17/01/2012 Newsnight


Has Ed Miliband's cuts policy split Labour? New information about the Italian cruise ship tragedy and the founder of Wikileaks debates piracy. With Gavin Esler.

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Tonight, could Ed Milliband's new position on Government cuts split


the Labour movement? The GMB union, courted by Ed Milliband when he ran


for leader, threatens to cut ties with the party. Is Labour's policy


even coherent, David Grossman is on the case. Is Labour, in seeking to


both oppose the Government's cuts, and not promise to reverse them,


really, I don't know. Trying to have it both ways!


We will hear from the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls. The striken


Italian cruiseship, we have new revelation about how close it came


to rocks on a previous voyage. Rare access to the work of Arab


League monitors in Syria, swamped by opposition crowds, as they


present evidence of atrocities. Everyone knows the Arab League, the


international body, with the best chance of influencing the Syrian


Government. That is why people are so desperate to have their voice


heard today. The Government wins the vote to


abolish adult disability living allowance, we debate whether the


most vulnerable will suffer, with Tanni Grey-Thompson and our wests.


WikiLeaks takes down its website to protest on plans for against on-


line piracy. Good evening, being in opposition


is never easy. Being in opposition during the worst economic crisis in


the lifetime of most voters, and probably with three years to wait


for an election, has proved extremely bumpy for Ed Milliband in


recent weeks. Tonight he faces a new test, a row which cuts to the


heart of the Labour movement. Trade union leaders are furious with Mr


Miliband, for backing the Government policy of capping public


sector pay, and refusing to commit to reversing any coalition cuts.


Since the unions give Labour almost 80% of its funding, not from public


sources, threats by one major union to split away are being taken very


seriously. As we will hear from Ed Balls in a moment.


The philosophical battle over how to rescue the economy has never


been more entertainingly presented than in this brilliant video. Has


there been another convert to the side, is Labour abandoned


Keynesianism. They have changed their tune significantly since the


Shadow Chancellor said they would not reverse cuts and exercise pay


represent. Len McCluskey, the general secretary of the Unite


union, has written a scathing Len McCluskey is entitled to his


view, but he's wrong. Because I'm changing the Labour Party, so that


we can deliver fairness, even when there is less money around. That


requires tough decisions. It requires tough decisions to put a


priority on jobs over public sector pay, for example. It also requires


us to say, yes we do believe the Government is going too far and too


fast with their cuts, but we're not going to make specific promises to


reverse those cuts, unless we are absolutely sure that we know where


the money is coming from. unions say they accept that Labour


has to keep its options open. That it can't give a blanket promise to


reverse all of the coalition's cuts. But what's particularly angered


them right now is the language that Ed Balls turned to at the weekend.


He said he's afraid we will have to keep all of these cuts. Not, I will


see if the money turns up and see if we can do something to reverse


some of them, if we get back into power, no, we have to keep all of


the cuts. Ed Milliband needs to go back to the drawing board to re-


think through a coherent deficit reduction plan, which he should


have, but one that has some real meat in it. Not these vague


statements. Public sector workers, and especially low-paid public


sector workers, need to keep their spending power, as part of the


recovery of our economy. It is the only way for this country into the


future. The anger does appear to be widespread. As well as Len


McCluskey from Unite, Paul Kenny, the leader of the GMB, has written


The hint is clear, no affiliation would mean no subs to the Labour


Party, this matters, of course, because of how dependant Labour is


on union funding. In the past four quarters that we have figures for,


Labour raised �21.5 million in donations, �19.8 million, or 92% of


that, came from the unions. The GMB gave �1.8 million, and Unite, �4.2


million. Huge sums of money that Labour won't want to lose. Among


the unions, there is a particular sense of betrayal at Ed Balls, the


Shadow Chancellor. Whilst he was pitching for their and other Labour


votes in the leadership contest, he said very clearly that he thought


even Alistair Darling's deficit reduction plan was too fast.


