29/01/2014 Newsnight


Labour and the Unions, cartoon controversy, and is news bad for you? With Jeremy Paxman.

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They may have created the Labour Party, but the trade unions could be


on the eve of losing their role of choosing the party leader. A change


could be on the way but will it give the unions less power or more. We


talk to the cartoonist who drew the caricature of Jesus with the Prophet


Mohammed, and which caused a Liberal Democrat to get death threats. I


can't see that it's my problem. I can't be responsible for the actions


of bad people. The writer Alain De Botton on what's wrong with the


news. We hear about terrible catastrophes all the time, and yet


in our hearts we often don't much care. The news doesn't help us to


care. Because it parachutes us into places only when disaster strikes.


He's here with Alistair Campbell and Samira Ahmed. Now in an


ever-changing world the ability of the Conservative Party to taunt the


opposition with the cry that it has been bought by the trades unions and


had its leaders chosen by the trades unions has been a constant theme


more or less since the dawn of contemporary politics. Ed Miliband


has indicated while he's happy to take the money the arrangement needs


to change. We understand we are about to learn how he plans to


change the system which gave him, rather than his brother, the


leadership of the party. What have we learned this evening? I sense


this is a pretty significant moment for the Labour leader. These plans


are being finalised as we speak, we will know more about them on Friday.


It feels like a big moment and crunch time. At the heart of this is


that rather complicated and close relationship you were decribing


between Labour and the trade unions. We understand that Ed Miliband is


going to radically transform the way Labour chooses its leaders,


including the way he was chosen. Some in his party are even calling


it his own clause IV moment. At the moment leaders are chosen through


the Electoral College. This is how the college is shared. One third of


the vote for MPs and MEPs, another third for party members, and the


controversial third is given to the trade unions. Under the reformed


plans, from what we are learning, it would move to one-member-one-vote.


Each Labour Party member, some 200,000, gets a vote. That sounds


like fairer system and pretty simple. With one bound he was free!


Sort of, we understand that within this package is the introduction of


a new kind of membership, possibly one they are calling the "associate


union member". They would be able to exercise their own individual vote


at greatly reduced annual fee, maybe as little as ?3 a year. This goes to


heart of what Ed Miliband was saying in that rather forceful speech last


summer. He promised to put more power into the individual members of


the union, and not as it were to the union leaders. But here is the rub,


the unintended consequence of what might happen is if just one in ten


union members signed up to become a new associate member, you can see


what happens, that as group could potentionally wield more influence


that the rest of the Labour Party. Although, voting as separate


individuals rather than a block-style vote and what the unions


prefer to call a "guided vote". The question is, would these reforms, as


we understand them, give the unions more power or less and how would the


MPs and MEPs feel about that amount of power coming from a different


source? What about the highly controversial matter of the


political levy, which he did talk about a few months ago didn't he?


Controversial, because assumed your membership of the Labour Party, when


y joined the union, and it charged you for it. This is what Ed Miliband


said last year. He couldn't have been any clearer about wanting to


end that automatic opt-in livy. I do not want any individual to be paying


money to the Labour Party in affiliation fees unless they have


deliberately chosen to do so. Individual trade union members


should choose to join the party through the affiliation fee, not the


automatically affiliated. In the 21st century it just doesn't make


sense for anyone to be affiliated to a political party unless they have


chosen to do so. So he keeps using that word "choose". I understand


there is a fierce debate, those close to Ed Miliband, some are


saying they believe the reforms are a key test of his leadership. And


some who are saying this puts the party's finances at massive risk by


allowing union members to opt out of this political levy. One insider


told me it is crackers, you can't just crater the party's finances.


What they imagine would happen if you allowed people not to pay that


sum. What I understand is, it will be an opt-in mechanism. What one


union leader described to me as a standardising of a system that


already happens in several of the unions. But in order to stop a


massive and instant black hole in Labour's finances, the plan would be


rolled out very gradually, possibly over a five-year process and one


union at a time. So Labour wouldn't feel the impact of that negative


effect so instantly or so bleakly. Thank you. Now it takes a bit of


believing that someone could be put in fear of their life by a cartoon,


but that's the world we are living in. When a Liberal Democrat


candidate met a man wearing a T-shirt carrying a cartoon showing


Jesus and Mohammed and then tweeted that image, he so irritated some


members of the Muslim community that they demanded he be striped of his


position in the party. He said he didn't feel threatened by the


cartoon even though there is ban on any likenesses of the prophet. Majid


Nawaz says he was standing up for liberal Muslims whose voices are


seldom heard, when he tweeted an image of a cartoon showing Jesus


saying Hey and Mohammed saying Hi. He said it was not offensive and


he's sure God is greater than being threatened on it. He had just been a


guest on the BBC's Big Questions programme, in the front were two


students with T-shirts showing Jesus and Mo. A debate ensued about


whether they have the right to wear them. Do they have the right to wear


those T-shirts? No. Why are you trying to offend a religious faith.


