14/01/2013 Newsnight


As we debate leaving Europe, what does Germany make of us? How will the new pension plans affect you? Why are we suddenly involved in military action in Mali? With Gavin Esler.

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Tonight, renegotiation of the European Union, repatriation of


powers, Brussels bureaucrats. Whatever you may think of the EU,


what do they think of us? Newsnight has been to hear the German debate.


They may want to be our closest partner, but British talk of


renegotiation wins no votes there. The British way seems to be, we


want our own relationship with the European Union, and the German


attitude is, now we have to go in more. Also tonight, how long will


it be until we all have to work until 70 to collect a state pension.


Today's sweeping pension reforms might require less optimistic


future planning for all of us. 68 years old I'm in Jamaica with my


family on holiday, I'm relaxes, that is my retirement place to go.


I don't think I should be work. ask the writer of Quartet what the


future holds for the old. It sounds like a prison. The service lift is


currently being repaired, but we have the chairlift which will be


much easier from you. What do I do when I get to the top, ski down!


The writer of Quartet is here, along with the Pensions Minister,


along with others to talk about prejudices against those no longer


young. Timbuktu, the great city of Mali was once considered so remote,


most of us couldn't find it on a map. Why are we suddenly involved


in French military operations on what was once the middle of nowhere.


Good evening. For more than 200 years, from the music of handle and


the Hannoverian Princes and prugs minces helping, and even Prince


Albert, even how we celebrate Christmas, the links between


Britain and Germany have always been strong. The history of the


last century have shown how strong relationships can haywire. Ahead of


David Cameron's big speech on Europe, if he does want to


renegotiate membership and repatriate powers, the one country


to get on side, Germany. Angela Merkel and David Cameron have


similar views on Europe, and she wants Britain to take more of a


role. Where does it leave us on a referendum that could leave us


outside the EU. We have seen to Germany to find out.


Hannover once sent its rule Tory run Britain. These days, the


electors of Hanover are concentrating on polls, Angela


Merkel's party have a battle on their hands. And at this time they


would like the old alliance with Britain to be a source of strength


rather than trouble. There is a British way that seems to be we are


going our own way and we want to have our own relationship with the


European Union. The German attitude is we have to go in more, engage


more and rebuild this European Union, but inside. And we are a


little bit sad that there are so many voices within the UK who want


to go out of the union, I guess this is a problem. The CDU's man in


this state, David McAllister, is proud of his Scottish father, and


dual Germany-British nationalty. Like -- dual German-British


nationality, like many of the supporters watching the debate, he


wants a strong EU, with Britain at its heart, rather than its margins.


Talk in Britain of renegotiating the relationship with the EU is


causing real concern in the ruling party here. Leading figures are


beginning to speak publicly about that. They are worried about more


political turbulence in the EU, when the focus should be on


economic regeneration, and about the UK and Germany becoming, in


some way, estranged. On the outskirts of Hanover, this company


produces high-quality audio equipment. Family-owned, employing


more than 2,000 people, it's bucking the recession with rising


sales. London, and its music industry are key to the business.


Any threat to that would worry them. The UK, particularly London, are


considered the centre of the music industry, rock 'n' roll, the


creative industry, the lifestyle that is born and traded in that


vivid city, it goes out to the world. If they decide to say, OK,


yeah, we're no longer part of this, we are more isolated, I think that


reputation could go down. someone says, well, actually, we


know that, we want to avoid that, and we would have free trade with


Germany or the EU as a whole, because that would still be in our


mutual interest would, that satisfy your concerns? Of course, anything


that takes barriers down is fine for us, but it is also necessary.


But I know how complicated it is to negotiate all these different


specialties we have, but this is very complicated to come to these


agreements. It is very cumbersome, and it takes a long time,


particularly in these times, where business is not really, really


stable, we all need to be very cautious about putting up


additional obstacles. It is pretty clear that in both politic ka --


political and business circles there is unease about what Britain


might be planning in terms of its EU membership. What about public


opinion, we want to test it in probably the most anglophile of


German cities, Hamburg. Hamburg University has its radical posters,


arthouse cinema and free-thinking students. Do they feel Britain


should be able to define a special status within the EU? Britain sort


of, in my experience they tend to think, some still do, the only


union we were ever interested in of the empire and then the


Commonwealth, and the European Union, it's a continental thing,


and we don't really want to engage in that. From a continental


perspective, Britain tends to have this notion of, well, we want to


have the good parts, but we don't really want the bad parts. I like


Britain very much, and I would be quite sad if Britain would leave


the EU, because we think it is a great country. I think it would be


great to work together with Britain. But I think it is sad that they


have always been so careful, and never really taken a step into it.


