30/04/2013 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the headlines. Jeremy Paxman and a panel of guests examine whether the Syrian conflict will destabilise the wider region.

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What is to be done about Syria? Or maybe there's nothing to be done.


This was the President of the World's most powerful country today.


By game changer I mean that we would have to re-think the range of


options that are available to us. And this was the scene in Damascus.


How has the Middle East got to this?


I will look at what the options for intervention are, and how the old


borders of the Middle East are straining under the pressures


caused by this conflict. I will be joined by a former vice


Chief of Staff in the US army, a recent member of the Free Syrian


Army, and a man who ran part of Iraq.


Also, why does sport make gay players feel obliged to hide their


sexuality. And what happens when the newest


menace to three-party politics hits the Derbyshire dales. Don't let


people say we are racist. You need to be counter acting that, we are


not racist at all. Just because we want to control the immigration on


the borders and whatever. Obviously there are options on the shelf that


we have not deployed was the way the American President put it today.


It doesn't really count as a threat, but it is another sign that the


United States is wrestling with how and when, as well as whether to


step into the Civil War in Syria. He has, of course, already said


that the use of chemical weapons would cross a red line and chemical


weapons probably have been used. But what realistically could the


United States, perhaps with her allies, do? Our diplomatic editor


is here. Do you think the US is close Tory intervention tonight


than previously? I think the President in that news conference


sought in a way to step back from the red line in language certainly


he kauked about carefully deliberating and examining the


evidence, who fired the shell? And the train of evidence. As you said


he also talked about military options having been worked up. If


there is a clearly defined use of chemical weapons, they could be


deployed, but he just couched it in different language. The use of


chemical weapons would be a game changer. Not simply for the United


States, but for the international community. The reason for that is


that we have established international law and international


norms that say when you use these kinds of weapons you have the


potential of killing massive numbers of people in the most


inhumane way possible. The proliferation risks are so


significant that we don't want that genie out of the bottle. Is it


really viable to get hold of the chemical weapons? They are in


dozens of sites and people say the only real way to do it is go in on


the ground. A lot of people in the military dismiss the air strike


option. It is very difficult publicly for President Obama to


talk about that kind of thing at the moment. 2% of Americans in a


recent poll said they don't want America to get involved. But if


there was a mass loss of life, the calculation would change. Then


Special Forces types would go in and actually physically try to get


hands on those weapons. Clearly it can't be done without going in


there. Without someone getting their hands on it. That's clearly


going to involve military operation, whoever does them. Tough, I would


say, the intelligence clearly needs to be accurate. On top of that, the


military occupations to secure them are going to be contentious, and


they will be militarily difficult. Doable, but difficult. By difficult


he means the possibility of clashes with all kinds people, opposition


groups, Syrian army, other groups who might be in there. Very, very


tough. It is an option almost no- one wants to use. Some suggest in


the region, even if it was used it would be the likes of Jordan and


Turkey who would actually have to do it. Where does that leave us?


There are few options clearly remaining, but there are some, some


of them have been walked around the park. We know about the possibility


of sending more advanced weapons to the resistance, that kind of thing.


Exclusion zones have been put forward by the French. They all


have their complication though, according to Tony Cordesman.


think at the moment weapons transfers and sophisticated weapons


are still an option. To have any guarantee of security it means


putting Special Forces or covert operatives on the ground with


Syrian forces. Knowing all of the problems that could occur. If you


want a decisive option you need enough air power to convince the


Al-Assad regime that it cannot resist in terms of its air force


and surface-to-air missiles. If it does resist to actually take out


those defences which are far more serious than they were in Libya.


What are the risks of the US getting caught up in some wider


regional conflict then. We know Syria is a cockpit for all the


regional powers now, feeding in weapons and advice and people too.


