In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Evan Davis. Why do migrants in Middlesbrough think their doors are being painted red?
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It's one of those apparently small issues that tells
Red painted front doors, a new front line in the arguments
Who did it, and why? I'd like to talk to Mr Monk about the red doors
for the asylum seekers. And we're here to talk about how
and where asylum seekers are housed. And in Davos we'll ask Kofi Annan
if we're handling the migration Is there an invisible ninth planet
secretly orbiting on the far edge Nasa's chief scientist
is here to help us out. Also tonight, the Gang of Four,
the Limehouse Declaration We look back at the last big split
on the left, and look Labour MPs are thinking, I think,
prematurely, about creating a new party. Because they see you can do
it. It may not have succeeded in every aspect, but that is an option.
The challenge of Europe's refugee and migrant crisis
There's the macro question - whether the current so-called Dublin
rule works, that the country of arrival has to take
But just as telling was a micro issue, highlighted by a report
A small and yet very significant issue.
In Middlesbrough, front doors of many homes allocated to asylum
seekers were painted red, in what turned out to be
The homes belonged to a subcontractor of G4S called
Red, it seems, was just the colour they chose for their property.
But should they have known it was causing problems?
And a far bigger question emerges - how do we choose where asylum
John Sweeney has spent the day in Middlesbrough
It does contain some bad language - and it's not from John Sweeney.
If it's a red door, it's a refugee. Welcome to the union Street area of
Middlesbrough, where you can pick up a house for ?45,000, and guess what,
lots of refugees end living here. Locals say they know where they live
because their houses have got rid doors. Civilised societies have a
duty to look after refugees. In Britain, the Government franchise
that out G4S, whose contract it to a property company, Jomast, who have a
signature look. Would you like to have a black door, for example?
Basically, it is red door, people can find out who we are very easily
full of they can? They can find out who we are, we are from not here.
Not everyone here is colour-blind. I just come out, I saw two young
girls, I spotted them and said why are you throwing that our window?
They said, locking black, get out of our country. This man lives behind a
red door, too. Fires have been said outside his house and the homes of
other refugees. When I compare the two issues, I actually preferred the
physical torture I have had in the past than this. Why? This is a big
statement, I understand that, but with the physical torture, at some
point those people who tortured me. Beating, but when I am here in this
house, the mental torture never stops. It is a continuous daily
torture. The problem is the consequences of asylum in society
are not visited on Richard poor alike, and the reason for that is
the cost of house prices. Middlesbrough, the country's poorest
town, has more asylum seekers than any other area of Britain. Four out
of ten councils don't has a single asylum seeker, and that includes
David Cameron's constituency of Witney. This is the home of Stuart
Monk, the owner of Jomast, said to be worth ?175 million. Let's go and
talk to the man behind the black door.
Hello, it's John Sweeney here from BBC Newsnight. I'd like to talk to
Mr Monk. About the red doors for the asylum seekers. But later, he did
talk to the BBC. I think it's been blown out of proportion. It wasn't
an issue before today, and as I say, the facts are that there was no
reporting of this issue by any asylum seekers, and that goes for
both ourselves and for G4S. But that is not how others remember it. Do
you think it is likely to make the accommodation more safe, painting
the doors different colour, in this case, read, so that whole
neighbourhood knows who the asylum seekers are? Do you think that is a
good idea? The fact that our supplier, Jomast, who supplied
services to asylum seekers in the previous contract as well as with
G4S, I can't comment on the doors being painted red, but I will take
that point away. And Newsnight understands this issue was flagged
up four years ago. We were at a meeting where the whole thing was
discussed and gone into. Where was that meeting? It was in September 20
12. So it has been going on for quite some time. There is no excuse
for anybody to say they didn't know about it. Do you think that there
has been adequate supervision by the Government of this issue? I think
there needs to be a lot more supervision of this contract, a lot
more. People have come here because they are seeking sanctuary. Clearly
the refugees have effectively been colour-coded, and for too
the refugees have effectively been people in the know haven't been
listening. I'm joined by Dame Margaret Hodge,
who was chair of the public accounts committee which looked into some
of the conditions of these houses and first heard reports
of the red doors in 2014. She was something of an enemy of G4S
won more than one occasion. And from Strasbourg,
Ukip's migration spokesman, Margaret Hodge, what is very
interesting is that you did spot the issue of red doors, but you didn't
follow it up or make anything of it. It is only the times bringing it up
today that has brought it to everybody's attention. First of all,
