23/04/2014 Newsnight


23/04/2014

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


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Tonight Vladimir Putin sends out a warning to the US that Russia will

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respond if its interests in Ukraine are attacked. What kind of Russia is

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this man trying to remake? We will be speaking to the Pulitzer

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Prize-winning editor of the New Yorker who witnessed the fall of

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communism close up and has been following Vladimir Putin's every

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turn. What happened to this likely lad, we

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learn that Boris could announce his decision on a return to Westminster

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as early as June. I would love to play Juliet!

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running the show in the Ukraine. There was a reference to the brief

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war in Georgia over the region of South Ossetia, at the same time

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Russia announced it is conducting a military drill in the region

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bordering Ukraine. For Vladimir Putin the conflict with Ukraine has

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become a defining moment of his PRESIDENCY. WHAT IS THE END GAME?

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The Russian spring, from Crimea, eastern Ukraine and elsewhere. Each

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new self-pro-claimed Republic has its flag, emblems and slogans. Part

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of an ideology championed by the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin. I think

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it is a very old doctrine coming back in a very surprising form.

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Europeans in the 1870s or 18930 -- 1930s would have found it familiar

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as an idea. It is extremely dangerous doctrine to say that a

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state has so much responsibility for the people who just speak its own

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language and share its culture, even if they are not its citizen that is

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it can take chunks of territory. Russia's presidency is surrounded by

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imperial pomp, enabled with far-reaches powers. In a culture

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where manly Vertonghen yous are still prized in an unself-conscious

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ways, the office has given Mr Putin the chance to act decisively and to

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the delight of many of his people. His people can see that in Kiev

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power is taken illegally which the criminal junta of ultra

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nationalists, who served not the citizens of Ukraine but to

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Washington. This illegal junta used force against Ukrainian citizens and

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this illegal junta wants to ban the Russian language. The western hue

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and cry about gay rights and the panned Pussy Riot, some pro-Russians

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saw signs of a plot against them. With new exercises reported today,

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Russia's army stands ready to enter Ukraine, Foreign Minister Lavrov

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made clear this afternoon they could do in defence of the Russian

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minority. Some Putin supporters say the army should go in to protect

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most Ukrainians, anyone who speaks Russian. The Russian public opinion

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would support the use of Russian troops on the Ukrainian territory or

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not. It depends on circumstances of such a decision. If Vladimir Putin

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will ask just troops to go, maybe it will be not supported. But if there

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will be some bloodshed agonised by the illegal junta Russian public

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opinion would support Russian troops saving lives of Russians. This new

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assertiveness might leave western countries reeling. But it finds

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admirers too. I think that narrative, which is also one about

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standing up to the west and poking Uncle Sam in the eye has

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considerable appeal beyond the Russian borders, beyond the Russian

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world. I just spent two weeks in China and it was striking how much

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resonance there actually was for Putin in China. I'm told even in

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India. Many Russians, stranded in other countries by the collapse of

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the Soviet Union, now look to President Putin. How far he can go

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in eastern Ukraine and whether the model can be extended elsewhere are

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questions now actively being considered in the Kremlin.

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We have the Editor in Chief of the New Yorker magazine, and former

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Moscow correspondent for the Washington Post, his book, lip

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anyone's Tomb, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. What do you think

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is Putin's end game? It was right in the introduction when you said it

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was a lot about obscuring the problems he has domestically. People

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in Russia were becomes prosperous in ways they never had before, and

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power was becoming more stable in Russia. And his popularity was firm.

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Now he has a situation where the economy has slowed to zero, he has a

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choice, can he go before his people and admit that the economic

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situation is what it is, or can he gain popularity by whipping up

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nationalist fervour in places like the Ukraine. He has chosen,

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tragically this second category. And I think above all it is terrible for

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Russia to say nothing of a sovereign state known as Ukraine. The idea

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that the United States... I wonder what you made of the analysis there,

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that there is a dangerous position for a state to be in, to say that it

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is going to protect all Russian speakers and people of Russian

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culture. That is a cimera, you can't possibly follow that through? This

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is a problem born of the fall of the Soviet Union. There were the ethnic

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mix created over decades, landed where it landed. And there certainly

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are Russian speakers in the eastern Ukraine and northern Kazakhstan and

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the Baltic states. And some of them feel a dual identity. But the idea

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that some how the majority of people, anything close to it in

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Ukraine are welcoming Russian military and political incursion and

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invasion is a terrible error of analysis, and yet it is great banner

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of propaganda in Russia on TV today. So various things are going on here,

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the economy is crashing, another quarter the same as this one and it

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will go into recession and yet there is huge capital flight. At the same

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time wouldn't it be fair to say from what you have seen, and I know you

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were there recently because of Sochi, that actually he's clamping

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down again, there is a huge clamp down on the intelligence, a

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clampdown on dissidents, a clampdown on the liberals? It is not just

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liberals, it is anybody that is a free thinker or has any kind of

