20/04/2016 Newsnight


With Evan Davis. Is the EU referendum America's business? Maureen Lipman remembers Victoria Wood. Plus victims of ISIS, and the London mayoral campaigns.

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Returning to Britain tomorrow: the not-so-secret weapon


President Obama and Americans of all political colours say


So why exactly does the US seem to care so much about it?


The UK is an important part of being part of the solution.


If it, however, quits the EU, it will be part of the problem.


But is it right for the Americans to butt into the campaign?


Also tonight, we remember Victoria Wood.


My jacket needed cleaning, so I had to whip it


round to the while-you-wait cleaners around the corner,


and it actually had Pot Noodle all the way down one sleeve.


I didn't like to admit that I ate Pot Noodle,


Maureen Lipman will be with us to share her thoughts.


According to a poll last year, 76% of us in this country have


confidence in President Obama when it comes to world affairs.


His ratings here much higher than at home.


His ratings here also generally higher than those of


So, will he move the dial when he arrives in the UK tomorrow,


and intervenes in our national deliberations on EU membership?


The usual rule when it comes to a ballot is that


foreigners' views are either ignored or counter-productive.


So the question is, why would President Obama feel it


necessary to pronounce on the issue at all?


And let's face it, it's not just him.


Eight out of ten former US Treasury Secretaries want us in too.


A group of Republican and Democrat ones have written for the Times


arguing that Brexit would be risky for Britain and bad for Europe.


It turns out, the Americans think they have interests


at stake in our referendum, as Mark Urban explains.


We all know it's special, or supposed to be, but does this


particular relationship demand public honesty or Serena discretion?


Barack Obama flies in tomorrow, and he has already raised red flags


about Brexit, even some of those campaigning for Britain to stay in


the EU would rather he didn't weigh in. This is fundamentally a matter


for the people of the United Kingdom to decide, and the people will make


up their own minds, which is important for us to make a positive


case as to why being part of the EU will make us healthier, wealthier,


fairer and greener, and most importantly, I hopes everybody takes


of this, that we have to avoid the fear stealth tax X. -- tactics.


President Obama spoke up, but there is no doubt about what he thinks


about the prospect of Britain leaving the EU. Having been added


King in the European Union gives us much greater confidence about the


strength of the transatlantic union. The president was in Saudi Arabia


today on the first leg of his trip, so how will he balances desire to


speak out on Brexit with his knowledge that it could be


counter-productive with many voters? Obviously all of us who are not


lucky enough to be British citizens are respectful of the right of the


British people to make this decision. We understand what the


referendum is about, it is part of a democratic process that the Prime


Minister put in place a number of years ago. But our president, as


others, feels that we have a right, and even an obligation, to be candid


with the citizens and the leaders of a country with whom we have a


special relationship. Among the concerns cited are the old Kissinger


question, who does the US call if it wants to talk to Europe? There is no


easy answer still, but Britain leaving the EU would make it harder.


Good morning, all. There are possible economic concerns, and


there is the worry that Britain's voice would no longer be there in EU


Summits. If the UK through this referendum were to pull out of the


EU, the chances of the EU getting passed its current troubles, which


are many, would be less, in other words, if there are solutions to the


strains and stresses that the EU is under, the UK is an important part


of being part of the solution. If it however quits the EU, it will be


part of the problem, if I can put it that way. South of the Thames, a new


US embassy is taking shape. It's a ?600 million investment in the


future relationship. Given the depth of US/ UK ties on the scale of this


investment, you might wonder why President Obama would violate the


principal that Democratic leaders don't comment on one another's


elections or referenda. Well, the White House believed the stakes


involved in this UK vote are so big, they say it is the duty of Britain's


friends to make their views clear, and I've heard that similar


statements will be coming from the French and German leaders in the


next few weeks. Around the new embassy, whole neighbourhood of


buildings is taking shape. It's an investment in a new home for that


loving relationship, and both the US and other European allies want to


influence its shape. Mark Hoban there.