I'm really angry with G4S, because through their stupidity they have
allowed this programme tonight to interview Ukip who no doubt will
bang on about how we have got too many asylum seekers, too many
immigrants, too many refugees, and they have allowed it to be exploited
in the wrong way, and that makes me angry. The second thing to say is
when we did that hearing, it was raised, G4S said they would go away
and look for it, the permanent secretary for the Home Office said
he would do a very thorough check on the quality of the accommodation,
but we were also raising other issues, because the quality of the
accommodation that was being offered by G4S was frankly shocking. Nine
families living on one floor with only two toilets, one hostel in
another area in a red light district where women felt they were being
looked at... So general picture wasn't good. But you didn't follow
up on red doors? You didn't go back to G4S and say, you said you would
come back on this? We assume that when people say they are going to go
away and do something, they do it, and we assume in the permanent
Secretary to the Home Office says he is concerned about the quality of
the accommodation, that he will make regular checks. One of the things
that stands me is that in the statement today, what the Home
Office have said is that they check the third of the accommodation every
month. If they were doing that, somebody should have tweaked that
this was an incendiary way of stigmatising asylum seekers. Let me
bring Stephen Wolf in. Margaret Hodge says you will make political
capital of this. Can we just talk about the policy of how we
distribute asylum seekers around the country. Do you think the system is
working? You are quite right, I think the colour of the red doors is
simply a red herring. The real issue is the collapse of our asylum policy
system and the way that not only do we allocate across the country, but
also the tone and level of the debate as has just been shown by
Margaret. Unfortunately she seems to go along the same lines of once
leader Gordon Brown that would call people a bigot for raising the issue
of immigration, or indeed her Shadow secretary of defence who makes
complaints about people who have British flags during campaigns. I
just want to get onto the issue... Si I am doing. The collapse of the
asylum system is due to the weight of the numbers coming in. The
anticipation of the numbers who will come in, and the more important part
I find about this is that there is a north /south divide, a class divide
between those who have gone to university and those who have not, a
wealth divide to in those who advocate more asylum seekers who
tend to be in London in the areas like Margaret, which is Islington
who are very wealthy, and the poorest people in this country are
having to take the largest burden of this, and I find that part
unacceptable. Margaret Hodge, that is an interesting point. To save
money on housing asylum seekers, they are being put in communities
who have less voice, less power, and who may be already have problems of
their own, and they don't need any social dislocation, as they would
see it. Asylum accommodation used to be provided by local authorities.
The coalition Government when they came in chose this is one of the
areas where they wanted to have savings, and they thought that
economies of scale, having some big contract, would save the money. And
I think it was one of those areas where actually it didn't bring
value, and I'm not sure it even save the cash. And let me just say why.
Eirik present barking -- I represent barking. We have a lot of people
coming in. I think a concentration of asylum seekers in one area, and I
agree... Are you saying that the numbers that have been put in some
areas should not be put in those areas? I agree that there is an
overconcentration in Middlesbrough, and I also agree that they tend to
go to the poorer areas. But can I just put the other side of this
argument? When a group of people arrived as refugees from a
particular community, they go to an area, and as their friends and
relatives arrive, they will also want to be close to them full up so
they build a network, and it is a very complex issue, and what you
have to do is provide public servers infrastructure so that the community
can accept them and integrate. Stephen Woolfe, what is the Ukip
solution? I know you would have fewer people here, but in the
interim, do you have a solution as to how you how is people who are
already here? The solution has to look at general immigration that
comes into this country, because that has an impact on housing and
schools, and with that, you then have obligations international
obligations to deal with asylum, and when you are looking at housing, the
housing situation you have to consider is where are most of these
people going to find work that works for them, and a lot of that now is
down towards the south and London, and what you have to consider there
is where you find the areas that these people can go into. Are you
saying, we have got very little time. Why is it that we are not
building in the very wealthy areas of Hamstead and Islington and
Highgate, why do we not all the tower blocks there? There is plenty
of land and capability. But we don't. The decisions are always
pushed the North of England and the poorest areas, the places in the
north-west where I am a constituency MEP, and I find that utterly unfair.