argued in 200 within Government, to both Gordon Brown and Alistair


Darling, that whatever the media clamour at the time, even trying to


cut the deficit in half in four years was very difficult indeed, a


mistake, it was too severe to be credible or sustainable. Now, his


critics accuse him of taking a completely contradictory position,


signing up to the coalition's plans. Meanwhile, some Labour supporters


think it is completely pointless to have this discussion at all.


think it is a strategic disaster, the problem is, most of the public


is not going to pay much attention to what is basically a very narrow


positioning for mostly the Westminster media, who are obsessed


with what should be the deficit reduction Plan B. Most people in


the country are worried about jobs, they are worried about standard of


living and other issues. I think the Labour Party has to focus on


them and address their concerns, and right now, what we are doing is


basically still focusing on having a technocratic, macro-economic


discussion. The Fed sets rates low, are you


starting to get it. The ideolgical debate continues, it may not be a


philosophical switch that Labour has signalled, but the unions are


promising a fight. The question is, will voters even notice Labour's


new position. If they notice l they understand it, if they understand


it, will they approve? Earlier tonight I met the Shadow


Chancellor, Ed Balls, at his office in Westminster.


How concerned are you about the anger amongst some trade unions as


to what you were doing in effectively joining the Government


in agreeing to cap public sector pay? I'm concerned at the rising


unemployment, a flatlining economy, the inheritance that Labour will


face in three years time, which is very difficult, and the need for us


to face up to difficult choices. We can't now make commitments on


spending or tax rises to reverse what the Conservatives are doing.


But nor can we say, with any credibility, in the next two years,


we think, that higher pay, for public sector workers, should come


before jobs. We can't make that argument. I'm afraid, George


Osborne, I think, contended not to continue with his pay freeze, his


policy has failed. I'm afraid there is now no choice if we are going to


keep unemployment down in the future, to say, jobs will have to


come before pay. As you well know, you will lose friends over this,


lose supporters, you will lose people who back your party to the


tune of 80% of what your party needs to just survive. Because


that's where the unions come in. Why should trade unions agree to do


that, pay you, while you are doing what the Government are doing to


them for free? We're the opposition. The Government, a Conservative-led


Government, is making terrible mistakes on the economy, they are


cutting too far and too fast. Unemployment is rising, it is


having a very difficult impact upon people working in the private and


the public sector. You are agreeing with their policy, broadly. Labour


cannot, from opposition, change that, until we are in Government.


To be in Government we have to set out an alternative, it has to be a


credible alternative. If we come along and say, we could be popular


with the trade unions today, by saying we will spend more, tax less,


pay people more. If people say that doesn't add up, that doesn't make


us credible, it makes us less credible. What we have to do is say


there is a better way, a fairer way, to get the deficit down, to get the


economy moving, to get growth and jobs back. A five-point plan for


jobs and growth, tough decisions on pay, but also done in fair way.


Just on the specific point, do you take seriously the threat from the


GMB to disaffiliate from the Labour Party? I don't want the GMB or


Unite to disaffiliate from the Labour Party. You take it


seriously? I want people to be working together for stronger and


fairer futures for our country. We can't make our policy on the basis


of that. We have to make our policy on what will be the best way


forwardor the country, and what could show Labour in a credible way,


can make difficult decisions, when we will be faced with clearing up a


very difficult Tory economic mess, that we can see at the moment.


you understand why there is personal anger at you, for many


people, particularly in the trade union movement, not confined to


that, you were the golden boy for the case for Keynesianism, you were


the one that said these cuts were wrong and will choke off growth.


You were the one that said even Alistair Darling's cuts might be


too far, too fast. Now you are saying your starting point is to


keep all the cuts. That is a big u- turn? No, I am saying today, as I


said a year ago and two years ago, the deficit must come down, there


have to be hard choices on tax and spend, but if you go too far and


too fast, as I warned consistently over the last year-and-a-half, the


danger was it wouldn't work, the economy would flatline,


unemployment would go up. In the Autumn Statement, George Osborne


had to admit, not only all that, that he's borrowing �158 billion


more. The problem is I can't wave a magic wand and blow away that


inheritance. Our task, as Labour, will be to clear up George


Osborne's economic mess. You also said in a speech to Bloomberg in


August 2010, when you were running for the leadership of the party,


adopting the consensus view might be the easy and safe thing to do,


but it doesn't make you right. Now you are adopting the consensus view,


the view held among the Liberal Democrats, and the Conservatives,


effective low, that there is no alternative to these cuts --


effectively, that there is no alternative to these cuts? That is


100%, emphatically wrong. I think George Osborne should change course


now. His cuts are too far and too fast. He is crushing growth. The


reason our interest rates are so low is because's getting it wrong.


