09/04/2014 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Jeremy Paxman.

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It's nearly three decades since he died in dreadful circumstances and


today the latest attempt to convict someone for his murder failed. Is it


now possible that no-one will ever be convicted for the very public


atrocity of the killing of PC Keith Blakelock. The Culture Secretary


resigned, she said, so as not to get in the way of Government business,


but is there a much bigger problem with the way the public sees the


whole political class? Can I ask you a quick question, what's the first


thing you think of when you hear the word "politician"? Crook! I do not


fear for my safety, I know they will kill me. I'm a true Muslim, I


believe my life and death is in the hands of Allah. That was four months


ago, and now he's dead. Are the Kenyan anti-terrorist police out of


control? So yet again the prosecuting authorities have failed


to get anyone convicted for one of the most notorious murders of the


last half century. Nearly 30 years after the event and despite the


presence of numerous witness, no-one has been brought to justice for the


murder of PC Keith Blakelock. The only convictions in the case were


quashed years ago, so long after the night, when a middle-aged police


constable, originally from Sunderland, was sent without riot


training or stab vest to a disturbance in Tottenham, the case


remains open. And they


They were all cheering and shouting Gladiatorial. They misread the anger


of the community, and when it erupted they were incapable of


dealing with it. Keith Blakelock's injuries were just horrific. I was


trying to do mouth-to-mouth and heart massage and keeping doing.


There is nothing that the police can do now it is time to say it is over.


28 years, three inquiries, 200 arrests and still no reliable


conviction. It now looks certain there will be no justice for what


happened that night in 1985. Back then Broadwater Farm Estate in


Tottenham was ablaze. Years of tension between the police and the


young black community had boiled over. The trigger, the death from a


heart attack of Cynthia Jarrett, as her home was searched after her


son's arrest. The police have always denied shoving her to the floor,


many on the estate thought they were lying. It started with rocks, then


bottles, then petrol bomb, thrown from tower blocks to the north, fire


engines were called as cars were set ablaze. Then smoke was spotted,


coming from the first floor supermarket in Tangmere Block,


firemen were sent up, protected by PC Keith Blakelock and three other


police officers. It was like somebody had scored a goal at the


football match, from deathly silence to the huge roar you get in a


stadium when somebody has scored a goal. We started being bombarded by


bottles and bricks and debris, all of a sudden just showering around


us. There was a load of people just all running around with crash


helmets on, scaraves over their face -- scarves over their face, all


holding various weapons and the like. I thought it has come to us


now. This is all kicking off. As the team came out of this stairwell,


they were petted from behind by bottles and missiles. They ran


through the dark which 28 years ago would have been a trip of grass to


the police vans on the main road. It must have been about this spot that


Keith Blakelock fell, he was surrounded. The attack lasted in


second, before his colleagues could turn back and he could be dragged


away. I turned around and he was completely gone from sight, covered


with people. I managed to get hold of Keith Blakelock's police


overcalls and started to pull him out from the crowd. Another police


officer had joined us and was doing the same thing with the other side


of his collar. I kept working on Keith, doing heart missage and


mouth-to-mouth with him all the way into the nearest hospital. Which


sadly not long after we arrived we got told that he had not survived.


The day after the murder a huge investigation got under way, within


weeks arrests were made and suspects were charged. But in the rush to


convict serious mistakes were made, mistakes which would damage the


reputation of the Metropolitan Police. Convinced there could be a


second night of rioting an army of cleaners was sent in to scrub the


secrets. Vital forensic evidence was lost. Then police started rounding


up dozens then hundreds of local men, and holding them sometimes


without legal representation. I cannot blame the police for one


second, for one moment for wanting to do the honourable thing and to


find those who were kill a police officer in such circumstances. I


absolutely understand that. And the police will be hard on those people


is absolutely understandable. You cannot criminalise and stereotype a


whole entire community for what a few people did. Even at its maximum


the police said there was 30 people around Blakelock's body, yet some


how they were able to get over 200 and odd warrants in the name of


murder to come and arrest people. In 1987 all that pressure finally led


to a conviction, Winston Silcott was sentenced to life for t murder, but


released along with two others when there were suggestions forensic


scientists were tampered with. Then Keith Blakelock's widow gave a prime


time TV interview and there was a new push. One of those held was 16


at the time of the killing. Nicholas Jacob had already spent a decade in


prison due to the riots. The police said they had 30 wins who is said


they saw him attack Keith Blakelock with a blade. One was a drug dealer


and the other received thousands of pounds in living expenses for


helping the police. In court they were all allowed to use suit dough


-- pseudonyms and distorted voice to protect their identities. Nicholas


Jacob's supporters were outside every day to protest his innocence.


