02/04/2012 Newsnight


Sue Lloyd Roberts reports from Burma on the landslide victory for Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD party, and Jeremy Paxman talks to Damien Hirst about art, magic, and money.

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If the Education Secretary gets his way, A-level exams are going to get


more difficult. Newsnight can reveal his plans to transform


English secondary education. happy! Students may celebrate


getting the grades they want, but the exams are, he says,


increasingly useless to universities, so he now wants


universe to set them. Our political editor is here with the details.


In this letter Michael Gove sets out his plans to remove the


education department from exam interference, but will it be


accepted. Is he trying to re- establish credibility for exams, or


just doing a few universities a favour.


Happy days for democracy campaigners in Burma, are they


singing too soon, we have Sue Lloyd Roberts there.


Is the Government penalising people with mental health problems in its


zeal to deliver on one of its biggest promise, to make work pay.


Basically they are playing with people's lives. You can't turn


around and stop somebody's benefit after paying them for nearly six


years, and say you're fit to work. Whoever thought that aquariums full


of dead things were the road to fabulous wealth, Damien Hirst did,


and it paid off big time. He tells us what it was all about. Great car


is art, anything that takes it out of the normal world and into the


magical world. Something magical is art.


It will mean an end to the annual summer argument about how exams are


being made easier, because the implication is that A-level, the


culmination of secondary schooling, will be made harder, perhaps quite


a lot harder. The he had case secretary has decided it is none of


his business -- the education secretary has decided it is none of


his business to decide exams and wants the job done at the country's


better university N a letter seen by Newsnight, he has told the head


of the body that runs exams in England, that he expects this big


shake-up to be in place before the next election.


Allegra Stratton reports. Here is taxing question for you,


you may select only one answer, are That's a line from a letter


obtained by Newsnight and written on Friday last week, by the


Education Secretary, Michael Gove, to Ofqual, the exams' regulator.


The a second believes A-level standards have been steadily


dropping, and the only way to stop this is to get universities


involved in the educating of the students heading their way. In his


Universities complain about the quality of the students coming


through their doors, they say they either have to put on remedial


classes to help them catch up, or at the end of the course they have


to lower the grades. Now the Government is saying don't complain,


get involved, alter the content of these courses. With history A-level,


if you want long answers, rather than short structured answers, go


for it. With A-level physics, if you want to include calculus, so be


it. The Oxford and Cambridge board is the only university-owned Exam


Board in existence, they are chomping at the bit. What was it


like before, universities moaning about the quality? We have quite a


few complaints, people complain about predict pblt, about MoD dwu


laterisation, that makes it too easy for students to gain results.


They complain about the academic schools, to think independently,


write critically in essays, we think it will help us to focus on


those skills. The Government thinks that for the past 20 years the


state has elbowed universities out, it is the state that is responsible


for the exam results now. Now they are pushing the first domino that


will be felt all the way down the he had case system. Short, these


reforms will be felt on students of -- shortly these reforms will be by


students of all ages. As well as these slower-burn trends, the


Government has been partly spurred into action by a scandal revealed


by the Mail Newspaper last year. are cheating and telling you the


cycle, probably the regulator will tell us off. Then they revealed


through undercover filming of Exam Board seminars, teachers appearing


to be given unfair information. Every year the Exam Boards and


Ofqual decide with great care and extreme diligence what mark


constitutes grade A. That has shifted up over the years. There


are other ways of maintaining standards, the top 10% get an A,


you link it to another test you know about. You give the marks out


there. There are other ways to do this, the mechanism used at the


moment hasn't quite cracked it, and just involving universities


wouldn't crack it either. This policy is from the Michael Gove


school of hard knocks, it will be painful, but Britain's skills must


improve if we are to compete in the future. There will be similar


policies in the next few months, aimed at bringing up the standards


of GCSEs, just like at the have with A-levels, for some it is the


pursuit ofics lens, for others it is eliteism. -- of excellence, for


others it is eliteism. Some people will feel out in the cold, and some


ways of working that might suit more average students, may not be


privileged in the A-level system. It is possible you will get an A-


level that doesn't cater for the full spectrum of those coming to do


A-level in the first place. You have to see how that pans out.