For a long time are you mores about Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant


Shia movement getting involved there. There are claims they might


have up to 8,000 troops involved. Tonight the leader of Hezbollah


made an address on his party's TV station, in which he did say some


very forthright things. He upped the ante, he said Syria's


Government should not be allowed to fall to the opposition groups and


he implied that not only Hezbollah forces but maybe even Iranian


forces might get involved to prevent that happening. Before we


hear from other guests let's speak with General Keane, former Chief of


Staff in the United States army, he joins us from Washington. What do


you think is the most viable American option now? As you already


pointed out there are a number of challenges here with options. I


don't think it is realistic, given the limited use of chemical weapons


that the United States would take the risk of trying to seize these


stockpiles or chemical sites, so it would probably only be a realistic


option in terms of human casualties on their hand. In front of us, and


what the President will look for is something that is very limited.


Certainly I believe from the outset and it is still a viable option is


to arm the moderate weapons who have been vetted by the Central


Intelligence Agency. Yes there is risk because the radicals have


grown in influence and in power. But nonetheless, that is still a


viable option and the idea of not doing it, I think, is a far greater


risk. We could assist in the training of some of the moderate


rebel forces on the ground in Syria. We are doing this in Jordan, as we


speak on a limited basis with the CIA and some military forces. We


could increase that capability, probably using the CIA mostly to


assist them. Then I think in response to the red line there is a


limited option that the President could select if he so chooses. That


is to strike some of Assad's airfields with civils and stealth


bombers -- cruise mifpls and stealth bombers, it would not be an


effort to systematically wipe out their air power T would be a


limited military option in response to the limited chemical attack. I'm


assuming the warning would be, if you continue with the use of


chemicals then these attacks would be increased as well. Wouldn't


there be a serious danger of starting a war with Iran or


someone? The Iranians are in Syria, there is about 1,000 of them in


terms of trainers and advisers. Hezbollah is already there. It is a


complicated situation. I don't believe that's going to start a war


with the Iranians, but make no mistake about it, I think when the


United States and its allies look at the conflict in Syria, we must


consider the regional implications and we certainly have to consider


how important Syria is and Assad is to Iran in terms of their desire


for regional hegemony. And this coalition that they are putting


with themselves, Syria and Lebanon is something that is very important


to them geopolitically. Why is it any business of ours? I think,


first of all, the region matters. We want stability in that region.


The Syrian people as part of the Arab Spring have stood up and want


to change their Government because of the political, economic and


social injustice and repression that is taking place there. I think


right from the beginning we could have done much to help them. Never


having considered putting boots on the ground. I'm not suggesting that.


But I think if we had provided a kind of aid that they needed, which


is to deal with Assad's air power and with his armour formations in


terms of the kinds of weapons they needed, this stalemate we are in


right now would not be the case. I think the rebels would have had the


momentum they certainly need. I do believe it is in the interests of


the region that Assad goes. It is going to take more than rhetoric to


do that. He will have to be forced to do that and we will realise


there is a stalemate there, primarily because of his air power.


Thank you very much indeed General. With me now is Rory Stewart, a


former diplomat and deputy governor in Iraq, just after the country was


invaded, he's a Conservative MP. Paulo Dybala is a Iranian film


maker. And a former member of the Free Syrian Army. What would the


consequence of the action talked about by the general? My instinct


is the general is looking for something to do but it is not clear


what it would achieve. It is not clear whether it would hasten the


fall of the Assad regime. Do these people want weapons? What kind of


weapons and what difference would it make? Let's find out do you want


weapons? We are ready to ask for weapons. I go with the opinion of


General Keane now, which he described properly the situation.


Yes the FSA need weapons, they need arms. I wouldn't go for the option


that NATO come to Siria. But I would recommend that there would be


a steering committee on high levels between the NATO maybe and the FSA


commanders on high levels. So the co-ordination should be on the


level of commander. But the weapons have to be in the hands of the


rebels themselves. I would like to explain more about this because any


foreign intervention...Can I ask you a question that will occur to


everyone you are asking to support you, why is it any business of


ours? I'm sorry? Why is it our business, it is your business isn't


it? Yes, but the lack of weapons in Syria is stopping the rebels from


ing the Syrian forces. Do we really need to achieve democracy in Syria,


we Syrians, by getting harms from the west and fighting each other,


fighting other Syrian fellows on the ground of Syria, and bringing


western invasion to Syria to get democracy and freedom? Is this what


really we want? This is not what the Arab and the Syrian revolution


started. The revolution started as peaceful demonstrations asking for


reform. And then we asked for Assad to leave, and now you are asking


arms, to arm rebels and to move Syria into a playground of fights


between Shia and Sunni, between the Free Syrian Army and the regime and


the Jihadis, and you are not thinking of the long-term results.


