20/01/2012 Newsnight


20/01/2012

Jeremy Paxman has a report on the Free Syrian Army operations inside Damascus. Immigration and benefits. And Voltaire's love of England in his own words.


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Transcript


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Tonight, how President Assad's armed opponents are operating

:00:10.:00:14.

inside Syria's capital. Our reporter slips his minders and

:00:14.:00:19.

discovers the forces opposing President Assad are established

:00:19.:00:23.

inside Damascus, and anxious for outside intervention. TRANSLATION:

:00:23.:00:27.

They tricked the Arab League, we don't have any hope in the Arab

:00:27.:00:32.

League, or even in the UN Security Council. We just want a no-fly zone.

:00:32.:00:37.

Three words, to guarantee a headline. But is the truth more

:00:38.:00:41.

complicated? Can a decent welfare state exist, alongside mass

:00:41.:00:47.

immigration? And some breaking philosophy news,

:00:47.:00:50.

Voltaire famously said, if God didn't exist it would be necessary

:00:50.:00:55.

to invent him. It turns out it was the British who helped to invent

:00:55.:01:05.
:01:05.:01:07.

Good evening. There were more protests in Syria tonight against

:01:07.:01:12.

the regime of President Assad, and one pro-Assad demonstration inside

:01:12.:01:17.

Damascus. Protests after Friday prayers have become a regular,

:01:17.:01:21.

weekly event, our reporter, who has just returned this evening from the

:01:21.:01:28.

country, has discovered something more, that armed opponents of

:01:28.:01:33.

President Assad's regime are now established inside the Syrian

:01:33.:01:36.

capital. Under the almost all-seeing eyes of

:01:36.:01:40.

President Assad, we stole away from our Government minders, taking a

:01:40.:01:45.

tortous route through the back streets.

:01:45.:01:51.

-- torturous route through the back streets. We found the drum beat of

:01:51.:01:55.

revolution just a few miles from the Presidential Palace. Every

:01:55.:02:00.

night they gather secretly here, in the poor Damascus districts, the

:02:00.:02:05.

atmosphere almost festive. They are not so much demanding freedom, as

:02:05.:02:08.

asserting it. Taunting the President that his day is coming

:02:08.:02:13.

soon. They welcome any western help. But

:02:13.:02:17.

they are cheering their own military force, the Free Syrian

:02:17.:02:20.

Army, Government soldiers who have defected. They are stationed in the

:02:20.:02:26.

shadows all around, protesting this protest.

:02:26.:02:30.

TRANSLATION: The people here feel safe because of the Free Syrian

:02:30.:02:34.

Army. What happened was that some honourable Government soldiers came

:02:34.:02:39.

over to our side. For example, in this street, one soldier saw the

:02:39.:02:42.

security forces behind him and the people in front, but instead of

:02:43.:02:47.

shooting them, he shot in the air and then fled to a house. Now if

:02:47.:02:55.

the army comes, they shoot on the army to give people time to escape.

:02:55.:03:01.

They are renouncing the Free Army's victory in repelling Government

:03:01.:03:04.

troops from the town of Zabadani this week. But here we are not safe.

:03:04.:03:11.

We are told to leave quickly. The police are coming.

:03:11.:03:19.

Guiding our escape, lights, held by soldiers of the Free Army. At night,

:03:19.:03:23.

this dark Labyrinth is a no-go zone for the security forces, a pocket

:03:23.:03:31.

of liberated territory inside the capital. The uprising, as you can

:03:31.:03:36.

see, is very determined, but it is very localised. That was a fairly

:03:36.:03:39.

small demonstration that had to break up very quickly, and people

:03:39.:03:45.

are moving away very fast now, along specially-chosen alleyways

:03:45.:03:50.

where they feel safe. It is a scene the Arab League monitors, who have

:03:50.:03:57.

been in Syria for the past month, will never have witnessed.

:03:57.:04:01.

TRANSLATION: They tricked the Arab League, they took them to another

:04:01.:04:05.

distinct and told them it was here, so they weren't able to see the

:04:05.:04:08.

demonstration here, or even the army stationed nearby. We don't

:04:08.:04:13.

have any hope in the Arab League, or even in the UN Security Council.

:04:13.:04:17.