Government believe there are changes afoot they have to track,


or else Britain will be left behind. At the extreme end of experiments


in education, American academic, the Professor of Artificial


Intelligence at Stanford, recently opened up his course for anyone to


take, no matter they were in the world. Thousands took up his offer.


Many pupils may decide, Government sources wonder, that such courses


offer them far more than state- controlled exams in the future.


There will be much flesh to add to bones in the weeks ahead, one thing


is pretty certain, if you know anyone due to begin their A-levels


in 2014, it will be a bit harder than they were expecting. Here to


examine the proposals further, the head of the Russell Group of


universities, the Oxford graduate and founder of Keystone Tutors, and


the Labour MP who used to chair the Education Select Committee. Does


everyone agree something has gone wrong with A-levels? We have


several concerns with A-level, there isn't a crisis with A-levels,


they broadly fit the market. Several concerns were mentioned on


the film and in Michael Gove's letter. Including this


modularisation, students can learn in chunks of knowledge, and then


tested on that little chunk, and learn to forget it, someone has


called it, then they can resit the chunk if they fail it. It got


easier? Easier? We worry about the ability of those students to have


an overall grasp of the subject. an observer, it does seem they have


gotten ease yes, 24% getting A- grade -- easier, 24% getting A


grades? The problem with the system in this country is narrowness. We


are looking at a group of international comparisons, we are


the only people who ask kids at 16 to concentrate on three subjects,


then they go on to do a degree in one subject in depth. The real


problem we have is the narrowness of scope in our education system.


That is probably why the level of undergraduate study is higher than


in other countries? There is no evidence of that. There is a great


deal of anecdotal evidence? It is anecdotal. We are off the point


here. I believe in evidence-based policy, Jeremy. How did you find A-


levels, easy? I didn't find A- levels easy, but they were highly


prescriptive, I think what Barry was saying, although true it is


largely off the point. I think so too. The point about A-levels, they


have been rising ever since the Government got involved in A-levels.


We have seen an increase every single year for 30 years in A-level


grades. The problem he is dealing with, which was referred to in the


report there, is that the suggestion from the universities


seems to be, they don't teach you how to think properly? There is an


element of that. That some of the subjects don't foster that ability


to analyse critically, to step back from a text and look at it


objectively, rather than emtheyically, which tends to be the


trend in subjects like English and history. We have problems in


subjects like maths, where some of the moduals are not challenging


enough, not only to go on to a maths degree, but engineering and


physics. You think that is a problem? I do, but it is not only a


problem in the science subjects and maths, it is a problem we have


faced for a long time, that A-level is not just for university entrants,


if we think it is only about university entrance, we get boxed


in. It should be a group of qualifications that fit people for


life. One of the problems about the A-level, and the research, Jeremy,


shows this, is there is no applied nature of the A-level, it is too


theoretical, applied knowledge is very important in young people of


this age. If these proposals of Michael Gove are implemented, they


will be more like that, aren't they? They will be more academic.


They become the property of the elite universities? That's right.


Quite right. Wendy will be very happy about that presumably, I


think it is wrong, most people in this country don't go to Russell


Group universities, they go to a different group of universities and


do much more applied courses? completely see the case for having


a diversity of different learners in this country. Children learn in


different ways, they want to go on to a multitude of different jobs.