We can destroy Syria, is this what we want to achieve? Is this the


Syria we aim to have? Let her answer that. You accept the dangers


don't you? Sorry. You accept the risks of what you are asking to


happen? I need the time to explain if you may allow me. We did not


choose to use the weapons. The Assad forces and supporters were


the ones who chose this, you can say sectarian war. They made it


like this, they showed it like this. The rebels were carrying papers and


voicing only using their voices, but Assad was killing them for


seven or eight months they were forced to do that. I'm sorry, I


have to continue. Yus briefly -- just briefly, now come on? Now we


have two options, either arming the real moderate democratic people who


are calling for real freedom, which are the moderate people, not


anybody else. So far unfortunately their revolution has been


controlled by other then moderate Muslim people. The other option is


that political option where we have the moderate people in power, give


them funds, give them power for them to be united together, to work


together. Now they are controlled by extra -- emtreemist Muslims who


don't care for having real -- extremist Muslims who don't have


any real care for democracy. What would be the consequences, you


supported intervention in places like Kosovo, Bosnia and Libya?


Absolutely. I think the consequences here of arming are


going to be not very helpful. There are already an enormous number of


weapons, there is a lot of weapons coming in from Qatar and Saudi


Arabia. We pursue military options because they seem easier. But the


solution has to be political. We know what it looks like. We have to


get rid of Bashar al-Assad, and make sure the more moderate


elements come in and there is some kind of settlement and sort out the


region. All of this stuff is much easier said than done. It is


diplomacy and politics. Shipping out weapons is unlikely, I think.


We are way beyond the point where political negotiation can achieve


anything? The Syrian people are not part of the political solution.


There are all countries, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United States,


Turkey, all countries, there are millions of countries fight in


Syria, sibia, Egypt, where -- Libya, Egypt, where are the Syrian people


who started the revolution. There is a sectarian Civil War going on


in your country? This sectarian Civil War has been started because


of the extremists, the Jihadists, Salafi extremists on the ground we


live in Syria, Shia, Sunnis, Alawites, hand in hand, we never


had sectarian division. It started with this war, with this Jihadis on


the ground in Syria. I think this is something that I imagine both


Syrian contents would agree with, this is driven predominantly by


neighbours and outsiders. It is not that Syria is some cockpit of


ancient hatreds of sectarian groups. It is driven by the actions of


neighbouring countries. And indeed the function of people like Russia


and China and our own inability to deal with it. There has to be a


regional and political solution. Blaming the Syrian people and Shia


and Sunni conflict is not the way forward. Thwaiba Kanafani what do


you imagine is going to be the mechanism by which this conflict is


resolved, is there any alternative to a military solution? Yes.


Political solution where you need to really, again I will repeat, in


power the moderate Muslims. We did not take a chance to present


ourselves in Syria. A moment ago you were asking for weapons to be


supplied, when you talk about empowering moderates, what on earth


do you mean? In all aspects, you can empower them to have


positioning in legitimacy, give them some support.Y actually why do


we need, although that is Arab Spring started from the heart of


the Arab people n Egypt, and Libya and Syria, why do we need the west


in order to empower us to influence us in order to change our countries.


