05/03/2012 Newsnight


05/03/2012

Jeremy Paxman asks why the Government has done a U-turn on reforming child benefit. And should the West bomb Syria? We ask David Miliband.


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Transcript


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A year or so ago, now it is back to the drawing board, the Government

:00:14.:00:18.

decides how and when to reform the child benefits system.

:00:18.:00:22.

Don't call the midwife, call the accountant or pollster, next year

:00:22.:00:26.

benefit won't be given to parents who pay the higher rate of tax. Can

:00:26.:00:29.

the Government unpick the plan without looking ridiculous?

:00:29.:00:33.

Call this an election? In Russia we go in search of

:00:33.:00:36.

electoral fraud. We have just come to a street where

:00:36.:00:41.

we have been told a bus will be waiting to take local health

:00:41.:00:45.

workers to vote for Putin. They have apparently been told that if

:00:45.:00:49.

they don't get on the bus, they will risk losing their jobs.

:00:49.:00:54.

The former Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, thinks President Putin is

:00:54.:00:58.

an autocrat, but are we stuck with him.

:00:58.:01:01.

Would America really help Israel attack Iran. For them you are the

:01:02.:01:05.

great Satan, we are the little Satan, for them we are you, and you

:01:05.:01:10.

are us. We will explain why Obama wants

:01:10.:01:17.

Israel to pipe down a bit. The writer, China Mieville, takes a

:01:17.:01:24.

very unmagical mystery tour through the Olympic legacy I think we are

:01:24.:01:34.
:01:34.:01:34.

facing economic difficulties Surely it can't have caught them by

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surprise, given it was announced years ago, and yet it has clearly

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done so. Someone has blundered, what seemed a straight forward

:01:42.:01:45.

reform to the system of child benefit, and indeed is a terribly

:01:45.:01:48.

simple change, has got the Government running about like

:01:48.:01:53.

children, when a fight kicks off in the playground. Horror confronts

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resolutions, self-interest faces public interest. Before we talk

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about how the Government invented this problem for themselves, we

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report. What could you buy for �20.30 a

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week, that is child benefit for one child. Well, you could get 120 fish

:02:10.:02:15.

fingers, or 40 tins of premium brand baked beans, or 112 nappies,

:02:15.:02:19.

or, given the Government doesn't care or ask what you spend it on,

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all this curry! When the new Government came in,

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they decided that what with the state of the public finances and

:02:25.:02:29.

all, treating a lot of comparatively well off people to

:02:29.:02:34.

the cost of a curry every week, wasn't, perhaps, the best use of

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limited resources, plus, when the Chancellor announced this policy in

:02:38.:02:44.

the autumn of 2010, he was trying to send a political message as well.

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The coalition wasn't afraid to take money from the better off.

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This was supposed to make the slogan, "we're all in this

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together", ring true. It is very difficult to justify taxing people

:02:58.:03:02.

on low incomes to pay for the child benefit of those earning so much

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more than them. These days we have really got to focus the resources

:03:06.:03:12.

on where they are most needed. We have got to be tough, but fair. And

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that's why we will withdraw child benefit from households with a

:03:17.:03:22.

higher rate taxpayer. The conference didn't exactly cheer

:03:22.:03:27.

the announcement at the time, now more and more Conservatives are

:03:27.:03:30.

worried, not so much the principle but the practicalities. It was

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something done very quickly before our 2010 conference, when people

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have looked at it, and we have had the Treasury and IFS in more detail,

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we see it doesn't really make sense, and there is a lot of unintended

:03:43.:03:46.

consequences. It is better not to do it and raise the money in a

:03:46.:03:49.

better way. There are two main problems with

:03:49.:03:52.

the way the Government has decided to withdraw child benefit from

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higher rate tax-payers. The first is the cliff-edge, imagine a parent

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of three earning �42,470, just under the higher rate threshold.

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They get �2,669 in child benefit every year. Imagine they get a tiny

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pay rise, just �1, that takes them over the threshold and all the

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child benefit goes. The next is a related problem of perceived

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unfairness, a two-person household earning under the threshold, can

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bring in �84,950 between them and still get child benefit. While a

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single earner on slightly more than half that, loses all of their's.

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The Government is looking at ways of softening the blow. When you

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create the cut-offs you create anomolies, one earner doesn't get

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child benefits, another family with two earners earning slightly less

:04:51.:04:55.

will get it. That is what we have said we are prepared to look at.

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The Prime Minister was visiting a Tesco store today to adapt their

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slogan to this issue, the slogan may be "every little cut hurts",

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but this cut is hardly little. The solutions are either expensive,

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complex, or expensive and complex, that is the problem for the

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Government. They would have to devise a new means test based on

:05:18.:05:21.

joint income, or abolish child benefit, and move the whole thing

:05:21.:05:25.

into tax credits and do the means testing that way, as we do at the

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moment. The big problem, that is also a problem with the current

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policy, is they don't know who is partnered to who. Meaning it it is

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sometimes difficult to identify who you should be taking the child

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benefit back from. Are you the run over 10 peace process Prime

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Minister? The nightmare for the current Government is the mess the

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last Government got into when it abolished the 10p tax rate, it had

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to spend an extra �2.7 billion sorting out the problems.

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Politically some believe keeping the child benefit policy could be

:05:57.:06:04.

far more expensive. The guys on the cusp of a 40% tax barrier should be

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core Tory voters, the striveers, who are not particularly rich, they

:06:10.:06:13.

are managing more or less to balance out the family life, it is

:06:13.:06:16.

not a tremendous amount of money if you have two or three kids and a

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mortgage to pay off. These are the people who should be natural

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Conservatives. It would be rather odd if David Cameron were to punish

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them, you have to answer the question, who are your people? If

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you are a party loader, who are you trying to appeal to, I would

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imagine those in that catagory would be a Tory target zone. If

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they feel the pain, before anyone else, it could cost David Cameron a

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lot of votes. The Treasury today was pretty hardline, insisting

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higher rate tax-payers will lose their child benefit, that is

:06:50.:06:53.

whatever they spend it on. Number Ten was sounding a bit more

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conciliatory, saying they will look at how the changes are implemented.

