31/05/2012 Newsnight


The stories behind the day's headlines with Gavin Esler. Has Jeremy Hunt done enough to save his job after appearing at Leveson and what does James Bond reveal about Britishness?

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 31/05/2012. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Congratulations, just Ofcom to go. Hours before he was told he would


decide the fate of BSkyB, the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt,


congratulated James Murdoch, as the multibillion pound bid moved


towards apparent completion. Would you agree, Mr Hunt, that is


conveying a some what positive view on where the process had reached.


Yes. Serious questions about the actions of Jeremy Hunt and George


Osborne. After personal text messages were revealed at the


Leveson Inquiry. We will hear from the deputy leader of the Labour


Party, Harriet Harman, and the Home Office Minister, Nick Herbert.


Another day, another climb-down by George Osborne on the budget.


those waiting with baited breath, for that favourite media catch


phrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say, you turn if you want


to. You wait for one u-turn and then three come along at once.


Today the charity tax followed the pasty tax and the caravan tax into


the dustbin. We will ask the Newsnight panel why George Osborne


got it wrong, and how damaged Jeremy Hunt is after today's


Leveson. There are more fears about the eurozone and the polls have


closed in Ireland, as people give their verdict on the EU fiscal


treaty. We are live in Dublin. And James Bond, a British hero who


punches above his wait. Steve Smith investigates his eternal appeal.


What does 007 tell us about Britishness, apart from the sex and


violence? Writers Anthony Horowitz and


Bidisha are here to discuss whether Bond is a barometer of Britishness


or good or otherwise. Good evening, the good news for


Jeremy Hunt today is he can keep his job as Culture Secretary. David


Cameron will not order an investigation into whether he


breached the Ministerial Code. The bad news for Mr Hunt is that the


opposition still want his head on plate. They claim he may have


breached the code, misled parliament and acted as a lobbyist


for the BSkyB. An interesting piece of news management, as the hunt --


hunt hunt saga unfolded so did the budget. This time the Chancellor


has done a U-turn on the charitable donations. At times the Leveson


Inquiry has appeared to be an inquiry in Jeremy Hunt, we heard


about the lobbyist used to do the job, the ministerial adviser who


was deluged with messages, and the permanent secretary in charge of


the department. Today we got to hear from Jeremy Hunt himself. To


understand this story, we have to go back to mid-November of 2010. At


this stage News Corp's bid for BSkyB wasn't going brilliantly well.


For one thing, the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, deciding on


the bid for the Government, was refusing to have any sort of


contact whatsoever with News Corporation. In desperation, the


company turned to the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt. Who they


knew was not only better disposed towards them, he was also only too


happy to talk. Before today's appearance at the Leveson Inquiry,


we already knew that James Murdoch and the Culture Secretary were due


to meet in mid-November 2010. But Mr Hunt had to call off the meeting.


One of James Murdoch's staff told the media bus that Hunt had


received strong legal advice not to meet them, any meeting could


jeopardise the entire process. Instead James Murdoch and Jeremy


Hunt spoke on the phone. The conversation was relayed to the


Prime Minister in a memo of the 19th of November. In it Mr Hunt


wrote that James Murdoch was furious over Vince Cable's handling


of the bid, and warned, that if they blocked it, the bit, and media


sector would suffer for years. meeting is inappropriate, and as is


suggested, why is a telephone call appropriate? I didn't see the


telephone call as a replacement for the meeting. My interpretation of


the advice was that I should not involve myself in a quasi-judicial


process that is being run by another Secretary of State, and


that was the purpose of the meeting that was requested by News Corp,


that is why it wasn't appropriate. What was discussed on the phone, Mr


Hunt? I just heard Mr Murdoch out, and basically heard what he had to


say about what was on his mind at that time.


What you heard on the phone is exactly the same thing that you


would have heard had there been a face-to-face meeting s that right?