We do need, this is the real challenge. Why should you get to


decide what goes into A-levels? do need a range of qualifications,


and we have quite a few, actually, that equips students for different


schools in life. We have a right to be -- skills in life, we have a


right to be concerned about A- levels that are supposedly trying


to equip students to go on to our courses. It doesn't mean that I


don't care about other courses and student that is won't go to Russell


Group universities, I'm hone anything on a problem that we are


having. Which you appear to accept, they do have a problem? The problem


very often in these things is politicians coming out with their


latest wheeze that they dreamt up in the shower. This is a politician


getting out of the business, saying it is not his job? Very interesting


you say that. I believe it when I see it. The fact of the matter,


he's actually handing over to elite universities, called elite


universities, that he happens to trust, rather than a broader


university. So he's putting, he's also, injure me putting Ofqual in a


position, that we tried to get away from, being the designer and


regulator of these exams. Can I make a point about taking


responsibility for A-level, I don't think universities at the moment


have the resources to take over, as you say, A-levels. We have a core


business of teaching undergraduates, who will be, by the way, even more


demanding, when they are paying �9,000 a year. So we have a lot of


prioritisation that is going on to make sure they are getting a


fantastic education. Plus, we also do some research. So just to caveat


here. Let this young man get a word in edgeways. You run a tutoring


business. Do you have clients that come to your tutoring business, who


are young people, gone to university, having done A-levels


and can't cope? Absolutely. We see that not only in what the students


are saying, but what the universities are doing. Quite a lot


of universities now spend much of their first year teaching stuff


that should have been taught at A- level. We talk about what Wendy was


talking about, saving money, that seems like a huge waste of money


for the taxpayer to be spending a third of a university course


teaching stuff which, in some cases, should have been taught at A-level.


That is a very familiar argument, I have heard that from loads of


academics? It was politicians, starting with Ken Baker, who


actually introduced more testing assessment, right through the lives


of these students. A very onerous Ofsted inspection system, and on


top of that, a system that gives teachers no ability to teach.


was between both parties you have managed to really damage the


education system? Politicians should keep out of education as far


as possible. That is what my ten years of experience does. That is


exactly what Michael Gove is doing? He says he's doing it, seeing it is


believing it. He has only written a letter, that we have sight of,


writing a letter to express an intention of getting out of this


prescriptive business, you are criticising him? I don't believe


him, I know Michael Gove, Michael now has the most centralised,


powerful Department of Education this country has ever had, you can


forget localism and devolution, it is the most powerful education


department in the history of this country. He has got rid of Local


Education Authorities. Who will lose out? Usually it is the


students who lose out, when politicians get involved, yet again,


with a new fashion and a new fad. Let's not argue about whether he's


getting involved or getting out. What do you think will be the


effect of this proposal? That is the one disadvantage I can see to


this, since 2000 I was one of the first years where AS was brought in.


I think there has been a new reform pretty much every single year, if


it does go ahead, I would like to see it as a simplification, rather


than a more complication to the A- level system. Just to go back to


what Barry was just saying there I'm not a spokes plan for the


Conservative Party at all, I do think his moves in the schools --


spokesperson for the Conservative Party at all, I do think his moves


for schools liberating them from the education authority, there is


muscle in this letter. We will see what comes out. The proof of the


pudding. Let's hope it works out. Hopefully students will be the


winners. Everybody hopes it works out, of course they do!


It was a sight see, if not all of her supporters, was confident one


day she would see. Aung San Suu Kyi's victory in Burmese elections


isn't the end of the story, the vote was only a by-election, and


power remains in the hands of the bunch of generals and retired


generals who control, and indeed, own, much of Burma. They want


international sanctionss lifted, and maybe the election result will


help -- sanctionss lifted, and maybe the election result will help.


One of the surprising things to happen over the last few hours is


the Government has used state TV to announce that Aung San Suu Kyi's


party, the NLD, have won 40 seats. The NLD say they have won 436789


the Government always said they would take days to confirm the


result, it is as if they can no longer hide the size of heroin.


Aung San Suu Kyi was mobbed when she arrived at party headquarters


today, she urged calm. It is a delicate situation. She spoke of


national reconciliation. We hope that this will be the beginning of


a new era, where there will be more emphasis on the role of the people


in the every day politics of our country. We also hope that we will


be able to go further along the road towards national


reconciliation. Aung San Suu Kyi there, choosing


her words carefully. She has the support of the President, who she


believes is a true reformer. He needs her to add respectability to


his Government, in the hope that sanctions might be lifted on Burma.


The unknown is the army, and how far they will go along the path


towards a true democracy. Aung San Suu Kyi says everything is very


fragile, and reversible, indeed, I spent the last few days in Burma,


looking at the reforms which the Government claimed to have


implemented so far. They really Burma has an unchanging quality.