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The expectation then, that some sort of solution will be there in

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time for the budget. With us now are Alison Garnham,

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chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, and Peter

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Lilley, the Conservative MP and former Social Security Secretary.

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Child Poverty Action Group, this is nothing to do with poverty is it?

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It has a lot to do with poverty. People on the higher rate of income

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tax? Child benefit is the only place in the tax system where the

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cost of children is recognised, those apply to everybody. Low

:07:30.:07:33.

income families are suffering because child benefit is frozen.

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That is another issue? Yep. We are talking here specifically about

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cutting certain people out of it. Yes. How is it anything to do with

:07:43.:07:48.

poverty when it only effects higher rate income tax-payers? It has

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everything to do with poverty, child benefit is the clichest

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incentive to work in the benefits system. Mean the cleverest means

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testing system you come up with it doesn't do it as well as child

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benefit. By removing the higher earners, it says you will tax

:08:05.:08:08.

people more because they have children. That is not fair. If the

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argument is better off people can pay more, do that through

:08:12.:08:15.

progressive taxation. You are penalising people for having

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children? If you take this away from them? Alison is right, in a

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sense, child benefit is a logical place in the system that replaced

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Child Tax Credits. I couldn't find way of doing it when I was in

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Treasury that didn't have cliff- edges and apparent injustices so I

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didn't do it. I didn't do it because I didn't face a �100

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billion plus deficit, now we do. We have to take tough decisions that

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lead to rough justice, or even rough injustice. It would be very

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odd not to do anything affected benefits going to the middle and

:08:55.:09:00.

upper range income taxpayers, when, all the other cuts fall on those in

:09:00.:09:03.

the lower half of the spectrum. you arguing there should be no cuts

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at all, regardless of the mess we are in checkically? I'm not saying

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-- economically? I'm not saying no cuts in the system. I'm arguing it

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makes more sense to use progressive taxation to money off better-off

:09:18.:09:22.

families, rather than just off families with children. Don't you

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think there is something stupid paying a benefit to people that are

:09:25.:09:28.

sufficiently wealthy they pay higher rates of tax? It was a

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benefit created out of tax allowances, that go back to 1798,

:09:32.:09:36.

and family allowance, the reason it was turned into a benefit is

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because tax allowances benefit the better off more, child benefit

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equalised that and made it the same for everyone. We have a tax system

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that recognises things like donations to charity and all kinds

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of other things. For some people, if the change goes ahead, it won't

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recognise your biggest cost, which is your children. The logic of your

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position, Peter Lilley, is, the economic circumstances toughen the

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sinews, tough it out? In the best of all possible worlds we wouldn't

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do t Alison is right, this isn't the best of all possible worlds, it

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is very difficult to introduce reforms and cuts and changes,

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without affecting those on the top income tax rate as well. I think

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the Government would look very foolish if it backed off it

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entirely. If it can find ways, which I couldn't find, I looked

:10:25.:10:30.

repeatedly, of doing away with some of these ano mam lease, or at least

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minimising -- anomolies, or at least minimising them, maybe they

:10:35.:10:40.

are cleverer than me, I couldn't find them I looked for five years.

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Any kinds of means testing is enormously expensence, how will the

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Government pay for that? expensive, how will the Government

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pay for that? It is very difficult to do it without injustice, but in

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these economic circumstances we can't avoid doing painful things,

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at least in the crisis and we are back in some kind of balances. If

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we are back in the best worlds we can return to the system that

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Alison defends now and I did in the past. What about the argument that

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by applying a benefit to everybody, and whatever sector of society they

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happen to find themselves, there is something, it does something to

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society, it makes it more socially cohesive and coherent. Of course.

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know you guys think that? It is a national treasure sure, it values

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all children, and popular. What do you think about the argument?

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don't think that is the reason for doing it other having the child

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benefit, it is not to make society feel cohesive, it is to recognise

:11:45.:11:49.

the cost of having children, if not in the tax system the benefits

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system. You do recognise that children are expensive? That is why

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it exists, and you keeping child benefit for those on the basic rate

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of tax, but you are saying, sadly, regretably, we can't do so in these

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economic circumstances, for those earning over �40,000 so so.

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Do you recognise the -- or so. Do you recognise the benefits

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system has to get smaller. We can't afford the welfare state as big as

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it is? I don't think that is true. Your objection is an ideolgical

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objection to any kind of cut? any kind of cut. This is one of the

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cornerstones of our welfare state, and one of the most successful

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parts of our welfare state, it works and hits nearly 100% of its

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target, that can't be said of means-tested benefits. What do you

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say to someone concerned about low pay, to the person earning �35,000

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a year, that they should pay their taxes in order that someone earning

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over �42,000 a year can get a benefit for having children?

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they pay their taxes for all kinds of things that well off people

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receive. Like health service and educational services. I think that

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is a Big bit of a silly argument, really. -- a bit of a silly

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argument, really. That puts you in your place, Paxman. I thought you

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would have a written response to it! You pay benefits to people who

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are in need, the argument is that need is not evenly distributed

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across all income sectors? But one of the effects of costs of children,

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that families with children fall lower down the income distribution

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than those without children. What it does is redistribute from those

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without to people with children. It is targeted in a different way, it

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is not income targeting, but hugely successful, it hits nearly 100% of

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its target, that can't be said with any of the means-tested benefits.