I'm afraid we are utterly out of time, you have left us with a
provocative solution there. Well, at the EU level,
the refugee issue is not one that can be painted over,
in red or any other colour. The European Commission
is grappling with how to handle The Dublin Regulation in principle
means that the thousands arriving each day on European shores
are the problems of Greece and Italy, the countries
where they arrive. That hasn't worked, but nor has
the ambition to share people around. This is one of Europe's only few
growth industries, hundreds of miles of razor wire going up across the
continent. The president of the EU council, the Dutch, have made the
issue their current priority. The current numbers are not sustainable.
We are running out of time. We need a sharp reduction in the number of
refugees in the coming 6-8 weeks. The current rules were based on ones
agreed in 1990. They state that the first EU country which an asylum
seeker arrives in is responsible for them. But there is little incentive
for those of rival countries, like Greece and Italy, to cooperate.
Better to let the asylum seekers pass swiftly through to their
preferred destinations in northern Europe. Britain has an opt out from
migration and home affairs matters, but it is opted in the Dublin
regulations, because it helps us. It allows us to say that those in
Calais for example have no right to claim asylum in the UK. We are very
concerned from the noises coming out of the commission about the Dublin
agreement. We will want to engage to make sure that any changes protect
Britain's interest. Angela Merkel in effect suspended the Dublin rules
last year when she told would-be asylum seekers that if they could
get to Germany, they would not be sent back to their country of entry.
More than 1 million took up the invitation. But the scale of that
influx, as well as events in Germany over New Year, mean that many in
Germany now want a reduction to those numbers. Today, the president
added his voice. At some point, as problematic and tragic as it may be,
we will not be able to take in everyone. It is one thing to agree
that the system is broken - another to agree what should replace it. But
increasingly, countries are going it alone, bringing in their own systems
outside the EU. Austria today announced it would cap the number
allowed to claim asylum at 70,000 a year -- 37,000 a year, less than
half the previous number. But what happens else otherwise? Some kind of
unspecified distribution around Europe. Austria cannot accommodate
all asylum seekers, announced the Chancellor today. On Austria's
southern border, Slovenia says it will also bring in a limit. That
will push the problem across its own southern border, to Croatia. And
further south still, Macedonia, taking action, and the route to
northern Europe is seizing up fast. Also, the Schengen agreement. I
think Europe would be much better if we ended the Schengen arrangements,
had internal border controls but also countries offering sanctuary to
those who have been assessed as refugees. But the European
Commission would not abandon Schengen without a fight.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the commission, made that clear
today. Getting rid of him, he told the parliament in Strasbourg, will
hurt the single market. And without a single market, the day will come
when we ask, do we really need a single currency and the free
movement of workers? In March, EU leaders will meet for a special
summit to find a solution. Whatever they decide, it seems they will be
ordering more of this. It so happens a lot of policy-makers
and business people are holed up this week in the Swiss
resort town of Davos for the annual One person among them is Kofi Annan,
who used to be secretary general He was also an envoy to Syria
in 2012, although didn't get far I spoke to him earlier today
about Syria, but first about Europe's response
to the refugee crisis. I think it has been difficult for
Europe. And it is unfortunate that it is also dividing Europe. We all
have a responsibility to our refugees. -- to assist refugees.
