In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Jeremy Paxman.
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help mothers get back into work. We help mothers get back into work. We
reveal what the Government hopes will happen to make childcare more
affordable and the economy a little more vigorous.
Looks sweet, doesn't she, but are she and her friends secret
saboteurs of the nation's economy. Can we afford to have a million
mothers priced out of work by the cost of childcare. We want to be
active members of society, that's all, and earn enough to feed our
kids. Would reforming the tax system sort things, and come to
that, why is childcare so dapld expensive in this country.
-- damned expensive in this country. With Cairo posed for demonstration,
and Goon squads on the streets. We talk to the opposition lead,
Mohamed El Baradei, what does he make of President Morsi's rule.
is something unprecedented in the whole history of the world. I don't
think any of the Pharaohs had the same powers.
And young, gifted and gaz san, what's it like to be 18 in one of
the most troubled places on earth. TRANSLATION: I haven't lived long
enough to know what will happen in future, all I know is we are born
into war, we live in war, and we As any parent knows, children cost,
a lot. So much so hum drum. But the cost of childcare has now been
diagnosed as such a drag on the economy, that Newsnight understands
that the Government is about to try to do something about it. We
understand the coalition is considering reforming the tax
system, and relaxing restrictions on childminding. There will be
announcements just after Christmas. Our political editor has more.
In among the traffic of inner city London, a statue to motherhood, in
among the Hurley burly of the British economy, mothers too have
retreated to bring up baby, while the hustle and bustle carries on
around them. This statue is bronze, but you could measure what is lost
to the economy with women at home in gold bullion. The rise in
British living standards appears to be driven by at least, in part,
women entering the work force. But in recent years those rises have
plateaued, and childcare appears to be playing a part. When women have
children they don't as much reach a glass ceiling but a mess neen.
Their income is much diminished when they return. Politicians all
round agree it is a problem, a problem where nearly a million
women are missing from the work place. The Government talks a lot
about mums returning to work, but not doing anything to really help
us return to work, I want to, we want to. If they could put more
money into supporting mothers going back to work host-six months, nine
months, that would make a huge difference on careers not being
lost. A tale of two mums, on very different incomes, both visited by
Newsnight today. One training to be a nurse, and another, an
entrepeneur, who did run a company with with a large turnover, both
wondering why, in Britain today, it is so difficult to care for your
kids and care for your career. We have seen the appearance of
something of a childcare bubble. A lot of money has gone in, but the
price has risen higher and higher. The organisation of economic co-
operation and development, estimates in terms of how much the
Government puts into childcare, Britain is behind only the high-
spending Scandinavian countries. Experts can test this figure, they
say it includes elements that are not strictly childcare, and that
when a purer measure is used, British state spending on childcare
is actually somewhere in the middle. All three and four-year-olds
receive 15 hours of paid childcare a week during school term time. By
September 2014, disadvantaged two- year-olds will also receive help.
Childcare Tax Credits can be claimed by a household where when
either parent works 16 households a week. Most households to claim it
Nonetheless, the cost to families appears to be very hive. According
to the OECD, the average UK family spends 27% of its income on child
cautious that is the second-highest among OECD countries. It is for
this reason that the inclination inside Government is to reform how
childcare is provides, free up the regulations on who can become a
childminder. In our experiences, the spaces required most are for
the younger age group. There has been a lot of attention, a lot of
funding on the nursery space, and therefore, accommodating older
children, therefore, I would be delighted if the focus could be
moved towards childminding, making it easier to register as a child
minder, increasing the numbers of childminder places, so enable more
children who of a younger age to be left in a home, nurturing
environment. It's for this reason that the inclination inside
Government is to reform how childcare is provided, before any
increase in its funding. Free up the regulations on who can become a
childminder. Ministers are looking to France. Their -- there one
childminder can look after four children, here it is three, but
quality is not diminished there. When I was looking for childcare
and deciding whether or not to work. I would have loved to place my
daughter in a home environment, where someone was looking after my
own child plus my dau, so I knew they were in control of what they
were doing, and they were happy to do that, that's what I wanted, was
a nice, safe environment for them. Whether they are following
educational guidelines was not a priority for me.