It was the use of anonymous witnesses on the stand that to some


was the single most concerning element of the trial. The use of


anonymity is an absolute disgrace. I can understand victims staying


anonymous from attackers, but in this case it is crazy, crazy because


two of the three witnesses gave evidence against Nicholas Jacob in


1985. We know their names, we know where they live and their families.


So why are these two character, who gave evidence back then, didn't who


didn't get troubled, why are they being given anonymity now, it is to


create an impression on the jury that there are dangerous people out


there who want justice not to be done. With no new forensics linking


Jacob to the murder, the only other evidence is a rap rap people in


which he boasted to chop the officer. It took the jury only six


hours to find him not guilty on all charges. The investigative


journalist David Rose has closely followed the murder investigation


from the start. There was really I think very little prospect that any


jury, properly instructed, could have brought in a guilty verdict,


given the quality, the poor quality of the evidence against Nicholas


Jacob. S. That evidence was fatally contaminated with mistakes not


committed in 2014 or 2013, or in 1999 after the appeal, they were


committed in 1985 within hours, the chain started, within hours of the


murder of PC Blakelock, it is a tragedy and one that could have been


avoided. Now the time has simply come to draw align under it and say


enough. The family of Keith Blakelock said this evening they


were disappointed by the verdict. The Metropolitan Police praised the


patience and determination of his widow Elizabeth and said work to


bring those responsible for the murder to justice will not stop


tonight. With us Tony Mysels, Nicholas


Jacobs' solicitor, and the vice chair of the Metropolitan Police


Federation. This was a terrible waste of public money wasn't it? I


don't think that is the case at all. At the end of the day we are


desperate to find out how one of our colleagues was killed. And I believe


that we should keep doing that until we find out. Because ultimately a


police officer lost his life on mainland Britain and we don't know


who did that. We want to know who did that. You would presumably


understand that urge to find the killers wouldn't you? Of course we


understand, obviously I understand that the police would want to find


the killers of PC Blakelock and justice be done for the family.


Justice should be done? Of course it should be, but this prosecution was


flawed from the outside. As you have heard from the report tonight from.


The outset in 1985, the investigation was used and these


days we would feel the investigation was ridiculous. If the police hadn't


made such a mess of the initial investigation, we wouldn't still be


30 years on having court cases about it, would we? It is very easy to sit


here and say. That we were aware of things that weren't correct and as


it panned out, ultimately we are still trying to seek entirely the


case and what happened. So therefore we are going to carry on trying to


get justice for what took place. How long could this go on? Well I think


it will go on until we have got everything that we need in relation


to sealing a conviction. I personally would never like to stop


trying to find out who killed PC Blakelock. What do you think? The


evidence at the outset as far as we were concerned was simply not there.


What about the question of how much longer these police investigations,


I mean there has been squad working on this for decades now hasn't


there? Yes. That's correct, as I understand it even in the middle of


this case back in January there was still 14 officers working full-time


on the case. 14 police officers? At the time, back in January this year.


