02/11/2011 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Gavin Esler.

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Tonight, as we come on air, the leaders of the eurozone are putting


extreme pressure on Greece to save the Euro-bailout and the euro


itself. The Greek Prime Minister is summoned to meet the French


President and the German Chancellor. Here at the G20 the Greeks have


been told, fine, have your referendum, but you won't get any


bailout money until that's over. The three-day debate on a no


confidence motion in Mr Papandreou's Government has started


here without him. So just as soon as he can extricate himself from


that French embroillio, he will have to dash back to at thens to


fight for his political life. will speak to the European


council's President's righthand man. How similar are the economic


problems of now to the Great Depression. The new head of the


Press Complaints Commission will tell us why his job is still worth


doing. And : # It's the end of the world as we


know tl Michael Stipe and Mike Mills on why the band REM split,


and why music and politics mix. Good evening, it is probably one of


the most difficult evenings of George Papandreou's political life.


This is the way it was supposed to go. Last week the eurozone leaders


finally saved the currency. This week the biggest economies on earth,


and the G20 would need in Cannes and use that as a springboard to


push the worldwide recovery forward. It was a great script until it was


thrown into the dustbin by Mr Papandreou's decision to hold a


referendum on the terms of their bailout. We begin tonight in Cannes,


where Greece's Prime Minister has been called in to see the head


teachers for a real caning. The press conference with Mr


Sarkozy and Mrs Merkel is still going on. It is not often you get


at one of these conferences a real and serious action. But they are


coming thick and fast in the last five minutes.


The EU has formally suspended the eight billion debt repayment due to


Greece that was agreed last week. Mrs Merkel said that there had been


a big change in the psychology. A dramatic change in the psychology


of the situation, because Greece called this referendum. She has


accused the Greek Prime Minister of playing poker, and said that the


Greek referendum question should be about in or out of the euro.


Something that the Greeks themselves are not, of course, keen


on. China has said that it's not interested in lending to the big


bailout fund, the one trillion euro EFSF, that is going to be aimed at


Italy. It is not interested, because with all this uncertainty


around who can value the risk, who can base a calculation of risk on


lending that kind of money. That is nice work for a country that wasn't


even invited to the Cannes G20 country. Greece, too small to be in


the top 20. The mood here, of course is very tense. It is still


on going tonight. I think the reactions are even now filtering


out and will do throughout the programme. Overall, there is a


feeling that the Greek situation can be contained. Because the


bigger situation with Italy, Spain and the rest of the world, does


beckon the attention of these leaders, afterall the world could


be on the brink of a double-dip recession. That is what they worry


about. All today, ins and outs here at Cannes, with world leaders being


told, get your act together they are under pressure to raise their


game. In diplomatic speak, they are


called Mer kozy, the two heads of state at the heart of Europe. When


they met the Greek Prime Minister tonight, an unexpected invitey, it


was not very cosy, because the Greek PM has basically spoiled


their party. Although Cannes is in full lock down mode, on the luxury


coastline it is some how hard to remember the world is in crisis.


They chose this place to focus on the big issues, growth, currencies,


the reregulation of the world. The summit's bim toll, 20 flags wrapped


- symbol, 20 flags wrapped around something sweet, but Greece has


soured things. Last Thursday Greece was offered a deal to write off 100


billion euros worth of debt, with banks agreeing to take 50% losses.


The price, years of austerity and control of economic policy handed


to outside experts. But Greece needs to roll over 20 billion euros


worth of existing debt by the end of January. With the referendum,


nobody's sure who will lend. In the French parliament the response was


blunt. TRANSLATION: You can't be in Europe to benefit from its


solidarity, and aside from Europe to escape the discipline that every


nation must consent to. Meanwhile, in Italy, there was an emergency


cabinet meeting tonight, because the bond markets are signals danger.


