08/03/2012 Newsnight


08/03/2012

Does it matter if mortgages go up? Newsnight considers the future for mortgage rates and asks what will become of those hoping to own a home. Presented by Kirsty Wark.


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A failed rescue attempt by British special forces in Nigeria ends in

:00:08.:00:12.

tragedy, as a British and Italian hostage are killed. It is with

:00:13.:00:17.

great regret I have to say that both Chris and Franco have lost

:00:17.:00:21.

their lives. We are still awaiting confirmation of the details, but

:00:21.:00:25.

the early indications are clear that both men were murdered by

:00:25.:00:28.

their captors, before they could be rescued.

:00:28.:00:32.

Our diplomatic editor Mark Urban is here.

:00:32.:00:36.

This was a set piece British operation, conducted after an

:00:36.:00:40.

intelligence gathering operation that lasted months. But tragically,

:00:40.:00:44.

it failed to save the hostages. We speak to an Italian senator who

:00:44.:00:47.

said they should have been consulted about the rescue

:00:47.:00:50.

operation. Spring is in the air, and just as

:00:50.:00:54.

we thought house buying was about to bloom, wham, balm, mortgage

:00:54.:00:59.

rates start to rise, what now for our property-obsessed economy.

:00:59.:01:05.

These photographs are the work of Time Magazine, William Daniels, who

:01:05.:01:09.

came under attack with the late Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik in

:01:09.:01:15.

Baba Amr. We talk to him about that attack, and his harrowing escape

:01:15.:01:20.

with his wounded colleague, Edith Bouvier. Reasons to be cheerful, it

:01:20.:01:24.

may be International Women's Day, but are women suffering more in the

:01:24.:01:31.

downturn. These women are divided over a 21st century women's lot.

:01:31.:01:36.

-- woman's lot. Good evening. A British and an

:01:36.:01:39.

Italian hostage being held in Nigeria are dead tonight. After a

:01:39.:01:42.

failed rescue attempt involving British Special Forces. Their

:01:42.:01:49.

captors, believed to be from the Al-Qaeda-inspired militant Islamist

:01:49.:01:55.

sect, Boko Haram, were working on a construction project and have been

:01:55.:01:58.

hostages since last May. The operation to rescue them has been

:01:58.:02:04.

on going for six months. The two men were taken on the 12th

:02:04.:02:10.

of May last year, appearing in a video made by their kidnappers.

:02:10.:02:13.

Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara, both worked for an Italian

:02:13.:02:18.

construction company, on projects in the state of Kebbi. A joint

:02:18.:02:24.

Nigerian and British security operation cornered the kidnappers

:02:24.:02:28.

in Sokoto, not far from where they were taken, and tonight David

:02:28.:02:31.

Cameron announced the outcome of a failed attempt to save them.

:02:31.:02:35.

Preparations were made to mount an operation to attempt to rescue

:02:35.:02:40.

Chris and Franco. Together with the Nigerian Government, today, I

:02:40.:02:45.

authorised it to go ahead with UK support. It is with great regret I

:02:45.:02:49.

have to say that both Chris and Franco have lost their lives. We

:02:49.:02:53.

are still awaiting confirmation of the details, but the early

:02:53.:02:57.

indications are clear that both men were murdered by their captors

:02:57.:03:02.

before they could be rescued. The skeej in Sokoto at the house

:03:02.:03:07.

where the two -- scene in Sokoto at the house where the two hostages

:03:08.:03:14.

were killed is described by an eyewitness. The neighbour told me

:03:14.:03:19.

they numbered about 40-50 and the occupants of the house were about

:03:19.:03:24.

seven, including these two hostages. The kidnappers were from the

:03:24.:03:28.

militant group, Boko Haram, it has recently been responsible for

:03:28.:03:33.

bloody bomb attacks in northern Nigeria. It is a Jihadist Islamic

:03:33.:03:37.

organisation, that emerged two years ago. Although loosely

:03:37.:03:41.

modelled on Arab militant groups, it has its own agenda in Nigeria.

:03:41.:03:45.

The point is they are making a political statement that it is very

:03:45.:03:49.

dangerous for westerners to work in northern Nigeria, a move they hope

:03:49.:03:55.

that will destablise the Government of Goodluck Jonathan, the President,

:03:55.:03:59.

and drive western companies out of Nigeria.

:03:59.:04:04.

With today's operation, Boko Haram moves up the international militant

:04:04.:04:08.

league table. Western firms, that for years have operated with care

:04:08.:04:12.

in Nigeria, because of the risks, will now have to look again at

:04:12.:04:16.

whether it is safe enough to carry on there, as this new insurgency

:04:16.:04:22.

gathers force. Mark Urban is with me now, a pretty

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dreadful end to the operation. In military terms it will not be seen

:04:27.:04:30.

in any way to be well planned, do you think? I think it could be

:04:30.:04:34.

argued that it was well planned. In a sense that finding the right

:04:34.:04:41.

intelligence to zero in on a kidnap gang is extremely hard, that was a

:04:41.:04:45.

Nigerian-led process, they raided a Hughes recently where they obtained

:04:45.:04:48.

intelligence of what was called a rebel stronghold, in the town where

:04:48.:04:53.

the incident took place today. They closed in, the British role was to

:04:53.:04:59.

provide the assault force, the SBS, the Special Boat Service, a group

:04:59.:05:03.

up to 24 troops engaged in assaulting it. It turned out to be

:05:03.:05:06.

a tough target, heavily defended. It is thought the hostages were

:05:06.:05:09.

probably killed while it was happening. This is the difficult

:05:09.:05:13.

thing with these operations. Some Downing Street tonight as to

:05:13.:05:18.

whether any of the hostage-takers emerged. The Nigerian President

:05:18.:05:22.

said they did, but people are telling me nobody came out alive.

:05:22.:05:26.