Increase league avail -- increasing availability of child minders, with
new requirements expected for higher qualifications with a view
to bringing down the costs, that is one way to bring down the wall in
childcare that the Government is to announce in January. What if easing
the availability isn't the only problem, what if state funding
isn't enough state funding. We want to get back to work, me and other
mothers in my situation, we want to get back to work, we want to be
active members, but we really can't, because of the financial restraints
we have on us. Labour politicians are proud of the
investment they made in child cautious including Sure Start, but
now many think they must change tack, that new money must be spent
on providing the child cautious instead of just giving the parents
the ability to pay for it, if there is little to buy, prices remain
high. Free universal childcare for all 1-4-year-olds, is something the
opposition would like to offer. do spend a lot of money currently
in this country supporting the childcare sector, supporting
parents. But is all that money being spent in the best way. This
is what we are trying to do. Hopefully we will be bringing
forward some proposals in due course, that will definitely make
this a lot better for the future. The Conservative came has always
been to make childcare tax deductable, Newsnight understands
they will make progress on this in January. Offering a flat rate of a
third tax-free, because there will be statues erected to the political
party that cracks this. The Institute for Public Policy
Research think-tank shows 25 hours provision a week, would provide a
net benefit to taxpayer for between �1,000-�4,000 a year for every mum
that returns to work. Something you can measure in gold. No-one from
the Government was available to speak to us tonight, I'm joined by
a French socialist MP, who represents French expats in
northern Europe. Karen Walker from the Bank First Direct, Zoe Williams,
and Helen Penn, I pointed by Government to write a report into
child cautious she has submitted her report and it is still awaiting
publication. What about the idea, professor, of one childminder being
able to look after more children, will that solve the problem?
Why not? Well, the problem is that the cost is so high at the point of
ruse, whether it is a childminder or a nurse -- use, whether it is a
childminder or nursery. Those childcare that has a low cost for
parents funds the provision directly, so when the parent comes
to pay it is reasonably calculated on the basis of household income.
We will get on to that point in a moment or two. Why is it in France
one person can look after so many more children than apparently they
can do here. Are French children better behaved? They are very
disciplined, don't you know! I'm not too sure, exactly. I think it
is three children per childminder. Are we overregulated? No, clearly
the child minders need good training and supervision. In France
we offer a mission of solutions, through Child Tax Credit, universal
child benefit and spaces in nurseries, and encouraging child
minders to do their jobs. What is your gut instinct? My gut instinct
is the Government is going about it all the wrong way. Basically, you
talk about a million women jumping out of the work force because they
can't afford child cautious that corresponds directly with the drop
in child -- childcare, that correspond dends directly with the
drop in -- corresponds directly with the drop in Child Tax Credits,
that coincides directly with that. The solution isn't more nannies, it
is making it possible for those on low incomes to afford childcare. It
is not for other women to earn less for other women to pay them, you
are creating a poverty problem somewhere else. Karen Walker, First
Direct, you run your own childcare programme there, do you? We do, yes.
It is run by an external company, but we have had the relationship
for the last 23 years. How many children have you got in it? Around
250 children in the nursery. many adults looking after that vast
number of children? It depends on the age of the child. But it will
either be a one-to-three ratio or one-to-four ratio, depending on the
child. Could the adults cope with more? Not in that environment, no,
I don't. Why is it worth your while, as an employer, providing this
service? Why do we do this? Yes? Because very much it is about our
support for our parents and carers to come back into work, when they
have been off on paternity leave or maternity leave. We have invested a
lot of time to recruit and develop these people, it is really key for
us to get them back into the work place and we are able to support
them for that. Why is it so important? Because we
invest up front, we invest a lot in these people, we know that if we
value our people that they will value our customer and we are in
the service industry. It results in amazing service for our customers.
You are not a social service, you are doing this because it makes
sense to the company? It makes perfect sense for our company.
Let's look at this question. Go on, you are desperate to get in? This
is the conversation they had in Germany, not particularly about
customer services, when we were discussing the fact that they had
very poor childcare provision, they said, look we spent all the money
educating women, then we lose theired education when they drop
out of the work force and don't come back, they literally had a
conversation, do you stop educating them, or do you start paying for
childcare! It was that stark. Because otherwise you lose so much.