We knew the interest rates on Italy's long-term debts were


getting frightening, but look at the interest rates on 12-month


loans, usually below 1%. This is what's happened, it has spiked now


above 5% this week. And some fear that's a signal the Italian crisis


will imminently spill over into the banks, because this is the kind of


debts banks use for short-term business. Americans are already


telling Mr Berlusconi that you will not be able to sell your bonds for


the next few weeks or months at the punitive interest rates, they are


demanding, they don't trust you. Mr Berlusconi is enough of a business


person to know what that signal means. Then when his closest


friends, here at the G20, and in the G, say look, you have got to


promise and do grb G7, you can't just promise it, you have to do it


back home, and the young people have to have jobs, that is the only


way to grow your economy. I think Berlusconi will finally bite the


bullet and do it. It is hard to see it here amid the luxury of the


Riviera, but the world recovery is slowing, growth is down, and debt


up. Jose Angel Gurria, who runs the influential think-tank, OED, and


who will be in the talks, thinks it is crucial to sort out Greece and


then move on. Greece is unique in terms of the problems. We should


ring-fence it, referendum or not. We should really stop the contagion


and build the big firework. That might mean an even bigger bailout


to Greece, just to ring-fence it completely, otherwise why are we


sitting here worrying about it after a third of the debt is


written off already? Because the original sin was that we said, in


the beginning, two years ago, the future of Europe and the future of


the euro, is linked to Greece. Whatever happens to Greece happens


to all of us. That was obviously a mistake. Why is it that at summit


after summit, we pass resolutions, we pass action plans, but we never


see this structural question addressed? After spending a lot in


order to get out of the recession, into a feeble recovery, where did


that leave us? With huge deficits. And huge accumulated debt. More


than 100% debt to GDP in the OECD on average. And you still have 10%


unemployment, and you still have 20% unemployment of the youth, or


30% or 40%, you still have people all over the world occupying the


streets, occupying Wall Street or the City. They have pint haven't


they? Of course they have a point. - They have a point, haven't they?


Of course they have a point. That means no matter how tight the


budgets are we have to leave space for them and the things that are


the seedz of the future growth. the Greek crisis has centralised


the problem, the rest of the world has enough of things that don't


deliver growth. They have started to punish politics that don't


deliver it. Mr Papandreou's arrival here signals how fast things are


develop anything this crisis. Six months ago the arriving leaders


could have looked at Greece and said that is what you don't want to


happen. That is what happens when you lose control of your sovereign


debt. Now they look at Papandreou and think, that is what happens if


you lose control of your streets. And now, as a result of his


referendum call, Mr Papandreou seems to have lost control of the


very bailout he thought had saved him. I'm just noticing as you were


watching that report, that the Merkel press conference in Cannes,


Mrs Merkel is saying that the Greek referendum must ask does Greece


wish to be in the eurozone area. We will pursue that in just a moment.


