07/09/2012 Newsnight


Emily Maitlis asks what the government can do to bring down the cost of living, and actor Dominic West reports on the children groomed online.

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Tonight, the week the Government and the opposition stepped up the


fight to win over the middle- classes. Call them the alarm clock


generation, or the squeezed middle, their fortunes or misfortunes, may


dictate the next election. The cost of living will make-or-break the


Conservative Party and the coalition at the next election. It


is the number one thing that concerns people. Privately, I'm


being told that this week's reshuffle is all about the cost of


living. Putting those faces to the front that can sell the


Government's message, that it understands hardship. Labour gave


us a big idea too. It wasn't redistribution. We will be talking


to Stan Greenburg and Stefan Shakespeare, about who has the


answers. Also tonight, when you have six for mobile phone credits,


the kids that are being groomed, deused and abused. Dominic West


played the serial killer, Fred West, in BAFTA-winning performance, it


motivated him to learn more about child safety. What happened when


you met up? I went for a drive. What did he say? Nothing, he gave


me a phone. We speak to Dominic and guests here in the studio, and ask


whose responsibility those kids are?


Good evening. The cabinet juggling of this week has been called in


inner circles, "the cost of living reshuffle", a clear sign, perhaps


the Government recognises it is the very issue that will win or lose


the next election. All week politicians on both sides of the


house, both sides of the Atlantic, have been struggling to articulate


solutions to what many believe will be next month's conference


battleground. The struggling middle-classes facing rising food


and fuel prices, here is our political he had dor. An average


residential area, in an average part of down, basking in London's


India summer. Things look so much better in the sun. Even the best


September glow will struggle to improve the look of a wage that


doesn't grow, and hasn't for a few years now. Acute economic problems


squeezing households might pass like a plane across the sun. But


there are broader shadows cast. In an average estate, in an average


part of town, this is issue number one. Bread and butter issues


persuaded the Government, a reshuffle, and may not be relevant


to this Government. What Ed Miliband and David Cameron were


doing is readying themselves for the debate. The cost of living is


the number one issue for the British public. This week David


Cameron kicked things off with a cost of living reshuffle.


New jobs were announced by the company,Am stkpon, today, the Prime


Minister was there are willing them on, but he and his advisers know


that even for those with work, the problem is balancing the books.


David Cameron's Government believes its policies are helping the


squeeze on people's lives, having frozen council tax, and letting


people keep more of their salary. But focus groups, carried out by


Downing Street, show people believe local councils to be responsible


for the first, and no-one knows about the second. Now Keneth Clarke


is the highest-profile of a number of ministers, tasked it with better


getting that message out there. The minister for Ronnie Scott's, may


have suddenly been made the minister for the cost of living.


This Government has long frozen council tax, and is also increasing


the personal tax allowance. These are good policies that help with


the cost of living problem. Now they have put the people in place


to help promote those policies, they know they need to do more.


Ideas doing the rounds include action on childcare, or a further


delay to the fuel duty increase. George Osborne's speech to


conference this autumn, is expected to be the moment it would be


unveiled. His speeches are often rabbit out of the hat moments. This


rabbit has to be pretty big to feed a lot of families. One of those


waiting on Osborne's rabbit is the foodbank supporter, like this


minister. They offer food to struggling families. The cost of


living issue will make-or-break the Conservative Party and the


coalition at the next election. It is the number one thing that


concerns people, the petrol bills, the food bills, how much tax they


are paying. Wherever I go I see people struggling to keep their


head above water. The husband, I meet couples and the husband is


working all day, he comes in and his wife goes out to work all night.


These are many families across Harlow, people getting up at 4,


5.00am, working every hour they can in order to keep the family


finances in order. The Government are wise to that I gend da, they


are trying to do -- agenda, they are trying to do things about it.


It requires tough choices, if they were to overhaul environmental


policy we could get energy bills down, it requires tough choices and


those with subsidise in industry wouldn't like that.


