04/09/2014 Newsnight


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

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Are NATO leaders in South Wales preparing for a new Cold War?


After Afghanistan NATO needs another mission, but a new cold war? Views


on that here seem to depend on how close to Russia you live? The


aggression will be sooner or later on the NATO borders and then it will


be a wider conflict and cost more to be stopped. Now that everybody knows


that the frontline aid worker David Haines is the British hostage under


threat of death at the hands of IS, David Cameron says he's taking


charge of efforts to bring him home alive. What can Britain do? We have


the right policy saying we won't pay ransoms to terrorists who kidnap our


citizens. That is difficult for families when they are the victims


of these terrorists. Meet the Meek family, they have pulled their


children out of school for a year to take them on educational odyssey


around Britain in a caravan. What happens when they go stir crazy?


Good evening, has Vladimir Putin set NATO his biggest test since the end


of the Cold War. While the 18 leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty


Organisation were gathering in Newport, South Wales today,


pro-Russian separatist were advancing on the seaport of Mariupol


with tanks and artillery. The secretary-general of NATO demanded


Moscow withdraw the thousands of troops it has in Ukraine and stop


the flow of arms and funds and troops. Vladimir Putin has raised


the prospect of an imminent ceasefire, who has the whip hand.


Our diplomatic editor is at the summit.