This is an unusually pro-British city, in part because of the


historical trading ties, and in part because of an experience that


might be called a velvet occupation. German's two main news magazines,


located here in 1945, because the British were the first to give them


licenses to print. Today, though, one former London correspondent


cautions the Conservatives against thinking Germans are in the mood to


support the UK while it negotiates its EU opt-outs. People think that


Britain has to decide if it wants to be in or out. And there is a


feeling that it starts to get on people's nerves a bit, you know.


There are already people who say well if they don't want to be here,


then they can get out, you know. Let us deal with the crisis then,


don't disturb the important work of getting it all sorted out. Why


don't you get out if you don't want to be with us? I think that's a


dangerous development, because Germany always has needed Britain,


in negotiations in the EU, because it was a pragmatic partner. After


the TV debate in Hanover, David McAllister got a raptous welcome


from his party supporters. If anyone personifies the close


British and German relationship, surely it is him. But if the


Conservatives think that a Commons centre right platform, and family


ties might make Mr McAllister more open to a looser British


involvement in Europe, they have got another thing coming.


Germans believe in a strong European Union, we want Britain to


stay in the European Union, it wouldn't be the same without the


British. Member-states shouldn't start to opt-out on certain


political issues. We can only solve our problems together in Europe, in


a globalised world, that is why we need a strong Britain and a strong


European Union. McAllister supporters are hoping of winning


this state, and CDU ones of hoping on to power nationally, when


federal elections take place in eight or nine months. Far from


being Germany's ally in the next few months, many Christian


Democrats fear that a Cameron push for a la carte membership could put


the countries on a membership collision course. If we agree upon


a special relationship of the UK to the rest of Europe, we will have a


blueprint. The next step, for example, Poland or other countries


will also demand the same. This will be the first type of a melting


down of the whole union. So far Germany's leaders have been muted


in their criticism of British Conservatives, and many hark back


to happier times for the two countries. But the stage seems set


now for increasing discord between Britain and the EU's dominant


member. I'm joined now by sir Malcolm


Rifkind, who was Foreign Secretary, and spent a lot of time in European


negotiations, and the shadow Foreign Minister, and as Tony


Blair's Europe Minister is no stranger to these discussions. What


is feasible in negotiations with people who think the idea is crazy?


First of all, we have to wait until the Prime Minister has made his


speech, I don't know what is in that speech any more than anyone


else does, that is obviously a caveat I have to make. You know, I


don't think anyone has any illusions that if you try to


negotiate for major changes in the European Union, it is extremely


difficult. I was Margaret Thatcher's Europe Minister when she


started negotiating for a British rebate, surprise, surprise, there


was not a single all lie, not a single country that supported it.


These things do take time. But they are possible? They are possible.


One of the mistakes made by some of the commentators in the film from


Germany, they implied at the moment that everybody in the European


Union has the same rights and responsibilities, not true. We have


major opt-outs already, not just for Britain. We negotiated them as


we went. You are talking about reliving the past, and saying there


is some things we did in the past which we agreed to, and we are not


going to do it now, like immigration policy. Could you


actually change the immigration policy, or free movement of labour,


that some of your supporters like, it seems unlikely? Some things


can't be negotiated away, because you remove the core of European


competence, and you stop being a member. I would agree with you that


is not something that could be negotiated in a convincing way.