The resources obviously they were devoting to the case were


extraordinary. This is because he was a policeman? Exactly, yes. But


this should be the same for anyone who is murdered, you know, in this


way. Precisely. I might suggest also this is probably the only unsolved


murder of a police officer that I'm aware of in this country. This is


perhaps why the police have pursued it with vigour. This was not a case


which should have reached a trial at the Old Bailey. David Rose said in


that piece of tape there that it was time just to draw a line under the


whole thing? I would agree with him in that respect. Would you? We


obviously know the first investigation resulted in the


conviction of three men who were innocent. They spent four years in


prison before being obviously having the convictions quashed by the Court


of Appeal. We know two officers, two senior officers in the investigation


were prosecuted for perverting the course of justice and that


undermined the credibility of any subsequent investigations. Even the


interviews that proconducted in the early 1990s during the inquiry by


the omission of the CPS in this investigation they actually said


that those interviews had been unorthodox by today's standards. You


think they should just go on indefinitely? Absolutely. He


represent the rank and file officers of the Metropolitan Police, I'm not


going to sit there and say let's draw a line under it and let's all


go home. I want us to continue endlessly until we find the person


who murdered PC Blakelock. Who will take that decision? Ultimately I


will consider it will be ACPO officers within the Metropolitan


Police, I don't know at this stage. Senior police officers will decide


whether this continues or not? I would think so. The interesting


point is when we were first given the case papers and summary it


appeared the decision to charge Mr Jacobs was authorised by Aston


Saunders who is now in charge of the CPS. Then we were told later on it


was not her that authorised the charge. Thank you very much, thank


you. Last night if you happened to be watching you might have seen the


undying protestations of loyalty and support for the Culture Secretary,


Maria Miller, from the leader of the House of Commons, Andrew Lansley.


Well he could have saved himself the trouble, before breakfast this


morning she had resigned. Lots of warm words for her on a cold spit at


the media and the appointment of another loyalist, Sajid Javid, to


replace her. It's 8.00 on Wednesday the ninth April, the headlines this


morning, Maria Miller has resigned as Culture Secretary. Saying the row


about her expenses has become a distraction from the vital work of


Government. MPs' expenses, the scandal that has been running since


2009. I hoped that I could stay but it has become clear to me over the


last few days that this has become an enormous distraction and it is


not right that I'm distracting from the incredible achievements of this


Government. This afternoon Labour sought to press David Cameron on why


he hadn't fired her. He said six days ago she had done the right


thing and we should leave it at that, does he now recognise this was


a terrible error of judgment? This is a good and honest parliament with


good and hard working people in it. That is the assumption that I start


for and I make no apology for that. He just doesn't get it. That is what


he has shown today. This is just the latest chapter in the expenses'


saga. Since it started five years ago we have had an election, changed


Governments, changed the MPs' expenses rule, and sent some of the


worst offenders to prison. But it still rumbles on. The expenses'


scandal has been going on so long that whole careers have been built


on the back of it. Sajid Javid, the new Secretary of State for Culture


was obviously appointed today on the back of Miss McMillan's resignation,


but he got his seat as an MP in 2010 after his predecessor resigned over


a similar issue. Her housing allowances. Still, at least he knew


what he was letting himself in for. (No sound) And how the, the expenses


scandal seemed to clarify what everyone suspected, that politicians


are dismal creatures. Can I ask you a quick question, what is the first


thing you think of when you hear the word "politician"? Crook. Expenses.


Liar. When you heard the word "politician" what is the first word


that comes to mind? Insincere. That is why when a pollster asked whether


Miss McMillan should resign, a majority said yes, there was very


little sympathy for her. But in truth there is no sympathy for


anyone in politics. Voters always want them to resign, they are quite


liking a few other senior politicians to quit too. Is this


new? They are unpopular but to be honest they always are, we have only


about 18% of the British public who say they trust them to tell the


truth. The worst we have ever seen was a few years ago in two OK 009


when it was 13%, it has hardly bounced back. The highest ever


figure has been 22% believing they tell the truth. Over the last 30


years it hasn't changed much at all. If we go further back to the 1940s,


even then when a coalition Government, like now, was actually


at war against the Nazis, even then only 36% of the British public


believed the politicians were acting in the interests of the country and


not feathering their own nests etc. So is the kicking they get


warranted? The politicians don't help themselves. I have got a copy


of the members' dining room menu, bottle of white wine ?17, down the


road in Covent Garden ?30 pounds. Three course meal ?15, the reason it


is for a steak and chip starter, coffee and dessert, that is what


they can claim for a late night sitting, ?15 we pay. It costs ?15 if


they stay late they get ?15, so they get the dinner for free.