You know when Petro Poroshenko the Ukrainian President came here he


knew already that NATO would offer him very little in terms of firm


military-type support. And that's why earlier this week he seems to


have grasped the nettle of going for this peace negotiation. A


negotiation that many people here regard as extremely unequal and


likely to freeze in the gains of Russian separatist in east Ukraine


and to call into question the integrity and sovereignty of


Ukraine. But long along in this certain countries within the western


alliance, like Germany and Italy have favoured talking over other


more or potentially confrontational-type action, and


that is how it has been here today. That has meant they haven't moved


ahead in offering more assertive type of support to Ukraine and they


haven't put any new sanctions on Russia yet. Although that could


still happen in the coming days. So with those differences of view


that begs the question about whether this threat to Ukraine and the new


assertiveness of Russia, under Mr Putin does give NATO the type of


mission, purpose, it has been looking for, since the end of the


Cold War and whether it is in fact the beginning of what you might call


a new Cold War. Golf courses and weapons of war


don't really mix. But you could do worse if searching for a metaphor,


for an alliance that is trying to get people thinking less about


leisure and more about security. For some of the leaders here the idea of


leisure and more about security. For a second Cold War is not so far


fetched. We will, very often meet Russians in our airspace and we have


to show them that we have capacity like that. We will have, we will


have larger investments especially in the air area. You clearly have


concerns about what Russia is doing right now, do you think those are


shared across the alliance or do you think there is still important


differences for example over Ukraine? I think it is, I think most


NATO countries are now, especially after this summer's shooting down of


the Dutch plane, the Malaysian plane that was shot down, I think it was a


change of tone seeing the aggression, seeing how the


separatist were working. I think the last weeks proved that there are


Russian soldiers inside Ukraine, participating in the fighting. I


think all of this has convinced most NATO countries that the Russian


aggression has to be stopped. There was a demonstration of life-saving


medical skills, learned in the hard school of Afghanistan. A


medical skills, learned in the hard NATO operations and all the horror


they involve has left the alliance weary and perhaps freed it of any


glib notions of war. The end of the Afghan campaign inevitae begs


questions about what NATO is for. NATO was founded in 1949 on the


simple basis that an attack on one would be an attack on all. Since


then it has grown to 28 members, including some of the Republics that


used to be in the Soviet Union. They in particular now argue that Ukraine


has become a test case for a new Russian expansionism that requires


unity and firmness. If we will not stop an agressor in Ukraine the


agressor will sooner or later on our NATO borders, and then it will be


wider to spread conflict and cost a lot more to be stopped. Should


western countries supply Ukraine with weapons? I think that the


Ukraine needs to be supported in all necessary security measures


available and because the nation is united, at least the nation is ready


to go and fight and the history lessons are saying that you never


give in, countries and never give up countries. But even as this summit


was convening it was clear it could offer the Ukrainians money, training


and ration, but no weapons. And while it gave their President a VIP


welcome, it also sent him on his way to peace talks with President Putin


where much may have to be conceded. I think he faces a very difficult


situation, because he's clearly confronted with regular Russian


troops that have invaded his country. And that's why he needs the


support of us, the political support, the sanctions support, the


economic support, because he's taking a beating with the Ukrainian


economy, it is not only military things that count, it is quite a lot


of other things now. What has been striking here today is the countries


that have been most interested in coming out and talking to us are


what you might call Russia's nervous neighbours. Those who think trade


should be disrupted less, or who have perhaps been reluctant to call


events in eastern Ukraine an invasion have been less visible


here. And that hints at divisions in the alliance that have so far


prevented it from getting back to that type of Cold War unity and


common purpose. President Obama left for dinner this evening resisting


the temptation for a spot of putting. He doesn't like talk of a


second Cold War. But it is to America that many nations now look


for leadership as a resurgent Russia unsettles NATO. Joining us now from


Moscow is a former adviser to Boris Yeltsin, and now a director of the


Institute of Democracy and Cooperation think-tank, good


evening. First of all, is Vladimir Putin trying to remake the USSR? It


is absurd to think in these terms, because Vladimir Putin said who


didn't regret the disbandment and the collapse of the Soviet Union. He


didn't have a heart but who is trying to or would like to restore


the Soviet Union doesn't have any mind or brains which means Putin


very clearly formulated his position on this issue. What you But what he


has done so far, and it seems with impunity has annexed Crimea, how


much of Ukraine does he want in a peace deal, does he want eastern


Ukraine, or will Ukraine be allowed to remain within its sovereign


boundaries? You know, we have different narratives from London you


say see the things in one mirror, from Moscow we see in another. It is


not Anwar nextation. In Kiev there was military coup against legitimate


President after which Kiev happened to be in a chaos, collapsed and


under the dominance of extreme nationalists from western parts of


the Ukraine. What business is that of Russia? Legitimate authorities in


Crimea decided that they don't want to live with this and they decided


to organise a referendum and decide their own fate. And nobody


eliminated the rights of the nation for self-determination. That's why,


that's exactly what happened. Does, you talk about Vladimir Putin and


the fact that the west has a different mirror through which to


see things than Russia. Does the west have any influence at all on


Vladimir Putin? The west doesn't have any influence because Russia is


too big to let anybody to have influence over Russia. Can you


believe that somebody has influence over America. If Obama confessed


that anybody had influence the next day he will not be the President of


America. Military, nuclear superpowers can't let anybody to


have influence over him. If Ukraine had already been a member of NATO


and they seek NATO membership, if Ukraine had been a member of NATO,


would Vladimir Putin have got involved sending troops into


Ukraine? Thank God once, even Bush Junior and westerners were smart


enough not to let Georgia to be in NATO and in 2008 that proved


