06/06/2014 Newsnight


06/06/2014

What can D-Day tell us about today's army? Plus reports on extremism in Birmingham schools and Amazon's effect on publishing, and a conversation with Marina Abramovic.


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Lest we forget, 70 years on, speeches, song and silent tears. The

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veterans of the day that changed the course of the Second World War

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gather. But how does the act of rembering shape new memories. A lot

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of them people talking to children about the war, are they doing a good

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thing or not? Because you are encouraging people to join. We talk

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to the former head of the British Army about what today means to him.

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Is the world's biggest book-seller just an internet monster on a

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mission to destroy? They decided they wanted an extra 5% this year,

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next year they could decide they want another 5%, the next year

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another 5% and as far as I can see that is exactly what they intend to

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do until they destroy the existing publishing industry. And are you

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quite ready for this? I'm in the Serpentine gallery, this is my

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house, I'm doing 512 hours interaction with the public and I'm

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on Newsnight. Only the hardest of hearts could fail to have been moved

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by the sight of 2,000 veterans, their jackets weighed down with

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medals, revisiting the beaches of Normandy, where seven decades ago,

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as young men, even teenagers, they landed. Uncertain of what would

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greet them. The commemorations were crammed with military top brass,

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royals and world leaders too. Even as they remembered that great and

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terrible day there were diplomatic manoeuvrings in the margins over

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current European tensions surrounding Ukraine. Our diplomatic

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editor has been assessing the day's events and the changing meaning of

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these D-Day observances. It was the most ambitious and daring

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operation in military history, little wonder that its commemoration

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should also be on a grand scale. TRANSLATION: What did these young

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men have in mind? The French President, host and ring master,

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said his country would never forget its liberators. In speeches at

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events across Normandy, the key leaders emphasised freedom and

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democracy, and kept veterans to the fore. The US, British and French

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demonstrated the closeness of their alliance, but the Russian President

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sometimes looked a lonely figure, invited here because of Russia's

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enormous war time sacrifice, but deemed by the others to have

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infringed the rules of modern diplomatic behaviour. Mr Putin took

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the chance to meet his Ukrainian counterpart, even to exchange words

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with Barack Obama, trying to mend fences, and when peace was uppermost

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in everyone's minds. For all today's polished political messages, never

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forget that this was total war at horrendous human cost. Stiffening of

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resistance was to be expected. A man with his face bashed joins his

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fellow prisoners. Today the relationship with Germany is managed

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with the utmost care. The British this week have added memorials at

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what's called the Peace Garden on the outskirts of Caen, a city the

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Allies devastated while capturing it. Each British division was

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commemorated with a blood-red rose. Sitting beside the French

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dignitaries the Mayor of A German city. Now the reactions are very

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positive, more interested than negative, we have the same view back

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to history and we have the same looking forward for the future and

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that's a very interesting thing between the youth in Europe and I'm

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very greatful for the veterans, what they did to enable us to live in

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this Europe we live in today. So how is this cermonial conceived when

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Germany is today an ally and the Governments concerned want to avoid

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any allegation of war. Words like "victory" and "enemy" are difficult,

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because we are serving with the Germans. The victory was democracy,

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the defeat was the defeat of tyranny, I don't think we need to

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talk about the Allies and the Germans, we know that the Germans

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now are very different people and that the Germans feel that we

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liberated Europe. So I think that's really what we are here to

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celebrate. The victory of democracy and freedom. And if few want to harp

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on about old empties, how about the state of the -- emanyoneties, how

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about the state of peacetime alliance, lately troubled between

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Russia, America and Britain. These events have brought together many

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nations, at Pegasus Bridge they commemorated the launch of D-Day.

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And then, suddenly, amid the festive crowd a Russian patriotic song and

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dance combo appeared. I asked the Colonel in charge whether today's

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political tensions might have marred their reception. No, no.

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TRANSLATION: We have been made very welcome. We're so happy to be here.

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To commemorate an event of such global importance with the local

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people and the English and American participants. Nearby were two

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Dutchmen dressed as war time American paratroopers. They weren't

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pleased to see Russians. They are taking parts of land which aren't

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belonging to them. That is one of the reasons why this Second World

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War started and it is something we have to keep an eye on. I don't

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think I want things to escalate over there. We are rembering the peace

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that the British and American troops brought us. Starting a new war in

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the east of Europe is not something we are wanting. The commemorations

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have seen literally thousands of re-enactors and military vehicle

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enthusiasts descend on Normandy, among hundreds of thousands of

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sightseers. They come from all over Europe with a mixture of motives,

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from the noble to those posing, profiteering, or simply having a

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good time. The bitter fighting to break out of the Normandy beachhead

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lasted three months, and chewed through entire battalions and

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villages. Fintan was one of those who did much but talks little. He

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was here for the unveiling of a statue of his old CO. He's not sure

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about these events, lest they give young men dreams of glory. They have

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tried to keep the thoughts of the war to myself. When I say, when I

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see a lot of people talking to children about the war, are they

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doing a good thing or not? Because you are encouraging people to join.

