In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Evan Davis.
Browse content similar to 14/12/2016. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
A ceasefire and evacuation may now be back on,
but in Aleppo, even defeat is not straightforward.
We'll ask how you bring a multiparty war like this to an end.
THE IDEA THAT YOU WOULD TARGET A PLAYGROUND? AND BOMB KIDS? Hoping
that he would then convince people to give up because you had killed
their kids? What kind of a second mind comes up with a strategy like
that? if there is any meaningful action
to add to the strong words. Also tonight, does Labour
have a problem in the North? We return to the
Brexit-voting town of Burnley. When we got the Gordon Brown...
man come and... The things he did on the TV
really put me off Labour, and I thought, "Hmm,
they're not actually ordinary that Labour has to learn
to be less metropolitan. Battles are meant to end
when one side wins them, and Bashar al-Assad's forces
have won eastern Aleppo. But the end of the suffering
there has been delayed. Yesterday, the hope was that
the rebels and trapped civilians would be able to retreat
from their enclave in eastern Aleppo and the evacuation buses
sent back to the depot. There are suggestions tonight
that it is in prospect again. In a conflict so brutal and bitter,
even when there is a deal to be struck to the mutual
benefit of the combatants, it is formidably difficult
to settle it. The UN human-rights chief
suggested it may be a war crime for killing to continue
at this point in the battle. David Grossman has been
following events for us today. Reporting from the rubble of Aleppo,
this film-maker has gathered material from Syria for Newsnight
during this conflict. Today you can hear in the
background, and in his voice, the ceasefire has failed.
Earlier in the day, we had the perfect metaphor for that dashed
hope. The row of buses lined up to ferry civilians to safety closed
their doors and believe empty. Every time a ceasefire has been
negotiated, in the last months, they have collapsed, and they have not
succeeded. This time there are reports that the Iranian militia has
started fighting again. There are now reports of the Syrian army
saying there were more rebels there than they thought initially, so it
was a kind of logistical thing. The Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad,
appeared on Russian state television today to criticise the West for, he
said, caring only about the casualties from one side in this
desperate conflict. Western officials and the mainstream media,
they are worried about the civilians. They are not worried when
the opposite happens, when the terrorists are killing those
civilians or attacking Palmyra and destroying the human heritage, not
only Syrian heritage. If he thought this would check US criticism of his
actions and those of his Russian allies, this afternoon's strong
comments Robbie White as we'll have corrected this mass apprehension. --
from the White House. These tactics are depraved, they cross every line
that I can think of. And frankly they cross lines I hadn't previously
thought. The idea that you would target a playground? And bomb kids?
Hoping that you would then convince people to give up because you had
killed their kids? What kind of a sick mind comes up with a strategy
like that? And what kind of civilised country is going to
support those tactics? But that is what Russia has done.
But the impotence of Western powers in this conflict is obvious. The UK
Government sources have told the BBC that it will use drones and
satellite imagery to gather evidence of possible war crimes in Aleppo - a
thread perhaps, but what we cannot do, it seems, is stop the atrocities
from happening. David Grossman there. If you want to see more from
that extraordinary piece of film at the beginning of the piece, the
cameraman in Aleppo, we will be putting that up on the Newsnight
YouTube channel. It will be there a little later.
I am joined now by the author and journalist Patrick Cockburn
and Lina Khatib, who is the head of the Middle East and North Africa
Patrick, the level of brutality, is this unique for this war? No,
unfortunately. It has been brutal from the beginning, extraordinarily
brutal. So it is really almost typical of what we have seen before.
So we are obviously seeing perhaps more of it than we have in the past,
and certainly the Americans have upped the ante in terms of the
language they are using to describe it. Yes, it is more visible, it is a
bigger place, East Aleppo, the district in Damascus, I have been
around them, the level of destruction there is equal. But it
has been an extraordinarily violent war already since it started in
2011. And do you agree? This is the way this war is being conducted, and
this is not perhaps as exceptional as we are saying? We have to
remember it is not just Aleppo that is being bombarded right now. Other
areas in Syria, occupied by rebels, according to the regime, are being
bombed with the same intensity. It live is one such area. Are the
rebels doing the same? Obviously they cannot bomb, but are they as
violent as the regime? Of course the rebels are fighting, so they are
engaged in attacks on regime held areas, but they do not have an air
force, and therefore no matter, you know they could not be as brutal
even if they wanted to. Can we talk about the evacuation? A lot of the
assessment of this rest on whether the folks stuck out in eastern
Aleppo can get out if they want to do so safely, and they clearly seem
to think that they are not safe if they leave. Patrick, we have other
experience in Syria? What does that tell us about what the Syrian
government does to people when they surrender? Well, they have this
programme of ceasefires that are, as you say, in practice surrenders.
