19/11/2013 Newsnight


The Co-op, porn and crystal meth; the health secretary; Muslim Brits aid convoy to Syria; Royal Mail share price; from Lincoln to JFK. With Jeremy Paxman.

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Eye It's not just one man in trouble, it is not just one bank in


chaos, it is an entire political and social movement in disarray. How do


you get from this: Come shop at Newcastle Co-Op. To


this! The Labour politician who tried to clean up banking spent his


life in the co-operative movement. He's furious. From Manchester to


Aleppo. We travel with the group bringing aid to the wounded at the


Syrian simple war. And... Four score and seven years ago our fathers


brought forth from this continent a new nation. It took be a Hamlin done


a few hundred words to lay out a vision which 150 years on isn't


realised even though. We are here for you in good and bad times, we


are here for life. The Co-Op's claim it is ethical and community-owned


and above the usual tawdry concerns of business has always been its


unique selling point. The discovery that its bank was being run by a


Methodist minister, with taste for pornography and crystal meth wasn't


exactly expected. It forced out the chairman of the entire group today.


He was in charge of the board that appointed the bank boss.


Come shop at Newcastle Co-Op. The old fashioned image of the Co-Op, a


little dull, perhaps, but dependable, respectable. Today,


well, it certainly isn't dull. The Sun Newspaper published more


allegations about former Co-Op bank chair, Paul Flowers private life,


leading to the resignation of the whole Co-operative group, who said:


I think that's ?300. Paul Flowers was filmed, apparently buying


cocaine from 2009 to June of this year he was responsible for a little


more money than the ?300 he was seen handing over here. As chairman of


the Co-Op Bank, with assets of ?47 billion. Someone who has known him


for 40 years and a fellow method minister said he was always


completely unsuitable to run a bank. There has been times when Paul has


come up with grandiose proposals and promises and they have turned to


ashes. That has happened more than once. This crash is a repeat of some


earlier crashes that we have seen over the years. He's a very gifted


character, lots of abilities, very generous in many ways, but he does


seem to have this fatal lack of judgment at some crucial moments.


Almost a kind of recklessness. The Co-Op, of course, has a long, proud


history as a mutual organisation owned by the people who use it. But


is this friendly rather perhaps unbusiness-like structure to blame


for this scandal, allowing unqualified people to rise too high.


In most organisations broadly speaking good people do better at


their jobs and they get promoted to the top as a result. That's


certainly true in most business, I think it is probably also true in


most banks. What we have seen in the Co-Op is that the Reverend Flowers


has been able to get to the top, essentially through political


processes of internal committee work and machinery, and the result of


that has been that someone who had virtually no understanding of the


financial sector, or indeed business generally has been able to come the


chairman of a clearing bank. Stand by this scandal, the new chair of


the Co-Op group says their whole governance is now under review. We


determined to come through it, even stronger than we came in. This is an


opportunity for us to change and modernise, for us to refresh and


really re-think what it is that the people of this country want from us


in the future. We are really prepared to be radical, to be


dramatic and to make those changes, which are necessary. Questions too


for Labour, Paul Flowers was a councillor in Bradford until around


a decade until he resigned suddenly in August 2011, at the time he said


it was to concentrate on his Co-Op bank work. Today we heard the real


reason. Bradford council said in a statement:


The question is how high up in the Labour Party did the knowledge of


the real reason behind Paul Flowers resignation go. Afterall, he wasn't


simply just another Labour councillor, he was chairman of a


major bank, he was subsequently appointed by Ed Miliband as a


business adviser. And it was part of an organisation that is a huge donor


to the Labour Party. Including giving ?50,000 to the office of Ed


Balls the Shadow Chancellor. Tonight the Conservative Party chairman has


written to Ed Miliband demanding who in Labour knew what and when. But


perhaps the biggest questions of all are for the bank regulators. Paul


Flowers was cleared to head a major UK clearing bank, despite having no


relevant business or banking experience. I think the regulators


have done much better since the crash, but they should still have


asked themselves the question whether or not this person with no


banking experience or virtually no banking experience and no other


business experience should have been in charge of one of our largest


financial institutions. Without good quality service we are nothing. We


are our reputation. More than a bank, more than just a supermarket,


the Co-Op is also the nation's biggest funeral director. Whilst


this scandal will not bury this cherished and important institution,


it has ensured that it will change. Joining us now from Glasgow is the


Labour Co-operative Party peer, Lord McFall, a former member of the


Treasury select committee. As man who has been intimately bound up


with this movement, what did you feel when you heard today? I feel


great personal disappointment at this situation that the Co-Op


movement has found itself in as a member of the Co-Op. But secondly as


chairman of the Treasury Committee during the time of the financial


crisis I'm absolutely gobsmacked that these revelations have come


out. If you look at the record of the hearings that we undertook


during the crisis, we were very clear with the FSA that, first of


all, people had to have qualifications if they were going to


be chairman or chief executives of banks. They came up with New York


that neither -- Northern Rock that neither of those people had the


qualifications and they had to have them. The second thing that came out


is the fit and personal regime of the FSA, both Lord Turner and the


chief executive acknowledged very publicly that it was nothing more


than box ticking exercise. And they had to make sure that there was


integrity in those appointed. Nothing has happened since then. The


appointment was made by this movement of which you are a proud


representative, it wasn't made by the FSA, you can question whether


they should say is this bloke appropriate. The appointment was


made by your movement. Listen there is no way out of that. That was a


serious, serious error on behalf of the Co-Op party. What the Co-Op


needs to do now is to be open and transparent about how we arrived


here and how we are going to take it forward. But the second issue Jeremy


is, if anyone is going to be a chairman or indeed a non-executive


director of a financial institution then they have to be passed a test


by the Financial Services Authority. And that was obviously a paper


exercise, nothing else. So the Co-Op have got a serious responsibility


here, but so has the regulator, and indeed so has the Government, when


you consider that Co-Op were in for 600-odd branches of Lloyd's thank


process went on for two years. Were you surprised that man like this


could have been made boss of your bank? I'm surprised, particularly in


the hearing or in the evidence that came out today, regarding Bradford,


I would like to know who knew that and did Bradford communicate that to


the Co-Op group. And in terms of being chairman of a bank one has to


have not just persuasive powers, but also has to be school and rational


and understanding about the business, and it is obvious that


Paul Flowers from what you have heard in that little episode there


had none of these qualities. Doesn't is also question the judgment of


your party leader, Ed Miliband, in appointing him to this function


advisory committee when he's such a dodgy bloke. Who knew he was dodgy.


Let me tell you both as chairman of the Treasury Committee and a member


of the parliamentary banking standards commission, sadly in terms


of culture and ethics in the banking set up, nothing surprises me very


much now. We were asked by the Government to look at culture and


standards. We have found culture which was a rotten culture and we


found standards which were abysmally low. We are right at the foot hills


in terms of rebuilding the trust and the culture and ethics in banking


and financial services. This again, sadly, in the Co-Op of all areas,


that has been proved the case today again. Thank you very much for


joining us, thank you. Coming up: From Manchester to Aleppo, with the


aid convoy. A blueprint for restoring trust in the NHS was how


Jeremy Hunt described his response today to the Francis Inquiry, not


everyone agreed. The inquiry into the rot at Mid Staffordshire NHS


Foundation Trust reported in February. It identified a failure at


every level of the NHS and called for a real change in culture, a


re-focussing and recommitment of all who work in the NHS on putting


patients first. It put forward 290 recommendations to that end.


Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Today the Health Secretary Jeremy hunt issued


the Government's response to the inquiry and claimed to have accepted


all but nine of those emDAGSs. He -- recommendations. He announced a


statutory candour on investigations, a new safety website and mandatory


reporting of numbers on hospital wards. He didn't impose the national


minimum staffing called for by the report. The chairman of the report,


Robert Francis, has welcomed what he calls a comprehensive response, but


Labour and several patients' groups say the recommendations don't go far


enough. Earlier I spoke to Jeremy Hunt at the Department of Health. I


put to him that this was just the top-down of the NHS that they


pledged not to embark upon. This is not a structural reform, it is about


changing the culture in the NHS to address the strategy we had in Mid


Staffs. I think the people in this country and who use the NHS will be


very disappointed if in response to something as horrific as that, we


didn't come out with a plan that was actually designed to encourage the


openness and the transparency that will hopefully mean these things


can't happen again. When you say you are going to introduce a new


criminal offence of willful neglect, can you give us an example of the


sort of person who might fall foul of such a law? There are 1. 3


million people in the NHS and the vast majority of them do a brilliant


job, but you will have, in any large organisation, one or two people who


do the wrong thing, and that's why we want to have criminal sanctions


for those extreme cases. But I think it would be wrong to say that the


thrust of what we are doing today is about those criminal sanctions.


