10/04/2012 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Jeremy Paxman. Paul Mason looks at the ways and means the rich employ to reduce their tax bills.

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You thought giving was good? It is up to a point, but only up to a


point determined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He believes some


rich people should give less to charity and more to the Treasury.


They are paying money to charities, quite often that charity will be


something that they control, it might even own their own company,


which will then pass on from generation to generation


inheritance tax. Is the charity sector being used as


a tax dodge, and so what if it is. A philanthropist, MP, banker and


trade unionists are here to tell us. Thank you all very much, God bless


you. The Conservative, Rick Santorum


gives up on becoming the Republican Party's candidate to unseat Barack


Obama in November. Is the battle for the White House finally clear?


This is how President Bashar al- Assad interprets calls for a


ceasefire, is it now a struggle to the death in Syria.


Foul language, free downloads, and fortunes to be made in youth


culture, another rising star has an audience with Steve Smith.


My lyrics, aren't, I don't know, I'm sorry if I keep talking, my


lyrics aren't offensive. Aren't they, some people find them


offensive, you have heard that before? Some people behind


everything offensive. Some of the richest people in the


country are paying tax at a lower rate than delivery drivers or


school teachers, despite being hardly short of a bob or two


himself, the Chancellor of the Exchequer insists he has been


astonished to discover some of the schemes being used by the very


wealthy. He says that's why he's putting limits on giving to charity.


Cue outrage recipients of charitable giving. Before we have


this out, our Paul Mason was here. He was giving in the budget tax


breaks to rich people, now he wants them to pay more in tax? The budget


brought a controversial principle, that is, they think, the Treasury,


impossible to raise money from rich people by raising the tax rate,


because they change their behaviour, and the tax take falls off. There


is a famous curve, controversial, that shows it falling off. Now the


solution they have come up with, is to attack the behaviour, to attack


the avoidance behaviour, which, as all good economicss or pond dents


know, is legal, it is evasion that is illegal, so you change the


behaviour by clamping down. As part of this on going battle, George


Osborne briefed the newspapers this morning that he was shocked by


these top 20 avoiders not paying much tax. The solution to it is to


impose a tycoon tax, which actually says the amount of tax relief you


get on charitable giving is capped. You can't just wipe out all your


tax bill by giving more and more to your charities. Why are they


attacking charitable giving? Because it is one of the most


efficient ways to avoid paying tax. The charities have come out and say


they have already seen people stop giving, people are putting


donations on hold until they find out what is going on. The


recipients, the good causes are up in arms. But Downing Street came


out fighting today and actually said, we know of charities where


there doesn't seem to be a lot of charitable work going on, but a lot


of effect on individuals' tax bills is taking place. What is certain is


that this issue, which was seen on the fringes when the UK Uncut


movement started 18 months ago, has come, via this studio, Ken and


Boris, right to the centre of the political mainstream.


These are dark days for the rich. But one sanctuary remained.


Until now. From Qatar, from Russia, the Greece, the hot money of the


rich has one destination, Blighty. But now, with the resistance rising,


the man in charge has called a halt. Everybody is to leave here


immediately, this cafe is closed until further notice, clear the


room. How can they close me up, on what grounds. I'm shocked, shocked,


to find that gambling is going on in here. Your winnings, Sir. Thank


you very much. Everybody out at once. Of all the rows of all the


world, why did George Osborne have to walk into this one. The


Chancellor said he was shocked at the scale of tax avoidance, but


most tax experts are not shocked, in fact, some have been warning


about Britain's conviviality for tax dodgers, for years. This


accountant has waged a one-man campaign for tighter tax dodging


laws. These people are earning figures of �15-�20 million a year.


Who are they? They could be footballers, they could be bankers,


they could be the directors of FTSE 100 companies, they are that sort


of catagory of people. Or else it is inherited wealth. How do they do


it? A number of ways. The biggest, perhaps, is to have enormous


portfolios of buy-to-let property. They go and buy lots of houses,


which they are letting, and they mortgage the whole lot, to the hilt,


and so all of that portfolio of property, massive amount of rental


income, is basically cancelled by the interest on the mortgages, we


are subsidising their creation of a wealth portfolio. What else? They


are borrowing, personally, and lending the money to their company.


