09/09/2014 Newsnight


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

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 09/09/2014. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



The dash for Scotland, the Prime Minister hoists the saltire over


Number Ten. But will Cameron, Miliband and Clegg's last-minute


trip turn into a clumsy move if Scotland is ready to let go. There


is a contempt across the country for Westminster practices and


politicians, they have no credibility left. But the examine is


neck and neck, not over yet. Big names are still in the battle. But


if Scotland does go, what is the etiquette for what Britain will be


called. What I'm calling is a conscious uncoupling. Think of it as


Chris Martin and Gwnyeth. It is essentially us parting. The Man


Booker Prize shortlist is out, how do you discuss a book more than its


cover. We will discuss. Good evening, don't panic for Scots


who want to stay in the union, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband


are on the way. Except perhaps their rush to Scotland tomorrow is for


some precisely the kind of gesture politics that increasing numbers of


voters are poised to reject. And raising the Scottish flag over


Number Ten this afternoon, which promptly fell down made the whole


thing feel a little bit of an episode of excruciating satire, not


a considered approach episode of excruciating satire, not


the break up of our 300-year-old union. Tonight the Prime Minister


has penned passionate plea to the Scots in an article to be published


in tomorrow's Daily Mail, he says "our message is simple, we want you


to stay". Well our political editor is here. Tell us more about this


article, this message. This is the vision thing, this is campaign that


has been criticised for being too technocratic, too much about


Alastair Darling, a former Chancellor, telling the Scottish


people risk, risk, risk, that is all people should think about. Now we


are starting to see from David Cameron in the Daily Mail tomorrow


an emotional argument about what the two countries have achieved


together. He talks about defeating fascism as Scottish and English,


people together, the Scottish enlightenment. These are things lots


of his people have wanted him to talk about but he has felt inhibited


to do so. Now we are getting more of the emotional thing. The other thing


is you have this is about the Scottish people first and foremost,


but it is also about David Cameron's people back in London that think he


hasn't done enough to save the union. Briefly, does it look like


panic, is it really panic? I think there is a sense that this campaign


has not gone as the three main party leaders in Westminster would have


liked. Of course the message from David Cameron will only work if the


three leaders of the main UK parties can actually get a fair hearing from


voters in Scotland if they still want to listen. Emily has been in


Edinburgh. This is the Better Together


campaign, a joint appearance by the three party leaders, and this is


what they are not doing. I'm certainly not panics, not panicking,


not panicking! That is good, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband


are certainly not panicking either, that is why Ed Miliband has


encouraged every British town to wave a saltire. The one at Downing


Street seemed to need a little encouragement all of its own. They


are all coming up here tomorrow, abandoning PMQs to do so. The


Westminster parties have set out a plan to offer more powers to


Scotland, income tax flexibility will be one. We have all agreed


there should be powers over income tax, we have all agreed there should


go more welfare devolved to the Scottish Parliament, we have also


all agreed some of the things we need to leave out. We have all


agreed that actually our businesses in Scotland don't want to see


different rates of corporation tax both sides of the border. You can


see there are broad themes developing here, but we want to


involve civic Scotland too, this isn't owned by us but Scotland. It


is a way for Scotland to shape powers in the


is a way for Scotland to shape away from the UK. With another poll


out showing the two sides neck and neck, minus the undecided the yes


campaign was in good complete over in Parliament Square supporters had


found any conceivable European language to try to convince voter


the EU membership would be safe in their hands. The language working


wonders in their campaign is one that demonises Westminster.


The yes examine is characterised as being the emotionup. The one that


says "if you love Scotland set her free". There is another element,


Alex Salmond is doing in Scotland what Nigel Farage does in Britain,


give a sense of being anti-politics and anti-Westminster, they are all


the same only we are offering something different. Your campaign


has used the language of love of Scotland but hatred of Westminster?