I'm joined now by Vote Leave's Suzanne Evans and by Anne Applebaum,


an author and columnist for the Washington Post.


Suzanne, what do you make of the argument you have heard there.


Clearly the Americans think us leaving is going to create


instability and problems from the beginning. Identity stand that, and


we had a special relationship with the Americans long before we joined


the EU, and we could still have it if we left. We could perhaps take


this intervention are little more seriously if America opened its


border with Mexico, if it accepted the judicial supremacy of the


organisation of American States, and perhaps even allowed the free


movement of people. It wouldn't dream of doing that, but it is


asking us to consider doing something similar in the EU, and the


UK would never dream of suggesting that America did that. You listened


to others in that report, their interest is not our interest, their


interest is the European interest, it might be good for Europe for


Britain staying, but is your point that it is not about Europe, it is


about us? I think America is over estimated the influence we have


within the European Union. We know that every time Britain has voted no


to a proposal, it has been overruled, and I don't think we have


the fluids that America things we have. And commie you have written


for the Spectator this week -- Anne, you have written to the Spectator


this week. This is about whether Britain will go on being Great


Britain, whether it will go on being a world power. We want to Britain in


the centre of world events, inside Europe, influencing Europe, and it


is not true at all that Britain has no influence. Britain has shaped the


common market, created, pushed for competition policy, made the Anne a


more open place, a better place for British and American businesses, and


we want Britain to stay. But we want a British interest in the corridors


of American power? Americans feel, they feel that Americans and the


British share values, have similar views about the world, markets,


democracy, and we want our shared values to be part of Europe, and we


want to push Europe in that direction. And you agree with that?


You are putting the Americans at the centre of your campaign? I love what


she said about wanting Britain to be at the centre of the world, that is


what we want as well which is why we don't want to be shackled to a


failing European Union. We will have more influence if we can take back


our seat at the World Trade Center, and have more say on world trade and


inward investment. President Obama has some interest telling us the


truth on that, doesn't eat? You say we will a better trade relations,


continue with the special relationship, they will continue


giving us our security through Nato, but if the guy you're pinning all of


that on says, please, don't do it, is that really not a legitimate


thing for him to say? He is perfectly entitled to say it if he


wants to, but is he really going to end that special relationship if we


leave the European Union? Of course not. If there is one lesson we can


learn from America in this it is the way in which America is fiercely


protective is democratic sovereignty, and that is what we


want to do here, too. And a new Spectator piece, you had an


interesting argument which is that we shouldn't be worried about


Americans expressing an opinion, there are a lot of Americans


including presidential candidate who really couldn't care less. What we


really need to worry about now, what we should all be worried about and


fighting against our isolationist who want to pull apart the Western


alliance, wants to end the relationships, the trans-Atlantic


relationship, and don't care at all, and we should be together, we, the


British, the EU, should be together as a Western alliance working


together, and the problem is that there are now very strong voices in


the United States and across Europe... Donald Trump basically


said, if Nato goes, so be it. Donald Trump is not interested in Nato,


there are plenty of people in the United States who are not, and we


should keep that in mind. We have every intention of staying within


Nato, and another issue is that outside the European Union, we have


more ability to control our own national security and work more


closely with America and Nato. Is it going to backfire? Is President


Obama above being a foreigner Divina? He does rate highly in our


polls, but will people say, but out, or will they be glad of his counsel?