That would make the assumption that the SBS had to work very hard

:05:26.:05:31.

because they were very well armed? It was a heavy firefight, that is

:05:31.:05:35.

what people are saying. significant diplomatic fall-out

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from this? A significant fall-out, the Italian Government are unhappy

:05:39.:05:43.

about what happened. When this was put together, as an intelligence

:05:43.:05:46.

operation between the Nigerians and British several months ago, as we

:05:46.:05:51.

have been saying. I understand there was a general Italian

:05:51.:05:55.

approval given to pursue this type of init tell begins and follow it

:05:55.:05:59.

to its logical conclusions. It is clear -- intelligence and follow it

:05:59.:06:04.

through to its logical conclusions. But it is clear when David Cameron

:06:04.:06:09.

spoke today, he did not consult the Italian authorities when he gave

:06:09.:06:14.

the go ahead. I have the chair of the all-party parliamentary group

:06:14.:06:18.

on Nigeria, and I'm joined by a member of Silvio Berlusconi's

:06:18.:06:26.

People of Freedom Party. First of all, Mark Urban was saying that the

:06:26.:06:30.

Italians were not informed of the imminent attack, is that true?

:06:30.:06:37.

apparently so. It is something that is against what is usually done in

:06:37.:06:43.

this case, as it is quite uncommon that a country that is involved is

:06:43.:06:51.

not informed before. Apparently it was very difficult in the situation.

:06:51.:06:55.

It might have been the best decision, but it is still to be

:06:55.:07:00.

explained why the Italian authorities haven't been informed,

:07:00.:07:03.

although they are quite present on the territory of Nigeria. They were

:07:03.:07:08.

present on the territory, but presumably they signed up to the

:07:08.:07:10.

initial intelligence gathering operation, with the logical

:07:10.:07:14.

conclusion that it would be acted upon. Was that not sufficient for

:07:14.:07:24.
:07:24.:07:25.

Italy's needs? Well, it is something that we are not

:07:25.:07:29.

completely informed on so far. Usually in these cases, the other

:07:30.:07:36.

countries are informed when the operation is started. It was not

:07:36.:07:42.

started by surprise, I mean, it was something planned. The situation

:07:42.:07:46.

that we have heard about the situation, tells us that maybe it

:07:46.:07:50.

was impossible to do better than that. But certainly the outcome was

:07:50.:07:57.

not good, and we are not satisfied. I was going to say, it is a

:07:57.:08:01.

dreadful loss to have the death of the hostage, but, I assume, for the

:08:01.:08:06.

family as well, although, obvious low, the British family did not

:08:06.:08:10.

know there was about -- obviously, the British family did not know

:08:10.:08:15.

there was about to be an attack, neither did the Italian family as

:08:15.:08:20.

well? Every human loss deserves all the respect, we are not saying that

:08:20.:08:24.

our fellow countryman is more important than others. But the

:08:24.:08:29.

British Government was informed and our Government was not informed.

:08:29.:08:35.

That is all. I think that we are two countries that are friends,

:08:35.:08:40.

that fight alongside together say in Afghanistan, for instance, and

:08:40.:08:46.

I'm sure that everything will be set. Still, we would like to have

:08:46.:08:51.

what is the common way of doing in this case, as we would have liked

:08:51.:08:55.

to see the same also this time. this the mood generally, a cross-

:08:55.:08:59.

party mood, is this the mood emerging among all politicians in

:08:59.:09:08.

Italy? Yes. The current Government itself has asked for an explanation.

:09:08.:09:14.

The Government we have today is supported by more than 80% of the

:09:14.:09:22.

MPs. It expresses the positions, the position of the whole political

:09:22.:09:27.

Panorama of Italy. Finally, what would you like to hear from David

:09:27.:09:35.

Cameron? I think that he used the right words. We are absolutely sure

:09:35.:09:41.

that he was very sorry about what happened. As I said, we just want

:09:41.:09:46.

explanations to know why we have not been informed. With all the

:09:46.:09:52.

understanding we are ready to give, but to understand one has to be

:09:52.:09:58.

informed. Thank you very much for joining us.

:09:58.:10:03.

It was always going to be a very difficult operation, what do you

:10:03.:10:07.

make of what happened? I wasn't on the ground, I don't know what

:10:07.:10:11.

information the Prime Minister had. It seems there must have been some

:10:11.:10:15.

long-term negotiation going on. It is a very fraught country, Nigeria.

:10:15.:10:20.

We don't know exactly who is involved, it is too early to

:10:20.:10:24.

analyse that, but there seems to be links, possibly with Boko Haram.

:10:24.:10:29.

Boko Haram being an Islamist sect, following Al-Qaeda? It is early

:10:29.:10:34.

days. I would say where it happened is a long way from where they have

:10:34.:10:38.

been active before. Because of that distance we have to be careful of

:10:38.:10:44.

the analysis. I don't know if there are survivors. In terms of the

:10:44.:10:47.

Italian situation, I don't know how fast-moving it was at the moment.

:10:47.:10:51.

It seems odd that an ally like Italy was not kept informed. It is

:10:51.:10:54.

important we find out what happened, and the Prime Minister explains to

:10:54.:10:58.

the Italian Government what happened. So you would like him to

:10:58.:11:02.

apologise to the Italian Government? It is unusual that the

:11:02.:11:05.

Italian Government wasn't informed. At the moment with the military

:11:05.:11:12.

action you would that wouldn't happen, but diplomats in London

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could have been talking to Rome. the hours running up? Yes. There

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must be some point when knew the decision was going to travel, we

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are talking about long distances, we are not talking about split

:11:26.:11:30.

second decisions, it is difficult to talk about the distance.

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know the territory well, this would not be said to be, as it were, a

:11:34.:11:40.

coup for the hostage takers, but it was probably probblebatic for the

:11:40.:11:44.

Government, two men are -- problematic for the Government, two

:11:44.:11:49.

men are dad. Boko Haram is a threatening organisation for lots

:11:49.:11:57.

of people working in Nigeria? was a small group, it was

:11:57.:12:01.

geographically complicated until its leader was killed, now it is

:12:01.:12:05.

spread. It is difficult to know who is Boko Haram and who is taking the

:12:05.:12:08.

mantle. This is one of the challenging things about the issue

:12:08.:12:12.

of security in Nigeria, it is not easy to identify the leaders. It is

:12:12.:12:16.

a very serious issue for the country, a strategic importance in

:12:16.:12:20.

west Africa and the UK. The President has a really big task to

:12:20.:12:23.

tackle the security issue in his country.