The uprising has lasted ten months already, and they haven't done

:04:17.:04:21.

anything. We just want a no-fly zone, so that honourable soldiers

:04:21.:04:30.

feel safer coming over to our side. Around the next corner, we find

:04:30.:04:34.

volunteers, setting off to smuggle medical supplies across the

:04:34.:04:40.

Government lines to Zabadani. TRANSLATION: This is medication for

:04:40.:04:43.

Zabadani for the injured. We are trying our best to support them

:04:43.:04:49.

with food, needles, pills, everything they need. TRANSLATION:

:04:49.:04:54.

We are setting off now, we don't get into Zabadani until 6.00am,

:04:54.:04:57.

using mountain roads, because the main roads are controlled by police

:04:57.:05:02.

and Government thugs. We have to go on foot, all we can do is take the

:05:02.:05:06.

supplies from one village and give them to another. Because we aren't

:05:06.:05:10.

getting any help from the outside world. If the security see us they

:05:10.:05:16.

will kill us straight away. It is safer for us to move on too.

:05:16.:05:23.

Crossing the city to an elaborately arranged rend day have you with

:05:23.:05:27.

another opposition -- rendezvous with another activist. He says

:05:27.:05:30.

these are the blood stains after being attacked after a

:05:30.:05:33.

demonstration by a group of soldiers armed with guns, sticks

:05:33.:05:39.

and a knife, and electric cattle prod. Tran They were beating me, I

:05:39.:05:43.

tried to pro-- TRANSLATION: They were beating me, I tried to protect

:05:43.:05:50.

myself. I swallowed the SIM card I filmed the demonstration on. They

:05:50.:05:56.

gave me four strikes in the solar plex sis, I couldn't breathe and my

:05:56.:06:00.

face went blue. They said let's leave this dog to die. It would

:06:00.:06:04.

have been too dangerous to go to hospital. A friend who is a doctor

:06:04.:06:09.

treated me at my house. After ten months, what has the opposition

:06:09.:06:13.

really achieved, if its supporters still live in constant fear? The

:06:13.:06:22.

answer, they say, is their minds have been set free. TRANSLATION:

:06:22.:06:28.

The most beautiful thing is, if a man is free for one day, he will

:06:28.:06:33.

sacrifice his life for that freedom. Our generation were born into

:06:34.:06:37.

dictatorship, into the regime of the President and his father. But

:06:37.:06:42.

the first time we went out on to the streets, without anyone

:06:42.:06:46.

ordering us to. The first time we chanted "freedom", something broke,

:06:46.:06:50.

and we can't go back. That's the first thing the

:06:50.:06:58.

revolution has taught us. It's broken the fear inside us.

:06:58.:07:03.

Outside, on the bustling streets of Damascus, activists like him must

:07:03.:07:07.

blend into the crowd. You will see no evidence of an uprising here,

:07:08.:07:12.

there may be many opposition supporters passing by, or there may

:07:12.:07:17.

be none. Is this just a veneer of normality, covering a fatally

:07:17.:07:20.

weakened system, that is about to collapse, or is it what it appears

:07:20.:07:25.

to be, the sign of a still well functioning society, largely

:07:25.:07:31.

untouched by a few pockets of revolt? Stop people at random, and

:07:31.:07:38.

everybody gives roughly the same answer. TRANSLATION: Our leader is

:07:38.:07:42.

unique, he has given us safety and security. Even if we have another

:07:42.:07:48.

leader, it is not going to be the same. He gave us a salary bonus and

:07:48.:07:52.

safety. The protestors who go out, they call for freedom, they don't

:07:52.:07:59.

even know what freedom means, they are mad. TRANSLATION: Freedom and

:08:00.:08:03.

democracy already exists, those people who are in the streets are

:08:03.:08:06.

not helping. They have a bad influence on the economy and

:08:06.:08:13.

society. TRANSLATION: For sure there is a conspiracy in this

:08:13.:08:17.

country, there is a secret hand from outside the country, something

:08:17.:08:20.

has happened, not the people, nor the security are involved here.

:08:20.:08:24.

Look in Damascus, there is no demonstration, our country is

:08:25.:08:30.

secure, they took the security. Are those the voices of conviction?

:08:30.:08:36.