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You don't think there is any alternative? I don't think there is

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in these economic circumstances, there is no way of doing it without

:13:59.:14:01.

the rough edges. I have letters from people saying, there is a

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simple way of doing it, but all their simple solutions don't work.

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So we are going to have to take the pain, and do some things that will

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be very unpopular with a group of people, with whom I have every sim

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though, and who are natural support -- sympathy, who are natural

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supporters. Thank you very much. Barely 24

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hours after Vladimir Putin claimed he won a third term as Russian

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president in an open and honest battle, thousands of protestors

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have gathered in Moscow to protest about apparent irregularities in

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the election. We're in Moscow, what has happened tonight? Here in

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Moscow tonight, the opposition's first attempt to try to set up a

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permanent protest in the centre of the city, against the results of

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the elections has already ended in failure. After the main body of

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people left the protest meeting you were talking about. Those who

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stayed were fairly roughly dispersed by police, and several,

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including some of the most best known activists, including the

:15:12.:15:17.

anti-corruption campaigner, Alexei Navalny, were detained, bundled in

:15:17.:15:21.

police cars, Navalny was later released. It is a sign that now he

:15:21.:15:27.

has declared his victory, Putin's patience with dissent will start to

:15:27.:15:31.

wear thin. But I don't think this new protest movement will die down

:15:31.:15:36.

completely, in the ten days I have been here, I have felt a new spirit

:15:36.:15:41.

in the air of dissidence and defiance. It is not a majority, it

:15:41.:15:45.

is still a minority. If Putin wants to stay in power, he won't be able

:15:45.:15:49.

to deal with this opposition by repression alone.

:15:49.:15:53.

Over the Moscow river they streamed this evening, from a distance it

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looked almost like a revolution. Up close the opposition rally

:16:01.:16:07.

wasn't as big as expect, but the message was clear, Putin is a thief.

:16:07.:16:11.

They want him out, eventhough he has just won a third presidential

:16:11.:16:15.

term, with an official tally of 64% of the vote.

:16:15.:16:19.

These people don't represent the whole of Russia, they don't even

:16:19.:16:23.

claim to. Most would accept that Vladimir Putin is the most popular

:16:23.:16:29.

politician in the country. But what this crowd wants, is a Russia ruled

:16:29.:16:33.

by law, and the results of the election have made them all the

:16:33.:16:40.

more determined to achieve that. They say yesterday's result was

:16:40.:16:46.

stolen. First of all, this is not an election, this is a special

:16:46.:16:52.

operation, how Putin can keep power in the Kremlin. There are three

:16:52.:16:56.

stages of fallscation, which Putin organised -- falsification, which

:16:56.:17:00.

Putin organised in this country, first was the selection of the

:17:00.:17:04.

candidate, the opposition was not in the least, because according to

:17:04.:17:08.

Putin's rules, it is strictly impossible to be in the least

:17:08.:17:13.

without the per-- the list without permission from Putin. Then it is

:17:13.:17:20.

propaganda, and the third point is falsification during calculation.

:17:20.:17:23.

In southern Russia yesterday, we joined an observer from an

:17:23.:17:27.

independent legal group, patrolling the city for signs of violations.

:17:27.:17:32.

We have just come to a street where we have been told a bus will be

:17:32.:17:36.

waiting to take local health workers all together to vote for

:17:36.:17:40.

Putin. They have apparently been told that if they don't get on the

:17:40.:17:44.

bus and go together, they will risk losing their jobs.

:17:44.:17:49.

Sure enough, we find a bus pulled up outside the health department.

:17:49.:17:57.

Documents of some kind are handed over. Then, the employees start to

:17:57.:18:07.
:18:07.:18:11.

get on. The bus sets off, we pursue it for

:18:11.:18:15.

half an hour as it drives from one side of the city to another. Then

:18:15.:18:25.

it stops on the corner, at the very edge of town. The voters set off on

:18:25.:18:29.

foot, but why are they all going into such a far away polling

:18:29.:18:33.

station, where they aren't normally registered?

:18:33.:18:40.

The driver can't give any explanation.

:18:40.:18:45.

TRANSLATION: I wasn't driving any voters around, what voters?

:18:45.:18:53.

brought them here to vote? TRANSLATION: Who? The people in

:18:53.:19:03.
:19:03.:19:06.

this bus? Which organisation asked you to come?

:19:06.:19:10.

So why was he so reluctant to talk to us. We saw him take more than

:19:10.:19:17.

one bus load to the same place. TRANSLATION: What we saw with the

:19:18.:19:22.

bus, it was state employees being forced to go with absentee ballots

:19:22.:19:26.

to another polling station. It is very strange, to drive people from

:19:26.:19:31.

one end of town to the other, to vote in a different district, to

:19:31.:19:35.

where they live. It is done because it is harder to monitor polling

:19:35.:19:41.

stations on the edge of town, so it is much easier to rig the result.

:19:41.:19:46.

This observer from an opposition party, who is spending all day here,

:19:46.:19:51.

has seen several such coachloads arrive. TRANSLATION: To have so

:19:51.:19:57.

many people not registered here, using absentee ballots, to vote in

:19:57.:20:01.

one small polling station, of course, that is suspicious.

:20:01.:20:06.