That is not the only point at issue. It is the point that many UKIP


voters, and many Tories leaning to UKIP do want? This is not just a


question about UKIP, the vast majority of the British public are


unhappy about the present areas of European confidence in the UK,


things like the Working Time Directive, there is a range of


issues about fisheries policy, other matters on justice and home


affairs, these are negotiable. But I add a caveat, I agree with you,


the Prime Minister has to be careful not to create expectations


that cannot be delivered. I think also, members of his party, and


those who want change, must be careful about rhetoric, the


European Union is a club of 27 countries, no-one country can


dictate to others, it will require negotiation and compromise.


terms of that, now is a good time isn't it? It is not just that


British people looking at the problems of the eurozone, and how


difficult it is to get any agreement on that, but there is an


opportunity. Europe is re-thinking itself, it will probably be more


closely knit together, we have an opportunity to change our entire


relationship? Of course change is coming to Europe, it is very far


from clear that the Germans will push for treaty change. It may be


non-treaty changes that are used to strengthen the eurozone. But,


listen, the fundamental problem is this, the gap between what


Conservative backbenchers are now demanding, and what the rest of


Europe can tolerate remains achingly wide. The reason the


speech is being delivered, on Friday now, not on Tuesday, it is


not for reasons of policy, it is for reasons of politics. The reason


David Cameron didn't deliver that speech during the whole of 2012 was


that he was literally rendered speechless by, on one hand, what he


knew he could deliver in Europe, and on the other hand, what he knew


that his own backbenchers were deened maing of him. That is why we


have seen very senior business leaders like sir Richard Branson


and Martin Sorrell this week is that in order to satisfy and unify


his party, David Cameron has to set the bar so high, there is no way


the Germans could agreed. Maybe that is true, but as a matter of


principle, you presumably accept that one of the great flaws of the


European project is many voters in lot of countries, not just our's,


are not brought alone. The democratic deficit it is called,


they don't feel part of it. One way of solving that is to say this is


the deal, this is what I can deliver and put it to the British


voters, you are against that? Cameron can't tell you the deal,


what he's negotiating for or the circumstances in which he would be


inviting people to be part of something or not part of something.


The real challenge is certainly to make change happen in Europe. We,


as the Labour Party, want to see change. But the way to achieve the


change, we would argue, is reform within Europe, not the threat of


exit from Europe. Because if you are perceived to be in the


departure lounge, then whether it is the German Government, the


polish Government, certainly the French Government, they will be


less willing to give you the changes you want, and some of the


changes that seem to be under contemplation, will be regarded as


providing a fundamental threat to the single market. Can I in the


spirit of constructive criticism disagree with Douglas! This is not


all happening in a vacuum, because of the eurozone crisis, because of


the proposals of the euromembers for a banking union that could be a


fiscal union, we are in a period of fundamental change. It is not just


the UK, only 17 of the 27 countries are in the eurozone, there is a


fundamental negotiation that is unavoidable as to how the other ten


countries, ten countries, not one, are going to be able to have their


rights in the single market and elsewhere fully protected in the


future. That is about the future, with respect, some of the things


that some of those within your party want are to go back over the


past, you could be even more enthralled to those people if you


win the next election. Because they would be the backbenchers that


David Cameron would rely on, just as it happened with John Major?


There is nothing in the Ten Commandments, or in any other


statute of law that says you cannot repatriate certain powers. Even the


European Union, although many people will hate it, can make


concessions, if the case it put convincingly. I accept one


fundamental point, if there is going to be a realistic prospect of


successful negotiation, the best chance will be if what Britain


seeks, if it was conceded, will not harm other states. Now, for example,


there are many areas of policy where you could put that equation,


if it is not met, if you are asking to make sacrifices it is less


likely to be achieved. What if David Cameron delivers 40% or 60%


of what he wants to secure. If he sets the bar as there will be


fundamental and catagoric change in Europe, and if we don't secure the


Europe of my dreams, we will leave the European Union, don't we


default into a position where your own backbenchers, never mind the


country, then says we are left with no choice other than exit? I go


part of the way with you, because certainly I accept that any


successful negotiation, not just in the European Union, a successful


negotiation never means you get 100%, even a successful negotiation


means you get 80-90% of what you would like, and you make some


concessions in the areas not so important to you. The Prime


Minister should make it clear that compromise has to be part of the


negotiation. Do you then recommend exit for the European Union or stay


in. What would Labour get starting from a position that they wouldn't


put it to the British people, that you are not that irritated or


bothered, what would your negotiating position be, much


weaker? The way to advance Britain's interests, we would argue,


is not narrow repatriation, but broad reform, actually for the


reasons just described by Malcolm. Let me give you some examples, we


would work for fundamental reform and restraint in the European


budget, that is financial reform to start with. Secondly, how is the


budget spent, we will continue to argue for fundamental changes in


the Common Agricultural Policy. have been arguing that for years?