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opposition to the Government. Look if you were to do what'sness radio

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with the Russian economy, it would endanger a lot of the people around

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Putin and Putin himself. He's not willing to do that. His cronies

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aren't willing to do that, they are cornered and they have gone to an

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old strategy of hypernationalism, culture conservatism, that is where

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the gay issue comes into play. And I think it is right to call it

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dangerous. Looking at it from the other side, do you think that

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President Obama has mis-stepped over this. Did he not take seriously

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enough Russia and its concerns. In a way has he a role to play in this

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problem, and he may end up leaving the White House with relations

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between Russia and America worse than at any time before Ronald

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Regan. The United States mistakes recently and over decades are well

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known and obvious. They range from Iraq to a triumphalism that occurred

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in the 1990s, that was in hindsight a terrible strategic mistake. The

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idea that the United States would go on and on in the post-Soviet era as

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a power was a dedevolution, not only in the United States by the world.

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Remember what Russia is, Russia has an economy the size of Italy. It

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wants to assert itself as a superpower, and the only thing that

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makes it a superpower, alas and unfortunately is its nuclear

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weapons. I think Putin is playing a game of concealing for his on

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short-term political game a tragic situation. Because to reform Russia

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in ways that it needs to requires too much of him, and it threatens

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him, it threatens his circle and that he's not willing to do. You

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cannot underestimate the power of totalist propaganda that you see on

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state television in Russia. Yes, his popularity is 80%, but that has a

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lot to do with the way information is transmitted and even the Internet

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is being cracked down on in Russia, which you hadn't seen before. Thank

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you very much for joining us. Statistics suggest that the

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incidence of violent crime has fallen inexorably over recent years,

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halving in this country over the past decade without anyone truly

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understanding why. Now a new study by Cardiff University, tracking

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treatment for victims of violent crime at A departments in England

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and Wales suggests the reason for the drop is a less macho culture,

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and also because fewer young people are drinking because of cost and

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because society is changing and across the western world. Preparing

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to fight, with the rules of engagment made clear. At this

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academy in East London, boxing is a key part of the curriculum. For

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teenagers who faced exclusion at their mainstream schools. Instead

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they do their GCSEs here, and learn that violence is never OK, and that

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sparring in the ring can help them combat it. It is the discipline. In

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what way? If you are out with your friends and they want to encourage

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you to do something bad, you stop and think about what will happen if

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you go home or the police get involved. You would think you were

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more violent before you came here? Yeah. That is a big yeah. In what

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way? I was more tempted to fightout side and do -- fight outside, but

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being here I learn there is more things in life than fighting

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outside. There is a decrease in violent incidences since 2013, the

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fifth consecutive year figures have fallen. Most violent crime is

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committed by people under 30. But it seems youngsters are getting better

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behaved, and far less aggressive. In here boxing is used as a way to

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channel aggression, but perhaps unsurprisingly it doesn't make it

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into the list of explanations for why violence is down more generally.

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It might sound counterintuitive, but a fall in disposable income is one

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possible cause, linked as it is to the decline in "binge drinking" and

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drug taking. Improved public health is another reason suggested, as is

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better crime prevention. For the boxing academy, combatting violence

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is about early intervention. It is no good just telling young people

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not to be violent. You have to give them the tools to analyse the

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background, work out their trigger points, confront the conflict, if

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you like, and develop strategies to cope with it and therefore reduce

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the likelihood of it happening. With more and more of that emotional

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intelligence-style teaching going on, young people are definitely

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responding positively. Youth-led violent crime used to lead the air

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waves. This was the 1950s, when a gang was terrorising bank staff.

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More recently British town centres became no-go zones at weekends when

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fighting followed boozing as night followed day. But police and other

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agencies working together has paid off. Plus there is a new attitude to

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drink and drugs amongst many young people that might just surprise

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their parents. These youngsters are ambassadors for the youth charity,

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Just 4. 4 Kids. You need to realise your boundaries and people are

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getting alcohol poisoning and people are reading newspapers and realising

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they can't go too far. People are being young people but recognising

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there are boundaries. Perhaps the fall in violence is also down to how

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much family attention modern children get. In 1974 full-time

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mothers with children under four and no job sent 77 minutes a day on

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childcare, that rose to 202 minutes by 2005. Mothers working more than

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four hours a day also increased childcare time from 25-97 minutes a

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day, they are spending more time on childcare than full-time mothers

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were 40 years ago. The most comfortable place in my area is my

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house, my mum and my little brother. Does your mum work? She works. My

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dad takes me football, that keeps me away from violence. Whatever the

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reasons for the fall in violence and violent crime, here they say

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attitudes to young people still haven't changed. How do you think

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you are seen by society? As criminals. That is how it feels? It

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feels. Hoodlums and hood-rats. But you are not? Yeah, you are! No

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matter what others say, these young people are now focussed away from

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violence. On the goals that will give them a better future. Joining

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me now from Boston is the author of The Better Angels of our Nature. Why

