14/02/2013 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Kirsty Wark.

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Ed Miliband has finally found a tax policy for a new Labour Government.


It's one they are familiar with. We will put right a mistake made by


Gordon Brown and the last Labour Government. We would use the money,


raised by a "Mansion Tax", to reintroduce a lower, 10p starting


rate of tax. The Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury is here


to reveal whether this is a manifesto promise. So these have


been closed down for how long? of the Government's ideas,


channelled through Queen of shops, Mary Portas, was to quick start the


high street. Why have so few towns used the money they were given to


do just that. Is the largest democracy in the world, but why do


so many of India's serving politicians stand accused of


serious crimes. It is an astonishing fact that half


the ministers in the Uttar Pradesh Government are charged with crimes,


ranging from rape, murder and robbery. This is a nationwide


problem. The Olympic and Paralympic athlete,


nicknamed "blade runner", Oscar Pisorius, has been charged with the


murder of his girlfriend, in a shooting in his house in preoria.


We will speak to the man who helped write his autobiography.


Good evening, it was a very bad mistake. That was Ed Miliband's


verdict today on Gordon Brown's scrapping of a 10p tax rate in 2008,


as he readopted the policy, saying he was determined to put it right


after the election. He swiped one of the Lib Dem policies, the


"Mansion Tax", to help pay for it, promising the tax would be levied


on property worth more than �2 million. They accuse the Government


of rewarding those at the top, while squeezing everybody else.


Paul Mason is with me. As taxes go, this one is a bit familiar? In the


great political chess game over tax and spend, someone is finally


getting round to moving the first chess piece. It is Ed Miliband,


into the middle of the board, with the proposal to cut taxes for 24


million people, a bit, and pay for it by taxing housing worth more


than �2 million. We we call in political speak, "mansions". The


Institute for Fist * studies, that everybody likes -- The Institute


for Fiscal Studies, that everybody likes to quote. Says it is not


clear whether the tax would pay for the 10p tax rate. The politics are


clear. We reported this back in 2007. Labour people lived through


it. It was the moment where the political class, and the media, to


an extent, suddenly discovered there were people who earned


�12,000, and Gordon Brown had discovered how to make them very


annoyed. And people in Labour date that moment as the day the wheels


came off the cart. The problem with political chess, is once you move


your piece, somebody else can move their's. While this was designed as


a long-term gambit, a big idea, a blue sky thinking turned concrete.


As we are about to Lear, the other political parties also have ideas


in the short-term about how to respond.


Ten pennies, to be exact, scrapping the 10p tax rate for low earners


was, for many, the point at by Gordon Brown lost the plot. He


reduced the rate to 20p but ending the rate for the lowest paid. Then


he paid for it again at the polls. In hindsight he wished he hadn't.


What happened with 10p? It stunned me, because it really hurt, that


suddenly people felt I wasn't on the side of people on middle and


modest incomes. Because on the side of hard working families is the


only place I have ever wanted to be. But, Labour's political currency


was tarnished. So today, like a new penny, Ed Miliband turned up with


that rare thing in opposition politics, a commitment! Let me tell


you about one crucial choice we would make. Which is different from


this Government and different from the last Government. We will tax


houses worth over �2 million. And we would use the money to cut taxes


for working people. We will put right a mistake made by Gordon


Brown and the last Labour Government. We would use the money,


raised by a "Mansion Tax", to reintroduce a lower 10p starting


rate of tax. David Cameron has focused on taking the low paid out


of income tax all together, by raising the starting point for


paying. Some Conservatives would like to copy today's move. We have


taken two million people out of tax all together. We have cut taxes for


20 million lower earners, that is the right thing to. Do we have


raised the threshold to nearly �10,000 before people pay tax.


After that, rather than continuing raising the threshold, which is


actually very expensive. What we should do is focus on restoring the


10p income tax rate. Something and inexplicably got rid of by Gordon


Brown. I have called this, campaigning over the many months,


the great Gordon Brown repeal bill. Labour is pitching this as the


first of its big ideas for the future, but some Lib Dems see it as


the basis of a cunning and rather immediate plan.


Are they serious when they say they want a "Mansion Tax" and want the


rich to pay their fair share. If they are, let's see the colour of


their money. Why not put it forward in the Finance Bill, why not move


an amendment with to the budget. If they move to a core Lib Dem


flagship policy like that, why wouldn't Liberal Democrat MPs


support it. Is this political posturing, or is it for real.