Subsidies in industry wouldn't like. That we have to look at getting the


most out of public services to ease resources and the squeeze on


people's pockets. If the Government wants policies to ease the squeeze


right now, there are those in all parties looking at how long-term


they can improve people's ability to make more money in the first


place. Forget the growth they arey, and the post bureaucratic age, Pete


pre-distribution. Pre-business tribbuegs is about saying we cannot


allow ourselves to be -- pre- distribution, means we can't allow


ourselves to be about taxes and benefit and low wages. Our aim must


be to transform our economy so it is a much higher school and higher


wage economy. Government sources today are saying they are already


pre-distributing, they are rewarding schools and enabling


skills so people can get better jobs in the future. But pre-


distribution, in the form Ed Miliband intends, ined crudest form,


could involve the nobbling of companies. The two approaches that


they are take to go relieve living standards pressures, one is a tax


cut, aimed at working people, broadly, in the form of increased


personal allowances, and deregulation, it is an interesting


twist on deregulation. It is deregulation on parts of public


services, which people have to pay for, like childcare, to try to make


those things cheaper. There is a lot of scepticism about whether


that will work, it is a traditional, centre right approach, being


applied to an area of public policy. Over in America, ahead of their


election, a new book deals with how all politicians have failed to help


middle earners deal with the squeeze. Though America's middle


making for a muddled model for the British middle, there are lessons.


There is no other way of putting t the two Titans of the American


political scene, we have failed. Their British opposite numbers air


strikes cross all three parties, are trying to ensure there is


another way of putting it. The author of that new book, it is


Middle Class Stupid, is Democrat pollster, Stan Greenburg. He joins


us now. And Stefan Shakespeare is co-owner of the website


ConservativeHome. If we can start with you and that quote, that the


reason you wrote the book is because they have failed and that


is it. You recognise the middle- class is vital? It is vital to


America identity. It is vital to the middle of the country. When we


talk about milledle, we are talking about the -- middle, we are talking


about the middle-classes, people who have an aspiration for


education for their kids and rising prosperity. Hard work is a central


value. If you look at the Democratic Convention this week,


hard work, work just ran through the entire thread. Work is supposed


to pay. We wrote the book, because work wasn't paying. People were


expressing great frustration. We wanted politics to work for the


middle-class. It wasn't happening. That's why we wrote the book.


you look across the Atlantic here, what has to change for us not to


fail on that issue? I'm not sure I should provide the prescription. Ed


Miliband talked about the squeezed middle for a long time. What we


tried to argue in if this book, is this problem wasn't produced by the


financial crisis. People understand this preceded it. There has been


long-term lack of jobs, lack of income growth. Our polls even in


even in the last week or so, still have dae Kleining income. And the


way it is -- have declining income. And the way it is expressed is


prices in the grocery stores. Price is the filter for a long period of


jobs that don't have increased pay. It is lack of jobs and lack of jobs


that pay. People understand and say long-term problem, and they are


looking for, I think, bold solutions that address those kinds


of problems. It is interesting, we heard it referred to as the cost of


living reshuffle, if you like. The Government recognising that it is


those prices, it is train fares, rising fuel, food, all the rest of


it, whether they win or lose the next election, is that what this


change in the last week was all about? Yes, I think it was. Until


recently the whole Conservative presentational case was put through


David Cameron. It was David Cameron, the prime ministerial one, versus


Ed Miliband, the non-prime ministerial one. Now it doesn't


seem enough. People do feel the squeeze, they are getting it from


both sides. It is aptly called the squeezed middle. They feel upwards


and downwards it has all gone wrong, and it is not enough. Is your


suggestion that David Cameron cannot be the person that sells


that to the electorate himself, it is too awkward? There is


recognition of that in Tory circles. He has done well on the fronts he's


good at. But we are in new territory and we need an additional


cast of characters to get that method across. The argument in the


states has been tax ku cuts versus tax breaks, we have this clunky


phrase from Ed Miliband called "pre-distribution", I think it was


imported from America. Is that something you can implement? Is it


a vote-winner? We will know soon whether it is a vote-winner in


terms of how the election goes. One thing that is clear, is President


Obama, in the last three or four months, has come to identify the


middle-class, the squeezed middle, as the central issue. If you looked


at the convention hall this week. Signs saying "middle-class first",


were plastered all over the convention hall. He has made it


essential. What is clear, if you look at his speech, this is


something that we have said in the book, this is a long-term problem.


Therefore, it needs, people get that there needs to be policies


that create jobs with rising incomes. That is, I think, is what


Ed was hinting at when he said we have to get the right kind of jobs


and strategies, to have the right kind of jobs that can produce


rising incomes. It is an interesting idea. Pre-distribution,


meaning, essentially, that the wages have to be something worth


getting. Would you be brave enough, would a Government be brave enough


to say, yes, employers have to pay more. We are going to raise the


minimum wage? One thing I think is a problem with this is the name.


That is very important, people will not understand this phrase.