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Now, for some borrowers it has just go got a whole lot more expensive

:12:28.:12:32.

to get a mortgage. As some lenders hike up their standard variable

:12:32.:12:36.

mortgage rates. The Chancellor wanted low-cost mortgages to remain

:12:36.:12:41.

that, as a cornerstone of recovery. But the banks say borrowing on the

:12:41.:12:45.

wholesale market has risen and they are reluctant to lend to each other.

:12:45.:12:50.

With the Bank of England saying interest rates will be held at 0.5%

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even longer. Are things getting completely out of kilter?

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It is exactly three years now since the Bank of England slashed its

:12:56.:13:00.

official rate to its lowest in three centuries, and it stayed

:13:00.:13:04.

there. Which has borrowers like Linda wondering, why, when the

:13:04.:13:08.

Central Bank is holding its rates at record lows, is her bank jacking

:13:08.:13:13.

them up. With a mortgage of �25 2,000, it is not the Halifax giving

:13:14.:13:18.

her extra, more the other way round. I got out Michael lator, I haven't

:13:18.:13:21.

had anything officially from the Building Society yet, but on the

:13:21.:13:25.

figures they were giving on television, our mortgage will go up

:13:25.:13:29.

by �100 a month. How will that affect you? It is a lot of money,

:13:29.:13:34.

our train fares have gone up �50, that is an extra �150 a month, it

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is a lot of money to have to find. The only way to do it is by cutting

:13:38.:13:43.

down on other things. Linda supplements her meagre income at a

:13:43.:13:51.

city farm in south London, by working as an estate agent at the

:13:51.:13:54.

weekends, even then she can't rein in her costs. I understand if the

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Bank of England puts up the risks, that is a risk -- puts up its rates,

:13:59.:14:03.

that is a risk we took. But for the mortgage lenders to put up rates is

:14:03.:14:08.

despicable. It used to be in the dim distant days before the credit

:14:08.:14:11.

crunch, that where the Bank of England led, the mortgage lenders

:14:11.:14:15.

would follow, rates would only go up and down when the Bank of

:14:15.:14:18.

England changed its rates. Four years ago that mechanism got

:14:18.:14:24.

crunched. Ever since then it hasn't been the Bank of England policy s

:14:24.:14:29.

but mortgage lenders' finances that have dictated what happens to

:14:29.:14:32.

interest rates. What is worrying is interest rates can be at record

:14:32.:14:36.

lows for years, and tens of billions have been printed, and

:14:36.:14:39.

still the Bank of England can't hold rates down. While the bank

:14:39.:14:43.

tries and fails to rein in mortgage costs, which lenders are refusing

:14:43.:14:49.

to follow its lead? Halifax is putting up its standard variable

:14:49.:14:58.

rate, from 3.5 to 3 .99%. Bank of Ireland's rate will raise to 4.49%

:14:58.:15:02.

by September. At RBS some offset and one mortgage account rate will

:15:02.:15:09.

climb from 3.75% to 4%. Those rises will affect 1.2 million households,

:15:09.:15:13.

just over a tenth of all mortgage borrowers, expect more to follow.

:15:13.:15:17.

Mortgage lenders say it is costing them more to get hold of the funds

:15:17.:15:23.

to lend, so they have to pass that cost on, in higher rates. Mortgage

:15:23.:15:27.

lenders have to attract savings in from the public, they have to offer

:15:27.:15:31.

rates that attract the money. Equally, in some cases they have to

:15:31.:15:34.

go to the wholesale markets to raise money. They have been

:15:34.:15:37.

affected by the general economic situation in the eurozone. So it

:15:37.:15:43.

isn't as stable a position as you might say, as you might think, when

:15:43.:15:47.

you look at the base rate. At the moment I don't see any rise in

:15:47.:15:51.

savings rates, in fact they seem to be as low as they ever were three

:15:51.:15:54.

years ago, why is that a justification for raising mortgage

:15:54.:15:59.

rates?. It is quite a complicated position. I think some rates are

:15:59.:16:05.

rising. Bear in mind as well, a lot defends on the particular need of

:16:05.:16:09.

the particular lender. -- depends on a particular lender, their

:16:09.:16:12.

particular view of their mortgage book, and what sort of business

:16:12.:16:18.

they want to attract. Back at Linda's farm that is not enough to

:16:18.:16:26.

satisfy the lend ers' critics. Last year -- lenders' critics. Raising

:16:26.:16:31.

rates when the banks bonuses were out might not have gone down well,

:16:31.:16:35.

and the cost of funds has come down since then. First of all, a lot of

:16:35.:16:39.

us put money with the banks and get nothing at all. Then they raise

:16:39.:16:42.

money broadly, they have to put capital when they lend. That cost

:16:43.:16:47.

to them, if you like, of supplying mortgages, it did go up last year

:16:47.:16:53.

and squeeze, in recent week it is has relief. I'm very surprised they

:16:53.:16:58.

put the rate up now, the margin has widened. Their money is cheaper

:16:59.:17:03.

than a few weeks ago? It is cheaper for the banks to lend to us. This

:17:03.:17:09.

is the wrong time, in my opinion, for them to raise mortgage rates.

:17:10.:17:14.

Economists hope as spring gets under way, so will the economic

:17:14.:17:21.

recovery. Many are in negative equity, and 1.9 million with equity

:17:21.:17:24.

of 10%. For mortgage prisoners it is difficult to switch mortgages,

:17:24.:17:29.

when their rates go up there is little they can do. With me to

:17:29.:17:34.

discuss the changes in the mortgage market, is the director of Europe

:17:34.:17:37.

Economicss, and Wendy Evans-Scott, President of the National

:17:37.:17:40.

Association of Estate Agents. That whole very point, that the banks

:17:40.:17:44.

are offering nothing to savers, because they can't, the Bank of

:17:44.:17:47.

England interest rates are there, they could add little and little

:17:47.:17:50.

bit on for different policies. But that is a quick way of getting

:17:50.:17:53.

money in, people can't move suddenly, they will be getting

:17:53.:17:57.

money in quickly from the additional mortgage costs?

