06/06/2014 Newsnight


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


terrible day there were diplomatic manoeuvrings in the margins over


current European tensions surrounding Ukraine. Our diplomatic


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


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


operation in military history, little wonder that its commemoration


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


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


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


events across Normandy, the key leaders emphasised freedom and


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


demonstrated the closeness of their alliance, but the Russian President


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


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


infringed the rules of modern diplomatic behaviour. Mr Putin took


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


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


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


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


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


fellow prisoners. Today the relationship with Germany is managed


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


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


Allies devastated while capturing it. Each British division was


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


about the state of peacetime alliance, lately troubled between


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


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


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


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


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


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


To commemorate an event of such global importance with the local


people and the English and American participants. Nearby were two


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


have seen literally thousands of re-enactors and military vehicle


enthusiasts descend on Normandy, among hundreds of thousands of


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


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


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


lasted three months, and chewed through entire battalions and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the French communities that still feel an enormous sense of gratitude


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


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


commemorations are changing as the last veterans pass, so the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


amphibious operation started. He survived but his immediate commander


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


there have been wars that have been much more controversial and


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


distinguish between a Government decision made on political grounds


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


There was some interesting vignettes were there not of conversations


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


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


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


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


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


generations would be able to achieve what those remembered today have


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


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


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


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


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


generation who decide to become soldiers or sailors or whatever


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


conscription army, something extremely difficult. Do you think


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Secretary and the Education Secretary have been throwing tops


over their joint handling or mishandling of accusations of Muslim


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


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


Next Monday we are expecting 21 Ofsted reports into schools in


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


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


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


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


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


become conducive to Islamic extremism. If it is only


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


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


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


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


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


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


were supposed to use that to innovate and compete with one


another, the idea was competition and innovation would drive up


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the traditional publisher, but making it trickier for customers to


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


books at relentlessly low price, under the value the publishers


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


are not isolated geographically. Anyone with anything to do with


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


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


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


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


representing authors like Janet winterson, and Sam Jordison head of


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Publishing is always fighting the growth of large retailers, sume


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


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


traders about negotiating different terms with different retailers.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


when she performed there four years ago.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


practising the called Abramovich method, explained as exercises to


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


We'll meet again # Don't know where


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


# Some sunny day # Keep smiling through


# Just like you # Always do


# Till the blue skies # Chase those dark clouds


# Far away


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