He has a right to speak. This is one of the things that affect us. The


things that others me about the Leave campaign is that they think


this ends at their borders, but it affects all of us. And what you


think? I think most people will think that he should stay out. Your


leader, Nigel Farage, called him the most anti-British American president


in history. But we do seem to quite like him, do you like him? I think


we do have a stronger relationship with America than the EU. We all


know who leads America, do we know who the EU presents are? Let's leave


it there. Let's stay on the EU referendum


theme for another couple of minutes. Because we are going to roll out


the first in a series of short These are particularly


for the undecideds among you. What we've done is ask a number


of people to take us through their thinking as they've


made up their mind how to vote; these are folks who are not taking


a role in the campaigns. Tonight, it's the novelist,


broadcaster and journalist, I'm quite open to talking


about, you know, I'd But that inevitably aligns me


with other politicians that I wouldn't vote


for in a million years. I think that's sometimes


why people are shocked. No, I didn't really


listen to anyone. I just saw what was on the news,


I went off and did my own reading. Recently, we had the tampon tax


and I was really shocked that we have to go to Brussels


to get an agreement about getting VAT scrapped on a tax that we feel


quite strongly about, It got me starting to think


about the notion of democracy. If you've got elected


politicians in this country, we have elected them at the ballot


box, why are they going to Brussels? It is not about migration to me at


all, which I think shocks people. Because I'm black


and when I say, oh no, I think we should leave the EU,


I think people have taken that I'm making


a statement about migration. I'm not making a statement


about migration. Actually, what I'm making


a statement about is It is not that I'm not saying


we can't have a relationship I think if you really think


about Britain at the moment, we do have a bit of a semi-detached


relationship with the EU. We're not part of the eurozone,


which is another story, There's the treaty around borders


and passports and we actually were not part of that


so we do check our passports So we do have a bit


of a semi-detached relationship with Europe, so why don't we -


we have opted out a bit - so why don't we just opt out


completely, I think? We will have more of those films


over the next few weeks. Funny, but also poignant


and deeply serious. A great performer, but also


an award-winning writer. Victoria Wood sadly died


today at the age of 62, A giant in entertainment herself,


her skill was in capturing the characters and concerns


of ordinary people. It's quite a feat to take dinner


ladies, or characters called Barry and Freda,


and to make comedy out of them, And that perhaps reflected her


own self-effacing personality. She had a somewhat solitary


childhood and for her, the sun came out when discovered


that she was more comfortable Stephen Smith looks


back at her career. He did have a sad life when you


think about it, Shakespeare. He did die before he could collaborate with


Andrew Lloyd-Webber! I hate watching Shakespeare in the theatre. I hate


sitting there with those people going, "She used to be in Juliet


Bravo!" Ready to order, Sir? Jane? What is


the soup of the day, please? I'll go and find out.


Where would British comedy be without dire hotels and restaurants?


What time is your train? Or Victoria Wood and Julie Walters for that


matter. Two soups! Everything comes down to


meeting Julie in that summer of '78. It was like somebody banging a gong,


I wrote this sentence and it was constructed in such a way that it


was funny, everything I had written before was nearly funny. This was


properly funny. Ladies and gentlemen, Victoria Wood. They make


all this fuss about a Northern Powerhouse, but there has always


been one for humour. Victoria Wood was a solitary child, in love with


TV and alert in eccentricity, a recipe for comedy gold. I was


obsessed with the television. It was a disappointment when it went back


to the shop in the summer. My father bought one so we could watch it all


year-round. If anything happened in the summer, I never saw it. One


year, after he bought a set, I think it was when I was doing my O levels,


he decided I was watching too much television, instead of saying


anything, he wrapped it up in a Mac. There was a package with a belt


around the middle! One of her best-loved creations was Acorn


Antiques. How do you say in the English, to marry you? It was a


spoof of a long-running shambolic show lucky to stay on the air. I was


sitting in the garden by a hedge when I was four in our house in


Bury. I remember thinking, I want to be famous. That was it. It came to


you out of the blue? I wanted to make my mark. In what way? I knew I


was funny. I could play the piano and I thought somehow I would do


something with this. I didn't know what it would be. I had a feeling


inside that I could do it. # Children be nice to your father


# He is still alive at 35... # I saw her when she was a complete


unknown and didn't recognise her talent at all, which she used to


tease me about. She had a struggle being a woman and being accepted


because it wasn't the fashion in those days, nobody believed that


women could be as funny as men and she proved them wrong. And laid the


ground work and the spade work for all the great, brilliant women


talent, comediennes that we have today.