But Labour is playing a longer game. It is called "subverting the Tory


catchphrase", they have done it with the words "one-nation", and


today went to the birth place of a slogan they would like to haunt the


Conservatives at the next election, think 1957. Some genial


commentatored said I coined the phrase which had a certain


popularity, I don't know who it was, who said something like, "you never


had it so good". It was the Tory Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan,


who coined those words, in Bedford, in the days of black and white, to


signal an era of rising living standards. Ed Miliband wants to


make stagnating living standards the issue now. Look at this graph,


showing real average earnings, they are falling as David Cameron comes


to office, and on both key measures, they are not expected to recover


much by 2015. Though, after that, the feel food factor fight -- fool


good factor right come back. Labour wants to fight the election on the


bays of pennies in your pocket. So -- basis of pennies in our pocket.


It is starting by pledging to took back the -- put back the ten deadly


pennies Gordon Brown took off people back in the day.


The Eastleigh by-election is two weeks away, the seat vacated by the


fast-driving Chris Huhne. Our political editor has been there all


day ahead of a report on that election battle for tomorrow's


programme. First of all, any sense that Labour


know exactly how this is going to be received? Ed Miliband did intend


for that policy to be something of a Valentine's Day present to the


low-paid around the country, but also in Eastleigh. Having been out


and about today, it doesn't feel yet that it is mere hours old that


it is playing. This is a by- election where we are hearing


immigration a lot, and Europe a fair amount. There is the cost of


living and the economy is issues up and down the high street, there are


four or five shops boarded up, they are fed through these decisions


rather than at the forefront of voters' minds. Today I did put to


the Conservative candidate, wasn't it a bit galling that a Labour


leader is announcing tax cuts today, even though's not in Government,


rather than a Conservative one, and she wriggled a bit. That is really


the heart of it. My sources, my Conservative sources are saying to


me, this is smart politics by the Labour leader. They are rather


envious, they suggest that very hard at the next budget coming next


month, that the Chancellor, George Osborne, is looking carefully what


he can do in this area. It won't be funded by a "Mansion Tax", but what


else can he do to bring down the cost of living and down tax. This


is about a real change in Labour strategy? I don't think it should


be overdone. I think it is a real change. There is three key things


for me, but I don't think today we saw the Labour leader set out an


economic strategy. They are not seen spinning it like that. The key


things are these, the first is that oppositions like to set the agenda,


they don't get to do it often, he has done that today. You have


Conservatives and Lib Dems, as we heard in the package, scrabbleing


to have their answer. The second is this is a signal of intent, it is a


value, it is something politicians get to do, it is cheap and free,


and they are held to it. That is what he has done, he has said if I


get in power this is the sort of thing I will do, not the whole


thing I will do. The third thing is this, when the voters are showed


pictures of Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, they say Gordon Brown, that


is a problem for the Labour leader and the Shadow Chancellor who have


worked so closely with Gordon Brown. Such a public trouncing of a man


once their mentor is still alive today. The one series of detailed


questions that we will all have to answer, I will have to answer, when


I'm not in Eastleigh, concludes is this something a Labour Government


will say they will do now, nowhere near power now, or will they do it


when they are in power. They are saying it is not a manifesto pledge,


for many people that feels like weird political sophistry. I asking


Rachel Reeves in a moment, Labour's Shadow Chief Secretary to the


Treasury whether it will be a manifesto commitment. As was said,


a lot of people, still at the top, are tainted by the dropping of the


10p tax. At the time it happened, Ed Miliband said the dropping of


the 10p tax was part of a fairer system. I mean, he was clearly,


either he had his fingers and toes crossed, or he genuinely thought it


was a fair system and it burnt you? What Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have


