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.