It depends. The most action-packed day in the history of the bid was


the 21st December 2010. At midday the European Commission gave the


bid the green light on competition grounds. That meant the only


barrier now was in Britain, being overseen by Vince Cable. At 12.46,


Jeremy Hunt texted James Murdoch, he was sorry to miss the call, and


was on his mobile then. They arranged to talk at 4.00pm. At


12.57 Jeremy Hunt texted James Murdoch, he said great, and


congrats on Brussels, just Ofcom to go. Would you agree, Mr Hunt, that


is conveying a some what positive view on where the process had


reached? Yes. What happened next, well, we can only describe as a bit


of a bombshell. At 2.30pm, still on the 21st of December, the BBC broke


the story that Vince Cable had been secretly recorded saying he had


declared war on Rupert Murdoch over the bid. At 3.56pm, News Corp put


out a statement saying this raised serious questions about fairness


and due process. At 4.00pm, Jeremy Hunt and James Murdoch had their


prearranged phone call, discussing Mr Cable's comments. At 4.08 Jeremy


Hunt texted the Chancellor, saying he was seriously worried that they


would screw this up. There was a similar text to Andy Coulson at


4.10pm, David Cameron's Director of Communications. At 4.58 Jeremy Hunt


received a sex from George Osborne saying he hoped he liked their


solution. That solution is that Vince Cable lost his responsibility


for the bid that pass today Jeremy Hunt himself. One question is why


was the Chancellor involved in kpwhuen Kateing this decision to --


communicating this decision to Mr Hunt. And why didn't the Culture


Secretary see it fit to inform the department about his rather chummy


text relationship with James Murdoch. To put it bluntly, Dr


Cable had lost the role through the appearance of bias in one direction.


And doesn't it emerge from a fair reading of this text that you


shouldn't have acquired the role for the equal and opposite reason?


No, because, as I understand it, the point about a qies say judicial


role, is not that -- quasi-judicial role is not that you acquire a


responsibility for a quasi-judicial decision with your brain wiped


clean. The point about that role is you set aside any views that you


have, and you decide objectively on the basis of, in this case, media


plurality. And not on the policy considerations that have been my


preoccupation to that point. Hunt was then taken through the


deluge of correspondence that his former special adviser, Adam Smith,


had with News Corporation. It was, Mr Hunt agreed, both inappropriate


in tone and quantity. But, he insisted, he hadn't known anything


about it. Almost as soon as Jeremy Hunt had


finished his evidence, Downing Street let it be known that the


Prime Minister thought that he had acted with complete propriety


throughout this process. And that he wouldn't now be triggering any


investigation as to whether his minister had broken the Ministerial


Code. As you can imagine, not everyone thinks that this should be


the last word on the matter. Tonight, Labour has called the


Prime Minister's decision to keep Mr Hunt in his place disgraceful.


Our political editor is here. What's the point of the Ministerial


Code? It is pretty pointless, this evening. This is something that


David Cameron beefed up within a day of entering office. He wanted


the perception of ministerial impriority to be as important as


any actual wrongdoing, and also entered into the Ministerial Code


that special advisers should also be taken responsibility for by the


minister. That hasn't happened today. It is pretty pointless. The


man in charge of overseeing it, Alex Alan, has said before he wants,


if he feels he is being sidelined, he wants that to be something he


would walk over. They are all questions outstanding. Having been


very critical in that way. Also Hunt's testimony today also


slightly puts the onus back on other people in Government. You


have now had George Osborne brought into the fray, in terms of somebody


who was, without hearing from the Chancellor, his side of the story,


he's texting the Culture Secretary to say he thinks he would like the


solution to the Vince Cable problem. Which suggests he knows the Culture


Secretary has a particular view about something. I think we have


had a couple of developments today. I think Hunt did OK in front of


Leveson, equally other people have been brought into the story. What


do you make of the interesting coincidence that the budget, yet


another rollback on the budget today, with the third of the U-


turns this week, and the biggest one? If there were this many u-


turns in the flotilla on Sunday, there would be chaos in the Jubilee.


There has been three. Backbenchers have been told, when you complain


about some of the measures in the budget, you should just be quiet,


the cost of them, they all add up, �40 million here, �50 million there,


we are going ahead with them. Now there is U-turns, many Tory MPs


feel agrieved they have been backing things, and in tight votes


in the Commons, now the Government has decided this recess to U-turn


on. It is actually within parliament quite serious stuff.


Lots of people on holiday, lots of people preparing for the Jubilee.


Lots of people getting the burgers on and not actually thinking about


politic. Lots of people in parliament are thinking, actually


this budget is falling apart. While the deputy leader of the


Labour Party, Harriet Harman, has been pursuing Mr Hunt for his


alleged wrong doings, she's in Westminster. The Home Office


Minister, Nick Herbert, is also with us. Harriet Harman, first of


all, what evidence is there, if any, that after Mr Hunt got the job of


deciding about the BSkyB job, that he did anything wrong whatsoever?