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I know they are only adventurers and they like adventure, but should we

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not be teaching children more education about, there is lots of

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things out there to do. There is one more version of D-Day too, that of

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the French communities that still feel an enormous sense of gratitude

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to their liberators. Tonight we joined a twilight ceremony in the

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village here. Taken by the British 70 years ago today. These

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commemorations are changing as the last veterans pass, so the

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first-hand voice of experience fades with them and other narratives and

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other versions of what D-Day was about will come to predominate. The

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children here will at least be able to say that they met some of those

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who wrote this page of history. General Sir Mike Jackson the former

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head of the British Army is here. As we saw in the film there are all

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sorts of interested partns trying to draw their own lessons from today,

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what should we take from it? I will start with a personal reflection, my

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fatherlanded on Gold Beach in the military speak at H+ two, when the

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amphibious operation started. He survived but his immediate commander

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was killed, he had to take over. I think of my father. The much wider

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issue though, I'm struck, yet again by the scale, the complexity and the

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stakes. My goodness the stakes were so high. Had overlord failed and

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D-Day failed, it is almost unthinkable how events would have

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turned out. Thank the Lord it did not. It was momentous. It did

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change, the whole of the western war against Nazism, we should not forget

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the Titanic struggle on the eastern front as well, also taking place at

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this time. And there is, as we saw today, almost sort of a neverending

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pot of goodwill for that generation. Do you think that applies still to

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our attitude towards the Armed Forces in this country? Well, I

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believe it does. I think anybody serving, or indeed my case retired,

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has been hugely encouraged by the obvious warmth of the standing which

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we are held, the Armed Forces are held by the public. Despite the fact

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there have been wars that have been much more controversial and

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unpopular wars? I think the British public are perfectly able to

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distinguish between a Government decision made on political grounds

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and those whose duty it is, constitutional duty it is to

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implement them. They can make that difference. Do you think with these

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events of today in mind, do you think we now take peace in Europe

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for granted. We saw there on the sidelines Putin and Obama having a

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small private conversation, do you worry that we take for granted this?

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I hope we don't, I was much moved listening to one of the veterans

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earlier on tod was saying we don't want to go through this again. And

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certainly we do not. And so in a way not only did D-Day begin, the end of

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the war in the west and in Europe, but it shaped Europe afterwards. And

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Europe's shape does now potentially seem to be evolving again today. Are

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you concerned by some of the moves we have seen in recent months,

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particularly the situation in Ukraine and what's happening there.

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Crimea splitting away, Putin flexing his muscles all over the place?

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There was some interesting vignettes were there not of conversations

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between this and that leader. Does that worry you? Yes, we have

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instability in that very far south eastern corner of Europe. I'm not

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entirely inexperienced in the Balkan region. Yeah, there is still, I'm

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afraid dust yet to settle after the end of the Cold War. Do you feel,

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briefly, that if there were to be such a challenge again that current

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generations would be able to achieve what those remembered today have

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achieved. There has been a lot of speculation that generations now

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nobody would ever be able to be willing to give that sort of

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sacrifice? I'm not sure about that at all. The British Armed Forces

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have been pretty hard at work over the last two decades, two-and-a-half

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since the end of the Cold War. I for one have not found today's

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generation who decide to become soldiers or sailors or whatever

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lacking in any way at all. On the contrary. Was it at that point a

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conscription army, something extremely difficult. Do you think

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ever again we would see something of that scale where that national

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sacrifice would be required? I hope not, you are asking me to call the

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future and that I cannot do. I don't know if anybody else can, but I'm

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not claiming to do that, let us hope not. But I also feel that if in

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extreme situations that if the country had to be mobilised in that

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way we wouldn't be found wanting. Thank you for your reflections on an

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extraordinary day. Coming up, Katie Razzle gets into a stair-off with

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the artist Marina Abramovich. It is not easy. Now all this week the Home

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Secretary and the Education Secretary have been throwing tops

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over their joint handling or mishandling of accusations of Muslim

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extremism in some schools in Birmingham. Next week there could be

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a bit more clarity, maybe, Chris Cook is here, what can we expect?