The fine array of snacks on the polling station, can't be the

:20:07.:20:11.

reason they have come so far. This official has seen a unusual number

:20:11.:20:17.

of absentee ballots, she says it makes it impossible to know if the

:20:17.:20:21.

same person has voted more than once. They can't prove whether that

:20:21.:20:28.

happened here. Here and all over Russia there have been many reports

:20:28.:20:32.

of it. The Russians say these elections are as transparent as

:20:32.:20:36.

anywhere in the world. There are cameras, machines scanning and

:20:36.:20:41.

counting every vote as it comes in, and yet, even so, the allegations

:20:41.:20:47.

of rigging continue. Among those angriest, are the

:20:47.:20:51.

communists. Their candidate gained almost 20% of the vote, they have

:20:51.:20:58.

refused to accept the result. Here before the election this

:20:58.:21:01.

distributor told me that many people would vote for Putin out of

:21:01.:21:06.

fear. TRANSLATION: I live in a village,

:21:06.:21:10.

and people from the administration are going around and demanding

:21:10.:21:13.

everyone votes for Putin, and threatening to take away their

:21:13.:21:18.

social security if they don't. In the countryside it is hard to go

:21:18.:21:23.

against the authorities. Much of this land belongs to a huge

:21:23.:21:25.

agricultural concern, that was built up and is still partly

:21:25.:21:29.

controlled by the family of the regional governor.

:21:29.:21:34.

Political and economic power here are intertwineed under capitalism,

:21:34.:21:40.

just as they were under communism. People feel they could lose their

:21:40.:21:43.

livelihoods if they vote the wrong way. This man says he had little

:21:43.:21:48.

option but to rent his land to the governor's family firm. He's a

:21:48.:21:55.

communist, but he says almost everyone else here votes Putin.

:21:55.:21:59.

TRANSLATION: Authority is authority, and authority won't let anyone else

:21:59.:22:02.

through in any circumstances, because there are no laws in our

:22:03.:22:07.

country that wo allow a candidate to beat authority. -- would allow a

:22:07.:22:11.

candidate to beat authority. the governor denies any abuse of

:22:11.:22:21.
:22:21.:22:22.

power, or any rigging of the vote. TRANSLATION: They can't say white

:22:22.:22:28.

is black, they can't say the elections weren't fair when they

:22:28.:22:32.

weren't, but electors have signed off saying how many voted for Putin

:22:32.:22:37.

and communists and so on. If it does happen it will be a crowd of

:22:37.:22:40.

oppositionists who want to rock the boat at any price. It will show all

:22:41.:22:44.

the slogans about unfair elections were just a cover, a pretext for

:22:44.:22:54.

creating chaos in the country. Yesterday, as Putin tearfully

:22:54.:22:57.

accepted his victory, in front of tens of thousands of cheering

:22:57.:23:01.

supporters, he took the same uncompromising line towards the

:23:01.:23:05.

opposition. Tonight, protestors who stayed

:23:05.:23:10.

behind in central Moscow after the main rally were uncermoniously

:23:10.:23:15.

dispersed by the police. Several well known activists were detained.

:23:15.:23:19.

It looks as though the Kremlin's brief tolerance of protest might

:23:19.:23:23.

already be coming to an end. With us now to discuss Vladimir Putin's

:23:23.:23:27.

victory and what it means and what happens next, is the former Labour

:23:27.:23:31.

Foreign Secretary, David Miliband. What is he like to deal with?

:23:31.:23:38.

cold, he's motionless when he sits in a room, and very definitive in

:23:38.:23:46.

the sentences that he uters. like a western politician? No, you

:23:46.:23:51.

see he's learning tricks from the rally he has just done. The British

:23:51.:23:53.

relationship has always been a particularly difficult one in the

:23:53.:23:57.

last 20 years, they think we are a declining power, and we think they

:23:57.:24:02.

are a declining power, that is a bad recipe in any relationship.

:24:02.:24:07.

Both could be slightly right? is an element of truth in both

:24:08.:24:11.

allegations. The thing he has never believed is we in the west would

:24:11.:24:16.

like a confident, diversified economy, and a growing Russia. He's

:24:16.:24:19.

absolutely convinced that we're actually trying to do him down,

:24:19.:24:23.

partly because of the experience of the 1990s. The most tragic thing is

:24:23.:24:26.

when he says Hillary Clinton is paying all these people to protest

:24:26.:24:30.

in the streets. That is absolute nonsense. Do you think he genuinely

:24:30.:24:34.

believes that? I think you should never underestimate leaders a

:24:34.:24:38.

bubble to come to believe their own propaganda. There was a chink of

:24:38.:24:43.

light in what he wrote in the Washington Post last month. He said,

:24:43.:24:46.

he was boasting that Russia is a richer, more educated society, and

:24:46.:24:51.

there are the seeds of his own downfall. This more educated Russia,

:24:51.:24:56.

especially in the cities, in Moscow and St Petersburg, is what is

:24:56.:25:01.

rebelling against him. You saw those pictures from Moscow tonight,

:25:01.:25:05.

that did not look like mass protest movement? People are living in fear,

:25:05.:25:09.

you have heard that. It was a coronation organised to entrench

:25:09.:25:14.

power. However, 45 million Russians use the Internet, which is pretty

:25:14.:25:19.

open in Russia, regularly, frequently, it is a very active

:25:19.:25:23.

internet society. You have a much greater flow of information than

:25:23.:25:28.

ever before. And you have this real movement on Putin at the moment, a

:25:28.:25:34.

pinser, on the one hand political openness, on the other the business

:25:35.:25:38.

class looking at the clampdown and abuse of law, knowing it is not

:25:38.:25:44.

good for business. You are not suggesting there is any likelihood

:25:44.:25:48.

of him to be toppled before the end of his term? Someone like him isn't

:25:48.:25:52.

going to give away power lightly. Six months ago, the idea he

:25:52.:25:55.

wouldn't have got the two terms that he thinks he's renegotiated

:25:55.:25:59.

through his four years as Prime Minister, no-one would have

:25:59.:26:03.

believed he wouldn't have got a second term. I think there is at

:26:03.:26:07.

least a 50% chance he won't get a second term. Why not? Because the

:26:07.:26:11.

forces for openness are very, very strong in politics, and in business,

:26:11.:26:15.

the idea that you can just abuse power is actually going to lead to

:26:15.:26:18.

real problems in the Russian economy. That is the pinser

:26:18.:26:22.

movement under which he's almost dammed if he does clampdown and

:26:22.:26:26.

dammed if he doesn't. To go back to your point about relations between

:26:26.:26:29.

this country and Russia, I saw David Cameron sent him a letter

:26:29.:26:33.

tonight saying he was looking forward to overcoming the obstacles

:26:33.:26:38.

between our two countries. Fat chance, eh? Pretty slim chance. The

:26:38.:26:42.

thing for us is to make sure this doesn't just become a bilateral

:26:42.:26:46.

spat. The only hope for us to really engage with the Russians is

:26:46.:26:51.

to unify across Europe on issues like energy, and to unify with

:26:51.:26:54.

members of the UN on the bigger issues, particularly the Chinese.