Or the voices of fear? As in any dictatorship, there is no means of

:08:36.:08:41.

knowing. For all the courage of the revolutionaries, the Syrian

:08:41.:08:46.

dictatorship facing a world unable or unwilling to intervene, still

:08:46.:08:52.

has the upper hand. Ace mentioned earlier, Tim has just

:08:52.:08:55.

got back this evening from Damascus. What does it feel like, does it

:08:55.:09:01.

feel like a country on the brij? doesn't really feel -- brink? It

:09:01.:09:06.

doesn't really feel, now like a country consumed in chaos. There

:09:06.:09:11.

are some pockets of disquiet, some big pockets, like the city of Homs.

:09:11.:09:16.

When we went on the Government tour of Homs, we had to go on a round

:09:16.:09:19.

about route to avoid opposition gunfire, we couldn't have the

:09:19.:09:23.

planned meeting with the governor, it was too risky to go to the

:09:23.:09:26.

governor's residence. That was when you were in the hands of the

:09:26.:09:28.

Government? Yes, in the pocket of Homs we are talking about a very

:09:28.:09:32.

big pocket. There are little pockets, about this little district

:09:32.:09:37.

of Damascus this film was B but most of Damascus, most of the

:09:37.:09:41.

country, the shops are packed, it is living a normal life. You aren't

:09:41.:09:46.

even seeing, except perhaps on Friday, which is high tension, you

:09:46.:09:51.

aren't even seeing that many roadblocks or soldiers around.

:09:52.:09:55.

you willing to give a guesstimate of whether we are talking about

:09:55.:09:59.

dozens of many defecting, hundreds, thousands? You are certainly

:09:59.:10:06.

talking athletes hundreds, probably more than that. It is -- Talking at

:10:06.:10:12.

least hundreds, probably thousands. It is the weapons they have

:10:12.:10:15.

defected with and psychalogically they are more important, they might

:10:15.:10:19.

begin to be armed by outside sources, at the moment it is a liek

:10:19.:10:25.

lightly armed force. That guy you were interviewing in the mask,

:10:25.:10:29.

talking about the Arab League mission, great disappointment to

:10:29.:10:33.

the protestors, do you know whether it will stay there or not? They

:10:33.:10:37.

meet on Sunday, the Arab League, they will have to decide. Qatar,

:10:37.:10:41.

small but rich, has been the most hawkish, and said simply, the

:10:41.:10:45.

mission has failed. There should be armed Arab intervention. I think

:10:45.:10:49.

there will be really no other call for that. Qatar will be on its own

:10:49.:10:54.

in that. It is pretty certain that the mission will continue. Syria

:10:54.:10:58.

said that is OK. It will be beefed up, it will get more technical help,

:10:58.:11:02.

it certainly needs it. When I was out in the monitors, well

:11:03.:11:07.

intentioned, maybe, but amateurish in their approach T will go on. If

:11:07.:11:11.

the Arab League mission doesn't go on, the only alternative form of

:11:11.:11:14.

intervention is the United Nations. It is very hard to see with Russia

:11:14.:11:18.

and China against how any form of intervention through the UN could

:11:18.:11:23.

possibly work. There are over 370,000 people

:11:23.:11:27.

claiming benefits in this country, who were not born in this country.

:11:27.:11:31.

What are we to make of the relose of these previously unknown

:11:31.:11:34.

figures? They have been held to prove that this country's welfare

:11:34.:11:39.

system, paid for by British tax- payers, of course, has made it a

:11:39.:11:45.

magnet for called benefit tourists. Yet the truth, unsurprisingly, is

:11:45.:11:48.

more complicated. It is a highly- charged issue, we will discuss in a

:11:48.:11:56.

molt. First David Grossman reports. Three words set to get a heated

:11:56.:12:02.

debate flowing. Today the Government gave us its best guess

:12:02.:12:07.

of foreign-born benefits claimants, it is 371,000. This is all about a

:12:07.:12:11.

system people can have confidence in, the tax-payers feel they have

:12:11.:12:15.

confidence in. I want to make sure we have all the safeguards against

:12:15.:12:18.

benefit tourism, people coming here to claim. I want to make sure we

:12:18.:12:22.

are paying out money to those people, and only those people

:12:22.:12:25.

entitled to it. We were left a chaotic system by the previous

:12:25.:12:30.