Virtually every advanced western economy is confronted with this
problem, and they have decided to go about it in different ways,
Helen, you were referring earlier to wait in which the finances
operate, the Government finances? Yes, most countries use supply-side
funding, that is they fund the nurseries directly, so that
nurseries can offer low fees to those parents who can't afford very
much. We do it backwards so, we make people pay whatever the
nursery asks, and we say, well we will refund you, perhaps. So at the
point of use, parents are faced with huge costs for getting a
nursery or even a childminder. France went for that system, didn't
they, essentially, the French Government funds the nurseries
directly, doesn't it? Yes, yes. Which means it is almost free for
the parents. But then, not all the parents are guaranteed to have a
space. The current Government is undergoing a vast programme of
offering new spaces in new nurseries in order to meet the
requirements. I think it is half a million of children still need
spaces in nurseries. Well, I wish our Government would
copy you. It is also about the future of the state, because there
is the demo graphy at stake here, the children of today will pay for
the pensions of tomorrow. It is about a national strategy to
encourage families to have children. We spend by calculation, it is hard
to work out, about �7 billion in this country on this matter.
Possibly a higher proportion of the national income than you guys spend
in France. Why is it so inefficient here? It is always inefficient if
you give the finding retrospectively, people -- funding
retrospectively, people don't do it and it is a muddle. The number of
people who don't claim is really very high. We can't, it is very
difficult to track the funding, it is very difficult to follow it
through. But who are these people who don't claim, it is free money?
Well lots of them. There is unclaimed benefits all over the
place. It is hard to make claims. And any way, people's circumstances,
particularly when they have young families are continually changing.
Who really benefits from the fact that we do it this way round?
it's hard to say. It discriminates on people on lower incomes, isn't
that the case? Certainly our system doesn't benefit those on lower
income, if you look at it comparatively across the country,
we do rather badly by the poorest. Our system is just very wasteful.
It is not, as you say, we are not spending the money, we are spending
the money, but it doesn't seem to be going where it is needed most.
That is the absolutely baffling thing about childcare in this
country, is nobody is getting rich out of it, the nurseries aren't
getting rich, the nursery workers aren't getting paid that much,
mothers are crippling themselves to afford it. Childcare is very
expensive in this country? It is expensive everywhere, it is not a
cheap service. Human relationships cannot be priced down in a very
straight forward way. You can try. But still it is known to be very
expensive, it can cost up to �300 a week, so it means women have to
choose between keeping their job, or looking after their children. It
shouldn't be that. You have got children? I have two children.
you living here when you had them? Yes. Could you get childcare?
was a student, so I had to stay at home, I was looking for a job.
was simply because you couldn't afford it? I couldn't have afforded
it. Could you have afforded it in France? I suppose so, I haven't
tried, it depends where you live. In some cities childcare is
affordable, and it is not a case in the other places. You explain this
difference by the fact that the state subsidises the nurseries or
the childcare provision in France and it doesn't here? I suppose so,
all I can see is in the end the average spending on childcare for a
family in France is around 10% of the monthly budget, where as it is
around 30% here. So there must be something going wrong somewhere,
but I don't know where, exactly. Karen Walker, from your experience,
what do you think is the responsibility of the state?
think it's to provide help and support, in terms of the facilities
that we provide, and putting a little bit more pressure on
employers as well. I think there is a lack of facilities available when
you walk into a work place, that provides for working mums and
fathers. So you think that the state should
be encouraging other employers to do what you are doing? Absolutely,
yes. It should. Should it go further than encourage, should it
subsidise? I think that would be really useful. They do offer a free
education entitlement for children over three, so I could put my
children in nursery externally, and get that entitlement for free up to
so many hours a week. But, they could do so much more.
What's your sense of whether we're likely to change the way in which
we do this? We have some fundamental problems about how we
define childcare and education. You wouldn't expect businesses to
provide education instead of school, so why on earth are you expecting
them to provide childcare. I think the whole system that we have here
needs to be co-ordinated, better thought out, and if the price is
that parents notionally don't have so much choice, maybe that is a
good thing. Do you think Government is seized of the urgency of this
problem, what is it doing to the economy? Well, we have a lower
percentage, relatively low percentage of working women, 63%,
compared with up to 80% in some countries. But the worst thing for
me, I think, is that it is the poorest families who aren't using
the childcare. That's a question of social justice, I suppose, as much
as anything. What is the effect on society? That women aren't working,
or that children aren't getting educated properly. That women
aren't working, that you have this core of trained individuals who,
because of biological circumstances, are no longer in the work place?