You are offending us. That T-shirt doesn't threaten me or my God or my


faith, it doesn't threaten the Koran, it doesn't threaten any


aspect of my religion, I do not feel threatened by these gentlemen


wearing that T-shirt. It was the BBC's decision not to show a


close-up of the T-shirts that prompted Majid Nawaz to send the


tweet. Within days tens of thousands of Muslim, including members of the


Liberal Democrat party had put their names to this on-line petition


calling for him to be deselected as a parliamentary candidate. Some said


he should be killed. Majid Nawaz's decision to tweet the


image of the Jesus and Mo cartoon, hasn't just set up a debate about


freedom of speech, it has also set the Liberal Democrats an important


test. What does it actually mean to be a liberal? This afternoon the


petition's organisers met with former leader of the Liberal


Democrats Paddy Ashdown, and urged him to deselect Majid Nawaz. We are


very clear, we don't believe his position is tenable, he has to step


down and we have let the leadership, Paddy Ashdown in particular know how


we feel, we believe he should step down. What do you say to people who


say your position is very il-liberal in your view? I'm not that, I'm a


liberal and Liberal Democrat who believes with liberalism with


respect, freedom to speak out and freedom of expression. Except in


areas where you don't like it? No, definitely, liberalism with respect,


regardless of what area it is, it doesn't matter if it phoneds people


or not, my argument is simple, liberalism with respect, thank you.


So is Majid Nawaz's position safe, after the meeting Lord Ashdown


didn't appear to be offering any guarantee? If members of your party


keep calling for Majid Nawaz to stand down, what will you do? It is


a matter for proper procedures for the party. In order for someone to


stand down there has to be a clear case for that. He has express admin


youth view, and he has used immoderate language in expressing


it, he has apologised. How do you know it is a minority view, how do


you know what all Muslims think about these cartoons? You have to


know what their theology is, if you don't know that in Britain, a vast


majority of Muslims believe that any image of the prophet is blasphemous.


Many Muslims are not offended? And they are entitled not to. The


majority Muslim belief is against any image of the prophet. That does


not allow the majority to tell the minority they may not hold it. The


Jesus and Mo comic shows the two characters sharing a house, Majid


Nawaz calls it a mild cartoon, whether it is right to ever show a


picture of the Prophet Mohammed is the subject of debate in Islam. Some


of these people are saying within Islam you can't draw pictures of


people or of animals or of the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him,


especially him. There are paintings by Muslim who is are more religious


than the Muslims today who are complaining about this and yet they


are paintings, they exist, they exist in art galleries an the world.


So this is not an issue which it just has one view. There are many


different views within the Muslim community. The Liberal Democrats may


hope their internal procedures can fix this row, but as of tonight more


than 21,000 people have signed the petition calling on Majid Nawaz to


go. The campaigners say the fight goes on. Earlier I spoke to the


creator of the Jesus and Mo cartoon, he asked that his appearance and


voice be disguised. I started by asking him if he has been


overwhelmed by the attention his cartoons have received? I'm


horrified. And yeah I suppose I'm quite bewildered, because the mind


set of people so determined to take offence or to exploit that offence


of others for their own ends is very alien to me. So, yes, I find that


bewildering. But I do think that rather than focussing on me, it is


Majid Nawaz that deserves our support really. He epitomises what


is happening in the Muslim community at the moment, where there is a


division. The Muslim community is sorting itself out between your


moderate, liberal, average every day Muslim who couldn't careless less


about a cartoon and just wants to get on with his life. And the


self-serving rabble-rousers that are just trying to promote their own


selves. But for you as an atheist who kinds the whole subject of


religion inherently comical, they are all wrong Of ge. Of course, it


doesn't matter -- of course, it doesn't matter if you are wrong if


you are not rabble rousing. Why did you start doing the cartoon? I have


always found religion very interesting but at the same time


quite amusing. The idea was in my head for several years about


featuring the two major prophets of the two major world religions in a


cartoon strip. But it was actually the Danish cartoon fiasco that


prompted me to actually begin and so I did, back in 2005 in September.