Because actually what we are trying to do is support people on the


frontline who want to do the right thing and make it easy for them to


speak out about mistakes and it is really important, and I need to make


this point because it is very important. There is a very big


difference between making a mistake and willfully neglecting someone.


Can you give us an example? I think an example might be someone who was


responsible for caring for a dementia patient who didn't give


them food when they needed it and when they knew they needed it. That


would be the kind of thing I'm thinking about. It is people who


deliberately neglect people. It is a very small minority of people. I


think that they should face the full force of the law. You say you want


to get people to speak out, how is that going to make people more


likely to speak out when they know that the consequence of doing so may


well be to send one of their colleagues to jail? Well, what we


have said today is we are changing the incentives in the system so that


for the vast majority of decent doctors and nurse, who want to do


the right thing, the overwhelming incentive they have is to make out


about those things. We are doing that in two ways, the first is we


are changing their professional codes of conduct. They say it is


your professional duty as a doctor and nurse to speak about things you


see that are wrong. And f you do, you will get protection if there is


any subsequent professional contact here. The second thing they are


doing, which is as importants and perhaps the single most significant


thing that I announce today is that we're saying that if a hospital


loses a litigation case, and it transpires that the hospital was not


open and traps parent about something that went -- transparent


about something that went wrong, then they risk paying for the


litigation case themselves. They don't have to do that at the moment.


The purpose of that is to get every chief executive and hospital board


to send out a message loud and clear to all their staff, if in any doubt,


if you think you saw something that may have been a mistake, you are not


sure, report it. Write it down. Thank's the culture they have --


that's the culture they have in the airline industry which has led to a


dramatic improvement in their safety record, we can do that in the NHS.


You are also going to require hospitals to publish staffing levels


on wards. What will happen if they consistently publish reports which


suggest that there aren't enough staff on? The CQC, the new Chief


Inspector of hospitals which we reported this year for the first


time, modelled on Ofsted, will look at all the data on an on going


basis, if they think when they look at the staffing data that indicates


calls for concerns, they will inspect that hospital. There are


very severe consequence, one of the things we introduced early this year


is a new failure regime for hospital, which means the management


of the hospital lose their jobs. We have 13 hospitals now in special


measures this year, it is the first time in the history of the NHS that


has happened. There are real questions for the managers of


hospitals who fail their CQC inspection. As the royal nursing


college says, is there 30,000 unfilled nursing posts? I don't know


where where they get their figures, from I do know across the system we


are going to be recruiting nearly 4,000 more nurses this year. The


number of hospital nurses in the country has actually gone up over


the last three years. I think this is just the start. Because I think


this whole change in culture in the NHS has meant that, where as before,


if you wanted to be a good hospital you really had to meet your waiting


times targets and make sure you balanced your books. Now, to get a


good grade from the Chief Inspector Of hospitals you have to be


delivering good quality care and you need the right number of nurses.


People are predicting a winter of crisis in the NHS, can you guarantee


there won't be a cry sis in the NHS this -- crisis in the NHS this


winter? You can't say anything about something which you don't have


direct control. Staff in our departments have never been better


prepared, we have made preparations earlier than in previous years. We


have an ageing population. There is a million more people going through


the A system every year than just three years ago. We are doing


everything we can to cope with the pressure. People are working hard


and we are doing what we can to support staff on the frontline. One


final point on this question of resources, is it right that people


who should have been, who were moved on as a consequence of


reorganisation should have been given very large amounts of public


money. Hundreds of thousands of pounds, in the case of one couple


nearly a million pounds and then reemployed by the NHS. No, and that


is why we are changing the system. Why did you do that? You solve one


problem at a time, this exists because of the contracts they sign.


Sometimes contracts that have been in existence for a very long time.