:26:54.:27:00.

That is the key to make sure even if Putin chooses the route of

:27:00.:27:05.

clampdown at home, he becomes a better partner abroad. We will look

:27:05.:27:09.

at what is happening in Syria, where President Assad, the Syrian

:27:09.:27:14.

dictator, whom Russia has gone out of its way to introtebgt from the

:27:14.:27:18.

international forces, seems to be unleashing his thugs on the people.

:27:18.:27:23.

Refugees are told the BBC horrific Tories of murder and torture, from

:27:23.:27:27.

Homs. John Cain said tonight that time

:27:27.:27:31.

was running out, -- John McCain cane said tonight time was running

:27:32.:27:36.

out, and became the most senior figure to call for protection and

:27:36.:27:41.

cover for the Free Syrian Army. United States should lead an

:27:41.:27:45.

international effort, to protect key population centres in Syria,

:27:45.:27:48.

especially in the north through air strikes on Assad's forces. To be

:27:48.:27:53.

clear, this will require the United States to suppress enemy air

:27:53.:27:58.

defences in at least part of the country. The ultimate goal of air

:27:58.:28:04.

strikes should be to establish and defend safe havens in Syria.

:28:04.:28:08.

Especially in the north. In which opposition forces can organise and

:28:08.:28:15.

plan their political and military activities against Assad. David

:28:15.:28:20.

Miliband is still here. What about this idea of air strikes, or some

:28:20.:28:25.

sort of intervention against Assad? Senator McCain cane is basically

:28:25.:28:28.

saying the American Government should declare war on the Syrian

:28:28.:28:31.

Government. It has to be seen in that light. I think that the

:28:31.:28:37.

dangers in that are just obvious. First of all, any notion that you

:28:37.:28:40.

have an international coalition, including the Arab world,

:28:40.:28:44.

supporting action in Syria, gone, there would be real danger you

:28:44.:28:48.

would get Syria-Israel configuration coming in as well.

:28:48.:28:52.

You referred to horror stories coming out, these are unspeakable

:28:52.:28:58.

coims being committed there. You have 12-year-old -- crimes being

:28:58.:29:02.

committed there. You have 12-year- old kids talking about their

:29:02.:29:07.

parents' throats being cut in front of them. It is becoming a sectarian

:29:07.:29:10.

conflict. The sense of urgency is right, American air strikes would

:29:10.:29:15.

make it worse. It is troubling for the rest of the world, when we know

:29:15.:29:18.

they saw the west and other countries intervening in Libya to

:29:18.:29:23.

support a popular revolt here. Some of them felt they might expect the

:29:23.:29:28.

same in Syria, and they didn't get it? It is worse than troubling. But

:29:28.:29:31.

the two cases are very, very different. The test, there are

:29:31.:29:34.

three tests for any military intervention, is there a

:29:34.:29:40.

humanitarian need, clearly, yes, in Libya and Syria. Is there a

:29:40.:29:43.

military plan? I'm not in Government any more, but I haven't

:29:43.:29:47.

seen anything outside Government to suggest a military plan. And

:29:47.:29:54.

thirdly the strategic consequences, you don't get the ticks in those

:29:54.:29:58.

boxes. We could be looking at something worse than veb nieceia?

:29:59.:30:04.

You could be -- Srebrenica? could be looking at something three

:30:04.:30:09.

times worse than what Assad's father did in Hama in 1982. The key

:30:09.:30:13.

to this is back to Putin. If that is the case how many people did he

:30:14.:30:19.

kill in Hama? Between 10,000-20,000. That is a terrible thing? It is

:30:19.:30:24.

unspeakable. There is nothing we can do? I don't agree with that.

:30:24.:30:29.

The truth is Putin's hold in Syria is very significant. He has to

:30:29.:30:32.

calculate that it is actually in his interests to call Assad's thugs

:30:32.:30:36.

off. I think that two months ago people would have said Assad will

:30:36.:30:40.

go, I don't think he's about to fall. He may be done for in the

:30:40.:30:44.

three or four year time span, kwhroing he's done for in a three d

:30:44.:30:50.

I don't think he's done for in the three or four week time span. There

:30:50.:30:54.

is Assad in power being persuaded he's not to kill people, that is

:30:54.:30:58.

where we have to put the pressure. President Obama was talking up the

:30:58.:31:02.

chances of diplomacy, some how settling the crisis over why

:31:02.:31:05.

exactly Iran is so insistent on winding up the rest of the world

:31:05.:31:10.

about its nuclear ambitions. Israel, which managed to develop its own

:31:10.:31:14.

nuclear weapons programme, despite international sanctions, says it

:31:14.:31:18.

can't tolerate an Iranian bomb. But other conflict in the Middle East

:31:18.:31:21.

is the last thing President Obama wants right now. When he and the

:31:21.:31:24.

Israeli Prime Minister met in Washington today, he was anxious to

:31:24.:31:29.

downplay talk of military strikes. Our diplomatic editor is here.