What else are they doing? They are paying money to charities, quite


often that charity will be something that they control. It


might even own their Owen company, which will then pass on from -- own


their own company, which will then pass on from generation to


generation. Osborne says he's shocked, having viewed these


anonymous tax records, how shocked would you be if you could see them?


Not at all shocked, I would say that's normal, that is what I would


expect. I warned in 2008 that the tax gap was maybe �12 billion from


individuals in the UK. The revenue have said for years it is �1.5


billion, mass mum, that is utterly implausible, now they are saying 20


people make up just 10% of their total tax gap. Shows how daft their


estimate has been. To recap, to avoid tax on the scale of a


superyacht, you have to give your money to your family, make a loss


on some of your businesses, buy lots of houses and rent them out,


and give a lot of money to charity. Hold on a minute, aren't some of


these tax dodges actually useful to society, even if they do pull a


fast one on the Exchequer. There is a very practical issue here about


do you want to try to squeeze the rich as hard as you can to get


every penny out of them, or create a climate in which more people


become rich, more rich people move to the United Kingdom. If the UK is


seen to be extremely bad place for tax reasons for millionaires to


live, then you have actually got a revenue problem.


The issue of tax avoidance has been rushing at politicians ever since


the UK Uncot protest honed in on a controversial deal between


Vodaphone and the Inland Revenue. And the row between Ken and Boris


has given it added spleen. Which some on the right find unhelpful.


I'm also concerned that some of this grandstanding, and screaming


about the behaviour of the rich detracts from the actual facts. If


we were to look at the top 1% of earners in the United Kingdom, that


top 1% of earners earn about 12% of all income in the UK, and


contribute about 28% of all income tax.


We should be applauding this top 1%, they are providing the schools and


hospitals that the rest of us use. On Budget Day, the argument for


cutting the top rate of tax to 45p was that you just can't collect tax


from the rich beyond a certain tax rate. Now, it seems, if you use


brute force, you can. To discuss these issues we have the


Conservative MP, Penny Mordaunt, form charity activist herself, the


trade unionists, economist, Nicola Smith, Christine Ross from the


private bank, and Sir Stephen Bubb, head of the Voluntary Organisations


and chief executive there. You are surely not surprised that rich


people can afford good accountants? We want people to give to charity,


and in an efficient way. What is happening is aggressive avoidance.


You are as surprised as George Osborne is? It does beg the


question where have these tax returns been, in a drawer somewhere


in the Treasury. It is a question of where the Chancellor of the


Exchequer has been too isn't it? is an issue the coalition


Government have tackled from the off. They have put �900 million


into addressing tax avoidance and evasion, yielding �7 billion by


2014. More needs to be done. And what will be introduced in the tax


bill next year, is an anti- avoidance rule. Nothing illegal has


taken place? The TUC has been worried that �13.8 billion a year


is being lost in tax avoidance in the UK. Our worry is, when we have


had lots of warm words from the Chancellor today, about the need to


tackle the tax gap, we haven't had much action. I say again, nothing


illegal has happened? Absolutely, but tax avoidance, whereby people,


use legitimate loopholes to avoid paying tax rates that parliament


would have intended, is not something that this country could


currently afford, when we have a large deficit and poorest peoples


are paying thousands in tax credits, is not what most people would think


is particularly fair. Why is it fair that someone with an income of


millions a year is paying a tax rate less than someone on the


minimum wage. Answer that question? I completely agree. I can


understand why the Chancellor takes the view about everyone wealthy and


poor should make a contribution to the running of the country. I


absolutely see that. But why should you put charitable giving in that


same bracket? Charitable giving, rich people who make donations to


charity, are not gaining personally. The whole point of the reliefs is


to encourage more giving. For many charities, the health charities,


the cancer charities, international development, rely on very big


donations to do a lot of their work. If you have a cap, which stops that


giving, and the consumate giving, that is damaging society. You know


people who give more than �50,000 or a quarter of their salary?


Absolutely. We know that. And actually, what's happened since,


this was a bombshell for charities, what's happened is, since then, the


big charities, many of the done nars that we know have been --


donors we know have been saying this will affect giving now and in


the future. Giving you an example, the cancer charities, I took the


leaders of Macmillan Cancer Care and Cancer Research to see the


minister, and they said for their big projects, the cancer institutes,


80% would come from rich donors and 20% from general fundraising.