The beauty of the country, spirituality, and the misfortune of


these gentle people to be bullied by a cruel military regime. But


change has taken place in that last respect. And, at breathtaking speed.


There have been elections, there is a parliament, and the opposition


leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is about to take a seat there. But is that


parliament any more than just a talking shop in a country where the


army makes all the real decisions. And Aung San Suu Kyi, is she being


used by the Government to gain legitimacy in the outside world?


How real is change in Burma? # Let's dance together


# Can you hear me Burma is definitely changing. There


is a girl band recently formed, Myanmar Girls, a pun on the name


for the country used by the Government.


Spice Girls wannabes, who express all the frustrations of the younger


generation, cut off from the rest of the world. What do you really,


really want? You know, we are concerned with music, that's all.


In our country music is really slow to follow, to be international,


that is why everybody has to know about it, all kinds of music and


have to support the music which is really cool. It is hard to say what


democracy is, we have never been, we just heard about it, we have


never seen it. Because we were under military Government, and we


have to do what they want to do, and we can't do what they don't


want. Perhaps because they don't push the


barriers in a political way, the Government censorship board has


been so far relaxed. They go as far as they can with the outfits, but


have been warned that their shirts must not be too revealing.


Things haven't been so easy for others in Burma, like those who


believe it when the Government claims it wants to relax controls


on the media, and promote workers' rights.


Every Saturday, a messenger arrives at the Myanmar Times, a weekly


published in English and Burmese. He comes for the Ministry of


Information, with instructions on what can and, more worryingly,


cannot be included in the paper. An article on the front page on


corruption in Government has to go. So what's the matter with that


article there? It is about the labour union, which is really


really sensitive to-to-them. can't write about labour unions?


Not every time, sometimes we can. Mostly they can't.


In another office in Rangoon, a lawyer is equally confused about


the new you laws, supposed to allow strikes under trade unions. He's


trying to help workers from a shoe factory. They work eight-hour days,


six days a week, for less than a dollar a day. They want to strike


and to form a trade union. Their representative shows me how


they have designed a logo, showing the boot of oppression, from which


they are fighting free to form a trade union. But they won't let us,


she saying, they say they can only form a workers' organisation.


What's the difference? TRANSLATION: We have to have new labour laws in


this country, that give rights to workers. The Government knows they


have to accept this, if they are going to encourage investment from


abroad. They say we can form workers' organisations, but they


don't want us to form real trade unions, so workers, like these


ladies, can't link up with the international trade union movement


abroad. This man is not too worried that he


has problems with his TV set, it just needs hitting now and then!


Myanmar radio and television, the state broadcasting channel, isn't


worth watching, he says, you don't hear anything about real issues,


nothing about labour disputes or demonstrations.


He was an undercover radio journalist for a satellite TV


company operating from abroad. He was sentenced to 17 years in jail


after the 2007 uprising. He was released in January, along with


hundreds of others, as part of the Government reforms.


TRANSLATION: When the Saffron Revolution happened, we took these


pictures to show the outside world what was really happening in Burma.


How the amongst led the people in revolt, and we told how hundreds of


us were imprisoned or fled abroad. Nothing like this is ever on state


TV. It is still forbidden to talk about the existing political


prisoners. Most people don't even know there are still political


prisoners, the wife of one tells me, nervous that we are being watched.


When strangers visit her, men from ministry intelligence come and


question her neighbours, it makes her anxious, she explains. Her son


says there is someone snooping around outside, he locks the door.


TRANSLATION: They always come at night when they arrest my husband,


eight times in all, the last time was in 2007. We always kept his bag


prepared, because we never knew when they would arrive, or where


they would take him. What was your husband's crime? He was


TRANSLATION: He was arrested for being involved in politics, for


supporting Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the NLD, and working for human


rights. I have no idea when I'm going to see him again, only those


who arrested him know. Journalists and foreign observers


were allowed into Burma for the by- elections, but in so many other


respects the Government's reform programme doesn't add up to much.