Why don't we have our own initiatives, why don't we sit


together, in spite of our differences as Syrians in order to


change the situation? Because President Assad has an air force,


artillery and a great deal more guns. The rebels have forces and


arms from Qatar and from Turkey and Saudi Arabia. No. They have nothing


like as many, and you know that perfectly well. There are suicide


bombs in Damascus and Syria, happened by the rebels, we know


there are weapons in the hand in the weapons, we know Al-Qaeda is


using weapons inside Syria. Very few weapons. I want to explore the


broader context, the collapse of a beautiful country and the collapse


into tyranny and Civil War are post-world war II Ice Age. Before


this there were other great powers t would help to understand now if


we understand then. We have the Syrian conflict affecting the whole


map of the Middle East. Syria's strive is sending ripples


across the region, a major refugee crisis has seen big flows of the


displaced, 448,000 to Jordan, a similar number of people heading to


Lebanon. 316,000 Syrians have gone to Turkey, and 137,000 to Iraq.


These figures are just the registered refugees. Some suggest


the real figure taking in those staying with relatives and friends


is double that, and there are more than a million thought to be


displaced within Syria itself. How many of them will ever go home? The


Balkan wars of the 1990s suggest many may not. Syria's multiethnic


society may already have been doomed. I think very difficult. And


we may have already passed that point. To what extent if we had


collectively pleaded differently. I know this is taking an outsider's


view in terms of finding a solution which might have retained power for


the Alawites but under a different leader. If that had been possible


then perhaps the delicate balances could have been maintained.


modern settlement of the Middle East owes much to the Ottoman


Empire, they presided over different religions, providing an


overarching power and serving as a convenient process for blame. Some


of the ottoman boundaries confirm closely to the states that then


emerged. Their prove minces of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra formed the


basis of modern Iraq. In Syria something similar happened too.


When the Ottoman Empire collapsed, the drawing of boundaries led


Britain and France to draw up their mandate territories according to


the Sykes Picot agreement, they reached that in secret in 1916.


Iraq, Jordan and Palestine were created under British influence,


Lebanon and Syria under the French. That also cleared the way, after


the First World War for Egyptian independent and Saudi Arabia too


emerged at that time. The post ottoman dispensation survived well


in most of the Middle East for decades. But ultimately


nationalistic secular regimes, despite their repression of


religious groups failed. variations here Are the size of the


Sunni, Shia communities are so different, the economies are so


different. What they all do have in common, unfortunately, is the


failure of secular movements and secular ideaologies. There is no


clear reason that anyone would trust a secular or semi-secular


Government in all of the worst cases. Iran is the powerhouse of


Shi'ite theology, but Arab Shia form important communities from


southern Iraq to Bahrain, eastern Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.


Historically they had difficult relationships with ruling elites.


In Iraq though they have become the rulers following the American


invasion. There it is now the Sunni minority that considers itself


oppressed and the protests around the city of Ramadi are, some fear,


now growing into a new insurgency against the Baghdad Government. In


Syria it is the Sunni who are poised to take power after decades


in which a religious minority, the Alawites, have wielded it. Here, as


in Iraq, the reversal of the old order is a bloody process, with


regional implications only now becoming clear. Still with us is


the former diplomat and Conservative MP Rory Stewart, and


the Syrian film maker, Halla Diyab, also joining me is a Syrian


academic, who co-founded the group Building the Syrian State. What do


you think realistically are the chances of Syria remain intact


after all this? It is declining all the day. The positions are getting


increase league polarised with the international element and inside


Syria. The conflict that started political is devolving into an


armed confrontation and Civil War. Out of Civil War you usually get


divisions. The quicker we head for a political pollution the less


chance that Syria will be divided. There have been Civil Wars in that


part of the world, and one thinks of Lebanon it is substantially


still intact as a single entity. What do you think, will it stay in


one piece? Lebanon solved it through an enormous amount of


decentralisation. Secondly, although the borders are artificial


as was pointed out, they were invented after the Second World War,


a lot of time has passed since then, people feel a sense of nationalism,


with the exception of the Kurds people are not pushing for a


separate country, they are still fighting for control of Syria


itself. Will the country remain intact? I think that Syria has the


potential to be a model for a future Arab democracy. Because if


you look to Syria in comparison to Saudi Arabia or Libya or Egypt, the


Syrian people are very civic moderate Muslims, and moderate


people in general who lived actually in different sects like


Alawite, Shia and Sunnis, in harmony before the crisis. One does


wonder why they are killing each other? This kind of sectarian war


has been used by political agenda, by the forces which are fighting on


the ground in order to divide people. So ...All That happened is


it bubbled up once the secular state under a dictator fell apart?