In Scotland there is contempt, in the speeches I have made in


Newcastle, Manchester and Carlyle, one thing was absolutely clear,


there is a huge distrust of Westminster and Westminster


politician, you don't need polls to tell you that, although the distrust


in the polling figures is spectacular, but you take the three


unionists party on offer today, their collective distrust amongst


the Scottish people according to a poll is minus 100, that is


extraordinary. There is a contempt across the country for Westminster


practices and politicians, they have no credibility left. This is Craig


Miller, a working-class Edinburgh suburb and now a heartland of the


yes vote. Where once they voted Labour, now they seem to have


switched over or off from. From those we have talked to today there


is not a lot of trust for any of the parties, and yet they still have a


yearning to see an independent Scotland flourish. We have always


been ruled by England, I would like to see us being our own country.


William Smith used to vote Labour, he doesn't now. He tells me he as


disabled, cared for by his wife and he's looking to the yes vote to


improve his lot. Voting Labour is just giving them another vote. I'm


not going to do that, I'm all for independence for myself and the


whole area is for independence. If there was something that the Better


Together, the no vote put on the table, like new powers for Scotland,


or they said well let you look at income tax and sort out that, is


there anything that could change your mind now? No, nothing could


change my mind, just voting yes. For a long time the yes campaign had


struggled to attract female voters, the latest poll suggests that is


closing. April Prince William has followed the campaign -- April has


followed the campaign closely. I don't like the way the country is


being run at the moment. It should certainly be fairer, I don't agree


with the bedroom tax they have introduced, I think that Scotland


could do well and prosper with its own revenue that is we have. What do


you think will decide you? I think it will be yes, but I want it to be


a no, because I want to see Match of the Day on a Saturday. We spoke to


about 20 people in this neighbourhood only one person, a


Polish immigrant, told me they were voting for the Better Together


campaign. Their work is cut out for them over the next ten days. The


question of why they failed to offer any exciting new powers much earlier


or even include them as an option on the ballot paper will haunt them.


One thing is clear though, Scotland will never be the same again.


Whatever happens next week the status quo is no longer an option.


If Scotland votes yes it goes independent. If it votes no, well it


still gets more independence. And anyone who thinks that the story


ends here in Scotland is sorely mistaken. The genie, it seems, is


out of the bottle, and that growing appetite for devolution will happen


all over the UK. It looks like it is here to stay.