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Violence has Declined, and a writer for the Economist, and also the

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Hackney heroine, after the riots in London in 2011, when a video of her

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berating rioters in her native Hackney went violent. These figures

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showing violent crime is on the decrease, does it look like that

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where you live? Nowhere I live, I'm afraid. I have to sadly say it is

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not happening in and around most of the areas I connect with. Just

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recently we have had a young boy shooting a young girl in Hackney. We

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have had a gentleman killing his partner and his child, again today

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on the news there is a mother who has killed her three children. All

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exceptional circumstances, but it is still a violent crime. Of course the

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death of the three children today is still an allegation that it was the

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mother that was involved in that crime. But Daniel, do you think that

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what we're seeing here is a result of a changing society, although not

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one that Pauline recognises locally, or is there something fundamentally

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changing in our society? I think there is a changing society, but to

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do with an awful lot of interventions at once. Your report

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raised a view of them. Parenting, contrary to politicians, has

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actually got a lot better. But there is myriad things like that. I mean

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the way we approach crime, the way we tackle crime and prevent crime

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has got better. If you look at things that were common 20 years

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ago, bank robbery, that is harder. Because of CCTV? Yeah, but things

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like car immobilisers. Don't you think they find other ways of

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getting in there? I don't think they do. I dug up a statistic today,

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107,000 kids entered the criminal justice system for violent offences,

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there is a four fold drop now. Do you think there is amongst young

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people a less propensity to commit crime. Is there a fundamental

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societal change? There is a change, a long-running historical change,

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going back to the Middle Ages the rate of violent crime in western

:18:32.:18:35.

countries has just plummeted, then there was a little up-tick in the

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1960s and this is a reversal of the up-tick. In general there has been

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less tolerance of violence as a way of establishing one's manhood and

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honour, and more emphasis on dignity and controlling your emotions and on

:18:53.:19:00.

being more of a gentleman. Why is that happening? It probably is

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triggered by a number of ways of trying to control violence. Most

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probably Government and policing. That has been the trend that drove

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most of the rate of violent crime down over the centuries, there was a

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renewal of energy after the crime burst of the 1960s when after a

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couple of decades, communities all over the west got sick of the rate

:19:23.:19:25.

of crime and started to do various things about it. It is not

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inherently that human nature is changing for the better? I don't

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think human nature is changing, but I think human nature has many

:19:36.:19:40.

components, there is a part of us that reacts angrily to insults and

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frustrations as in the computer repair technique called precussive

:19:46.:19:48.

maintenance, something goes wrong and you want to whack something. On

:19:49.:19:51.

the other hand there is another part of human nature that can anticipate

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the future, and can inhibit these impulses to lash out. I think when

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you change social institutions, you can give self-control and long-term

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planning the upper hand, so you are tilting one aspect of human nature

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against another. This is precisely it, Stephen has explained well in

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his book over 1,000 years why crime has increased in those decades from

:20:15.:20:20.

the 60s, # 0s and 80s. What we have seen over the last 30 years across

:20:21.:20:24.

the board in western countries, little ways we have found of making

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things work better. Things that we have improved institutionally have

:20:29.:20:32.

changed. Tell me where have you done this and where did you get the

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statistics from, and where did you do your research to find it. I walk

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out on the streets every day, every day I'm out there, with the people,

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you know, on grassroots level, ghetto level, whatever way you want

:20:45.:20:49.

to class it, but I'm out there and I'm seeing crime every day. Pauline

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I'm wondering if part of the thing is actually it doesn't contribute to

:20:54.:20:57.

the statistics, because a lot of the crime you are seeing goes

:20:58.:21:00.

unreported? There you go. So how can they get a right balance, I don't

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understand. We actually have a very good crime statistics, it was based

:21:05.:21:09.

on the survey, essentially we ring up 60,000 people and say what crimes

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have you been a victim of. The crime statistics are pretty good and we

:21:14.:21:17.

have hospital admissions? Why is it only now that we are in the last

:21:18.:21:20.

decade coming to understand, or see why this is changing? I think it is

:21:21.:21:25.

only recently become so apparent in Britain because certain types of

:21:26.:21:30.

crimes were still rising into the mid-noughties, things like knife

:21:31.:21:33.

crime, even the crime has been fouling since 1995, it has been

:21:34.:21:37.

quite easy to point to something getting worse. But now everything is

:21:38.:21:41.

falling. Have you done research into the gun crime. I have. Can I finish

:21:42.:21:47.

up. The number of shootings has fallen by 80%. That is not the

:21:48.:21:52.

question I wanted to ask, I wanted to ask where are the guns coming

:21:53.:21:55.

from and getting on the streets. They are in less and less numbers.

:21:56.:22:02.