:17:57.:18:03.

shouldn't be too fussed about the timing. It hasn't been politically

:18:03.:18:07.

expedient or economically expedient for banks to have raised rates over

:18:07.:18:11.

the last nine months. They now think they have the opportunity to

:18:11.:18:17.

do so. The opportunity? It is an opportunity. RBS, and Halifax, are

:18:17.:18:23.

owned by the public? They face some genuine funding difficulties

:18:23.:18:30.

associated with liquidity scheme from the Bank of England which is

:18:30.:18:32.

stopped. There are various regulatory requirements, associated

:18:32.:18:36.

with the way mortgages are looked at, tightening over time. We are

:18:36.:18:40.

reaching a point at which, looking out in the future, either we are

:18:40.:18:44.

going to, the economy will tick along or get worse, in which case

:18:44.:18:47.

we will get lots of foreclosures because of that, lots of defaults,

:18:47.:18:50.

or the economy will start to get better, in which case interest

:18:50.:18:55.

rates will go up, in which case a lot of people currently in distress

:18:56.:18:58.

will default. The economy gets better or worse, but people will be

:18:58.:19:04.

stung, it is the market? Well, the aspiration is still there to own a

:19:04.:19:10.

home. An Englishman's home is his castle. The market has seen some

:19:10.:19:14.

signs of recovery recently, this is a great shame, because obvious low

:19:14.:19:18.

the market was doing very well. -- obviously the market was doing very

:19:18.:19:22.

well. We are not happy about the interest rate rises. It effects

:19:22.:19:27.

roughly 1.2 million at the moment, it might go up to five and a bit

:19:27.:19:32.

million if everybody follows suit. Of that 5.5 million, there is bound

:19:32.:19:35.

to be a proportion that won't be able to pay the mortgages and there

:19:35.:19:41.

will be defaults, and people will have less disposable income to fuel

:19:41.:19:43.

the recovery? It is the wider picture, how it is affecting the

:19:43.:19:47.

rest of the economy. What will happen to the housing market if

:19:47.:19:52.

people default on their mortgages? We will have more repossessions,

:19:52.:19:55.

repossessions have been very low, recently, we are hoping a lot of

:19:55.:20:00.

people will take advantage of some new fixes on their mortgages,

:20:00.:20:05.

perhaps remortgage now, if they can. Would you be concerned about

:20:05.:20:09.

repossessions, increasing repossessions? We are concerned

:20:09.:20:12.

about repossessions. Especially when you have negative equity at

:20:12.:20:16.

the moment for people. So it is bad for people, isn't it?

:20:16.:20:22.

It is obviously difficult for individuals, but I think from the

:20:22.:20:25.

banks' point of view, they have to price realistically, one of the

:20:25.:20:30.

problems in the past is mortgage rates were too low, things which

:20:30.:20:34.

place mortgages moraleistically with respect in the genuine risk

:20:34.:20:38.

around mortgages should be welcomed. Difficult for individuals but

:20:38.:20:42.

better for the economy as a whole. Locking a little bit further ahead,

:20:42.:20:48.

if we get some recovery in the economy, it is often the case that

:20:48.:20:52.

the early phase of recovery is associated with many corporate

:20:52.:20:58.

insol Len sis, businesses finally give up the ghost in the recovery

:20:58.:21:02.

phase. Many households clinging on by their fingernails, once interest

:21:02.:21:07.

rates start to rise in the recovery rate, a symptom of recovery will be

:21:07.:21:12.

some bleeding off of households, that, frankly, should have been

:21:12.:21:15.

foreclosed on some time ago, and only kept on by policies. People

:21:15.:21:19.

will be out of their houses, this is exactly what the Chancellor

:21:19.:21:24.

didn't want? It is politically different. Those houses, in some

:21:24.:21:27.

cases they might benefit by these matters being resolved. If in the

:21:27.:21:30.

end they are going to have to default, it is better it happens

:21:30.:21:33.

sooner rather than later. You are actually saying this could be a

:21:33.:21:36.

good thing because it weeds people out with crippling mortgages they

:21:36.:21:41.

can't afford any way? The natural state here should be much more

:21:41.:21:44.

foreclosures. Do you agree with that? It is not a good thing at all.

:21:44.:21:51.

As I go back to what I was saying before, it has a greater impact on

:21:51.:21:57.

the economy. So many businesses are relying on property sales. It will

:21:57.:22:05.

affect the high street, in the US a recent survey said that the housing

:22:05.:22:10.

market is vital to the economy. Absolutely vital, and actually

:22:10.:22:15.

equated it to a number of jobs. We shall see what happens. As far

:22:15.:22:18.

as you are concerned, it is going to be 5.5 million affected by this

:22:18.:22:22.

in the end, this will find their way to things that are not variable

:22:22.:22:26.

mortgages, of that proportion, how many will be out on their ears?

:22:26.:22:32.

the 1990s, there were 300,000 foreclosures, housing price crash,

:22:32.:22:36.

that is larger than that, you should expect a fairly similar

:22:36.:22:40.

number. Policy has kept people going for a very long time. It is a

:22:40.:22:44.

legitimate for policy to think if things are temporary, stuff might

:22:45.:22:49.

get better, you can use policy to get people through that. If it will

:22:49.:22:53.

carry on for years and years, it is not the job of the Bank of England

:22:53.:22:58.

to punish prudent people by keeping savings rates very low, and coping

:22:58.:23:02.

inflation high, so as to keep some people who shouldn't have borrowed

:23:02.:23:12.
:23:12.:23:13.

the run in houses they can't afford. -- borrowed in houses they can't

:23:13.:23:18.

afford. We can't verify the facts in Homs.

:23:18.:23:21.

Today Baroness Amos said she had been deaf Vass tailted by what she

:23:22.:23:26.

witness -- devastated in what she witnessed in Homs. Kofi Annan has

:23:26.:23:29.

warned that further militarisation of the conflict would worsen a

:23:29.:23:33.

desperate situation. The pictures behind me were taken by the Time

:23:33.:23:37.

Magazine photographer, who came under attack, the same attack that

:23:38.:23:42.

killed Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik. We will hear from him in a moment.

:23:42.:23:51.

First this. The streets of Homs, once the

:23:51.:23:56.

centre of Syria's uprising, are eerily quiet now. Days after the

:23:56.:23:59.