Senior members of her own party have questioned her decision to


stand. REPORTER: Are you not worried that you are being used by


the Government to give it legitimacy? I keep being asked


whether I'm not afraid of being used, I have always said if I'm


going to be used for the sake of the nation, that's fine by me.


assured us she wants to introduce changes to the country, like the


rule of law, and the eradication of poverty.


Her own constituency, spread over a wide area of the Irrawaddy Delta,


would be a good place to start. It was devastated by Cyclone Nargis


four years ago. This man says they all have to go to the jungle and


cut the bamboo to rebuild their houses.


Bamboo is the only thing they have here in any quantity.


The Government gave us nothing, he says, only a local businessman


helped by giving us some rice. He lives in a village typical of


rural Burma, with no running water or electricity. The Burmese


Government spends a tiny fraction of its revenue on education and


health and it shows. TRANSLATION: Life is a struggle, we


only eat if we can find a day's work. We try to save money to send


the children to school, if one of them gets ill, we need money to pay


for a doctor. To my astonishment, in this village, in possibly the


most famous constituency in the country, few people knew anything


about the elections. TRANSLATION: heard something on a radio. It is


as if the Government doesn't exist here. At the Government party


headquarters, in the local town, they wouldn't let me in to talk, I


wanted to ask them why the Government spends so little on its


people. But locals here are more aware.


This man says the Government gives them nothing, they are always


cheating and always rigging and always lying.


This woman says she voted for Aung San Suu Kyi, because she suffered


and sacrificed so much, we believe she might help us.


Burma's President, Thein Sein, was head of the relief team after the


cyclone, that killed more than 100,000 people here. The


Government's inability to cope with a disaster, was, people tell you,


the wake-up call for him. Alerting him to the country's desoperate


need for development. Which means putting Burma's huge wealth, in


Jade, precious stones, timber, oil and gas, to a use other than just


making the generals rich, and this is where the election of Aung San


Suu Kyi fits in to the Government's plans.


The currency here, the kyat, is being floated from today, to


encourage foreign investment. Now that Aung San Suu Kyi can enter


parliament, the Government hopes that sanctions will be lifted.


The European Union is to debate the issue later this month.


At a party in Rangoon, I'm introduced to people by name and


then by the number of years they were sentenced to jail. This is the


elite of the generation of 1988, the revolt that started the


campaign for democracy, and which launched Aung San Suu Kyi.


You were sentenced to 55 years, and this lady here? And you too, for 55


years. 65. Between them they spent hundreds of years in jail, most


were released only weeks ago. What do they expect of the international


community now? This woman served 12 years in prison. TRANSLATION:


European Union should look at the true situation here, and force the


Government to implement the reform process, and bring about a better


Government in the interests of the people. Jimmy spent 15 years in


jail. TRANSLATION: I don't agree with


lifting sanctions, partial lifting would be OK, but only after the


remaining political prisoners have been released, and the ethnic


conflicts have ended. Only when there is true national


reconciliation in the country, and the constitution has been amended


to allow full parliamentary democracy, only then should all


For now, there is rejoicing in Burma, that there has been a


genuine political breakthrough here. The country's opposition party and


their leader now have a voice in parliament.


These people now hope that the momentum will keep going, and will


bring about real change. We will have more from Sue Lloyd


Roberts in Burma tomorrow. We learned from George Osborne's


budget, that he's planning to reduce the welfare bill by a


further �10 billion, and cutting welfare is politically popular. Why


should people pay taxes to support people who could earn their own


living. But are people genuinely unfit to


work, being treated unfairly, to please the mob?


The chief executive of the mental health charity, Mind, seems to


think so. He has resigned as an adviser to the Government body


trying to determine how many are claiming benefit when they ought to


be working. I will be talking to him shortly first, Susan Watts


The world of mental illness is an uncomfortable one to enter, for


those who have not experienced it directly.


How a professional or sufferer sees things is likely to be very


different from the way a politician might.