It is not only that, it also happens in Iraq, for example, which


is the majority are Shia and it is controlled by a minority which is


Sunni, and in Syria we have the majority Sunni controlled by a


minority which is Alawite. important thing is there are


important fault lines. It takes neighbours in conflict to exploit


them. In other words they are there, but Lebanon was peaceful for 800


years before people stirred things up. The fact that people are


different sects doesn't matter until people stir up the cauldron.


That is why we need a new social contract in Siria. We have a rich


society, with faut lines very deep in history, with issues that


haven't been resolved properly, and some feel others are a threat to


their existence, and rights. We never had a chance to establish


through dialogue a proper relationship with the other


components because we went from colonisation straight into


dictatorship. We are living under a strong regime, this is why we live


together in peace. The power of the regime is diminishing and there is


a political conflict exploited by regional and international actors


turning this into a proxy war. So we have an armed confrontation that


will certainly exacerbate these fault lines. How many people have


fled the country as refugees? Millions. It is about 3.5 million


the estimate. There is a very good chance many of those will never go


home? I think they will go home. They will never feel home but in


the country where they came from. I want to go back to Lebanon, we have


to learn from the way the war stopped in Lebanon. Because I think


it is still a Civil War in waiting. Because they stopped the war but


they did not resolve the problem. They froze it. So the same warlords,


the same division and the same system. We missed a very important


point, it is the Islamic movement risinging post September 11th and


after that the war on terror, after the appearance of all these Islamic


leaders like Nasrella or Amir in Lebanon, they become the


alternative to political and social leaders the communities. People in


the Middle East in Syria and Egypt and Libya are now driven by their


identities as Muslims. And that really creates this sectarian war


in Syria between you as Alawite and you as Shia. People are fighting


not within their Syrian identity any more, they see themselves as


Alawite, as Shia, as Salafi and this is all the result of the


rising of the Islamic movement. wouldn't be surprised if you looked


at the arbitary drawings on maps by sites by many people to find ethnic


identities were stronger than national identities. You were


saying you thought the national identities were very well


established? Over 90 years a lot becomes established, but the Kurds


are still looking for separation, but most people don't want to break


national borders. Although one thing we need to be careful with is


not to fall into the same trap ourselves as seeing everything in


terms of Sunni and Shia conflict and seeing Syria as part of Iran.


What do we define by nationalism. I spent my high school in Syria that


we were fed and learned that the ethics in Syria to be a citizen is


to worship one leader and one nation. There is no citizenship


within the state as we have in England. You have no right to


criticise the state or elect your President, you have no right to


build and to be part of the state. That is what creates a gap between


Syrian people and their national identity. They find an alternative


identity which is the Islamic identity with the sectarian


identity which leads now, now it is an explosion in Syria.


Do you think that sectarianism is superseding the idea of Arab


nationalism? No. The Islamic identity, I mean, I'm so sorry?


don't have a problem with the Islamic identity or any other


identity if it doesn't try to impose itself through violent means


and by dictating the rights of the others. I think any ideology should


have the right to be in the society in a peaceful way. The biggest


problem is it became a violent way of imposinging its ideology. The


regime with all that is happening now, we are discussing the Shia,


Alawite and Sunni issue, the heart of the conflict is a political one.


