17/12/2013 Newsnight


Runway row; Boris Johnson interview; British jihadi killed in Syria; clocking into the Lords; backbench power; and Japan's economy. With Jeremy Paxman.

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Your lessons are interrupted if you are out playing in the playground.


She wasn't at all bothered by the news. David Grossman is not deaf. He


sometimes acts like that. He didn't seem to notice a plane going over?


You will always get a mix of opinion. I have surveyed my


residents they have said they are against it. It's noise, safety and


congestion. I don't know if you have recently gone out on the M4 to


Heathrow. It gets congested, that is without further expansion. The


expansion we are talking about is huge expansion from 480 flights to


740,000 flights. It's a huge expansion. There is support for


Heathrow locally, there is opposition. Actually back in


November we carried out 7,000, a poll of 7,000. Of those, 48% were in


favour of expansion, 12% against. When we asked specifically the


question, would you be more likely to vet for an MP if he support it.


It's not politically easy. It's a question of political principle. Zac


Goldsmith say it's an off the scale betrayal. He will resign and create


at by-election? Absolutely. You principles? I think you have to stay


and fight. It I will do it differently to Zac. I will try and


put forward the case for other solutions in London because I think


what people want generally across the country is for us to do


something sooner rather than later. We do need to solve this issue about


capacity. Let us find something where we can get a consensus Not in


your backyard. I don't think Heathrow is the place to do it. I


like Heathrow where it is. They do lots in the local area. Do you think


you would hold your seat it went ahead? I would potentially struggle


to hold my seat. I think it's ridiculous to build more runway


capacity in west of London where you are affecting a million people when


you could be building an extra runway at Gatwick, Stansted or doing


something about building a new airport. Spread the pain a bit. And


still as long as we are getting the capacity we need, does it really


matter whether it is at Heathrow, Gatwick or elsewhere? It's


noticeable there is nothing imminent about this being acted upon, is it?


Do you think it will happen within the next 10 years? I think the case


for it to happen is really strong. That wasn't my question? I'm not


just talking about the airport. For the country as a whole. That surely


is why we have the commission set up to take an independent, rigorous


look at. It of course you would expect me to argue Heathrow's case.


That is what we are doing. It is not us making the recommendations today.


We should let the commission get to the end. We would like a quicker


decision if possible, practically speaking that's not going to happen.


I think this is the best shot we've got at taking a decision which is


important for the country, coolie, calmly, rigorously and not leaving


it in the position of being a political football which is... Has


us turning left and then right. A decision which doesn't stick is


worthless. Both very much. Now, This is the star waiter in this


restaurant just outside Tokyo. A monkey just served me, only in


Japan. Now, two British citizens are dead in Syria, one of them a doctor


was, according to the Syrian regime, found hanged inside a Syrian state


prison, the British government says he was effectively murdered by the


regime there. The second man had travelled to Syria to fight with an


organisation linked to Al-Qaeda, he told us a few weeks ago he didn't


expect to return to Britain. Now his family say he never will. Richard


Watson is here. Let us talk first about the doctor. We are talking


about Dr Abbas Khan who was held for more than a year by the Syrian


authorities having travelled to Turkey and Syria with medical


equipment late last year. He was held in custody, allegedly tortured,


lost a lot of his body weight. I spoke to his family today they had


high hopes that he was due to be released this Friday. Of course, his


brother came on Newsnight last month to press the British government to


do more to intervene in this awful situation. His mother, who is in


Damascus was told he was due to be released this Friday. The family


lost contact with him, he was moved from his civilian prison last


Friday, yesterday his mother was told that rather being released he


died in custody. The regime of Assad said he hung himself. The family


reject that saying it's a complete yovsh cover-up. Another one of his


brothers spoke to the BBC today. I believe the British government have


failed my brother, they have abandoned him, forsaken him. Other


governments, such as the Germans in particular, were very quick to get


their citizens out. The British Government didn't do anything. I'm,


to this day, unaware of any single act that the British Government or


the Foreign Office enacted that led to any change on the ground.


Everything that happened was thanks to my mother. You know, the brave


efforts of a housewife. That's what the entire intelligence with the


Foreign Office, all those dons from Oxford and Cambridge did nothing for


my brother, nothing at all. The other case is very different. The


young jihadi you interviewed recently. Tell me about that? That


was two weeks ago. I interviewed a young British jihadi via a Skype


line. He was in Syria. One of the interesting things about it was he


was quite open in admitting that he was fighting with a group linked to


Al-Qaeda. I spoke to his brother who is still in the country in


Portsmouth at the same time. The family today confirmed that he was


killed fighting in Syria with the organisation. They said he was


killed in battle against the Assad forces. This is what they told me a


couple of weeks ago. Something has gone wrong there. He confirmed he


was fighting with the group, he said he was prepared to die for his


cause. He was not a threat to national security and had no plans


to come back at all. Quite remarkable testimony two weeks ago.