It is wrong they get those payments, that is why we have chang the system


so if you are reemployed by the NHS within 12 months then you have to


pay back your redundancy payment on a pro rata basis, it is a much


better system. Can you recoup any of the money paid out? This is to do


with contracts people have signed. We have to follow the law in that


respect. I want to make absolutely sure for future contracts this new


system is in place. Thank you. The former speak -- Speaker of the House


of Commons called for the creation of a corridor into Syria so


humanitarian can be delivered to casualties of the Civil War. The


problem, as pointed out by other members of the House of Lords is who


could protect such a thing. Even without a corridor some people are


taking aid into Syria. BBC Asian Network reporter has travelled with


one of the British aid convoys making the journey to bring help to


the wounded. We are going through sniper alley, basically we have to


go at a fast speed to stop getting hit by a sniper basically. This is


one of the most dangerous places on earth. A sniper-lined street in


Aleppo, Syria. This brother has been shot by a sniper. And we follow this


charity's journey there. Five ambulances through nine countries.


Pushing into areas most other charities don't go. This is the


future, look at this smile. Let's get going, we are going. Late night


in Manchester, these ambulances are packed with medical supplies and


food collected by the volunteers. This is a 35-year-old taxi driver


and family man, and this is the only woman, and a credit adviser from


Leicester, and we have a 25-year-old pharmacies from Halifax. Any nerves


at all? All fairly relaxed it is nice to have a break from work and


do something real with your life. It sounds crazy you are not nervous


that this is a break? What defines crazy, is everyone else crazy who is


living 9-5 paying mortgages and not worried about 70% of the rest of the


population living in dire poverty, that is crazy. This is one of a


number of smaller charities missions going to Syria, independent of the


big aid agencies. They had first to Dover, but they face an early


setback. Are you still getting searched. Unambulance is stopped by


counter terrorism officers. The police are just searching the


vehicle and now they are searching the individuals. The group do face


suspicion that they are going to Syria to fight. It is in terms of


your religion it is names, it is where you are going. When it happens


all the time it could feel like harassment, you can understand if


they are doing their checks that is fine. But taking your phones off


you, taking your e-mails off you. What can you do? It is estimated


more than 100 Britons could be fighting with the opposition in


Syria, and the evidence suggests many get there under the cover of


charity mission s. How do you make sure everybody who is coming is


coming in the right way? They have to know someone we know, they have


an interview, a Facebook and Twitter check. Nothing is 100% foolproof, as


long as we do our checks and are satisfied, everyone is vetteded. So


it is day 3 of the journey, we are in Switzerland, this is one of the


ambulances on the convoy. It is packed all down this side with


medical supplies, you have got needles, boxes and boxes of


painkillers, down here. This is where four people are sleeping, so


it is very cramped. If I just take you through to another one of the


ambulances on the convoy. This is number two 2, at the back here you


have more medical supplies, dried food, Magid and Adul are sleeping


here, it is very cramped. This is the last leg before the real journey


starts. The group are all British, of Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian


heritage, they see it as a duty to help other Muslims like those in


Syria. Have you thought about the prospect of people getting hurt or


killed? I think every humanitarian thinks of the worst, especially when


they are going into Syria. At the end of the day you take precautions,


nobody is going in there to get hurt. You could argue that if you


were going to die that could happen quite as easily else where I would


rather it be something meaningful. This Islamic song is played


throughout the trip. It is calleds I Weep For Syria and details the


country's suffering. There are eight days of travel,


driving in shifts. Keeping spirits up at endless service stations. And


one member of the group is turned away by police before they enter


Turkey. Come on guys, Syria is calling. Finally they reach the


Syrian border. This is where they enter a warzone. The convoy heads on


without us, they are about to take huge risks and we could put them in


further danger. They head first just over the border and they are filming


everything on mobile phones. Priceless, it is priceless. We get


out of the vehicle, we are just handing the sweets out and they were


just loving it. You could see the smiles on their faces. They are


coming up to us and trying to be our friends, little children, what is


your name, thank you for the sweets. Really appreciate it. You know they


appreciate it. Four of the group then push into Aleppo. The dangers


are so severe here that few foreign aid agencies are operating. This


final journey takes them to the frontline. We went out with one of


the hospital ambulance drivers, he knows the entire area, some parts


were a bit hairy. More than a bit hairy? Yeah. (Gunfire) We ended up


not very far from some of the frontlines where there were snipers


that were sat. Come back, come back. (Gunfire) To actually be in the


thick of T it was a little closer than I would have liked to have


been. (Explosions) We have ended up in the back street where there are


snipers on every side street, every junction in the road. And if I just


turn this around there are huge sheets that have been put up to try


to avoid snipers being able to see past. Survival instinct is get


through the situation and get back to what we were trying to do. The Dr


Is stitching up a young child. We managed to deliver the aid to the


hospitals that were receiving a lot of casualties to the frontline. This


brother has been shot via a sniper, the sniper bullet has exploded


inside him and caused a lot of pieces of his bone to snap and


break. The team tear through sniper-lined streets to get between


hospitals. (Gunfire) You are kind of going in a calm KASy fashion --


kamakazi fashion. S it is for me to die there that is how it is. I have


got children, it is not what I want. If the world was doing what it


should I wouldn't have to risk my life. The whole nation is a risk


from the start. There is no point getting all the way into Syria and


giving stuff where it is not needed, for example in Aleppo where we went


this time they have not had aid for such a long time. Nothing but total


carnage. In one hospital they find seven-year-old Mohammed. There is a


tank that went and blew his house up, his mum passed away and his


brother passed away, he had both his legs blown off. His new family are


the doctors. Really he hasn't done nothing, these people inside Syria


they live through that every single day. We really need to help these


people big time. We need to help them. We have to help them. Everyone


makes it home safely. The convoy plan to return to Syria next month.


You can hear her 30-minute radio documentary, A Road Trip To War on


the BBC Asian Network website. Now the Prime Minister picked up the


telephone to the President of Iran today, the first such call for a


decade or more. Tomorrow in Geneva the talks between Iran and


representatives of the half-a-dozen world powers will resume. And while


they didn't come to the talk and a dramatic conclusion, but there is


something in the air. What did David Cameron talk to the Iranian


President about? We know this because Downing Street has provided


us a menu of their conversation. They tacked about repairing


relations between the two countries, let's remember the embassies in both


countries have been closed for two years following Iranian students'


raid on the British Embassy in Tehran in November 2011. We know the


two men discussed Syria, bearing in mind that Iran and Britain are on


opposite sides of the Syrian conflict and we also know that they


discussed the prospects for success at these talks which will be held


here in Geneva. Realistically is there likely to be any sort of


success in those talks? There may be, in recent months Iran and the


west have crossed so many rubicons that they may want to consider


buying a row boat and some oars to help them get across the next few


crossings. Essentially a lot has changed in the last few months. The


phone conversation, and between the US President and the Iranian


President conversation, that has created a different atmosphere in


the talks. Ten days ago here they didn't reach a deal, they didn't


reach a deal possibly because Iran insisted on the west recognising


Iran's right to enrich uranium, a right that the west says does not


exist. But two days ago Iran's Prime Minister said you know what we will


keep that right but the west doesn't necessarily have to recognise it.


That may open up and clear the way for a possible deal in the next few


days. It would only be a first step and interim deal, even if it is


signed it will be strongly opposed by Israel. More rubicons to come.


Thank you very much. Another bunch of bankers are up


before the breaks in parliament tomorrow. This time it is the people


who advise the Government on the selling off of Royal Mail. Judging


by the price shares are changing hands in the market was knocked down


for a song. Trades unions are throwing about words like "gross


incompetence" to describe the bankers who advised the Government,


or even theft, they are demanding that no more money be given to what


the offenders ausingly called, "professional advice". The first


privatisation in eight years put a special strain on the Royal Mail


sorting office, applications came in from 700,000 individuals for stake


in a business they bout was bargain agains. Their shares was capped the


?750, who ended up owning it. Here is the top share Holder in --


shareholders in Royal Mai The first is a hedge fund. The next one is


GIC, the next is a huge sovereign wealth fund investing oil money on


behalf of Kuwait, with 1. 4%, behind them with more modest stakes the big


city Standard Life, and Threadneedle Street. For the Government it is a


mixed bag, they have got some of what they wanted but also some of


what they didn't want, which could produce political problems in the


future for them. At least 20 city institutions got in at the ground


floor, taking in half a billion shares at a price of ?3.30, as soon


as trading started the price dropped by a third. Today they closed ?5.