otherwise it could be a catastrophe for the west and for the world. When


Ossett at that was attacked and then there was a peace enforcement on


behalf of Russian forces in Georgia. And now thank God that Ukraine is


not part of NATO because this is the salvation for Ukraine, for the


Europe and the world. Because the people in Ukraine who run the


country they are absolutely irresponsible people. Let's be clear


if Ukraine had been a member of NATO would Vladimir Putin have risked


putting troops into Ukraine? You know you are raising incorrect


questions. Thank God that in Bucharest European, French and


German politicians decided that it is not going to be Georgia and


Ukraine in NATO because this irresponsible people which never had


any experience of statehood they can really create serious danger for the


peace and security in Europe and in the world. And now we are witnessing


exactly what is happening, but the surrounding people are killing their


people, they are using artillery, aviation, multiple rocket launchers


against peaceful population, killing everybody over there and


unfortunately this is the reality. Here in the studio we have the pull


letser prize-winning journalist and author of a number of books on the


history of Russia and the Soviet Union. Has Vladimir Putin got the


whip hand over NATO right now? It is important to understand what Putin's


goal is now, his primary goal is for himself to stay in power. Almost


everything we have seen in the last few months has been part of that


game for him to stay in power. A piece of that means that in order


for him to stay in power he has to prevent the creation of a


democratic, integrated, western Ukraine. Because that would be a


direct challenge to him. A secondary piece of that is he has to undo,


undermine and eventually begin to pull apart the strands of NATO. And


I think that's the game, those are the important questions to ask, is


he succeeding in doing that. Is he. It seems you have the former Baltic


states agitated, much less so than perhaps Italy or Germany or


whatever? Certainly at the start of the crisis there were very deep


divisions among European states. One of the effects of Putin's behaviour


in the last few months, paradoxically, given this is not


what his goal was, has been to bring more people together. Even the


French a couple of days ago withdrew or they announced the postponement


of their sale of warships to Russia. That was unexpected. Simply with


French newspapers and television reporting simply the news from


Ukraine the incursion of Russian troops it became simply too


embarrassing, even for the French President. It is interesting because


two things seem to be happening here, first of all maybe sanctions,


and of course obviously the military sanctions, France not with standing


have just announced, but sanctions are hitting the Russian people. But


it is as if Putin doesn't care, in the sense that this is for Mother


Russia, by the same token he seems to have made himself the embodiment


of Russia? You have pointed to an important point about the crisis and


relevant to Russia and other place, we in the west seem to think the


point of Government is the material well being of people. We argue over


which politician will bring us more wealth. Putin is playing a different


game, he's bringing people power, he's bringing them some kind of


imperial glory. He's really trying to appeal to something very


different and maintain power in a different way. These material


considerations that we care about, Russian food prices have gone up by


4. 5%, seem right now not to be bothering him or anybody else. What


he's saying if you have to suffer for Mother Russia I know you will


suffer with me. That seems to be the line? It has worked before. There


and in other places. Here we have it though, what will happen f there is


this ceasefire, these talks of a ceasefire and the idea that Porter


they are not giving away anything. Will the boundaries of Ukraine


change, and secondly is the President of Lithuania right. If we


don't stop him in Ukraine he will be knocking on Estonia and Latvia's


door? The loonilyic of the crisis would lead us to believe it is


possible. At every point in the crisis he has made a move and waited


and how will the west react. If you are Lithuanian and you are watching


that happening, all you can think is once he has divided Ukraine or


frozen conflict, what is next, Belarus, the Baltic states and who


knows. Are you pest mistic, or having said all this do you think


there is a way of stopping this. Is NATO actually going to act. That is


the point, had Ukraine what would have happened? I still believe if


Ukraine had have been in NATO, which was never on the cards, I still


believe he wouldn't have done T but for that reason it is very important


now that we begin to re-think what NATO is and how it functions. It is


still very bureaucratic, it is very old fashioned and out of date. Its


bases are all in the wrong base. We need to have bases in Lithuania, in


the Baltic states, along the borders which may be the next line of


defence. Thank you very much indeed. The British hostage being held by IS


and who appeared in the latest IS video being warned he will die next


is named as David Haines. He has been involved in frontline aid work


for more than 20 years in areas such as Libya, south Sudan and Syria. It


was in a Syrian refugee camp in March last year he was captured.


Hostages from other countries, including Italy and France, taken by


IS have been released and this morning David Cameron said he was


taking personal charge of efforts to secure David Haines's release. But


tonight at the NATO conference he condemned the payment of ransoms as


utterly self-defeating. What options does the British Government have.


This report contains references to previous hostage situations. This is


David Haines, he has been a hostage for 18 months. His life is now in


the hands of terrorists. His fate seemingly beyond the reach of his


family and his Government. His might conjures memories of Terry


Waite and John McCarthy, British hostage held captive in a different


time. 30 years ago they were household names. Their families


tried everything, including fundraising evenings to get them


released. There were appeals direct to the kidnappers. I appeal to you,


whoever you are, in this holy month of Ramadan, the month of blessings


and charity, to release my son John McCarthy and return him to his


mother and father who miss him a very great deal. 25 years ago


diplomats made public pleas. I would appeal to all those who have


knowledge of them... This time they and the family sought a media


blackout. Only when his name was circulated so widely on social media


did most news organisations, including the BBC, feel it untenable


to withhold it. This is Alastair Burt arriving for Cobra meeting.


Until last year he was the minister overseeing hostage situation. The


best advice we get is there should be as little information release as


possible. I think there has been a realisation that the media is not


campaigning with those who are holding them to release them.