Now we know from the family he has actually died. Else did they say?


His brother in Portsmouth was saying that, look, he had done this


research on the internet and in his words consulted proper sources and


looked at fatwas from Saudi Arabia and had come to the conclusion that


Shia Muslims were not Muslims. I suggested it was a radical point of


view. He was pretty unhappy about my interpretation of it being a radical


view, I stand by that. If you consult proper sources saying that


Shia Muslims are not Muslims is pretty radical by most people's


books. Thank you. There can't be many jobs in Britain that will pay


you ?300 to do nothing, if you get yourself a seat at the House of


Lords, that is precriesly what is on offer -- precieslely on offer. Mitt


it We have been hanging around


parliament to see if he was right. Hello, sir. Will you have done a


full days work in the Lords today. Will you claim for a full days work


in the Lords today? No. Will be doing a full days work in the Lords


today? I was here at 11.00 am. Yes. I went out for another meeting. Will


you claim for a full day today? I will see. It's outrageous that a


peer, a convicted peer can stroll out of a prison gates in the morning


and into this place after lunch. The Lord Ashdown will you do a full days


work today? I do a full days work every day. I have amendments on the


Children and Families Bill I will leave at 8. 45pm, I will do a 12


hour day. What do you make of what lord Hanningfield has been doing? He


makes me very cross. I won't repeat what I think. Will you claim for a


full days work today in the Lords? I suspect so. Will you have worked a


whole day? (Inaudible. Do you think there is a problem in the House?


There Isn't a problem. There is no salary. The remuneration is very


modest. What other professional person are you going to get to work


for ?300 a day? Can I ask how many hours will you have worked in the


Lords today? I'm arriving now. I never claim at all. Hard luck, you


have no story. How about some good news for


Parliament? Admittedly, it's not often you hear that, but even the


most jaundiced onlooker wuf to admit in the last few years, it or parts


of it seem to have had a dose of CPR. The Times this morning, Rachel


Sylvester says it's more challenged from both within and outside their


parties. How the poor things must yearn for the days when people said


the average backbencher was either a lap dog or a mangy toothless smelly


old has been waiting for an invitation to sit up and beg. Let's


have a look at some of the highs and lows that Parliament's provided in


recent history. You come to us with absolutely no information. What is


your job? Director of Policy for Amazon across Europe. Be


We are going to have to order somebody to come to give us answers


to the questions. We'll order somebody to appear before us because


it's not just acceptable. I strongly believe in the need for a tough


response to the use of chemical weapons, but I also believe in


respecting the will of this House. It's very clear tonight that while


the House has not passed a motion, it's clear to me that the British


Parliament reflecting the views of the British people does not want to


see British military action. I get that and the Government will act


accordingly. Mr Speaker, hard working businessmen


facing tough decisions, desensed Trade Unionists and newspapers,


including the Daily Mirror, will have been appalled by the so-called


leverage tactics of uniting the Grangemouth dispute. Will my right


honourable friend take steps to ensure that families and children


are protected from a minority of militants?


Mr Murdoch, you must be the first Mafia boss in history who didn't


know he was running a criminal enterprise? Mr Watson, please. I


think that's inappropriate. Margaret Hodge, the fearsome lady


who chairs the Commons Public Accounts Committee who we saw there


and the Conservative backbencher Douglas Carswell are here. Is there


any environmental things first, is it partly this change in


relationship to do with this Government having a much smaller


majority than previous Governments have been used to? I put it down to


a number of things. We are elected now as chairs of the Select


Committee. We'll come to all this in a minute or two. I wanted the


broader point. Is it to do with the size of the Government majority? I


think I was going to come on to that, but I think it's the do with


the fact that we have a coalition Government. What's happened with the


coalition Government is that party loyalties have become less intense,


people, you know, are much more willing therefore to express their


own views and defend their own values. The coalition certainly


helped create the space for Parliament to disagree with the


Government. But I think some credit has to go to Speaker Bercow who's


been doing the job of the speaker for the first time in a generation.