The other part of the story is in Greece itself, where Mr


Papandreou's referendum could lead to harder times ahead. There is


really intense pressure on the Greeks, Mrs Merkel saying they are


playing poker, and effectively saying any referendum is an in-out


referendum? Yes, they couldn't be under any greater pressure than


they are already. Mr Papandreou's party fraying under the strain,


ministers going sick, all the rest of it. Of course we don't have a


response at the moment to what's just been said in Cannes. But it is


interesting that earlier today, Mr Papandreou's spokesman said quite


specifically, that this would not be a referendum on the euro in or


out. It was a referendum on the bailout package, and whether the


people were prepared to accept it and implicitly the sacrifices it


involves. It is interesting that they seem to have tried to head off


that line, before even he arrived at that time dinner in Cannes. The


other thing one can't help but think, is in the language of the


accusation from Chancellor Merkel tonight, of playing poker, that


there may be some indication of her own tactics in this supremely


difficult moment. Perhaps they are all playing poker, but perhaps it


is with other people's money. I notice that President Sarkozy is


saying we cannot spend European tax-payers' money if Greece doesn't


follow Brussels' agreement to the letter. How worried do you think


the people are in Greece that they are going to be seriously punished


for this referendum? There is this question of the eight billion euros,


that was supposed to be made available to them in mid-November,


to get them through the cry sifs trying to keep the economy afloat


here. - crisis of trying to keep the economy afloat here. This could


be the element of poker from Chancellor Merkel, is it a credible


threat to withdraw this money. This evening they seem to be saying in


Cannes, yes it is, this is not a deal you can pull apart and take


the candy and then throw the rest of it open to the referendum. But


many people in Greece will reflect that if that money is taken away,


just a week or two, potentially, before Greeks go to the polls, that


could have a disastrous effect on the course of the euro, and it


could actually trigger the implosion that France and Germany


are so desperate to avoid. So it will be fascinating to see whether


they really are in ernest about that threat, or whether some kind


of formula is put together, simply to get Greece through the crisis


that leads up to the referendum, assuming it still happens. Thank


you very much. The Greek decision to hold a


referendum on the bailout package, and the implications, are being


absorbed in every European capital. Joining me live is Alvaro Santos


Pereira, the Portuguese Finance Minister, and Richard Corbett. How


irritated are you in the EU leadership that Mr Papandreou has


made you look like fools? Well, on the one hand the EU, as you know is


not a centralised powerful authority, it is a union of


democracies, and democratic procedures in each member-state


have to be respected. But on the other hand, last week, when this


package was put together, that everybody thought was a key turning


point, there was no indication at that point from the Greek side that


this may well be put to a referendum. Which, whatever its


merits, prolongs the uncertainty for a long period of time. Indeed.


Triggering a return to market volatility, which is undermining


the whole process. Indeed, but it also shows the profound weakness at


the very heart of the EU, when you have a deal which is unravelled


within five days? Well, as I said, the EU is not a dictatorship, it is


a uefpb democracies, you have to work with - a union of demok


circumstance you have to work with the - democracies, and you have to


work with the countries in that. If Greece so chooses to put this deal


to a referendum it can. But you can also understand how others have


reacted to that. They thought there was a deal that could be enacted


quickly, that would already calm the markets, the initial effect was


very beneficial, it was well received, this puts that in


jeopardy. You can understand the reaction from other member states


to that decision. Do you now see, in the words of Mrs Merkel, that


has to be an in-out of the eurozone decision for Greece, however they


word it, that is what is at stake here for Greece? It is indeed


difficult to understand what a "no" would actually mean. Would they be


saying, no, this loan is not big enough, we want a bigger loan to


help us turn the corner, or are they saying we don't want any loan


at all, we can manage wout without assistance from the rest of the


Euro-- - eurozone. It is an odd situation to have a referendum the


leadership, at least, thinks there is only one possible answer. But


the people may well say we don't actually like that answer. But from


different perspectives, you won't have an answer to what they want


instead. Would you contrue this as an in-out - cons true this as an


in-out vote s that how you see it? The Greek Government will formulate


the question. You See the knock-on effect of a potential no-vote might


bring the question of Greece leaving the euro might be possible.


How do you view this Greek referendum? Good evening, for us


the Greek referendum obviously increases the uncertainty, and


increases volatility. On our part what we see is we are extremely


strongly committed to reform, we are strongly committed to fiscal


consolidation, we believe in a reform agenda that would bring,


would make Portugal a country that is more business-friendly, more


business orientated, with better labour laws, with new competition


laws just approved and under public consultation. It could all be blown


sideways? You may be doing all the right things, and with the angels


on this but the Greek decision means months of uncertainty for you


and the people of Portugal. The Greek decision increases the


uncertainty, on our part, what we can do is show the world we are


doing our best and doing whatever we can to maintain dialogue with


the trade unions, we have maintained also a peaceful


environment in Portugal, together we have had a very strong reform


agenda. That makes sure fiscal consolidation is made possible,


together with a growth agenda that is bringing large reforms to


Portugal, unequivocal reforms. suggesting, whatever you do, your


fate is in the hands of ten million people in Greece. It has nothing to


do with these greet reforms you may be doing. It has to - great reforms


you may be doing. It is to do with the Greek referendum going ahead


and whether it blows up the euro? We strongly believe by doing the


reform agenda we are doing, we will be able to stop any contagion that


might come about with the Greek situation. Even if they vote no.


strongly believe. For us it doesn't make sense to get out of the euro,


for several reasons, including the fact that our exports are growing


at 9% a year, they have been growing for quite a while, in the


last three or four years they are growing very well. So, for us the


euro, the impact of the euro has past passed, our exports are


getting stronger and the economy getting more stronger, it doesn't


make sense at all for us. Bringing in Mr Corbett again. You can


imagine if you were in the Chinese delegation, they will look at this


and think it is a complete shambles and not putting the Chinese people


as money in anything to do with Europe? I think that - the Chinese


people's money in anything to do with Europe? I think you have to


look much further than Greece. The package agreed last week was in


part about Greece, but also in part about building firewalls so make


sure there is no contagion from Greece to other states in the euro,


or the rest of the European Union. The increased capitalisation of


banks, increasing the fire power of the so-called bailout fund. That is


all designed to make sure there is no contagion from Greece. If you


were China you wouldn't put money into it? Those aspects are not


subject to the referendum in Greece, they still stand as part of the


deal. They are still there and should reassure potential investors


from other parts of the world. Thank you very much.