One area you will be in accord is over the idea is why we are not

:22:03.:22:07.

seeing a commensurate reduction in domestic violence? We do, estimates

:22:08.:22:11.

of domestic violence are also down. And maybe for some of the same

:22:12.:22:16.

reasons, maybe we are becoming increasingly intolerant of violence,

:22:17.:22:19.

it is considered a mark of absolute shame to beat up or threaten your

:22:20.:22:24.

intimate partner. Where as that was a matter of comedy and jokes for

:22:25.:22:29.

much of the 20th century. Also there are better social service agencies,

:22:30.:22:34.

places that women who are terrorised by spouses or boyfriends can escape

:22:35.:22:40.

or complain, and less tolerance on the police on domestic violence, and

:22:41.:22:45.

less tolerance for other violent crime. Is this a prosession or

:22:46.:22:49.

something that might kick it all off again, like the riots we had in

:22:50.:22:55.

2011, is this a definite trajectory or could we see it reversed? We

:22:56.:23:01.

could see it reversed. I think unlike the 1960s and 1970s, where

:23:02.:23:06.

there was a deep pessimism, that we could ever take it back to cities.

:23:07.:23:11.

How do you propose to reverse it? Could it be reversed ore become

:23:12.:23:16.

worse again. Sorry, my misunderstanding. It could become

:23:17.:23:20.

right again. But there has to be a lot more input into this than just

:23:21.:23:24.

us sitting here on a TV, having a debate. We need to get out there,

:23:25.:23:28.

the people need to get out there and work on this. Thank you all very

:23:29.:23:32.

much indeed. There is only one man who could have said my chances of

:23:33.:23:36.

being PM are about as good as finding he will visit on Mars or

:23:37.:23:48.

being re-- Elvis on Mars! But he know Boris Johnson tries to put you

:23:49.:23:55.

off. Newsnight understands he may soon announce his decision to return

:23:56.:23:58.

to Westminster and not foot about on the backbenches, at least not for

:23:59.:24:12.

more than five minutes. I'm getting on with my job. Being Mayor of

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London is the most fantastic job. What I would rather do is get on

:24:17.:24:20.

with my job of running the city. You heard the man, he's just getting on

:24:21.:24:24.

with the job. Why then is it becoming increasingly difficult to

:24:25.:24:28.

find anyone round here who still believes that. Perhaps that's

:24:29.:24:32.

because beneath the distinctly uncool exterior, the handle bars,

:24:33.:24:35.

the floppy fringe, and the quotations from Virgil, there lurks

:24:36.:24:40.

the beating heart of a man still deeply ambitious for the very top

:24:41.:24:46.

job in politics? I would be amazed if at the next general election

:24:47.:24:49.

there is not in some corner of England a Boris Johnson standing for

:24:50.:24:53.

election. He has not finished his political career. I think he's just

:24:54.:24:58.

getting started. Put bluntly, the concept of Boris Johnson not

:24:59.:25:01.

standing as an MP is pretty hard to imagine. Indeed Westminster's

:25:02.:25:06.

favourite parlour game has been to guess which seat and when an

:25:07.:25:10.

announcement would come. Colonel Mustard, there is an image to

:25:11.:25:15.

conjure, think Cluedo without the lead piping. Officially no decision

:25:16.:25:19.

has been made, once you take out the summer, conference season, and the

:25:20.:25:22.

upcoming elections, time is getting short. I understand an announcement

:25:23.:25:26.

could come as early as June, once the European and local elections are

:25:27.:25:30.

safely out of the way. What he can't afford is anything that starts to

:25:31.:25:34.

become what one source described to me as the Boris soap opera

:25:35.:25:38.

distraction. So why are things hotting up now? Quite simply because

:25:39.:25:43.

the PM, David Cameron, has extended the invitation. Last month in the

:25:44.:25:48.

Sun the PM made clear he does want Boris to be part of the line-up,

:25:49.:25:55.

telling James Cordon, more readily than he meant, he wanted his top

:25:56.:26:01.

striker. Football analogies can be dubious, but it may fit well, the

:26:02.:26:05.

Cameron plan is to present a top team to the electorate before May

:26:06.:26:10.

2015. You take the likes of Hague, Osbourne, Cameron and Michael Gove,

:26:11.:26:14.

and throw in Johnson for good measure, and you have a cabinet of

:26:15.:26:19.

big beasts. He wants to put on show a proven squad, rather than the team

:26:20.:26:24.

of nobodies he thinks Labour will offer up. One of the unknowns is

:26:25.:26:29.

what George Osborne makes of any Boris return, there may be mixed

:26:30.:26:33.

emotions, incentives even, as campaign strategist he will want to

:26:34.:26:37.

cement a Tory majority whatever cost. He knows if Cameron fails he

:26:38.:26:41.

fails too. When it comes to that leadership bid, potentially,

:26:42.:26:44.

eventually, the two could be rivals and that could spell out a very

:26:45.:26:50.

different story. Already there is huge tension between Team Boris and

:26:51.:26:55.