That is costly, but I think it is also costly that children aren't
educated properly as well as looked after. Until we get it straight
what is childcare and what is education, and what we should be
doing for children and what we should be doing for mothers, we
will not really progress very much. What do you sense the consequences?
Obviously there is an economic consequence to lose these women out
of work force. Especially, as we know what happens, there is a
Doppler effect that the longer you are out the longer it takes to get
back in and you never get back to the same level. There is a social
problem if kids don't mix at a young age, Sure Start ensured that
kids from all kinds of backgrounds really got familiar with each other
from the age of one, it was a huge big deal. I think to lose that
would be really tragic. Do you sense something odd about this
society because of the way that we deal with this question? Not too
much French gloating, but off you go? No, but I'm not sure it is the
markets or the markets only that should deal with childcare. I think
it is a society question, and it should be also up to the state to
look into it. We have a system where childcare is regarded as a
business, and people buy into it. It is like all these things, under
the guise of choice, you end up with no choice at all, you can
either afford it or not, that is the only choice. We will await the
announcement after Christmas with great interest.
Thank you very much. Hard to read the ruins in Egypt these days, on
the one hand the new President has given up powers he had given
himself, but on the other he has authorised the military to arrest
civilians. Not unexpected on the second anniversary of the Arab
Spring there would still be demonstrations. Big protests are
planned tomorrow, ahead of the referendum this weekend, where
people are asked to pass judgment on their new constitution. Liberals
claim that Mohamed Morsi, the President, is as bad or worse as
President Mubarak. Before I talk to the opposition leader, Mohamed El
Baradei, our diplomatic editor reports.
Egyptians have certainly done plenty ofing since the fall of
Mubarak, but it -- voting since the fall of Mubarak, but it hasn't
brought stability. Protests and industrial action have done much to
frighten off tourists and investors, leaving Egypt's economy tottering.
Democracy, per se, has hardly helped. In November 201011, the
first of three phases of -- 2011, the first of three phases of
parliamentary elections were held, in January 2012 it produced a
majority for the Muslim Brotherhood, and Salafist parties. Then came the
presidential polls, the first round in May featured a variety of
candidates. By June, and the run- off between Mohamed Morsi and
former general Ahmed Shafiq, third way candidates who represented
neither the Muslim Brotherhood and the military had gone, many people
abstained as a result. Now on Saturday they will get the chance
to vote on a new constitution. But this has prompted renewed battle on
the streets. It retains existing clauses that
Sharia or religious jurs prudence should be the main source -- juris
prudence should be the main source of law. It gives the Islamic
university a role in drafting new laws, and says the state shall
protect ethics, morals and public order. It also allows for a
continued military role in upholding that order.
A limits the President to two four- year terms. Since Dr Morsi's
election, there has been a war of decrees, between a constitutional
court trying to thwart the new ruler. And a President who wants to
grasp his democratic mandate. TRANSLATION: I'm eager to protect
the legitimacy of the country, and I'm against those who harms the
institutions and the nations, I will never allow them to do that.
The President's decree of last month was intended to nudge aside
the judiciary, while he got the new constitution through. But the
backlash against his tactics has energised hundreds of thousands of
Egyptians, who reject both the old regime and the Muslim Brotherhood.
They had long alleged a de facto alliance between the country's old
military elite, and it's new Islamist masters. By calling the
army to protect the Presidential Palace, President Morsi has given
these opponents new purpose. Earlier I spoke to Mohamed El
Baradei, his home in Egypt. I asked him how he was planning to
vote in Saturday's referendum. Jeremy, I think at this stage you
are going to fight the referendum in the street. Tomorrow there will
be a huge demonstration. We believe it is illegitimate to go and vote
for a sham draft constitution. We would at least time to reach a
consensus on a constitution where we will all accept and all will
live with it. This is a constitution that defies our basic
rights and freedom, it doesn't establish a proper democratic
system. We are at this stage deciding that we continue to fight
tooth and nail the referendum next Saturday. You will boycott the
referendum? We are not sure at this stage, injure me I think tomorrow
we are going -- Jeremy, I think tomorrow we are going to stage a
huge demonstration, hopefully Mr Morsi will listen to us, and
postpone the referendum until we are able to reach, through dialogue,
a proper consensus on a proper democratic constitution. Why not
take part in the referendum, and at least register the size of
opposition? This is an option, but when the whole thing, Jeremy, is
illegitimate, when you have a document that defies and undermines
your basic rights and freedom, you don't want to give legitimacy to a
sham process. I have the constitution in front of me, it
guarantees freedom, equality, freedom of expression, what is
wrong with it? There is a lot wrong with it, Jeremy. If you look at
freedom of religion, we want to make sure that everybody has the
right to observe his belief. It is not there. It only talks about the
three monolithic religions, if you talk about freedom of expression,
it gives the permission to arrest people for their expressing their
views. It makes the whole process hostage to religious institutions,
rather than the judiciary. It is surely better than the constitution
you had under Mubarak, isn't it? I'm not sure, actually. In some
parts it is even worse than the constitution of President Mubarak,
that is the irony of it. That's why you see the anger in the street.