Some people stay in that area or go over to the government side, but a
lot of the fighters and their families, other sympathisers, are
generally bussed to Idlib province, under rebel control. That is one of
the optimistic things that is happening, supposing the government
kills a lot of these people, who it says they are going to evacuate,
then every other besieged rebel stronghold is going to fight to the
end, because there will be no reason for them to surrender. So it is in
the interest of the government to treat them reasonably well? Very
much so, because they have regained... We talk about Aleppo,
but if we can control the the large part of Damascus, it is not in their
interest that it should stop. We hear that people are being offered
passage to Idlib, but that is a place that is obviously the last
rebel holdout, and a lot of rebels have been sent there. One wonders
what the Syrian government is planning for Idlib. Yeah, exactly, I
think what is happening is an attempt to squeeze the rebels in
this area of Idlib, and we are talking about a very big area. And
afterwards, I expect that the regime and Russia and their allies will not
stop and just let them, you know, kind of exist in Idlib. Already the
bombing is ongoing, and I expect after the Battle of Aleppo, we will
see a follow-up, which is possibly a siege in Idlib, but followed by
intent of the gate of air strikes. There is one thing I want to
mention, the Damascus government and the Iranians, there are two Shia
towns west of Aleppo that have been besieged, and I think they are
genuinely worried about what happened to them, and I want to get
their people out of there. It is not purely about Aleppo. We do not
really here about these towns of the media, here, but it is something
that weighs very strongly not just with the Syrian government but with
the whole Shia community. Do you think the media coverage is
imbalanced in any way, Patrick? Well, compared to Mosul, it turns
out that it is mostly or entirely the fault of Daesh, Isis there, and
they are holding civilians as human shields. While over in Aleppo, it is
entirely the fault of the government, but actually there are
many similarities between the two, that you have jihadis basically
controlling a place, they are under attack from governments, shell fire,
bombs being dropped, lots of civilians get killed. So there are
strong parallels between the two, they are not exactly the same, but
there are parallels. But the danger in this is that some people might
think that East Aleppo is being controlled by Daesh, when it is not,
or that the majority of rebels in eased Aleppo are jihadists and are
extremist jihadists at that. And the situation, as you know, is a lot
more complex than that. It is complex, but you have Al-Nusra,
which I know it says has separated from Al-Qaeda, but the links are
still the plans. But the other is not designated as a terrorist
organisation. In terms of the international community's role, was
this inevitable, but it was so brutal? The George Osborne line, it
did not come out of a vacuum, it was created by a vacuum, a lack of
leadership from the US. I think history has been rewritten, and
things that governments could not have done, this was a genuine civil
war, people deeply committed on both sides to fight. If Britain, America
had come in 2013, and Assad had gone, would the war had ended? No,
you would just have had a new type of war, maybe you would have at
Daesh in Damascus instead. So I am sure he thinks that he is doing the
right thing, but in fact it is really a very simple-minded account
of what happened. How does it end? I mean, this is ridiculous as a last
question, but what does the government do? Do the rebels get
defeated, or do they become bandits in the hills who come down and
create trouble for Assad if he manages to get control of the
country? One of the things we have to remember is that the grievances
which have led people to protest against Assad, plus the atrocities
created by the regime, are not going away any time soon, meaning even if
the rebels are defeated militarily, these grievances will remain, and
unless they are addressed, we are going to sit long-term instability
in Syria, regardless of the kind of political settlement that might
happen at some point. And therefore I think that we shouldn't just focus
on the battle of Aleppo and think, this is the beginning of the end. It
is just another one. Absolutely, unless there is a political
transition in Syria that changes the regime, replaces it with a
transitional government that has wider representation from all sides.
I am joined now by Ambassador James Jeffrey from Washington.
He was US ambassador to Iraq and Turkey.
Good evening to you. We have heard very strong words from the United
States, is there anything they could do at this point to actually make a
difference? You are wasting your screen time, letting your folks hear
these words from the White House, because we hear them again and
again. This White House will take no action to try and stop this carnage.
It does not understand or want to understand what is at stake and it
cannot act without using military force which it is refusing to do.
That is a very strong statement. Are you saying the mistake was made back
in 2013 and that a vacuum is left and Russia filled the vacuum? We
have seen exactly that. The previous commentator has mentioned that this
is a civil war and it certainly is. Like Sri Lanka, and Colombia, but
you can't understand this without recognising it is part of a larger
struggle. An effort from Iran enabled by Russia to spread the
influence and power deep into the Arab world. Syria, rack, Lebanon,
Yemen -- rack. That is what is going on. Normally as America we played a
role with the rest of the West, in balancing these things, but we have
played that role. What military action would you take at this point?