A loft of changes are irreversible. The Internet is making individual


MPs personally accountable so they have to answer, not to whips but to


the voters. There is transformative. That's an interesting argument. Are


MPs also slightly different? More independent minded? I think the


technology requires this emto be more independent minded. If you are


trying to Tweet and stick to the party line, you look like a complete


clot. You have to say what it is that you think. The Internet


permanentising political communication. The lines of take


have to be your lines and beliefs. Do you think MPs are slightly


different? I certainly think that if we want to reconnect with our voters


and try and re reestablish credibility in politics, you have to


do your politics in a different way. I think that the days of taking the


line are gone. If you look at those MPs that are popular or those


politicians that get some resonance with the public, it's those that


stand outside the box and who're showing their individuality and


authenticity. I think authenticity's really important and I think this -


I mean I get endless texts - I'm sure Douglas does every day too,


telling me what to think and what to do. I knock them off my phone


immediately. I really do try to think for most and represent the


taxpayers and constituents. What about the point that you were


mentioning Earl dwroer do with the increasing strength of things to do


with the Select Committees -- mentioning earlier to do with the


increasing Select Committees? I'm now elected, and Douglas had a vote


to decide whether or not I should chair my committee and I think that


creates an independence and authority which we didn't have in


the past. Select Committees like the speaker owe their position now to a


vote freely given of the whole house. Their fell fairious that


level innocence has been talked out. They are full of people like


Margaret, John whiting dale, who do the job of the Select Committee,


which is to hold the ministers to the fire. You have been on both


sides of the fence. You were a minister. I bet you were pulled


before the committee? I was. Were you scared? I don't think I was.


Apprehensive? No. I don't think so. Would you be more worried now? I


think we are quite tough, but I think we have to... In an odd way,


if you are not tough and you don't actually try to get to the truth,


you are not really representing the taxpayers or the constituents


properly. I think where we have managed to connect in my committee,


whether it's on the issues of tax avoidance or the big issues like


that, or whether it's on the smaller issues of should 0845 numbers be


used, it's because we really toughly strive. Let me say something, if we


didn't do that, if we didn't really pursue our arguments strongly, I bet


people like you wouldn't be watching it. So in a way, we have to have


this slight exaggeration. A point of view one feels - I don't know what


you feel Douglas - what happens when you get people in front of the


committees is that the politicians start making speeches at them


instead of cross-examining? This is why we need to look seriously at one


particular change. At the moment, if you are trying to cross-examine a


witness, it's difficult to develop an intelligent, rational line of


questioning because the moment you are in the process of doing so,


someone else will come in with a question. We need to look seriously


at allowing them to employ legal counsel. Not more work for lawyers?


It would allow the committee to get to the heart. The one area I


probably disagree with you on. The one reason Select Committees can


work well is that we are not surrounded by lawyers. It would work


well. We work as a team, we are a cross party committee and the


Conservatives and Lib Dems work as well. But you don't want to


introduce that courtroom environment into the Select Committee process. I


think people would be inhibited, we'd get far less towards the truth


than we do now. If you work as a team, I always say we work best in


my committee when we do it as a team. We prepare before to ensure on


the hearings on the BBC or on tax. I agree, but I wonder if you sometimes


worry, looking at it from the other side, that Governments have to be


able to govern? Yes. Where do we get the Yahoo!ed that we should arrange


the furniture for the political class. A backbench MP like me could


take amendments, until the 70s, the Government decided responsibilities.


If a minister was asked to join the Government until 1918, they would


have to resign their seat. The idea we arrange Westminster for the


convenience of them is not right. We are governing better. It's not that


we are opposing Government. We want to oppose our authority to get


better governance for the people. Thank you both very much. It's a


year this week since Japan chose Shinzo Abe as its Conservative Prime


Minister. He took over the world's third largest economy after it spent


years as dynamic as a congealing rice pudding. He came in with plans


and promises, inevitably dubbed Abenomics. Has it worked? Is there


anything we could learn from it? The BBC's chief correspondent, Linda


Yueh, reports now from Tokyo. Echoes of strength from a dominant


past. 20 years ago, Japan's economy


rivalled America 's until it was felled by a debt bubble. Since then,


it has been stagnant with prices folding as deflation set in and


losing out to China as the world's second largest economy.


I'm at a sumo wrestling practice. Two removal objects trying to shift


each other using force. It's like Japan is trying to reverse the way


its economy has worked for decades. Undaunted, Japan's Prime Minister,


Shinzo Abe, has pushed forward with ambitious reforms since being


elected one year ago. Dubbed Abenomics, his plan is bold.


Bolder than anything that Thatcher or Reagan ever did.


How do you think the reforms of automobile able are working so far?


So far so good I think. The Prime Minister has been showing


very strong leadership. Since the strong leadership by the Prime


Minister's office, it continues and we are optimistic. At the same time,


I expect some more effort from the bureaucrats.


Patience, precision and perseverance. Traits that are needed


in archery and also to achieve economic transformation.


But time is a luxury the Japanese government doesn't have. My master


taught me the art of using a bow in my own crash course and shared his


thoughts on Abe's efforts at rapid change. Do you think that Prime


Minister Abe and his arrows will help the country?