He misled the House of Commons. Because he said after he had


responsibility for the BSkyB bid, that he was going to act fairly,


impartially, transparently, and as proof of his good faith on, that he


would publish all the exchanges between his department, and News


Corp. And he didn't do that. There was not a single text, e-mail, or


record of a phone call between his special adviser in News Corp,


although he admitted that his special adviser was a conduit for


information. The Ministerial Code says this is a resignation offence,


that if you mislead the House of Commons, you have to resign. What


David Cameron has done tonight, is effectively tear up the Ministerial


Code. I think that this is a very concerning moment about standards


in ministerial office. He's saying he's broken the code, but he will


just sweep it under the carpet. That is only one of the ways he has


broken the code. There is others as well. But he did refer the bid to


Ofcom, and the OFT. He said he strictly followed due process, the


parliamentary secretary was happy with the way he handled things.


Where would you put your finger on something he absolutely did wrong


in the consideration of the bid? Firstly, he should have never take


on the decision, because he was clearly biased in favour of it.


David Cameron was in a position to know his bias in favour of it,


because he had received the memo from Jeremy Hunt. Tell me a single.


The permanent secretary didn't know that. They were doing it behind the


back of him. Tell me the name of a single senior minister of any party


who doesn't have some kind of bias about Rupert Murdoch, everybody has


opinions about Rupert Murdoch? Because of that perception of bias,


it is not just having no bias, but perception of bias. He should have


referred it to the Competition Commission, instead did he just


enough to keep hold of the decision himself, and do the discussions


about the undertakings in lieu. He should never have taken on the


decision. Cameron and Osborne should never have made that


political decision to refer to Jeremy Hunt, a quasi-judicial


responsibility. And they kept their, one further point, David Cameron


took legal advice about whether it was appropriate to give this


responsibility to Jeremy Hunt. But they kept their officials and their


lawyers in the dark, they never got to see that memo, which showed just


how biased Jeremy Hunt was. The whole thing is, they are just


trying to sweep it under the carpet and say it is fine, it is not, the


House of Commons should be very concerned about this. Should George


Osborne appear before Leveson now? It is a matter for Lord Justice


Leveson to decide who he calls. It is evidence that George Osborne was


not engaged as Chancellor on this, he was engaged as political


strategist for the Prime Minister. Now the Prime Minister said that he


was not involved, this was all quasi-judicial. But it was a highly


political decision to give the responsibility for taking this


issue of the bid forward, to Jeremy Hunt. You know, if this bid had


gone through, and the opponents had done a judicial review. The courts


would have, without hesitation, struck it down, as being absolutely


flawed as a process, top to bottom. Let me bring in Nick Herbert here.


You have torn up the Ministerial Code, you have Jeremy Hunt


scheduling a James Murdoch meeting, told by the lawyers that the


meeting on the 15th of November 2010 was inappropriate. His


decision is to phone up James Murdoch to discuss it. That is


surely wrong? Firstly, we had not torn up the Ministerial Code, the


Prime Minister is clear there is no breach of the Ministerial Code.


hasn't investigated or got Sir Alex Allen to look at it? The Prime


Minister is clear these matters should be looked at the Leveson


Inquiry, which they are at length. The permanent secretary said he was


happy about the way the Culture Secretary had been handling the bid.