They have rights. And the countries in the region have done a lot. Some
European countries have tried to do better than others, but of course
they are coming under tremendous pressure at home. I also believe
that the mainstream leaders have not been outspoken. They should have
started earlier on explaining to the public what it is all about. Why is
it that these refugees are coming and what needed to be done? By not
doing so, they allow the extremists and the right-wing parties to take
the issue in a completely different direction. And now they are playing
catch-up. I don't know what you think of the British approach, which
has been to say, we do not want to take people who have landed in
Europe, we want to help people back in or around Syria itself - is that
a better approach, or is it a more heartless approach? That was the
usual approach. When we had the Vietnamese boat people's crises,
that was the way it was handled. You scream them on the ground. If the US
wanted 20,000, you flew them out. If the UK wanted 5000, you flew them to
the UK. It was not a situation of people walking across and coming
across the border in the way it has happened in Europe recently. And I
think attempts are being made to get back to that effect of, smooth
handling of refugee cases. Just to be clear, I am guessing you support
the European Commission, which is trying to look again at the
so-called Dublin Convention, which says the first country in which they
arrive is the one which has to handle them, which really means
Greece and Italy have hundreds of thousands of people who they are
responsible for. Is that dead, as far as you can see? That is the
requirement, that is the law. But there comes a time when an exception
has to be made. The situation is such that one cannot leave Greece
and Italy alone to bear the brunt. Looking ahead, one decade, three
decades, five decades - is this migration issue going to become more
and more acute for the world, and do we have what you might call
governments arrangements, arrangements of any kind, for
handling it as a global issue? The movement of people will continue.
And if we are not able to handle the climate crisis properly, we will see
more people on the move. But we do not have the laws and the rules to
tackle that kind of movement. So there is urgency for the
international community to look at the way it handles movements of
people, which is really going to be on the increase. Of course, one of
the immediate causes of migration is the Syrian civil war. You were an
envoy back in 2012. I wonder whether you have got hopes talks which are
meant to be starting in Geneva next week? The moment I don't think we
even know exactly who will be there. Has some progress being made since
you were trying to sort it out those years ago? I am confident that the
US and Russia will have effective co-operation. I have confidence in
Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov. I think they will work
effectively with the other powers. The difficulty will be getting the
regional powers to cooperate. I think we have seen the situation in
the region become much more complicated. We need to see Iran,
Saudi Arabia, Turkey, working effectively with the permanent
members of the council. And today we are not there yet. And those who
have influence on the fighters on the ground, either on the Syrian
government side or on the side of the rebels, have to bring their
influence to bear. They have to press them to go to the table. Isis
of course is a new factor in Syria. It was not there when you were
around in 2012. Do you think it is possible to talk to Isis? A phrase
which has been used is a route through to Isis, in terms of
communication - is it possible, do you think? I do not see them at the
table. I don't think they would be invited, nor would they want to go.
On the other hand, you cannot delete them through military means alone.
There are other political measures which will have to be taken, and
some concessions which will have to be made by governments in the
region. And I think we need to work with the Iraqi government to make
sure that they treat all their constituents, citizens,
evenhandedly. Today, the Sunnis feel that they are not fairly treated and
there is a tendency that quite a lot of them have sympathy, or
originally, they did have some pretty for Isis. We need to pull
them away from that support. I wonder what you make of the fate of
humankind at the moment. There have been people who have been very
optimistic, who say the world is becoming less violent and more
empathetic. We understand our fellow human beings better than we did in
medieval times, or 2000 years ago. When you look at that conflict, what
conclusion do you draw about our species and its capacity for
cruelty? I have been appalled by some of the violence and brutality
we have seen in the Syrian situation. But I don't think it is
all hopeless. We should not forget the 30 year war in Europe. It took
the European countries to realise that it was a senseless war, when
nobody wins, and they came together and had their moment at the peace of
Westphalia. And I hope that will also happen in Syria. People will
wake up. The governments have to understand, this is a common danger,
it is engulfing us all. The brutality is not now limited to the
region, it is spreading around the world. So it is difficult, it is
tough for courage is not hopeless. It is not hopeless. The world has
seen this before, and terrorists have risen up time and again but
they have always been defeated. Kofi Annan, thank you so much.
American scientists have discovered another planet in our solar system -
Let's not get into the debate about Pluto and its underclass
The thing about the putative new planet is that it's currently
Its existence has been imputed by scientists based
But it is just the latest example of the rapid pace of advance
in space science, and the interest it generates.
To be followed soon, possibly, by more space exploration.
Apollo put humans on the moon, hundreds of thousands of miles away.