Doesn't that suggest that you deliberately set out to court


outrage? It might suggest that. But it is not true. I deliberately set


out to have a laugh at religion and to provide amusement for atheists.


But you do understand that depicting the prophet is a great offence to


Muslims? To some Muslims. Not all Muslims. And also it is not my


concern because I'm not a Muslim. Isn't it your concern if you give


offence? No. It's my concern to make people laugh, I don't give offence


to anyone deliberately. If they take offence then that's their


prerogative, they can take offence. You don't find something offensive


about somebody anonymously making others unhappy? If they stumble upon


it, then I admit they may find it offensive then. But they don't have


to stay and they don't have to come back. It is the Internet. There are


thousands of things on the Internet that I would find very offensive and


occasionally I stumble on them. I don't go back. But if these cartoons


are done to give amusement to yourself and to fellow atheists, if


they should result in harm coming to someone, is that sufficient


justification? ? The desire for a bit of humour a bit of a laugh? I


can't see that it's my problem. I can't see that as my problem, I


can't be responsible for the actions of bad people. I am creating


something to make my fellow atheists laugh. Other people take it


differently, there are other people that gain strength from my cartoon.


It is a very badly-drawn, poorly executed silly comic strip, but some


people feel it is very important to them. They find it liberating. I


don't want to say I have a duty, because that sounds pompus. But I


will continue. You are resolved on that are you? Pretty much. So here


we are, 12 minutes to 11, nearing the end of day in which millions of


things have happened, some happy, some tragic, frightening or


reassuring most of them dull. And out of this quotidian mails strum,


Bd mails stop BBC editors selected ten things they constitute news, and


they will be in the newspapers, and whether you pay attention or not the


world will continue to turn, and tomorrow night there will be more


news. What is all this exposure to events over which we have no control


doing to us? Before we talk about it here is the writer Alain De Botton's


take. The news doesn't come with any instructions. At school they teach


you how to analyse books and pictures, but no-one ever tells you


how to make sense of that far more powerful questionable art form, the


news. We're taught to decode Shakespeare, but not the celebrity


section of the Daily Mail, George Elliott, but not the Sun, yet the


news is the most powerful force out there, shaping how we view political


reality, no wonder revolutionaries head to the TV and radio stations


first whenever they want to change stuff. Here is my list of some of


what's questionable about the news. Modern democratic nations think


badly of censorship. They pride themselves on how much information


is out there. But there's an awkward fact about information. If you have


too much of it, it starts to number you, you lose the thread, you forget


what you were even interested in or what could be changed. Rather than


making us more political, an excess of information can erode any sense


of what the real priorities are. Here is the paranoid frightening


thought, if you want to make people accepting of the status quo, you


have two option, either give them no news at all, or, more slyly, give


them the opposite, so much news they will drown in it, then nothing will


ever have to change. Thought ful people often imagine that what makes


news organisations serious and worthy is their ability to provide


us with information that's unbiased. But this bias against bias is


fundamentally mistaken. Facts only become meaningful to us when they


slot into some picture of what matters. Neutrality is simply


possible, vis a vis the biggest questions. Think of the big figure,


Plato, Buddha, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, all of these have been


highly biased, their judgments were anything but perfectly balanced.