Because the people are not going to respond to that. Captors of a


hostage will release them when it suits them and they will deal with


them otherwise when it suits them. I think they have no interest


whatsoever in what anyone else may be saying and will use the media for


their own purposes. The judgment of the British Government is that


publicity can actually make things much worse. If hostages become


high-profile it may encourage the kidnappers to sell them on to even


more dangerous groups, they in turn ask for higher ransoms. All of which


can make potential rescues even more difficult.


Earlier this year France denied paying a ransom to release these


journalists held hostage in Syria. But they have done it before, and it


is this that infuriates Britain. We don't pay. Tonight at the NATO


summit, David Cameron was haranguing countries that do. That money goes


into arms, it goes into weapons, it goes into terror plots, it goes into


more kidnaps, it is utterly self-defeating, it is worse, it is


actually a risk to us back at home. A New York Times analysis of


reported hostage takings by Al-Qaeda and affiliates since 2009 suggests


terrorists may be targeting by nationality. It may deter British


people from being kidnapped in the first place, but doesn't it


therefore make it much more difficult for us to get them back


once they have been taken? This is an impossible dilemma, because how


do you weigh up the benefits to citizens in the United Kingdom in


not being targets of kidnapping, because the kidnappers know they


won't get anything for it against the risk to individuals. Terry Waite


is a reminder that hostages can come home. But times have changed and so


have the terrorists. The true scale of the number of


military veterans suffering from PTSD, post drawatic stress disorder


has never been quantified or properly recognised. After recent


conflicts, including Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and


Afghanistan, increasing numbers are searching for help to stop it


destroying their lives and the lives of their families. That help is not


sufficient to the task in every days. Sometimes it takes years for


PTSD to emerge, often in the form of flashbacks, veterans feel they are


experiencing the battle over and over again. Fiona Lloyd-Davies's


husband sustained PTSD from the height of the war in Bosnia in 1992.


After he failed to find help she decided to investigate, and this is


what she found. I can see the blood, I can see the injured guys, I can


hear the noises. You are there again, you smell it. The last four


years around about 32 hospitalisations via 999 calls. The


NHS experience for me has been a complete snakes and ladders game of


revolving doors. Our life completely revolves on PTSD. If we're not


fighting the PTSD on a daily basis then we're fighting to get services.


All over Britain behind closed doors families are having to endure the


daily torture of seeing their loved ones battle with post-traumatic


stress disorder. They tell us they are struggling to find treatment and


it is ruining their lives. In Liverpool, Sue started a group to


support wives like her, whose husbands and partners are suffering


from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in the forces. It has


just got worse and worse and worse. He has different stages all the


time. One minute he it be, you can see the change in his eyes, he can


be like the devil. PTSD, as it is known, is thought to affect roughly


7,000 people in the Armed Forces. What we don't know is how many


veterans are suffering with it because there has never been a


comprehensive study. When I got home the police were at the house and he


was already in the back of the police van and a lovely policeman


that had actually served came up to me and he said to me he doesn't need


to be in a cell, needs a hospital doesn't he. I said, yeah he does.


Sue's husband had done 13 tours of Northern Ireland in six years and


was invalided out of the army with physical injuries. Once he had left


he was under the care of the NHS and a growing charity sector. We had two


years of what they call a revolving door admission, my husband would be


in hospital for six weeks then home for a couple of weeks, another


flashback would be triggered, the police would come out, they would


slap him back in hospital, they would keep him on the ward for


another six weeks and then send him home. Some veterans are getting the


treatment they need, but those like Sue's husband, who are the most


acute, and others, the majority with associated addictions such as


alcohol and drugs, are struggling. Until he retired this year Dr Kerin


Fletcher was one of the only two NHS psychiatrists who specialised in


both trauma and addictions. The National Health Service the level of


trauma training is very poor, and it is unusual for doctors, even


psychiatrists to get particular training in treating people with


psychological trauma. When I flashback and I collapse, very good


chance that I have a stroke, which would be catastrophic. My cupboard


now contains antidepressants. Sodium to stop me fitting and more


importantly if I do fit they stop me, or will help to stop me having a


stroke. At least two-thirds of veterans suffering from PTSD use


alcohol because of their condition. Dave is one of them. One will always


go with the other, I don't drink normally, it is only if I say I have


been suffering three, four, five days on the trot, no sleep,


flashback, nightmares, I'm going crazy out of my mind, then I will


start drinking because it will persuade me after a litre of Vodka,


like a pint or two for people, it calms me down. People who take


alcohol are actually in that context completely misunderstood, because


they are regarded as people who could stop it if they wanted to.