Unemployment is going up. He should have now, as we have advocated, a


temporary cut in VAT, boost public investment, repeat the bank bonus


tax. Why is it the unions don't get it distinction, Len McCluskey


saying today, the real points of differenciation between Labour and


the Government on the economy are very hard to identify, he's saying.


You have even sophisticated union leaders who don't understand what


you are doing? I have read that article, and on that, Len McCluskey


is plain wrong. I argued for action now, to boost growth and jobs. I


argued for long-term reform, to make sure economy stronger and


fairer. On the one hand you are saying, I'm against these cuts in


general, they are wrong, but in specifics you can't tell us any one


you would reverse, that is complicated message to get across


to people? Abolishing the Future Jobs Fund and the EMA, looked as if


it would save money, but it has contributed to rising youth


unemployment, costing the country more in benefits. You would reverse


that? That is why we are saying, have the bank bonus tax now, the �2


billion, and use it for youth jobs. I can't make a commitment now, I


will not know how much money there is, and less in three years time.


If you pursue that, you will have to say we will see how things turn


out in three years time, why should we listen to you in the next three


years? Because George Osborne is doggedly sticking with a plan that


is failing. He should have changed course six months ago, he still can


today. He still can in the run up to the budget. I will say to him,


day by day, week by week, the approach he's taking, too far and


too fast, is unfair and not working. The longer he persists, the bigger


the pain, the bigger the damage, and the greater the damage in


inheritance we will face, because of his mistakes, that is the


position. Let's look at one specific issue coming up today, the


question of disability living allowance. The Government says by


getting rid of this they will save some 20%, they hope. You can't say


to us tonight, that you would reverse that in three years time?


If I said that to you today, you would say, rightly, how do you know


what you will be able to afford in three years time. You are opposing


it today, and getting MPs and peers to oppose it, isn't that a very


difficult message. That is my point, you are saying we oppose it, but we


can't say we will reverse it? Another example, the VAT rise last


year to 20%, was an unfair tax rise, which choked off the recovery, and


flat lined the economy, it will probably lead to more borrowing in


the economy, it was the wrong thing to do. They shouldn't have done it,


we are calling for a temporary VAT cut now. Can I say to you and to


viewers, I promised -- promised as Shadow Chancellor in three years


time I will definitely reverse that. I can't promise anything until I


know the state of the economy. Byrne says, the basic line and gut


issue for most supporters f you can't help the disabled, the poor


and most deserving people in this country, many Labour Party


supporters will say what's the point. You can't commit to that?


three years time, absolutely not. As a Shadow Chancellor, I have to


know that our manifesto is being properly costed, in the context of


the times, and can be paid for. I think what they are doing on


disability living allowance is a big mistake and unfair. The


benefits cap will lead to more homelessness, the way it is


designed. The abolition of the Future Jobs Fund, will make youth


unemployment higher, taking tax credits away from families on


�25,000, hitting women harder, is unfair, wrong and damaging. The


question you are asking me, is can I to your viewers make promises


about three years time. Nick Clegg made promises, the promise not to


raise VAT, he broke his promises straight after the election. I


won't make that mistake, that is wrong and not the right way to do


politics. I won't make that mistake. Thank you very much.