Team George Osborne. It is even to hear even senior Tories talk with

:26:56.:26:59.

each other about which side they are on. Imagining some 2018 run off. But

:27:00.:27:05.

politicians are mental chess players, and Boris Johnson features

:27:06.:27:10.

at a great big Queen in the chess board and George Osborne being the

:27:11.:27:14.

rival Queen. Many Tories are wondering how this will play out and

:27:15.:27:18.

beginning to take sides behind one of these two men. The big question

:27:19.:27:22.

is which seats will be freed up and where would make geographic sense

:27:23.:27:28.

for the man who will take the day job of the London mayor. George

:27:29.:27:33.

Young could be one, he's standing down. Or the seat of Andrew

:27:34.:27:39.

Lansley's in south Cambridgeshire if he was the new EU minister. Peter

:27:40.:27:50.

Tapsal and Patrick Mercer are also standing down. Then there is London,

:27:51.:27:54.

seats in Bromley and Beckenham, Uxbridge and Richmond, often

:27:55.:27:57.

mentioned yet all four MPs there have told me today they are not

:27:58.:28:01.

standing down. What are you left with? Kensington and Chelsea might

:28:02.:28:06.

sound obvious, but no fine from Malcolm Rifkind he's willing to give

:28:07.:28:12.

up that prize yet. Cameron is the insider, Boris is the outsider, he

:28:13.:28:15.

doesn't have a great gang of people ready to take over or the key

:28:16.:28:20.

installations. The bookies' odds on a Boris Johnson MP have never been

:28:21.:28:23.

shorter, that perhaps is for others to say. As the classic scholar

:28:24.:28:31.

himself might put it even if everyone else does he won't. What

:28:32.:28:37.

happens if you lose everything? You go bankrupt. It is a question which

:28:38.:28:42.

may face more of us if interest rates rise, what happens when

:28:43.:28:46.

discharging the debt can cost you many times over. Sometimes debtors

:28:47.:28:51.

have no choice but to allow professionals called insolvency

:28:52.:28:54.

practitioners to manage their affairs, the Government is

:28:55.:28:57.

increasingly concerned that the fees they charge can be very high. Even

:28:58.:29:01.

over a small debt of just several thousand pounds, fees can bring the

:29:02.:29:07.

total bill to tens of thousands. The consequences can be devastating, as

:29:08.:29:12.

Richard Watson has been finding out in a report made by Fire Crest

:29:13.:29:20.

Films. Debtor, bankrupt, terms which instill fear and shame, for friends

:29:21.:29:23.

and family the stakes can be very high. When people can't pay,

:29:24.:29:28.

professionals are brought in to handle their assets, but they charge

:29:29.:29:34.

fees, often by the hour. The Government is reviewing the level of

:29:35.:29:38.

fees across the insolvency business. We have also been investigating fees

:29:39.:29:41.

charged by lawyers and accountants when things go wrong. And some of

:29:42.:29:47.

what we found gives rise to serious cause for concern. Alan Town, 55,

:29:48.:29:55.

used to live in his own home. After being made bankrupt he has moved

:29:56.:30:01.

back in with his 92-year-old father. I'm very lucky I have had the

:30:02.:30:04.

support of my family. A lot of people, however, do not have that

:30:05.:30:09.

sort of support, so if their properties are lost they would be

:30:10.:30:13.

out on the streets. Alan used to live in a flat he owned outright

:30:14.:30:17.

here in South-East London. It was forcibly sold after he was made

:30:18.:30:23.

bankrupt over unpaid council tax of ?7,000, other debts brought the

:30:24.:30:30.

total amount owed to ?27,000. In bankruptcy the costs began to rise

:30:31.:30:35.

steeply, ?13,000 of fees were payable to the Government, called

:30:36.:30:41.

Secretary of State fees, and ?11,000 were legal fees, but the single

:30:42.:30:45.

biggest cost came from fees charged by what is known as a trustee in

:30:46.:30:50.

bankruptcy, appointed to sell assets so creditors can be paid, ?36,000

:30:51.:30:55.

were from Alan's trustee, who worked for a big firm of accountants. The

:30:56.:31:00.

total cost of bankruptcy including his initial debts came to just under

:31:01.:31:06.

?100,000. His flat was sold to pay the bill. The trustee told the

:31:07.:31:13.

family that the reason costs were so high was because Alan was

:31:14.:31:17.

obstructive and didn't engage in the process. In Alan Town's case his

:31:18.:31:23.

trustee in bankruptcy was from a company now owned by accountany

:31:24.:31:29.

giant Baker Tilly, we asked him to explain the fees run up over three

:31:30.:31:34.

years. They told us they didn't think it was appropriate to comment

:31:35.:31:39.

on individual cases. So what are trustees' fees? They are usually

:31:40.:31:44.

charged in bankruptcy by insolvency practitioners. Their job is to

:31:45.:31:48.

realise assets of the bankrupt to pay creditors what they are owed.

:31:49.:31:52.