said today, is it was the wrong decision. They got it wrong, Gordon


Brown got it wrong when he was Chancellor. And that we would not


just apologise for it, but if we were in Government we would put it


right by reinTateing that 10p rate of tax. -- reinTateing that 10 --


reinstating that 10p tax. They are taking responsibility, they were in


Government at the time, they made a mistake, the last Labour Government


made a mistake, it is something we want to rectify. But basically, now,


what you are saying is, that it puts Labour and Ed Miliband said it


puts Labour back on the side of working people. So you weren't on


the side of work people before, you weren't on the side of working


people since before you scrapped it? We introduced tax credits in


Government, which helped people, working families. We got that one


wrong. We were wrong to get rid of the 10p tax rate. Politicians don't


often admit they have made mistakes. We have said we would make a


mistake and also that we would put it right. Is it a priority for you


and a manifesto commitment? next election is still more than


two years away. We have been clear that we will not write our


manifesto two-and-a-half years ahead of the next election. But it


is something that we want to do, if we were in Government today we


would do it. And in the package earlier today it was said something


that could be done today by the Government. Ed Balls and Ed


Miliband said we will work with the Liberal Democrats and the


Conservatives if they want to do this on bringing it forward in the


budget this year in this parliament. Let's just be clear, on the


question of the "Mansion Tax", which you think will raise whatever


it is that you need, �2 billion. If the Liberal Democrats put that


forward, or indeed you put it forward, you would vote that


through? We would support a "Mansion Tax", but using that money


to cut taxes for ordinary working families. 25 million of them.


would definitely vote for that, no question? We are saying today that


is what we would do if we were in Government today. We said we would


work with other parties. What would stop you producing this 10p tax,


what would make you ditch it, for example? We don't intend to ditch


it. We're not going to start writing a manifesto in a piecemeal


way. It is only �2 billion of �670 billion of spending? It is �2


billion here and there. This is a costed policy, it is something we


want to do, we plan to do but we are still more than two years away


from an election. It does seem that you are trying to change the


weather. You are trying to say, look, we are now on the side of


working people, we made a massive mistake, this is actually only a


very small part. OK you are making some kind of nod towards a future


Labour Government's economic policy, but actually, it is such a small


part. If it is totemic and says you are on the side of working people,


commit to it now? If you lock at what the Conservatives and Liberal


Democrats did two years before the election, the Conservatives said


they would raise inheritance tax threshold to a million pounds, the


Liberal Democrats said they would get rid of tuition fee, and they


came into Government and didn't do those things. That shows the


dangers of making promises two years before the election. This is


something we want to do, we plan to. Do but we are not going to write


our manifesto two years ahead of an election. We have been very clear


today. If we were in Government now, and at the next election we want to


do this. We want to ask more of those with broadest shoulders, and


use that money to cut taxes for ordinary people struggling right


now with the rising costs of living. The IFS says it is something like


7p a week in the end. It is not that much? The "Mansion Tax", the


IFS have said the calculation it would bring in about �2 billion.


They don't know how it will be valued yet? They say it sounds


reasonable, and those are the estimates others have come up with.


A �2 billion revenue, could, for the 24 million basic rate tax-


payers, save them �100 each year. That is �2 a week. For a family


that is struggling at the moment, with rising gas and electricity


bill, rising train fares, the rising cost of food, this could


make a substantial difference to them. But the problem is, this was


an idea you had, you ditched the idea, it was a policy you had had,


you ditched that, now you are reheating it. And the IFS is saying,


and the words they said is "there is no plausible economic


justification for this". What the IFS said, when we introduced the


10p rate of tax is it was the wrong thing to do. It was a very popular


tax. They did say that today? the IFS have never been in favour


of the 10p rate of tax. They think it is an overcomplication of the


tax system. The reality is the 10p rate of tax sent a very good signal


that work pays, it was a popular tax and it improves those work


incentives for people on lower incomes to go back to work, to take


more hours. We think it is the right thing to do to reintroduce


that 10p rate. What the IFS are not saying is it is not affordable.


What they are saying is they don't think it is the right priority


priority. However it was a popular rate of tax and improved work


incentives. This is not a big, bold idea, it is safe stuff? If you are


a family earning, a mum or dad earning � 12,000-�20,000 a year,


and this means you are �100 better off, this is a difference,


especially at a time when every penny counts. Are you worried about


restructuring the tax system, and we don't know whether it will be in


the manifesto or not and depends on whether we get in, why not say here


is something bold and new, rather than relying on trashing Gordon


Brown? People want something to address their concerns, that is the


rising cost of living and waging going down. This will put money in


the pockets of ordinary people, we think that is a priority, and we


will fund it by asking a bit more from those who live in the biggest


houses in this country. In a moment, what hope for the high street? And


why do so many of India's serving politicians stand accused of


serious crimes? TRANSLATION: This charge is a


conspiracy against me. It was slapped on me during the last


Government. It is a conspiracy. The Government's big idea to revive


the high street was to put Mary Portas on the case. The fairy Queen


of shops took our her wand and point today 12 troubled town


centres in England, including Croydon, Dartford and Stockport.