It inspired a generation of scientists and engineers.
Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man's
world. Then as the Cold War ended,
so did much of the ambition And since, man has retreated
to a less stellar, low earth orbit. A mere few hundred kilometres
from earth. But are we in a new era
of deep space exploration? By the mid-2030s, I believe we can
send humour humans to orbit Mars and return safely to Earth. Landing on
Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it.
Those were the words, but it took until just before
Christmas for Congress to cough up some money -
increasing Nasa funding to its highest level
But it came with a note to up the ambition -
So now big plans to capture an asteroid and land humans on Mars
Joining me now is Dr Ellen Stofan, the chief scientist at Nasa.
She's responsible for planning all of the agency's scientific
Very nice to have you with us. Let's start with the ninth planet. Do you
believe it exists? I think it is an intriguing theory. I have glanced at
the paper. They are looking at the orbits of very distant object in our
solar system, out in the belt where Pluto is. But even more distant than
Pluto is a bunch of objects which have ordered orbits. So they have
come up with an explosion which says there could be a super Earth sized
planet, between the size of Earth and Neptune, very, very far out,
such that its orbit around the sun would take almost 20,000 years. So,
is it there? Is it not? Are there other expert nations? What is
amazing is that we might have missed one this big in our own system? It
is, but on the other hand, if it has this huge orbit and you have to be
looking at the right place at the right time... The fact that we have
not seen it makes me a bit sceptical. We have identified lots
of planet in this category of Supermac Earths, over 5000 planet
candidates. The fact that we do not have a planet in that size class
between Earth and Neptune makes us think, maybe we are missing one. And
maybe they have predicted it. What it does show is that it is quite an
exciting time. It is not like we have discovered all there is to
discover. There is so much coming in. We have the landing on the
comet. It is endless. When I speak to school kids, I say, you need to
major in science, technology, engineering and maths. Over the next
20 years, as we start exploring these planets around other stars
which we have been discovering with the the space telescope, we start
allergy analysing their atmospheres, with our James Webster the scope,
and there will be a field of trying to understand whether these planets
around other stars are potentially habitable. You are trying to make
them interested in science, of course. You will give them pictures
of people landing on the moon and the like. But actually a lot of the
science is complicated mathematics, really, to work out that there is
another planet that we did not know about! But I think it is fun when
you can talk to kids and say, you think of maths as being boring and
hard, but think of it as a tool which you can use to land on a
distant planet, to image a planet around another star. And then they
might think it is worth doing their homework. Landing on Mars would be a
big inspiration, which would be very exciting. Do you think the race to
get on Mars will be a race, or will it be a collaboration, like the
International Space Station? I think it is going to be a
collaboration. The space station is a good example. When we look at
Mars, we have 16 agencies around the world collaborating on something
called the global exploration road map, looking at how we get humans
beyond low Earth orbit. And whose flag is going to be planted on Mars
first? The UN flag? Were the Americans say, we are paying most,
we want our flag? I think there will be lots of flags planted, but I
think it will be an international crew that gets there. It is also
public/private. Private companies want to go, so it is a whole new way
of collaborating and moving humans outwards into the solar system.
Thank you very much for coming and talking to us.
We are approaching the 35th anniversary of a landmark event
in British political history - the Limehouse Declaration.
Well, it seemed like a landmark at the time.
What it was was a statement of Social Democratic values
and a first step to the creation of the Social Democratic
Now, we don't normally consider 35th anniversaries to be among the big
ones, but as the SDP was a party created by a gang of four leading
Labour politicians, fed up with the leftward drift
of their party, it seems like an apt time to remember it.
Lewis Goodall has been talking to those who were there.
Where there is despair, may we bring hope.
The Labour Party establishment was in
Deselection, a left-wing leader and rows over unilateral nuclear
A great deal of bullying of members of Parliament,
the militant tendency, but others of that kind,
At that conference, at that year, it was noted, the mood
and the style and the hostility, it was ugly by any standards.
By the party conference of 1981, the left-wing
Michael Foot had won a surprise victory for the leadership.
At Labour's special conference at Wembley today,
historic decisions and a major surprise.