That they are doing it to self-medicate consciously, they are


not. They in fact are doing it because they unconsciously need to


have the endorphins to be able to make themselves feel reasonably


normal. Dave was finally diagnosed with PTSD in 2007 and spent nearly a


year in a clinic. For a while things were better, but his PTSD returned


way it his need for alcohol. When you fix the PTSD the people don't


need to have those particular substances. So to entirely divorce


addictions as being a sort of chemical consequence of having PTSD


and treat that as a separate entity all together misses the point.


Because the PTSD is the driving force behind it, you have to take it


into account. We don't have any services in the UK where a


significant level of alcohol dependence and a significant level


of psychological trauma can be treated together. So you have this


dreadful situation where the chances of you being able to get the


treatment you need are extremely low. The NHS, as good as they are,


they have saved my life a couple of times at least. But they have to


keep referring me to combat stress, and combass stress is a small


charitable organisation. There is thousands of us. Veterans like Les


can also receive treatment from the charity sector, either directly or


via the NHS. It is led by Combat Stress, which receives 40% of


funding from the Government. It was set up in 1919 to help soldiers


suffering from shell shock, and over the last 95 years has developed a


range of treatments and services. The number of veterans contacting


them is steadily increasing and last year over 1,000 veterans were


admitted for residential treatment. They have also established a


six-week intensive treatment programme. Les was accepted on to it


in November 2012. It was more group therapy than individual therapy. And


group therapy you know didn't help me much. Combat Stress says the


programme is showing good results and it helps approximately 200


people each year. But the veterans we have spoken to, like Les, have


criticisms. I just couldn't take it all in. As I say, after the first


three weeks I didn't want to go back. And while I was there all the


little boxes were opened up again. They gave us the tools to close


them, but it didn't work. So I left there feeling pretty much worse than


I was when I got there. I came back and for the first three weeks I


didn't leave my house. I don't know who Compat Stress sent me, it wasn't


my husband. They destroyed him. They absolutely tore him apart. The first


four weeks I don't think I slept in our bed, two particular nights. Can


you describe why? He was having nightmares, and these were the worst


I have ever seen. Previously before he went in, I don't know if you


actually know this, but before the arm would come across, his whole


body would tense up. I had no warning after he came out of Combat


Stress until I felt with his first or his elbow or his head. He put his


hand around my throat and squeezed and he has never done that before.


Others also had concerns about the course, Dr Fletcher resigned from


Combat Stress last year after working there for nearly two


decades. You don't ever, ever get people out of a deeply ingrained


disorder in the space of a single six-week episode of treatment. You


need continuing care, repeated episodes of treatment and so on.


Combat Stress offer follow-up sessions, three, six and 12 months


after their intensive treatment programme. You worked at Combat


Stress for nearly 20 years and you left last year, can you tell us what


led you to resign? I think clinical exasperation is the reason that I


left. I was also discouraged by the managerial pressures to push people


through groups that I didn't think were sometimes fit for purpose. And


the degree of managerial influence over clinical decision making so,


because I'm old and tired I decided to leave rather than stay with those


frustrations. Les did find alternative treatment from several


different charities and he's now able to leave the house and lead a


more normal life. Dave Salt has previously been to Combat Stress


three times and was accepted on to their six-week intensive treatment


programme. Under the condition that he stays alcohol-free for three


months. But because he's failed this criteria he won't be allowed on to


the course at the moment. We're talking my life, it gets very


serious. My body won't take any more alcohol, any more poise sin, and --


poise sin, and you become suicidal, when you are that low it is death.


You are Dead Man Walking, you won't see old age. What they have been


through is appalling and they have done it for their country and the


impact of PTSD and alcohol dependence on their lives is so


appalling you would thought a small degree of priority to be given to


this severely affected group and it is not being given and it should be


given. That's why it is essential to


preplan that safety plan if you need to escape the house and have it set


in your mind and have code words for the kids. Even our dog knows if I


say "here now", the dog comes running and we're out the door. It


is madness, isn't it. For Sue and her group, they want to find help


for their husbands now. Yet for the vast majority of veterans, those who


have acute PTSD and those who use alcohol or drugs because of it, they


are struggling to find the treatment they need when they need it most.