I give you Miss Victoria Wood. The girl from Bury who wanted to be


famous won Celebrity Bake Off. I don't like it. There is only ever


one at a time and it was Thora Hird. # Beat me on the bottom with


# The Woman's Weekly # I'm joined now by actor, comedian,


columnist, Maureen Lipman. What was funny about her? What wasn't funny


about Vic? She was a technician. But you could see from that clip that


she was having an absolute ball. I think she was a brilliant writer and


had the personality of a true comedian, which was introverted and


happy when she was out there. She clicked on something that turned


things, and she's talked about that on other occasions. You don't know


what it was? She is so pretty. She never knew that. She had such style.


In a sort of way, she reminded me of Peter Kay, there is a great,


formidable strength there. I did one show once, which she wrote. One


monologue. In the studio, I remember doing it, she sat there, where you


are, and I thought, oh no. Go away! Don't judge me. She just was part of


the process. She was producing, directing and she was a very strong


woman model for all of us... You performed that production and that


is the thing, it is the character, it is the observation of ordinary


lives and seeing funny things, whether it is a school teacher or


someone washing up, or anything? And retaining her northern roots. The


rhythm of everything she wrote is northern. It is a bit like, she


admired my late husband and we got together over egg and chips and she


had the same genius, which was to take the ordinary, just distort it a


little bit, you know, in its proportions and it was hilarious


whatever she did. There's been a little debate - she was not sneering


about ordinary people? It was always quite sympathetic? I don't know. I


think she was waspish. You have to be for comedy. You can't be


pleasant, you know. That is interesting. I thought she was


rather pleasant. She was quite edgy. Edgy. She would talk about issues,


you could imagine people sitting in front of the telly being embarrassed


about? . Beat me on the bottom with a Woman's Weekly was very much a


National Anthem. She was a great example of how if you want something


done well, get a comedian. Let's talk about the women in comedy


point. We heard Michael Grade saying it, it was assumed women weren't


funny, particularly in stand-up? You had to be grotesque in a way. You


had to be Hilda Baker. Of course, it happens. Beryl Reid was another


heroine of Victoria's. She was a great actress. It wasn't until


Smiley's People that we knew she was a great actress. That character she


played of the Birmingham... It was the same kind of talent, you know,


it just was a colour that and an observation and a delineation which


was slightly bigger than reality, you know. Last question, she was a


generous and warm personality as well, correct? She would write lines


that were for other people as well as for herself. She would give other


people good lines. Does that work in showbiz? Well, she was on the


outside and on the inside, she was a performer, a director and a writer.