Government forces crushed the rebellion there. We don't know for

:23:59.:24:04.

sure what has happened. Newsnight has heard reports from several

:24:04.:24:14.
:24:14.:24:43.

sources in the city of whole Paul Conroy, the British

:24:44.:24:47.

photographer, injured in Homs, whom Newsnight spoke to last week, has

:24:47.:24:51.

heard similar reports from other sources tonight about killings in

:24:52.:24:55.

another district, Baba Amr. I got a message out from activists

:24:55.:24:59.

who I worked with on the ground, they have sent me through very

:24:59.:25:03.

detailed reports full of names, locations and places of eight

:25:03.:25:07.

families that were massacred, also that the women, the young girls

:25:07.:25:12.

were taken off to a separate place. Very detailed, very accurate, very

:25:12.:25:18.

credible reports. I have no reason to doubt the authenticity.

:25:18.:25:22.

The reports can't be verified, monitoring organisations say they

:25:22.:25:25.

are also aware of the alleged murders, they think they may be

:25:25.:25:33.

sectarian in nature. Certainly this senior foreign

:25:33.:25:38.

visitor, the UN humanitarian chief, Baroness Amos, wasn't able to check.

:25:38.:25:42.

She was talking to Syrian officials in Damascus today, after a 24-

:25:42.:25:46.

minute tour yesterday of Baba Amr, the scene of the worst violence in

:25:46.:25:50.

Homs. I have been struck by the difference between what I have seen

:25:50.:25:58.

here in Damascus, and what I saw yesterday in Baba Amr. The

:25:58.:26:04.

devastation there is significant, that part of Homs is completely

:26:04.:26:07.

destroyed, and I'm concerned to know what has happened to the

:26:07.:26:11.

people who lived in that part of the city.

:26:11.:26:14.

She is still trying to negotiate access for international aid

:26:14.:26:17.

workers. While the violence continues.

:26:18.:26:22.

After quelling the uprising in most parts of Homs, the regime is now

:26:22.:26:25.

reported to be turning its attention further north. Its troops

:26:25.:26:29.

massing on the border of Idlib province. In the Jabal Al-Zawiya

:26:29.:26:34.

area, a stronghold of the rebel Free Syrian Army, there are said to

:26:34.:26:37.

have been clashes already with Government forces. Meanwhile back

:26:37.:26:41.

in the capital, Damascus, today, the army opened fire to disperse

:26:41.:26:46.

mourners at a funeral. Now, for the first time, a member of Syria's

:26:46.:26:51.

Government has defected, on YouTube. TRANSLATION: I do not want to end

:26:51.:26:56.

my career serving the crimes of this regime, I choose to join the

:26:56.:27:01.

voice of justice, knowing they will burn my house, persecute my family,

:27:01.:27:04.

and fabricate lies against me. I advise my colleagues and those who

:27:04.:27:08.

have remained silent for a year, about the crimes of this regime, to

:27:08.:27:13.

abandon this sinking ship. He's the most senior civilian official to

:27:13.:27:17.

abandon the regime, since the uprising began a year ago. The news

:27:17.:27:23.

has delighted opposition leaders. It shows, perhaps, the beginning of

:27:23.:27:27.

defections by important people, in the regime, who have started to

:27:27.:27:36.

realise that this regime is not going to stay. One defection by a

:27:36.:27:40.

junior minister, is also a reminder of how united Assad's Government

:27:40.:27:47.

has remained until now. Of his army, once 200 strong, maybe a quarter

:27:47.:27:51.

have deserted. Only -- 200,000 strong, maybe a quarter have

:27:51.:27:59.

deserted, not all of those have joined the opposition. His regime

:27:59.:28:05.

may not be done for yet. It is similar after how the Algerian

:28:05.:28:10.

Government won the civil war, after eight years. It is framing itself

:28:10.:28:14.

like those regimes, and saying provided the west doesn't intervene

:28:14.:28:17.

as it did against Gaddafi, perhaps the regime can survive with a

:28:17.:28:21.

smaller social base, but with a powerful security force, keeping it

:28:21.:28:26.

in power. In Hama, in 1982, the President's

:28:26.:28:30.

father, crushed an uprising and saved his regime at the cost of

:28:30.:28:35.

many thousands of lives. His son may still think he can repeat that

:28:35.:28:42.

feat. One person who has seen the

:28:42.:28:46.

bombardment of Homs up close is the Time Magazine photographer, William

:28:46.:28:50.

Daniels. He was with reporters Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik when

:28:50.:28:55.

they were killed last month in Baba Amr. He eventually escaped the city

:28:55.:28:58.

with another injured journalist, Edith Bouvier, at one point making

:28:58.:29:03.

use of a network of water pipes under the city. I spoke to him

:29:03.:29:07.

about his experiences from our bureau in Paris.

:29:07.:29:12.

Images like these are rare, not the grainy, unverified pictures we have

:29:12.:29:15.

grown used to from Syria, but professional photographs from

:29:15.:29:19.

inside a conflict that has grown increasingly bloody, and

:29:19.:29:22.

increasingly invisible to the outside world. These are the work

:29:22.:29:27.

of William Daniels, one of few foreign journalists to have worked

:29:27.:29:31.

inside Syria in recent month. A French photo magazine working for

:29:31.:29:34.

Time Magazine, he was in the same building as Marie Colvin and Remi

:29:34.:29:38.

Ochlik, when they were bombed and died two weeks ago. He took these

:29:38.:29:42.

pictures of Baba Amr and Homs on that ill-fated trip. Daniels was

:29:42.:29:46.

lucky, after a harrowing journaly, with wounded journalist, Edith

:29:46.:29:49.

Bouvier, he made it back to France for a presidential welcome. But the

:29:49.:29:54.

story he left behind is far from over.

:29:54.:30:01.

Can you tell us what happened at 8.00am on February 22nd? All of us,

:30:01.:30:07.

the six journalists, we were in this apartment, it is called the

:30:07.:30:15.

Media Centre, it was an apartment with a internet connection. At

:30:15.:30:19.