Because people, after this beautiful uprising, expected to see
a real democratic constitution. That has a proper balance of power,
that it has the freedom, the universal freedom, clearly
recognised. In some parts, which I'm sad to say that, it is even
worse than Mr Mubarak's constitution. Are you afraid of
something akin to civil war? It is there, it looms on the horizon.
That is why I'm calling on Mr Horsman and company, to make sure
that they have to understand, they are not a majority, even if they
are a majority, they are not at all. I think they are 20,-30% of the
Egyptians. It is not right to impose your views, which is to say
the least extremist views, that are not shared by the majority of the
Egyptians, to the rest of the country. If you insist on doing
that, you are lead leaving -- leaving us no option than a head-on
clash. There is nobody who wants that less than me. The economy will
default in six months, security is not there, Sinai is a fertile
ground for extremism, how on earth are we going to work through this
without a proper dialogue. When you see how Mr Morsi is behaving, do
you wish you had had stood for the presidency? Absolutely not. I would
have stood for the presidency, Jeremy, if we had a proper
constitution. The reason I didn't stand is to avoid being in where Mr
Morsi right now, naturally I would not have been in his position, I
would have acted differently, but you do not want to be a President
in a situation when there is no rules of the game. I saw the other
day that you had had referred to Mr Morsi as something like a Pharaoh,
did you really mean that? Absolutely. He had, until yesterday,
when he recinded some part of this constitutional declaration, he had
call the powers, he had the executive power, the legislative
power, and he and -- and he NUT turd the judiciary. It is something
new in the whole world. I don't think -- newtered the judiciary, I
think it is something new in the whole world. I don't think this is
how you can rule a country in the 21st century. The country has been
reduced to one single person. are laughing this off, but this is
a very serious time for Egypt? is serious, it is serious for my
family. My daughter, who lives in London, and who probably will be
listening to me tonight is worried, my family are worried. I don't
think they can go through with that. I think that would be the beginning
of the end, frankly. We will stay in the Middle East for a while. In
the end, all these apparently iterimable conflicts, which the
rest of the world worries about until something else make as claim
on their anxiety, are about human needs, emotional as much as
material. Nowhere on earth, perhaps, matches Gaza, the shriller of land
on the Mediterranean coast, left to -- sliver of land on the
Mediterranean coast, left to the Palestinians. The Palestinians have
now achieved a degree of recognition by the UN, much to
Israel's fury, and Gazans have just emerged from a very one-sided
conflict with their neighbour. What is it like to grow up and live in
such an embattled society. We have been there speaking to two young
Gazans. 5.00am in Gaza, barely even dawn.
But time already to be stirring in one unlucky house.
A mother's duty, to send her son to place she dreads.
Though year by year it gets no easier.
Tea, she hopes, will revive him. But that's not the first fix
Mohammed needs to face the day. Elsewhere in Gaza, other hands are
breaking bonds. They are ego Tory get to work.
-- eager to get to work. Heading off towards the horizon, mad lean
loves her job, but she -- mad da lean loves her job, but she, too,
like Mohammed is caught in a web of restrictions she can't unravel.
This is the story two of 18-year- olds. Forced to grow up before
their time, in a tiny, teeming sliver of land, from which there is
almost no escape. Gaza, blockaded by neighbours, Israel and Egypt,
for the last five years, and at war again with Israel only last month,
there is little room for childhood. Mohammed is resisting reality,
today, as almost every day, he faces another gruelling and
dangerous 12-hour shift in the smothering tunnelling between the
Gazan and Egyptian border. TRANSLATION: This work is criminal
work, no-one should do it. Have you ever seen anyone dig their own
grave, their own grave with their own hands, while you are digging,
that the tunnel might collapse at any time and kill you.