Miliband came up with a good phrase with the squeezed middle, "pre-


distribution" will confuse people rather than entighten them. What


the authors have done really well in their book, is put together a


really serious and comprehensive policy to deal. I don't think it


would work here, it may work in America. It is such a simple idea,


it is a wage that pays you enough money. That you are not going back


for tax credits and looking for the right kind of loopholes, it is a


wage that pays you enough money to live on? Everyone would want that


to happen and nobody would argue against it. How you get there is


the argument. That is a serious economic argument that isn't


contained in the current debate. Stan Greenburg. In the book we


introduce, relevant to the, but bold in comparison to what people


are talking about here. We talk about how to get healthcare costs


under control, how to have an industrial manufacturing policy,


using energy that promotes American jobs. I can't judge whether those


are right, but I can't believe there isn't a set of policies that


can be focused on, how do you have a growing number of jobs that have


associated with them enough income to have a rising standard of living,


so you don't have to address the kind of price struggle that people


face now. If you are David Cameron, if you are the Conservatives, going


into conference next month, knowing this is the issue on everyone's


mind, what would you take. We were talking about the fat rabbit coming


out of the hat. What has that got to be? Osborne is good at fat


rabbits, but he has also had a clear message about austerity and


it will pay off. But it hasn't, so far, it has been very, very


difficult to find any sense of growth or anything positive? There


is no rabbit that will replace real growth. Only if that happens can


the Conservatives possibly win the next election. Thank you both very


much indeed. One girl describes having sex in


exchange for mobile phone credits, another describes the abuser, he


believed, on-line, was a fellow teenager. Child grooming is not a


new problem. But these tales are a timely reminder it still goes on.


25 years after the serial killer Fred West was convicted of raping


and murdering 1 girls. He was characterised in a BAFTA-winning


performance by Dominic West, who since has become deeply involved in


the issue. He made a film for us about vulnerable teens. We will


speak to him in the studio about his experiences in a few moments.


First their stories. When I made a programme recently on


television about the Fred West case, one of the thing that alarmed me


most is a man could prey on vulnerable young people for nearly


25 years and go undetected. The sad fact was a lot of his victims were


not missed by anybody, and not cared for by anybody, that is why


it went undetected. He made me feel down all the time. I always felt


down all the time. I always felt upset. And so how long you had been


on the Internet talking before you met up? Only like a month. And then


what happened when you met up? went for a drive. And what did he


say? Nothing. He just gave me a phone. And then when did he start


wanting to have sex with you? two weeks later. Were you happy you


didn't want to? I didn't want to. Did you say you didn't want to?


What did he say? He said I gave you a phone, so I get something in


return. I kept saying no. He was always like, if you don't come out


and see me, then send me a picture of your fanny and all this. I was


like, no I don't want to he will keep going on and on, I just do it


to shut him up. What does he do with that picture? I don't know.


have a young daughter on Facebook all the time, how dangerous is it?


How can you tell? I don't know. don't know. What made you want to


meet up with the guy? I don't know. Were you curious, did he sound


interesting and exciting? Well, I just used to do it because for love,


to get love out of it. Because I didn't get enough at home. My mum's


an alcoholic, so she always drinks, so I don't really...Did She know


what was going on? No. Does she know now? No. How many children do


you deal with here? At any one time we could be working with up to


about 50, on a direct one-to-one basis. Right, so what happens in


here? This is our client room. If we are bringing young people into


the service, if we are doing a special on relationship, we would


look at how you feel in certain relationships. You are looking at


things like they are feeling nervous, and they feel weird and


scared, reckless, excited. And sometimes kids can, you know, not


be able to identify if they have positive people around them.


problem with child sexual exploitation, with things like


internet and that, is the problem getting worse or are we just more


aware of it? Yes, as opposed in the community, if they are going to


target a young person to groom them, when you are on-line you can target


any amount of young people, and out of say 50, I guarantee you will get


quite a few that are going to fall into that process of being groomed.


What amazed me is so many kids, it seems to me, go missing, and


unaccounted for, and nobody knows about them, those are the most


vulnerable people to exploitation? I think that the process of, with


perpetrator, is becoming more sophisticated, with awareness of


the law, awareness of vunbgts, and children may be just mis--


vunerabilities, and children may be missing for a few hours and taken


back home. There may not be an indication that they are being


sexually exploited, because the perpetrators are becoming wise.


in ten of the children Barnados treat are boys, they call them the


hidden problem, and say the aftereffects of sexual exploitation


on a boy's identity can be devastating. The person just wanted


to know everything about me. What did you think about the police, did


you think they were there to help or were you frightened of them?


was frightened, they were pressurising me. Why? They wanted


to know every single bit of detail. And they were putting me on the


spot, as I said they wanted to know everything. I couldn't remember


everything. They were, presumably, because they wanted to talk to the


guy who was corresponding? They said they were on my side, but it


didn't feel like it. How did it feel? Nervous, I thought I was the


one who was going to get into trouble. Did you think it was your


fault, in a way? Yeah. Do you still think that? Sometimes, but not as


much. What happens sometimes that making you think that? Em, because


I think to myself that I shouldn't have responded or replied to him. I


should have known better. Do you think you were duped, or you were,


it wasn't what you thought it was? Yeah. Or maybe it was and you were


excited by it, or interested in it? Yeah.