Critics argue the way they are currently paid often by the hour,

:31:53.:32:00.

can send bills sky high. There are a very, very high chargeout rates,

:32:01.:32:06.

even ordinary is three figures plus, it is very, very lucrative, it is

:32:07.:32:11.

virtually a license to print money. The minister responsible for

:32:12.:32:14.

insolvency has been consulting with the industry. We are certainly

:32:15.:32:18.

concerned in Government about the level of fees, we have just closed a

:32:19.:32:24.

consultation looking at how we can change the way that fees are

:32:25.:32:28.

charged, we're looking at flat rate fees and fees as a proportion of

:32:29.:32:33.

asset that is are recovered and so on, we are looking at a variety of

:32:34.:32:39.

different options. But the insolvency industry opposes the

:32:40.:32:43.

ideas of fixed fees. The fixed fee idea has been put forward by

:32:44.:32:46.

Government in its recent consultation. We actually don't

:32:47.:32:49.

think that is the right way to go, and the reason we don't think that

:32:50.:32:53.

is the case is we don't think there is any evidence to show that will

:32:54.:32:57.

work. The report which lies behind the Government's plans for reform

:32:58.:33:02.

raises particular concern about small personal bankruptcy where

:33:03.:33:06.

there is a family home at stake. Often fees rise massively when

:33:07.:33:13.

people fight to avoid paying debts. For 30 years Peter Williams lived

:33:14.:33:18.

and worked in his house in Bedfordshire, but astonishingly a

:33:19.:33:24.

?1350 debt he owed to his council spiralled into an ?80,000 bill. His

:33:25.:33:29.

family says it cost Peter his home and his life. I was totally

:33:30.:33:35.

appalled, absolutely appalled, and could not believe it. A debt of

:33:36.:33:43.

?1350 and to actually pursue it in this way, to make somebody bankrupt

:33:44.:33:50.

is beyond belief. Colleagues say Peter Williams was a brilliant

:33:51.:33:54.

inventor, but his private life started falling apart after he fell

:33:55.:34:00.

ill in the 1990s. Friends and family say he was vulnerable. Council tax

:34:01.:34:04.

bills went unpaid for almost ten years. The council says he had

:34:05.:34:09.

plenty of chances to settle. Eventually he was made bankrupt, he

:34:10.:34:13.

paid some council tax, but with legal fees he still owed around

:34:14.:34:20.

?1350. The accountany firm Grant Thornton was appointed at Peter's

:34:21.:34:25.

trustee in bankruptcy, that meant they handled his assets, like his

:34:26.:34:28.

house here, to make sure his debts with were paid. The fees for Peter

:34:29.:34:34.

Williams' bankruptcy began to climb. In 2010 his friend asked the council

:34:35.:34:39.

for breakdown of the bill. They wrote back to us and told us that

:34:40.:34:47.

they will not tell us how the debt was broken down, because it will

:34:48.:34:51.

further inflate the debt if they did. As in most insolvency Grant

:34:52.:34:57.

Thornton was charging by the hour. A partner is charged out at ?450 an

:34:58.:35:04.

hour. An administrator it is more than ?150 an hour, even for

:35:05.:35:09.

assistants and support staff it is over ?140 an hour. Soon the bill was

:35:10.:35:16.

in the tens of thousands. Peter Williams' house was to be sold to

:35:17.:35:21.

pay this and other bills. Finally a date in February 2012 was set for

:35:22.:35:26.

Peter's eviction, on that day a policeman called at his sister's

:35:27.:35:32.

house. He told -- He told me that my brother had died. I just couldn't

:35:33.:35:40.

believe it, because I didn't know anything about what had been going

:35:41.:35:49.

on. I just could not believe it. Peter Williams had taken his own

:35:50.:35:54.

life. After his death his family is told the costs of his bankruptcy,

:35:55.:36:02.

nearly ?80,000. More than ?27,000 were fees charged by Grant Thornton

:36:03.:36:09.

as trustee. I was horrified. Absolutely horrified, the minute

:36:10.:36:12.

trustees in bankruptcy are brought in there is a huge charge. Grant

:36:13.:36:21.

Thornton told Newsnight that the family have their deepest

:36:22.:36:24.

sympathies, they said the prosession of the bankruptcy required numerous

:36:25.:36:28.

court hearings all of which necessarily contributed to the time

:36:29.:36:31.

and costs involved. They also said they agreed to repeated delves of

:36:32.:36:39.

the possession order to -- deferral order to allow Mr Williams to

:36:40.:36:44.

explore his options. Was it right to force him into bankruptcy over such

:36:45.:36:50.

a small debt in the first place. Currently those owing ?750 can be

:36:51.:36:55.

forced into bankruptcy by law. The level of ?750 in 1986 and times have

:36:56.:36:59.

changed and what is appropriate is different now. I'm looking at it to

:37:00.:37:04.

see if the threshold needs to be increased. Central Bedfordshire

:37:05.:37:09.

council said they have always recognised the tragic nature of

:37:10.:37:13.

