25/02/2014 Newsnight


Unite's McCluskey on coalition. Harman paedophile row. No trial for alleged IRA bomber. Conflict gold. Spitting Image anniversary. With Jeremy Paxman.

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Tonight on Newsnight: If they are the biggest party my view is Ed


should have the courage of his conviction and govern on a minority


governance. The Hyde Park bombing killed four


British soldiers and injured many others. Today one of the men accused


of planting the bomb walked out of court because of assurances given by


the British Government. What's going on?


Tonight, the Prime Minister... Poor Eric, I knew him well.


It's 30 years since Spitting Image began. Perpetrators and victims join


us for a memorial service for television satire.


Own joy coalition Government while you can you Liberal Democrats.


Sources in the Conservative Party suggest David Cameron is going to


rule out another coalition after the next election. Of course, there is


the possibility of a deal with Ed Miliband's Labour Party. But not if


the General Secretary of Unite, the biggest union in this country has


anything to do with it. They pay a fifth of Labour's bills. The union


has been blamed for the shambolic confrontation at the Grangemouth


refinery and for trying to fix the by-election in the safe Labour seat


of Falkirk last year. Len McCluskey has inherited the media's


traditional bogey man costume worn by people like Arthur Scargill. I


spoke to him this evening. Len McCluskey they say that David


Cameron is about to make a speech in which he will rule out a coalition


with the Lib Dems. Should Ed Miliband do the same? Yes, I think


he should. I mean I think one of the things that people are looking for


is something different and I'm afraid that's the reason why


politicians are not particularly popular at the moment is people


don't see any difference. So they're looking for people who have courage


of their convictions. Labour, I hope, win the next election


outright, but if they are the biggest party then my view is Ed


should have the courage of his conviction and govern on a minority


Government. When you look at what happened to


the Labour Party over the last year or so, after the Falkirk business.


And the reform of the role of the trade unions in the choosing of a


leader. Are you going to advice your members they should become associate


or affiliate members of the Labour Party? Yes. We are very much central


to Unite's political strategy is to persuade our members to join the


Labour Party and participate in politics so that the views and


thoughts and aspirations of trade unionists, ie collectism and


solidarity are at the core of Labour Party poll policy. So you could have


more power at the end of this, couldn't you? We certainly could, if


we work hard enough and Unite intends to. We intend to go out and


persuade our members actively through a host of different mediums


to join the Labour Party, to actively engage with the party


because, of course, we believe in recent years, the Labour Party has


lost the values that trade unionists bring to the party and we want to


have more influence in our party. When you look at what happened in


the Falkirk by-election, where members were recruited without their


knowledge, members were pressured into completing direct debit forms


and signatures forged? Jeremy, that's not true. You are repeating


stuff that didn't happen. That's the internal investigation of the Labour


Party? The internal investigation of the Labour Party resulted in the


Labour Party announcing that there was no wrongdoing. You recall,


Jeremy and this is important, last summer, I made it clear that Unite


had done nothing wrong and I called for an independent inquiry and the


Labour Party accepted that now and perhaps more importantly, police


Scotland made it clear there was no wrongdoing.


Can I ask you about the MPs that you sponsor? How many are there? Well,


when you say sponsor, actually we don't sponsor MPs. That's not


allowed in the Labour Party. We have constituency development plans and


we are reviewing them. I think at the last count we probably had maybe


102 Labour MPs who are members of Unite. What do you expect from them?


We expect them to represent their constituencies. We hope in


representing their constituencies that will correspond with many of


the aspirations of trade unionists. You are fillan tra fists are you? It


is our party. We created it. We want our party to be successful so the


voice of ordinary working people can be heard. There is nothing


complicated about that. Why do you think so many of your members appear


to be voting for UKIP? Because we are a free and independent union. A


number of our members can vote whichever way they want. You don't


want them to and they are, they are voting for UKIP? There is nothing


unusual wrong. It is called democracy. I know the Daily Mail


would have you believe that Len McCluskey flicks a switch and one


and-and-a-half million Unite members vote a particular way of the it is


not like that. We are the big society and we are diverse in every


sense of the word and of course, our members make their choices. Our


polls tell us that 53% of our current membership will vote Labour,


but UKIP, twice as many of our members will vote UKIP as they will


the Conservative Party. That's their view and that reflects what's


happening within... How can they be a member of your party and believe


in UKIP? But they are not... A member of your union and vote UKIP?