This regime is a dictatorship. That is the problem with the regime, it


is not because Bashar al-Assad is an Alawite, he is a dictator.


a secular dictator? He is an Alawite with full power. We want a


new institution where the President doesn't -- constitution where the


President doesn't have full power. The people are facing one of the


cruellest regimes ever existing. Regional actors are exploiting this,


war ends with a military victory or political decision. Military


victory is not imminent or a solution. We want international and


local and regional actors to head very quickly to a political


solution before this turns into a Civil War that burns the entire


region. We do have three big advantages here that we don't have


in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, by we I mean Britain and the United


States, we are not on the ground, first low, that is really important.


Secondly we have countries like Russia that we should be focusing


on, and we know what the solution looks like. The solution looks like


getting rid of Bashar al-Assad, but keeping some of the elements of the


old Government and combining it with the moderate of the opposition.


I disagree. My problem is not Bashar al-Assad, if he stands down


and hands it to the another person the problem isn't solved. The new


one will have full power. The position of the President is the


problem, with the constitution, the powers, any new person is a


dictator, he can do what he wants. The President has full security,


monetary everything power. That is the heart of the problem. We should


see it from a political point of view, not Bashar al-Assad's point


of view, an Alawite point of view. Absolutely, equally we don't want


to exclude anyone. The great advantage unlike Afghanistan and


Iraq is the British Government isn't committed in the same way. We


can allow compromise between former elements of the Government and the


opposition and bring the two together. Time is short? We have to


get players, not former members of the regime, the actors with blood


or water on their hands they have to come to the table and roach


agreement. The power is not in the actors' hands but the regime and


the rebels. So the people who should sit and debate are both


sides of the conflict. Thank you very much indeed.


The first major player in one of the big American sports to come out


as a gay man has been rather overwhelmed by the support he has


had since doing so. He picked up the phone to find for example that


President Obama was calling to wish him well. In a strange way it tells


us more about the state of sport than anything else, that someone


doing what so many others have done without getting calls from the


President should get this sort of reception.


If you were a footballer and had 30,000 people looking for any


excuse to berate you from the terraces, would you come out as


gay? That is the question that sportsmen and women who happened to


be attracted to the same-sex have had to wrestle with. It wasn't


always like this. In ancient Greece sporting performance and machismo


were accompanied with perfectly acceptable homoerotic undertones,


athletes even competed in the nude. Today there are only a handful of


top British sports players openly gay. Gareth Thomas, the former


Welsh rugby player is perhaps the best known of them to come out


while playing. There are no league footballers among them. The last


well known footballer to come out in the UK was Justin Fashenu, who


took his own life after bog public. With attitudes on the terraces far


from reconstructed, it doesn't look like that will change any time soon.


With us now is Justin Fashinu's knees, who presented the


documentary Britain's Gay Footballers, and John Amaechi, the


former NBA basketball star who came out after he retired. In the case


of your own uncle, who took his own life, what conclusion do you come


to from that experience? Well, I just think that it was a tough time


when he was playing football. That maybe you know fans and the FA and


other sporting people weren't as supportive as someone would be now.


I think Justin went through a lot, not just homophobia, he also went


through racism, I think at the time he did not have a good time at all.


John Amaechi, this reticence about declaring your sexuality, how


widespread is it? It is incredibly widespread, we know this because


the list of "out" athletes or former athletes is 27 people in


American sport. When you think of the number of people participating


over the last X number of decades it is a remarkably tiny percentage.


It is worth pointing out that when people talk about this, especially


with American sports, there is a different backdrop there. Here we


are on the cusp of marriage equity. Where as in America there are still


29 states you can be fired for being gay. There are 50 states


where you have no guarantee of being able to rent a house, for


example, if the person who is renting it out doesn't want to rent


to gay people. There is a very different backdrop in America at


the moment, which makes what Jason has done even more brave, I think.


You council counsels him, or encouraged him at the very least,


isn't the experience of the reaction to this, that actually it


is really no big deal in the world at large, but there is something


specific about the sporting world? Yes, sport is particularly culpable.