Government, this is about sorting it out. What have we learned from

:12:30.:12:34.

today's information? For a start, while 6.6% of the working migrant

:12:34.:12:40.

population claims benefit, a lot more, 16.6%, of the British-born

:12:40.:12:47.

population claim. It was it was spun in the Telegraph article as

:12:47.:12:51.

something that has arisen from people arriving in the backs of

:12:51.:12:56.

lorries, students and benefits' tourists. This is a context very

:12:56.:13:01.

firmly set in. When we actually found when we looked at the figures,

:13:01.:13:06.

is migrants do, there are about 5.5 million people claiming benefits at

:13:06.:13:12.

this particular point in time. So that migrants representation of

:13:12.:13:17.

just over 6% was rather low. So where have these people come

:13:17.:13:25.

from? Well, 17% are from the EU, excluding the new mainly eastern

:13:25.:13:29.

European accession states, 8% come from the accession states like

:13:29.:13:36.

Poland and Lithuania. It is a fact that because we have left poor

:13:36.:13:39.

countries into the European Union, we have given them unlimited rights

:13:39.:13:45.

of free travel within the countries, and use of our health system, our

:13:45.:13:49.

benefits' system and schools. The vast majority of fair-minded people

:13:49.:13:52.

would say f people from Poland want to work in this country and we have

:13:52.:13:56.

jobs for them, fine, surely they shouldn't be able to claim benefits

:13:57.:14:00.

on day one, coming into this country, that is not right. But the

:14:00.:14:07.

biggest group, 34%, come fromation and the Middle East. -- come from

:14:07.:14:14.

the Middle East. 27% from Africa, consequence according to some of a

:14:14.:14:17.

non-selective immigration policy. You can't blame that on the last

:14:17.:14:23.

Labour Government t goes back to the late 1940s and 50, we felt we

:14:23.:14:30.

had an imperial obligation to those in the empire or former empire. We

:14:30.:14:37.

put no restrictions at all, unlike Canada who have a brutal form of

:14:37.:14:40.

restrictions, you have to have a PHd before you can get in there.

:14:40.:14:43.

That is why some believe that immigration and welfare benefits

:14:43.:14:49.

are so closely linked in the public consciousness, because so many

:14:49.:14:52.

immigrants are low-skilled, competing with the low-skilled

:14:52.:14:58.

British-born for the jobs. Labour accuses the Government of leasing

:14:58.:15:01.

these statistics, purely as a diversion from its poor immigration

:15:01.:15:05.

record. The Government said it would cut net migration into the

:15:05.:15:10.

country. The Prime Minister said no ifs or buts, it would go below

:15:10.:15:15.

100,000, the figures have gone up. The diversion from last year, we

:15:15.:15:21.

saw a number of people arrested at our borders and deported, we saw

:15:21.:15:26.

those numbers go down. Last summer we saw, Damian Green, decided no

:15:26.:15:30.

longer to finger print people caught as illegal immigrants. We

:15:30.:15:34.

can't specify who they are. Many voters, though, would say the

:15:34.:15:39.

fact that immigrants are legally entitled to benefits, is not the

:15:39.:15:43.

same as saying they are morally entitled. This raises all sorts of

:15:43.:15:47.

political questions about what qualifying contribution society

:15:47.:15:55.

should require. The recent case of the Big Issue seller in Bristol,

:15:55.:16:00.

who won her case for being classified as self-employed, which

:16:00.:16:05.

means that she can qualify for benefits, things like that get a

:16:05.:16:11.

lot of publicity. We have to a much clearer sense of progression from

:16:11.:16:14.

coming to this country to qualifying for benefits.

:16:14.:16:20.

This combination of words, then, is particularly potent now, during

:16:20.:16:24.

austerity. When one of the major political themes is, the parties

:16:24.:16:26.

promising to end something for nothing.

:16:26.:16:32.

With us now is Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, a new

:16:32.:16:35.

think-tank dealing with migration issues, and Harriet Sergeant,

:16:35.:16:40.

journalist, and author, and fellow of the Centre for Policy Studies.

:16:40.:16:45.