50, up 67% on the float price. Their gain, the tax-payers' loss, the


initial floatation was ?1.7 billion, if priced at today's level it would


have fetched ?2. 8 billion. The taxpayer have has lost out, who did


make money is the banks advising on the deal, they have commissions of


millions to be paid out. Some small investors who had applied for a lot


more shares than they got sold quickly and they made a little money


out of it. It seems to be the two biggest investors are two hedge


funds, the Singapore Sovereign Wealth Fund, is one, and there seems


to be a lot of money made at the expense of the taxpayer. The


Government is left with a 30% stake and serious questions to answer.


City players from Citibank to JP Morgan had said Royal Mail could be


worth upwards of ?6 million. Why did Vincent Cable choose Goldman


satisfaction and UBS who valued it at ?3 billion. His critics say it


was natural given how down he had been on Royal Mail over the years.


The Government were down on the business saying the traditional


source revenues were haemorrhaging and could fall off the CLICHLT


saying the business was short of cash and had severe industrial


relations problems. This isn't a promising prospectus to take the


business forward. It is like trying to sell a car by announcing it is


failing its MOT and the engines are going to fall out. You will not get


a good price, and people will say it is not running for long I will give


you a few quid. What happened to this dusty old building not far from


Tottenham Court Road is one piece of evidence that suggests Royal Mail's


important portfolio is worth more than previously estimated. Its


owners Great Portland Estates have celebrated getting planning


permission to turn it into offices, shops and retail, turning it into a


half a billion. For cities agencies they say it was massively


undervalued. Thousands of investors, with ?750 to invest, made a bit of


soft with hedge funders the buyers. The shares yielded 5% in the second


market price, people found that attractive. You have many people


finding that attractive and buying, yet many speculators taking their


profit on the first day. The called stags taking their money out making


that short-term profit, the quick buck. Who was buying? Long-term


investors, people who want the dividend, people who see the


attraction in in the assets. Just in Bond Street off the West End are the


Children's Investment Fund Management, despite the name it is


called one of the most aggressive hed funds in the country. It has a


stake in Royal Mail worth ?300 million. The reason I wanted to


speak to this man so much, the man who runs the hedge fund is known as


a corporate activist, he takes big stakes in companies and tries to


make changes happen. I wanted to know his intentions at the Royal


Mail, he wasn't available for interview and hedge funds like to be


discreet. Vincent Cable initially said Royal Mail's high price was


froth. He also revealed something else. We now know that at the last


minute the Business Secretary, Vincent Cable did consider setting a


higher price for Royal Mail, but the institutional investors who he so


wanted on board said that in that case they might not buy as much of


the stock. And UBS and Goldman Sachs advised against it. Mr McCabe said


that in sticking -- Mr Cable said in ticking with the advice he was


following advice from Goldman Sachs and UBS. Tomorrow MPs will ask them


if they were giving firmly held opinions or telling their client


what he wanted to hear. Now on an old Civil War battlefield in the


state of Pennsylvania 271 words were read out today. Even 150 years after


they were first delivered they retain the capacity to send a shiver


down the spine. The Gettysburg address was intended by Abraham


Lyndon to end one of the -- Lincoln, to end one of the cruellest wars of


all time. It took a few minutes to deliver but it has taken much longer


to deliver on the promise of the birth of freedom of a nation under


God. At Gettysburg in 1863, 51,000 men


were killed or injured in three days of battle. It was a fight between a


conservative slave-holding south and a north determined to impose change.


To honour the dead Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, the


most important speech in American history. The Civil War reaches into


our own age, the divisions it exposed are still part of the


American political discourse. On these damp autumnal fields in 229


brief blistering words Lincoln rededicate the -- rededicated the


Republic. "Four score and 20 years our fathers brought forth a new


nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that


all men are created equal. We here highly resolve the Government of the


people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the


earth." For them the American revolution was unfinished what he


called "a work only thus far advanced". Well 150 years on, it is


still unfinished. Americans are still arguing about how to live the


ideals that their Republic is founded on. Still bitterly divided


about precisely what "Government for the people by the people and of the


people". It is uncanny that the anniversary of John F Kennedy and


the address are connecte Both are connected, both sought to use the


power of federal Government to enforce change on federal states.