We have got individual, our members, who vote Conservative. We have got


Conservative MPs who are members of Unite. Have you? Yes, we have


indeed. You mentioned the right-wing media. What's it like being seen as


an ogre? It is not particularly nice and it is not nice for friends and


family to see you that way. Sometimes I have to wear it as a


badge of honour and my members are the ones that I'm responsible to.


They pay my wages and I have to make certain that anything I am saying is


ensuring what they -- is in tune of what they believe and what the


leadership is saying. I draw sustenance from that. Some of the


attacks I read and they don't resemble me. Do they upset you? Not


particularly. I'm a sensitive guy. You are loving it, aren't you? I'm


not so much loving it. You are attacked by your enemies and you can


scratch your head and think maybe I'm doing the right thing. Len


McCluskey, thank you. Well, here to discuss all that is


Laura Kuenssberg. On this question of coalition, both David Cameron is


going to talk about it. There is advice for Ed Miliband. Why is it so


current? Well, it is fascinating. We are just over a year before the next


election and we are in a new world. We are in the pre-election coalition


bartering before there may or may not be any real negotiations about


coalition and the people on the sidelines, powerful people on the


sidelines like Len McCluskey want to get their demands out there and


David Cameron is reported to be saying he will rule out coalition,


but the Number Ten position is not that and there has been a bit of


cold water poured on that today in Westminster. But I think really we


need to think about the ambitions here and the reality, the ambition


for the Labour and Conservative Parties is outright victory. They bo


know they are likely to end up in a messier situation, but the other


realities are do existing ministers, Conservative or Liberal Democrat,


want to carry on being ministers? Absolutely. Do Labour MPs want to be


ministers when they grow up one day? Absolutely and do backbenchers in


the Liberal Democrat parties want to be ministers? Absolutely. They will


have to deal with the reality of the arrit a arithmetic of the election.


This hasn't been your main Business Today. Your main businesstoday is


trying to find out more after the mess you made last night with


Harriet Harman's interview? Well, this time last night Harriet Harman


went on the record after days of allegations about her involvement


when she worked at the National Council for Civil Liberties and a


group called the Paedophile Information Exchange. She has always


denied they had any influence over policy, but she did today regret


that there had been a link between the two organisations, but we were


able to go into the National Council's archives today to look at


how the groups were linked. Opening up the files, opening up the


past, some of the papers from the National Council for Civil Liberties


history. History shared by the deputy Labour leader, shared too by


characters she might rather forget. Some of the documents are in Harriet


Harman's own handwriting and these files illustrate just how hard she


and other campaigners are worked on some of the defining issues of the


day like equal rights for gay people. But what's also shown in the


documents is that the Paedophile Information Exchange was part of the


conversation that took place at the National Council for Civil


Liberties. Despite countless documents from the


paedophile group in the archives, Harriet Harman is adamant she was


never influenced by them. Insistent the attempts by them to infill


straight had no -- infiltrate had no impact and regrets the link. I'm not


going to apologise. I regret this vile organisation ever existed and


it ever had anything to do with NCCL, but it did not affect my work


at NCCL. They were pushed to the margins before I went to NCCL and to


allege I was involved in collusion or paedophilia or apologising for


paedophilia is wrong and is a smear. Harriet Harman continued her


campaign against The Mail's use of pictures of scantly clad young women


using the digital pages of a Twitter. One of her senior Labour


colleagues told me they were amazed that Harriet Harman refused to admit


the affiliation when the paedophile group and her employer had been a


mistake. Members of the public objected to the paedophile


exchange's existence, never mind their campaigning. Jack Dromey has


been one of the leading figures in the campaign against the Act.


Harriet Harman says her husband, Jack Dromey, now also a Shadow


minister, had squeezed out the group's influence before she even


arrived at the National Council in 1978. Records from the time show


they were one of dozens of organisations pushing for gay


rights. But could a paedophile organisation really have been just


another name on the list? Harriet Harman told us last night


that the Paedophile Information Exchange was just one of more than


1,000 groups that was affiliated to the National Council for Civil


Liberties. She said its work was never influenced by that group. But


this list we found shows the leader of the Paedophile Information


Exchange had a position on the NCCL's gay rights committee. Sources


close to Harriet Harman say paedophile hijacked the committee in


the 19 70s and one of her former colleagues told me their agenda was


never shared, let alone promoted. We had a lot more important things to


do. It was not an influential organisation. It did not have any


influential. It did not have any status and that's the way it was.