You have nothing to fear from Sir Alex Allen, it is all fine? Nobody


is able to show today that Jeremy Hunt did anything but act with


impartiality and integrity, once he had the quasi-judicial decision-


making. Ever decision he took it was acting against the interests of


the Murdochs. It was not what they wanted, that is the point to be


focused on. He is told by the lawyers it is inappropriate to meet


James Murdoch, the day afterwards he phones James Murdoch, that is


appropriate is it? He didn't meet James Murdoch. He didn't see him,


but he phoned him. That is fine, is it? He took the advice and did not


meet James Murdoch. Take a step back and look at the decisions


which Jeremy Hunt took in referring to the independent Ofcom, and the


OFT for independent advice. It is perfectly appropriate to phone


somebody you have been told not to meet? Going back repeatedly for the


independent advice. Taking that advice. Making sure the


undertakings which News Corp were going to have to give were


strengthened. The Murdochs didn't like the undertakings and didn't


get their way. That was surely the point, not the point of your report


or summaries given. On the day what Jeremy Hunt was able to show is he


acted with complete impartiality and ining at thety. To take lessons


from Harriet Harman -- and integrity. To take lessons from


Harriet Harman about that, when the spin doctors were doing appalling


things, did they resign. At 12.57 on the 21st of November 2010, he


sent a text of congratulations and saying just Ofcom to go, then a


text to George Osborne saying he was worried they were going to


screw it up. The impression is Jeremy Hunt was acting as a


lobbyist for the Murdochs? These were all things that happened


before Jeremy Hunt was given the responsibility for being in charge


of the bid. That was approved by the cabinet secretary, which knew


of the memo sent to the Prime Minister from Jeremy Hunt. Since


then nobody has been able to show that Jeremy Hunt acted with


anything other than complete impartiality. Except he didn't have


the same contact with the opponents, did he have the same contact?


Jeremy Hunt, as Culture Secretary, would have had contact with all


sorts of media owner, editors, pro- priorities. I'm sure the director-


general of the BBC is someone he was in contact with. Nobody was in


doubt that Jeremy Hunt had a view about the Murdochs, and the bid.


That wasn't the point. Once he was given responsibility, he acted in a


completely impartial manner. What today has showed, is that was the


case. His permanent secretary said that he had left himself a


vanishingly small amount of room to exercise any kind of political


discretion in this, because of the independent advice he had taken,


and in any case he didn't think the Culture Secretary wanted today do


that. George Osborne, a some what busy man, who could have been


attending to the economy, takes time out to say he hopes he liked


the solution, why is that? George Osborne is one of the most serious


figures in Government, this is a serious matter. That is not the


point. The point is Jeremy Hunt behaved completely properly in


exercising the judgments that he did, referring everything to these


independent bodies, and actually the Murdochs were increasingly


unhappy about it, saying what he was doing is tantermount to


wrecking the bid. They didn't get their way on this, and were never


going to get their way. You have shot your fox here, Mr Hunt will


stay, there is no breach of the Ministerial Code, and no reference


about it either? After he took responsibility for the bid, which


we think he should never have done. After he took responsibility, his


special adviser had constant contact with News Corporation. The


Ministerial Code says you have to take responsibility for your


special adviser. He didn't take responsibility, he just sacked him.


That is a breach of the Ministerial Code, to not take responsibility


for your special adviser. He stood in front of Leveson today and said


he had no idea that his special adviser was doing all these things


wrong. That is a breach, straight forward of the Ministerial Code.


straight forward breach of the Ministerial Code, if it looks bad


it is bad? They were clear there was no breach of the Ministerial


Code, did Gordon Brown take the same view about the behaviour of a


political adviser who acted appallingly under his regime, no he


didn't. It is a bogus point by the Labour Party, who have been unable


to land any blow today. They threw a lot of mud, prejudgeed Jeremy


Hunt's evidence, they called for him to go before he had the


opportunity to set out the case in the inquiry, and they haven't made


any of the mud stick today. Shortly before they prepared their


Jubilee festive bunting or whatever it is, we have assembled the


Newsnight political panel. Danny Finkelstein, Sally Morgan, and


Miranda Green. Do you think the Ministerial Code is shot? I don't


think they have tried to use it this time. I think it is clear, the


Ministerial Code has been broken. For two reasons, amongst others,


firstly, it talks about perception, whatever you say today about


specific details, there is an overall perception that they were


constantly in touch with News International. Secondly, the issue


about the special adviser. My understanding of the Ministerial


Code is that it is pretty crystal clear you take responsibility for


your special adviser. I feel very sorry for Adam Smith Smith, I don't


know him, he seems like a decent guy who worked closely with Jeremy


Hunt for six years. I find it pretty inreceivable that he would


do things -- inconceivable that he would go off on his own when they


have worked together for so long. The point earlier, is if Sir Alex


Allen felt like that, it was a hypothetical question, and if he


felt there was a reference he would quit? It doesn't seem a very robust


process, there is something very peculiar about the Prime Minister


sitting there. The whole political world has been glued to the


coverage, presumably in Number Ten they are watching closely, and then


at the end of it saying they are free of it and off the hook. Its


not a clean process from that point of view. There was a definite


feeling that Jeremy Hunt looked very shaky, in the morning, by the


lunchtime he had recovered, and by the afternoon the Tory Party were


celebrating, he's way scot free. He's not away scot free, because he


has been politically damaged seriously. He's not the next leader


of the Conservative Party. media would enjoy another inquiry


into itself and the Ministerial Code. They are really enjoying it.