8.25am the first rocket hit the apartment out on the road. Two more

:30:19.:30:23.

rockets close to the apartment, then the fourth one, after the

:30:23.:30:32.

third one one Syrian guy asked us to go out, so we tried to escape

:30:32.:30:37.

very quickly. And Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik were already outside.

:30:37.:30:43.

They were ready to go. Then this same guy was taking care of us, he

:30:43.:30:51.

heard a launch of a new rocket. So he said, no, go back inside, to

:30:51.:30:55.

protect yourselves. Then the rocket hit the road, just at the entrance

:30:55.:31:01.

of the building, and Remi and Marie were very close to the impact, so

:31:01.:31:08.

they died directly. The four other journalists were

:31:08.:31:16.

inside the room with some Syrian people. Some had been wounded, like

:31:16.:31:24.

Edith and Paul, Javier and myself were just behind a wall and were

:31:24.:31:27.

safe. What happened with the Syrian activists and residents, residents

:31:27.:31:32.

were kind and risking their own lives to try to help you? Of course

:31:32.:31:35.

they were, they carried us to the hospital, they spent some time with

:31:35.:31:44.

us. Several days, and we were treated, Edith and Paul while we

:31:44.:31:50.

were shelled. Our apartment was targeted, for sure. But the people

:31:50.:31:55.

who took lots of danger to save us are the ones who helped us escape

:31:55.:31:59.

from Baba Amr and to go back to Lebanon for the last five days.

:31:59.:32:05.

had gone in by the tunnel, and you and he had dit tried to get out by

:32:05.:32:09.

the -- Edith tried to get out by the tunnel. What happened in the

:32:09.:32:13.

tunnel, you were pulling her stretcher, is that right? In the

:32:13.:32:18.

tunnel we went all together to try to escape. Before the end the

:32:18.:32:22.

Syrian forces, the Syrian army began to fire at the exit of the

:32:22.:32:31.

tunnel. I have been told they killed some people, the two

:32:31.:32:37.

journalists, Paul and Javier could escape, Edith and I had to stay in

:32:37.:32:42.

the tunnel and go back to Baba Amr, we came back to the hospital, Edith

:32:42.:32:49.

had to have a small operation on her knee. We went to bed, slept

:32:49.:32:55.

just two or three hours, and then in the morning a man who we have

:32:55.:33:00.

been seeing for several days, he told us, there is a solution now,

:33:00.:33:05.

maybe the guy is here, it is dangerous, do you want to try. We

:33:05.:33:09.

looked at each other and said OK, we will try it. We tried this road,

:33:09.:33:18.

and it was something very, very scary. As we said before, it was

:33:18.:33:25.

very close to Assad's army. Edith r dit was in great danger, wasn't --

:33:25.:33:29.

Edith was in great danger, there was a danger she could get a blood

:33:30.:33:33.

clot? If he was transported like this she could have had a blood

:33:33.:33:36.

clot and died. It was a lot of responsibility for me. It was

:33:36.:33:43.

something very, very, that makes me very anxious. But, well, it was

:33:43.:33:47.

fine. We are fine now. And we are safe. So I think now what is

:33:47.:33:50.

important is to talk about the Syrian people. We are safe, but the

:33:50.:33:54.

Syrian people are not safe. From your observations, what is daily

:33:54.:33:59.

life like in Baba Amr? It is something unbelievable. It is

:33:59.:34:05.

unbelievable. The city is all destroyed. On the streets you have

:34:05.:34:09.

pieces of concrete everywhere, you have big holes in each buildings,

:34:09.:34:13.

big rocket or mortar holes everywhere. There is no water or a

:34:14.:34:18.

little bit of water. There is not much food. You feel like there is

:34:18.:34:21.

nobody living in this city when you go out. Because you see nobody in

:34:22.:34:26.

the street. When you try to find you can, when you try to look for

:34:26.:34:31.

people, you can find that many families were still living in Baba

:34:31.:34:35.

Amr, just hiding in some apartment, hiding in some basement. They just

:34:35.:34:39.

couldn't escape. It was too dangerous to escape. Every day you

:34:39.:34:46.

have the shelling, sometimes it was like several hundred, maybe three

:34:46.:34:50.

hundred, I don't know, it is a personal estimation. Maybe

:34:50.:34:59.

sometimes it was something like 300 bombs a day. These bombs kill women,

:34:59.:35:04.

children, men, fighters of course. Thank you very much.

:35:04.:35:08.

Women across the globe marked International Women's Day today,

:35:08.:35:11.

but how much is there to celebrate. Everywhere you look, from

:35:11.:35:15.

parliament to the boardrooms, women are still underrepresented. This

:35:15.:35:18.

morning I was at the meeting where the Deputy Prime Minister couldn't

:35:18.:35:23.

remember how many women were in the cabinet. Nearly two years after the

:35:23.:35:27.

coalition came to power, promising to be the most family-friendly

:35:27.:35:34.

Government ever, what has changed. With are my guests.

:35:34.:35:38.

Labour MP Stella Creasy, Conservative MP Claire Perry, and

:35:38.:35:41.

Ruth Porter from the Institute of Economic Affairs. We are going to

:35:41.:35:46.

begin with Deborah and Ruth, I want to see your charts to support your

:35:46.:35:52.

ideas about whether women are doing better or not starting with you

:35:52.:35:56.

Deborah? I have pulled out a few statistics to get the discussion

:35:56.:36:01.

going. What we find is that women are significantly more likely than

:36:01.:36:05.

men to be unhappy with the Government's performance in general.

:36:05.:36:08.

Particularly with the Government's performance on the economy. Let's

:36:09.:36:13.

see? We have a couple of slides. Do you approve or disapprove of the

:36:13.:36:23.
:36:23.:36:33.

Reasons for that? I think women have very high hopes for this

:36:34.:36:37.

coalition Government. The idea of the coalition, two parties working

:36:37.:36:41.

together for the good of the country really appealed to women.

:36:41.:36:49.

You think women are generally more consensual? They are, they don't

:36:49.:36:54.

like back-biting politics, or dog- eat-dog politics, they wanted two

:36:54.:36:58.

parties working for the common good and they didn't see it. What is the

:36:58.:37:08.
:37:08.:37:16.

next chart? It is focusing more That's a net figure. Now, what I

:37:16.:37:22.

think that tells us is, it is a number of things. I think women

:37:22.:37:26.

actually are harder hit by the changes at the moment. They are

:37:26.:37:29.

more likely to have lost their job, they are more likely to be working

:37:29.:37:35.

in the public sector, more likely to be employed in the public sector.