Newsnight has uncovered new evidence tonight, relating to the


sailing patterns of the striken Italian cruiseship, Costa Crociere,


it ran into rocks off the coast of Tuscany. What have we found out


tonight? There seems to be a bit of a mismatch between some of the


statements made by the company that owns the Costa Crociere, on the


routes taken by the ship over the last few months. It is best


illustrated by a map. This is a map showing the incident and the route


taken last Friday by the Costa Crociere on the red line. You can


see in the circle where it hit the rocks, it cruised on for a few


hundred metres, it doubled back to a bay where it could get passengers


closer to land. Look at the route taken last August by the exact same


ship, it went very, very close to the incident from last Friday, very


close indeet. If you go to the top of the map, you will see it went


close to land before sailing off. 230ms according to the public data.


That is crucial, the company said in a statement yesterday, that


their ships don't travel any closer than 500ms to the shore. We know


this because the technology tracks these ships exactly to where they


go. Lloyd's look very carefully into it, I spoke to the editor,


Richard Meade. We have discovered that the company saying that the


captain taking a rogue master and individual position, this is not


true, the ship took this position a year earlier, and the master would


have known that, that this was a safe route and the ship had done


this before. This evidence does stack that up. Very interesting.


What are the company saying about this? We were only able to reach


them an hour-and-a-half ago. They say they are looking into it, and


verifying this. Crucially they are standing over the statements made


by the chief executive, Foschi, yesterday. What happens to the


captain in charge on Friday, was also the captain last August, we


don't have that, that is the known unknown. We learned some more about


the aftermath of the disaster as well? There is an extraordinary


audio tape out there now, a conversation between the coastguard


and this captain, Schettino, when he appears, the coastguard appears


to be ordering, Francesco Schettino, to get back on the ship to ensure


all passengers are off the ship. We have audio from that. Are you


refusing to get back on board the ship, tell me why you are not


getting on board. I'm not going, because there is the other lifeboat


that has stopped. Get on board, that is an order. It seems to be a


pretty angry exchange between the coastguard and the captain.


captain was arrested over the weekend. He was brought before a


judge today. Now he's facing manslaughter charges. So far there


is an investigation under way, 11 confirmed dead so far.


Syria, today was the last day that Arab League monitors were to


continue their investigations of alleged human rights abuses, before


writing their report. Newsnight's reporter travelled with the Arab


League team inside Syria, and found they were mobbed by protestors,


desperate to show the world, what they believe is incontravertable


proof of the violence unleashed by the Assad Government, against


civilians. Pursued by reporters, they are


racing off for a last spot inspection. One of the Arab


monitoring teams checking Syria's compliance with a deal to end the


violence here. Today they are visiting a place near Damascus, an


opposition stronghold, ringed by soldiers. They are barely out of


their cars before they are accosted by a grieving mother. TRANSLATION:


In the name of God, let me kiss your hand, my son has been arrested,


his name is Mohammed, Assad's gangs killed my other son, right in front


of my eyes. Already emboldened by the monitors'


arrival, demonstrators are gathering. Their slogan" the people


demand the hanging of the President".


The observers' presence in Syria hasn't achieved much, more than 400


people have been killed in the uprising since the mission started


last month. But it is the only independent force these people have


access to. Everyone knows the Arab League is the international body


with the best chance of influencing the Syrian Government. That's why


people are so desperate to have their voice heard today.


Down this street, they say, Government snipers have been firing


on protestors. Soldiers are positioned on a roof top, even


today. Here, apparently, is the evidence of their work.


TRANSLATION: They shot him from the roof of the building, military


officers live there. My friend, Mohammed, he was about to finish


school. He was walking in the street when they shot him. This


woman says she has recorded another crime, a 13-year-old boy, shot dead


in front of her. TRANSLATION: was an only child, he went out of


the mosque, the sniper shot him in the eye. Bashar al-Assad, may the


same thing happen to your children. I filmed this myself, house wives


like me have become journalists. And suddenly the monitors, supposed


to be neutral, have become the heros of this crowd. Everyone wants


to believe they can help. But they won't say whether they


will or not. TRANSLATION: No we're not allowed to speak to the media.


I can't give you my impressions. Some don't trust them. TRANSLATION:


Are you working with the regime? They tell us you are with the


regime, lime like your son, tell us the truth. This young man won't


dare show his face. Now I am sure when you go out from here, they


will come to here to banish us and kill us. Can the Arab League help?