For the public it is like an inquiry into the carpet industry,


with all the journalists being carpet manufacturers, we are


riveted by this. You are seriously telling us you don't think the


Leveson Inquiry is any more serious than an inquiry into the carpet


industry. Journalists -- Journalists think it is very


important because we work there. Milly Dowler's parents probably


think it is important? The inquiry into the practices of the med was


very important. I work for -- media was very important. I work for a


newspaper owned by news interle that, and can see close up the


devastating consequences for people. On all the newspaper that was very


important. This part of the inquiry, I have to saying, has gone on and


on, and an inquiry into smaller and smaller details, and the public has


lost a lot of interest in this element. Why is George Osborne the


go-to guy for Jeremy Hunt about this, he immediately texted George


Osborne? Everyone knows that George Osborne is very involved in the


political decisions of the Government. He a good friend of


James Murdoch? He has been a friend of James Murdoch, I don't know if


that is relevant. He was involved when Vince Cable was forced to


resign, because of his inappropriate comments on the bid.


The Government had a big crisis, the solution was to give Jeremy


Hunt that part of the job. That was obviously George Osborne knowing


about that, and texted on it. I think an awful lot is being hyped


on to a very small thing. Incidently, the Government has a


lot of big problems, of which Leveson n my view, is overrated by


the media as one of them. I think that is both right and wrong. There


are bigger problems, but the constant drip, drip, drip from


Leveson is extremely damaging. I think it does matter profoundly,


what we are talking about here is integrity. That is very important


in politics at the moment. You were writing this week, Danny, about the


complete loss of faith in the whole of politics, by the mass of the


population. This is part of it, surely. If we get this impression


that everyone in the political world, and the media and lobbying


world, we are all exiting each other and it is all terribly ipbtd


mit, it is all terribly -- intimate, it is a party that the public is


excluded from. That is a damaging truth. That is exactly where I am.


I personally find it really bizarre to think of cabinet ministers


spending their time texting, it is a really weird to go about


Government. Was it like that in your day, were you sitting on


sofas? We were, but people knew what the meetings are about. There


is a serious point here, is a lot of communication within Government


is happening without anybody, no civil servants knowing. No records


being taken, and nobody knowing what is going on. At the same time,


we have a Government where, frankly, I mean I couldn't define for you


what the Government is about at the moment. One of the reasons this is


so big is because actually, apart from austerity, nobody knows what


the Government is there for. you surprised by the role of the


Chancellor, or think he's a very important person? What is the role


of the Chancellor. You have a text, I'm genuinely interested, you have


a text of three words. Maybe it was four. What is the role of the


Chancellor. Come on, the role of the clal, it is obvious, he --


Chancellor, it's obvious, he's the key political strategist, they were


more concerned about the handling of this more than anything else.


The cabinet minister had resigned, naturally speaking the Prime


Minister's closest political ally. He had resigned? Of course you are


right. Cable had to have that responsibility removed, quite right,


the Prime Minister's closest political ally was texting the


Culture Secretary, who will be involved. Saying you like the


solution? What's wrong with that? There is absolutely nothing wrong


with that? What is wrong with that, I don't understand. I'm asking you,


there's absolutely nothing? Then I can't give an answer, I don't


understand what you are talking about. We're on the same page.


think he needs to go back and do the running of the economy. That is


a serious problem, when we're seeing U-turn after U stuorn and


general chaos, that George Osborne -- U-turn and general chaos, that


George Osborne is spending more time on tactical day-to-day


decisions rather than running Government. It was a major issue in


the Government, clearly the Prime Minister will consult major


political allies. Although, incidently, of course the economy


is the critical issue and very serious mistakes have been made


about the budget, ages later. I don't think a one-sentence text was


really responsible. It is the manner in which everyone is


conducting themselves. I think there was a very strong contrast


between today and yesterday. Watching Jeremy Hunt and watching


Vince Cable giving evidence. Vince Cable showed there is a different


way to run your office, and run your operation, and absolutely,


Cable came across a cropper as the Telegraph exposed his private views


about the Murdoch empire. And he was rightly, removed from it, as he


said. But, in a sense there is a grown-up way of doing it, he made


sure the whole office respected the rules which clearly Jeremy Hunt did


not do. We will have to leave it there.