I hope so. Do you think that with Abe's new plan, he'll be able to


help Japan grow again? It's very difficult questions.


Shinzo Abe has three parts, or, as they're particularly called here,


arrows, the first targeting deflation was fired immediately with


aggressive cash injections. The second arrow, government spending to


support growth, came soon after. But, a sales tax hike means that it


hasn't quite hit its mark. The third, and perhaps the most


important, the deep structural reforms to change how Japan works.


Well, those haven't been fired yet. Of the three arrows, the Nikkei is


up, the Yen is down but there are many more targets to hit.


Clearly, it's not so easy. His plan so far has had some initial


success. Now, inflation. Still one year on, growth remains slow.


So, the critics remain to be convinced.


On a beautiful autumn day, this Professor was happy to take a walk


with me. He's not so happy though with the Abe government.


Well, the Japanese government is saying everything is going to be all


right. Yes. But don't be deceived by that message. The real economy is


not working very well. So please be careful and observe what is


happening in the Japanese economy. To observe the famous fish auction,


you have to get up early. Selling to the highest bidder is the purest


form of competition. This is more of what Japan needs to


shape up the existing system. Forcing firms to compete for


customers and to invest to improve their wares are prime exam examples


of Abenomics's proposals. But maybe the problem is more fundamental.


Japan is the oldest country in the world with a quarter of its


population aged over 65. This man is 64 years old and has


been making sushi for 40 of them. He says it takes longer to warm his


hands up in the morning than when he was young.


But, he won't retire. When do you think you will retire?


Long time. Never? Never. In my final moments, he tells me, I'll be


preparing in the kitchen, like in judo, I'll collapse on the mat. You


have to be determined like that. This is the heart of the challenge.


Can a country with an ageing population grow well without


debt-fuelled consumption? After taking two decades to repay debt,


the Japanese are reluctant to boar re. In that case, how strongly can


an economy grow? Despite all that you see around me,


consumer demand is low. That's what happens when there's a shrinking


population. Besides, how many more things can


people in a rich country buy after decades of prosperity?


This is what the West worries about - lower demand and permanently


slower growth. If Japan can reverse its stagnation, there's hope for the


UK and US who're facing tepid recoveries five years after their


banking crises. If Japan can't, then it's a glimpse of the future for


other rich countries who have the same ageing population but are just


a few years behind Japan. Now this probably isn't the answer.


This is the star waiter at this restaurant, just outside Tokyo. O.-


brings towels, beers and even food. A monkey just served me some food.


None Japan! If there aren't more human workers being added, existing


workers have to produce more and be paid more to get the economy going


again. So it's a problem that wages in


general aren't going up. This man's brought his staff here, but Shinzo


Abe wants bosses like him to reward staff with pay rises, not just


dinners. TRANSLATION: Our industry deals with


raw materials. We have We haven't felt the positive impacts from


Shinzo Abe yet so we can't raise wages at this stage. At the end of a


long day, there's still the clearing up to do.


It seems a monkey's work is never done.


To earn a pay rise, more needs to be squeezed out of each worker.


More a rich country, it becomes harder and harder to do. If Abe does


tackle Japan's long list of economic problem problems and succeeds, this


country could be the first to grow well with an ageing population.


And, we might all rest a little easier.


Now, tomorrow morning's front-pages. The Independent goes with the story


of the Doctor Who was apparently found dead, according to the Syrian


regime, inside his cell - the question why would he kill himself.


Lord fraud faces police probe, the former Essex Cowan councillor done


over by the Mirror for checking in and claiming ?3010 from the House of


Lords and checking himself out within half an hour. -- ?300.


Fracking could be planned for half of Britain. The Guardian says David


Cameron is cracking down on access to benefits from Romania and


Bulgaria. The Sun has a demand that Cameron draw a red line on


immigration or else it says. The Daily Mail has news that older


ladies are drinking a great deal more than younger ones. And that's


about it for now. Right, the Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford


has had an eventful 2013 plagued by drug and sex scandals throughout the


year. One might think he'd keep a low profile throughout the Christmas


party season. Far from it. In keeping with his recent behaviour,


he didn't do things by halves. Good night.


# Come on, everybody. Merry Christmas


# Merry Christmas to you # Merry Christmas


# Merry, merry Christmas to you # It's the time of the year


# Let's all celebrate # Well, merry Christmas


# Merry Christmas to you # Merry Christmas


# Merry, merry Christmas to you # Whoa, it's the time of year


# Let's all celebrate... # After a quiet day today, it will be


wet and windy


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines. Runway row; Boris Johnson interview; British jihadi killed in Syria; clocking into the Lords; backbench power; and Japan's economy. With Jeremy Paxman.

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