There was a triple threat. It is such a shock. This year... Today, I


got a message which said Victoria Wood on my phone and I thought she's


coming to see the show. I left a message on the phone saying, don't


come tonight because we have an actress off. I read... I just... And


in fact, because there was an actress off, I spoke to the audience


after the show. I said, you know, we have lost Britain's most formidable


talent today. It is heartbreaking. 62. It is. God bless her children


because it's, I don't know how you replace someone, let alone a


performer, but a mother as well. She was a born mother. Thank you so


much. Thank you. The London mayoral election


is on May 5th, two weeks tomorrow. But while London has a lot of issues


to manage, the campaign between Conservative Zac Goldsmith


and Labour's Sadiq Khan has ventured Mr Goldsmith has used the line that


Sadiq Khan is a radical - a word that morphs neatly


from association with Jeremy Corbyn to connections with Islamists


with anti-West views. For Labour, the Tory campaign


has been Islamaphobic, a "racist scream",


as Yvette Cooper described it. Secunder Kermani has been looking


at the Conservative campaign, This multilingual Zac Goldsmith


campaign video is a light-hearted side of the prominence attached to


race in the mayoral election. The Tories have been accused of playing


to fears of Sadiq Khan's Muslim background. He has a long record of


sharing platforms with extremists... Today, it was the Prime Minister's


turn to raise the same accusation against Sadiq Khan. The honourable


member for Tooting has appeared on a platform with him nine times. This


man supports IS. The Imam in question rejects that and Labour


branded the comments Islamophobic. I'm disappointed if they want to


have this desperate, negative campaign, I will be a Mayor for all


Londoners. I'm the person, who when he stood for Parliament, had


extremists outside his mosque... In recent days, Sadiq Khan and his


supporters have accused my campaign of being Islamophobic. There are


serious questions about you and your judgment. In debates and in


newspaper columns, Khan has been accused of talking alongside


radicals, choosing to defend extremists when he was a lawyer and


some of the claims have backfired. The South London preacher had also


been seen alongside Goldsmith. This style of politics isn't what people


normally associate with Zac Goldsmith. What is behind it? Could


it be that Goldsmith has been trailing Khan in the polls? Or is it


the influence of Lynton Crosby, whose firm is running the Tory


campaign? In Croydon, this group of Muslim voters say they have been put


off by the language in this debate. I dress the way I dress. Does that


mean I'm related to Taliban? No. With the dirty politics that's going


on, it puts you off. I have voted for the Tories in the past because


of their policies. Now, looking at the dirty politics which is going


on, I think I really have to think deep and search my conscience. The


only reason that these issues have been brought up are the lack of


policy issues that the Tories have been able to put forward. Outer


London areas have been key to Conservative strategy in London's


mayoral elections. They form part of the outer doughnut, a tradition ally


whiter, more Tory-friendly boroughs. The more ethnically diverse inner


city areas go to Labour. Demographic changes to the city make that


strategy much harder now. I think that Zac Goldsmith's


campaign has had to cope with the fact that it is no longer possible


for the Conservatives to assume that outer London is a place of suburban


Tory voting constituencies. What they have to think about now is, how


to ensure that the outer London vote, which includes some of the


traditional outer London voters, but now a more complex minority


population, how they still turn out for the Conservatives.


Ethnic minorities may have been traditionally associated with


Labour, but significant number of Sikhs now associate with the Tories.


Zac Goldsmith highlighted his welcoming of the Indian Prime


Minister. Some have labelled his targeting of Indian communities


patronising and even divisive, but at this Croydon Temple, he has


strong support. We did feel a bit neglected and ignored, but since the


last election, the Conservative Party has made a special effort to


reach out to the Hindu community, and it is appreciated. Our Prime


Minister got such a warm welcome, it was just a very remarkable event.


These politics are not something most of the British public are used


to. This election could see them brought into the mainstream.


Secunder Kermani there. And you can of course find a full


list of candidates running to be For almost two years,


the Syrian city of Raqqa has served as the capital of the so-called


Islamic State. But there has been a thorn


in the side of Isis: an extraordinary group of young men


who've opposed the regime online, documenting everyday realities


at great personal risk. The group is called


Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently. Today the group's leaders


are in hiding, but their full story is being told for the first time


in a film portrait of the group using real testimony


and graphicised images. Documents that are members of the


group have been victims of Isis brutality.


A fuller version of that remarkable story, which was produced


by Chloe Hadjimatheou from the BBC World Service, is available


in a series of short films on the BBC News website,


and there is also more on our Facebook page.


Before we go, the world's largest photography awards, the Sony Awards,


are being handed out tomorrow at Somerset House in London.


Now, we're not allowed to tell you who's won,


but we leave you with a few that we think deserve to.


Good evening. After the warmth of today, the cold weather by the end


of this week will come as a bit of a shock. Still some sunshine around on


Thursday, not as much in the southern half of


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

Is the EU referendum America's business?

Maureen Lipman remembers Victoria Wood.

Plus victims of ISIS, and the London mayoral campaigns.

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