Don't need news striped of buyia, we need news presented to us with the


best kinds of bias. The news might tell us what is happening in the


economic establishment, but fails to tell us what might and should


happen. It sets an agenda but the agenda is woefully limited. The so


called debate about the economy doesn't stray beyond some tightly


defined line, restricting the audiences' understanding of what is


actually possible. Alternative views soon end up in the territory of what


is dismissed as radical and ridiculous. The news terrifies us


every day about floods, fires, cancer. And at the same time it


makes us furious, mostly at apparently incompetent people


running the country, messing everything up. News outlets badly


need their audiences to be agitated, frightened and bothered a lot of the


time, and yet we have an even greater responsibility to try to


remain resilient and see that the news is, in part, at least winding


us up for its own ends, to keep itself in a job. We hear tragedies


all the time, 300 gone through, and a thousand starving here. Yet in our


hearts we don't much care. Is it because we are shallow and cold? No,


it is just the news doesn't help us to cautious because it parachutes us


into places only when disaster strikes. But we can't care about


people in trouble when we didn't know them when things were OK. We


need to know the steady state of a land before we can be motivated to


care about its crises. The news ends up corrupting us with a sense of the


overwhelming importance of our own era and concerns. Our debt, our


affairs, our parties, our rogue missile, but a good life involves


realising that there moments when the news has nothing to teach us,


and we have to leave it behind to focus on some of our own anxieties


and hopes in the brief time we are all allotted. Here to discuss all of


that, Alain De Botton, the author of a new book, The News: A User's


Manuel, Samira Ahmed, a journalist and presenter of Newswatch, a BBC


programme that keeps a watch on how news is reported. And Alistair


Campbell, former Fleet Street hack, better known for serving as Tony


Blair's Director of Communications. Several time in your book you make a


comparison between religion and news, what do you mean? Religion


used to be the place you went out to find out what was important, what


mattered and what is the meaning of life. All of those things we have


taken to the news. The news is the thing that guides us and tells us


what is important. The interesting thing is we never think here is


something that we should learn to ingest with a little bit of care. We


get taught how to read books and look at pictures, nobody says there


is this thing called the news and it is a strange phenomenon and you need


to think of a few things before going near it. Nobody teaches us how


to take in the news. That is what I'm interested in. Do you recognise


this picture, Alistair? I do, I read the book earlier today, I do agree


with a lot of the thesis. I do think there is now a need for a kind of


education about the modern media. Because I think there is very little


self-analysis within the media about itself. And I think some of the


points he made, even within that film, we saw Emily earlier talking


about Labour and the trade unions, everything has to be presented as


really new, really big, really important, the new this, the new,


that the biggest since the last big thing, and... Of course. I know, but


you say "of course", but part of your job is... Do you want us to


come on air and say nothing much happened today and here are a few


old stories. You made a speech and you said some days you should do


exactly that. I think you should and nobody does. But on a regular date,


that is a significant story. I'm not saying it is not a significant


story, I not criticising Emily for the story, I'm saying news has


become what somebody, an editor, a presenter decides is of interest.