:31:29.:31:33.

What was he after? Well, the White House thinks that the Israelis have

:31:33.:31:37.

been making noises that are just too war-like. In the run up to

:31:37.:31:41.

today's meeting, the Israelis said, all right, we could change our

:31:41.:31:45.

language, if you say, publicly, that the US military option is

:31:45.:31:51.

still on the table. As I emphasised, even as we will continue on the

:31:51.:31:59.

diplomatic front, we will continue to tighten pressure, when it comes

:31:59.:32:04.

to sanctions, I reserve all options, and my policy here is not going to

:32:04.:32:10.

be one of containment, my policy is prevention of Iran obtaining

:32:10.:32:13.

nuclear weapons. As I indicated yesterday in my speech, when I say

:32:13.:32:17.

all options are on the table, I mean it. In addition to that public

:32:17.:32:21.

statement, there have been plenty of private US assurances to Israel,

:32:21.:32:24.

along the lines of look, as soon as the presidential elections are out

:32:24.:32:29.

of the way in November, assuming Mr Obama is re-elected, we will take

:32:29.:32:33.

this problem serious low by the horns. In the meantime, we have to

:32:33.:32:37.

-- seriously by the horns, in the meantime we have to give economic

:32:37.:32:42.

saingss time to bite. Certain voices in -- sanctions time to bite.

:32:42.:32:45.

Certain voices in the Israeli cabinet say they think sanctions

:32:45.:32:49.

could work, but need a little time to demonstrate they could do so.

:32:49.:32:53.

Why was Obama's assurance necessary? The Israelis,

:32:53.:32:57.

particularly Mr Netanyahu think he has been soft on Iran. They want to

:32:57.:33:01.

hear a tougher public language. The other thing is, they fear a danger,

:33:01.:33:04.

if you say nothing will happen towards the end of this year, this

:33:04.:33:09.

is a holiday from pressure for the Iranians, therefore they ought to

:33:09.:33:14.

keep up the pressure by raising the specter of a unilateral strike. You

:33:14.:33:18.

might say, OK, what is wrong with Israel playing bad cop, and

:33:18.:33:22.

yesterday President Obama was amazing low candid about why he

:33:22.:33:26.

thought that was a bad idea. -- amazingly candid about why he

:33:26.:33:30.

thought that was a bad idea. Already there is too much loose

:33:30.:33:34.

talk about war. In the last few weeks such talk has only benefited

:33:34.:33:38.

the Iranian Government, by driving up the price of oil, which they

:33:38.:33:41.

depend on to fund their nuclear programme. President Obama

:33:42.:33:49.

obviously feels that the dlorb dollar 5 gallon of gas will -- $5

:33:49.:33:54.

gallon of gas will harm his prospects. At the same time Mr

:33:54.:33:56.

Netanyahu didn't want to go into the meeting looking like a pushover,

:33:57.:34:00.

and he continued to talk tough. Israel must have the ability,

:34:00.:34:05.

always, to defend itself, by itself, against any threat. And that when

:34:05.:34:11.

it comes to Israel's security, Israel has the right, the sovereign

:34:11.:34:17.

right to make its own decisions. I believe that is why, you appreciate

:34:17.:34:22.

Mr President, that Israel must reserve the right to defend itself.

:34:22.:34:25.

Afterall, that is the very purpose of the Jewish state. The Americans

:34:25.:34:30.

are becoming quite frank, though, that Israel couldn't do it alone.

:34:30.:34:33.

Its fighter bombers couldn't reach targets deep in Iran without

:34:33.:34:36.

refuelling, but the country only has a handful of tanker aircraft

:34:36.:34:41.

capable of doing that. Also, the deep buried sites would be hard for

:34:41.:34:46.

them to knockout. It is the tunnelling of a new underground

:34:46.:34:50.

uranium facility that has led to Israeli claims that the Iranians

:34:50.:34:54.

are creating a zone of immunity from attack.

:34:55.:34:59.

Now US officials are telegraphing, US support could make the

:34:59.:35:05.

difference between success and failure. Last week the head of the

:35:05.:35:09.

US fair force said: With what they could do, you

:35:09.:35:12.

wouldn't want to be in the area. They also revealed contingency

:35:12.:35:19.

plans for US tankers to refuel Israeli aircraft, something that

:35:19.:35:23.

could transform Israel's options. Pentagon officials briefed the

:35:23.:35:28.

Washington Post, that a huge new American bomb, the massive

:35:28.:35:31.

ordinance penetrateor, could penetrate up to 200 feet

:35:31.:35:35.

underground, destroying Iranian facilities. What stands in the way

:35:35.:35:39.

of the American message getting through? They have a message, can

:35:39.:35:44.

they actually make raility conform to the US electoral timetable.

:35:44.:35:47.

Hardliners in had Iran could provoke some sort of incident. They

:35:47.:35:57.
:35:57.:35:58.

could change the pace of this crisis. They could limit the access

:35:58.:36:03.

inspectors are getting, that is a difficult issue. For the details as

:36:03.:36:07.

you understand I cannot get into the details. I can tell you that we

:36:07.:36:14.

are aware that there are some activities and it makes us believe

:36:14.:36:23.

that going there sooner is better than later. Where does the crisis

:36:23.:36:29.

go from here. Political, financial and economic action, if the White

:36:29.:36:32.

House has anything to do it, the military action won't be on the

:36:32.:36:36.

table for the best part of a year. With us now is the Israeli

:36:36.:36:41.

ambassador to Britain. How far do you think the Iranians are, from

:36:41.:36:45.

being able to weaponise whatever nuclear material they have got?

:36:45.:36:49.