When my husband was injured serving in the army I thought he was gone. I


was told he wasn't gone, and I was assured that due to the Military


Covenant ourselves, my husband, myself, my family would get any


required medical care and any required financial care that he


needed for life, for having done his duty, for having made sure the


people of this country were protected. This isn't happening and


it is not happening in a lot of households across the country. We


asked for an interview with someone from the health service in England


but no-one was available. But the NHS gave us the following statement.


"NHS England recognises there is significant room for improvement...


We have the director of medical services at Combat Stress, we will


come on to the specific which is are being directed towards Combat


Stress. On the general point do you accept that provision is limited to


veterans? Provision has improved over the last seven-and-a-half years


since I joined the charity, it is better than it was. It needs to grow


further. I would accept more can be done. Some veterans that we spoke to


had found that the treatment by Combat Stress had actually made


their condition worse rather than better, it doesn't work for all


people? Treatment doesn't work for all people. Having said that I was


concerned to see the film and of course I will look at each


individual case as best I can and try to put things right for them. It


seemed to me that treatment could be stopped half way through or people


didn't engage fully. But a lot of the treatments we do have do work.


The difficulty is always about engaging the individual into the


treatment pathway and keeping him there. Two things, both Dr Fletcher


and Professor Turnball talked about the dual nature of the condition,


both alcohol and PTSD, and what the professor seemed to be saying is


there is a misuning it is not an alcohol dependence but a need for a


kick in the endorphin, dealing with alcohol first or demanding a


three-month withdrawal period before the six-week programme is


counter-productive? It is very difficult to know precisely what


will work for each individual. Each individual needs a tailor-made plan


and that is what we try to do. At the front end of a clinical pathway


we assess their needs and if they have alcohol or drug problems, now


they are rolling out an alcohol service management in the community


which means we would allow the individual to access a local


statutory service to have their des to go and then case manage them back


to a treatment to deal with the mental health problems as quickly as


possible. What the doctors seem to be saying is actually the des to go


is impossible, the two things are so interlinked there is no service that


deals both with the trauma and the alcohol together that actually what


happens is some veterans are barred from the programme because they


can't deal with the drug and alcohol? The main issue about our


six week programme is it does mean a lot of trauma-focussed and cognitive


behaviour therapy, so you have psychotherapy to confront the


horrible things you have been through, we have to have you in the


room to do that. If you are drinking before and after it won't work. It


is a big dilemma we want them treated as soon as practicable. Then


you have the case there of treated as soon as practicable. Then


who said what happened was he came to the programme and got the tool


box in order to help but couldn't close that box. What he seemed to be


saying was that the six-week programme is really not sufficient


to the task? Well the issue, I can't discuss the individual case because


I don't know the details. But the fact is we have treated around 477


patients through the six-week programmes, and the outcome is good.


The programme was devised in Australia where it treated 4,000


veterans with serious PTSD, severe PTSD and passed problems with


alcohol that were stable and their outcomes were about 70% that one


year follow up did well. Two-thirds have these alcohol and drug-related


issues as well with PTSD. For some that six-week programme when I say


it hasn't worked, you heard families there saying that actually their


partners or husband came out in a sense a worse state because they


found they were uncontrollable violence and so forth. Presumably as


Combat Stress increases its own expertise that actually you might


consider changing that programme? The programme will evolve and get


better, that is my observation about it. But at the moment the evidence


so far is that the outcomes are better than the Australian outcomes.


We are benchmarked by the Australian veterans' mental health leads. We


are benchmarked every year, we submit quarterly reports to the NHS.


We have very high satisfaction and exit rates that are independently


scrutinised of the veterans that attend. There are a lot of veterans


who have benefitted tremenduously, life-changing benefits from the


programme. Thank you very much indeed. It is back to school time,


parents can heave a sigh of relief. But not one very dedicated or


perhaps crazy family, the Meeks, parents Tim and Kerry and daughters


Amy and Ella have embarked on an epic year-long education road tripe


around the UK. Often dovetailing their curriculum of everything from


maths to bush skills with Radio 4's timetable, anything from Thought for


the Day to Moral Maze, travelling with a caravan, they limbered up by


setting the girls 100 challenges to achieve in a year. They recorded it


all. Here is a flavour of their ideal of informal learning. One of


our changes we have been told to name our caravan and to record the


places it visits, we have named it Ellie.