Anything that hits the potential for wealthy people to give


generously is damage to go charities. How does it look from


where you are, you look after a lot of wealthy people's money? People


plan and people are allowed to plan, we are talking about avoidance that


is legitimate. The Chancellor himself said in the quote today in


the Tell knows are the rules. Everyone -- The Telegraph, those


are the rules. Everyone knows it is legal, but what effect will the


change have? It will help people come to decisions about how to


invest. Some of the ail veil bltd is riskier businesses, start-up


businesses, if there is a loss, the rules say you can write that off


against your income that year. That could be perhaps write off


someone's total income, they have made a loss, they invested in


something riskier, that helps to fuel the economy overall. You would


accept as a woman of the world, that some people buy these


businesss to write off tax? sure some people do, I wouldn't


deny that. There might even be some charities that control things that


are in the interests of those people who are seeking to put money


away rather than paying tax? would find that difficult to


believe. In which case they are acting fraudulently. Charity law,


there is law that governs charities, they have to act for public benefit.


This was the most remarkable in the justification by the Prime


Minister's spokesman today, he said some of these charities didn't seem


to be doing a lot of charitable activity, that is a matter for the


Charity Commissioners isn't it? haven't seen the case studies that,


none of us have. Unfortunately none of us has been allowed to, we have


been told what the statement is? you are a major donor, and you are


giving money now, you are making a loss. This is about encouraging


donations. What we have got to be careful of, and Stephen is right,


the cases that Stephen has raised are people worried about the


uncertainty, it is not the policy. This is the Prime Minister's


spokesman telling us that charities are behaving, by implication,


uncharityably, dishonestly perhaps? -- unchairably? He didn't say all


were doing that. He said some? have to be careful to get the


message across to people who are genuine philanthropists and givers,


that they should continue to do that. It is cracking down on people


abusing the system. By giving a lot of money to charity, how are they


abusing them? You don't know, you are guessing? I could speculate, it


could be a corporation that has a charitable arm, that is using it to


avoid national insurance contributions. Apparently these


were individuals? It could be an individual who has a large business


empire. I don't know the cases that these are referring to, clearly


there are people who are very, very wealthy, and using this as part of


a mechanism for paying no tax. That has got to be wrong. What we have


got to do is tackle that, but we have to reassure genuine donors, as


Stephen has said, that they can still carry on giving, and we need


to provide the certainty, we need to provide the information for them


to carry on doing that. The problem with what happened today, and it is


a real shame, suggesting that there are some fraudulent charities, and


actually not naming them, I mean, if the Prime Minister's spokesman


wants to give me the names of these charities, I will give them to the


Charity Commission and they will be investigated and deregistered.


won't give them to you? I'm sure that's right. The wider issue we


have to keep a focus on, is the level of tax relief people in the


top 1% have access to. Our analysis is people earning over �150,000 a


year, have the equivalent of �15,000 in charitable donations


tax-free, that is more than some people in the private sector earn.


What is wrong with an individual who has earned money, deciding that


they would rather give it to a charity than have George Osborne


decide to spend it on whatever the equivalent of the hot -- cones hot-


line is? The individual's decision, what they do with the money they


have earned, it goes to a common good, one way or another?


Individuals have a right to do whatever they want. Not according


to to you? Across the income speck trem people have the right to do


what they want to do with the money once they have paid the tax


parliament intends them to pavement that is true for all of us. We all


pay a certain amount of tax to allow our public services to exist,


hospitals and schools, beyond that people are allowed to do whatever


they want with their income. We are arguing that people should pay a


fair rate of tax, and at the time when the public finances are under


strain. You haven't said what was wrong with the principle of


somebody deciding what to do with their own money rather than George


Osborne? People have the right to decide what to do with their money


after they have made a legitimate rate of tax, by parliament, 40-50%.