But he must go, whatever the risk. Mohammed's father, with a bad back,
hasn't worked for years. His mother, depends on her son to
feed the family of eight. He is an adult now, just. But he
has been working full-time in the tunnels since he was 14. Before
that at many other jobs. TRANSLATION: I didn't have a
childhood. When I was eight I worked as a porter at the border.
Carrying luggage. Even when I was very young. I work as well as
studying. But then, I found there was no time to study. Madelene has
had little time to study either. She's also her family's chief bread
winner, and Gaza's only fisherwomen, it makes her job more complicated.
TRANSLATION: I'm taking my gown out here, because the harbour is full
of men and boys, and they follow me with their eyes.
I get trouble from some fishermen, they are jealous of me, because I
go out to sea and come back successfully.
Sometimes they don't do so well. I get problems from the police too,
because I'm the only girl. They say it is forbidden, you can't go.
But Madelene has gone any way, full-time for the last four years.
Like her father, and grandfathers before.
She is battling waves and politics. Israel, afraid of gun running,
won't less Gazans fish far out. The ceasefire, after last month's
conflict extended the limit, but only from three to six nautical
miles. TRANSLATION: When they gave us
another three miles, the catches got better, but in another few
weeks the fish up to six miles will be used up to. There are a lot of
fishermen and though go fishing all the time, most of the fish are
beyond the new boundary. Today with a storm brewing she's not testing
the limit, she might strike lucky close in shore, if the kid brother
can scare the fish into the net. At Mohammed's house, 22 miles away,
at the far end of the strip, work can be put off no longer.
Or not much longer. He's off to be a human mole.
Another day. When a mother can only wait and pray.
With 28% unemployment here, thousands like him have taken the
road to the tunnels, since the blockade began. That was five years
ago, when the armed Islamist movement, Hamas, came to power here.
Now, the tunnels are a huge industry. One of the main
industries in Gaza. The holes that honeycomb the sand beneath the
border have become a mini-Klondike, the petrol pumped through, and the
mugled goods swept away, supply Hamas, providing much of the
Government's revenue. But the system depends on the cheap
muscle of men like Mohammed. Not for nothing his mates call him "the
untamed bull". He has drilled and dug many
passages like this through the treacherous sand and mud, hundreds
have been buried alive in recent years when they collapse. Suddenly,
they are worried it is happening again now.
Hear the distant thud, and look the power has gone off further down the
tunnel. TRANSLATION: The electricity went
off because the roof fell in. One prop slipped and took another with
it, if anyone had been underneath, it would have killed them. Now they
have to switch the whole system off to try to repair it.
It's almost dark too at sea, where Madelene has made a catch. A haul
that will earn her perhaps 20 shekles, �3, it is nowhere near
enough to cover the cost of the fuel for today's outing. Now the
storm means no more fishing for a day or two. The family sit in the
dark in one of Gaza's many power cuts, mending nets. And thinking
about mending their gerry-built house, indirectly damaged last
month, by Israeli rocket attacks. TRANSLATION: Look it is all broken.
We have had to put some stuff on the roof. It is made of asbestos,
the shockwaves from the blasts break everything. We are very close
to military targets, so there are a lot of attacks around here.
Elsewhere in Gaza, whole houses were destroyed. More than 160 lives
were lost. Hamas says it won, mainly because a few rockets from
here hit central Israel, and it tells the two thirds of Gazans,
registered refugees, fugutives from what is now Israel or their
descends, that one day they will go -- descendants, that one day they
will go home. Madelene doesn't believe any of it? TRANSLATION:
story of our home town ended a long time ago. It is a dream toe think
we will ever return there. It is impossible.
Whielt conflict goes on, so do the tunnels -- while the conflict goes
on, so do the tunnels. Building materials must be smuggled, since
Israel fears Hamas might use them for military infrastructure,
weapons must be smuggled too. For the last two years, food and
consumer goods have been let in legally, but they are cheaper
brought in underground. Mohammed is taking break after repairing the
breach, alongside a boy who looks younger than he was when he started.
Then he's back to his main job, as beast of burden.