The way it was, went too far for one Labour MP. It is hard to believe


now, but they thought it was progressive. They had to take on the


board the views of paedophiles. It seems extraordinary in this day and


age, but that's what was happening through the 1970 s and into the


1980s. Ed Miliband is backing Harriet Harman. The most senior


woman on his frontbench, but the record of this episode has not yet


been left to gather dust. Well, with us now from Washington is


Professor Lawrence Gostin. He is adviser to President Obama, but


between 1983 to 1985, he was General Secretary of the National Council


for Civil Liberties, the organisation that's been attracting


so much heat if not light in the last few days. Professor Lawrence


Gostin what was an organisation like the Paedophile Information Exchange


doing with the NCCL? Well, it was an affiliate


organisation. When I came to NCCL it had been, but I think Harriet Harman


is correct, it did not at least in my time have any influence on policy


and I've always drawn a distinction I would be horrified if NCCL or


Liberty were to take the position of the Paedophile Information Exchange


because I think that children are vulnerable. They need to be


protected, but it is the role of a civil liberties organisation to


defend freedom of expression and to discuss those things in the Press,


in Parliament are what a civil liberties organisation should do.


Not to take the side, but to defend freedom of expression because that's


what civil liberties do, they are party political neutral and they


defend the right to freedom of expression.


OK, we will come to that in a moment or two. Can I clarify one thing? Is


it possible that Harriet Harman was unaware of the presence of the


Paedophile Information Exchange within the NCCL?


I wouldn't have thought so and my understanding is that Harriet has


not said she was not aware of it, she was saying there was no


influence by it in the policies of NCCL and that would be correct.


Isn't it also the case that Mr Tom O'carroll sat on the NCCL's gay


rights group? Well, I don't recall that. I don't recall it. It probably


did occur and you know, it is important to make the distinction


though, a human being, it is the Paedophile Information Exchange or


it is about information, it is not the act and so I don't see a


contradiction defending the information. It is defending the act


that I worry about. Sharing information between people


who practise the act Orban are interested in the act, is


objectionable, isn't it? You know, there are so many things


that I find actionable. I find neo-Nazi rhetoric objectionable. I


find discussion about race is horrible. Do I think that


paedophilia is horrible? Absolutely. It is unconscionable. But the


discussion of it in a free society does need to be defended. That is


why you have civil liberties organisations, to defend that. At


this time, your belief was what? I disagree with what you say, but I


will defend to the death your right to say it? That was the principal?


That is a core principle of civil liberties organisation. In a society


when people are always willing to condemn , what can't be condemned is


the right of speech. If a journalist were to discuss views on both sides


about any horrible issue, you would defend that. Every human being,


every citizen, has the right to speak. That is not the right to act.


There is a very strong line between the two. I would be appalled if NCCL


or Liberty or the American Civil Liberties Union were to take the


position that it was all right, we had to lower the age of consent. But


to defend the right of all sides to openly in a free and fair society to


discuss it, yes. In fact if you look at the European Union member states,


there are wide variations is to the age of consent for sex. It is


something that different societies have a friend views on. My own view


is very strongly that a young person cannot consent because there is an


imbalance of power, and I am very much opposed to it. But would I be


opposed to somebody speaking about it? No, I would have to defend that.


Someone in the administration of UK Justice has blundered. Big-time.


They gave an assurance to a former IRA man that he wasn't wanted by the


police. When he then passed through Britain last spring on his way to a


holiday in Greece, he was arrested and charged with the murder of four


soldiers killed in the Hyde Park bombings of 1982. His defence argued


that the trial shouldn't go ahead because of the letter he'd been


sent. The judge agreed. Jim Reed reports.


The first blast killed two soldiers and hurt 23. A second explosion less


than two hours later left six dead as 24 injured. The images are some


of the most graphic of the IRA's mainland arming campaign. Today, the


man suspected of planting that first bomb walked free from court. The


case against John Downey collapse after he was sent what amounted to


an immunity letter by mistake. The police service of Northern Ireland


wrote to him saying: But Mr Downey, who has always denied


murder, was still wanted by the Met police in connection with the


bombing when he flew into Gatwick Airport last year on his way to


Greece, and he was arrested. The judge ruled that the letter meant he


could not be prosecuted. The decision was welcomed by Sinn Fein.