For the Labour right, led by the gang of four,
the fight had become too much to bear.
In the party structure, one of the main ones
In effect what it did was to put each MP at
the risk of their own general management committee.
It was not anything outside, it was not
It was certainly not the constituents.
Much damage has been done to the cause of the aquatic
Roy Hattersley urged the gang of four to stay and fight.
"Save the Labour Party" and "leave the Labour Party" are mutually
The special conference was awful because there was a great deal
of vindictiveness from people who were changing
I went out into the night pouring with rain, could not find my car
Walking around wet and unhappy, and I had one thought,
which is, if the ship sinks, I will go down with it.
It is necessary every now and then within every democratic political
system for some people to say, up with this I will not put.
There are certain issues which are bigger than
They are what is right for the country.
It was agonising, like leaving one's family or divorcing one's loved
And there was a lot of emotional pull in the whole
I had a letter from one person who wrote to me afterwards
saying, I am very sorry, Bill, it now means the end of our old,
practical relationship, but I hope we will not
forget our feelings towards each other.
It is very easy to weep for that, really.
But once you have made your mind up, it all becomes
It becomes challenging, exciting, a test of your strength
On January 25th 1981, the press were called
There was a sense of liberation, and I think we all knew
We weren't slaves to Labour Party policy.
And I think that is what the SDP did.
Before long, the SDP was soaring high, polling over 50%
They scored a spectacular by-election win.
Roy Jenkins noted in his diary that he thought he might at last
become Prime Minister and break the mould of British politics.
There comes a time when you cannot...
Your life would be a living hypocrisy.
That is Mr Healey and Mr Hattersley, when you advocate
policies, major policies, you don't believe it.
Two words brought it all to a shuddering end,
and that was called the Falkland Islands.
The Falklands War gave Margaret Thatcher
After all the hype and the hope, the 1983 election
Although the SDP Liberal alliance took 25% of the vote,
nearly overtaking Labour, the SDP took a paltry six seats.
When you look at the electoral system,
first-past-the-post makes it very, very difficult for a party
to create, start and in one fell swoop
We had to build it up and we had to build it up by taking Labour
votes and we had to smash into Labour in the '83
election because they deserved to be smashed into.
And the failure to do that was namby-pambyism, really.
It had two effects - one was to alienate floating voters
who were worried about the Labour Party being
It proved it because these people have left, they split
And they had a general debilitating effect on the party in general,
the feeling that we had lost good comrades.
There is no doubt at all that it had an effect.
They have more responsibility for Mrs Thatcher
For the next five years, as Labour recovered
and moved rightwards, the party band to decline before
eventually merging with the Liberals.
Relationships among some of the gang of four broke
And now, 35 years on, for these political veterans
who have seen it all before, could it, should
I think the situation now is worse than the
I think our chances of getting back are still there and we will get
I think the leader is less susceptible to reason than Michael
Foot was, who was a sensible, mature politician, although from the left.
I think the trade unions are in a different position
But someone has got to carry on the fight, and must do it
The lesson of the gang of four - you don't win by leaving,
Now, it is a different story because Jeremy
I think he is like a Michael Foot son, a kind of idealist
who is being manoeuvred and to some extent manipulated by exactly
But they are now not visible in the same way.
You know under fixed parliaments, there is not
So I would not give a thought to a new party
It may have been buried, but I think it will
I think the one way out of the mess we are in at the moment is the SDP
concept struggling back and becoming a basis on which eventually,
hopefully, there can be a new party of the centre-left.
Seems like yesterday! The best bit was Bill Rogers in the Crosby
by-election forgetting where he was. But today is World Penguin Awareness
Day, if you're to believe the internet and nearly
all the newspapers. Curiously, no-one seems to know
who decided this day should be celebrated or even when exactly it
first started being observed, but then I suppose you could say
the same thing about Christmas. Anyway, why would you want to argue
when we can leave you with one MUSIC: Do It Again
by the Beach Boys.
In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Evan Davis.
Why do migrants in Middlesbrough think their doors are being painted red?
Plus, Kofi Annan, Nasa tells about the ninth planet, and the Gang of Four look back.