The most shocking thing for me today was hearing from a young


woman prepared to sleep with men she didn't want to, purely for


mobile phone credit. It is clear the children on the end of this


abuse, struggle to identify it for what it is. For them gifts must be


paid for, and friends are people whose demands can't be turned down.


Since they are not able to, some how Government and wider society


has to do more to identify it for them. You saw Facebook mentioned in


that piece, and "tagged", they say they have many features to protect


users from misuse, and they have many platforms to keep young people


safe. Claire Perry and Dominic West are here, leading a campaign to put


filtering devices. And a representative from the charity,


Safe and Sound. If we can pick up where you just left out. That idea


when you are speaking to these kids, and it is quite hard to work out


whether they saw themselves as victims, or when you said gifts


must some how be paid for, it is a very confused relationship for them,


sometimes? I think that was what was one of the more depressing


things, was they seemed totally unaware that they are being


exploited and they are victims, and that, I suppose, certainly Harriet,


the girl I spoke to, she was from, she had a bad home background, and


so had no idea, I suppose, about what affection and love was about.


I assume that is one of the things she was looking for, and had really,


or she said she didn't realise that, when she was in a room full of ten


men that was exploitive. It is unusual for an actor to go this far


along a theme or a role, presumably, outside a role. What was it that


drew you in here? The Fred West case, I obviously got very involved


in. The most, the appalling aspect of it was it was essentially a case


of child sexual exploitation, and it was also a case that a lot of


his victims were children, and they were also people who nobody klted


for. That their parents -- not accounted for, that their parents


didn't know them or care homes couldn't keep tabs on them. I


wanted to see who was dealing with that and sorting it out. I spoke to


Barnardos who have a campaign that deals with missing children and


sexual exploitation, the two are very much linked. What was your


experience when you saw how the problem is being dealt with, or


tackled, or approached, did you feel reassured? Not really, no. It


seems incredibly difficult. I mean, the Millennium Dome, the centre I


went to was a very quiet place. It was I thought a lot about a charity


I came across in Baltimore and we were doing The Wire, and we were


raising funds for a woman who had set up an afterschool club for kids


who were vulnerable and on the streets and couldn't go home. I


thought it would be a centre like that. Obviously this centre, the


Barnados centre was much more specialised, because it was about


specifically abused kids. One looks around for people to blame, the


Government or parents, and the truth is that's everyone's


responsibility, really. Your nodding. Do you recognise it is


some how isn't taken on board by smaller community, much more grass


roots? Yes. Sorry. I think my experience in Baltimore, and I


think Natalie will talk about it, conviction that is have happened


recently seem to have come from a community-based thing rather than a


national-based thing. What do you make that have? I think it's


make that have? I think it's everybody's responsibility. The


Government could do a national awareness raising campaign. It


needs to be recognised as everyone's responsibility. It is


parents, it is communities, it is people who work in shopping centres,


people who work in hotels, it is police, it is local authorities.


Everybody needs to work together to address this. At the end of the day


it is the perpetrators to blame, nobody else. As we heard there,


they are getting more sophisticated, they have a whole range of


technology, and all the rest of it to deal with? Dominic has made the


point, having played Fred West. This is a problem that has existed


for years. What technology has done is amplify the problem and make it


much, much easier to contact children and young people. We had a


cross-party parliamentary inquiry into the issue, specifically of on-


line child protection. We had various charities that educate in


this area, and parents are frequently incredibly complacent.


Right now, the way you are supposed to protect your family from adult


contact on the Internet is to download filters delivered by your


service providers. Great technology, and only four out of ten families


use it for various reasons. That is the stable, structured families.


What your investigation found, is how, as children become more and


more vulnerable, and out there in society, in children's homes,


perhaps with more dysfuntional families, they become even more


vulnerable, and the technology makes it even harder to shield them.