It was the decision we were expecting. John Downey should never


have been arrested. I welcome the fact that he is now released and


free to go home. You said this was the result of an agreement tween


Sinn Fein and the government? This was part of the Good Friday


agreement. The police service of Northern Ireland apologised for what


the judge called a catastrophic failure in sending out the letter.


That should only happen if there was no realistic chance of conviction.


Through this case it emerged that another 186 selected IRA members


have been sent similar assurances. When the Good Friday agreement was


signed, one aspect was so contentious, it couldn't be dealt


with at the time. Republicans wanted by the authorities but living free


outside Northern Ireland. In 2005, Peter Hain try to legislate to clear


up their status, but the new law was rejected by Sinn Fein because any


protection from prosecution would also have covered British soldiers.


Peter Hain was accused by unionists of doing a deal behind their back by


sending out secret assurances. Everybody knew that we had to deal


with this anomaly. It was before Parliament. And then Sinn Fein, who


had asked us to introduce this legislation, withdrew their support


for it when they knew it would apply to British soldiers as well. And


when that report was withdrawn, was it acceptable to say that we would


have an agreement behind closed doors where letters were sent out


rather than something in the open? How do you solve conflict? How do


you end wars and terrorism except by negotiating a solution. There was


nothing secret about this. The public didn't know. The public knew


that there was this anomaly because we tried to introduce it legislated


Lee. When that wasn't possible, what was the answer? Does anybody really


think it would be better to go back to the war and the terrorism and the


horror of Northern Ireland in the past, or to have us where we are


now? For the families of victims, all talk of deals might not mean


much. 32 years after the Hyde Park bombing, a monumental blunder, they


say, has robbed them of any chance of justice.


The lady is for returning! Karl Marx once wisely observed that


while gold and silver may not naturally be money, money is by


nature gold and silver. Gold is also present in devices like mobile


phones. But how to ensure that money spent on a phone doesn't end up


funding armed groups involved in atrocities like killing civilians or


mass rape? Not very easily is the short answer, especially if the gold


you bought went through Dubai. A former partner of Ernst Young has


told Newsnight he audited the biggest refiner there and found


clear breaches of international rules designed to stop the trade in


"conflict gold". After his firm - slogan "building a better working


world" - turned a blind eye, he resigned, taking his story to the


campaigning NGO Global Witness, who passed documents to Newsnight, Al


Jazeera and the Guardian. Andy Verity's been investigating.


Forget blood diamonds. Is the gold on your finger, around your neck or


in your smartphone tainted with blood? In the eastern Congo, abusive


armed groups exploit more than 400 gold mines. Extracted under harsh


conditions, it is smuggled out in pockets and plastic bags across


porous borders to Uganda and Burundi, out to the rest of the


world. And unlike these pale imitations, they could be sold to


you with no trace of its origin. Millions of people have died in


eastern Congo from this war, and it is funded by minerals, including


gold. This conflict gold is entering the global supply chain.


We've learned that auditors from Ernst Young found that Dubai's


biggest refiner, Kaloti, was failing to carry out all the checks on its


supply. They alerted the regulator in Dubai, but the regulator changed


its audit procedures to ally the most serious findings to be hidden


from the gold buying public, and Ernst Young's managers went along


with that. The auditor resigned and went on the record to tell me why. I


wouldn't be able to live with myself. I wouldn't be able to come


back home and look at my children and look them in the eye. Dubai has


turned itself into an extravagantly glamorous destination for business


people and holiday-makers. According to Global Witness and the United


Nations, it is also big destination for conflict gold.


With about a fifth of the world's trading physical gold, that is an


image Dubai doesn't want. So it's metals regulator adopted


international standards to show that traders were checking their gold


supply thoroughly. There would be a third party auditor to check up on


them, someone respectable like Ernst them, someone respectable like Ernst


Young. Refiners are the choke point in the supply chain. They have


an important role to play and must carry out checks all the way up the


chain to the mine to find out what conditions of extraction work,


whether the gold has funded conflict and what has happened along the way.


A year ago, Ernst Young's auditors came to this cull of the refinery in


Sharjah to find out how carefully it was checking up on its suppliers.