Both trying to force America to live up to its founding ideals as they


saw them. Both made fierce enemies as a result. What the war was doing


was preserving this unique system of democracy, of republican rule, you


see. It is testing whether this can survive and Kennedy, the parallel


is, what does he speak of in his inaugural address? And focus during


his administration? It is the struggle for freedom, for liberty,


to preserve the democracy that we have here and around the globe. But


black America was excluded from the Gettysburg promise. The post slavery


south upheld segregation for a century. That century separates


Lincoln from John F Kennedy. When Kennedy began to challenge white


supremacy, the white south revolted. That revolt is what brought John


Kennedy that fateful day 50 years ago, when he drove past the Texas


Book DePOSry. In the 1960 presidential election Kennedy lost


Dallas by the largest majority of any constituent in the United


States. He was not particularly popular here. Mainstream


conservatism had long since be Dallas's reality, but the activities


of fringe, right-wing extremists dominated the political atmosphere


of the city at that time. The sixth floor of the Book DePOSry, is now a


you -- dePOSry, Kennedy was a year away from the election, he had to


win text Sarks but his supporters were deserting him. His challenge


had re-opened the fault line in America. Conservative fears over a


federal Government. Right-wing extremists did not kill Kennedy, but


his visit to Dallas to try to appease them did. It appears


something has happened in the motorcade route. There has been a


shooting. The hospital has been advised to stand by for a severe


gunshot wound. The presidential car coming up now, we know it is the


presidential car, we can see Mrs Kennedy, there is a Secret


Serviceman spread eagled over the car. We understand that the


President and Mrs Kennedy is in the car, apparently something is wrong


here, something is terribly wrong. At this point it looks like it could


have been one or two or all of the people in the car, they have been


the victim, they have been struck by shots. We don't know. It was


definitely the President's car. The violent shock of it echos down the


decades even now. It is easy to forget that in life Kennedy, like


Lincoln, was a highly devisive figure. Both men perceived by


conservative Southerners to be imposing an unwanted and alien


northern liberalism. They begin with lines such as "the first remark that


I heard after hearing about the shooting of the President was "he


asked for it" ". Another person said why was he seeking admiration and


not in Washington where he belongs. This extraordinary collection of


letters written to the Mayor of Dallas in the days after the


assassination, is helped by the library in the city. They reveal the


simmering intensity of public sentiment. What was the nature of


the anti-Kennedy sentiment in the south? It is better to understand it


less as anti-Kennedy sentiment than anti-Washington and federal


Government sentiment. The two driving elements of American


political history, going all the way back to the revolution s how are we


going to deal with race and what roles Governments should play in


telling individuals how to live their lives. This was the exact


cause of the Civil War, it is the same argument that animates civil


rights throughout the 60s and actually it is really one of the


tensions I think that drives American politics today. Public


sentiment still simplers in Dallas, at this RUP - simplers in Dallas.


This is the latest manifestation of the long American argument. Today it


is about federal healthcare reforms, but it points to the same enduring


themes, individual LIB toe and the I will legitimacy of state intrusion.


As the pendulum swings to a more statist point of view, where the


Government is in control, then they are approaching a time of tyranny.


That is a really strong word, the rest of the world sees this as the


most securely entrenched democracy in history, and yet you use the word


"tyranny" is it really that bad? I see what our Government is doing in


the redistribution of wealth that it is exercising. As only perhaps


semantically different than if I were to put a revolver at your head


and tell me to give me your wallet. There is an unbroken line of


continuity that runs from Gettysburg to Dallas and on into our own age.


It is a struggle for ascendancy between two Americas, conservative


America, that seeks to champion the sovereignty of the individual


citizen against the state. And another America, that claims to


speak for progress and seeks to harness the power of the state to


impose it. It is an argument about what it means to be a true American.


What it means to be a true American was the issue at Gettysburg, who was


embraced by the founding ideals, and who was excluded? Does the politics


of race still shape the country's discourse? Americans remain divided


about what it really means to be a new nation conceived in liberty. And


how to advance that proposition that all men are created equal. That's


all for tonight. We learned today that the surviving members of Monty


Python are to reform for a new stage show. We couldn't bear to play you


the dead parrot sketch yet again, instead here is the most obscure


thing we could find, Monty Python, a German television programme from


1972 and an interview in the finest Newsnight tradition with man who


claims to have written all the works of Shakespeare.


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines: the Co-op, porn and crystal meth; the health secretary; Muslim Brits aid convoy to Syria; Royal Mail share price; from Lincoln to JFK.

With Jeremy Paxman.

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