They do everything for Libya, they do everything for Tunisia, for


Egypt, and now for Yemen, but for Syria, no. Why?


This is a tiny bubble of free speech that has been created around


the monitors, with but everyone is afraid what will happen after they


have left. Even the monitors themselves are warning people that


they will have to disperse pretty fast. The monitors have gone, he


says, now they will kill us. They will kill me. At the end of


the street soldiers wait. They have got a different story to tell the


monitors about the protest we have just seen. Tran These young men who


come out on the streets -- TRANSLATION: These young men who


come out on the streets, they don't know what they want, they are being


incited by armed gangs. These holes we have seen in shutters, in walls,


these are holes from bullets from Government snipers? TRANSLATION:


The Government never shot anyone in the street. It was armed gangs that


did it. The army is here to protect the citizens. Then, the monitors


were gone. And so were the protestors.


Tension returned to the streets. Now Syrians wait to hear what the


monitors will say in their report later this week, and what further


action, if any, the Arab League will take against President Assad's


regime. What is certain is for now, the people here are again alone,


against the power of their state. We're all in this together, has


become one of the cliches of the age of austerity, but by all of us,


the Government means people with disabilities. Earlier tonight the


Government won a vote in the House of Lords, on a bill that would


scrap disability allowance, and replace it with a new scheme, aimed


at cutting spending in this area by 20%. The Government victory by the


slender margin of 16 votes was a relief for the coalition. But the


row over what campaigners see as penalising some of the most


deserving in our society, is far from over.


DLA is my independence, every day going out, shopping, going to


socialise, visit people. To live and work independently, Analise


needs help. Her disability living allowance means she can pay for


transport to go to the office, do the shopping and see her family.


the allowance was cut, I wouldn't be able to do the things. I would


have to rely on friends and family to pick me up and take me places


and help me. I love my independence. I want to be independent. Changes


to disability living allowance are part of deep reforms to the welfare


state. Aiming to cut �18 billion of spending. More than �2 billion of


that will come from replacing DLA with a new personal independence


payment. It will affect two million claimants of working age. That is


16-64. The Government has announced the change, but given very little


detail, not least how much the new benefit will actually be worth. And


the uncertainty is adding to the resistance. Everybody receiving


disability living allowance, is worried that they are going to be


affected. The number of working age people claiming DLA, has risen from


1.65 million in 2002, to two million in 2010, and is projected


to reach 2.2 million, by 2015. But the Government says the change to


the new scheme will slash that number to 1.7 million. Taking


500,000 people off the benefit. Reformers say the change is overdue.


At the moment people can actually get the benefit just by filling in


forms. There isn't a medical assessment to tell whether they are


telling the truth. The Government takes it on trust you are telling


the truth. In fact, there is a cottage industry of firms, who, for


a fee, will show you how to fill the forms in and get the been fits.


The number of people claiming DLA has trebled since it was introduced,


the Government is spending �12 billion a year on that. All the


payments, very important for people with really severe disabilities


will continue, but there will be a medical assessment, to make sure


those getting it really need to get it. But the assessments are


controversial and led to the latest confrontation between peers and the


Government over welfare reform. Tonight Baroness Grey-Thompson, the


paralympian, narrowly lost a vote to delay the new benefits


introduction. I have had nearly 600 e-mails from different disabled


people, saying they are terrified of the changes going to happen. It


is really important that the assessment process will properly


record, if losing DLA has a negative impact. Disability groups,


like the Papworth Trust, where Analise works on reception, five


mornings a week, accept the case for reform. Currently no allowance


is made for the fact that people's levels of dependency can change.


But they are highly suspicious about the fact the Government has


determined how much it will save before a single person has been


assessed. It feels, to a lot of the disabled people commenting to us,


that their concern is they are trying to create an assessment that


achieves a reduction in finances, rather than trying to create an


assessment which fairly evaluates what people need, and then takes


the cut at whatever that level might be. Analise and her partner,


Keith, manage their lives with help from the DLA and regular visits


from their carer. The Government says all those who need the new


benefit will get it. For Analise this is a time of insecurity over


the things she values so highly. Her ability to live independently.