Kaloti's managers hadn't bargained on how thorough the audit would be.


During the course of the audit, we do started discovering disturbing


findings such as cash transactions of over $5 billion by one refiner in


one year. We found tonnes of gold bars coated silver, smuggled out


through Morocco. As well as failure to verify the sources of high risk


gold. One supplier had even been linked


indirectly with armed rebels in eastern Congo, and later, Kaloti


told them that paying for gold painted silver was normal. To the


auditors, it was the worst sort of breach, classified as zero


tolerance. Kaloti is on the 35th floor, and the regulator, on the


first floor. Mr Rihan said it was far from keen on publicly shaming it


upstairs neighbour. In May, the Dubai regulator's guidance required


details of the auditor's findings to be made public, but the findings


disappeared. Mr Rihan says that he believes the moving of the goalposts


was no coincidence. Our final could lose in which state that the risk of


conflict minerals entering Dubai is extremely high. So eight by having


-- a Dubai -based regulator would not be happy. They went ahead and


change their own guidelines in such a way that our findings and our


final conclusions are not made public.


The Dubai regulator denies changing its rules to keep the detail of the


damaging findings out of public view. It says the rule changes were


based on a consultant's advice and in line with international


standards. Ernst Young's own code of conduct says its staff don't hide


from or ignore issues. Concerned his firm was letting a cover-up take


place, Mr Rihan wrote to Mark Otty, urging him to public the findings --


publicise the findings. Since we were auditing, the guidelines say


that the auditor shall notify the UK-based regulator within 24 hours.


So I notified Ernst Young about that, and they decided not to notify


the UK-based auditor. Ernst Young's managers said the firm


wasn't required to notify the UK regulator, and claimed it would be a


breach of confidentiality to do so. These confidential documents show


that the audit team's findings were initially accepted by the refiner


Kaloti, which privately acknowledged there had been a zero tolerance


breach of the rules. But in November, after the goalposts were


moved, Kaloti was able to declare itself fully compliant, and Ernst


Young endorsed that is a fair view. Once melted, gold is clean. It can


be sold to jewellery manufacturers, banks or governments, and if it has


a murky origin, customers will be none the wiser. If refiners do not


ask the right questions, the whole regime for cracking down on conflict


gold simply doesn't work. Kaloti, the DMCC and Ernst Young all say


they acted properly. Kaloti said allegations of non-compliance were


without merit and it has adhered to all regulatory requirements. The


DMCC say they haven't concealed any breaches or sought to influence


Ernst Young. They claim their sourcing guidelines were not altered


to favour any refinery or interfere with the audit process. Ernst


Young Dubai say they did highly professional work in auditing Kaloti


and have secured improvements in supply chains. Instances of


non-compliance were fully reported to the regulator and client and


corrected. They say they took the views of Mr Rihan seriously and


acted on expert advice. 30 years ago this week the then


Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, seized control of British


television. Every Sunday night for a few weeks and then for several years


afterwards, she and John Major and a leather jacketed Norman Tebbit and


assorted vegetables had the undivided attention of anyone who


believed that while the first duty of democratic citizens may be to


choose their rulers, the second is to hold them in healthy contempt.


Spitting Image and its bestiary made the careers of some satirists and


finished those of some self-important politicians. Anthony


Wall, editor of the BBC's Arena programme, has just finished a


documentary about it. We asked him to take a look for us. His report


contains flash photography. Say it to the whole Cabinet. Speak


up, man. Say what you mean. You are not on the platform now. Nigel


pinched my pen. Nigel, is this true? I know my policy on stealing from


one's friends. Cabinet what do we call it when people go around


stealing other people's property? You? A free-market economy. Rubbish.


What do we call it David? Socialism. Well done, David. It knew no


mercenary from 1984 to 1986, spitting image savaged politicians


and anyone unlucky to get in its way. The show brought politics to a


mass audience. It connected young people in numbers not seen before or


since. If the satire of the 60s was broadsheet about issues, this was


tabloid. Margaret Thatcher returns to Downing Street... Spitting image


was born in a time of upheaval. Thatcher's was the most unpopular


Government of the century. The show's rejection of deference. No


one was safe. Not even the Queen. I name this baby Henry. May God bless


him and all who sail in him. Hello, how marvellous to talk down to you.