Let's look in a slightly broader context, what are your clients


thinking about this country when they see these sorts of measures,


alorpbg with the other measures in the budget? -- along with the other


measures in the budget? I think there is huge relief the 50% rate


is going. We knew it wouldn't collect the amount of tax it was


intended to, it is just a psychological tipping point. Let's


leave the question of whether it works or not aside, I'm asking what


your clients think? They think there is an awful lot of tax. Most


people aren't leaving, it is heavy, they are counting all the different


taxes they pay. I think what will start to happen, contrary to what


we are seeing now, in the same budget a few weeks ago, we saw a


doubling of the Enterprise Investment Scheme, permissible


investment. It was �500,000, now it is �1 million a year, there is


healthy tax relief there, to sit that against the restriction on


relief, it is saying to people if you guide your money this way you


can have the reliefs, if you are having interest relief and trading


loss relief, you can't have that. There are still reliefs for the


people to use, but the Government is guiding them to particular areas.


It is very, very hard to quite get a handle on this Government, it


says it is business friendly and wants to encourage enterprise and


wealth generation and all the other things it trots out, and yet acts


like this against the interests of people likely to do that? We have


to have much more clarity in the tax system. I think what I want to


ensure is that bad communications don't get in the way of good policy


S just to pick up on the point. That is precisely what we have got,


we don't know any facts, we just know that the Chancellor of the


Exchequer is apparently astonished that rich people have God


accountants? I think what we do -- good accountants? I think what we


do need to do, to bring it back to the charity point. There is lots of


announcements in previous budgets to support high-value donors,


leaving money in there as an inheritance and offsetting against


inheritance tax, leaving it in the wills. But the charity sector wants


there to be supported, a much broader way of giving. Charities, I


know as a former charity director, we want to get our mits on money,


not just in legacies, but also through the course of their life.


What we are looking for, I think, is more clarity, from the Treasury,


about the whole range of ways that people can give. And not just


pushing them, as Christine says, into one particular direction.


are sit anything the corner grunting, not just because you are


the only male in this discussion, perhaps there were other reasons,


why were you grunting, what was your point? What I kind exorderry I


began by thinking that they had -- extraordinary, I began by thinking


they made an honest mistake by including charity donations in the


cap. It is beginning to looks a though that is not a mistake. It is


deliberate. It runs counter to the Government's stated aim to


encourage giving. Up until the budget, they had introduced


measures to encourage giving, there was a giving White Paper, which was


aimed at getting richer people to make a bigger contribution to


society. And so, why, I don't understand why they have introduced


a measure which will discourage that giving from philanthropists.


Do you disagree with the basic principle that there is something


healthy for a society, in trying to attract people who are likely to


create businesses and generate wealth? Absolutely not. There is no


evidence at all that the tax regime we currently have in the UK is


having anything like that effect. Rich people in this country have


seen their incomes go up by 56% over the last decade, that is far


faster than anyone else. Even over the recession, the incomes of the


top 1% rose by 13%, per hour worked. The rich in this country are doing


better than they have done before, they can afford to make a better


contribution to our public finances. The richest 10% of this country


earn 100% more of the wealth of those at the bottom 10%. The wealth


inequalities we have got, are comparable with those we saw over


100 years ago. People at the top are doing extremely well, those at


the bottom are being hard pressed by the cuts. You concede we haven't


seen any real measures likely to significantly deter people from


moving here and investing here? can't say who is not coming or say


we have seen a mass exodus. We know firms are setting up businesses


abroad. We can't see who hasn't arrived. I haven't seen a mass


exodus, but at the same time I don't think, we have always allowed


people to plan, to plan sensibly. What will solve this is the general


anti-avoidance rule for next year. That will deal with abusive schemes.


What we have now is interest on buy-to-let properties. When we know


that we will reconvene. At last we know who Barack Obama


will face in the race to become the most powerful man on earth. It will


be the multi-millionaire and one- time Morman missionary, Mitt Romney.


His opponent, long a long way behind, was until today, Rick


Santorum, the enemy of gay marriage, abortion and climate change. He


threw in the towel today. The podium with the uncontentious


slogan, the flag the size of the tennis court, and the family


assembling. It can only be American presidential politics. And today's


big news, well, what everyone was predicting was going to happen, has,


in fact, happened. We made a decision over the weekend, that,


while this presidential race for us is over, for me, and we will


suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done nighting.


Rick Santorum was running a poor second in the race to become the


Republican nominee, he has then decided to bow out. But, as is


traditional on these occasions, he shall not, he says, be giving up


the fight for the future of America. We are going to continue to go out


there and fight to make sure that we defeat President Barack Obama,


that we win the House back, and that we take the United States


Senate and we stand for the values that make us Americans, that make


us the greatest country in the history of the world, that shining


city on the hill. To be a beacon for everybody for freedom around


the world. Thank you all very much, God bless you.