:37:36.:37:39.

A million women now unemployed is the highest for 20 years. The women

:37:40.:37:42.

don't look at the economy from their perspective, they are

:37:43.:37:45.

thinking about their kids and their mum, they are seeing the economy in

:37:45.:37:52.

a round. Before your charts Ruth, just some response to that, the

:37:52.:37:57.

YouGov date it is woman are going bad, because they are disappointed

:37:57.:38:01.

by the coalition Government, and they are hit harder in the

:38:01.:38:05.

unemployment stakes? We have to be careful that we don't let

:38:05.:38:08.

perception influence how we view reality, in a sense, how we feel

:38:08.:38:11.

about things, often isn't a true reflection of how things are. We

:38:11.:38:16.

see that all over at the moment, with things like the people's

:38:16.:38:20.

attitude, people think that the Government is closing down the debt

:38:20.:38:23.

that actually they are reducing, they won't be adding to the debt

:38:23.:38:26.

over the course of the parliament. They are adding masses to the debt

:38:26.:38:29.

over the course of this parliament. How we feel about what is happening

:38:29.:38:32.

in the economy isn't always a reflection of what is happening. I

:38:32.:38:35.

think when we look at the data on women and how they are being

:38:35.:38:40.

affected by the coalition's policy, I think we see actually a different

:38:40.:38:45.

picture toe that. Let's see the charts you have -- Picture to that.

:38:45.:38:48.

Let's see at the charts you have brought? It looks at the redundancy

:38:48.:38:52.

rates. It is across the public and private

:38:52.:38:56.

It is across the public and private sector. Who is this from? The ONS.

:38:56.:39:01.

When you look at it, it is men feeling the hit overall, in erpls

:39:01.:39:10.

it of redundancy ..-- in terms of redundancy ..4% per 1,000, and 5%

:39:10.:39:14.

per ,000 for women. That is public and private sector. What is

:39:14.:39:22.

interesting when you look at the public sector, you can see. So

:39:22.:39:26.

public sector, the work force, it is made up disproportionately of

:39:26.:39:31.

women, 65%. We will see more cuts in the public sector. Women will be

:39:31.:39:36.

hit harder there. We need to be careful we don't engage with this

:39:36.:39:39.

debate in simplistic terms. Women will be hit with more public sector

:39:39.:39:45.

quts cuts, are you expecting them to do better when the private

:39:45.:39:48.

sector picks up the slack? Absolutely, for all women, getting

:39:48.:39:53.

the economy back on track, getting rid of the deficit and the public

:39:53.:39:57.

sector down to managable levels is important. There might be short-

:39:57.:40:00.

term pain for certain women in certain contexts for that to happen.

:40:00.:40:04.

I think we are falling into classic politicians' traps here. That is

:40:04.:40:09.

why women feel very turned off by politics. Number one, there are 32

:40:09.:40:11.

politics. Number one, there are 32 million in this country. To define

:40:11.:40:18.

us all as having one set of policy needs and agendas, we heard in this

:40:18.:40:21.

programme about mortgages, millions of women are paying off mortgages

:40:21.:40:25.

across the country, who have done extremely well by the low interest

:40:25.:40:28.

rates this Government has secured. We are taking a million people out

:40:28.:40:37.

of taxation all together. 60% of those are women. The other trap we

:40:37.:40:40.

are falling into is we are chucking up all the charts MPs like to talk

:40:40.:40:44.

about all the time. Let's get back to a principle here, there is

:40:45.:40:48.

nothing good for women about leaving this deficit for our kids

:40:48.:40:53.

and grand kids to pay off. That is why so many people like me have

:40:53.:40:57.

come into politics. We think we have an opportunity to sort this

:40:57.:41:01.

country out, and pay off the Labour Party's debt. What do you think of

:41:01.:41:05.

this? I think Claire is right, not every woman is suffering in the

:41:05.:41:08.

same way. It is the women' poorest end of the scale most affected by

:41:08.:41:14.

this. In the next couple of weeks thousands of families will lose

:41:14.:41:18.

Working Tax Credits, because you have changed the rules about

:41:18.:41:22.

entitlement. Unless they have more hours at work they will lose �4,000

:41:22.:41:26.

on incomes, they are on �17,000 a year, they are not the people you

:41:26.:41:30.

are talking about. This is the challenge we are facing. This is

:41:30.:41:35.

happening particularly to the poorest communities. Communities

:41:35.:41:40.

like mine where losing tax benefits and Child Tax Credits are important

:41:40.:41:46.

to women, they are in charge of household budgets. We had an

:41:46.:41:50.

International Women's Day today, and Labour activists got up saying

:41:50.:41:55.

we are removing child benefit from the seventh-richest country in the

:41:55.:42:00.

world. This is not what it is about, it is about when there is no money.

:42:00.:42:08.

The bendy bus drivers in my area, it is not a fair thing. Listening

:42:08.:42:14.

is a good women's thing to. Do we talked about public sector

:42:14.:42:17.

employment, 65% of public sector employment is women, it is actually

:42:17.:42:21.

at the lower end. There is a reason, flexibility in the work place has

:42:21.:42:25.

been a real problem for women in the private sector. It is easier,

:42:25.:42:28.

right now, to be a mother working in the public sector rather than

:42:29.:42:33.

the private sector, sharing parental leave. A lot of the jobs

:42:33.:42:40.

doing now are jobs seen when the chips are up as expendable jobs?