As a dad and parent do you feel able to get more involved. Would


you step into your daughter's virtual life? No. I tried, but


she's in charge of setting up filters in our family. So, she


comes to you and says you might have to put that on for me?


didn't know about the filters, to be honest if I talk about it.


think we need an opt in, because you need a feed that is clean, if


you want the material, no-one here is anti-porn, there is no Mary


white house campaigning, you opt in to get it. The mobile phone


question we were talking about, now with a smartphone you are


accessible all the time. I have three children, I was asking myself


why do I not feel confident in looking at their phone message, we


pay for their phones. We have given our children an unprecedented


private space. Or who they friend on Facebook. Would it occur to you


to read your children's texts? would be like reading her diary.


there were a bunch of guys hanging around, we give them a private


bubble. If you picked up a landline call, in the old days, you would


have a sense of whether somebody sounded a bit dodgy. Completely.


You might not know that these children have got mobile phones.


What we find is that the perpetrators will buy them a new


mobile phone, and they will have two. They will be very, very


secretive about the one that the perpetrator has bought. As a parent


you might not know about it. It is about educating children around


this issue, it is about raising their awareness in primary schools


W appropriate messages around staying safe, safe choices. You are


always going to be one step behind f you try to legislation on


technology, you will always be a step behind whatever they have


thought of next? We are not calling for legislation, the idea of the


Government legislating the Internet, Governments can be clunky in this


area. What I want, and it gets back to the issue of lots of people


being involved, specifically the Internet service providers, six


provide 95% of access in the home in Britain, they make about �3.5


billion in internet access revenue, it is the only form of media where


there is no control. In television we have watershed, films we have


ratings, why should the Internet be different. If Natalie is right, it


is not a question of whether the kids can get on to the right search


on the Internet, it is whether, it might not even have parents around,


they might not have parents that notice whether they are missing for


a couple of hours. It is quite possible with teenagers? It is also


the case that, sorry, lots of kids in stable families will have


laptops in their bedrooms, the parents don't necessarily know what


is happening either. It is about education for me, it is about


educating children so they are aware, they know why not to put


certain things on-line, and certain photos or personal information on-


line. How do you educate, though, a girl who has come from, probably a


pretty abusive or addictive family. Who might not have had any kind of


stable relationship in her life, she falls in love with the first


guy that gives her a mobile phone? That is very difficult, but it is


everybody's responsibility, it needs to happen in schools, in


children's homes. So we do awareness-raising sessions in


schools and children's homes and youth clubs and places like that,


so we try to hit as many young people as we can with the stay safe


message. Those who have been groomed effectively, need support


to get out of abusive relationships. Dominic, going back to some of


these kids, did you get the sense that they had learned just another


level of not to trust, or do you think? What was really shocking is


they, particularly Harriet, she felt, I'm addicted to the Internet


and my mobile phone, it doesn't matter with me, she felt if she


didn't have a phone, the guy who was abusing her, all he had to say


was, I'll take your sim card away, and if she didn't have a mobile


phone or access to social network, she did not exist. And she was a


non-person. That's something that my generation never had to deal


with. We met our friend, do still, but it is like you have no identity


now. And when my daughter went to school, aged pre-legal Facebook age,


her peers came up to me and said why are you not letting her on


Facebook, she as the only one here and missing out on all the social


interaction, you are mad, what is the matter with you. It is that


sense of children living their lives in an on-line world, that we


all a little hard. That is why the Internet has become the place where


they socialise, get information, I would like more protection and


filtering of some of the adult content. We have run out of time.


Thank you very much indeed. That's all tonight, there will be plenty


more next week, until then, have a Hello there, it is going to remain


very warm for some of us this weekend, a chilly start in the


south west with fog too. That will soon clear, patchy fog in parts of


Wales and the Midlands. It gets burned off by the sun, further


north the sunshine does arrive eventually. In the north of England


a while to brighten up. A lovely day through the Midlands, highest


temperature in East Anglia and the south-east, could hit 27 Celsius in


the light winds. Southerly Brize, the highest temperatures will be --


southerly breeze, and highest temperatures 25. A lot of sunshine


in Wales. Warming up nicely. Lovely day. Across Northern Ireland,


conditions will be improving, after a cloudy start, more sunshine


developing, like we did today, 20 degrees is likely. Across Scotland


it is the North West that could be cloudy, elsewhere some sunshine and


it will be a pleasantly warm when it was out. In Paris, 30 degrees on


Sunday, in the sunshine, a little bit more cloud in Berlin, warming


up as weekend goes on. Fine, stuny hot weather continues in Rome and


Athens, a few showers inland Spain. Wetter conditions arriving in