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Next Monday we are expecting 21 Ofsted reports into schools in

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Birmingham. That is a lot for one day. We expect half-a-dozen

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recommend schools get put into what they call "special measures", that

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means the heads will get fired and probably a lot of the governors. The

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reason for that is they found in most of those schools, not all of

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them, but most of them, that those schools had become places that might

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become conducive to Islamic extremism. If it is only

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half-a-dozen schools, serious as it is for them, if it is only

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half-a-dozen why does it really matter for the rest of the country?

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Next week it will turn the corner from being a local story to national

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one, that is because a number of these schools were converter

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academies, taking part in Michael Gove's flagship policy. The idea was

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schools got a lot more freedom, less regulation, less supervision, they

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were supposed to use that to innovate and compete with one

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another, the idea was competition and innovation would drive up

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standards. The freedom to innovate is also the freedom to make

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mistakes. The Labour Party and oddly Theresa May this week, both think

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that Michael Gove may have drawn the line in the wrong place and perhaps

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there is too much freedom and not enough of a rigid structure. This

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will be a tough thing for Michael Gove to defend. And next week we are

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expecting a reshuffle, it will be pretty high stakes. Some speculation

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tonight that he might have to look for a different job. Yes. Publishing

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is dead! Hardly the most original cry of the doom-monger, we have

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heard it often enough. But the massive force of Amazon, appears to

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be employed in a new and perhaps more brutal axe particular against

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the traditional publisher, but making it trickier for customers to

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get hold of shipments of books from a company that Amazon is in dispute

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with, is it for real this time? So many of the bookshops lining

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charring crossroad have gone. Even Britain's most famous bookshop

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Foyles shut its doors on Monday, the shelves empty and the last books

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packed away. For Foyles this isn't the final chapter but the start of a

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new one, moving a few doors down to a new store. This is a multimillion

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pound gamble that despite what some predict, the physical book sold in

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high street stores has, not just a past, but a future. For Foyles this

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is about coexisting with Amazon, not competing. Doing it on the computer

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is fine, it is convenient, it is a transaction, if you move it a shop

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and it is done correctly it is an experience. We are social animal,

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all the things, eye connection and physical space is very important.

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This is something a physical store can do really well. Not everyone is

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as optimistic about the future of the publishing industry. At the

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moment book people are gripped by an unput downable dispute between the

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world's biggest bookseller and one of the world's biggest publishers.

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It looks like an ideolgical battle between Amazon who wants to sell

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books at relentlessly low price, under the value the publishers

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produce them at and sell them at, and publishers that want a diversity

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of the book market and doing that through decent prices for books and

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they can sustain a book-selling, author-community that includes great

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bookshops like Foyles. That dispute is between Amazon and the Hichet

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book group, it is over the terms on selling e-book, without an

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agreement, Amazon has stopped taking preorders or keeping large stocks of

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Hichet's books leading to large delays for readers. One publisher

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who tried holding out against Amazon said they ended up giving up. I

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thought with a small company like mine, specialist, selling to

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schools, libraries, universities, that I could probably manage and

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that my customers would go around, go to other channels, I found my

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revenue had dropped enough that I felt that I had been forced to go

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back and accept that deal. They simply decide, they decide they want

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an extra 5% year, they could decide next year, they want another 5%, the

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next year another 5%, as far as I can see that is exactly what they

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intend to do until they destroy the existing publishing industry. Amazon

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says in a blog it is simply doing what retailers have always done.

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Suppliers get to decide the terms under which they are willing to sell

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to a retailer, resipically it is the right of a -- reciprocally it is the

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right of the retailer to determine whether the terms of the offer are

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acceptable and to stock items. Other publishers don't seem to have a

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problem with Amazon? We have a much better time dealing with them than

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anybody else. They don't send books back, or over-order, they pay within

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a month and they level the playing field. At the moment the battle is

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being fought out in the US, but make no mistake, say industry watchers,

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it will end up affecting British readers. We are very similar to the

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US market. There are countries such as France and Germany which have

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very different systems for selling books, they still have fixed prices

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and you see Amazon having less success there, because the market is

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so similar because publishers have a common parentage now, these things

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are not isolated geographically. Anyone with anything to do with

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publishing in the UK will be watching the new Foyles's store. The

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industry faces a fight to survive. In the end bookshops and publishers

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will only thrive if the public is willing to support them. Will with

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us tonight is Caroline Michelle, the chairman of literary agency PFT

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representing authors like Janet winterson, and Sam Jordison head of

:20:46.:20:54.

a publishing firm. Isn't anyone in publishing who doesn't buy into

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Amazon a bit like a farrier who is protesting about the Model T Ford? I

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don't think it is the issue of technology, that is the myth that is

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put about that people who oppose Amazon are some how opposing the

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technology, I'm all for the technology, what I'm against is the

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way they use the technology and their practices which seem to me to

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be monopolistic. Are they a monopoly, is it healthy to have such

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a dominant force in an industry? It feels as if it has been ever thus.