As Emily said, whatever Scottish voters vote for, they will end up


with either independence, their own country, or more control of their


own affairs at the Scottish Parliament. But where does that


leave the other constituent parts of what would be a rather dis-United


Kingdom. This is such a conundrum? One expert described it to me as a


constitutional bomb about to go off because the consequences are so many


we can't get our heads around them. Scotland will get more powers,


whatever happens. But where does that leave Westminster? We can show


you the problem, you have 650 MPs in the House of Commons, of them 59 are


Scottish MPs, we break it down, you have 40 Labour, 11 Liberal


Democrats, six SNP, one poor lonely Tory and so on. These MPs in


Scotland can vote in the Commons chamber on issues that don't affect


their constituents, casual observers of politics will know it is the West


Lothian Question, it is not academic any more, we have to get our heads


around it. Labour stands to gain from arrangement. Even the most


senior figures are worried about it. We have seen a number of changes to


the constitutional issues in the UK, many of which have been great for


areas affected. But we need to have a constitutional convention, all


three parties should be committed to that. To look at the overall


arrangements in the UK. The situation of England and the region,


decentralising power away from London and the south-east, and


reinvigourating the politics to go beyond the scandals of recent years


and move forward. Fascinating to hear such a strong message from Jack


McConnell, a former First Minister himself, this is serious? Drastic


ideas are being considered left right and centre. One idea is the


English parliament, you would have a Scottish Parliament and down south


you would have to have another body, called the English parliament, it


could be in Coventry and Doncaster, I don't know where, but English MPs


would talk about English laws. The problem is you would


would talk about English laws. The some kind of UK parliament where all


that joins us would be discussed who is more important the person leading


the UK parliament or the person on the English parliament. There is


problems with that one. The next one is the idea the Conservatives


favoured, English votes for English laws. We earlier spoke to Lord


Bakeer who did a lot of work for the Conservatives on it. He favours


splitting business into two types in the Commons. I think the building of


the House of Commons is suited to this, the English members deal with


on Monday, Tuesday and Fridays dealing with English matters, and


Wednesday and Thursday dealing with matters not devolved, like defence,


War and Peace, the currency, NATO, Europe. That sounds sensible, lots


of us work shifts? Road to parliament is a problem. There is a


more profound problem than the breezy way described there. If you


have English-only MPs voting on certain days, this would probably be


likely to favour a Conservative administration, and on Wednesday and


Thursday we would have all of them coming together and you would be


likely to have a Labour Party that is able to get through a majority,


loosely speaking. What you are having on different days of the week


different administration, an Education Secretary for the Tories


on Monday and Tuesday and another one for Labour on the Wednesday and


Thursday. To my mind that is quite complicated. John Redwood is shaking


his head and we will explain why later.


We will hear from John Redwood later, a supporter of an English


parliament later. Do you get a sense that the


Government itself has even started to get its head around a spaghetti


of what the options might be? We have heard talks about the


Conservative idea, it is in their manifesto, the Liberal Democrats are


absolute constitutional geeks and all in clover today because they


have ideas. What it involves is you would have massive decentralisation


down to cities. It would mean you could have more Scotland but cities


too. So when they meet in Westminster or wherever there


wouldn't be disparity in their powers. Nick Clegg today did suggest


at the same time as the new powers announced for Scotland some clarity


over what to do with Westminster. As suggested, John Redwood has been


here nodding and alternatively shaking his head through that, and


Peter Hain for Labour is also here, they have been taking a look at the


issue. John Redwood, if Scotland votes no, they get extra powers,


that West Lothian Question becomes more acute. What should happen in


simple terms? We have lobsided devolution and it would be even more


lob sided if we just gave more powers to Scotland. We want fair


devolution, I would say all the powers devolved to the Scottish


Parliament in Edinburgh should be devolved to the English parliament


in Westminster. We are happy to do both jobs. It should be devolved to


the Welsh Assembly in Wales and it should be fair, I don't think we


should have first and second class devolution for Scotland and Wales,


and no devolution for England. You know the one thing I didn't disagree


with was we don't need two education secretaries. There would be an


English Education Secretary in the English parliament, but there


wouldn't be a union Education Secretary because there is a


Scottish and Welsh Education Secretary. He's right isn't he? It


would be even more farcical to carry on as we are with Scottish MPs


having a say over matters that don't affect their constituent, because


there would be fewer decision about Scotland taken at Westminster? The


status quo is dead. Whatever happens next Thursday, what we need to do, I


hope there will be a no vote. I expect there will be. But what we


need to do in that event is move to what Britain has really been going


towards, which is a federal structure. Now that should have more


powers for Wales, more powers for Scotland and more powers for


England, which is the most centralised part of the UK now.


Highly centralised in London. And England, with the exception of


London, should have, and by the way Ed Miliband made an important speech


about devolution to city regions, or regions of England. You could see


for example Manchester City region wanting powers devolved and the east


of England wanting it. You are shaking your head now? It has to be


devolution England, England is my country and we want the same respect


as Scotland. We want an English parliament in London because it is


the capital city and we will govern England in the whole way. I


disagree. Would would you say you are Welsh, I'm speaking for England


and we want our own English parliament. I'm also a strong


believer in Britain. What we need is a federal structure based


constitutionally in Westminster. It is a nonsense for example that our


existing parliament in Westminster could in principle abolish the


Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, it would never happen, but