Peter Williams' death, but for more than a decade he didn't pay the

:37:14.:37:18.

council tax. They distanced themselves and said the debt that

:37:19.:37:24.

ultimately led to action to repossess Mr Williams' home related

:37:25.:37:28.

to the costs pursued by Grant Thornton, which were entirely

:37:29.:37:34.

outside the council's control. The insolvency profession has currently

:37:35.:37:38.

eight, yes eight regulators, who people can complain to if they feel

:37:39.:37:43.

they have been treated unfairly. They cannot assess the level of fees

:37:44.:37:47.

charged by trustees. You are put in the position where you have to

:37:48.:37:50.

accept what they have said and what they are willing to give you at the

:37:51.:37:53.

end of the process. And the regulator won't look at it? I don't

:37:54.:38:00.

know what the regulator actually does. Insolvency cases are driven by

:38:01.:38:06.

law and the moment the redress for someone who has concerns about the

:38:07.:38:12.

fees is to go to the court. Someone has taken themselves to

:38:13.:38:17.

court won't do so because it is a vastly expensive process? The court

:38:18.:38:23.

is very ready to look at insolvency practicers' fees. The Government

:38:24.:38:28.

wants to reform the bankruptcy business by strengthening regulation

:38:29.:38:33.

and capping fees. The insolvency industry is resisting some of the

:38:34.:38:37.

changes, but for families affected reform is long overdue. As birthdays

:38:38.:38:49.

go, William shakes peers is -- William Shakespeare is some what

:38:50.:38:53.

imprecise. Newsnight thought it would get in on the celebrations

:38:54.:38:57.

going on in Stratford. Every night we will finish the programme with

:38:58.:39:02.

big British stars performing their own favourites of Shakespeare. Here

:39:03.:39:07.

is Helen Mirren on what Shakespeare means to her, ahead of her

:39:08.:39:14.

performance on Friday. When I was young I didn't go to the cinema, we

:39:15.:39:20.

didn't have television, but I did see an amateur production of Hamlet

:39:21.:39:27.

was when I was 14, I was completely overwhelmed and it was so magical to

:39:28.:39:33.

me, just the story alone, imagine seeing Hamlet when you don't know

:39:34.:39:38.

that Opheila goes mad or that Hamlet dies, I didn't know any of that. You

:39:39.:39:41.

are watching it like a thriller as much asking? Anything else. It was

:39:42.:39:45.

such an electrifying experience for me that I immediately went back and

:39:46.:39:50.

found a very musty old copy of Shakespeare that my parents had, and

:39:51.:39:55.

started reading it, and that was the moment I think that I realised that

:39:56.:40:03.

was really what I wanted to do. By favoured fountain or rushy brooks,

:40:04.:40:09.

thy brawls though has disturbed our sport. Children should not be

:40:10.:40:13.

allowed to read Shakespeare until her 15 years old, taken to see a

:40:14.:40:18.

play at 13, 14, they would say you can't read it is much too grown up,

:40:19.:40:22.

not allowed, not until you are 16. Then of course you are dying to

:40:23.:40:29.

secretly reading Shakespeare in your bedroom. A play like Coreolanus, you

:40:30.:40:40.

can do a play Ross thighesing for fuedalism or capitalism. That is the

:40:41.:40:45.

extraordinary nature of his work is that it is just always multifaceted.

:40:46.:40:56.

You can put it in an African, Aborigine society, an Asian society,

:40:57.:41:00.

and it always has resonance to the people who watch it. I would love to

:41:01.:41:12.

play Juliet! Too late! But I do practice Juliet from time to time.

:41:13.:41:15.

You know. REPORTER: Did you ever have to turn

:41:16.:41:20.

down Juliet? No, I was never asked, it broke my heart. Especially when I

:41:21.:41:25.

realised I was in my 30s and 40s and it is not going to happen now. It is

:41:26.:41:34.

not going to happen now. Gap hop apace you feeble feet, bring on

:41:35.:41:40.

cloudy night immediately! Starting us off with our first performance

:41:41.:41:44.

will be David Harewood in just a moment. Before that let's discuss

:41:45.:41:51.

Shakespeare's power today with the director with us. We were talking

:41:52.:41:55.

about the idea that you can do anything with shakes beer? We have

:41:56.:42:00.

just done a production at the Donmar, set roughly in a Rome that

:42:01.:42:04.

feels a bit like now. The amazing thing about it, it ran the NT lives,

:42:05.:42:09.

which go out around the world. I have had people writing from Russia

:42:10.:42:13.

movingly saying this is an incredible play about democracy. Do

:42:14.:42:17.

you find it good, do you agree with Helen you shouldn't be allowed to

:42:18.:42:21.

read Shakespeare at school? I would disagree. I think you should give

:42:22.:42:26.

Shakespeare to kids all around the world and let them experience it. It

:42:27.:42:30.

is only by experiencing it, it comes alive, by reading it, saying it,

:42:31.:42:34.

experiencing it, that is when you get the full benefit of it for me.

:42:35.:42:40.