Let's go back to Paul Mason in Cannes, who has not just been


following tonight's events ahead of the G20 Summit tomorrow, but also


looking at some of the lessons of history. We thought two years ago


we had avoided a repeat of the Great Depression. We spent


thrillions of digging ourselves out of the Lehman Brothers - trillions


digging ourselves out of the Liam man brothers crisis. Required


reading, the economic history of the early 1930s, that period is the


period that shows us what happens if the - if during the crisis you


enter, as we have done tonight, the finger-pointing stage, the blaming


stage, and the competitive exit out of the crisis stage. I have been


looking at what the parallels are, what we can learn, and how we can


avoid repeating it. The depression of the 1930s began in Wall Street,


with the share price crash. How did it get from Wall Street to the rest


of the world. That is the story of a cross-border


banking crisis, social unrest, countries reneging on their debts,


and the breakdown of an international currency system. If


that sounds familiar, it should. What is haunting the world's


leaders, as they prepare for the G20 Summit is a repeat of the early


1930s. In the 1930s there was a great


fracturing of globalisation. So countries which had been used to


co-operating with each other in a number of ways, all took to doing


their own thing. They took to doing their own thing politically and


economically. The world that collapsed in 1931


was a glilt glittering, ultra modern world, the economic recovery


of the 1920s had produced Art Deco, luxury for the masses, and for the


elite, as with this family and its purpose-built deco mansion, what


could possibly go wrong. The 1920s had seen rapid


technological advance, when the crisis started it looked like just


a blip, what had produced all this was a global system of trade and


currencies based on gold. But in the fight to safe that system, they


would destroy almost everything else. One of the things that


happened in the 1930s was the very mechanism which people focused on,


which they thought would promote globalisation, actually was a


contributor to its end. The gold standard was a system of


fixed exchange rates that obliged Governments to balance their books


long-term. But in the worst-hit countries, once the downturn


started, sticking to gold forced Governments to make austerity worse.


Today some worry what happened with the gold standard could happen with


the euro, here again, adherence to the rules is forcing some countries


to impose harsh austerity. And even as the streets erupt, the European


political class has convinced itself that nobody can leave the


euro. The thing about Europe is the


single currency, and the way that all these 17 countries are tied


together by one exchange rate. The parallel with the early 1930s is


clearly the gold standard, where some countries believe that the


gold standard was the basis for prosperity. The reality was that it


was imposing enormous deflation on some countries and the UK was one


of the first to break-away. Britain's exit from gold in 1931


forms a case study in how events can confound a currency peg. First,


the Labour Government collapsed over the levels of austerity


required to stay on gold. And then, amid defence cuts, the Royal Navy


mutinyed. Those particular spending cuts led to parts of the Royal Navy,


fearing that they would have very large salary cuts, and there was a


mutiny, which included the flagship of the Navy, The Hood, this, in


mid-September 1931 triggered a very widespread panic, people thought


there might be a coup and all kinds of things, and international


investors really panicked in respect of the UK. And the


Government quite soon after gave up on the attempt to hold the gold


standard. When Britain came off gold, the establishment were so


shocked that one former Labour minister said, we didn't know you


could do that. Germany and Japan came off gold in the same year, and


the industrial output showed those who ran for the exits first,


recovered first. The depression of the 1930s was felt worst by those


countries that were last to abandon their commitment to the global


system. America, and France. Of course, we know what happened,


within a decade the big powers were engaged in trade wars, currency


wars, land grabs, and ultimately military conflict.