There are issues around democratic legitimacy, I'm speaking a speech


this week and I will talk about the steps needed to be taken by the


European Parliament and other institution, whether it is


financial or fundamental economic change we accept there needs to be


change, we think there is a far better and safer way to secure


those interests for Britain than standing at the door and putting


the gun to the heads. That would be a catastrophe for other countries


if we had to get out? It would be a foolish route to take. If we are


talking about the real possibilities of negotiation, we


already have a Europe a la carte, the doctrinal people in Brussels


don't like to admit that. They think that you have a single


European Union with everyone having the same responsibilities. You have,


as I mentioned earlier, ten or 11 countries that are not in the


eurozone. Shen geing, the Irish and the UK are not involved, on defence


policy the neutral countries, Sweden and Ireland and so forth do


not fully participate. So what we are saying, is, yes, in addition to


that, there are certain specific British interests, no doubt there


will be other countries that will have certain and specific interests,


but as long as the core xetten sis of the core European Union are not


disturbed, of which the single market is the most important. Then


you can create a diverse Europe which the peoples of Europe as a


whole, not just the British people, will be comfortable with.


Two of the most critically regarded films on release at the moment are


about old age, Quartet is about some of the surprises growing old


will be. As movie makers wake up to the idea that an older audience has


money to spend, the Government has woken up to the fact that not many


of us are thinking about where the money will come from. Today's


massive pension reform is a start, the Institute for Fiscal Studies


suggests in the long-term it will mean a pension cut in pension


entitlements for most of us. Is all this another sign that before long


the retirement age will hit 70 or more, a forecast for the retirement


age of 68 was included in today's White Paper. Paul Mason has been


contemplating our greying future. Work, get used to it, for a long


time. And saving. Today's radical pensions rewrite brings clarity to


a system that has become impossible to predict. But by the mid-century,


for many people, it will be the wrong kind of clarity. At present,


there are three teirs of taxpayer funding to the pensions system.


There is the basic state pension, topped up to �142.70 a week, with


means-tested credits. There is the second state pension, worth, on


average, about �18 a week at present, and based on earnings.