Rick Santorum is a social Conservative, with the kind of


religious views that appeal to many Republicans. His problem, though,


was there weren't enough of those voters to secure him the nomination.


Plus, he couldn't compete with his rival's money or organisation. So,


we can now be more or less certain that the Republican candidate, who


will face Barack Obama in November's election, will be this


man, Mitt Romney. Although, two other candidates are


still in the race, they pose a negligible threat. Romney's firing


his mud at Rick Santorum...Today's News should have a big imtact on


the tone of this contest. We -- impact on the tone of this contest.


We should see the end of negative ads of someone candidate attacking


another, they can save their money for the attack on the democrats,


and Mitt Romney can stop worrying about the right flank and nipping


away of support. He can concentrate instead on trying to appeal to


voters in the centre, especially women, whom he needs to connect


with if he wants to become President. There is a struggle


within the Republican Party over who is best equipped to lead the


party in a next general election. Mitt Romney, the slightly more


moderate candidate on most issues won this time around, he still has


some fences to mend with the conservative base, by and large he


has not been as damaged as he might have been. One encouraging sign for


the Republicans, although they trail the President on who voters


tell pollsters they would vote for, Mitt Romney has a small lead on who


would be best for the economy. I think the White House may be a


little overconfident at the moment. They see all these things trend


anything their direction, but, not only has the Dow been down for the


last five days in a row, but the unemployment numbers weren't as God


as they might have been, and have been in the last three months.


Democrats are celebrating a little early, Mitt Romney won't be an easy


candidate to beat. Now it is time for the Republicans to start


building, rather than tearing each other to pieces.


I'm joined in Washington by the White House correspondent for


Newsweek, Daniel Stone, and also the former member of President


Bush's senior staff, Brad Blakeman. What do you think Rick Santorum has


done to the presidential campaign? He has certainly brought to life


the important issues that are important in the primary process,


as well as the electoral process. Remember in America you must be


selected by your party before you are elected by the people. Rick


Santorum was an effective voice, but now he certainly doesn't have a


chance to be nominated. He needs now to do good for the party. The


way he can do that is work hard for the House and the Senate, and to


get Romney, not only selected, but also elected in the fall. I think


he can do that. What do you think he has done to Romney's campaign?


Right now there isn't much that he has done to help it. It remains to


be seen how he can add value to this campaign, now that he's not in


contention for the nomination. me bring in Daniel Stone here, how


does it look to you what Rick Santorum has done to the Republican


campaign? It is remarkable, if you look at what this man has done.


This was someone who was rebuked from his Senate seat in 2006,


essentially fired by the people of Pennsylvania, his state, to become


one of the most domnaint voices in the campaign over the last two


months. He set the tone of this debate, he forced Mr Romney to tack


towards the right. To really contend with him on social issues,


on real fiscal conservative issues over the past couple of months,


where as we know Mitt Romney has been a more conservative candidate


and we can expect that in the next coming months. Looking ahead to the


presidential campaign and how it will play out, what are the big


issues, now we know there the two Titanic figures in it? What will


happen now is, we have to lock up the nomination and get the 144


delegates to put Romney over the top. -- 1144 delegates to put


Romney over the state. Then we need the states to when the general


election. Places like Wisconsin and New Hampshire, in order for Romney


to be successful and become President, we are only talking


about eight or nine states that will actually determine the


presidency in 2012. What do you think will be the big


battleground between the two men? Those battleground and swing states,


they are the only place that it matters. We know Republicans and


Conservatives will vote for whoever the nominee is, likely Mitt Romney,


Democrats and liberal also go for President Obama. It is those folks


in the middle that will be the only one who is matter over the next few


months. As you see both candidates moving towards the middle, you hear


both of their messages sort of converging, on issues like the


economy and foreign policy, they are going to be singing the same


tune. They want to go after the same voters. Those are the only


ones that will matter. There is one figure we have forgotten in all


this conversation, I have forgotten, it is Newt Gingrich, he's still


there somewhere, there abouts? still in this race, and he wants to


maintain a voice in this campaign. I mean, look, Newt Gingrich has


been an influential person in the past. He has been function in this


campaign. He has slowly petered off, he knows as soon as he leaves this


campaign, as soon as he suspends his campaign, he will no longer be


able to get media coverage. He won't be able to influence his


supporters at this point. I think he's staying in until he can find


an acceptable exit strategy. Brad Blakeman, the question also,


the vexed question of which one appeals to the women voters?