it is a constitutional nonsense that possibility exists constitutionally


you need to design a federal structure, I don't think most people


in England want to be run from London. I think the north-east and


parts of Yorkshire, Cornwall and so on want their own power, and then


you restructure. We tested this in your referendum and we lost? It was


on flawed model in which there were no serious powers and people thought


they were being sold a pup and they were. Politicians time and time over


the years suggest power being held more closely to communities. You


referred to the referendum in the north-east, offering a regional


assembly that was overwhelmingly beaten as a prosal. It was a Mickey


-- proposal. It was a Mickey Mouse one. You didn't say that at the


time. They don't want local mayors or Police Commissioners, and time


and time again people don't turn out? We want an English parliament,


Peter, it is simple. I think what needs to happen if we are talking


about Westminster, we need to have Westminster restructured so that


English MPs have more of a say over English law, but I don't think you


want first and second-class MPs. You wouldn't stop Scottish or Welsh or


Northern Irish MPs facing that sort of structure? I would say, and the


former clerk of the House looked at this, in the case of English laws,


when they went into committee the detailed work that was done on them


should be English-only MPs, when it comes to the big votes on the floor


of the Commons it should be everyone. We are second class then,


England wants the same as Scotland, so if Scotland can make her own laws


England will make her own laws. You want a centralised elite in England


running the whole of England, I want power devolved. You are Welsh, I am


answering illusion, I want my country to have the same as


Scotland. I can have an opinion about it. I want to see all of


England represented in the English parliament. What about the other


countries, you are in the unusual country of having been Secretary of


State for Wales and also Northern Ireland. What happens at Stormont?


What happens in Cardiff, is something about to be unleashed, it


appears Scotland overnight is being offered a rapidly compressed


timetable of power being handed over and Cardiff and Stormont sit back


and watch? It is a very fair question, I'm in favour of much more


devolution to Wales. I don't think you can give all the goodies to


Scotland, because there has been a seismic change or rumbling there. I


think you have got to make sure Wales gets proper devolution, beyond


where we are taking it now, I think Northern Ireland the same. If we


don't do this, if the no vote wins this time as I hope and think it


will, if you don't do this the next time it will be Scottish


independence. Because I think people are fed up with the Westminster


class, not just in Scotland, but elsewhere. In other parts of England


and Wales as well, and they want big change and they want more say. It


might be rather a shame for those voters in Scotland, still about


half, who want to stay with the union, that it is only now that


Westminster politicians have actually been waking up to what they


want. John Redwood, if the union is lost, many of your colleagues are


clear privately that in their view the Prime Minister will have to


resign. Is there a chance of that? No, he has made very clear that he


will not resign, he had to do this, he had to offer the referendum, it


wasn't in his gift to say no. Once Scotland had elected a majority


Scottish nationalist Government wanting independence, the only fair


thing to do is put it to the people. It is not his fault if it is lost, I


hope it is won for keeping the union together. If it is lost, that is the


result in Scotland and we shouldn't regard it as a commentary on him.


Thank you very much for coming in. The leaders of the UK parties might


have The leaders of the UK parties might


the need to campaign if they want to keep the union. One of their bete


noires though has been at it for many months. George Galloway,


formally of the Labour Party, now the Respect Party MP and celebrity


Big Brother contestant, although that is best forgotten maybe, has


been packing out Town Halls around Scotland for months, urging voters


to say "naw", we went to see him in Paisley on the outskirts of Glasgow.


Paisley Town Hall hasn't hosted anything this big since it


celebrated the life of Gerry Rafferty, but could he persuade the


mainly Labour audience to say no. Alex Fergsuon talked about "squeaky


bum time", we are in that now. Oust ed by Labour and Respect MP, he's


fresh from a physical take, allegedly for his stance against


Israel. Just over a week ago I was lying on a London street with broken


ribs and a dislocated jaw and I'm still here in Paisley tonight. For


no other reason than I want to insist that by voting no it doesn't


make you less Scottish. # You won't get me


# I'm part of the union # Till the day I die.


Earlier Newsnight sought out George Galloway back stage, the Just Say


Naw tour is his attempt to add a spark. A year ago I realised that


the people running the official no campaign and the structure across


class and political nature of the structure of the no campaign was


seriously flawed. I have been right, I'm sorry to say. I have been right


all along. That is unlike you? I momentarily pause because I have


been right about most important things. People don't automatically


go to Galloway for humility, but for many on this he speaks the truth.