The work so exhausting most tunnel workers take the painkiller
tramadol. TRANSLATION: It is death work,
exhausting, yesterday I walked 500ms carrying a carbon net, I was
sweating all over. There is -- car bonnet, I was sweating all over.
There is no ventilation down there, you feel you can't breathe, you
can't carry on, that is why you take tablets. But Mohammed became
addicted to Tramadol, it turned him into an invincible machine, then it
sapped his strength, and used up all the money he was earning.
TRANSLATION: I stopped eating, I stopped drinking anything. All I
wanted was to take Tramadol and work like a donkey, it stopped
working so well. So I increased the dose. Then, one day I collapsed in
the tunnel, I was carrying a big sack of flour. I started having a
hit fit, I lost consciousness, that is when I decided to quit. I didn't
sleep for two months, I didn't talk to any human being. Two months, and
I thought I would never come back to myself. Fits, anger, a lot of
things happened to me, I hated myself, sometimes I wanted to
strangle myself to death. But now, thank God, I'm not using it.
beach is where Mohammed spent much of his time as he overcame his
addiction, and still the only place he says he can relax.
TRANSLATION: The sea is my best friend, the only friend I can tell
my problems to. In another life, he would like to be an airline pilot.
But he knows that will never happen. Doesn't he feel bad that young
people in other countries have a chance to study, and even to play?
TRANSLATION: That's what I feel. Very much. Many times I have
wondered why I couldn't be like them. Well-dressed, going to school,
everything perfect, why it has to be like this for me, are they
better than me. Madelene will have to marry soon, she has had lots of
suitors already. But she and her father have said no
to them all. TRANSLATION: I don't believe there will be anyone who
will deserve Madelene and protect her. I don't think she will have a
good future in this country. Our society is closed, very closed, and
she's a free spirit. Her marriage may fail because here they don't
respect independent women. As for Madelene herself, the sea is the
only horizon that means much to her. TRANSLATION: I hope the sea will be
open much more than six miles, and all the other gates to Gaza will be
opened, and everyone will stop thinking, every time they hear a
plane that there is going to be a rocket attack. But she's not very
hopeful. Madelene, like Mohammed, was born in 1994. The year after
the Oslo peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians. But
neither she nor he, unlike their parents, has ever spoken to an
Israeli, just think, she's older than the average Gazan, who is only
TRANSLATION: I haven't lived long enough to know what will happen in
the future. All I know is we are born into war, we live in war and
we will die in war. Mohammed's vision of peace is
narrow, all it means to him is escaping this underground hell.
TRANSLATION: I hope the gates will open, and the tunnels will close,
and there will be jobs so we can leave this kind of work. Everyone
will be able to do whatever they want, but, as you see, nothing has
changed. We haven't gained our victory yet.
Gaza, as he says, is a place that can only live from day-to-day. With
no light yet at the end of the tunnel.
Tomorrow morning's front pages now. Many of them like the Telegraph are
dominated by the photograph of the husband and daughter of the nurse
who apparently killed herself after That's it, excitement in the bird
watching world, flocks of wax-wings about everywhere, seen from
Lichfield to Lothian, they are like a small brown par the question,
with red blobs like ceiling wax on their wings. They are visiting from
points north. If there is an old wives tale, that lots of sightings
means a hard winter to come, it is rubbish, they are just hungry.
# He'll say are you married # We'll say no man
# But you can do the job when you're in town
Hello, very cold tonight, a widespread frost, there will be
icey patches in the morning, across eastern England, fog patches
further west, and some of those will linger all day. Most places
should brighten up nicely, see some sunshine, it will be a colder day
than today. Down the eastern side of England, the wind not as strong
as today. There should be more sunshine, fewer showers. Watch out
for icey patches in the morning. A dusting of snow in one twor places.
Further west some sun -- two places. Further west fog lingering all day.
The like of the West Country, Somerset level, up across Worcester,
the West Midlands and the Welsh marshes, together with parts of
North West England, and around Cheshire. Northern Ireland should
have sunshine, after some early patchy fog here. A similar story
across Scotland, a cold, crisp winter's day sunshine for the most
part T will feel cold. Temperatures tomorrow lower than today. It
doesn't get much warmer on Wednesday either. Notice fog there,
around Manchester still, on Tuesday. And it could be a bit of a problem
on Wednesday as well. We have to find more fog, more freezing fog
developing, again, very quickly on Tuesday evening. Tuesday neat, and