People in company pensions get tax relieve, and by contracting out of


the second state pension, boost their savings by paying less


national insurance. Today's White Paper consolidates everything into


a basic pension of �144 a week in today's money. The second state


pension is gradually abolished. More people will qualify for the


full amount, more women, more of the self-employed, but they will


have to work for 35 years until they claim it, and for many people


that will mean work until you are 68. I think this is a really good


news day for pensions, it means that for the first time people will


know what they are going to get from the state, it means that


finally it pays to save, and people will know that what they are going


to get from the state will be �144 a week, and what they save on top


of that will be their's and won't be means-tested away. But vox pop


Britain is not tuned into the niceties. I don't know that I will


actually be, you can't do my work when you are 68. You are either


going to have to retire a pauper or work until you die, it is that


simple. You know, how old do they want us to be, it is all about


saving money and they want you to work more instead of retiring and


having a peaceful time and enjoying the rest of your life. At 68 years


old I see myself relaxing in the Caribbean, enjoying the life that I


have had. I think it is a bit unfair for them to make people of


that age work, I couldn't think of my grandparents working now, it is


so unfair. The facts driving the change are stark, we are living


long he, by 2050, a man retiring will expect to live for 25 years on


his pension. But it is also the decline of company pensions that is


forcing the Government to draw sharper lines between what the


state provides and what you provide yourself. 30 years ago half of


people in work, at least half of people in work, were members of an


employer pension scheme that was going to give them a pension


related to their salary, now very few people in the private sector in


that position, quite a lot in the public sector in that position, the


state was topping up everyone else to match those occupational schemes,


now those occupational schemes largely don't exist, the state is


no longer topping anyone else to match it, it is leaving everyone


pretty much to do their own work to get their own pension. While, in


the short-term, the bill brings a sharp jolt of fairness in terms of


women and self-employed, in the long-term, the percentage of those


who lose out, coloured blue in this graph, rapidly increases, until by


2060, the majority are worse off than they could have been under


today's system. You have to work longer, pay more, and get less. It


is a con-trick. Why? Because it is 35 years, you have got to pay more,


and you have to work until you are 68 to get it. By the time this


generation are holding their retirement raef, the burden of


paying for -- raves, the burden of paying for old age will have


shifted decisively towards individual saving. Bit by bit,


successive Governments are putting into place a new design for ageing


in the 21st sent treatment it is based on saving more, and working


longer. After today, a retirement age of 68 looks likely, the problem


is, the jobs and wages of the rising generation might not support


it. It has always been the case that people at work are paying for


a previous generation. Now, today we have got a situation where


people are getting very low wages, they are on short-term contracts,


they are on part-time work. They themselves can't manage, and they


don't pay it in enough, in order to pay for this, the benefits and the


pensions. I don't know how they are going to pay enough for themselves


to get this over the 35-year period. Right now, there are for every two


pensioners, seven people of working age. By 2050 that number falls to


five. It's the iPod generation that will then have to live on the


system designed today. With the review of the retirement age every


five years, the age of 68 might not be the end of it. The Pensions


Minister, Steve Webb is here, along with the economist, Mariana


Mazzucato, Michelle Mitchell of Age UK, and the Oscar-winning


playwright, Ronald Harwood, who has written, among many things, Quartet,


a film about growing old, quite disgracefully. First of all, you


made a play by saying these are huge reforms today and they will


simplify the system, which everyone agrees, you also said that there


will be winners and loser, most people will be winners, in the


long-term most of us, according to the IFS, will be losers. Over the


first few decades, a pretty long time, far more people gain than


lose, many women, many self- employed people, many lower earners,


but higher earners will get less. Over the middle of the century and


beyond, it will be true, as the chart showed, from our publication,


we will spend more of our share of national income on pensions, but


not much more. We are slowing the rate of growth, that is all we are


doing. Slowing the rate of growth of spending on pensions. Is then


the message to all of us, we will have to make private provision, and


there are some who criticise the Government for its raid on private


provision of pensions, and also that we will have to work longer


until 70 or 72 or something like that. By the time this kicks in?


Certainly working longer is part of the mix. One of the things we have


done in the last few years abolish the law that allowed people to be


sacked for being 65, until a couple of years ago it was legal to sack


someone for that. Longer working years part of the mix, a firm


foundation from the state is part of the mix, but more private


savings. Today's 20-year-old were automatic enrolled in work place


pensions, in decades to come they will have a state floor and a


pension of their own. When we talk about the ageing population, do we


have to re-think that what it means to be old, what do you think is


old? We have to transform the way we think about the ageing


population. There is more over 65s than there are 18-year-olds. And


the fastest proportion of the population that is growing is over


85s, policy makers are often 20, 30 years behind. We are going to have


to reinvent the way we think about retirement, pensions, work,


attitudes, and really importantly, health and social care. Because


older people have a huge contribution to make, and


journalists and politicians often frame this debate in terms of


burden, in terms of dependency, and yet, there is a massive


contribution that older people want to make, and want to stay


independent and in control of their own lives. You may have a view, and


the rest of us may have a view of what "old" means, but employers


also have a view, it might be quite different. If you are 65 or 07 you


might think you have another five or ten years in you, employers


might not think that? As has been the case with the BBC. There has


been big challenges about seeing the experience and skills that orld


workers bring. Many want to stay in the work place longer, those that


can and are able and want to stay, some employers don't recognise


those skills. Most employers or some? We have some good examples,


progressive employers, many in retail, Sainsbury's for example,


are planning actively for a diverse work force. It is about ensuring


when you are in your 50s and 60s you get access to training. One of


the big challenges for the over 50s, is when you are made redundant, you,


more than any other age group, find it harder to get back into work.