But the viewer. I'm not saying it is new, I'm simply saying I agree that


the reader, the viewer, people growing up in Britain today where


the media is much more prevalent than it ever used to be, I think


there is a need for people n a sense, to get an education about


where it is coming from and often why. It is ubiquitous, you accept


that? It is, but the one thing I would agree with Botham on is


education is important. I speak in schools a lot. I'm always struck by


the fact that essentially watching the news is like critical


appreciation. You should approach it with that critical detatchment. Most


young people get that very, very quickly. They need to be taught it


as part of a genuine thing. My greatest concern is this idea that


some how the news is some how not made by individuals who are, it is


some how a force out there. One, I think it gives a sense of community,


people can turn on and tune into a sense of what is going on in the


outer world and feel connected to it, in a positive way. They are not


connected, they can't do a dam thing about it? Sometimes they can. An


interesting thing about a story which there is a lot of cynicism


about how it is reported is changes to the NHS. We have had a lot of


complaints about the bias in the way it is reported. Here, here. There is


a whole political party set up on that. You could argue about what the


truth of it is, but people have been motivated to take action. Just to


give you one briefly, because in your book you talk about this drip,


drip, where news isn't given context. The Staffordshire Hospital


scandal, that emerged because patients were being reported


anecdotally to journalists. Now we have coverage of the National Health


Service, right across the media that only wants to focus on the National


Health Service being bad, when the National Health Service is actually


very, very good. Everyone knows the National Health Service is pretty


good, which is why when it goes bad it is news? It used to be, I used to


have a colleague on the daily Mir Yorks she was the health -- Daily


Mirror, her job was to write good stories about the National Health


Service, she was laid off because the editor said there was no longer


a market for good stories about the National Health Service. Because the


news and the nature of the news has changed. Isn't it changed because of


spin doctors. No. Do you accept no responsibility for feeding a news


agenda? No, not at all. I just want to ask this one question, you said,


just a year or so ago that the one thing that still makes you wake up


and think did I really do that was getting Tony Blair joining the


Rashid story, there was a point that was a distraction that the Murdoch


press took up and took attention away from a story. I'm referring to


a story years back and you are taking it up as serious. You talk


about the Olympics in the book. That was a good news story? DPAKT exactly


but up until the point to the Opening Ceremony the media were


busting a gut thinking it would go wrong. You do sound a bit like


Martin Lew! I don't think so. The news when it is looking for


corruption, and it spends a lot of time looking for corruption, it


imagines that corruption comes in the handy shape of one bad egg and


put in a prison van and taken away. They don't say that. They are more


complicated and don't involve criminal negligence, they involve


stupidity and lazy thinking, that is hard for the news to get its teeth


in. That is tripe what about Government spending on computer


systems, that is just incompetent. A very important story. And very well


reported? But one that really struggles. If you look at who is


clicking on the Justin Bieber going mad, versus chaos in the DRC


stories. I am afraid we are not all imbued with your high standards? I


think the real challenge in a multichannel world is how do you get


the most important news to be the most ar? At the moment there is a


yawning divide between news that is important and news that is popular.


In a democracy that really matters. What you want to do is to yolk the


two together? That comes throughout your book, talk about what the news


should do. I'm trying to make it better. You do that as well.


Everyone who loves the news as I do it. That is the difference between


God and bad journalism, a lot of your complaints are about bad or


sloppy journalism. Let's get ambitious about what we can do. We


are the first generations to know about news and have it on offer. We


are working out how it works. It is natural to be confused. Are you


suggesting it has a moral purpose beyond informing people? Yes. That


it should be changing them? I think the point of the news is to make the


nation flourish, to help the nation to go better. That's why we are


interested in criminality, that is why we are interested in scandals,


we are trying to get things to go better. Who makes that judgment? I


think that is the collective voice out there. It gets better because


you expose wrongdoing and people might challenge. One of the most


important aspects in news reporting, which you in your book write in the


headlines about criminal trials, there is something wonderful seeing


a criminal trial that brings people to justice, sometimes it is an


individual example but can you change the law and change behaviour.


Alastair gave a lecture in Cambridge saying that Watergate had been the


greatest journalistic story in the 20th century but ruined journalism.


His point was because Watergate was such a big story, and still the


yardstick, that now journalism is only journalism if it is bringing


somebody down, preferably somebody in a position of power. A great


example is Fred Goodwin and taking away his Knighthood, I don't think


there was a public attitude to see it taken away, but it was a public


appetite for saying something is wrong. We had a Government that


cynically threw him to the wolves and encouraged the news machine to


offer him up. We have a PR man who is our Prime Minister now. You know,


there is a kind of an interesting relationship between politics and an


attempt to manipulate the news agenda, which you know all too well


about. I do, but I think the relationship between media and


politics, let me give you one example. You look at this wall,


there is more media than ever. Even on the Daily Mirror two reporters


had a job covering parliament, we now have shows thousand -- thousands


of showers of parliament and nobody is covering it. There is nobody on


the benches either half the time? Agree there is an issue about


political reporting. We have the parliament channel nobody watches.


Part of the job is to say it is not just about sales and ratings, we are


part of an important process involving the public. Politicians


have to not play the game with creating little policy ideas. They


wouldn't do that if they felt they were forced on to the agenda. Go to


more mature countries you will find less going on. Can I bring it back


to the viewers and every week we have people who e-mail in and I


think your book implies people feel helpless and are some how


manipulated by this. Social media gives them a big voice. We put too


much emphasis on social media, most people aren't on there. Most young


people are not watching the BBC. The media have a short attention span,


we move on now. You can always contact Newswatch and complain about


bad coverage and we will tackle it with BBC boss, the editor of


Newsnight has yet to commit to a date. If he doesn't come, I will. We


want the editor. You may recall a few months ago Newsnight reported on


police investigations into a Pakistani political party called the


MQM, with headquarters in North London. The MQM represents Muslims


who arrived in Pakistan during the creation of their country in 1947.


The leader of the MQM has been accused of involvement in 30 murders


in Pakistan. Yet he maintains total control of the party and 19 members


in the parliament there, all from British soil. As we have discovered,


that intense investigation into the MQC is putting the party under


intense pressure. An office in Karachi. A college in East London.


And a murder in Edgware. The British Police are trying to work out


possible connections. A Pakistani politician is complaining of British


Police harassment. Altaf Hussein has lived in North London for over 20


years. He has been accused in numerous murder cases back home.


When he gives a speech down a telephone line to Karachi, thousands


gather to listen. It is remote control politics. As the MQM leader,


he's a hugely powerful figure in Karachi, representing, he says, the


secular middle-classes. And he's not happy with the investigation into


the murder of one of his party officials Imran Farooq. A senior MQM


official, he was bludgeoned and stabbed to death after walking to


his home in September 2010. It has been a massive investigation, more


than 4,000 people have been interviewed. And for months now


Altaf husband tain -- Hussein has been complaining.


