa now but

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take that word accountability into

our next story.

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Northern Ireland has been

without its devolved government

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for 13 months now.

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Does this matter?

0:15:410:15:42

Talks between the two largest

parties, the Democratic Unionist

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Party and Sinn Fein,

to restore the status quo

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have broken down,

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and Westminster is reluctant

to bring back direct rule.

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So, what happens next?

0:15:510:15:54

Brian, how serious is this political

mess, and how much does it impact

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on Mrs May's Government,

who rely on the support of the DUP?

0:15:570:16:01

I think it is very serious and I

think it is more serious than the

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press attention it has received in

British media anyway. It could not

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have happened at a worse time, given

what we were talking about earlier

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coming down the pipeline as regards

to Brexit. But where do they go from

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here in the next...

First tell us what happened. What

0:16:240:16:27

was the problem? They got so

close...

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They did get close. What the talks

fell to pieces over was an Irish

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language act, which Sinn Fein had

been asking for three years, and it

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goes way back --. Years and years.

It goes way back to an agreement and

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it is not about who speaks Irish but

about recognition of the Irish

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language and the same level as

English in Northern Ireland.

0:16:510:16:57

When you think about some of the

enormous challenges that these two

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parties have overcome in the last 20

years to get to where we are today,

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it is astonishing in a way to those

who don't follow a daily to think

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that we could fall down over an

issue of language.

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It is not bought my people have been

comparing it to, well, they have a

0:17:110:17:17

language act in Scotland and one in

Wales but Northern Ireland is

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different. It goes back to the Good

Friday Agreement in 1998 when they

0:17:190:17:25

talk about parity of esteem, and one

of the things about that is the

0:17:250:17:29

recognition of the Irish language

and Scots Gaelic, the problem is

0:17:290:17:34

that there was a deal on the table

between the DUP and Sinn Fein and

0:17:340:17:43

ultimately Arlene Foster the DUP

leader could not sell it to the

0:17:430:17:46

grassroots because they were afraid

of things like road signs in two

0:17:460:17:51

languages and quarters for civil

servants seeking Irish... Which

0:17:510:17:57

Michelle O'Neill, her counterpart in

Sinn Fein and the other side of the

0:17:570:18:00

table, said, well, the draft

agreement does not even have that in

0:18:000:18:03

it.

It is a question of trust and

0:18:030:18:06

misunderstanding. But will they get

their?

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They will come back to this and they

will have to come back to this

0:18:080:18:12

because they cannot move forward,

Sinn Fein will not allow

0:18:120:18:14

power-sharing to move forward until

this...

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It is a problem of personalities in

a way? Because you look at these

0:18:190:18:23

leaders...

I think not, the problem is that it

0:18:230:18:28

is not clear it is in either of

their interests to actually run the

0:18:280:18:32

place. In a time of extreme

austerity, why do they want to be

0:18:320:18:36

responsible for schools and

hospitals and all the everyday

0:18:360:18:38

drudgery which aid is to run a

devolved Government under

0:18:380:18:44

Westminster, where Westminster has

screws to such extent you get

0:18:440:18:47

nothing but blame? There is not

really an incentive to either of

0:18:470:18:50

them to them to want to govern?

Who is to blame for the breakdown of

0:18:500:18:54

negotiations? Whose fault is it? Is

it the DUP's Fuld or Sinn Fein's?

0:18:540:19:02

You could say it is the DUP's fault

because it raises questions about

0:19:020:19:06

Arlene Foster's inability to lead

her party. You can also say Sinn

0:19:060:19:13

Fein should not maybe make such a

thing of it and everything else, but

0:19:130:19:17

it is important that the Irish

language act be important... But he

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was the thing, to go back to what

you say, the DUP one direct rule

0:19:220:19:27

because they can then tell the Tory

Government at Westminster what to do

0:19:270:19:31

because they have direct rule. Sinn

Fein I think C in Brexit the best

0:19:310:19:34

chance they have had in a generation

to push the United Ireland agenda.

0:19:340:19:42

So there are much bigger forces in

play than the question of the Irish

0:19:420:19:45

language act.

Also a big issue of Ireland because

0:19:450:19:49

Ireland and Brexit... If the Irish

do not get what they need to get,

0:19:490:19:52

from these things in Northern

Ireland, they can just...

0:19:520:19:56

I just want to pick up with the

point from Polly, because you

0:19:560:20:01

said... Maybe neither side wants to

be ruling right now in this devolved

0:20:010:20:05

assembly. But where does that leave

the British Government? Karen

0:20:050:20:09

Bradley, the Northern Ireland

Secretary, says she considered

0:20:090:20:11

options this weekend and what are

her options?

0:20:110:20:14

Options are she will have to take

control and there is other option.

0:20:140:20:17

They must do what the DUP says

because the DUP is propping up the

0:20:170:20:22

main Government. We must remember

about the DUP that two thirds of its

0:20:220:20:28

members are these extreme free

Presbyterians, the Paisley founded

0:20:280:20:34

cult, and...

Cult is a bit strong language.

0:20:340:20:39

I tend to refer to religions in

general as cults.

0:20:390:20:45

It is the largest party in Northern

Ireland.