The reality is that Jason Collins now sits on the crest of a wave of


public opinion that is most certainly moving in the direction


of equity and fairness and getting on with playing ball. But


unfortunately those people who run the sport are essentially still


dinosaurs. They are Neanderthals. What do you think about this, there


is something different about sport. It is no big deal if a businessman,


a politician, someone at the BBC or wherever comes out, it is no big


deal at all. No-one thinks anything of it. But some how in sport it is


different? Well yeah, I could add that specially in football, I feel


that it is particularly hard. I mean rugby, speaking to Gareth


Thomas, it seems to be more warming, the effect of him coming out seems


not to be that big. If someone in football came out I do think it


would have a different impact. is the problem in football? To be


honest I think it is the machoism, we are more interested in the


footballer's life, who the footballer goes out with, how he


wears his hair. It has become not the sport any more, it is more out


of the sportk and we are concerned with his private life. Who cares


about the private life, at the end of the day he plays a sport. Why


would we care? John Amaechi what do you think it tells us about soccer?


It tells us it is behind the times, behind the curve, and certainly


behind the trends of history. The people who are running football


right now, they are the most, football in Britain is one of the


most powerful sporting entities, and right now they are like, I


don't know, the Saatchi & Saatchi of sport, they are good at


producing posters about equality but they are very bad at changing


the culture of sport. That is not just homophobia but racism and


sexism too. There has been tremendous progress in this country


on the question of racism on the terraces and racism on the pitch


hasn't there? There is something specific about sexuality in


football? We can say there has been some progress, but the idea that


right now we are in a situation where there are people, captains of


English teams who have been going through all these supposed


programmes to make sure that everybody understands fairness and


equality, who are themselves accused of being racist, doesn't


really speak to them getting a handle on this. There is anti-


semitism, there is racism still, there is sexism still. That is he


have dent. The idea that homophobia is rife still is just a foregone


conclusion in that environment. People will say there is a class


element to this? To be honest with you I don't really think it is


about class. What is it then, what is specific to football? Honestly I


have been trying to understand it myself. I really do not understand


it. We all know it is great, it is a macho hard sport. My dad was in


the Crazy Gang. It is hard sport. But then who cares about their


private life. This is my question, why does it come back to their


private life. This is my question. It is not their private lives. It


is not the private life. You can't operate on this system where if you


are straight and you hold hands with somebody it is no big deal or


just a snapshot, but if you are gay and you hold hands with someone it


is some radical activism or something worthy of bringing the


house down. It still matters. As much as reasonable people believe


it shouldn't, it still matters. As such the people in power in sport


are the ones that have to take action.


There are barely 30 hours to go before the lucky folk of England


and Anglesey have the chance to do their democratic duety. Those who


survived the tension get to choose councils or unitary authorities, or


in a couple of places their mayors on Thursday. In past form there


will be many of us who fail to exercise the right for which our


ancestors died. But you give our political editor the choice between


any election and a box of chocolate truffles, she heads for Derbyshire.


For me, as farmer, I'm found to the farm and the work, I have had


nobody visiting and asking my opinion, or flyers through the


letterbox. I'm very unaffair of what is going on. On Thursday local


democracy comes to the fields and Dales of England and Wales. These


are the county council elections, the Tory shires. The last time barn


doors were knocked, 26 of them returned a Conservative majority.


OutLuiz Eduardoly it is hard to see the paraphernalia of elections, but


a serious -- out Luiz Eduardoly it is hard to see the paraphernalia


was elections but a serious fight is on. On the ground the Tories are


talking about local issues, but in the East Midlands, there was


pronounced swing to the Conservatives in the 2010 general


election. Had it been repeated across the country, the Tories


would have won a majority. Three years into Government that


relationship is being tested. finding on the doorsteps that


people are accepting the situation that the country is in and are


accepting of the measures that the Government is currently taking.