:42:40.:42:45.

disagree completely. That is why they are not in the redundancy

:42:45.:42:50.

figures. I suspect a lot of the redundancies are managerial jobs,

:42:50.:42:53.

in Wiltshire Council the cuts have been in management, no cuts to

:42:53.:42:58.

frontline services. That is not the case, it is evidence it is the

:42:58.:43:02.

people like lolly pop ladies, care workers and support officers,

:43:02.:43:07.

people who do an important job to help the public and private sector

:43:07.:43:12.

grow together. Without these women the country falls apart. Let's talk

:43:12.:43:14.

about perception, you are right we mustn't muddle up perception and

:43:14.:43:18.

reality. If you are the woman on the receiving end of the cut, your

:43:18.:43:22.

perception is your reality. A lot of women do feel very hard done by,

:43:22.:43:26.

and not just, you know, they are worried because their husbands are

:43:26.:43:29.

losing their jobs too. They are worried because their kids can't

:43:29.:43:32.

get jobs. They are also worried because they see public services

:43:32.:43:39.

begger roded, and they are much more likely than men to think cuts

:43:40.:43:44.

are administered unfairly. What we need to do is look at actually how

:43:44.:43:50.

to create more jobs, in the private sector, what can we be doing in

:43:50.:43:55.

labour market deregulation. One of the problems here is women are bore

:43:55.:43:59.

lowing from companies like illegal -- borrowing from legal loan sharks

:43:59.:44:03.

to cover that. It is the people at the poorest end making decisions

:44:03.:44:07.

that could leave them in debt for generations. That is a problem here.

:44:07.:44:12.

Let's widen it out, culturally, International Women's Day is

:44:12.:44:15.

celebrated, but culturally do you think things are better for the

:44:15.:44:19.

majority of women in this country? I think the clock is turned back.

:44:19.:44:22.

Whether we see changes on domestic violence. There are 230 women every

:44:23.:44:27.

single day in this country now being turned away from refugees. It

:44:27.:44:35.

is -- refuges, it is a huge cost to the public purse to look after

:44:35.:44:39.

those women. There is a 30% cut in provision. I am a Ukhtaing actually

:44:39.:44:43.

about a society, that might be the manifest -- I'm talking actually

:44:43.:44:48.

about the society. That might be the perception, but it is the

:44:48.:44:52.

manifestation of it. Women don't have the courage to say where the

:44:52.:44:56.

cuts will fall. It is still acceptable for men, in some

:44:56.:45:00.

families, for men to hit women in this country? It is completely

:45:00.:45:04.

unacceptable. That is why today, at Number Ten there was an

:45:04.:45:07.

announcement, three very important announcements, the adoption of

:45:08.:45:11.

Claire's Law, it is in recognition of a woman who was battered to

:45:11.:45:14.

death by somebody with a history of domestic violence. We are puting

:45:15.:45:19.

that on the statute book, we are pass ago law to make stalking

:45:19.:45:23.

something that is now illegal. Today we have put more money into

:45:23.:45:27.

Rape Crisis and Victim Support centres, in my constituency they

:45:27.:45:30.

say it is the first time they have been on a sustainable footing for

:45:30.:45:35.

three years. I wish I could convey to you how strongly MPs across the

:45:35.:45:39.

House feel about this. The time for this clapped out ideology is over,

:45:39.:45:45.

the time for women to work together on these incredible initiatives. Do

:45:45.:45:50.

you support the amendments freedom? Support the amendments to the bill

:45:50.:45:59.

to tackle stalking. Let's not talk over each other. You have 20

:45:59.:46:04.

seconds. This is the point, violence against women is not just

:46:04.:46:07.

about rape, but it is domestic violence, we are losing half a

:46:07.:46:10.

million street lights in this country, people won't be able to

:46:10.:46:15.

walk down streets because they are dark. You and I go home most nights

:46:15.:46:20.

after dark, it is not just about us, it is women at home fearing their

:46:20.:46:25.

partner's vie leoints. We have an amendment in the law for you to do

:46:25.:46:28.

this. Do you think things are better? Women have felt their lot

:46:28.:46:38.

has improved. We did a big survey recently when we asked men and

:46:38.:46:43.

people -- women feel, men are pessimistic, worried about the

:46:43.:46:48.

economy, jobs, worried about their kids, particularly. Health centre -

:46:48.:46:51.

- the lost generation. That is important thing to do as a

:46:51.:46:54.

Government. We can't transfer the borrowing to our daughters and sons

:46:55.:46:57.

to pay off. Thank you very much, tomorrow

:46:57.:47:03.

morning's front pages, that story about Nigeria, British hostage

:47:03.:47:08.

killed in a failed rescue bid. Kidnap Britain killed as PM sends

:47:08.:47:13.

in Special Forces. In the times, new laws will speed up adoption.

:47:13.:47:17.

That story, Al-Qaeda hostages die as SBS rescue fails. That is all we

:47:17.:47:27.
:47:27.:47:52.

have time for on Newsnight. From A cloudy night tonight means it is

:47:52.:47:56.

not quite as cold T does make for a rather grey start on Friday morning.

:47:56.:48:00.

Overall a much cloudier day, wet weather across North West Scotland,

:48:00.:48:03.

slowly spreading into south of Scotland and parts of Northern

:48:03.:48:09.

Ireland. Drizzley conditions over the Pennines and general lie across

:48:09.:48:15.

Cumbria. Most places dry, some spots brighter skies in eastern

:48:15.:48:19.

England. Temperatures jumping up to 13 Celsius, even where it is cloudy

:48:19.:48:24.

around the western most coast, temperatures still 10-11. A bit of

:48:24.:48:29.

drizzle here and there, conditions over hills and mountains over the

:48:29.:48:34.

west coast. Most of Wales dry and cloudy. Dry and cloudy across the

:48:34.:48:37.

southern half, maybe 14 in Belfast, northern parts of Northern Ireland,

:48:37.:48:41.

after a dry start, it will turn wet by the afternoon. That rain

:48:41.:48:46.

affecting the central belt of Scotland. Central Scotland starts

:48:46.:48:50.

wet but brighter during the day. More brightness on Saturday,

:48:50.:48:53.

eastern parts of Scotland and England. Where we get any sunshine

:48:53.:48:57.

over the next couple of days, temperatures could really jump up,

:48:57.:49:01.

maybe 14, 15 in the south-east on Saturday, similar conditions on

:49:01.:49:06.

Sunday. Overall on Saturday it will start off cloudy, one or two spots

:49:06.:49:09.

Does it matter if mortgages go up? Newsnight considers the future for mortgage rates and asks what will become of those hoping to own a home.

Presented by Kirsty Wark.


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