Listening to that report with me were Tani Grey-Thompson, the


Paralympic athlete campaigning against Government plans in the


Lords, and Harriett Baldwin, on the Work and Pensions select committee.


Can I begin with the point that was made there, this is being done to


save money, laudible, but because you have said it will be 20%


savings, perhaps 500,000 people won't get it. It sounds as if you


have made the decision and trying to fit everything else into the


money-saving needs of this country? I'm glad that we are having this


discussion, because I'm on the select committee that scrutinises


the DLA transfer at the moment. We are taking evidence from people on


this particular issue at the moment. I just really want to reassure


Analise and people like her all over my constituency and other


constituencies, that this personal independent payment that is coming


in, the change is, effectively, that there will now be a face-to-


face assessment. Secondly, that the benefit will be assessed on a


regular basis. I think one of the things that is characteristic about


the current DLA, is 70% of the awards are on a permanent basis,


and never reassessed. Of course people's conditions can fluctuate


over time. It is estimated �630 million is currently paid to people


who no longer need it. You accept presumably the overall case for


saving money where we can, and people shouldn't get benefits when


they don't need it. What are you worried about? There is no doubt


that DLA did need reform, nobody is arguing against that. There is a


massive fear amongst disabled people about who will get cut.


Especially when things like 20% are bandied around. It is 20% of


numbers, 20% in funding. The figures released yesterday, that up


to half a million disabled people could be affected is just


terrifying, DLA is used as a benefit, it is not an out of work


benefit, it is available for everyone. It is used to paper over


the cracks, NHS support, or local social service support, people use


it to help make their homes accessible and buy the right


seating and equipment. It helps people get to work, it is a very


important benefit. My fear is f those people get cuts, disabled


people will find it hard to stay in work. Without a deep assessment


process, we could be pushing a very large group of disabled people into


an I can't remember where they have much more severe needs and more


cost. Is this 500,000 a target, where did you get that number from,


that worries people, people looking at it saying it is possibly me?


That is terribly important. The points that were made there, are


really an important thing. This is a very valuable benefit to people,


which is paid whether you are in work or out of work. A large


percentage of people who receive it actually don't even realise that,


it is a benefit that is paid to help people with the additional


costs of either care or mobility. In terms of when you say our target


is to save 20%, it could be 500,000 people who come off it. When the


Government says that, doesn't that give you, as somebody scrutinising


this, pause for thought, that is the important thing for the


Government, and perhaps that is the wrong way to go about it. You


should go about reform, face-to- face interviews should take place,


and you should take some time, and then figure out how much you are


going to save? The amount paid out is �12.6 billion, the amount her


projecting to pay out by 2015 -- they are projecting to pay out by


2015 is broadly what it is in 2009/2010. There has been quite a


large increase in the number of people receiving this benefit. That


is logical f you assume that no-one who has been receiving it for a


long time has been reassessed. There may be people whose


conditions have improved, but without that reassessment. I do


agree with you, it is not helpful to be having this against the


particular backdrop of budget pressures. This is a reform that


would have to happen, irrespective of what kind of conditions the


economy was in. Are there any things that could be done which


would retain the principle, you said it has been there for 20 years,


it needs reviewing perhaps. That could keep the principle of review,


but make people a lot happier about face-to-face interviews, which


presumably are quite an ordeal if people think what would be


involved? They can be a huge ordeal, especially people who have


fluctuating conditions on daily basis, or people whose conditions


aren't going to change. A long time was spent discussing at committee


and report, is trying to make decisions about who should have


face-to-face interviews, what should be able to use medical


evidence to support it. It is making sure we get the right


process. I think there is a lot of fear amongst disabled people.