Well I'm now going in to meet the Meek family in their shiny caravan,


the girls have obviously been allowed to stay up very late tonight


to watch Newsnight. Good evening all of you. Hello. This is an adventure.


Tell me first of all why have you taken them out of primary school?


Well we spent a lot of time in the last year doing 100 adventures


together when the chance to win a caravan came up we thought it was


the perfect opportunity to try to make more of that and exploit the


opportunities to teach our own children for a year. Do you think


though that as a teacher yourself you can often the children something


special or do you think anybody could do this, it is a huge risk? We


have an advantage because we're teachers and that we know what


schools teach. But I don't think you need to be a teacher. I think a


parent knows their child better than anyone else. And they should be able


to give them enough of a wide curriculum, with home schooling


there isn't a set curriculum, you can teach them what you want and


they can follow their interests. So did you have a hand in this or was


this handed down to you, you will go away from school for a year or it


was a decision you were involved in Amy? We were involved in it, it


wasn't just the parents say we are taking you out of school now. We


were involved in the decision and we were eager to do it as well. We


enjoyed school but this is a new opportunity and we are eager for new


opportunities. I hear you are going to do things by Radio 4, do you


Lizzen to Moral Maze is that one of the things you are listening to?


Things on Radio 4. Do you listen to the Archers? Maybe. What about you,


Ella, did you not worry about leaving all your friends and being


stuck with the family for a year? Yes but we are keeping in contact on


Skype. Last night I went on Skype with one of my best friends and also


we're going to go Nottingham where all our friends are this weekend to


see them. Also we're not just lonely because we're on caravan sites with


lots of friends that we meet. So you are meeting lots and lots of people.


What kind of things, you have just started on this, I know you did the


big challenge this year, you have only been on the road for four days.


What have you learned so far. Tell me something unusual you have


learned? Well we have been to Warwick Castle and we have learned


lots of things from there, but probably the most exciting thing


that we learned there was the, what's it called? The trebouchet


where it fired things like fireballs miles away. You learned about that


and you might not have learned about that in school? No, probably not.


What happens when you have done this for a year. You sold your house, you


don't know where you are going to land up, and presumably at some


point you will need to make a decision whether the girls will go


back to school or back to... Also the financial reason as well. We


have sold our house and given up our jobs and we have allocated an amount


of money to survive on for a year. The answer to that is there isn't an


answer really it is an open book. We are hopefully going to see if we can


extend it further f we can't there is always the option of taking them


back to school. What tell me beyond the curriculum and you both know the


curriculum as teachers, what are you teaching them, what are you giving


them that the school can't give them? I have always thought than I


formal learning is underrated. Learning isn't formalised and sat at


a table, but learning outside. Multisensory learning, being able to


design a curriculum we think is tailor-made for our children and


adapt is where they want to take it within reason. Very briefly, what


happens when you all fall out and you think I have been with mum and


dad far too much? Sometimes we might just close the divider that's there


and sit in our bed for a while, thinking gosh, but we get over it


and have a great time. We haven't had too many scuffles. Good luck to


you. Make sure you get no problems with the caravan and you have a


wonderful trip. Thank you very much indeed. Thank you. We finish


tonight, she was the Queen of the one liner, she had an acid wit and


she often turned that wit on everybody including herself. Joan


Rivers died at the age of 81. She joked when she got to the pearly


gates the chances are God wouldn't recognise her because she had so


much plastic surgery. Here she is in incomparable form, good night. Take


your time, what are you using? Tell me? Excuse me, we are going to be


very adult tonight, Dr Ruth out here, we are talking adult level,


what are you using for contraception? Are you using


something? Does it look round? Had (laughter) because you also put make


up on with it because that would be the sponge or something really


stupid you could take a pill and go like that. See you are taking the


pill, just curious, people get so testy these day, I was taking the


pill but I was putting it in the wrong place so I had my kid!


pill but I was putting it in the wrong place so I had my kid! Good


evening, let's see what is happening on the weather front for the final


day of the working week for most of us. We have some rain to


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