Clearly Obama has much more leverage with female voters than


Mitt Romney does, is that right? That's true, but this too shall


change, as the men go head-to-head against each other, we have yet to


determine who Romney will pick as a VP which could help in that regard.


The jury is out as to whether or not women are going to stick with


Obama in light of his record and the economy, which has affected


women just as much as men. How do you read it Daniel Stone?


have six months at the very least to go before this election, which


is a lifetime in politics. The situation now certainly women


favour the President more than Mitt Romney. Anything can happen, many


things can change, most significantly the economy. I think


that's the thing more than any age or gender or class demographics.


That will matter most. It was the outcome the cynics


predicted and peace makers feared, the deadline for President Assad's


troops to stop attacking civilians came and went today.


With no let up in the killing, the former secretary-general of the


United Nations, Kofi Annan, says he still hopes that peace may fall the


day after tomorrow. Opposition leaders fear it may now be too late.


This was supposed to be the day the guns fell silent, what happened?


is difficult to get the full picture of what is going Onyango


the ground in Syria. Syria claims it is complying, and Kofi Annan has


said that troops have been withdrawn from some areas, he has


also said that appears to be only a repositioning of forces. He says


there is credible reports of rolling military operations in


population centres. According to opposition activists, Government


troops have moved into new areas. That appears to be the case in Homs.


We have heard so much about that, a centre of resistance to the regime.


Activists have given accounts of shelling in the districts of Bayada,


and also in the district of Khalidiya, which we are just seeing


up there on the map. Glk These are the latest pictures, we are told,


of Homs, we can't verify them. Activists say dozens of people have


been killed there, and reports of some of the discoveries of bodies,


including two families. Hear you can hear people cursing the regime


of Bashar al-Assad, you can hear them crying out "God is great".


Tanks still here in populated areas. And still, as you can see and hear,


actually firing. The violence has not been confined to Homs. There


are reports of attacks in deaths of the town of Hama, Deraa, Idlib in


the north, and the Government claims it has lost men too. And all


this on the day we were supposed to see the beginning of the end of the


fighting. Where does this leave Kofi Annan's supposed peace plan?


He's been visiting Syrian refugees on a camp on the Sir January-


Turkish border today -- Syrian- Turkish border today, he has been


trying to sound upbeat. The plan calls for the Government to


withdraw troops and heavy weapons, such as tanks, from populated areas.


They were supposed to do that by today. That hasn't happened. In the


next 48 hours, the ceasefire was supposed to be implemented on the


ground. With the onus on the opposition to follow the


Government's lead. And then, by 6.00am on Thursday, all forms of


violence by all sides is supposed to have stopped. Well Kofi Annan is


clearly extremely frustrated with the Syrian regime, he insists his


plan is not dead yet. The plan is still on the table, and it is a


plan we are all fighting to implement. It is a plan that


council has endorsed and the Syrians have endorsed, and from the


comments made by the opposition, they are also prepared to go along


with it, if the Government makes commitments to pull the troops out.


I think the plan is very much alive. If you want to take it off the


table, what would you replace it with.


That is exactly the problem. The international community really


doesn't have anything else up its sleeve to end the fighting. What


next? Andrew Green was the British ambassador to Syria, and has


maintained a close interest in the country since. Do you think that


President Assad's likely to accept Kofi Annan's plan? Not a snowball's.


It is absolutely clear that the regime have decided they don't want


a ceasefire. They have made a calculation, their calculation is


that if there is a ceasefire it will help the opposition. And on


the other hand, they think that they can continue to crush them.