People who have been through transition from IBE to ISA feel


quite distrustful of the process, ESA has a high turnover appeal, a


very high appeal rate, people want to feel a little bit more


comfortable that the consultation is being carried out, that disabled


people are involved. One of the things that Lord Freud said tonight,


is they wouldn't be using the social model of disability to


decide this, lots of disabled people feel they will be locked


away and ghettoised without a way of getting into society. Is there


any way you can see of keeping it, trying it out in certain areas to


see if it works, anything that would ease people's fears without


conceding the principle? I think the current application form, which


is 60 plus pages, isn't it, is also not exactly a really easy way to


apply for this benefit. I think face-to-face could be something


that really reassures people over time. But I do accept that when the


work capability assessments were brought in, under the previous


Government, for people on Incapacity Benefit, that process,


when it first started, didn't work very well. There were a lot of


appeals. Hence the suspicion that has been talked about? That is the


backdrop and frame of reference that people potentially are going


through this new change and are viewing this with. There is no


question that the Government has brought in Professor Harrington to


make improvements to the work capability assessment. He's on his


second review now our select committee reported on ways that


process could be improved. Briefly, do you think there is some way that


the opposition can go now, that you can still push this? We still keep


pushing it. I think what was very useful about today was that Lord


Freud came a lot further forward in terms of what he's proposing. One


area of concern I have is the assessors will still only have a


broad education in disability, we need to make sure they have the


right education to assess people properly as a disabled person we


will keep fighting and try to protect those half a million


disabled people. If you are planning to research


something on Wikipedia tomorrow, you might be better to do so after


you have heard our next item and before you go to bed. Tomorrow


Wikipedia will be on strike for reasons, its co-founder, Jimmy


Wales, will explain in a moment. It is to do with proposed new laws in


the United States to clampdown on internet piracy, which opponents


say, threatens freedom of speech. January 1th, the birthday of Cary


Grant, the anniversary of the founding of Bentley motors, field


hockey was born, and James Cook discovered Hawaii. From 5.00am


tomorrow, a self-imposed blackout on the site will happen for 24


hours N the words of the co-founder, Jimmy Wales "do your homework


earlier". The blackout is in opposition to the Stop Online


Piracy Act, and Protect IP Act, both bills want to tackle on-line


piracy by preventing American search engines from directing users


to sites with stolen content. The bills would allow individuals or


companies to sue if their copyright is infringed. One of the main


backers of the legislation has been Hollywood. With recent convert,


Rupert Murdoch, tweeting about what he calls the piracy leader, Google,


over the issue. Similar web blackouts will be planned by other


sites. With 20 million planned visitors, he hopes the action by


Wikipedia will melt phone systems in Washington. The approaching


darkness hasn't been embraced throughout the Internet. Twitter's


chief executive said closing the Internet on a single issue was


ludicrous. It could be shelved after the White House said it could


not support law that is would reduce freedom of expression and


undermine the Internet. President Obama could use his presidential


veto.? I'm joined by the co-founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, and


Shaun McAleer from the Picture a-- and my other guest. Explain why you


are so opposed to the moves by Congress. Internet piracy is piracy,


it is still left, isn't it? Yes, absolutely. You know, for us, we


are quite strong defenders of copyright, within our community, we


have very rigorous policies inside our community. It is not so much


about that. For us it is that these bills are very badly written, and


don't really address the problem in the right way. I think a useful


analogy might be, if you hear that there is this great invention


called the automobile, and two years later you find out the


automobile is being used by bank robbers, the answer is not to


regulate and ban automobiles, the answer is to deal with that problem


directly. In search engines were directing


people to website where is they could buy crack, people would think


it is awful, your automobile analogy is wrong, there is some


responsibility for the search engines? We have a good set of


rules in the United States about you know, the takedown provisions,


the digital and copyright act has been in place and is working well.


We don't need toen gauge in the things these bills contemplate,


things like constructing DNS blacklists, so people can't access


sites. It is about how sloppy the legislation is, than the goals.