:21:30.:21:34.

Publishing is always fighting the growth of large retailers, sume

:21:35.:21:38.

markets at one point, the emergance of Water stilled stones and how they

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decided to trade. That is not a good thing? But it is always good to have

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traders about negotiating different terms with different retailers.

:21:49.:21:52.

Without getting into the details, the company in the US is a $10

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million business, and they are feeling threatened by Amazon, isn't

:21:59.:22:02.

it new? I don't think it is new, our publishers have always been fighting

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on terms. You have one big company fighting another big company. I

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think it is very different in terms of scale, and Amazon they can make

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books to all intents and purposes disappear now, they have so much

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power if you are not in Amazon you are not in the world? I don't think

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that is true, you say it is not about technology, it is about the

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fact that now books have to keep up with how people want to deliver

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their entertainment. We had with film and music, if you want books

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you have to know how and when and where you want them. What Amazon

:22:36.:22:41.

provided the first platform to deliver 82% of e-books and a vast

:22:42.:22:47.

proportion of print books, surely this is an opportunity for other

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retailers to do something about it. You say you don't have a problem

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with the technology, what would you have us do? I don't have a magic

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machine that can change everything around. What I would like to see is

:22:58.:23:01.

many more players in the game, I would like to see the players that

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aren't bullies, the tactics that Amazon use against publishers and

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other retailers... How would you do that? At this stage it is very hard

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because Amazon are so powerful, I would urge people to boycott them.

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You are suggesting a boycott, you had a huge success this week, one of

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your books, The Girl Half Formed, won the Bailey's Prize, and today

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you can order it on Amazon to be delivered on Monday. You can order

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it other place, I am using it and I have a duty to authors, removing

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their books from them would have damage to them. That is the power

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that they have. It is a good power, that book is number four of all

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books on Stamm son, on the best seller list, that is fantastic for

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an author on a first novel. OK I don't particularly want to talk

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about one book. But a book that sells in different places where it

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is getting better margins that is a better thing. When a book sells on

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Amazon the author and publisher get less money? It depends, because it

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has provided a place where writers can make money as writers for the

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first time, it is a beginning. We are in a big transition for all of

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us. Briefly as an agent you are the go-between here between authors and

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publishers, there must be people like Sam, often afraid to speak up,

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who feel squeezed, who feel maybe bullied to use your word, is that

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not happening? I think, my job is to get the writer to the reader, the

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fastest, the best, the most profitable for the writer in a way

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possible. It has opened it up and made it a level playing field,

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whether a self-published, small publisher, major publish e you can

:24:53.:24:56.

get out and earn money. I will leave this for you two to thrash out, you

:24:57.:25:01.

will never agree, thank you very much indeed. There aren't many

:25:02.:25:06.

artists prepared to die for their trade. Marina Abramovich is one of

:25:07.:25:11.

them. She has been striped, burnt and stabbed in the same of art. At

:25:12.:25:18.

one point invited audience members to point a loaded gun at her head.

:25:19.:25:22.

She's only one of two artists to make it on to Time Magazine's 100

:25:23.:25:30.

influential artist in the world. Her new exhibition is about to open in

:25:31.:25:47.

London. We went to meet her. Waiting to meet Marina Abramovich is

:25:48.:25:52.

a nerve racking business, what do you expect from a performance artist

:25:53.:25:57.

who has always brought the unexpected. Her last show had people

:25:58.:26:07.

crying just looking at her. In the end I didn't cry, our face-off took

:26:08.:26:14.

place at the Serpentine Gallery in London, where Marina Abramovich will

:26:15.:26:17.

spend most of the next three months. It is not easy. I'm removing even

:26:18.:26:22.

these two chairs, there will be nothing, absolutely nothing. And

:26:23.:26:27.

what will happen? I don't know, that is why I'm in such a panic. I just

:26:28.:26:31.

want to see what we can do with pure energy, what we can do from the

:26:32.:26:36.

personal contact. Will you be talking? Maybe silence but maybe

:26:37.:26:42.

talking later, or maybe we all talk, maybe we cream or lie on the floor.

:26:43.:26:51.