Because of a range of factor, sometimes it is confidence, it is


also about age discrimination, which still exists. Where do you


stand on this, it is not just older people looking for jobs, it is lots


of people looking for jobs, including 18-year-olds looking to


get into the labour market, they presumably want those of us who are


old Tory move out and get out of the way? The dynamics you talked


about have changed over time, when we had a stakeholder modern


capitalism, there was no investment in human capital formation,


training, research and development, increase league as we have had more


financialised companies, and companies based more on their


shareholder value model, we have had less actual company input into


these processes that actually create high-paying, stable jobs, in


the end what you really need for a successful pension system is


exactly that. The amount of jobs, you need lots of jobs that are


stable jobs that pay good wages. Currently the problem is, in this


country we don't necessarily, currently, but this is more about


if you want a short-term issue have a growth strategy, an industrial


strategy, which will actually guarantee those kinds of jobs. If


you think about the other two pieces of news that came out this


week, one that NHS private providers are actually asking for


massive tax cuts, and you know, because they want to be treated


like the NHS, but they are not like the NHS, these are profit-seeking


companies, it is quite interesting that we actually have a Government


that is willing to even engage in that debate, that these companies


also become tax evaders themselves, and this is some how part of a


legitimate debate. You talked about stable employment, nobody expects


people to have 40 years and a gold watch at the end of it. What will


happen to people as they get older, they will have to move on and be


retrained. At that point, when you are 50 or 55 or 60, whatever it is,


that is when you lose out and drop out isn't it, or many people do?


This is where policy can come in, instead of having a patchy pension


policy, what you really need to do line it up with the policy that


also puts more demands on private companies that are currently


getting away with murder. The other big news I was talking about.


have one or two views on this, this question about private companies


getting away with murd, they do move people on when they get to a -


- murder, they do move people on when they get to a certain age?


big he was change we brought in last year, is people with no


mention and don't work for firms where they do provide them, now


they have a right to a pension with a work place employer. That is a


sea change, and against the grain of deregular lays, we need to get


people into saving on top of the state. You were an inspiration,


doing not too badly for someone who is beyond the traditional


retirement age? I'm 78, Dame Maggie Smith is a month younger than me,


she would like me to say that, tomorrow Courtney is a couple of


years younger than me, Pauline Colin, Billy Connelly, all at the


top of their form in their 70s or more. What Michelle said is


absolutely right, we discard the old. Think of all the knowledge and


wisdom that goes with retirement. I don't know how the BBC functions,


but I bet they don't have anybody helping people who retire. It is a


hell of a shock. Suddenly to stop work. Not to get up in the morning


and know where you are going, why aren't they helped to find things.


There are people, I don't know how old you are Gavin, you are probably


25. Even younger! In terms it of the energy of people who are older,


and in terms of young people saying why don't these guys and women get


out of my way and make way for me? That is a very good point. I have


younger children, they have difficulties finding jobs, work, of


course they want the old to move out, that doesn't mean that old


must be discarded. They can be used. The wisdom, the knowledge, the


experience ought to be used. How do you channel that? Look, when you


look at the literature post-Second World War, and you were talking


about women being pushed out of the Labour market when the veterans


were coming back from World War II, we were told then that there


weren't enough jobs. I think our understanding of economic policy


has moved on, there isn't a credible theory which says a


younger person has to take the place of an older person's job, it


is about having a clear growth strategy, about having highly-paid


jobs, but also having appropriate training at all ages. It is about


changing the culture, and changing how we think about all these


things? The single biggest change, 65 has been a spell, male pension


age has been 65 for a century. That is incredible when you think what


has changed in the century. That will change in a few years time,


once there is no 65, that is moving on. Watching the football, Alex


faringson is running the top team, allegedly, in the country! He's 71.


Just changing the way we think about it. Would you accept that is


very unusual, one of the unions of today was pointing out, with these


reforms, if you are relying on the Government, �144 a week will still


be below the poverty line, in other words, you cannot rely on


Government provision is what they are saying? Also we have a


Government budget that is being undermined by, and it is not a


question of a legal tax evasion, but legal tax evasion, which is


what I was getting to before, you don't have a confident Government


trying to increase the amount of money that the Government has to


spend and to co-finance these pensions. We have decreasing amount


of tax that is these large companies that used to be the


providers of these well-paying table jobs, actually putting less


into the system themselves, both in terms of how much they are actually


investing in areas like human capital and training, but the


amount they see they are responsible for, in terms of


providing back to the state which funds the education, roads,


transport, the technology that they depend on to become successful.