How sensitive an issue is this? Extremely sensitive. People feel

:16:45.:16:47.

very strongly that if you come to this country, you come here because

:16:47.:16:51.

you want to work. That is what we are told immigrants come here to

:16:51.:16:56.

work. They shouldn't be here to claim benefits. That is precisely

:16:56.:17:01.

what the figures suggest? But, I think those figures are, I mean

:17:01.:17:06.

those figures are, I read that report, and I I have to say I

:17:06.:17:08.

wasn't entirely convinced. I have read at least three other reports

:17:08.:17:13.

in the last month, that have given different figures and different

:17:13.:17:15.

interpretations. I think the interest figure, which doesn't

:17:15.:17:20.

appear in this report, is that national insurance numbers, you

:17:20.:17:24.

actually don't have to, they are not checked. Your immigration is

:17:24.:17:28.

not checked when you are handed your national insurance number.

:17:28.:17:32.

Which, as we know, is the gateway to all benefits. How sensitive an

:17:33.:17:36.

issue is this? It is a sensitive issue, it is a good thing the

:17:37.:17:41.

Government has gone and decided to find out what is going on. They

:17:41.:17:45.

decided to be vigilent about immigration, very vigilent about

:17:45.:17:49.

benefit claimants, benefit tourism, and so on. One hopes they will be

:17:49.:17:52.

relieved that they couldn't find very much of T the headline of this

:17:53.:17:57.

report is "migrants half as likely to claim benefits as anybody else".

:17:58.:18:02.

We now know that on education, on health, on benefits migrants,

:18:02.:18:06.

overall, are net contributors, are putting in more than they are

:18:06.:18:11.

taking out. I don't agree with that at all. This is absolutely not true.

:18:11.:18:14.

That is what the figures show? Those figures are an extrap laigs

:18:14.:18:24.
:18:24.:18:27.

of one small, 9,000 people. They don't cover the fact that we don't

:18:27.:18:29.

know national insurance numbers. You have to look at schools in

:18:29.:18:34.

London to know it is not true. Primary schools are very heavily

:18:34.:18:38.

burdened at the moment. That is a different issue. Let's stick to

:18:38.:18:42.

this question, if we can, please, of the welfare state and

:18:42.:18:50.

immigration. Is a welfare state, of the kind we have got used to in

:18:50.:18:53.

this country, compatible with high levels of immigration? The short

:18:53.:18:56.

answer is immigration and the welfare state are compatible. There

:18:56.:19:00.

is a problem with sustaining people's willingness to pay for a

:19:00.:19:03.

welfare state, which is, if you get a politics of them and us, where

:19:03.:19:07.

the people who pay for it, feel they aren't the people who get

:19:07.:19:11.

something out. That is a colour blind issue, that is not about

:19:11.:19:14.

immigration status, that is whether people feel if people are willing

:19:14.:19:19.

to contribute or to work. If someone comes to pay and work and

:19:20.:19:24.

pay national insurance, people support, that not a British-born

:19:24.:19:28.

person who is not challenged to work. Immigration plays into it,

:19:28.:19:33.

but isn't the biggest issue at all. Can it be made to work? I don't

:19:33.:19:36.

think so, I have lived in the Third World, he see the tremendous

:19:36.:19:40.

sacrifices people make to get housing, education and healthcare.

:19:40.:19:44.

A lifetime of work to acquire those things for their children. They

:19:44.:19:48.

hear there is a country offering all these things free, of course

:19:48.:19:52.

immigration is going to be a pull. Now you are arguing that benefit

:19:52.:19:55.

tourism exists, when that isn't what this report seems to suggest?

:19:56.:20:00.

I take issue with the figure of this report. They are the

:20:00.:20:03.

Government figures. There are two things people say, they take our

:20:03.:20:06.

jobs or come for the benefits, they can't be doing both. The Government

:20:06.:20:10.

has found they come for our benefits isn't happening, it is

:20:10.:20:14.

half as likely. They found two weeks ago that under certain

:20:14.:20:19.

circumstances in a downturn, you do want to worry about the impact of

:20:19.:20:23.

jobs. What is the most famous part of the British stay, the National

:20:23.:20:26.

Health Service, which wouldn't have survived without immigration. At

:20:26.:20:29.

the same time the population pressures on it will worry people

:20:29.:20:33.

if we don't manage population, so we deal with the local pressures in

:20:33.:20:36.

your area. We know there is national gain and we can sort it

:20:36.:20:40.

out. I did a report on national health as a draw for immigration. I

:20:40.:20:43.

have to say I didn't start to do, with the intention of doing that

:20:43.:20:47.

report. But I kept on interviewing doctors. This is in the south-east,

:20:47.:20:52.

in the London area, not the rest. Not at that point to the rest of

:20:52.:20:56.

the UK. They said never mind what you are asking us about, the real

:20:56.:21:02.

problem that we have is we have so many people in our hospitals who do

:21:02.:21:05.

not deserve to be here. They were telling me this was a scandal.

