05/03/2012 Newsnight


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


decides how and when to reform the child benefits system.


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


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


the Government unpick the plan without looking ridiculous?


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


electoral fraud. We have just come to a street where


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


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


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


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


an autocrat, but are we stuck with him.


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


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


are us. We will explain why Obama wants


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


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


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


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


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


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


simple change, has got the Government running about like


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


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


about how the Government invented this problem for themselves, we


report. What could you buy for �20.30 a


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


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


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


all this curry! When the new Government came in,


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


all, treating a lot of comparatively well off people to


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


higher rate taxpayer. The conference didn't exactly cheer


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


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


something done very quickly before our 2010 conference, when people


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


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


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


better way. There are two main problems with


the way the Government has decided to withdraw child benefit from


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


child benefits, another family with two earners earning slightly less


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


sometimes difficult to identify who you should be taking the child


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


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


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


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


Politically some believe keeping the child benefit policy could be


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, and Peter


Lilley, the Conservative MP and former Social Security Secretary.


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


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


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


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


income families are suffering because child benefit is frozen.


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


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


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


everything to do with poverty, child benefit is the clichest


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


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


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


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


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


progressive taxation. You are penalising people for having


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


because tax allowances benefit the better off more, child benefit


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


that recognises things like donations to charity and all kinds


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


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


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


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


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


is very difficult to introduce reforms and cuts and changes,


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


the Government would look very foolish if it backed off it


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


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


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


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


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


Government pay for that? expensive, how will the Government


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


that families with children fall lower down the income distribution


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


supporters. Thank you very much. Barely 24


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


president in an open and honest battle, thousands of protestors


have gathered in Moscow to protest about apparent irregularities in


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


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


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


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


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


stayed were fairly roughly dispersed by police, and several,


including some of the most best known activists, including the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


to deal with this opposition by repression alone.


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


looked almost like a revolution. Up close the opposition rally


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


propaganda, and the third point is falsification during calculation.


In southern Russia yesterday, we joined an observer from an


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


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


waiting to take local health workers all together to vote for


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


station, where they aren't normally registered?


The driver can't give any explanation.


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


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


this bus? Which organisation asked you to come?


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


of rigging continue. Among those angriest, are the


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


refused to accept the result. Here before the election this


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


fear. TRANSLATION: I live in a village,


and people from the administration are going around and demanding


everyone votes for Putin, and threatening to take away their


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


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


agricultural concern, that was built up and is still partly


controlled by the family of the regional governor.


Political and economic power here are intertwineed under capitalism,


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


candidate to beat authority. the governor denies any abuse of


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


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


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


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


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


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


creating chaos in the country. Yesterday, as Putin tearfully


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


supporters, he took the same uncompromising line towards the


opposition. Tonight, protestors who stayed


behind in central Moscow after the main rally were uncermoniously


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


relationship has always been a particularly difficult one in the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


believes that? I think you should never underestimate leaders a


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


real problems in the Russian economy. That is the pinser


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


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


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


tonight saying he was looking forward to overcoming the obstacles


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Homs. John Cain said tonight that time


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


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


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


international effort, to protect key population centres in Syria,


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


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


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


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


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


plan their political and military activities against Assad. David


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


sort of intervention against Assad? Senator McCain cane is basically


saying the American Government should declare war on the Syrian


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


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


have an international coalition, including the Arab world,


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


would get Syria-Israel configuration coming in as well.


You referred to horror stories coming out, these are unspeakable


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


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


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


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


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


they saw the west and other countries intervening in Libya to


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


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


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


three tests for any military intervention, is there a


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


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


seen anything outside Government to suggest a military plan. And


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


chances of diplomacy, some how settling the crisis over why


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


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


nuclear weapons programme, despite international sanctions, says it


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Certain voices in the Israeli cabinet say they think sanctions


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


Why was Obama's assurance necessary? The Israelis,


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


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


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


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


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


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


yesterday President Obama was amazing low candid about why he


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


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


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


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


depend on to fund their nuclear programme. President Obama


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


uranium facility that has led to Israeli claims that the Iranians


are creating a zone of immunity from attack.


Now US officials are telegraphing, US support could make the


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


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


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


plans for US tankers to refuel Israeli aircraft, something that


could transform Israel's options. Pentagon officials briefed the


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


ordinance penetrateor, could penetrate up to 200 feet


underground, destroying Iranian facilities. What stands in the way


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


they actually make raility conform to the US electoral timetable.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


being able to weaponise whatever nuclear material they have got?


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


genuine and one of the most significant security threats of


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


military action, something that both the President and Prime


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


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


dialogue continues, and it is really just background music for


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


sanctions are taking route. We understand what the President said


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


additional confidence and potential immunity of a nuclear regime.


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


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


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


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


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


international community is saying, the fact is a country that


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


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


should be permitted to getting nuclear weapons.


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


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


trying to persuade the Olympic Committee to stage the games in


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


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


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


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


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


life. # I view the morning


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


attention. I think London is facing economic difficulties verging on


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


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


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


way the Olympics is prioritising a corporate agenda over a local


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


done to us by the Millennium Dome in power.


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


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


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


people helping themselves to trainers and TVs? Anyone who will


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


fiction. Raffle McQuartery were associated with all popular


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


bright through daylight hours. For Northern Ireland things going down


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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