The Better Together campaign has spent ?4 million and I haven't seen


anything good that they have done. What do you think gives you the


right to come up to Scotland and say why we should not vote against


independence? Did Kenny Dalglish become English when he went to play


for Liverpool, what kind of mentality is this. You have actually


been speaking in this meeting nearly as long as me. Galloway junior at


eight weeks old was oblivious to the fuss, we brought along Mr Ali and


his son, George Galloway has appealed for many British Muslims


but these two are committed yes voters. Most of it was just ranting


and raving, I respect George great deal and some of his stuff about


certain things was amazing, now he was just scaring the yes voters.


Book signing and public speaking are appetite-inducing so, what better


end to his 26th performance than a meal at Mr Ali's restaurant. This is


Glasgow institution, in the 1960s a bus driver complained his chicken


curry was too dry as Mr Ali's father was eating tomato soup, history was


made. There was some left in the tin and when the curry came back that


was mixed together and the chicken tikka masala was born. And has


become our national dish? Absolutely. On both sides of the


border, don't forget that. I'm trying to persuade you. We will vote


with our hearts I'm afraid. Does your head say something different?


My head always says something different. But sometimes we overrule


our heads. We are Scots. Over curry we talk about the inclusiveness of


Scottish patriotism. When there is family we had being wear kilts and


we are proud to wear kilts because we feel that we can be Scottish and


where Pakistani, and we can show that. We feel that we can fuse the


two together. They are not different. Does that play into why


you are voting yes? Absolutely. You can have all these good things but


without breaking up the country. That's what I'm hoping people will


reach that conclusion. Thank you darling. I feel we are not breaking


up but we are evolving. If you went home, God forbid and told your wife


tonight, we're not getting divorced, we're evolving, I'm moving out, you


are moving out we're going to divide our assets, she would realise it was


a divorce not an evolution. Yes, she's a no voter, I'm a yes voter!


Women less keen on gambles. If emotion has been lacking on the no


side it looms large around this table as Mr Galloway invokes the RAF


heros of World War ll. We did it together and nobody asked whether


the pilots flying above were from Suffolk or Sutherland, or which


accent they spoke with, they were just us defending us. You have to


think what's best for us? Give dad my regards, God bless you. Despite


the respect on both sides, this is one potential convert lost. I'm


going to the smoking lounge! The tour though goes on.


Disagreements but still friends, but they might not get to keep the


pound, but they would get to keep the same. An independent Scotland


would still be called Scotland, but the remnants of the UK, what would


that country be called? We have a few ideas.


At the moment when discussing this constitutional upheaval,


commentators have taken to calling the non-Scotland bits of our state


"r UK" not exactly a keeper. When Labour changed they called it new


Labour, but what about New Britain, that is taken by Papua New Guinea.


It could be the former United Kingdom, like the former Yugoslavia,


maybe not. We need to brain storm this, in the epicentre of


Britishness we have John from the Now Show. Where do we start renaming


what was the UK? We have to look to the modern world. This is the future


and we have to think about this in the long-term. The way to do it is,


think about what's happening f it happens is what I'm calling a


conscious uncoupling. Think of it as Chris Martin and Gwnyeth, it is


essentially us parting, all we need to do is right it on a


self-righteous blog that is happening, ask the media to respect


our privacy, have the conscious uncoupling, we are still friends but


we no longer are together. What if it turns out that Scotland has been


sleeping with Norway! There is that whole, was it once? Was it a long


standing thing? Was it a full blown affair? Were they drunk, Scotland


probably! But maybe rebranding could have its advantages, many non-Brits


seem to struggle with our complex lamencatu re. All of us are


disturbed by the crashing of the English embassy, the embassy of the


United Kingdom in Iran. Isn't Scotland like a bit of England? No


it is not. Britain I mean. The British Council has even made a


video to help them out. Great Britain is a geographical term, it


is a big island with Scotland, England and Wales on it. It is


complicated. I can see that. Why can't we bring in the green of the


Welsh flag? Unpicking this complexity sounds like a job for


Welsh flag? Unpicking this rebranding expert? A lot of


organisations have moved to initial, when you look at the initials of the


three countries, the three legacy countries, England, Wales and


Northern Ireland, EWN doesn't really work, it doesn't really resonate. It


doesn't say much. But what if you play with those, NEW, "new", a new


name for a new country, new United Kingdom, a country that looks to the


future a country that is actually talking about tomorrow rather than


yesterday, that leaves Scotland with its name, Scotland.