:21:06.:21:10.

are not ill? They were ill, but they were not British subjects,

:21:10.:21:15.

they had come in order to get the National Health Service. It is a

:21:15.:21:18.

huge draw. This whole issue becomes much more difficult, much more

:21:18.:21:22.

urgent, doesn't it, at a time when we are short of money? Yes. That

:21:22.:21:26.

will continue for a good while yet? That is why people are very

:21:26.:21:31.

concerned about how it is managed, they have anxieties about their

:21:31.:21:36.

local surgeries and schools, and so on. The Government has found

:21:36.:21:40.

migrants are net contributors. can't carry on, do you think we can

:21:40.:21:44.

carry on as we are? People are keen to see the numbers reduced a bit,

:21:44.:21:48.

but in ways that are sensible. you think we can carry on as we are

:21:49.:21:52.

going now? People want reductions, but not the sort of things that

:21:52.:21:56.

will damage the economy. Do you think we can carry on as we are

:21:56.:21:59.

now? We will get numbers down because of the recession, but

:21:59.:22:03.

people don't want to cut out care and health workers we need. That is

:22:03.:22:06.

not what we are talking about? numbers will go down a bit. The net

:22:07.:22:10.

immigration figure is up, because immigration fell because of the

:22:10.:22:18.

weak pound. We have had, over the last, since 2004, we have had

:22:18.:22:22.

600,000 young, skilled, nobody is saying about the quality. Excellent

:22:22.:22:25.

young people coming in from Eastern Europe. At the same time we have

:22:25.:22:29.

had youth unemployment rise in this country by 450,000. If people come

:22:29.:22:33.

into this country, they work and they pay their taxes, why aren't

:22:33.:22:38.

they entitled to benefits? There is another one of these many reports

:22:38.:22:42.

giving contradictory figures out this month, which actually points

:22:42.:22:46.

out how many people are fail to go get jobs. Mostly these are young

:22:46.:22:50.

people? That is why I asked you a question of principle. The

:22:50.:22:53.

principle I'm asking about, if people come to the country, they

:22:53.:22:59.

work, they pay taxes, are they entitled to claim benefits or not?

:22:59.:23:03.

For how long, one week after they arrive in this country. What is

:23:03.:23:06.

your view? At the moment you can get a British citizenship after

:23:06.:23:09.

five years, why not after five years. You would accept that,

:23:09.:23:14.

wouldn't you? If they were in work. People want to treat different

:23:14.:23:18.

cases differently. If we think someone is persecuted as a refugee

:23:18.:23:23.

they need full support to be a member of society. If people get

:23:23.:23:27.

citizenship we believe in equal citizenship, we care about

:23:27.:23:30.

integration, it becomes an economic migrant for a short-term, you

:23:31.:23:34.

shouldn't be entitled to means- tested benefits. People don't get

:23:34.:23:38.

them f you are from outside the EU you are not entitled them until you

:23:38.:23:42.

become a citizen. As a citizen we believe in treating you fairly and

:23:42.:23:47.

equal. That is British policy. I should apologise for a couple of

:23:47.:23:55.

I had sis in the piece, it is David Goodyard.

:23:55.:24:00.

Who is the greatest 18th century French philosopher, we are always

:24:00.:24:02.

asking ourselves in the Newsnight office on a Friday afternoon. The

:24:02.:24:06.

answer is actually Voltaire, not least because he appreciated

:24:06.:24:11.

England as a haven of free thought, openness and tolerance, unlike his

:24:11.:24:14.

native country. In France they kept locking him up. In Britain he was

:24:14.:24:18.

free to say what he liked. It also turned out, after discoveries of

:24:18.:24:23.

letters by an Oxford professor, that he was rather well connected

:24:23.:24:29.

here. Did England make him? Can it be true, that we simple

:24:29.:24:38.

British folk have something in common with fancy French thinkers?

:24:38.:24:43.