Politicians became defined by their puppets. Thatcher's iron grip on


power became a sign of the times. Tomorrow belongs to me. Yes. John


Major. You are still in the shit. Who do you blame? John Major was


painted grey in the public imagination. What happens if we lose


the next election? We'll merge, David. The leader of the Liberal


Party, David Steel was never able to recover from the portrayal of him as


squeezy voiced and tiny, in the pocket of STP founder David Owen.


S magic was in the production. Characturists combined with John


Lloyd and brought the puppets to life. Spitting Image became English


characture and Punch and Judy. Most of the production team were


television amateurs, but the product was a work of genius. By the way


Norman, how are your children? Delicious, thank you. Clearly,


Norman you are a sight. Let me get you someone to blow your nose on. I


committed ?60,000 to a pilot. ?60,000 at the time was a lot of


money. It was more than you would commit to a game show pilot. It was


getting towards drama money. You have to go further than that to get


people's attention. Just cut in a style that will be upon lard. --


popular. Certainly, madam. Some worry that satire today lost its


poke, it doesn't deliver the goods like Thatcher and her enemies. As


media proliferated so have the spindoctors and back room flunkies


whose job it to protect their master from scrutiny. Satirists today have


to fire at more bleak targets. Are you saying I am no longer allowed to


make media appearances? Correct. Peu was going to say, I don't think that


war is unforeseeable. What is it then? Foreseeable. You want fucking


declare a war. It is not inevitable, but not -- - you better work on this


fucking line. Politicians r Politicians have had to give up


control of air their image. If you have lost your trust, that's how I


hope we can start to win it back. What's exciting now is the immediacy


of satire. Because of the internet, because of Twitter, everyone can be


a satirist now. When you look at Sit Spitting Inlg Image, if you are


outside it then you can't do satire. Now, because it is democratised


anyone can do satire. Every politician is a weasel. Every celeb


fair game. No one enjoys immunity from the tweet. Spitting Image did


more than most to dig the grave. In your opinion who but the bump in the


bump... Single mothers. Joining me now are John Lloyd,


producer of comedy programmes including Spitting Image, Blackadder


and QI. Edwina Currie was Parliamentary


Under Secretary for Health under Margaret Thatcher and also famously


portrayed as a vampire and Rory Bremner, comedian and impressionist.


You didn't really hate your characture did you, you have got it


here? She is here. She is beautiful. Which one is which? Shut up. She is


smiling. She is in better shape than yours, Jeremy. When I saw her, I


thought well I am not too bad, but she has crossed teeth and I went


straight to the dentist! Did it hurt you when you saw yourself par dayed


like that? Everybody who was not on it wanted to be on it and everybody


who was on it sort of half wished they weren't. But at least it was


recognition. John Lloyd, do you think that affection like that draws


the teeth of satire? Well, it is a complicated thing. The thing that I


think is, as you have seen from the clips, the forgiving, the forgivable


thing about Spitting Image, it is funny. It was breath takingly


outrageously rude, but likeable. I was talking to a young Scottish


journalist today who said seeing Major's puppet in grey was the first


time he liked him. It had a peculiar thing. Norman Tebbit who is the


villain in the leather jacket who once drank soup made from a human


body because if the unemployed are so hungry why don't they eat


themselves? He comes across, you can't help liking him. He is a


pantomime villain really. What happened to it all? That's a good


question. Margaret Thatcher, you got to say Meryl Streep let herself go a


bit! Television has changed and people aren't commissioning satire.


The commissioners I don't think they get it. In some ways, they don't


understand satire. The culture has changed. The culture has changed, we


are in the era of banter. It is banter everywhere and Twitter and it


is immediate and it is more aggressive. It is a different kind


of culture and the politics has changed and the politicians seem to


have so much power. There is a lot of them that are quite nonentities


in your time, one of the great achievements of Spitting Image was


making household characters. They were hardly all brilliant figures,


but Spitting Image managed to make them recognisable. They were more


interesting. When we built the Cabinet, Charles Denton, the


programme controller, somebody said, "Why are you building these people?


Nobody knows who they are except for Mrs That thatcher." -- Mrs


Thatcher." I said they soon will. That's why the politicians liked it


because if you were on, you would be recognised everywhere and you would


be taken a lot more seriously because you were on the programme.