It is so important to see how we can actually create that create that

:26:52.:26:55.

sense of here and now, that is all. Being in the present, the here and

:26:56.:26:59.

now is where Abramovich wants her audiences, she got America excited

:27:00.:27:04.

when she performed there four years ago.

:27:05.:27:06.

50,000 people queued and queued for a chance to sit opposite the silent

:27:07.:27:11.

staring artist for as long or short a time as they wanted. New York is a

:27:12.:27:16.

pretty lonely place and lots of pain, that's something like an

:27:17.:27:22.

eruption from the inside outside. That was the incredible reaction. I

:27:23.:27:25.

didn't expect it. How do you think the Brits will feel about it? I

:27:26.:27:29.

worry about the British, they are sarcastic and make money of

:27:30.:27:35.

everything. It is like I don't know maybe the drink, I'm worried about

:27:36.:27:39.

the Friday and Saturdays, this work in a way you have to open yourself

:27:40.:27:43.

to have experiences, in order to experience you have to be

:27:44.:27:47.

vulnerable. The British don't like easily to show their vulnerability.

:27:48.:27:53.

Not many 67-year-olds would be dancing with Jay-Z, but celebrity

:27:54.:28:01.

America fetes Abramovich. Lady Gaga is her protege. Here they are

:28:02.:28:05.

practising the called Abramovich method, explained as exercises to

:28:06.:28:10.

heighten awareness in the moment. Suspect? A bit Emperor's new

:28:11.:28:14.

clothes, there are plenty who think that. Often it was no clothes, for

:28:15.:28:18.

an artist who has remained true to performance for more than four

:28:19.:28:22.

decades. For her it is other parts of the art world that are dubious.

:28:23.:28:30.

When Francis bacon picture sold for $140 million, it is incredible, how

:28:31.:28:34.

you could possibly ever see this painting without seeing money in the

:28:35.:28:38.

front. You know, the essence of painting is lost. I wanted to take

:28:39.:28:43.

everything away, I want to see, I want to bring back to the pureness

:28:44.:28:49.

of art which is about energy. It could never be said that Abramovich

:28:50.:28:53.

hasn't suffered in her quest to share that energy. In a show in the

:28:54.:28:58.

1970s she placed 72 items on a table, from feathers and roses to a

:28:59.:29:03.

loaded gun, for six hours audiences could use anything against her

:29:04.:29:08.

passive body. I didn't feel any control. I was just an object for

:29:09.:29:11.

them. And that was frightening because I understood the public can

:29:12.:29:16.

kill you. But in this other case. Did anyone pick up the gun? They

:29:17.:29:20.

picked it up and put it in my hand. They tried to see if I was ready to

:29:21.:29:25.

pull the trigger myself and pushing it in my hand. And I started to do

:29:26.:29:31.

it, and someone else freaked out and took the gun, they started fighting.

:29:32.:29:35.

It was a very strong experience that actually when you completely become

:29:36.:29:39.

an object what can happen to you. Does she get a thrill from pain or

:29:40.:29:44.

is it something else? We just don't want pain in our life. But we are

:29:45.:29:49.

afraid of these things, afraid of dying and pain. I go through this

:29:50.:29:54.

pain for experience, and I push limits, physical and mental on my

:29:55.:29:58.

body, as far as I can. If I can do this and liberate myself from the

:29:59.:30:02.

fear of the pain, they can do that themselves in their own life. Now

:30:03.:30:07.

came the test, a preview of how her interaction with audiences will

:30:08.:30:11.

begin when the show opens. Remember Abramovich is one of two artists on

:30:12.:30:16.

Time Magazine's 100 most influential people, so she's doing something

:30:17.:30:24.

right. I will hold your hand, we will find this really great spot and

:30:25.:30:29.

I try to give all my energy. Cynical Brits may mock, but performance art

:30:30.:30:33.

is about experience, perhaps none of us can judge this unless we see it

:30:34.:30:41.

for ourselves. That's it kids. As the longest day draws to a close, we

:30:42.:30:45.

leave you tonight with images from 70 years ago, and today. Accompanied

:30:46.:30:53.

by what else, Dame Vera Lynn's war time classic, We'll Meet Again, not

:30:54.:30:58.

just any recording, her original from 1939. A very good night.

:30:59.:31:03.

We'll meet again # Don't know where

:31:04.:31:10.

# Don't know when # But I know we'll meet again

:31:11.:31:20.

# Some sunny day # Keep smiling through

:31:21.:31:26.

# Just like you # Always do

:31:27.:31:31.

# Till the blue skies # Chase those dark clouds

:31:32.:31:39.

# Far away

:31:40.:31:44.

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