It has so many ideas in the writing, so much beautiful language and so

:42:41.:42:45.

many beautiful images in the language. It really comes alive when

:42:46.:42:49.

kids get a hold of it and understand what it is about. Do you remember at

:42:50.:42:54.

school, I remember it was Macbeth? The most brilliant thing happened, I

:42:55.:42:59.

was in correspondence with my brother's niece who is six years old

:43:00.:43:04.

and studying Shakespeare, she has been writing e-mails saying about

:43:05.:43:10.

adding things with the witches' cauldron and stirring things with

:43:11.:43:14.

someone's arm, it is making her brain pop. Have you seen firsthand

:43:15.:43:19.

how it can change children's lives? We did the all-female workshops

:43:20.:43:25.

around Shakespeare's plays, and there was a girl in the workshops

:43:26.:43:30.

who never been heard to speak before, she was reading Julius

:43:31.:43:35.

ceaser, it is so KOUFRL. The point is about not making it dry and the

:43:36.:43:40.

performance. What we are mindful at the moment is it doesn't desiccate

:43:41.:43:44.

into the curriculum as something academic, they were written to be

:43:45.:43:47.

spoken and performed. Shakespeare never published his plays in his

:43:48.:43:51.

lifetime, but after his death. He wanted them to be exciting and

:43:52.:44:01.

crackling things, not dusty books? I have experienced Shakespeare in

:44:02.:44:06.

prisons, and these prisoners have no experience of the language but when

:44:07.:44:11.

they understand about it, you can feel their back straighten and these

:44:12.:44:14.

huge characters come alive. And they start to understand this isn't some

:44:15.:44:18.

kind of posh you know thing that belongs to the rich people or people

:44:19.:44:21.

living in London, it belongs to all of us. And there is no right or

:44:22.:44:25.

wrong in Shakespeare, you can do it anywhere, any time, and why

:44:26.:44:29.

shouldn't Helen play Juliet, it would be fantastic to see it. There

:44:30.:44:33.

is absolutely no right or wrong in Shakespeare, can you do it wherever

:44:34.:44:37.

and whenever. Tonight you are going to do Iago, why? I have always been

:44:38.:44:43.

interested in doing things, as I said, that you are not supposed to

:44:44.:44:46.

do. Or flipping things on their head. And the idea of having, I did

:44:47.:44:55.

Iago for my RADA audition, I can remember their faces going you are

:44:56.:45:00.

doing this not Othello, and I thought why not. You can't do

:45:01.:45:03.

anything wrong with Shakespeare, and it is about bringing it alive. If it

:45:04.:45:09.

means casting a white actor in a black role, or whatever, or a woman

:45:10.:45:13.

as a man, do it. You go off and prepare, one final question for joss

:45:14.:45:19.

circumstance having done -- Josie, having done your all-female Julius

:45:20.:45:25.

Caesar, has it whetted your appetite for another production with

:45:26.:45:29.

all-women? We would love to bring that work back, it had such a great

:45:30.:45:32.

force of change in the lives of the actors that did it. Listening to

:45:33.:45:37.

David there, it is a great point about elitism, it is only elitist if

:45:38.:45:41.

people don't get to go to the theatre and drama doesn't get caught

:45:42.:45:44.

in school, when you don't allow admission to it, that is elitist, it

:45:45.:45:50.

isn't at its heart. Here is David Harewood playing Iago from act I of

:45:51.:45:58.

Othello. Oh Sir content you, I follow him to serve my turn upon

:45:59.:46:03.

him. We cannot all be masters, nor all masters cannot be truly

:46:04.:46:09.

followed. You shall mark many a duteous and knee crooking knave, who

:46:10.:46:15.

doting on his obsequious bondage wearing out his time like his

:46:16.:46:21.

master's ass, when he's old cash yeared, with me such honest knaves,

:46:22.:46:29.

others, there are who trimmed in forms and visages of beauty, kept

:46:30.:46:34.

yet their hearts intending on themselves, and throwing but shows

:46:35.:46:38.

of service on their Lords, do well thrive by them. And when they have

:46:39.:46:43.

lined their coats, do themselves homage. Those fellows have some

:46:44.:46:50.

soul, and such a wonder I profess myself, for Sir, it is as sure as

:46:51.:46:56.

you are Rodrigo, and I the moor, I would not be Iago, and following him

:46:57.:47:03.

I follow but myself, not I for love and duty, but seeming so for my

:47:04.:47:08.

peculiar end, and when my outward action demonstrate the native act

:47:09.:47:16.

and figure of my heart in confident external, it is not long after, that

:47:17.:47:22.

I will wait my heart upon my sleeve for daws to peck at. I am not

:47:23.:47:42.

Rain continues to spread east overnight, heavy showers fading from

:47:43.:47:47.

south-west England and Northern Ireland, a chilly start to the south

:47:48.:47:50.

west of the UK, patchy fog too, Wales, Midland, southern England

:47:51.:47:53.

slowly clearing and then a

:47:54.:47:55.