You were taken seriously despite being charactured as a vampire? I


think I was taken seriously anyway. It had an affect because it sent you


to the dentist? Margaret saw the characture of her with the mannish


voice and the masculine suits and she thought goed idea and she


changed. She became much less masculine and did very well at the


next election. What about the vegetables They did the same! In t


1960s Mike Yard, people would tune in and they would see their


politicians in a funny light or a lampoony light and they would


recognise who they were. We had the same thing with Alastair Campbell,


we said we've got to do Alastair Campbell. People said who is


Alastair Campbell and people won't know. People used to write to John


and to us saying we learnt our politics from your programme.


Newsnight doesn't get 12 or 15 million people like... In our


dreams, I think. Do you remember Sir Robert Armstrong... With the


actualality? We had a tip-off from Paul Foot saying this bloke Robert


Armstrong is going to do something terrible tun of these dayings, done


of these -- one of these days. We kept him in a cupboard and when he


did his thing Spitting Image was off air. It was the most infuriating


thing. With the current bunch of politicians, they seem a rather


colourless lot, don't they? Would it be possible to satirise them? I


pinched Rory's line when they said can you do Nick Clegg's voice and


they said even Nick Clegg can't do his voice! There is the spindoctory


thing is good. Watching your films earlier today, politicians don't


wear the right tie anymore. They used to know who they were because


Tories were proud to wear a blue tie and Labour wore red ones. I am a


soft Tory or time a tough Labour guy and everybody is so charming and


reasonable and what we liked at Spitting Image, the Tories were


conviction politicians, they said what they meant and they didn't care


what anyone thought and we were the same as television makers. We didn't


give a hoot what the newspapers thought. We wanted to do a


programme, it was terrific and stand-by it and so we fitted each


other. Conviction politics, and conviction television, you get


neither now. You are nodding away? He is right. What Spitting Image did


for many of the viewers, it made politics real.


I think it was true. It would be great to see something like that


today. You could have all the main politicians just as dare I say it,


just as faceless eggs or something, couldn't you? For Michael Gove he


could be his own puppet! We have conviction politicians now. We have


politicians who have convictions like Chris Huhne and Denis MacShane.


John said before that you do need satire needs a strong politicians,


but that's good for politics as well. The three most outspoken, the


most self characturing politicians are Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, and


Nigel Farrage. Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage are two of the most


popular politicians in the country. I think Spitting Image. I heard of a


headmaster sacked after a year in the job, he wasn't sure why he was


sacked and the governor said because you haven't managed to acquire a


nickname! He didn't have an impact and that's


the thing because politicians from Spitting Image knew who they were.


One of the reasons why politicians are not nearly as well trusted as


they have been in previous again raugsz, they are trying --


generations, they are trying to be like each other and the public don't


believe they would do the same if they got into power, they think


there are differences and there is a degree of hypocrisy and Spitting


Image identifies what they believe in. What they would really do and


puts it double sized onhe screen. Do you think Spitting Image would be


commissioned now? I don't think that there is any possibility. At the


peak of my time, when it was number three in the ratings, getting 15


million viewers, it was the most expensive light entertainment show


on television, but it was also the most profitable, because they were


selling the brakes for huge amount of money. People are prepared to


spend tens of millions on a series to get enormous sales. Now everybody


wants a little budget and a little result. As programme makers, we used


to make programmes that we cared about and were responsible for, and


so many people are worrying about what the Daily Mail will think, so


you get programmes that are just all right. Do you see any sign of the


tide turning? I don't think so. Alistair McGowan and Ronnie Ancona


were talking about doing a satire programme, and they said, it needs


to have a political edge, and you could feel the temperature in the


room drop. People said, this is BBC One we are talking about. That is


the climate amongst the commissioners. They are scared of


politics? Yes, I think the thing that politicians are the people they


talk to about the next round of broadcast legislation. That is self


censorship, exactly what Spitting Image was against. And I think it is


healthy to have it out of the open. That is all for tonight. And


tomorrow night's show... The same left-wing Bolshevik


nonsense that is on the BBC every night! Well, no more. Tomorrow


belongs to me! We will be talking privatisation. You will be first,


Jeremy. And who are all these people? Look at all this


overmanning. Planning editor? What she do. Barton Macfarlane, he sounds


like the commonest. Who switched out the lights? Arthur Scargill?


Good evening. Wednesday is set to get off to a pretty chilly start.


Heavy showers will quickly


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