MQM officials say they want to co-operate with the murder inquiry,


but complain of police harassment. The only person so far arrested in


the case is Altaf's nephew, who is now on police bail. He was arrested


on suspicion of conspiracy to murder. Police believe the case will


be unlocked in Pakistan. Officially the police will neither confirm nor


deny that they have asked for Pakistani assistance in the case.


But Newsnight has learned that the UK Crown Prosecution Service has


formally requested that Pakistan give access to two suspects, and


documents obtained from Pakistan named them. As Mr Saied and a Mr


Khan Camran. The two men flew from Pakistan to London. The first to


come Mr Saied, arrived in the UK in February 2010. He stayed first in


Tooting and then in a bedsit in this North London street. Mr Khan Kamran


came a few days before the killing. Phone records show he was with Mr


Saied the whole time in the UK. On the evening of the murder they left


from Heathrow to Sri Lanka and then on to Karachi, where the Pakistani


authorities picked them up on the airport tarmac. It is thought they


are still being detained in Pakistan. So how did they get to the


UK? The two suspects applied to study at this East London college.


The rules say that non-attending students must be reported within


days of going missing. And yet the college, which enjoys official "most


trusted status" for sponsoring students, said for one of the men it


waited 18 months before making a report to the UK authorities. The


college says it has been asked to explain this and has done so. The


Home Office refuses to say whether the college kept to the rules, it


just says it is not currently being investigated. So, how did the two


men get the visas? Documents obtained by Newsnight say the visas


were endorsed by a Karachi businessman, Mr Khan, who was in


regular contact with Mr Hussein's nephew throughout 2010, the visas


were then processed by Atif Siddique. He told Newsnight he was


not an agent of the college and didn't know either of the suspect,


and Mr Ali Khan did not respond to our request for comment. And the MQM


denies any link with the murder case. There are raids against MQM


leadership, all the people in MQM and what would you expect Mr Hussein


to say, what would a reasonable man in Britain say? Therefore I would


tend to think there is one very important aspect which maybe the


authorities and police are overlooking and that is perhaps a


possibility that this murder of Dr Imran Farooq could be a spoiled


mugging or it could well be that it is some conspiracy hatched by our


political enemies abroad. It is very easily they are attempting to slap


the blame on us. It is only fair to point out that a nephew of Mr


Hussein has been arrested in connection with the murder inquiry.


May I say this again, that is primarily because wrong information


has been fed and that nephew that you are talking about, he faced a


lot of atrocities at the hands of the authorities in Pakistan. He


himself is not a person who is really with himself, mentally. The


MQM faces multiple investigations. One is into Altaf Hussein's speeches


in the UK. More than 10,000 people have complained to the Met about


these kinds of threats. The Met says it is still considering the issue of


whether these statements amount to incitement. Then there is the matter


of nearly half a million in cash found in Mr Hussein's home and the


party headquarters. Last month the police arrested a long-serving party


official in connection with possible money laundering. Many of the


party's UK bank accounts have been closed down and there is unpaid tax,


MQM insiders admit they face a massive back tax bill. The MQM is


under real pressure now and the question is whether they the


Pakistan Government will give access to the two suspects. Politically


Altaf Hussein's supporters say his power base is intact, but his


opponents say his grip on Karachi is loosening.


Now a poll carried out for Newsnight and released tonight shows that over


a quarter of women claim to have been sexually harassed at work, on


the street or in a social situation. Over half of those questioned about


harassment at work thought the best thing to do was to deal with it


themselves and respond immediately, 37% felt it worth involving an


employer, 6% they would prefer a legal response. The poll in which


over 800 women were questioned was conducted just after the Liberal


Democrats embarrassment over the Lord Rennard affair. More than a


third of the participants found the party less attractive because of the


way it handled the allegations, almost half weren't so bothered.


Here to discuss this is Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism


Project. And the journalist Dame Ann Leslie. Are you surprised Laura at


the size of the sample of women who felt they had been harassed? No, if


anything only surprised that it sounds a little bit low to me. But I


think that might be partly because no under 18s were questioned in this


survey, and sadly the reality is that a lot of the people reporting


sexual harassment to us are actually schoolgirls in their school uniform.