It is subsidised to the tune to make it ?15 so they can claim for. That


is not accidental. The MPs sit on the catering committee that


organises the pricing and the subsidy. The subsidy to the Members


of Parliament for food and booze is millions. The hatred is unhe


hadifying, but it is probably not going anywhere, and it is fuelling


the anti-establishment feeling that propels UKIP. One Tory MP told


Newsnight today that Maria Miller might have cost them their seat at


the next election. The timing of the scandal shortly before a European


election really won't help Conservatives. The Prime Minister's


loyalty to his cabinet ministers might prove expensive. Sorry about


the sound on the little bit of it. Ministers come and go, but in an


ever-changing world constant as Orion's Belt is the Newsnight


political panel, first convened to comment on the resignation of Dalton


in 1947. Danny Finklestein of the Times, who used to work for William


Hague, Olly Grender who worked for Nick Clegg, both of them members of


the House of Lords in Government, and John McTernan who advised Tony


Blair when he was Prime Minister. Striking, it is five years since the


expenses scandal. It has come back. In voters' minds it is only five


minutes? This case was all about the old expenses rules, so it was an


old, what she did was years ago. So has come back for that reason. This


sort of thing will come back because underlying is a dislike of


politicians. Your report was quite right. So the expenses was more an


effect than cause. People didn't like politicians, thought very lowly


of them, then the expenses row happened and it acted as a proof


point of what they had already thought. We and if anyone who is in


mainstream politics tells you that they don't want to, on a day like


today, frankly despair, because we all know politicians and we all know


politicians who work very hard and who are above board, but this just


does badly for politics across the board this kind of stuff. It is a


real shame as well, it is in part tied up with kind of the threat of


Leveson, which was used by her special adviser, in part the poor


apology, but if you read through the detail of the actual report, it is


really hard to get to the absolutely the nub of this. The Commons brought


this on themselves. Either they have an allowances scheme or expenses


scheme. And they have got a scheme called allowances, where they claim


an expense against it. In the end they get caught in the detail. It is


a deeper issue. Very profound disenchantment? I should say first


of all I don't share this public view about politics, I'm a son of


refugees, I know from my parents' experience there are a lot of worse


places in the world where politics is done in a much worse way than


here. But it is very, very important to understand it even if you don't


share it and it is very deep. Certainly it is an explanation of a


lot of the UKIP factor and an explanation why lots of people and


things in politics don't meet and reach people. Do you think there are


all sorts of mechanisms being put in place and are now being changed in


order to try to rehabilitate the reputation of the political class,


are they going to work? And here is the huge irony, I think it is right,


like Leveson, if you say you can't mark your own homework for the


media, you have to say the same for politicians. I think that is right.


Then when we have an independent body that says there should be a pay


rise, that's not sufficiently Israel real Politk during a recession so it


doesn't work. There should be way of regulating politicians in the


Commons and in the Lords that is above board, there is an element of


independence. How you bring that about I don't know, given that IPSA


doesn't seem to be working either. There was mention a moment ago about


UKIP, it is something he said David Cameron has taken a lot of damage


from this. Maybe he has taken some damage from it. But actually all the


mainstream parties have suffered from this. The people who are going


to gain from it are UKIP, aren't they? I think in the short-term this


really hurts the Tories. Because David Cameron saw how palatiry the


apology was on -- paltry the apology was on Thursday, and it was the


contempt for the Commons and the public that built this into a bigger


issue. Cameron didn't get a grip on it. UKIP are using it who will


mainly hurt the Tories. It is true this drags every politicians'