I would declare where the rebels are, Idlib, a no-fly zone, which
cannot be shut down by Russia and start dropping in supplies by
American transport and say that if they are struck out, we will strike
the bases from whence the attacks came, something like that is what is
needed. If we can't do that and I don't think this Administration
will, at least stop giving very effective anti-tank and
anti-aircraft weapons to the rebels, to try to drag this thing and to get
a political settlement. The Iranians and the Syrians and the Russians are
going for a total victory by smashing the population. Today
Aleppo and tomorrow the rest of Syria. The danger is you prolong the
war and so it goes on endlessly. They can run for 15 years if there
are outside parties financing it. That is the danger of the route you
are suggesting. If you like what is going on now, is the alternative...
There are people who say it would be better if President Assad won. Is
that an argument? Again, if this was Sri Lanka or Colombia at where the
government in the end wins, even though the other side might have its
own grievances or legitimate complaints against the government,
that is one thing, but this is no more an isolated Civil War than the
Spanish Civil War, to use an ancient example. That was not an isolated
Civil War in the 30s, this has a strategic impact on what is going on
in Europe and North America and globally. You mentioned that the new
regime which might take a different approach. What do you think Donald
Trump will do? We assume he will be more favourable towards the Russian
perspective in that part of the world and indeed in every part of
the world. He views this as a binary conflict between Isis and everybody
else. In some sense Donald Trump might take a view that is rather
closer to the one I was just putting to you. It is possible, nobody
knows. First of all he is very much opposed to Iran's activities. He has
gone after the Iran nuclear agreement which is the one thing I
like about the Obama's handling of Iran. The problem with Iran, though,
depredations to the Middle East are not under control and that is what
he will have to deal with and that is what he will hear from the
region. That is potentially a contradiction in the clues we have
about Donald Trump. He's more pro-Russia but he is more anti-Iran
and at the moment they are the two allies fighting together in Syria.
He is mainly pro-make America great again, he can't do that if he
doesn't deal more effectively than a president Obama has with the
depredations from Iran in the Middle East and the challenge to the entire
global security system that Russia is making. There is no way to make
America great and try to live with that. There are ways you can do this
more diplomatically and more militarily but you have got to do
something different. Ambassador, thanks for joining us.
In recent months on Newsnight we've reported on some
of the troubles experienced by the Independent Inquiry
In the summer it lost its third chair and since then a number
In October, we reported that the inquiry had dropped
an investigation into its lead lawyer, despite being made aware
of an allegation of sexual assault against him.
Ben Emmerson has always strongly denied any wrongdoing.
Today the legal chambers where he practices announced
their own inquiry had concluded he had not committed
Seven weeks ago Newsnight revealed the independent inquiry into child
sexual abuse had been made aware of an allegation of sexual assault
The inquiry had been told of a claim that Ben Emmerson,
the most senior lawyer on the inquiry, had
groped a colleague between her legs in a lift.
Mr Emmerson has always strongly denied any wrongdoing.
It was claimed that despite being aware of the disclosure,
the inquiry had dropped an investigation into
Three weeks ago MPs described the child abuse inquiry's
handling of the disclosure as wholly inadequate.
Shortly after Newsnight's broadcast, Matrix, the legal chambers
where Mr Emmerson practices, began their own inquiry.
It was led by former Director of Public Prosecutions Sir
Matrix are not publishing their reports or any extracts from it,
but today they revealed that in Sir David's view,
Ben Emmerson has no case to answer on the question of misconduct.
Shortly afterwards, Ben Emmerson said through his lawyers:
Newsnight understands the report acknowledges
A number of lawyers at Matrix have told us that they are unhappy
with today's statement from their chambers.
And it is understood that Aileen McColgan,
herself a former lawyer on the child abuse inquiry, has resigned
from her role as equalities and diversity officer
The inquiry worker who made the disclosure of sexual assault,
And for the child sexual abuse inquiry, the question
of how it responded to the original disclosure remains.
It is reviewing the criticisms made by MPs.
Back at the time of the referendum, Newsnight visited Burnley
on more than one occasion, to test the views
Like many northern towns, it voted for Leave by a big margin -
There's no such thing as a typical town, but you can say that Burnley
fits a type that is much in the minds of policy
It's a manufacturing town with about 87,000 people,
about a tenth of those are of Asian heritage, and there's been
As we look back on the year of 2016 and the revolution we have
witnessed, we thought we'd send film-maker Nick Blakemore back
to Burnley, to see what how people are feeling now.