Unfamiliar cultural times then. The real name, if this happens, will be


probably the United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Sounding rather like a familiar tune played on an unexpected instrument.


Whatever the name, if Scotland leaves, what impact will that have


on the sense of Britishness for the people who remain in the union.


Union? With us are Vicky Featherstone, the Artistic Director


of the Royal Court Theatre, who lived in Scotland as a young child,


and again when she set up and ran the National Theatre of Scotland.


And the historian, Tom Holland, who has written a letter signed by 200


cultural luminaries asking Scotland to stay.


Thank you for being here. On the name, Tom what would you call the


rest of the UK? I guess it would be the United Kingdom of England, Wales


and Northern Ireland. If Northern Ireland then joined the Republic of


Ireland, we would be England and Wales, like Trinidad and Tobago. We


may end up as Wessex and Northumbria, who knows. Why for you


does it make a difference to your identity if Scotland chooses


independence? Because although I'm very proud to be English, I like


being English, I very much enjoy being British. I enjoy the tension


and the sense of irony and perspective that gives me. If


Scotland leaves a crucial part of my identity will go. I will find it


very upsetting. What do you make of that? I really I'm pro-yes, I think


that when I moved to Scotland I really felt I was British. I felt my


liberal attitudes meant British was a positive thing and I wouldn't say


I was English, I was there for six months and I had to come to terms


with the fact that we were two very different countries, two brilliant


countries but different and I was English and what did that mean. But


you weren't both? I definitely wasn't both. I have a huge


attachment of Scotland and proud of my time there. But for me Scotland


had an infantalised relationship with England for many years, and now


it is time to cut loose and be confident. Even though you have


worked successfully in Scotland you don't feel it is part of your


identity in any way? It is entirely part of my identity, I lived in


India as a child and speak fluent Germany and I'm multiferocious in my


identity. I don't feel nostalgic for a past. I feel it is really


important these things can coexist. If you listen to Vicky, why is it


anything to do with you, with the best will in the world? Because at


the moment the Scots and the English and Northern Irish are all citizens


of the same country. It seems to me that Britishness is a wonderful


thing. One of the many wonderful things about Britishness is we don't


talk about it and we are a bit embarrassed about it. The time has


come to blow its trumpet and say to me what is impressive and wonderful


about the union of England and Scotland is until the 7th century


they were enemies tearing chunks out of each other, even into the 17th


century they were invading each other's countries. They came


together and miraculously they discovered, although they were very


different countries they were very similar and their different


traditions and values and ideals were compatible. The merging of the


ideals created something wonderful, the Industrial Revolution, forging


the enlightenment, beat fascism and forge the welfare state. I hope and


believe what is happening now in Scotland with the independence


referendum if it is a no will super charge the rest of the UK and the


Scots will play the role they have always played which is to energise


and revitalise the whole of Britain. When you listen to Tom talk so


passionately about that, does it mean anything to you? It is an


interesting historical perspective, this is about change and change is a


good thing. If Scotland is set free and goes the way that many people


are talking that it may go I think it is a really important moment for


England. It is a really important moment for to us think about what is


English identity that has very negative conotations in the past and


to really become proud of that. Wouldn't the departure upset that


balance, that cocktail that Tom has talked about? Yes, the cocktail


absolutely definitely would be upset, but it is not a particularly


healthy cocktail at the moment. And I think it is a very good


opportunity for us to think of different ways. If we could change


the metaphor, Salmond says if Scotland goes England will lose a


grumpy lodger. That is not true. Scotland basically built this


country. The Scots had a crucial role in it, when the yes campaigners


talk about Westminster, what they are talking about essentially is the


parliamentary system that Scots contributed just as much as the


English and Welsh. It is the Scots who contributed to the Tory


tradition, Walter Scott had a crucial role as Disraeli did. The


Israel Kier Hardy is very clear. History is important and memories


are important and the relationships and the friendships and the


cross-cultural swirl is important. That is what the future comes from.