This should be part of the pensions debate. Do you actually think our


culture has begun to change. The very fact your film got made, does


suggest things have changed a bit? We weren't pioneers, there have


been films what is it called "the grey pound", she told me earlier.


But it is now an accepted force in society. But we in the arts, I'm


sorry to boast about this, always drive both the economy and the


politicians. We change the moral complexion, and we are doing that


now, and they are going to have to listen very hard. Are you listening


very hard? That is the question, most of us, most of the time, hate


to think about pensions any way, we hate to think about getting old,


despite what you say, and all these advantages, we hate to think about


it, we certainly don't want to have to plan for it? And Ronald's


message is so helpful, a change in attitudes towards older pom. We


recognise 20-year-olds don't think about pensions, that is why the law


is they have to be put in, free to opt-out, many just get on with it,


they will have it taken. We visited some supermarket workers put into


the pension scheme, they all said they will stay in. They were


relatively young, relatively low wage, they said they know they need


a pension really. Young people we have to help with that, older


workers, McDonalds stores that employ older workers are more


profitable than McDonald's branches that don't. I will give awe little


warning, all of you children here, old age will take you by surprise,


and suddenly you need your pension. I'm a privileged member of society,


I'm terribly well paid, and have been for a very long time. People


who work on a regular basis are taken by surprise, they are 65 have


they enough to live on? Do you accept that simplification of the


system is absolutely necessary, that has at least been achieved,


and there will always be winners and losers, there will be some


grumbling, this is only the beginning of quite a long process


in reforming the pensions system and the way we think? The children


born now a number will live to be over 100. I will be living


hopefully significantly longer than my mother and grandmother, the


world is changing at a hugely rapid scale. One of the things we


shouldn't forget. There is a positive story about ageing and


getting older, which is we are living longer and we want to work


and make contributions. We cannot forget the people who can't make


the contributions and can't work because they have a disability,


they are caring, or there isn't work in the area they live, who


don't get food quality care, that aren't getting access to the NHS.


We have to sit back and also say, as well as the opportunities the


cultural change and attitude change, what are our values as a society,


what is the minimum level of support, of care, of service that


we will give. That minimum has to be higher than we are currently


getting at the moment. We will leave it there, thank you all very


much. Now the City of Timbuktu in Mali


was once thought so foreign to our interests that its name was used to


suggest that a society and culture as far removed from Britain as the


moon. Now British military aircraft and advisers are helping a French


mission to try to throw back Islamist extremist rebels who have


taken over a large slice of malli. The fear of the country being used


as a major base and training camp for Al-Qaeda and associates is part


of the equation. One extremist supporter comments that France has


opened the gates of hell. French newspapers worry that going in is


always easier than going out. We will hear from the former French


Foreign Minister in a moment. First this report.


Another French intervention in another former African colony.