reputation down. Although the reputation has never been high. In a


sense for me the underlying thing is Government just isn't that good at


doing things. So some of the disenchantment is actually not a


comment on this or anything else, it is simply on thinking how poor


things were in the private sector in the 70, they have -- 70s, Government


haven't improved the way services have. The interesting thing for


Conservatives, an anti-politician and anti-Government feeling is


something the Conservatives can use. In the sense it allies with the


Conservative scepticism, one of the things, I don't think that in


top-line voting this will turn out to be that significant, but it is


significant in terms of the underlying sort of position of the


Conservative Party in the long run. If you think as I do that a sort of,


there is a long-term anti-establishment feeling which has


hit the banks, hit the police, you hit the newspaper industry, and is


hitting politicians, you have got to think how do you deal with that, and


Conservatives need to have a response to that. I think the UKIP


thing, they wrote the book on claiming expenses on the gravy train


on the way to Brussels, it is extraordinary they are managing to


capitalise on this. That is crazy. And it is ironic, five years ago


bumf in the polls, just after the parliamentary expenses thing? It is


not about expenses. I don't think a response to Nigel Farage that says


you have been in politics for 20 years and claimed lots of expenses,


effective debating points though those are and will really undermine


UKIP because it is a rebellion against something bigger. There is a


social class element, it is about the winners of globalisation versus


the losers. This disillusionment with politicians is bigger and


deeper and goes to more institutions than politics. Olly, you are trying


to get a word in edgeways. Thank you so much. If it is about depressing


people's belief in politics and politicians, every political party


needs to look at that. Things like open primaries are interesting and


that came from the Tories. I still believe that fundamentally the


voting system has to change because if a donkey can put on a colour Ross


set and stay in a safe seat things like that will never change. On


things like expense, total transparency, which I think MPs have


been learning post all the changes. So that you know... A lot of them


really resent it. You have the last word? Putting on the website people


go there and it is open and accessible. Let the poor chap have a


word? I think in the end people connect to politics when politicians


articulate their big concerns with big visions. We have a bunch of


quite small politicians who deal with very marginal differences


between all the political parties. There is no inspiration and very


little hope. In the end the big visions transcend. At the moment


personality is popular, like Farrage, Johnson or Salmond. You


need great causes, great political parties have great cause, at the


moment you search for the great cause. Thank you very much. Now


there is a massive security clamp-down going on in Kenya. Police


there say they pulled in nearly 4,000 people in the past week. The


arrest after the killing last week of a controversial Muslim preacher


in the coastal town of Mombasa. His supporters aduce -- accuse the


Government of being behind it, the ATPU or the anti-terrorist police


unit, funded by Britain. In December last year, Newsnight


travelled to Mombasa to meet a radical Islamist. He features on a


UN sanctions list, accused of recruiting terrorists, he said it


was a joke. We thought you could be the guide? Do you want a terrorist


for a guide? Sometimes! It depends on the occasion. This guy, he's a


nephew, he was one of the people executed by the ATPU police


officers. The one sitting there. MrAm membered is more commonly --


Ahmed is more commonly known by a nickname, meaning "graveyard in


Swahili, he said the Kenyan police were going to assassinate him. Do


you fear for your safety? I don't fear for my safety, I know they are


going to kill me. I believe my life and death is in the hands of Allah.


I will only die the day Allah has ordained for me to die, not a moment


before or after. That moment finally came last week, he was leaving this


courthouse on the outskirts of Mombasa with around eight


companions. Eye witnesses told us they saw a car approaching from out


of town, doing a U-turn outside a high-security prison attached to the


court. TRANSLATION: That is when I heard gunfire. There were many


shots. We pushed each other as we tried to get down so we wouldn't get


hit. We triumphed into a ditch and laid down. And then I heard two


final gun shots. And then everything went silent. It was several hours


before the authorities removed his body from the roadside and took it


to the nearest police station. During the time the survivors of the


shooting said they were forced to remain lying in the ditch.


TRANSLATION: We told them the people who shot at us had headed out of


town in black car and they should follow them. They told us to lie


down and not move. Several witnesses remarked that there was no armed


security officers at the scene, despite its proximity to the


high-security jail. He was the third high-profile terror suspect to be


shot and killed in the past two years. Now in private Kenyan


security officials have made no secret of their involvement in some


of these killings. Last year I spoke to one Mombasa-based security


officer who said the cleric's days were numbered. When I spoke to him


earlier this week he said his unit had not been directly involved, but


the hit was carried out by security officers from outside Mombasa. Mr


Ahmed and the other two murdered clerics were all associated with


this mosque in Mombasa's rundown Najenga neighbourhood. In February


police raided the mosque, saying it was a recruiting centre for


Jihadists. They arrested more than 100 worshippers, at least four


people lost their lives, including one policeman. Security officials


and human rights groups agree on one thing, the police are sending a


deliberate signal to those they see as terrorists. I have spoken to even


people within the security agencies who own up and even come out to say


you ain't seen nothing yet. We are going to do more, we kill, we shoot


them to kill. Not to detain them. That is what we are going to be


doing. This they will say to me within the ATPU premises. ATPU


stands for Antit-Terror Police Unit, it receives funding and training


from Britain and the United States, in a report released last November,


two human rights groups documented what they said were dozens of cases


of disappearences, and extra judicial killings carried out by the


ATPU in recent years. Mr Ahmed had made similar accusations. The


British Government is helping the ATPU in Kenya kill Muslims by


training them providek logistical support and giving them money. We


are supposed to be the terrorists. It is not clear whether the ATPU was


involved in the shooting of Mr Ahmed, but one ATPU officer late


last year told me that the police had lost faith in the courts and


preferred, instead, to eliminate in his words terror suspects.