France soir Voltaire was a philosopher, poet, the first

:24:43.:24:48.

literary superstar. I do not drag a great name about with me, but do

:24:48.:24:54.

honour with I have. He raised his cane, I drew my sword, she fainted.

:24:54.:24:58.

As a young man, Voltaire spent some time in this country. Where,

:24:58.:25:02.

according to this painstaking reconstruction, children taunted

:25:02.:25:12.
:25:12.:25:13.

him, with heart-breaking chance of "-- chants of "frogy Frenchman".

:25:13.:25:17.

Children I might have not been fortunate enough to be born among

:25:17.:25:23.

you. But that didn't put him off. He lived on this street in central

:25:23.:25:26.

London. Newly discovered letters show Voltaire taking to his adopted

:25:26.:25:32.

home with a real voi of life. He sounds almost -- joy of life. He

:25:32.:25:36.

sounds almost home sick of England when he writes to an English Lord

:25:36.:25:46.
:25:46.:25:50.

This is a breath and better letter in which Voltaire thanks the Lord

:25:50.:25:55.

for the many weekends he spent in - - bread and butter letter in which

:25:55.:26:00.

Voltaire thanks the Lord for the many weekends he spent in his house.

:26:00.:26:04.

It shows him in an important literary circle where he would have

:26:04.:26:09.

met Pope and Swift. He thanks him for the time he spepbts in the

:26:09.:26:14.

library, you catch Voltaire -- spent in the library, you catch

:26:14.:26:18.

Voltaire working in the library, a nice little insight. He was always

:26:18.:26:22.

a social climber in France and England. He always liked to meet

:26:22.:26:25.

the high and mighty, the people with titles. But one of the reasons

:26:25.:26:31.

that he did that, was that if you were a writer, especially in France,

:26:31.:26:37.

where there was no copyright law, you had to find people who would be

:26:37.:26:44.

patrons. Voltaire fitted so well in here, he aing gla sized his name,

:26:44.:26:54.
:26:54.:26:57.

Reveals. Our French philosopher found out how to keep one the

:26:57.:27:03.

Jones's and the Smiths'. But can England claim him? Can we claim him

:27:03.:27:07.

as one of our own? We can, it was while he was here and went back to

:27:07.:27:15.

France, he wrote probably his most important work, which is about a

:27:15.:27:19.

series of letters about England. When he comes to England as a young

:27:19.:27:26.

man, he learns about Lock, Newton, in the 1940s he writes very

:27:26.:27:28.

extensively explaining and conveying to the French, and then

:27:28.:27:33.

through the French to the rest of Europe, the importance of Lock's

:27:33.:27:38.

fis lol fee, and the porpbs of -- philosophy, and the importance of

:27:38.:27:43.

free thinking, and not approaching problems with a closed mind. You wo

:27:43.:27:47.

imagine Voltaire's letters did a -- you would imagine Voltaire's

:27:47.:27:54.

letters did a not for the enfant cordial, but it didn't. Voltaire

:27:54.:27:57.

encouraged lots of people to go to England on holiday they went and

:27:57.:28:02.

got laughed at. At the time, even the most snobbish English gentlemen

:28:02.:28:06.

dressed up as a country gent, going hunting, the French would turn up

:28:06.:28:11.

with their perfumeed wigs and handerchiefs, and the Londoners

:28:11.:28:16.

would laugh at them. They blamed Voltaire for that. Perhaps it is

:28:16.:28:19.

not surprising that Voltaire was accommodating with the old

:28:20.:28:24.

adversary across the channel. This is a man on his death bed asked to

:28:24.:28:29.

announce the devil, and he replied, "this is no time to make new

:28:29.:28:39.
:28:39.:29:00.

enemies"! That's all from Newsnight tonight,

:29:00.:29:07.

I leave you in the company of the great R & B singer Etta James, her

:29:07.:29:13.

death in California was announced today. She was 73, here she is at

:29:13.:29:20.

the jazz festival in 1979. # Rock me baby

:29:20.:29:27.

# Rock me all night long # Rock me baby

:29:27.:29:35.

# Rock me all night long # Rock me baby

:29:35.:29:43.

# Like my bake ain't got no bone # Roll me baby

:29:43.:29:50.

Jeremy Paxman has a report on the Free Syrian Army operations inside Damascus. Immigration and benefits. And Voltaire's love of England in his own words.


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