Then the gift of money to 12 every year to spread her fairy dust on


the chosen high street. A freedom of information request has revealed


in total less than 15% of the money has been spent.


It is the bleakest of times for the high street. Caught between out of


town retail parks and on-line competition, town centres have been


shedding jobs and shutting shops in far greater numbers than they did


at the depth of the recession. The Government's announced a high


street Innovation Fund, urged lower business rates, and appointed a TV


guru, as their retail Tsar. Prime Minister asked retail expert,


Mary Portas, to take a look at what could be done. She has come forward


with 28 recommendations. It is my job, as Government minister to take


a look at those recommendations and see what we can get into place.


Mary Portas became famous for telling shops how to smarten up


their offerings on TV. A key recommendation of her's was a


competition. Local people would form town teams to come up with


ideas for revitalising their high streets. She wanted radical,


creative thinking. Stockport is full of creative people, one of the


things it is lacking is a social hub where these people can come


together and collaberate. That is what she saw in this submission by


Stockport, filmed by a local student. In pay Stockport was one


of 12 lucky winners to become a "Portas Pilots" pilot town. The


plan was to revive the local area with young people. Mary Portas came


and saw what we are all about. town was awarded about �100,000 of


central Government money, to put its plans into action. In Stockport


seven months later, less than a tenth of money has been spent.


have been pretty frustrated by the way it has gone. Really we wanted


to build on our creative ideas and get things going in Stockport, in


this part of the town. It has been hard to do that and get things


going, with the way that it has been set up. That money, doled out


by Grant Schapps in May, was supposed to kick start the revival


of the high street, and get the "Portas Pilots" going. Disclosures


under the Freedom of Information Act reveal just how little of that


Of the �1.2 million handed out to Town Halls by Grant Schapps, less


than 15% has been use. Grant Schapps has now moved on to a new


job. In the underbanks area of Stockport, they are still waiting


to be revitalised. It has rather run down over the years. There used


to be more shops there, there is a bed shop under that unit. They


demolished it and rebuilt and it has never opened it. That was a


hair dretser, that closed the same time -- dresser, that closed the


same time that was rebuilt much that was a God pine furniture shop,


that moved out to one of the mills, hasn't been rebuilt. John runs a


Christian bookshop, and has to compete with on-line and big out of


town shops. We were here a couple of week ago with Mary Portas doing


a photo shoot. I haven't noticed any long-term lasting effects yet.


They put some money, I think into the Dickens Festival, early


December. I think there is plans for some of the money to go into


something happening in June. But long-term, no, I don't know what


the investment objectives are. have also seen a breakdown of


exactly what the town teams have been spending their money on. I


will give awe few examples. In the The second key part of the


Government's strategy was to set up the high street Innovation Fund,


for the towns with the most vacant shops. In April 100 towns got


�100,000 each. How much of that money has been spent? Judging by


the figures we have seen, very little. Five councils revealed out


of that money they had spent nothing at all. So why not? Joe


thinks that in Stockport it has got bogged down in bureaucracy. They


have selected the usual suspect, the Chamber of Commerce, large


retailers and the local shopping centre, and they haven't really


engaged with local community. Portas wanted any interested local


to get involved. So in Stockport, 259 people are on the town team.


They vote on every single spending decision. So far they can't even


agree a promotional website. Obviously the more democracy you


inject in something the longer it can take. But also, I think, there


is an issue about making sure the money is spent wisely. I think what


would be absolutely the wrong thing to do is to say we can spend


�100,000, �200,000 on day one. That is great, we will spend it on a


project. It turns out to be wrong, and the project is not sustainable,


a year later we are saying that was wasted money, wasn't it. Retailers


say the Government is giving �11 million for high street revival


with one hand, and taking away �175 million with another. That is what


it will cost shops when business rates rise in April. That is the


third key part of the Government's strategy, help with rates. The


localism act gave councils the power to cut rates for struggling


businesses. Are they doing that? The reality is for the council, of


course, that we are also facing huge cuts, and we need it make the


books balance. If we give discounts to business rates, that is cuts to


services. That is a big challenge for us. We are looking at targeting


cuts to business rates. It would be wrong to say we could afford to


make really big cuts. In the toughest areas, business is


so bad that shop rents have fallen by nearly a third. Yet rates are


still based on boom time rents from 2008. The Government said it won't


revalue them to 2017. In the moon time, no amount of


creative thinking is likely to stop shops from shutting.