That is obvious low one of the key areas of discussion taking place

:36:49.:36:53.

between the President and the Prime Minister, not just between them,

:36:53.:37:00.

just generally. What is your assessment? We don't talk about

:37:00.:37:03.

assessments publicly for reasons that are clear. What is clear is

:37:03.:37:07.

the report from the Atomic Energy Agency is the window is getting

:37:07.:37:12.

closer, and the window is getting narrower. We see there is an

:37:12.:37:16.

attempt to speed up the enrichment and the number of interrefugees.

:37:17.:37:21.

And at the same time to transfer a lot of the enrichment facilities to

:37:21.:37:25.

the underground facilities, where they might be out of harm's way.

:37:25.:37:30.

That is one of the reasons we have to be so focused on the issue at

:37:30.:37:35.

the moment. This is what President Obama calls loose talk, he's

:37:35.:37:41.

calling for less loose talk, why is your Government perpetrating loose

:37:41.:37:45.

talk? President Netanyahu told our troops the same thing a couple of

:37:45.:37:49.

weeks ago, there are things best not spoken about publicly, but they

:37:49.:37:53.

are so important it is best to speak about them publicly. This is

:37:53.:37:57.

about winding things up? I don't think so, we are talking about a

:37:57.:38:00.

genuine and one of the most significant security threats of

:38:00.:38:03.

recent times. It is simply not possible, to co-ordinate, to work

:38:03.:38:06.

closely together, to deal with a threat, not just to Israel, but as

:38:06.:38:09.

we have heard from the President, as we have heard from the Foreign

:38:09.:38:13.

Secretary here, not just to the Middle East, but the entire world.

:38:13.:38:16.

It is something that really needs to exercise us and something we

:38:16.:38:20.

need to discuss. At a military level it would be impossible for

:38:20.:38:25.

Israel, by herself, would it not, to destroy whatever Iranian

:38:25.:38:29.

military weapon is at hand? I'm not going into the details of possible

:38:29.:38:32.

military action, something that both the President and Prime

:38:32.:38:35.

Minister is agreed on, that we simply cannot afford to take

:38:35.:38:39.

military options off the table. We can't afford the situation where

:38:39.:38:43.

dialogue continues, and it is really just background music for

:38:43.:38:47.

enrichment. Even if we put our hopes in dialogue, it will only be

:38:47.:38:50.

effective if we have a credible military option on the table. That

:38:50.:38:55.

is why we take it seriously. There is no suggestion of a unilaterally

:38:55.:38:59.

Israeli action that would work? are not talking about what is there

:38:59.:39:02.

is a possibility about or not. In the past Israel has done the world

:39:03.:39:07.

a service by taking out Iraqi nuclear facilities, and so on. In

:39:07.:39:12.

this case, if there is an option of preventing it through talk and

:39:12.:39:15.

sanctions, that is clearly preferable, and what we would like

:39:15.:39:19.

to achieve. If not we will genuinely have to consider every

:39:19.:39:23.

option, including the military one. How long do you think you have got?

:39:23.:39:27.

We are talking about a narrowing window. We see some sign that the

:39:27.:39:30.

sanctions are taking route. We understand what the President said

:39:30.:39:35.

about seeing those signs and having could go sans of them. But the

:39:35.:39:38.

other point is we are talking about a situation where the threats. You

:39:38.:39:45.

have to look at what Iran is doing today. We see it is supporting

:39:45.:39:49.

terrorism and brutality in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon,

:39:49.:39:53.

Gaza. We saw what happened to the British Embassy in Tehran, we have

:39:53.:39:58.

seen what happened to my clogs in Georgia, in India, in -- colleagues

:39:58.:40:01.

in Georgia, India and Thailand there were threats against them.

:40:01.:40:04.

This is without nuclear capability, we have to have our mind on what

:40:04.:40:10.

would be the situation if we had this regime, acting with the

:40:10.:40:13.

additional confidence and potential immunity of a nuclear regime.

:40:13.:40:21.

speak, of course, as a nuke clear weapons regime? The Israeli policy

:40:21.:40:26.

-- nuclear weapons regime? Israeli policy is not to talk about nuclear

:40:26.:40:30.

policy at the moment. Another thing you don't talk about? Israel has

:40:30.:40:33.

not talked about taking another state off the map. You are

:40:33.:40:37.

threatening Iran right now? We are saying what the rest of the

:40:37.:40:42.

international community is saying, the fact is a country that

:40:42.:40:47.

brutalises its citizens, the world's leading supporter of state-

:40:47.:40:51.

sponsored terrorism, and flouting obligations, is not a country that

:40:51.:40:53.

should be permitted to getting nuclear weapons.

:40:53.:40:58.

There are now 144 days to go until the moment when the Olympic Flame

:40:58.:41:01.

is lit in East London. Ever since Tony Blair and his friends began

:41:01.:41:04.

trying to persuade the Olympic Committee to stage the games in

:41:04.:41:08.

London, we have been told they will be a great thing for the capital, a

:41:08.:41:13.

great thing for the nation and human toe. Anyone who feels

:41:13.:41:17.

differently, that it is bread and circumstance cusses, for example,

:41:17.:41:27.
:41:27.:41:35.

A well known London character called Johnson, not that one,

:41:35.:41:38.

famous low said, that when a man is tired of this city, he's tired of

:41:38.:41:46.

life. # I view the morning

:41:46.:41:52.

# With the laark What when he's tired of all the

:41:52.:42:02.
:42:02.:42:04.

hype surrounding the Olympic Games coming to the city. China Mieville

:42:04.:42:10.

isn't getting carried away with Olympic fever, in the city he calls

:42:10.:42:16.

home. Welcome aboard the Newsnight bus of truth. Shall we take a seat.

:42:16.:42:22.