And the problem today is you can just see the beginnings of some of


that. When the USA decided on a second


round of qeesing, QE-2, the result was to boost inflation in the


rapidly developing countries like bra still. Bra still's Finance


Minister called it economic war and re- Brazil's Finance Minister


called it economic war. Japan, fearing its exports would be hit by


a weaker dollar, intervened to weaken its own currency,


Switzerland did the same, Japan did the same this week and so did


Argentina, that has led to some fearing the break up of


globalisation, others to welcome it. I don't think there is a danger


with retreating from globalisation. Globalisation has led to a lot of


problems causing the credit crunch, we have to ask is this what we want,


a world dominated by large companies with weak labour power.


It is not a level playing field at the moment. You have Asian


Governments gaming the system which manipulating the exchange rate.


last week's euro deal injected, potentially, more friction into


that argument. Europe needs to borrow a trillion, but when the man


doing the borrowing turned up in China, with his begging bowl, he


was told stop criticising us over currency, and then we will see.


In the early 1930s, even as the global economy slid towards break


up, the band played on. This was a world in which radio was growing


rapidly, the movies were beginning to talk, public morals were getting


loser. - looser. Today it seems impossible that our


global system could disappear, so much of our culture is bound up


with it. Their's did. Within a decade, the whole world of jazz,


loose morals and modern art was gone.


There is no legal justification whatever for France not paying the


current installment of $20 million on her debt to us.


Two things drove the break up, debts that had become politic sized,


and social unrest. - politicised, and social unrest.


On the streets, once unrest brokeout, it proved impossible for


politicians to resist, and national route out of the crisis. This time


around, free market economists have been at the forefront of defending


globalisation, but now some are beginning to see the possibility of


retreat. Do you think it is realistic for us to still be


talking about a global, multilateral solution to this


crisis? I think it is both unrealistic and if it were it would


be a mistake. I think it would be better at this stage for us each to


look to our own ramparts, each try our own thing, and if we see


something is working better somewhere else than what we have


tried we can copy them. If you wait too long and end up doing your own


thing, you do your own thing in an environment in which the


populations and the politicians who turn up as their spokesman, blame


international co-ordination for the events. They will say, we have been


forced, by the Germans or the Americans, or the IMF or the UN, to


do things this way, and part of our identity now is that we are against


them, the enemy. In Greece, that's already happening.


But the occupy protests too, though international, are each putting


pressure on national Governments to act. Here again, say the economists,


there are lessons from history. should not underestimate the social


and economic peril of neglecting the moral aspect of policy. If


people are subject to injustice for long enough, they will ultimately


reject that and the political consequences can be terrifying.


1934 the San Francisco industrial strike, this is worse than the


world war. Today we are a lot richer than in the 1930s, that


should cushion the blow. But the social cohesion is lower. To a


generation whose future has been cancelled, it will be of little


comfort that things were worse back then.


In the last few minutes, Mr Papandreou has been speaking, and


he has been quite defiant. I believe it is crucial that we


show the world that we can live up to our obligations. We can live up


to these obligations, and this is crucial for our future


participation in the eurozone. telegraphic though that statement


scenes, it does contain a message, it tells the world that what Mr


Papandreou is trying to do in Greece is to convince the Greek


people to take the bailout, to take the conditions which involve having


foreign civil servants inside their own ministries, and to stay inside


the eurozone. It is telling Mrs Merkel and Mr Sarkozy this is a


gamble, I'm taking on your behalf, to try to convince the Greek people.


It is saying, in other words, it is not to the cynical, a gamble in


which I end up being chucked out of power, and therefore I don't take


the blame for the disaster. I think that was a very clear message there


from Mr Papandreou. Thank you very much.


After their handling, or non- handling of the newspaper hacking


scandal, the Press Complaints Commission has appeared more or


less friendless, a toothless poodle, according to Ed Milliband, a


failure and we need a new system entirely, according to David


Cameron. Now the PCC has a new chairman, Lord Hunt, does it have a


future. We will ask Lord Hunt in a moment. First, how the PCC hit the


headlines for all the wrong reasons. The phone hacking scandal destroyed


Britain's biggest-selling newspaper, News of the World. It still


threatens the Murdoch empire. Hello it is Glenn. How are you.