We asked the Government to appear tonight, but no minister was


available. Joining me from Lyndon is Sara Scott, part of the group


which successfully bid to make MarketRasen a "Portas Pilots". And


the writer of Sold Out, about the death of the high street. Is your


view this is good money after bad? Yes, I'm afraid it is.


We have a situation where ghost town Britain, boring town Britain,


call it what you like. The indisputable facts are that 50


stores a day are closing down. But it's not just the high street that


has the problem. It is also the out of town parks. We have seen six


major chains in a year go bust. Isn't if a laudible aim to bring


back life to the high street, to bring it a hub of the town?


Absolutely. There are good parts of the "Portas Pilots" review --


Portas review. Not when they can't make a decision? If they are going


to spend money on Peppa pig, we have a problem. The issue is a


community issue, and communities that have the local economy rooted


in the community will be successful. It is not just a retail issue.


You were given �98,000 how much have you spent? Half of it. Did you


have a plan? We have a plan and are putting it in place. We were a


local group it took time to be constituted and a bank account open.


We didn't have a penny at our disposal for three months. But we


got on and made things happen. It is not about how much you get and


how people are spending it, it is the results generating and the


ideas. It is public money, surely it is about getting results?


Absolutely, and that's what the focus should be. I think today


there has been a lot of coverage about how quickly people are


spending, and that's not really the case. It takes a little while to


get projects on their feet and get momentum behind. That certainly for


us the projects are all in full swing. Have you put retail units in,


or found different ways of utilising shops. Have you managed


to reopen shops? For us, in the six months since we have had the cash


in place, we have managed to cut vacancy rates on the high street by


50%, that is a substantial increase in occupancy. We have opened two


community shops to allow our independent artists and producer as


route on to the high street. Do you think this sounds more optimistic.


Do you think they will be able to survive without a further cash


injection, it will make a long time for the shops to make money,


especially with the rates? This investment is a drop in the ocean.


Long after the cameras have stopped rolling and the reality TV has gone.


Because that is what will come out of this for Mary Portas. The TV


programme is being made now. But this is a PR fluff that is going on.


What we need is to concentrate on what the town centres need. It is


not a retail destination. Make it residential? Make it a combination


of things. I do think town teams need to be set up with local


business people, local residents, and they need to concentrate on


making their town unique. For the local community. Isn't the problem


that people in Market Rasen go elsewhere for shopping. There can't


be social engineering to stop them going to where they think the


better shops are? That's right, if it is just about shopping. But I'm


with Bill on this one. It is about creating an inviting community


space that people want to come and spend some time. It is about


reinventing the high street, not just trying to recreate something


that has had the day. For example we know that all over the country


libraries are shutting down, what do you do, take an empty shop and


turn it into a library. What are the more creative ways to


revitalise the high street, then? Exactly that. We did a survey of


our high street visitors last summer, and we analysed that really


carefully to find out what was missing. One of the things people


wanted was a bookshop. Bookshops are quite hard to run these days at


a profit. We have created a book swap on the high street and put it


at the heart of a community store. It gets people in, talking to each


other. Connecting in a way that unfortunately had become lost in


some communities. You are shaking your head here. The facts are the


general public are changing the way we behave, and our values have


changed. Shopping on-line will be a very real thing in the future. Two


week before Christmas, Amazon reported for the first time in


history, they sold more e-books an hard copy books. What future


Waterstones and other high street book shops, none. Customers are not


going to the high street in sufficient numbers to make it a


viable proposition as a retail destination. It needs to be, what


was said, a complete package, based on residential, entertainment,


restaurants, arts, and that's where Mary Portas has got the right idea


in some of her 28 recommend David Kellys. About the town teams and


the local communities. But we have to recognise that the high street


that we once knew -- recommendations, about the town


teams and local communities. We have to recognise that the high


street we knew is dead and not coming back. I would say on the way


to revitalisations with the right ideas from town teams across the


country. David Cameron is making a three-day


visit to ind next week. He will be arriving in a country still


traumatised by the gang rape of a Delhi student, just before


Christmas. Who later died of her injuries. It set off weeks of


protests over Indian attitudes towards women. It is also prompting


deeper questions in the world's largest democracy about how it runs


itself. As many of its serving politicians are themselves accused


of rape, murder and other serious crimes.


It was an he eruption many Indians believed was waiting to happen. The


Delhi rape case has unleashed a torrent of anger at the old order.