She asked us if I go to the doctors, and so on. But then never asked


anything about my mental health at all. Paul Brown is a keen


photographer, he was signed off work as an IT consultant six years


ago as -- but was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and


tried to take his life last year. He had receiving Incapacity Benefit


of �90 a week, until an assessment three week ago. It was a case if I


was able bodied more than anything else. She never asked about my mood


swings, about the medication I'm on, about the psychiatric care and so


on. After about 10-15 minutes she said that was all. Then about two


weeks, three weeks later, I received a letter saying they were


terminateing my benefit, because in their opinion, I was fit to work.


Paul Brown was reassessed as part of the Work Capability Assessment,


introduced under Labour, a French company called ATOS, won a


multimillion pound contract to reassess capability. A scrutiny


panel was monitoring this, this panel included Paul Farmer, the


chief executive of the mental health charity, Mind N his


resignation letter, Mr Farmer said that problems are seriously


underestimated, and the process does not assess people's mental


health, and one in four assessments were incorrect. The res letter


In his reply, the Employment The Government says that so far


more than a third of people going through reassessment have been


found fit for work. But at what cost? To be honest with


you, I was contemplating suicide again, once I got the rejection.


You just feel hopeless, you just feel inadequate. You are basically


not wanted. The man who resigned today, Paul


Farmer, chief executive of Mind, is here now to talk about his decision,


along with Neil O'Brien, from Policy Exchange, that is the think-


tank. He's broadly supportive of the Government as approach to


reducing the number of welfare claimants. You don't think the


Government is being intentionally cruel? No, I think the problem here


is that they don't really understand the impact of this test


on people. The test which just simply isn't working. 50% of people


are appealing against this test, and 50% of those appeals are being


upheld. So the system works? It is not working at all. If half of the


appeals are upheld, it is working? No, because the appeals are against


the original claims, people are being found fit for work, somebody


like Paul, doesn't agree with it, and then there is an appeal. The


appeals system is costing us �50 million a year, in order to be able


to be implemented. We saw an advertisment just last week,


advertising for 150 more judges to hear these appeals. What we really


want to do is get the test right in the first place, so we don't have


so many appeals. I don't quite know how you will do that since you have


quit the process supposedly reviewing it? We have made a number


of recommendation about how that can be changed. Those


recommendations are there to be implemented. We are frustrated


about the slowness of pace. What is your take on this? The Government


are gradually trying to improve these tests, they have made a lot


of changes after an independent review. We need to remind ourselves


why we need the test. For new claimants, we are finding six out


of ten people are found completely fit to work, another two out of ten


people are found fit to work in the future, only two out of ten are put


into the support group. If the test wasn't here, a huge number of


people would be waved throughen to benefit they don't need. You spend


a huge amount of money that should be on more severely handicapped


people. If you park people on benefits and say you will never


work again, you are not capable of anything, we are only interested in


what you can do rather than you can -- cannot you do, rather than what


you can do. The suicide rate is higher, and people get worse.


does make a lot of sense that, Paul Farmer, presumably you believe in


getting people off benefits if they can be? We know lots of people with


mental health problems do want to work. Those statistics that Neil


quotes are from people who are newly on to the test. As he said.


Yes, a group of people,.2 million people, who have been on inxas --


1.2 million people who have been Incapacity Benefit for a long


period of time. They haven't had any support, they are put on to the


test at a point when there is no chance of them finding work.


there a difficult with people having mental as opposed to fiscal


problems? I think there are three - - Physical problems? I think there


are three problems, it is harder to get jobs, the stigma with mental


health, the test itself doesn't understand the issues around mental


health problems. The assessors are poorly trained in mental health as


an issue, you are more likely to get the wrong kind of outcome, that


will conversely impact on people's self-esteem. That chap we saw in


the tape, he made the point, didn't he? This is not an easy thing to do


at all. The Government have made a number of changes in this direction,


they have brought in more people with mental health specialisms and


the like, you are haggling how fast these things are going, there is


talk about a gold standard about issues going forward. You don't


think they are going fast enough and there is no pressure to go on.