Just a quick one, voice mail reset on Gordon Taylor, it has Tottenham-


related issues there. Many believe it will soon claim the scalp of the


regulatory body, the Press Complaints Commission too. The PCC


has been absolutely shocking in terms of any pretence of regulating


the press. They just haven't done it. If you examine the time line


behind the phone hacking story, then the weight of evidence against


the PCC becomes embarrassingly clear. It reveals an organisation


totally dependian on the good will and operation of those it is


regulating. It also shows that those trying to blow the whistle


were wrong, and it gave the impression of a body trying to shut


down the story. For the PCC the challenge began in 2006 with the


arrest of News of the World's private investigator Glenn Mulcaire,


he had been working with the royal correspondent, Clive Goodman,


hacking phones. The Police swung into action and interviewed the


suspects, the regulatory body said it was one rogue reporter, this


satisfied the PCC. Later the PCC would write it was not its reblit


to replicate the police investigation to establish other


transgressions, so no powers of investigation, no powers of audit,


all was well in the best of all possible worlds. In 2009 the


Guardian revealed other journalists had known about the phone hacking.


Once again the PCC swung action to investigate, and published a report.


That report concluded there was no substantial evidence to support


that and that it had not been materially misled. Indeed, a week


later, when giving evidence to the society of newspaper editors, the


chair said new evidence had emerged from a Metropolitan Police


detective. Who said that the number of victims of phone hacking was


just a handful, not the thoughs referred to in evidence by leading


phone hacking lawyer Mark Lewis. Not only did you go along with the


News of the World lying that it was only one rogue reporter, not only


did you implicitly attack the Guardian. You are not hearing your


answers, you ignored my answers. You then attacked the lawyer to


testified to the Commons that 6,000 people had been hacked. I didn't


attack the lawyer, I'm not going into that. You had to apologise and


pay costs, correct. They ended up paying damages and my legal costs.


They certainly didn't understand the full nature of the hacking


scandal? Not only did they not understand it, they didn't bother


to look at it and get evidence. They were more concerned it seems


in pleasing the crowd and the pay masters rather than investigating


the problem. Shortly after that interview, Baroness Buscombe


announced she was stepping down. Her successor will have to decide


if the PCC has lost so much credibility it can no longer


command respect, or whether it is possible to strengthen the


commission as part of reform. Lord Hunt here, the new head of the PCC.


It sound from that worp that you are worse than useless, because you


give a fig leaf of respectability to those newspapers? My job is not


to look at the past, but to start with a blank sheet of paper and


work out the best possible system for the self-regulation, the


independent self-regulation of the press, that will command the


confidence of the public. You don't start with a blank sheet of paper,


you start with a Levison inquiry, not about the past but the future.


You have to deal with that. Every single thing we have heard there


suggests the PCC, if you like, are a union for newspapers who serve on


the PCC The way I see it, I have just arrived, I have been given a


blank piece of paper, I sense a mood for fundamental reform. It is


my job now to work out what is the best possible structure.