France now has more than 500 troops in Mali. Its war planes have


intensified their bombardment of Islamist rebel targets in the north


of the country. They are countering, francais, a growing extremist


threat. Not just to the region, but also to Europe. For French


President, Francois Hollande, whose rating has plummeted since election


last year, it is a coup so far. Francois Hollande was widely seen


by some supporters as a rather, emindecisive person, forever


consulting and deliberating. A sort of Obama in his early days. The


decision to intervene in Mali, which was sudden, forceful and


which appears to have been effective, has instantaneously


changed President Hollande's image. Now Britain's endorsed the


operation, sending transport planes to help. The first was grounded


today with a technical falut fault. Mali occupies a huge space, mostly


desert, at the heart of Africa. Islamists now control half the


country, including the famous city of Timbuktu. Last week France


helped malian forces throw rebels back from Konna, on the road to the


capital. Today in fierce founting the Islamists counter-attacked and


taking a town. The rebels in Mali are a variety of groups, whose


allowances shift like The Sahara sands. The famous blue-robed onadms


of the desert have been fighting for years for their own independent


secular state in Mali. But a multinational Islamist group, has


now taken over much of the north, they are called Defenders of the


Faith. It includes ve various African Jihadies, it includes


weaponry left over from the wars. They are good fighters, trained


some of them against the Americans in Afghanistan. Some of them have


been working for the Gadaffis for many years. These very well trained


soldier, very tough. They are well equipped. They normally would fight


a war of movement, I think, but there are stories around that they


have been digging a huge base in the mountains in the extreme north-


east of Mali. They have captured, among the things left behind, they


captured an enormous amount of road making machine, they have been and


using it to dig another Tora Bora. In towns like Timbuktu, who had


their own form of Sufi Islam, they have destroyed shrines and imposed


strict Sharia Law, including amputations for offenders. It is


Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb that worries the west more. First and


foremost so far they haven't shown the ability or even intention to


directly strike in the European countries origins the west. But


there is the potential for them to do it in the future, if they decide


to step up their ambitions, and so to become much more active, in that


ens is, and becoming maybe one of the -- in that sense, and becoming


one of the major Al-Qaeda affiliates. The Government called


for troops from neighbouring west African states in malicious they


will start arriving earlier than expected. France was only supposed


to help with training and logistic, not playing the leading part it is


now undertaking. Is it just repeating its post colonial role.


Until the end of the 1950s France owned a vast swathe of Africa, it


never really went away, even after independence. French forces have


intervened following coups, unrest or civil war, in state including


Gabon, the central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, and Ivory


Coast, in Chad an operation in 1968, to put down the rebellion, has


ended up lasting, on and off, ever since. Could the same thing happen


now in Mali? The danger for France, as with so many western


interventions in overseas conflicts, is that it may get bogged down in


an operation whose aims aren't clear. If west African troops are


unable on their own to achieve the UN Security Council's ultimate aim


of restoring state authority, throughout Mali, then French


involvement may stretch from weeks into months. Already defence


sources are saying that the number of French troops in the country may


soon increase from 550 to 2,500, and they are warning of a long


foreign military operation there. Unfortunately I have been told that


our guest, the former French Foreign Minister has been unable to


make it to our studio in Paris, which is a pity. Let's have a look


The Times has a lovely picture of the weather with horse riding in


the countryside. But the main story is Europe.


It says that David Cameron will light a five-year fuse under


Britain's place in Europe is how it puts it. The Independent has


pictures of Jodie foster in the Golden Globe, acknowledging for the


first time that she's gay, the main story is about Mali l the top brass


of Number Ten -- Mali. The top brass at Number Ten say avoid Mali.


It has the pensions story on the right-hand side too. The Telegraph


has a lovely picture of the weather, with a stag under the snow in


Derbyshire. But this main story is dementia sufferers abandoned, the


Health Secretary says thousands struggle on without help, because


doctors refuse to test. 500,000 people to be offered breast cancer


drugs. That is all for tonight. I Good evening, still a few snow


flurries tonight across eastern counties of England and Scotland.


Elsewhere icey conditions to start the day. A few showers to start


western parts of Wales and south- west England. Whilst the snow


flurries continue through some eastern areas, for many the morning


cloud breaks up, bright conditions through the afternoon. Temperatures


freezing through north of England. Lincolnshire, East Anglia, parts of


Kent, continue to see some sleet, a bit of snow inland. After a great


start skies will brighten across other parts of the south-east. The


south west and Wales sunny spells through the afternoon. A few


showers still around, maybe running into Devon and Cornwall, that could


produce snow over the hills. For most a dry and bright day in store


after an icey start, icey start in Northern Ireland, again a lot of


dry and sunny weather to come throughout the day. For Scotland


the morning cloud will break up. Best of sunshine within the west,


the morning snow flurries gradually dissipate in Edinburgh, the day


will finish brighter we could continue with the sun shine.


Temperatures really do struggle to get above freezing as is the case


for Wales, we have a cold, Eastleigh flow, starting to push in.


As we debate leaving Europe, what does Germany make of us? How will the new pension plans affect you? Why are we suddenly involved in military action in Mali? In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Gavin Esler.

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