We can have a debate about how it should work. As a sensitive human


being, conceding this in the previous point, you support the


principle that people who are incapable of work, because they are


unwell, unmit fit, have mental problems, or physical problems,


they should be allowed to stay on benefits, shouldn't they? What


makes this thing so tough is that you have to be clear about not


taking people off this benefit who need it, who have genuine mental


health problems. It is harder than physical problems, you can't people


in the system saying they have a bad back, no sick tomorrows, but I


just want to claim benefits. It is the main route for gaming the


system, so you have to say no sometimes, it is tough. This talk


George Osborne went in for, of taking another �10 billion out, is


it doable? If I was trying to take out another �10 billion, the place


I would concentrate is on jobseeker's allowance, people


capable for work. There is so much more to be done there. I would


firstly look at people's needs at the start of the claim, we don't do


that well enough. And people longer term on the benefit, more demanding


work requirements, something more like workfare like they have in


Canada and Australia and places like that. You don't do it by


making the benefits system less generous, but by moving people out


of benefits all together and into work. Paul Farmer, do you have a


sense that this is, in a way, an easy target, for the Government?


Clearly we're all massively in doubt, everyone is paying large


amounts of tax, do you think this is an easy place to look for


savings? I think for too long people haven't heard that voice of


people with mental health problems, who are extreme low distressed


about this situation. So in some aspects of the media's eyes, people


on benefits are lumped together into a single package without any


recognition of the nuances around this. People are too much of an


easy target, we will see the consequences of this, in terms of


increased hospital additions and increased cost to the NHS. Some


people, who would really like to work, just feeling, yet again, as


though they haven't been treated properly.


Pickled shark, a diamond-encrusted skull, rotting meat and emerging


butterflies, the quick-fire summary of Damien Hirst's artistic career,


or his ability to induce rich people to part with millions for a


gimmick is easily told. If you have ever wondered what the fuss was


about, you can decide for yourself, at the Tate Modern gallery in


London, he has been given a retrospective to run through the


Olympics. His most outspoken recent critic who thinks it is all a con,


hadn't been allowed in when I went down this morning, luckily I was,


I read an interview in which you described some of your work as


"shit". Shit? You used the word "shit", is there any work here that


is shit? I have sent a text to Jeff Koons recently, and I said "I love


your shit", and I meant it in a positive way. I have a studio where


I make lots of shit, you have to be able to make shit. You know, this


is definitely an edited version of what I do. You can be brutal in the


way you look at it, you could say everything is shit except for four


pieces or ten pieces. Do you wonder what state of mind you were in when


you went through different phases? It is always the, art work is


refined, it is not often you make an art work in a moment. It is a


culmination of a few moments. They all, everything in here seems like


me. You know what the accusation against you is? There is a few,


aren't there. The main one is that you are more preoccupied with money


than art? I think I have thought a lot about that. I think money is


important, I think that's, as an artist, you have always got to make


sure that your main preoccupation is art and not money. It gets


dangerously close sometimes, that is the, the most important factor


is the art survives and the money doesn't. The money, you know, I


know anything in the world is worth, if two people have got a lot of


money and they want to buy something, it will sell for a lot


of money. Money isn't real, and art is. Money comes and goes. You have


to make art to survive, money being attached to it and unattached from


it. You think this will survive? hope it will. You make art for


people who haven't been born yet, it is not for us to decide. I can


schmooze all the big directors of all the big museums in the world


and get my work in there, but if the next museum director doesn't


like it, it will be dusty and stay in the loft. You google you, and


what comes up is "richest living artist", richest artist in history",


that suggests to people that you are more preoccupied with how the


market works rather than finding new ways of seeing? I think you


have to say, I always said I don't care about money, I did when I was


young, I didn't have any money. sure as hell care about it now?