puzzled by the blank sheet of paper thing? There isn't one? There is


for me. The past of the PCC doesn't matter? I'm suggesting you the


future, if you you have got one, does matter, and the Levison


Inquiry could say you are useless, as the Prime Minister and the


leader of the opposition have said? What I would like to do is this,


Lord Justice Levison has this inquiry, he's looking into a whole


range of areas of policy, the ethics of the whole of the press


regulatory system. What I would like to do is fill in my blank


piece of paper, listening to everyone, taking account of all the


concerns, some of which you have just expressed. And then present


Lord Justice Levison with what I believe to be the solution. It is


then up to him to decide whether that is adequate or not. But I'm


going to do everything I can to produce the right result. That is


very interesting, you also said a regulator, or self-regulator, is


that how you see yourself, you would want to be a regulator,


because the charges, - the charge is, you are not? I think one of the


reasons I have been asked to do this job s I'm a lawyer. I have


been with my law firm for 46 years, OK 35 years in parliament, but I


have very understanding partners. I specialise in regulatory law. What


I have to say straight away, in answer to the question you have


raised, is that the PCC is not a regulator. Should it be? There


needs to be a regulator, now another two bodies, the editors


code committee, which actually, if you read the code, it is an


excellent code, the sort of code that the late David Calcott wanted


the press to endorse. Two years after he stepd set up the PCC, he


said it wasn't strong enough or working. The point is systemic


failure, I know you don't want to look back at the past, but as a


regulator, you wouldn't go and regulate anybody by saying what do


you think, OK, fine, would you expect it your self. That has to


change or the PCC will go, won't it? I was in the cabinet that


received the first of the reports and then the second. I approach


this with two fundamental beliefs, first of all in self-regulation,


and secondly in freedom of the press. I think that is one of the


greatest assets we have. It carries with it, not only the right for


free expression, but also the heavy responsibility. I have got to try


to find the structure that will restore public confidence in the


whole system. You are not there to be the last PCC chairman, are you.


That is the implication? That is still to be decided, if there is an


appetite for fundamental reform. I would hope we would see the


existing work of the PCC, a lot unrecognised, which has been very


effective in dealing with complaints. But I want to see a


regulatory system, which does require renewal and regeneration. I


will do my best. Thank you very much.


To their fans they have always proved very popular right here in


Britain. News that REM are spliting up after 1 years was a real moment


of sadness. Their music - 31 years a real moment of sadness. Their


music is called alternative right, but it is also a political voice


throughout the world. Our report talks about why it really is the


end of the world as we know it. # Shiny happy people


The men from Athens Georgia, weren't your typical rock stars. As


Rolling Stone Magazine said, they lived in some weird town nobody


ever heard of, they didn't play power chords, they probably


couldn't even spell spanned decks. Massive - Spandex. Massive stardom


sat uncomfortably on REM shoulders. Unlike Bono, when you see him out


in his leathers waving a flag, someone who looks to the manor born,


it never looked quite that, rather like Morrisey in the Smith, they


looked like they could do it, but never looked as comfortable doing


it. In Michael Stipe he had a rock man, who subverted what the rock


frontman was, more Quentin Crisp than Rock Viking.


# Kaufman in the wrestling match # Yeah, yeah, yeah.


REM took traditional American rock feel, and gave it a reading list.


Their songs could be about subjects as ease sow teric about the


troubled sitcom star, Andy Kaufman as in Man On The Moon.


This was alternative rock. M it's the end of the world


- # It's the end of the world # As we know it


You could say the same of the causes REM championed.


Members of the band have campaigned for environmental, feminist and


human rights causes, and to encourage voting. But are they for


real, or just celebrity liberals, as some have claimed. For a while


they were lumped in with the charity aristocracy, I think they


always remained true to a slightly esoteric and leftfield agenda.


Stipe aligned himself with any number of causes, he genuinely


believed in them, that is not to say anybody else didn't. You


certainly felt his heart was in them rather more than Sting, shall


we say. To take a liberal agenda, quite an


explicitly liberal agenda and fill American rock stadiums with it and


the radio, is no mean feat, it they have remained a constant in


American conscience in the way that politicians haven't.


idiosyncratic REM marked their break-up, not with fights and writs,


but with a new video featuring Kirsten Dunst, was it that


difficult 16th album, or did they chuck the towel in after David


Cameron picked their Perfect Circle for his desert island disc. Was


there a moment when you thought that's it, it's over? It was a long


moment. Two years worth. We took a long time to figure out we wanted


to call it a day and disband. you could go on, separate for a bit,


come back for a bit, other bands do it, why? Because it was an


opportunity for us to walk away on our own terms, which is something


that, as far as I know, very few bands, certainly that have been


around for any length of time, have had the opportunity to do. There


are no external forces making us do this, we have no problems.


don't hate each other? No. We can walk away as friends and feel like


we have accomplished everything we wanted to accomplish. We touched on


the politics there, going back to the Reagan administration, you


spoke at the Clinton inaugural in 1993, how important was that for


you, and does it mix with the music? That was a moment for


America, we had been through 12 years of what I thought were the


darkest political years of my country. In my lifetime. We had no


idea that Bush and Cheney were on the horizon, they trumped his


father. But to be able to welcome in someone who was relatively


liberal-minded or at least moderate, as the Clinton administration


started out to be, it was a great moment for America. This is a great


moment for politics, isn't it, therefore, presumably for political


song writing, I know some of you in your songs have touched in and out


of it. This is great moment for it right now? It is easy to write


about politics in the opposition, when you are the underdog and you


are angry at what's going on. Eventhough we are huge fans of


President Obama, the fact is, he has been stymied in so much of what


he wanted to do by the minority, which seems inherently unfair to us,


and just as irritating as having the majority being the problem.