But many fear this tactic, far from reducing radicalisation will have


the opposite affect. If Britain or any other western country fund this


unit and this unit violates the rights of Kenyans, it also goes to


the British tax-payers, the anger. Why is their money being used for


these killings, so the problem goes back to where it comes from. We are


coming for you, your days are numbered. There is no doubt that


Kenya has a problem with terrorism and radicalisation. Friday prayers


is just coming to an end at the Muslim mosque, the first Friday


prayers since the assassination of Mr Ahmed, and the sermon hasn't been


a peaceful one, the preachers says if they inflict violence on you, you


have to be violent back, don't throw stones, cut their heads off.


Inevitably stones were thrown, the police were expecting trouble and


they were there in force. When they are being killed they are there and


looking and not doing anything. We as a Muslim society, we know Islam


is peace, we want peace. Given the level of anger on the streets the


violence could have been a lot worse. In response to a recent


series of explosions, shootings and terror alerts, the security forces


have deployed extra officers across the country. Thousands of people,


many of them ethnic Somalis have been detained, some held in


Nairobi's main stadium, while they are screened and have their


identities checked. The authorities are sending out a clear message,


we're getting tough. But they deny shooting Mr Ahmed or any other extra


judicial killing. As the man in charge of the security in this


country I'm the authority to tell the true Government position, and


what I have given you is the Government position. Anything else


is an allegation, outright Lois or malice. Nobody believes it? It is


not our business to make you leave it or not. Even the security forces


don't believe it? I'm speaking on behalf of the security forces, that


is the position and the truth. You choose to take the truth, or you


take the rumours. The choice is yours. The Foreign Office told us in


statement that it regularly monitors the ATPU and challenges them on


allegations of human rights abuses. If there is credible evidence that


British support is being misused, they said, then immediate action


would be taken. The Times this morning disclosed that the Ministry


of Defence had been so irritated by the content of a book about the army


as involvement in Afghanistan that -- army's involvement in Afghanistan


it has tried to quash it. It is not the first time it has tried to do


that. But the unusual part of this equation is it was the MoD itself


that had commissioned the book from a Territorial Army officer, Dr


Martens mat, the -- Dr Martens -- doctor Mike Martins. It maintains it


is always ready to learn. But the lesson of history is that the


British military, frequently begin any bar expecting to fight the last


one. We were told that British troops would be perfectly happy to


leave Helmand Province without even drawing their weapons. It didn't end


that way. Over 400 British servicemen and women have died in


Afghanistan since 2001, the majority of them in Helmand. Last week


Britain handed over control of the province to US forces, but they too


will leave as American troops go home. But as Britain's presence in


Afghanistan comes to a close, what lessons can be learned from the


conflict? These are e-mails from the Ministry of Defence apparently


trying to prevent the publication of a book by an army captain critquing


the military's time in Afghanistan. The book is being published any way.