The people of Ireland in a referendum a few years ago very


famously torpedoed one European deal, and the referendum was run


again in order to get a different answer. Today Irish people have


again been voting for a euro referendum, in crushing austerity.


It is a treaty that sets the rules and the polls have just closed.


Have you any sense to which way the votes will go? I have been speaking


to senior politicians on the yes and no side. They both think the


turnout will be quite low, possibly sub-50%. Which means more than half


of the Irish populus decided they wouldn't vote. It is a question of


whether the low turnout would be good for the no vote, or for the


yes vote, because that is the status quo. One thing for certain


is the Sinn Fein party, relatively small in the Irish parliament, may


have marshalled the working-class vote to come in behind the no side,


while the yes side has the majority of the political parties, including


the Government and some of the opposition parties. They would be


expected bring in the yes side. They have been talking about a vote


for question could mean that Ireland could get access of the


bail out funds of the ESM, the bail out package in Europe. It is a


fatalistic option of voting yes you will get the status quo, and a


second bail out if needed. On the big picture, all eyes are not just


on Ireland, but Spain. A lot of money has been leaving the country?


66 billion euro, that is the sum the bank of Spain said left deposit


accounts in March. One suspects that number will rise substantially


throughout April and May. Given the fact that the euro crisis has


hardly abated since March, it took a dip in March. There is talk of a


lot of money leaving Greek and Spanish bank accounts. There is a


story eminating, and doing the rounds, it is only a rumour, that


the Greek Government might put a cap on sums any more than 50,000


euros to be withdrawn or transferred. I haven't been able to


confirm that, that would be a capital control, that would be very


much towards the road of a Grexit. On the eve of the Queen's Diamond


Jubilee, we have been reflected all this week on Britain through the


writings of three British authors, tonight Ian Fleming's James Bond,


created in the tough austerity years of the 1950s, still very


popular, 60 years later. What does the enduring Bond myth tell us


about ourselves and post-war Britain.


The name is Bond. James Bond. name is bond. James Bond. My name


is bond, James Bond. He's lean, he's mean, he's due a


telegram from the Queen. Well, nearly.


Not Daniel Craig himself, you understand, who remains as light


and sprightly as ever. On location in Istanbul for the forth coming


James Bond movie. No, I'm talking about dear old 007, he made his boy


in print back in 1953, the year of the Queen's coronation.


This year is the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film, Dr No.


Whatever the fortunes of dear old Blighty, of the Foreign Office, and


our true spies, at least there is one Brit who always keeps his end


up, 007. The great James Bond franchise is a kind of parallel


diplomatic service. Bringing James, or his doppelgangers, to places


like Istanbul, recording his exploits, and then relaying them to


millions of fans around the world. In fact, in his own gruff, brutal,


can-do way, the James Bond of the movies and of the books, represents


a kind of soft power. Wielding the soft power behind the scenes on the


Bond set, is a producer who has overseen a dozen of the films now,


going right back to Ki-Moon in 1979. Who -- Moonraker in 1979. Who could


be more British than James Bond, is that still a flavour of the movies,


or has it become so international that some of that is lost, do you


think? The fact that he is British is an important part of the


character, and an important part of the attraction, from around the


world. He's a different kind of hero, a different class of hero


than you normally get. Michael G Wilson has also given


himself Hitchcock-style cameos in many of the films. See how often


you can spot him in these clips. Some people might say James Bond is


a bit an ark nisic now, do you get that at all, that the idea of a


British man going out and saving the world, or putting wrongs right


is a bit outdated? Whenever the United States seems to get involved


in something, the British are right there to support them. And we have,


informally, spoken to various people who are part of the British


SAS, and SBS, and they are still very active in the world doing


things that James Bond kind of things in the world. It isn't as


far fetched as you might think. We don't do historical things, we


do films that are in the present time. So, yes, Bond changes,


culture changes, as time goes on. Country, England, gun? Shot. Agent?