But broadcaster Robert Elms, is such a Londoner, he doesn't have

:42:22.:42:30.

blood in his veins, he has gelied eels! That doesn't make sense. We

:42:30.:42:36.

brought the two of them together, to take in the sites, to cuss the

:42:36.:42:43.

games, and the Metropilis that will be the centre of the world's

:42:44.:42:48.

attention. I think London is facing economic difficulties verging on

:42:48.:42:51.

catastrophy, which the Government is doing the opposite of helping.

:42:51.:42:55.

It is not helping young people who in London, rates of unemployment,

:42:55.:43:00.

disaffection, disempowerment, are enormous. I'm concerned about the

:43:00.:43:05.

way the Olympics is prioritising a corporate agenda over a local

:43:05.:43:08.

agenda. I'm a huge fan of sport, I will love the Olympics and the fact

:43:08.:43:12.

it is in my town and the world is looking at my town. I have big

:43:12.:43:17.

issues about the ticketing, many people have. I have big issues

:43:17.:43:20.

about corporatisation, sadly, that is the nature of these events

:43:20.:43:24.

anywhere in the world. You won't get an uncorporate limb iblgs,

:43:24.:43:27.

because of the very tail -- Olympics, because of the very scale

:43:27.:43:33.

of it. I do believe we will do it very, very well, and some of the

:43:33.:43:37.

incredibly messy, tar-stained charm of this city will come through.

:43:37.:43:41.

is exactly that kind of grass-roots vibecy that is being squeezed out

:43:41.:43:46.

by this, or there is an attempt, should I say, to squeeze it out, I

:43:46.:43:54.

think it is extremely resilient, I'm trying to take the side of that

:43:54.:43:58.

against the very much Boris Johnson's agenda of laughing at

:43:58.:44:02.

those who have criticisms, the moaning minis, and all this kind of

:44:02.:44:06.

nonsense, there are serious problems facing the city, and it is

:44:06.:44:14.

done to us by the Millennium Dome in power.

:44:14.:44:19.

The People in power weren't listening to those involved in last

:44:19.:44:22.

summer's disturbances says China Mieville. I think the riots were a

:44:22.:44:27.

wake-up call for people. I think people would see that to as young

:44:27.:44:33.

people helping themselves to trainers and TVs? Anyone who will

:44:33.:44:39.

traduce the serious attempt to deal with social issues, by poipbgt out

:44:39.:44:43.

the obvious acts of theft and so on, that happen in any situation like

:44:43.:44:50.

that, and suggest in Teresa May's terms there is nothing else but

:44:50.:44:53.

that, no questions to be asked, this is willful stupidity. What do

:44:53.:44:58.

you make of that, the root causes of the riots and what they showed

:44:58.:45:04.

us? They are incredibly complex, to put it in context, the London mob,

:45:04.:45:10.

that can arise from the streets of London historically, has always

:45:10.:45:15.

done this. It was painted as a city that was neutered or spoiled, I

:45:15.:45:21.

won't say I'm in favour of the riots, I'm a middle-class man now

:45:21.:45:25.

with a lot to lose, and I don't want my kids dragged into that. I

:45:25.:45:30.

think it is a sign of London's vivacity and vir reelity. How will

:45:30.:45:34.

we look like on this year, an important year for the country and

:45:34.:45:38.

city? I think London will put on a fantastic party, it is one of the

:45:38.:45:43.

things we do really well. I can absolutely predict with assurance,

:45:43.:45:47.

that this magnificent, dirty, noisy, smelly old city, will continue to

:45:47.:45:51.

be the greatest in the world. will have to come back in ten years

:45:51.:45:55.

and see the state of East London, in ten or fifth teen years time we

:45:56.:46:01.

don't just have a dead graveyard of ridiculous giant buildings, if we

:46:01.:46:04.

have an infrastructure helping local people, I will be happy to

:46:04.:46:14.
:46:14.:46:30.

say I was wrong. Tomorrow morning's That is all tonight, the death of

:46:30.:46:38.

the man who designed some of the most popular characters in science

:46:38.:46:43.

fiction. Raffle McQuartery were associated with all popular

:46:43.:46:53.
:46:53.:47:17.

programmes on TV, but he was mostly It is cold out there, a frost

:47:17.:47:23.

developing across many parts of the country. A couple of exceptions in

:47:23.:47:26.

East Anglia, cloudier here rb avoiding a frost. Northern Ireland

:47:26.:47:30.

clouding up for most of us. Lots and lots of sunshine to look

:47:30.:47:35.

forward to. A lovely day across the heart of England, spring sunshine,

:47:35.:47:38.

temperatures up to eight or nine or ten degrees. A better day in the

:47:38.:47:41.

south-east compared to what we have. The cloud thinning, lighter winds,

:47:41.:47:46.

it will feel warmer. Pleasant too across the West Country. Clouding

:47:46.:47:49.

up a touch across the far South- West of England. Western parts of

:47:49.:47:54.

Wales starting to cloud up too. Further east will stay fine and

:47:55.:47:58.

bright through daylight hours. For Northern Ireland things going down

:47:58.:48:02.

hill, it does turn increasingly cloudy, wet and windy later on in

:48:02.:48:06.

the day, that rain pushes into a good part of western Scotland,

:48:06.:48:10.

further east things will stay predominant low dry, right the way

:48:10.:48:13.

through the day. Things chopping and changing, the rain moves

:48:13.:48:17.

through, northern areas will return to sunshine and showers. It will

:48:17.:48:20.

turn colder with the showers wintry on Wednesday, across the high

:48:20.:48:23.

ground on Scotland. Further south, Tuesday looks good, but Wednesday

:48:23.:48:26.

will see some rain, that rain should clear through, and hopefully

:48:26.:48:29.

skies will brighten later on in the day. We have a weather front

:48:29.:48:33.

crossing the country on Wednesday, we will see a bit of a splash,

:48:33.:48:37.

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