But is there an unwillingness to learn lessons from past military


conflicts. Armies are very good at learning the lessons of past wars,


they tend to overlearn lessons and prepare for the wrong wars in the


future. In the case of the British Army they are good at learning


lessons from Afghanistan, and avoiding the trap of overlearning


the lessons. When it comes to policy lessons their states can be not so


good as learning them. These can be politically embarrassing. An inquiry


into the other major war of the century, Iraq, is under way yet


still to report back. It is looking at the decisions to go to war. The


Chilcot Inquiry started taking evidence in 2009, but it has been


held up with arguments over whether sensitive documents can be made


public. The national interest is often interpreted as being the


Government's interest, as avoiding embarrassment. There is no scope for


an inquiry result in Chilcot to that effect. We need an inquiry that lays


bear, in every possible way consistent with the national


interest the way in which the decision to go to war against Saddam


Hussein was taken. This year marks the centinary of the outbreak of


World War I. But while we honour the dead and commemorate past --


tragedies, are we doing enough to help avoid them in the future. I'm


joined but by Dr Mike Martin, whose book has created this stir, with him


Sunday Times journalist and five-time winner of the foreign


correspondent of the year, Christina Lamb, who has returned this


afternoon from Afghanistan. What about this question of learning


lessons, is it important and is it happening? Of course it is important


to learn so we don't make the same mistakes. I know there is this


argument that you are always fighting the last war. But there is


a lot of things that we could have learned from what we have done wrong


in Afghanistan and I actually think that the US army seems to have done


that better than the British Army. What done a better learning


exercise? Yes, I do. Because at the beginning the British I think were


rather arrogant thinking that we had been used to the British Army was


used to doing peacekeeping and being in Northern Ireland and didn't, and


were used to working in populations in way that the US army wasn't. What


is your main conclusion about the lessons that ought to be learned


from the Afghanistan experience? The main conclusion of the book is that


there has been massive intelligence failure in Helmand, and we have


completely failed to understand the type of conflict that we have been


fighting. Very briefly it is a Civil War between different tribes and


families and it is fought over land and water and honour and poppy. By


that I mean the UK media, the MoD and many military officers and


development experts understand the war as an ideolgical conflict


between the Taliban and the Government. And it is not? It is


not, no. It is a very, very localised conflict driven by


pragmatic matters, fights that have gone on for the last 30 years over


land or... OK, you're talking about a profound misapprehension of what


the situation was and what these wars were. Incidentally do you


agree? I think it is a mixture of those things. I do agree that at the


beginning there was no appreciation of that, but there is also a group


called the Taliban, based in Pakistan that has an ideolgical


point to prove. Has the MoD learned that lesson? I think they have


recognised it, I think they have identified it, I don't think they


have learned it. What do you mean, how can you identify it and not take


any could go sans -- could go this sans of it? The broad idea


surrounding the war with the legitimate Afghanistan Government


and we were fighting the Taliban and we attribute bad things to the


Taliban. I think that... It is possible isn't it that you could be


learning lessons without learning them publicly? How much do you think


that this sort of disclosure of the kind that made the MoD so


apprehensive, shall we say, does it really need to be published. Surely


these are internal lessons that need to be learned by the army? There is


several different things here, the intelligence failure, absolutely.


When I was going there as a journalist I was going into villages


with soldiers and they clearly didn't have a clue what they were


going to find there. And so maybe that sort of thing is more internal.


But some of the other issues, for example the equipment, if those


things hadn't become public at the time I don't think it would have


changed. It was through people exposing that, our soldiers out


there were travelling in snatch vehicles that were being blown up


all the time and gave no protection, or there weren't enough helicopters.


Through all of that becoming public that things changed. I don't think


they would have been otherwise. And I actually find it very infuriating


the amount of times that I was lied to by senior officers out there


because they didn't want people to know things and subsequently said.


What do you mean? Things like that about the equipment, the reasons


people died. I think it does also apply to intelligence, it is about


what type of army do we want as a nation? At the moment the army is


going through a review process, they are rebalancing towards the reserves


and the army 2020 programme out, do we want an army able to fight these


types of wars or an army able to fight the type of war perhaps that


is discussed over the Crimea incident recently? Thank you very


much. Before we go tonight we are going to hear a bit of poetry, it


comes from an Anthology out tomorrow called Peoples To Make Grown Men


Cry. It is from Clive James who is suffering illness. He spoke from his


home. The reason why it appeals to me so much is personal. It is about


a man speaking to a woman in a canoe, she's about, they are about


to sail away up the river and he makes it clear that he might not be


coming back from the war and next time she might have to make the trip


alone. And when I first read it I couldn't help thinking my mother and


father, which means I suppose thinking of myself. It is a very


personal poem to me. What was it about your mother and father that it


made you think of? My father sailed off to the war and didn't come back.


My mother was left alone the way the woman is going to be in the poem.


She will have to travel alone next time she goes on the canoe trip.


That rang a bell with me I'm afraid. One of the key things in Keith


Douglas's work, and one of the first lines of the poem is a premonition


of death, and death, does that have personal resonance for you? Yes,


with a proviso, is there was a war on for Douglas, the chances are he


was going to get killed any way. For my generation there was no war. And


by some miracle of chance of luck we have lived out our lives. I'm sick


now, but it is at the end of a long life in which I have been allowed to


do pretty much as I wanted. So I will never forget my privilege as a


writer, as a man of letters, as a poet, as a reader, it is a lucky,


lucky thing to have. So the theme of my late poetry is luck, not death.


But the theme of his poetry was death because it was all around him.


It might happen to him and it did. "Well I'm thinking this may be my


last summer, but can't lose even a part of pleasure in the old


fashioned art of idleness, I can't stand aghast at whatever doom hovers


in the background, while grass and buildings and the river, who know


they are allowed to last forever exchange between them the whole


subdued sound of this hot time. What sudden fearful fate can deter my


shade wandering next year from a return. Whistle and I will hear and


come again another evening when this boat travels with you alone towards,


as you lie looking up for thunder again. This cool touch does not be


token rain, it is my spirit that kisses your