I haven't noticed any massive changes as of yet.
I suppose we're all waiting for something to happen.
With Brexit? Yeah.
It was about change, it was about making changes.
The state of the country is getting worse.
It seems like it's getting worse and worse.
There's a lot of homelessness, people who can't afford to eat.
So I suppose from someone who is not in that situation,
looking at it from an outside point of view, you think, God,
And maybe, you know, we are looking for changes,
but we don't quite know where to look for it.
I live with my partner and my little boy.
Let me just check I've got your spellings.
I can't work full time because I've got my child to sort out.
I have friends and things who would have him, but I couldn't
expect them to do it on a regular basis really.
I voted Remain because I think that I believe a strong Europe
However, I respect the democracy in this country.
This is a beautiful country in terms of democracy.
And I would go along with the decision of
the majority of people in this country.
A lot of families settled in this area are from Europe,
from the Asian community, and they had a fear that
if they voted out for exit, their families and friends would not
One of the most deprived areas in Burnley.
Here we have my friend Nick from the BBC.
This is not only the local businessman but also a very
experienced social worker and community worker
They should stay with Europe, it is better for Britain.
Economically it is better for Britain.
I'm against letting criminals into the country or bad
people into the country, but those that want to come
I wouldn't do a cleaner's job, and I don't think a lot of people
would go around cleaning, but these immigrants,
So how do you think we could support you a little bit better?
How do you think we could help you with that?
What we do here is offer support that used to be offered
People come in and they have been unemployed
You have no income coming in, so it's a struggle.
I will just do the banking for today.
We have very little funding, meaning that the staff are each
having to make sacrifices in order to do the job as well as we can do.
I always thought Labour were for the people,
for the working class, and I fit in with
But when we had the Gordon Brown man come in, the things he did on the TV
really put me off Labour and I thought, they're not
really ordinary working class people after all.
I moved to Lancashire because I found a good job.
No one is ever touching me because I'm Polish, because I'm gay,
because I live here, no one give me any problem.
England is a more tolerant country and in Poland there is a lot
It is a Catholic country and it is very hard to find some
space to live if you have a partner, to live like a normal person.
A lot of people talking about Brexit, and a lot
of people asking me, what is this Brexit?
I've got a friend and he said, did you vote to leave the Brexit, then?
Out of the blue, because it's not something I really
And I said I did, actually, and he said, well,
I've never heard anything so ridiculous.
But he took it as a personal thing to the Asian community.
I had not even thought about the Asian community
in my vote, so it was nothing to do with it.
And I'm sure a lot of people haven't...
I pointed out, you are British as well!
You know, you were born here, so you are British.
So why am I racist against you? You know.
People have voted now so you can't really, you know...
You know, there were no sort of questions
Well, you heard Diane there, a traditional Labour voter,
who went off the party after Gordon Brown.
Now Burnley is a Labour town, in fact Labour took the seat back
from the Lib Dems at the last election, but Ukip got 17%
of the vote, and arguably the most fascinating contest
in politics over the next few years is the one for Diane's vote.
Is it up for grabs? And who can grab it?
That's a question I put to Andy Burnham,
and Labour candidate for the new metro mayor
of Great Manchester in the election next year.
The party has been too London-centric for too long.
Policies haven't been put forward in places like Burnley and mine.
You know, the London perspective on life dominates national policy,
so when the North needed help with the manufacturing industry,
And on housing, when the North needed help with affordable
homes to rent, it was all about selling them off.
So national policy has not helped communities
To what extent do you think immigration is the issue that really
drives this and has driven a wedge, if you like, between traditional
Well, it has become the lightning rod for their feeling,
the sense that politicians in Westminster are out of touch.
It has become the issue that people have used to illustrate that,
and I think the truth about it is free movement of labour
had a differential impact on different parts of the country.
For the big cities, absolutely had brought people
in and boosted growth, but for the former industrial
parts of the country, the part of the country
that I represent, it was having a more complicated effect.
It was putting pressure on wages, on GP services, on primary schools,
and there was a feeling there that the elite weren't seeing that
And I think those are the feelings that came through at the referendum.
Let's talk about the Labour Party, though, and whether it agrees
Basically, your party is run from London,
the Foreign Secretary, the shadow is the next constituency,
Diane Abbott, Home Secretary, London MP.
They don't agree with what you're saying, or they certainly
don't agree with the sentiment that immigration
Well, I have spoken up on that, and I have said that I think
there needs to be an acceptance that the majority of people voted
for a change in the way free movement works.
And in my view, the party has to face up to that.