It is something that happens at an incredibly young age. What did you


make of this proportion, about a quarter of the women surveyed?


Again, you know the whole thing is a question of gender and time, because


in my youth, of course, a quarter, is nothing. It was 100%, for


heaven's sake, I spent a lot of my youth when I was young and gorgeous


like you being chased around the furniture by dirty old men. I took


it as that's what one did and occasionally of course I would stub


out a fag on wandering hand if it was getting a bit too far. But of


course in a way that kind of every day sexism, although it is very


annoying, and it is still annoying clearly wasn't as bad as the


institutional sexism. For example at 22 I was very successful already and


earning a lot of money, and I was forbidden from getting a mortgage


because I was a single woman and I was told things like, why don't you


get a nice man to look after all that. You know. That sort of thing.


So I sometimes think people like you, although I think you are


wonderful and I wouldn't dream of criticising a sister or any fellow


sisters I just think sometimes... But here it comes! Sometimes you


don't realise how silly it can sometimes seem. People I know who


say I'm sexually harassed because someone says that's a nice dress.


That is not sexual harassment. No sexual harassment. We are not


complaining about compliments, we are talking about something quite


extreme here, the fact that things have moved on for women is


wonderful, why should that mean we shouldn't tackle it. Over a quarter


of women is a huge figure, why do we keep coming back to this idea of


women shouldn't be overreacting, women shouldn't this and that, why


aren't we stopping and ask why are men doing this. Men or women or


children or anybody should not because that way perdecision lies,


all I'm saying is sometimes I think when women particularly, because of


course we are women, whingeing away, moaning away on television, when


actually I think the worse problem at the moment facing society is poor


white boys, who underachieve in class, they are also the great


sexual harassers. That is a serious problem, but it is another problem


than the one we are talking about right now. It is related. And


serious. This is why the schools. Serious sexual harassment is a


serious matter isn't it? It is very annoying. There is a problem with


definition here? It is not about whingeing or moaning, we are talking


about sexual harassment, that is something, this isn't a women's


issue, this is something nobody should have to put up with. Which is


why I brought up young boys, you talked about school girls who are so


pressured, these young boys who see a lot of television, a lot of porn,


they think that young, of course their testosterone is at their peak,


they think these girls should be available. I absolutely think it is


not just a question of women it is a question of boys, particularly.


Where do you think those boys are getting those messages from, I


agree. That is not really what we are talking about here, and it is


interesting that when sexual harassment comes up, particularly to


do with women, the response very often is this kind of let's talk


about other problems, let's say there is more serious things going


on. But I just think you know why don't we actually stop and instead


of looking at the victims at all, say shall we talk about the


perpetrators, why are people doing this. Let's look at that. We have


just been doing that. Let's look at the second part of this survey, the


first question was extremely difficultly worded I think, but the


question as to what women thought was the appropriate thing to do,


that an immediate, far higher proportion thought the things to do


was give an immediate response and a smaller proportion thought you took


it up with your employer or whatever. What do you make of that?


I think that is partly because a lot of women are operating currently in


a world where people aren't taken when they try to report things. As


we have seen in the media response to the recent allegation, instead of


taking it seriously and dealing with it, things are brushed off and swept


under the car at the time pet. We receive a huge -- carpet, we receive


a huge amount of women trying to report it to HR, they are told not


to make a fuss and see how it could impact on their career. And many


women are not in a situation where there is a HR department to go for.


We have heard from waitresses who have been told to choose between


getting an abortion or resigning when getting pregnant. Women in the


service industry getting groped and assaulted, there is nobody to be


report it to. Need to look at the perpetrators. I know it is unfair,


because you know my grandmother who was brilliant and you know passed


all, it was a long time ago, she was a brilliant mathematician, she went


to Cambridge, she passed absolutely the top but Cambridge did not allow


women to get degrees. So of course and then I'm not quite as old as she


was, of course there were things against me. And I just sometimes


wonder if women who go on and on and on about the natural interaction,


natural I'm afraid, of folks at bars and parties in that particular


survey that they were sexually harassed, there is some pest there,


they can push them off, you know. Why are we going on. They shouldn't


have to Anne. Why not. You are talking about natural interaction,


sexual harassment is about unwanted behaviour. Of course a lot of


unnatural interaction is unwanted. I'm sure you have had a period in


your time. I tell you what we're going to the credits now. You are


not going to confess when you were unwanted. Kirsty has the pleasure


tomorrow until then good night.


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