After I did my auction, I was walking down the streets, and the


businessmen were saying, that's Damien Hirst, before it was only


their wives to do it. It is no bad thing. When I started off, I had a


guy standing in front of the fish piece saying this is art, with a


bag of chips. It is hard to survive with art without money. As long as


I trust art is more important than money. I still believe art is the


most powerful currency in the world. That is why people pay so much for


it. When I sold something for a million pound it shocked the hell


out of me, I are thinking, is it worth it, value and wealth are


completely different things to money. You try to make art that can


survive not being seen, not being looked at, not having any attention,


and art that will also survive, big money and everything. You look at


your spot paintings, there is a team of people making them, there


is vast numbers of them, that is about money, isn't it? No, you have


to put it on the wall. I always think with the spot paintings f I


left it outside a pub at the end of the night, would it still be there


the next day. If some drunk guy took it home, it is a great


painting. It doesn't matter how much money it sells for. The


question is, you can sell shit to people, you can't sell shit to


people. Somebody said to me recently that you could sell shit


to people. I think, why would I, when I can sell great things. You


put the spot painting on the wall, and people go, wow, I can't think


what else you would like on the wall. Art is leisure, that is the


difficult thing, if you haven't got any money, you won't buy art, and


you won't want it, if you haven't got food. We are not living in


caves. If it is not even made by you? I mean, in the whole History


of Art, artist s have I know what I want, architects don't build their


own houses. I mean, nobody painted their own. Builders build houses,


architects design houses, are you designer, rather than a painter?


feel like an architect, really. A good architect gets 100% of what


they want. I'm making a new show, where I'm having things carved in


marble, the guys kafrbg them, they can -- carving them, they can carve


one sculpture, it takes two years, I can't take the time to learn to


carve, I know what I want it to look like, and I can make it


perfect, using these guys. It has never been a problem for me in art,


it is amazing we are having this conversation. You know why we are


having this conversation, because there are only two questions the


media ever ask about art, one, is it worth it, and two, is it art, we


haven't got on to the question, is it art, we will get on to that in a


second, if we may, if you have time. What is your definition of art?


Somebody asked me that the other day, if it is in an art gallery, it


is art. I think anything done well is art. Anything? Anything done


well. I'm thinking if you can take it out, it is like a mathematical


sum, one plus one equals three, a great car is art, if it is done.


Anything that just takes it out of the normal world and into the


magical world, something magical is art. You can say art, any child


does a drawing and gives it to you, that is art. A great meal can be


art. That is what I think it is, I just think it is anything done,


anything where the ingredients you put into it are less than the thing


that comes out of the thing the other side. Doesn't it necessarily


have to show you something new, or at los a new way of looking at the


familiar? -- los a new way of looking at the familiar? Art does


that, a tree falling down will do that, outside your house, you will


go outside, and je tus Christ, what is that, and you look at it as a


different way. You wouldn't say that is art? I'm disagreeing but.


Art is magic, theatrical magic as well. It has to be man made? Art is


made by artists, of course, I remember once when I was younger,


they don't have it any more, I put occupation on my passport, I said


artist, it was great, I can prove it, I'm an artist. At the same time,


when I was an art student, I went to the bank manage Tory get a loan,


and I he asked what I z and I said artist, and he rolled his eyes.


wouldn't do that now? I get Christmas cards off him now.


have taken an enormous fly spray down to show Hirst butterflies, the


physical impossibility of someone Good evening, we have a Met Office


amber warning out for heavy snow across parts of Scotland into the


morning. Causing disruption into central and eastern areas, that is


working its way southwards, allowing dry but colder conditions


in Scotland. Outbreaks of rain to the south of it. Some sleet and


snow, given a covering over the tops the of the Pennines, after a


largely dry start to the Midlands and southern England, we see rain


develop. Very much hit and miss, staying largely dry across southern


counties, a welcome sight for those areas suffering with drought. We


will see the wind pick up during the day. In Wales will be going in


a north-westerly direction. The colder air causing a bitter wind in


Northern Ireland, clearing the morning's rain, sleet and snow. The


snow clearing largely from southern parts of Scotland, further wintry


showers to the north-east. Sunshine to the west, but the sunshine will


not have much impact on the temperature, the wind will make it


cold. Northern areas staying largely dry, temperatures


struggling, given the strength of the wind after a frosty start. It


is southern areas across England and Wales where we see more rain.


As temperatures drop we will see sleet and snow, particularly over


the higher ground, initial low, a covering of snow on the grass


What does Aung San Suu Kyi's by-election win portend for Burma?

Sue Lloyd Roberts reports from Burma on the landslide victory for Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, and Jeremy Paxman talks to the world's richest artist, Damien Hirst, about art, magic and money.

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