Brave though they are, the regime think they can crush them. Doesn't


he care what the rest of the world thinks? No. Why not? Because his


own survival, and the survival of his clan and his power, indeed his


actual survival, depends on staying in power. There was a theory, at


one point, that perhaps he basically was a decent guy, and he


was a prisoner of all the security apparatus, the generals and the


other around him, that your belief? Not entirely. I mean he has never


run the country in the way his father did. He has always been a


figurehead, and the real power has been with those who run the six


Intelligence Services and the key military units. He has always been


a figurehead, he has never had decisive power. I think nonetheless


he made some serious mistakes. I think when this whole thing started


he should have been much quicker in meeting the new situation. But he's


not the key figure, the key figure is the generals who lie behind this


regime. Given the position he's in now, if you think there is no


chance of his accepting any kind of ceasefire plan, it's a struggle to


the death isn't in? Yes, I'm afraid has exactly the situation. They


know if they lose power they will lose their lives. And they will,


therefore, continue to crush the opposition for as long as the army


remains loyal. Now part of that army are from their own clique, the


Alawites, part of them are Sunnis. But you see, even the Sunnis in the


army now have a lot of blood on their hands. They must hesitate


before they could contemplate a change of regime in Syria. It is


going to have a violent end, then? I'm afraid that we are on a


slippery slope towards civil war. And one that could indeed spread to


Lebanon and perhaps Iraq. It is interesting, isn't it, when you see,


I don't know, were you ambassador at the time when Jack Straw went


there, he was just after you? was later, yes. When you remember


those pictures, there clearly was a time when western Governments


thought he was turnable, that he was perhaps a force for good. There


was some potential there, was that just a misreading of everything, or


what? Not entirely. I think there was a time, and there was some hope


that Syria would very gradually change to a lighter regime. And it


did, for a period. Years ago, before he came to power, you didn't


even discuss politics, because it was too dangerous. After he had


been in power about five years, you could discuss politics privately.


The deal was that's OK, but you start organising and you're in jail


and you will be beaten up. So there was some improvement. What has


happened is when the Arab Spring started to take place, which nobody


foresaw a year ago. Then their reaction to that, their defensive


reaction to that has been absolutely vicious, as you have


seen. Do you think, you would have to include yourself among them, the


west was niave in characterising Bashar al-Assad as a person who was


potentially a force for something other than the repression of his


father? No, I don't think so. There was a time when there could have


been, and indeed there was, some gradual progress towards a softer


regime. They would always want to stay in power, qet is the


viciousness that they needed d the question is the viciousness they


needed to stay in power, what has changed is the threat tho their


continued existence of the -- to their continued existence through


the Arab Spring, has caused them to take the stand you see every night


on the television. So they have changed? I don't think the people


behind him have changed particularly, once threatened they


have reacted with unspeakable viciousness.


Thank you. Now, in youth culture, nothing


succeeds like excess, from Elvis to Eminem, singers have grown rich by


scandalising their elders to sell music to their children. The latest


development from a gang of Los Angeles rappers called Oddie, or as


their aunties know them, Oddie, is slight low different. They are


gaifg their and I way their music and -- giving away their music and


charging large amounts for merchandise. Is this the future of


rock'n'roll? Hundreds of teenagers, forming an orderly queue, in order


to go shopping. Maybe this is the future of


rock'n'roll. Los Angeles rappers, Odd Future, the critics seem to


think so. # Excuse the swag


# I'm trying to tone it down # I guess we looking like the


living dead Perhaps it is a bit of both.


These are fans of Odd Future, who are waiting to moat their heros at


a defunct store off Brick Lane in East London.


For a couple of days only, while the band is in town, it is a pop-up


shop, selling their merchandise. What are you selling today? Some


jeans? There is a hoodie with my face on it, you should buy that.


I did all of these in 24 hours, I did 300 T-shirts in 24 hours.


All hand done. What will they be retailing at today? I think it is


like �100. Are there any washing instructions here?


# We open three hours. Odd Future are in the remarkable


position of being a hit band who haven't sold any records, or hardly


any. Instead they have given away 20 all comes worth of songs on-line,


so the merch, as it is known, is a vital element of their income. You


guys are pretty tired, you have been working hard and travelling a


lot? We have been doing this every other day, these store openings and


we have shows, it's all right though.


# To have some type of knowledge # That is one perception


# Knowing you own your opponent When they are not hucktering


product, they write tracks that don't get played on the radio,


their lyrics are too provocative or puerile, depending on what you


think. Their young fans, who follow them on-line, seem to like it best


about them. They are more aggressive, they


don't care what they say, they say anything they feel like, and they


get away with it. Why is that appealing to you, would you like to


be able to do the same? I have heard a lot worse lyrics. Do you


think it is tongue-in-cheek, or do they mean it? They don't mean it.