Provokeure. I think the James Bond narrative, first in books and now


in fifpls, have functioned as a -- films, have functioned as a


barometer of Britain's changing place in the world. In the 1950s,


when Fleming was writing the book, it was soon after the world war,


Britain could still see itself as a great power and as a nation with


great leadership. Increasingly they have adopted a more critical aspect


towards. That we will have a character who makes a comment to


the effect of being a minor power, a nation in decline, what are you


doing here. Hong Kong is our turf now Bond. Don't worry, I'm not here


to take it back. But we Brits remain extraordinarily fond of Bond.


His publishers, Vintage, reissuing Ian Fleming's original novels, say


more than two thirds of us has seen a Bond film. Their focus groups


said that Bond was an old fast,ed British hero, ingrained in British


culture. That old spy, what is his secret?


In search of answers, I'm attending a covert rendezvous in St James


London. This is where Fleming himself is said to have overseen


the mixing of the original, shaken not stirred, Vodka Martiney, which


blame Bond's significant -- Manchester United teen knee, which


became Bond's signature tiple. When the books first came out, what


do you think about them that so appealed to people, that caught the


imagination? You have to remember the first book appeared in 1953,


rationing was still going on then. London was a city of bomb sites, we


had won the war, but it probably didn't look like that. It was


Fleming's fulfilment, but it became the readers of Bond, a collective


wish fulfilment. He was cool, capable, and something of a dandy.


He chose his clothes well. How do we think of him now, is it a


nostalgic exercise? The period aspect of bond, in a way, is a


strength, it seems to me. It is far more educative in a funny sort of


way, or interesting, to imagine this man, on a mission, in the


field. As, I assume it sort of happens nowadays. It does seem like


a bygone age. He would probably be working in a call centre,


monitoring all the phone calls? GCHQ, not so exciting. And Bond's


successors have had the humiliating experience of making the evening


news around the world with their flop. Such as this abortive


incursion by British Special Forces into Libya, before the fall of


Gadaffi. Can it be true, that the salville row Secret Service of --


Saville Row Secret Service of James Bond is now a bit, well, pants.


strongest thing we had in Britain around the world, is we were not


America. If you look at the handling of the mandate, you had


this sense that Britain did get out but tried to be fair with both


sides. Since 9/11, the image of the British, because we have been


working on the battlefield together, is that there is not a playing card


worth of difference between the British secret agents and the


American secret agents. At least we Brits can make-believe we are the


top dogs in the Bond movies, says the rock star who wrote a song for


one of them. What is brilliant about the movies, is he had feel


lix, the American CIA counterpart, a -- Felix, the American CID


counterpart that was second to him. It was amazing that sold to


American audiences. Strangely, it seems as though Bond's world, and


the one the rest of us live in, are converging. I think the more recent


films, particularly the Daniel Craig films, reflect a sense of


uncertainty, both about Britain's place in the world, but about who


the enemy really is. We are no longer dealing with the ideolgical


servant in the cold wa, we have the shadowy cartels, significantly in


Casino Royal, and Quantum of Solace, we have had internal treachery


within the Secret Service. That is not something we have addressed


before in the Bond films. In the Cold War we were hoping never to


come to blows. It was about recruiting long-term agents and


gradually learning what the Russians were planning. Now we live


in a world where a drone can deliver a missile, and wipe out our


enemies, without any judicial process. A terrorist is identified,


he becomes a legitimate target. We are approaching the Bond world,


where the enemies are the black hats, and it is legitimate we can


kill them. Some men are going to kill us, they are going to kill


them first. Bond is oddly relevant, even after all these years. That is


good news for those of us who have ever fancied stepping into his hand


made brogues. Whether I would like to be James Bond is a waste of time


imagining. We call would a bit? we are honest we are far too


cowardly and risk adverse, to be James Bond. But later, at the BBC


Gun Club...How was that, I have to get the suit back to Radio 3, can


we knock...yeah, thanks. The novelist and screenwriter,


Anthony Horowitz's own hero, Alex Ryder, as a young Bond, and Bidisha,


a writer and broadcaster, and not so enthusiastic. You hate Bond?