What is very exciting is this is about democracy and people in


Scotland suddenly saying our vote does matter and can matter and we


can make a difference. I don't think we have felt like that in Britain


for a very long time. It is about an incredible moment of an act of


democracy and rembering the franchise is a revolutionary thing


for us and that freedom is great. Thank you both very much indeed,


that is all we have time for. This conversation will no doubt continue


in the coming weeks. The results of a rather different


kind of vote were released today. The shortlist of the Man Booker


Prize. Although the suggestion appalled traditionalists of a


sensitive disposition, this year for the first time American writers


could enter. They have only captured two places on the shortlist.


# Every day # I write the book


Is this the best part of the literary life, not the reading, not


the writing, but the launch party. In this case for the Man Booker


Prize shortlist. The big talking point this year, opening the contest


up to anyone writing in English. That means the Americans. Once the


Man Booker Prize was the preserve of London literary circle, opened to


authors from these islands and the Commonwealth. Not everyone has


welcomed the rule change. I worry that the decision to include writers


in English who weren't previously eligible, such as Americans, showed


a lack of confidence on the part of the Man Booker Prize organisers.


Hang on though there is a "but" coming? This year's prize showed


they didn't need to feel that lack of confidence. The long list has UK


and Commonwealth authors as does the shortlist. It is another really,


really strong year. # If they ask me


# I could write a book Two books by American authors have


made the cut, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris, which


has been called the Catch 22 of dentistry, and We Are All Completely


Beside Ourselves by Karen Jay Fowler, which has already picked up


the Penn Faulkner Award for fiction and a favourite with booksellers and


readers. As one of the two American judges on the panel this year, I


have to say from my point of view it was never a bad thing that Americans


were being admitted on to the list. Not because of jingoism or


nationalism on my part, but because I want the best of the best, the


very best that is being written in English today. British contenders


include J by Howard Jacobson, a dark disphonian book from -- dystopian


book. And How to be Both by Ali Smith. The third on the list is Neel


Mukherjee with The Lives of Others, about a Bengali family. And Richard


Flanagan is included for The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which tells


of PoWs building the death raily. It has broad appeal the six. There are


few readers who would find nothing there. There are title s on there.


Not everybody will like Ali Smith's unusual approach, and not Howard


Jacobson after The Finkler Question, I would like to tell them J is a


different book from anything else he has written. As usual in this most


gentile of prize fights. There will be almost as much contention on the


contenders who didn't make it into the ring as those who have. Admirers


of big-name authors like David Mitchell and Sarah Waters will feel


their favourites deserved a crack at the title too. While some browse the


shortlist, others run a book on it. One bookie was congratulating


himself on his tipping today. The only shock for us this year was


David Mitchell didn't make the cut, otherwise we had the first five of


the six in the betting, all making it through to the shortlist. When we


looked at the names, certainly the literary betting public looked at


the names and there were strong names we thought were strong to make


the shortlist to be proven right. Hang on, save some of that fizz, you


are going to need it to toast the winner, who is announced next month.


With us to chew over the list are Carol Birch whose novel was


shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2011, Erica Wagner, one of this