Michael O'Leary, sloppy legislation in Washington, I'm shocked, do you


think the main point, that he's against theft and believes people


have intellectual property rights, but you can't have sloppy bills


that interfere with our freedom to research things on the internet


freely? I would disagree with the characterisation that the bill does


any of the things mentioned in the set up piece or my friend from


Wikipedia. The simple fact of the matter is this bill doesn't shut


down websites or make them illegal. It is simply focused on websites


that are engaged in criminal activity, stealing the product of


American workers and profiting from it. If you are a legitimate site


like wick peedia, there is nothing to be concerned about. The second


point I would make, if they share the goal of deal be with piracy,


the best approach, is to come forward and offer solutions. I


think shutting down a legitimate business for one day, while it


draws a lot of press attention, it is a cute gimmick. It doesn't solve


the underlying problem. One of the things the White House said this


weekend in their statement, they would like to see interested people


to come forward and craft reasonable solutions. So we're


happy to meet him half way on the argument that he is against piracy,


but we're not 100% clear how shutting down a website for a day


to draw attention to that really advances that cause in any way.


1234 Make a suggestion how this could be redrafted in language we


understand, that would make it better for you and everybody?


absolutely strongly support the concept that we should come


together in a peaceful, thoughtful way, to craft legislation that


actually carves out the real problems here, and avoids burdening


everybody else. For me one of the biggest issues here is the question


of follow the money. If we can look into who are these major criminal


pirates, how are they profiting and so forth, go after the money, don't


go after freedom of speech, don't force us to stop telling people


where the sites are and that kind of things. Go after the money?


think that is a half measure, frankly, I think you yourself said


it in your set up, when you were saying don't the search engines


bear some responsibility for making the Internet safe and legitimate


for everyone. What this is really about, frankly, is excluding the


search engines and putting all of the onus on other parts of the


ecosystem. The simple fact of the matter is everyone who plays a role


in the Internet has a responsibility in making it safe


and leg depit mit, there are search engines that -- legitimate, there


are search engines that play a role in that. We haven't seen their


willingness to do that. That is unfortunate, what is lost mind the


gimmicks and blackouts is there are tens of millions of American


workers harmed by piracy, they deserve the attention and response


they are not get anything that debate. That may be correct, but


search engines are search engines, they are not web policemen, they


couldn't do it? That is absolutely inaccurate, the search engines have


a much greater understanding of what they are doing out there.


Google, for example, their entire model is predicated on where you


come up in the search results. They have ad programmes predicated on


that. The notion it is simply a search request going in and there


is no way of knowing it, it is not accurate. If they are told by a


court order a neutral federal court in the ufpl states, that they


should not be taking con-- in the United States, that they should not


take consumers to a site because it is engaged in piracy, they can do


that. In the US this is where we get into serious first amendment


issues. What you are saying, is if Google knows where criminal


activity is going on, they are not allowed to tell people. In the US


that doesn't fly. Thank you very much. A quick look at the front


pages. The Times says a revolt over Labour


raid on its local party activists, they are forced to give up


they are forced to give up ownership.


They have fashionable picture there of Ian Hislop, appearing at the


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 66 seconds


That's all from Newsnight, from all Good evening t may be frosty at the


moment over parts of England and Wales. Temperatures rising through


the night. A mild start to the morning, a damp and murky start as


well. Mist, fog and a lot of rain too. Brightening up through


Scotland and Northern Ireland, through northern England through


the second half of the day, temperatures dropping away through


the afternoon after highs of 10 in the morning. Into southern England


is itth stays cloudy and damp through much of the day. Drizzle


light and patchy, dismal day, breezy as well. Temperatures here


probably around 11-12 at best. Misty and murky across the south.


The north coast brightening up briefly, before the afternoon is


completely through. Northern Ireland, temperatures here will


have dropped through the day. But we will see the return of sunshine


after a cloudy, damp start. A few showers across the northern and


western areas. They could turn increasingly wintry on the tops of


the mountains. Milder and colder, and cold and breezy day on Thursday


across many parts of northern UK. There will be sunshine here. Not as


much sunshine further south. More than we will see on Wednesday, but


Thursday will start cloudy and damp across many southern areas, the


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Gavin Esler. Has Labour leader Ed Miliband's endorsement of a public pay freeze harmed his grassroots strength? The fight to stop changes to disability benefits, an exclusive look inside Syria and the Wikipedia blackout over web censorship laws.

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