Bringing a darker side of India's democracy to light. The Government


is promising speedier justice and tougher laws.


Attempt to murder. Forgery, murder. But the suspected criminals, this


activist is investigating, are the ones making India's laws, and he


says these politicians are evading justice.


The problem is that our judicial system takes such a long time, and


those people in politics, because at times they get in this seat of


power where they can delay their cases, not just four years but for


decades. We have come to India's heartland,


and its most popular state Uttar Pradesh.


It is one of the engines of Indian politics, controlling the most


number of seats in parliament. Down the line from Delhi is the small


town of Nagina. The name means "jewel", here Manoj Kumar Paras is


king. He is a minister in the state


Government. He has also been charged with gang rape, and six


years later there has been no prosecution or movement in his case.


We find him at his home with his constituents, hearing pleas for


help. He says the rape charge has been fabricated by his rivals.


TRANSLATION: This charge is a conspiracy against me. It was


slapped on me during the last Government it is a conspiracy. But


before the election, people in my constituency knew about it, and


they could see through it, and that's why I won by 30,000 votes.


lot of people find it hard to understand how ministers such as


yourself, and other politicians can uphold the law if they are facing


serious charges themselves? TRANSLATION: Just charging someone


is not enough. You have to wait until you are convicted. Anyone can


be charged for any number of reasons. But in many other


countries, in many other democracies. Please stop the camera,


please. In many other countries, no, if we could carry on. Please stop


the camera. Why do you want to stop, I wanted to ask you another


question? Then the minister is gone. His supporters make their feelings


clear. Nothing more. For many, Uttar Pradesh is a harsh place.


Millions live in extreme poverty, their lives governed by caste and


tradition. Here it's rare for women to press charges at all. Many never


even report an assault, because of the social stigma. We are looking


for the woman the minister is accused of raping.


Is she here? The woman seems to have disappeared. And we are coming


up against a wall of silence here. Everyone seems to be too scared to


tell us where she is. One villager asks who will save


them if they go against the establishment. In 2012, these are


the 370 is attempted murder. This man says he tried to go against the


establishment. He accuses his local minister of trying to kill him,


after he challenged him in a local election. The police documents show


there is a case to answer. TRANSLATION: I am a common man, and


this was my first election. He was a sitting politician, if it was a


false charge the police would never have resisted a case against him.


But there has been no movement in the case so far. Like so many in


India's overloaded justice system. We are on our way now to find


member member Ali, the man accused of -- Mehboob Ali, the man accused


of attempting to kill his rival. It is not just attempted murder he's


charged with, but many others, including robbery and kidnapping.


This is Mehboob Ali's town, he has won four elections here, and been


in power for over 15 years. We pay him a surprise visit, and


find him surrounded by supporters. Mehboob Ali! Mehboob Ali. They are


celebrating because he has just been promoted to Transport Minister.


The police are here to guard him, not arrest him. He disputed whether


he's even been charged with attempted murder. TRANSLATION:


my political career, 150 people have fought elections against me,


there is not a single person who can say I harmed him. Not one


person. You can say anything about anyone if you want to. But this is


now an official charge. The police have registered this, they have


accepted it as an official charge, and so it has to go to court.


Shouldn't you stand down until you can clear your name? No, no.


But how can people trust you to uphold the law, if you are wanted


by the law? Maybe there's a complaint in a court or a police


station, everyone has the right to make a charge. But maybe after an


investigation it might be found to be untrue. I don't know anything


about this. Religion is one clue to


understanding how things work here. The minister is Muslim, and he


delivers Muslim votes for the ruling party. And whatever the


charge, politicians can stay in office as long as they are not


actually convicted. It is the start of a new session at the Uttar


Pradesh State Assembly. Both ministers are in the chamber. And


in their element. They are far from the only ministers here with


spending cases, yet many wonder who is benefiting from the policies


they are making. It is an astonishing fact that half


the ministers in the Uttar Pradesh Government are charged with crimes.


Ranging from rape and murder to robbery. And this is just the


starkest example of what is a nationwide problem. A third of all


India's elected politicians are facing some kind of criminal charge.


The shadow over India's democracy goes all the way to Delhi. All the


main parties have promised change, but instead the number of alleged


criminals in their ranks keeps rising.