year's all-important judges and Arifa Akbar, the literary editor of


the Independent. Carol, firstly to you, when you were nominated, you


know what this day feels like, did it change your life just making the


list? Yes. Definitely. It was an incredible experience, it depends


very much on the individual how you are going to react to it. If you are


the kind of person who really likes being in the public eye, and you


feel happy being interviewed and photographed it is a marvellous


experience. If you are uneasy with that it is very, very stressful. For


me it was a mixed bag. I wouldn't have missed it for the world but I


did find it was as if, you know, you are kind of on adrenaline all the


time and running on like that. It keeps you going and you are living


out of a suitcase, your real life goes on hold for about, I don't


know, a month or whatever it is. You do just kind of, you adapt. Were


Where it counts in terms of book sales, did it make a difference? It


did make a difference, it did help. It is very nice in that way. It is


wonderful to be recognised, particularly when you have spent all


these years sitting in a room on your own. Erica Wagner, you are a


judge this year. You have lot of power over authors like Carol don't


you? I suppose so. Windy call it power. I think we all have a great


sense of responsibility. It is really fascinating and a remarkable


task to read all of these books. It is a really difficult task, because


one of the things that it remind you, and I have been a judge of the


Man Booker Prize before in 2002, what you look at is really how


vigorous fiction is. You are such a small group of people, a panel of


six as I understand it. How can you judge definitively which is the best


book. There are nearly 150 that were put forward? Yes, you can do the


very best you can. You can have the most serious discussion, you can


discuss each book on its merits. You can take the task absolutely


seriously and feel passionate about it, which is what we all do. Are


there issues with the way the Man Booker Prize and the whole fuss


about prizes? I question the science behind judging selections sometimes.


Take most of the prizes actually. There is a real feeling of


recycling. So you know Erica no doubt that you are a brilliant


Booker judge, you have done it once before, so has AC Grayling. It is


the same people and the same names and that makes me think it is a bit


of a closed circle of people and they are doing the rounds of the


prices. There are other ways to do prizes, and others have done them


differently. You get parallel panels and a big academy, and people


randomly picked. I thought to the Literary Director of the prize who


said this is the selection process, he goes to party like this one and


somebody goes over and says what about so and so. Of course there is


a advisory panel but there is a huge element of being in the room. Being


in the know and in the room. What do you say about that, a kabal? I would


beg to differ. One thing I would say, one of our judges this year is


Stan Glazer, who is the first scientist to judge the Booker Prize.


He's someone who comes right from outside the so called literary


world. I'm not having a pot shot at this particular jury, you must agree


it is the same names and faces. There is an attempt to bring in


people like Dan. With Man Booker we saw a Downton Abbey star was brought


on for the love of poetry and literature. There was efforts made.


You could have an inventive approach, the Foley Prize they have


large academy and pool. They have a ratings systems for the books,


everything in the 100 pool votes. You have bailies. A real -- Bailey's


a real reader gets involved. In terms of what is actually being


judged, what books are being written right now. Carol, having looked at


the list, what does it tell bus what we are reading right now and what


does it tell us about culture? It is diverse and interesting. I haven't


read any of them I'm not the ideal person to talk about this. There is


so many books being published, it is quite a healthy literary scene at


the moment There is a lot of invention, someone like Ali Smith


offering two versions of the same novel. All these gloomy predictions


that the November is -- novel is dead, people are doing really


interesting things. We are coming to the present moment now with on-line


stories and that. Erica are you seeing that, certainly some of the


books on the list, there is the story of the New York dentist who


has his identity stolen on-line. Is that the sign that authors are now,


and maybe only now beginning to grapple with the real changes all


around us? I think now those, that sense of the way we live


particularly with technology. That's not something new any more. It is


part of the weather. If you are writing a novel set in the present


day. That will be there, however you engage with it. I think that what


all of these books show and this is definitely speaking to something


that was said. I think there is an amazing adventurousness on the part,


not just of writers but readers too. I think readers really are willing


to engage with sophisticated story telling. More adventurous perhaps


than the historical look back to past, is nostalgia dead Carol? I


don't think it is dead I think there is room for everything. Everything


should be there, and everything should have the chance to be on that


list. I would say it miss characterises historical novels to


call them necessarily nostalgic. I really don't like this genre thing


we have, this idea that some things are literature and some aren't. We


just have good books and they can be in all the different genres. We have


seen in Booker that the minute a list becomes readable, accessible,


there is a lot of snotty disapproval of it. That was my year. My


favourite description of Booker is Posh Bingo. Which Julia Barnes


called it. We will leave you with that description of the Booker


Prize, that is all we have time to do tonight. Emily will be here


tomorrow night. Good night. A little mist and fog to start the


day. It shouldn't last too long. Most of us looking at a pleasant day


with good spells of sunshine. Light winds for most, breeze


Download Subtitles