hate vintage bond, I like the Daniel Craig remake. But the Bond


myth created in the immediate post- war period, it reeks of rancid,


vintage, gentleman's Cologne, and I keep imagining the old Bonds, one


can never quite remember, dressed in a polyessther tuxedo, with a


full 70s chest wig underneath. The smug -- -- the smugness, he said


the right thing at the right time. It was delivered with a smirk,


knowing he would some how kill you, beat you or some how win. Even if


you were a lesbian you would fall for him eventually. If you didn't


fancy him you were mentally unstable. Is this a bit of


Britishness at the time as well? definitely think there was a sense


of imperial confidence there. That the smooth Brit has come in, he


will make it all OK, because he knows it all. And what you see now


is that it is much more equivocal, but that sense of arrogance sticks


in the throat. What a strong reaction to such a great hero. You


have to go back in time, it wasn't arrogance. In 1953, two years


before I was born, I remember later in the 60s, that Britain was an


austere place. Foreign travel was rarified, sex, as you know, sexual


intercourse wasn't invented until 1963, out of this comes a hero that


provides us with a bit of hope. Somebody who can hark back to the


great years in the war. Special operations executive, naval


intelligence, where Fleming had his training. In 1962, in the Olympics,


we won one medal, we were loser, we needed someone to pin our hopes to.


A mythical figure, to be larger than the world he found himself.


Outside the snobbery and the spies, he is the bionic her ro. You don't


last 50 years and sell -- hero. You don't last 50 years and sell 100


million copies of books, must be doing something right. He must be?


He is doing something very clever, which saeing our fantasies and


desires, I -- which is answering our fantasies and desire. In an age


of austerity I understand that. What is Bond providing? This is


vintage Bond, it is a world where the guy has the perfect suit, the


glamorous job, the perfect women, he's on the inside. He has all the


gadgets, he's going from plane to train to automobile. There are no


gadgets in the books. What you are doing here is confusing some of the


wins-making films based on the book -- wince-making films based on the


book, including the Roger Moore ones. We are talking here about a


literary undertaking, and the books with their wonderful scriptive


passage, the huge set pieces, are unforgettable. Is it good for


Britain's image abroad, something to be proud of. First of all it


sells 100 million copies, but should we be proud of it, does


something touch on us? The films are American, not British. I'm


delighted by their success. We can be proud of Bond in reflecting


aspects of our character, in days torting mirror, positive aspects.


On Her Majesty's Secret Service, in the Jubilee year,'s a monarchist,


and patriot. Also the sense of the Americans, feel lix Lighter, on the


same side, but in the shadow of Bond, since 1945, that is a


surprise? You can definitely do a racial or nationalistic critque. I


have a problem with the novels. I accept you have probably read them


all and I haven't, you are an expert on this. What Vintage Bond


was famous for was the attitude to other countries, the zenophobia,


the orientalism. Who is the bad guy? That is the angry foreigner.


He must be quelled, because se volatile and disruptive. You have a


point, often it is the unpleasant Jew, there is a lot of hantity


semitism in the books, the famous thing about with violence. This is


not why we admire the books. have they endured? Very few


characters have managed the cross generational success. Sherlock


homes is the other one. Why? Because he's more, he's such a


clever construct, the byronic hero. He is a construct, but they work


because they keep on reinventing them. The Bond now is much more


equivocal, self-doubting, rough and ready, and politically displaced T


has lost some of the arrogance, the sexism and the racism that I hated.


That is all from Newsnight, back with more good cheer tomorrow. Good


It will be a warm night tonight in the south. But unusually cold


across the north of Scotland. That is where we have the best of the


early sunshine, many places will brighten up tomorrow. With a little


bit of sunshine. On the whole there will be a lot of cloud around. Very


few places will see any rain. For northern England it looks dry for


the most parts. The best of the sunshine may be around coastal area.


Any early rain around the Wash will fade away. Brighter bries in East


Anglia. The warm weather South Wales. It will feel humid here,


especially when the sunshine comes out. One or two showers in the


afternoon. Through the north and the Midlands, it will feel cooler


and fresher, fine and dry. A lot of dry weather to come across Northern


Ireland, it may start off a bit grey, sunshine breaking through. He


specially in Antrim and Down, and sunny spells across Scotland. A


chilly feel, I suspect. A bit of a breeze in northern Scotland, taking


the edge off the temperatures. We are struggling into Saturday as


well. Sunshine in Belfast, a cooler day, Friday and Saturday than today.


Temperatures in the south not changing a great deal. The warmest


across southern parts of England and Wales, turning a bit cooler,


Has Jeremy Hunt done enough to save his cabinet job after appearing at Leveson? How will Ireland vote on the fiscal stability treaty and what does James Bond tell us about Britishness?

Download Subtitles