But you're right, I think it's not just the Labour Party, I might say,
it's the system of governance that we have in our country.
it is heavily focused on people who live within the M25. I suppose it is
a real problem for the Labour Party, because it aspires to being a
government, and it cannot win an election without some of these
voters voting for the party. Diane Abbott, in response to you saying
that free movement is no longer an option, she apparently smoked and
said Andy has always had these views, but you cannot have access to
the single market without free movement. I just wonder if the
coalition that is the Labour Party is breaking down, metropolitan
London liberals and Northern working-class voters who have been
bound up in the same party - they don't actually agree. I have worried
about that, and I think the referendum has brought that fault
line out. I would say to Diane, it is not about my views, it is about
what millions of people in the North think, who are not in any way racist
or xenophobic, but they see this as had a direct impact on life in a
communities. And she would say that you need to teach them they bring in
tax revenues to pay for public services. Do you believe the people
of Burnley are right, or do you think the people of Burnley are
wrong but we have to listen to them and follow what they say? I would
never have any truck with xenophobia or racism, and I will always
challenge it. But there are practical and legitimate concerns
that people in Burnley, Leigh and elsewhere raised... But it is not
just about following them, do you believe it? I don't believe free
movement was working for those places, because it was having a real
impact on wages. There is evidence from the Bank of England that free
movement in semi and unskilled occupations has held wages down or
even taken them further down. So why wouldn't people have a concern about
that? My argument is there is nothing socialist about a system of
the free movement of labour where big companies use people like
commodities to move them around Europe to drive down labour costs.
The left has to kind of rate out of this thing that everything that
comes out of Europe is great, we need to reassess things. In the
polls, it bounces up and down, Labour is about 14 points behind the
Conservatives. In Scotland, Labour was running behind the
Conservatives. What on earth can change in the next year, two years?
We have to see the party repair its relationship with the nation.
Devolution to the English regions was not conceived as the answer to
Brexit, but it must be embraced as such, and it creates an opportunity
for the party to get closer to people again. I have been in
Westminster for over 15 years, and I have seen how it has drifted away
from people, I have seen the London centric approach to life that does
not provide answers for many parts of the North of England. My
frustration with it has led me to want to leave it and say, actually,
I would rather devote my energy there to building a northern Labour
voice, if you like, so we can represent more directly the feelings
that people have and develop answers that are right for them. You know,
the problem was Labour in government gave devolution to London, Scotland
and Wales, and their voice got longer, but it failed in northern
England because the north-east people rejected it. That has left a
gap in the way our country is governed. Andy Burnham, thank you.
Have you ever detected a preponderance of white models
One woman thought she'd draw attention to that issue
in a rather arty way, by remaking some of the slickest
and sexiest ads, putting herself, a black woman, into the place
Deddeh Howard is a medicine student and fashion blogger based in LA,
A little earlier, I asked why she thought fashion houses booked so few
black models. You know, I think that the fashion
industry have an image out there that white are more beautiful,
so that's all we see, that is why there's
so many white advertisements. it's more aspiration to
women out there, which I personally think
is not the case. I think that beauty
is within everything. We are different,
black and white and in between, we are all different
and we are all diverse, and I think that is what should
be represented. Given the size of the Asian markets
and how big they are becoming, it is odd we don't see more Asian
women in these ads, you would think. Exactly, that's the whole point -
why are we not seeing that? It's because of this really biased
image that the fashion industry have been born into,
and it's just kept that. Is that because you don't
think it is racism? Or because you are reluctant
to use that word? I think the fashion industry
is just used to putting those images in our face,
and people don't speak out about it, or when they do,
they get ignored, and they just keep doing
those things. So I think if people speak out,
it doesn't have to be about racists, it just has to be about including
more people, because these pictures prove that diversity is more
capable, can do even better than just the race that
we see all the time. I have to say you have done
a very good job Because the advertisers,
they spend a lot of money on them, and you haven't spent the same money
on your remakes that they spent. I have to pay attention
to school and other things, and Raffael Dickreuter and I
took all these pictures, we took all these pictures
in our living room with a very low budget compared to these brands
that have huge budgets. Thanks, nice talking to you.
Thank you. Just as we were coming on air, some
news from Yahoo affected by a hack, get this, 1 billion people affected
by it. It does not appear to be financial data, names, phone
numbers, passwords and e-mail addresses, but not bank and payment
data. Apparently, that is the largest hack from a single source,
Russian hackers have managed to get data from 1.2 billion, but that was
lots of different people. That's all we've got
time for this evening. But before we go,
National Geographic named its best We thought we'd share them with you.
Good night. It looks like a pretty great start
to the UK for many parts of the UK, particularly so eastern Scotland,
the north-east of England,