That's the coalition Government there is an understanding that the


cuts are necessary. The Liberal Democrats are expected to do better


than their current vote share, perhaps winning about 15% of the


vote on Thursday. There may be some wins against Tories in the south


west. But there may also be some heavy losses to Labour. When people


see that they have �600 in their back pocket and we have lowered the


threshold of income tax, those sorts of things played very well


with families who have got money to stretch basically. They see the


difference that is going to make. This parliamentary constituency of


Chesterfield used to be Lib Dem until a surprise defeat in the last


general election turned it Labour. Holding the parliamentary eat,


Labour now has high hopes for the - - seat, Labour now has high hopes


for the County Council. The last time the councils were up for grab,


it was 2009, Gordon Brown's leadership was in cry I s and


across the country Labour suffered serious defeats N a place like


Derbyshire, where Labour had held the council for 28 years, the


Tories capitalised on Gordon Brown's unpopularity and the


council went Tory for the first time. Now, four years on with a new


Labour leader, Ed Miliband, Labour must reclaim Derbyshire if it is to


show it has healed the wounds of the Brown-era. Tom Watson has


certainly put rubber to the road, but Labour is, unsurprisingly,


playing down the chances of big wins. Politicians always engage in


expectation management, all I can say is having got 13% of the


national vote in 2009 we will make progress. If we can win a couple of


hundred seats then that would be great. If we could win 250 that


would be excellent for us. Who knows in these elections.


Independent experts say Labour should win between 300 and 350


seats on Thursday. Seats in the south like Dartford and Harlow. If


they can't do this the suspicion will harden that Ed Miliband's One


Nation Labour Party is actually no such thing. Newsnight also


understands that it is far from certain Labour will regain some of


the big northern County Councils. Don't let people say that we are


racist. You need to be counter acting that. We are not racist at


all. Just because we want to control the immigration on the


borders and whatever. UKIP are fielding candidates in 73% of


council seats this time round. That's compared to the 25% that


they fielded in 2009. Who says we shouldn't take a County Council of


a big place like this. Maybe not this year, I wouldn't disagree with


you. But we will get candidates in and they will start to make a


Conservative four years ago. The idea you can make inroads on that


is mad, isn't it? No, not at all. People are supporting us in ever


greater numbers. But UKIP haven't persuaded Robert. I am considering


at the moment voting Conservative. Not just because it is the existing


council, but I do know them. They have relatives who are farming I


know they are sympathetic to the rural and farming vote, which is


very important to me. Obviously as a full-time farmer my biggest


issues are ago cull ly -- agriculturally related. These


elections in mostly rural England won't indicate very much about the


next general election, but they may dictate the run-up to it. Whichever


party has a bad Thursday will probably also have a bad summer as


unhappy MPs demand that their party sharpens up.


But there is one racing certainty, UKIP will do OK, a jolly place to


be this Friday will probably be Nigel Farage's local.


There is a link to the full list of all the glorious candidates


standing in Derbyshire on the Newsnight website. Tomorrow


morning's front pages now, the Telegraph leads with the news that


some gold people will be fitted with GPS tags so the police don't


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 41 seconds


spend too much time looking for That's enough excitement for one


day. There is a tide in the affairs of men and women which taken at the


Good evening, over the next couple of days southern areas holding on


to the best of the dry and bright weather. Further north always a bit


more cloud with some rain. We have got this weak weather front moving


south on Wednesday. Thickening the cloud across northern eing and


Wales for the afternoon. A bit -- England and Wales for the afternoon.


Still the potential for some showers in the north and west.


Mainland Scotland with the sunshine for the central lowlands lifting


temperatures to 11 degrees. Overcast for northern England with


the odd spot of rain. East Anglia and the south-east corner, like the


last couple of days, after a chilly start temperatures recovering to


15-16. The sunshine along the south coast, it could be hazy for south-


west England later in the day. More cloud in Wales. With the greatest


risk of seeing rain across North Wales. More cloud in Cardiff, I


think the day should stay dry with temperatures of 14. By the time we


get to Thursday in the north we are keeping more cloud, perhaps some


rain arriving again in Inverness later on in the day. Further south,


always some sunshine at times, we have top temperatures 14-15 degrees.


Jeremy Paxman and a panel of special guests examine whether the conflict in Syria will destabilise the wider region.

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