At this Delhi-based watchdog, they have been campaigning against what


they call the criminalisation of Indian politics for years. Staff


have built a database of accused politicians, based on the


declarations they all have to make before an election. If India's


justice system can't bring them to account, its director warns the


damage will spread. If you want to give somebody poison, it doesn't


matter whether you are giving a full bottle of poison or a


tablespoon of poison. Poison is poison. One of the reports said


that criminalisation is poison. We are not talking about a tablespoon


of this sort of people, we are talking about a full bottle of


these guys. A judicial commission appointed by


the Indian Government recently recommended all politicians facing


charges should resign. But with a general election


election in India next year, many suspected criminals are preparing


to return to power. Before the end of the programme, we


will have tomorrow morning's front pages. First, to millions Oscar


Pisorius is a hero, the South African athlete, dubbed "blade


runner", is an Olympic and Paralympic star. But today he was


charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steencamp, after


a fatal shooting in the early hours of the morning at his home in


Pretoria. The man who ghost wrote his autobiography spoke to us via


Skype from his home in Italy. I began by asking him how well he


knew Pistorius? I think that I know him quite well. But I know the


Pistorius of before. The new Pistorius is somebody that, for me,


is completely unknown. Is that because you think he has changed a


lot since stardom? When he was training here in Italy, his life


was very quiet, very normal, and especially he was only focusing on


working very hard. I found the new situation very difficult. Only


sometimes from South Africa where having some information regarding


some behaviour that was not nice and simple as the one that he has


expressed here in Italy. Of course we don't know yet what actually


happened, though he has been charged with murder. When you say


that you heard from South Africa that there were some things that


weren't so nice, what kind of behaviour are you talking about?


The situation in his party when he has had big argument with a


girlfriend of one of his friend that at the end he finished to go


to the police station to explain his behaviour. Tell me, though, do


you think that you ever saw any sparks of volatile, difficult


behaviour when you were working alongside him in Italy? No, never.


Never because he was always very pleasant with everybody. Maybe that


one time he was a little bit serious, because sometimes he was


closing himself because he wanted perhaps to save his privacy.


shocked are you about this arrest and charge? It is a big shock.


Because we came early in the morning that the first time I


thought that was a nightmare, and I was still sleeping, I thought I was


still sleeping, because I couldn't believe it. I know that in South


Africa and a young boy can have a violent reaction, because the


society there is quite violent with a lot of guns around. But I


couldn't believe that he can kill a person. That is something that I


cannot accept and that I cannot forgive. If at the end of this,


Oscar Pisorius is found guilty of murder, do you think that will


destroy him, it lobbously have destroyed his career? That's for


sure. The career is normal. But the problem will destroy him as a human


being. I don't know how he will survive. -- inside a jail. Because


you know, he is a man that has fought for the freedom of the


people, the freedom to be normal. If he finshes in jail, I don't


understand what his reaction will be. Thank you very much for joining


us tonight. Thank you to you. Of course we will hear more from


the court in Pretoria tomorrow morning. Tomorrow morning's front


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 48 seconds


pages, that story makes most of the Love is supposedly in the air


tonight. Unless you are at work, that is. After a brief trawl of


Valentine's pictures from around the world, we quite liked these,


lanterns being released into the sky in Taiwan to much flash


photography. From all of us here, # Love is waiting there


# In my beautiful balloon # Way up in the air


# In my beautiful balloon # For we can fly


# We can fly # Up up and away


# My beautiful Good evening, what a difference the


day makes. It has felt much milder today. A little chilly Friday,


first thing, there could be the odd patch of ice and pocket of fog to


watch out for. Otherwise it looks largely dry and fine for many of us,


with some good spells of sunshine. Certainly so across many parts of


northern England, eight or nines, those temperatures on a par with


what we have seen today. A shade lower because it will start


slightly colder. Good spells of sunshine, slight winds, very


pleasant, and essentially dry, there is the joud site chance of


the odd shower popping up in western areas. That is more likely


as we head our way further north. Even here, through parts of North


West England and Northern Ireland, far fewer showers than we have seen


during the day today. They will be light as well. One or two through


Dumfries, Ayrshire and Galloway, up to the north of Scotland, here too


much dryer than it has been during the day today. And less windy as


well. The prospects, as you can see, through Friday and Saturday through


the northern half of the country, bring rather more cloud in through


Saturday. Fog in the morning as well. That weather front bringing a


smattering of rain, potentially, fog could be an issue for east


Wales and England on Saturday morning. It look like a cloudier


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