are not abandoning President Obama, and would support him next year?


absolutely. He's in trouble isn't he? He's in trouble, this is my


opinion, nothing more. He won't say up front that the administration


that he followed screwed things up so badly, and that he and his


administration had to clean up the mess. And I wish he would just say


that. But it seems unpresidential to do so. When you have toured


around the world for many years, very popular here, as we have said,


do you notice how views of America and Americans have changed since


you have started touring. In other words, how popular are Americans


and how popular is America now? think it is better than it was


certainly when we first started coming over here. There were the


civils being placed around, we were the lighten - cuefls being placed


around, and we were - cruise missiles being placed around and


Westminster the face to complain to when we were here. General America


is perceived a little better than when we started out, it is a


neverending struggle and it doesn't get better in the big picture.


important is it when anybody who is a celebrity in any field gets


involved in causes, your causes have been Darfur and domestic


politics. Does that actually help or not? I think it does, people


have come up to me over the course of 32 years we have been together


as band and said I was an aimless 17-year-old and I heard this song


or saw this show and I'm an environmental lawyer, thank you for


helping influence my life choice. Stuff like that happens, more often


than you would think. That makes me feel, as a public figure, like our


actism, although it might turn off some fans because they might have a


different opinion, I think it is important to feel like you can


express yourself. But is there a problem when you are one of the


biggest rock bands in the world doing that kind of thing. Sometimes,


for instance, Sting and Bono, not entirely popular with some people


because of that? You certainly risk alienating people. As a human being,


I have to get up and look at myself in the mirror in the morning. And


what I live for is not to be popular with everyone, but to be


true to what I believe in and what I feel. If that involves using our


platform to make political statements and potentially


alienating a certain portion of the audience, that is something we have


to do any way. When are you getting back together again? We are not.


Thank you for asking. When is the hell freezes over tour going to go


on? It is over. Sad? It is bitter sweet, it is strangely liberating.


Oddly liberating, we feel very comfortable with what we have done.


Today's protest, the Occupy Wall Street, fans of that? Absolutely,


yes. Let's get a quick last word from Paul in Cannes at the G20.


In the last 60 minutes effectively what has happened is the deal done


in Brussels last week has been put on hold. Greece won't get the eight


billion bailout money it was due, until the referendum, it is fairly


clear that the G20 leaders are accepting that Mr Papandreou wants


the referendum, and we are being told he will try to go for it in


December, possibly as early as the 5th of December. This could all


change by Friday, he has to get it through the Greek parliament. But


ultimately, there is a bit of poetic justice, the Greek crisis,


at the root of all the other crises going on in this town, will be


resolved by the Greek parliament and the Greek people.


That is all from Newsnight tonight, more from Kirstie tomorrow, good


Good evening, few of us will be completely dry overnight. Outbreaks


of rain in the north and the east. Northern England and Scotland,


conditions will improve during the day. A scattering of showers across


the west and south initially. Developing a bit further inland.


Some showers puorning into the back of northern England for the end of


the afternoon. Much of the wet start will be dry and bright. There


is that threat of showers anywhere across central and southern areas,


some heavy, some of of the wetter conditions across East Anglia and


the south-east. It looks as if across South-West England and Wales,


the big threat of showers should be in the afternoon. Brighter weather


throughout the day despite the continuing threat of showers. For


Northern Ireland the heaviest of the showers again for the afternoon,


a few rumbles of thunder too, the brighter spells, 15-16, same sort


of values across Scotland, showers in the west of Scotland, but to the


north and east it will be a brighter second half of the day.


From Thursday into Friday, again some outbreaks of rain, Friday, you


can see the city forecast, Scotland and Northern Ireland, not many


showers to speak of, compared to further south, outbreaks of rain on


Thursday, Friday looking that little bit brighter, but there will


be slow-moving, heavy and thundery showers. Those showers will be at


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