Where do mum and dad think you are now? Geography trip. I'm on a


geography trip right now. What are you studying? Urban...Renewal!


Rebels or sell-outs, both? We explored the paradoxs of Odd Future


on stage before a recent show in London.


What about your lyrics? What about them? What are you saying your


lyrics? Stuff to piss off old white people like you. I'm sorry, my


lyrics aren't offensive. Some people find them offensive? Some


people find everything offensive. OK. What about this hard sell you


do with your merchandise, we were in that shop yesterday, you had


kids queuing up since 4.00am, they couldn't take a picture of you, did


you know that? They couldn't? Yes they could. I thought you had guys


saying don't take any pictures? I don't care. He's just a hard ass,


we take pictures with most of the kids in the shop. Some want four


pictures and nine autographs. does the pop-up shop work, is the


idea you can't necessarily make so much money from records? We pop up


wherever we at, set up shop, slam, and make our money, and we dip,


ain't nobody taking no taxs from us, no cuts.


Not paying taxes, that is for rich, British people, do Odd Future pay


tax or don't they? 100%. Check your account some day? Anybody can.


There is no marketing, it is exposing it at the right place at


the right time. When you have kids that are completely themselves, you


don't necessarily market it, you take who they are and expose it, it


is not like a push. A collectors item clean performance


by Odd Future, haven't we been here before. Some say the band are a


case of old wine in new bottles. Or maybe that's old dope in new bongs.


We have been here throughout rock'n'roll history, it is only


since Britpop it has been predicated on this all-ages-welcome


philosophy, before that was it was pitting generations against each


other. That dates back to Elvis upsetting people. In that sense,


yeah, Odd Future exist in a tradition of creating outrage.


Tomorrow morning's front pages, the Mail and the Telegraph, to follow


in a a second or two, both lead with the story we were covering


earlier which is restrictions on the amount of money rich people can


give to charities. Other papers, the Times.


It leads on news of a fascinating story in China. Paul Mason is here,


what is it about? In November, a British businessman, Neil Heywood


was found dead in a hotel room in China. Tonight the wife of probably


the third most powerful politician in China has been charged with his


murder, that third most powerful politician, the boss of the City of


Chung ching has been sacked from the Polek Bureau, regard lisence of


the rights and wrongs in the murder investigation, we have a power


struggle at the very heart of the communist party in the second most


powerful country in the world. power struggle which we know about


zero? Not much, we can guess. We know for many years there has been


two factions in the chuen niece communist party, the pro-market one


and the socially democratic one, which is allowed to a called Maoist


left, which he's the leading example. What he did was not be


part of this faction struggle, he stepped out of the rules. The rules


were you never appear over the heads of the party to the masses.


He had been appealing to the masses in Chung Ching using rhetoric from


the cultural revolution, he had some book stores and websites


supporting him, they have closed down. I visited the book store.


Anybody who knows about Stalinist purges, this is classic purge, the


problem is, we don't know how these things end in the modern world, how


do theyend? Thank you very much Paul. Also on the front pages of


the FT and elsewhere. That is all from Newsnight tonight, time' told


goodies tomorrow at the usual time. -- I'm told goodies tomorrow at the


Good evening, a few showers would continue overnight, for many it


would be a dry, chilly start for Wednesday morning. As temperatures


rise under the largely bright continues, the shower clouds will


build, some heavy and thundery. Persistent cloud and rain, it is


inland we will start to see heavy and thundery showers develop,


particularly from the Pennines, Midlands, eastwards, this is where


the focus will be. The winds will be light and slow-moving.


Variations in rainfall, across the south west and through western


parts of Wales, I fancy very few showers into the afternoon, most


staying dry and bright, with longer spells of sunshine by the coast.


Temperatures with many 10-14, nice in the sunshine, cool when the


showers go through. Scattering of showers through Wales, not the


number we saw through Tuesday afternoon. While the showers are


possible in Scotland, the-iest will be across central and eastern areas,


wintry over the hills as well. Wednesday into Thursday, across


northern areas, sunshine and showers mix, but across northern


Scotland you can see in Inverness, thicker cloud bringing longer


spells of rain. Further south the showers could get heavier Wednesday


into Thursday, still very much hit and miss, some places staying


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