0:20:450:20:47

It is the largest party that only

0.6% of people in Northern Ireland

0:20:470:20:52

are actually free Presbyterians, so

they do represent something very

0:20:520:20:55

extreme. In the same sense that Sinn

Fein does not really represent

0:20:550:20:59

nationalist views either. We have

ended up with the two most extreme

0:20:590:21:01

parties who do not represent in all

polls what people actually feel and

0:21:010:21:08

where they stand. It is a

misrepresentation of the real state

0:21:080:21:10

of being in Northern Ireland.

Interesting, and what is

0:21:100:21:15

interesting, Vincent, in the African

angle, is that Cyril Ramaphosa and

0:21:150:21:18

we were talking about a month ago

first played a role in bringing

0:21:180:21:21

sides together and inspecting IRA

arms dumps. So is there a role for

0:21:210:21:28

outsiders at this point?

No, I don't think he will have any

0:21:280:21:32

opportunity.

I'm not looking at him because he is

0:21:320:21:35

busy, but is a role for any outsider

in the Irish question?

0:21:350:21:38

I'm sure the European Union, but in

terms of Britain and on... I think

0:21:380:21:43

the role of Ireland will be

something that matters a lot. As an

0:21:430:21:48

African, I will say something more

antagonistic. And this is a fact. In

0:21:480:21:54

Africa, since independence, and

before independence, the whole idea

0:21:540:21:59

of our survival has been fighting

for independence. And whether we had

0:21:590:22:05

this peace process in Northern

Ireland, which somehow brought

0:22:050:22:08

people mechanically together to be

run together still within the United

0:22:080:22:12

Kingdom, many Africans always have,

whenever we talk about Northern

0:22:120:22:17

Ireland, they ask me, but why

doesn't written just leave Northern

0:22:170:22:22

Ireland to go back to Ireland and

become an independent country as

0:22:220:22:24

well? An answer to why not? Because

that is a question of history...

0:22:240:22:32

That history is what rules...

The rule is democracy in that if

0:22:320:22:38

they voted to join the rest of

Ireland we would be out in a flash.

0:22:380:22:41

It is a majority in Northern Ireland

by consent.

0:22:410:22:47

But their condition and defined by

history.

0:22:470:22:49

It is not defined by history.

I'm not quite sure the South of

0:22:490:22:56

Ireland would be happy with that

idea of being stuck with the DUP. We

0:22:560:23:00

have been there and I'm glad we have

won there but now that is not a

0:23:000:23:04

viewpoint which will solve the

current situation, I guess, not a

0:23:040:23:07

viewpoint which is one of those of

the current players.

0:23:070:23:11

Alas I am much mistaken.

It is very much a viewpoint held by

0:23:110:23:14

Sinn Fein. They are saying, we

stopped the fight but we have not

0:23:140:23:20

stopped our struggle for

independence.

0:23:200:23:24

One of the most important part of

the Good Friday Agreement was the

0:23:240:23:26

South of Ireland gave up in its

constitution its demand an

0:23:260:23:31

expectation that the North should

join with the South. That was a very

0:23:310:23:36

important making of the peace that

both sides understood.

0:23:360:23:41

Around this table, we will all agree

that it is a democratic process.

0:23:410:23:45

It is and it has kept a piece, but

we must remind people we must only

0:23:450:23:50

think about future.

But going back to the paralysis of

0:23:500:23:55

the democratic process now, Thomas?

I think if you hand back direct rule

0:23:550:23:59

to Westminster, that is the end of

devolution. What is devolution

0:23:590:24:02

about? It is about self-government

and if the parties concerned are to

0:24:020:24:08

be in Northern Ireland unable to do

that, what is the future of

0:24:080:24:13

devolution in Northern Ireland?

I think the British Government will

0:24:130:24:16

be very reluctant to go back to

direct rule, and they would come

0:24:160:24:22

under huge pressure from the Irish

Government, massive pressure from

0:24:220:24:26

the Irish Government. At the moment,

relations between the British and

0:24:260:24:29

Irish governments are affixed on the

whole issue of the border and the

0:24:290:24:34

revelatory alignment and all that

kind of thing and the customs union.

0:24:340:24:38

And I don't think they will want to

put direct rule in on top of all of

0:24:380:24:42

that.

There are enough, but what is the

0:24:420:24:44

end of it? No direct rule...

They will go back to... They will

0:24:440:24:48

leave it for some weeks and come

back to the talks again and see if

0:24:480:24:51

they can get some kind of agreement

and go back to that...

0:24:510:24:54

What about the border?

It has made it worse and hasn't

0:24:540:25:01

helped but exacerbated up my

the

whole thing hanging over the

0:25:010:25:04

break-up of these doctors the issue

of the border.

0:25:040:25:07

That is coming down the pipe so fast

that one wonders whether they can

0:25:070:25:11

get agreement before the Brexit

thing happens. At the moment the

0:25:110:25:14

Irish Government is absolutely

adamant that the deal they came to

0:25:140:25:19

last December about regulatory

alignment, you know, if Britain

0:25:190:25:25

wants to leave the customs union and

wants to leave the EU they will

0:25:250:25:28

still have to have some form of

keeping the border open and they are

0:25:280:25:33

adamant about that. That is the

number-1 priority for Dublin.

0:25:330:25:36

That takes us back to the beginning,

which is actually where must end.

0:25:360:25:40

That's all we have

time for this week.

0:25:400:25:42

Do join us again next week

same time same place.

0:25:420:25:46

But for now,

thank you for watching and goodbye.

0:25:460:25:49