04/01/2017 Newsnight

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

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Is that the low rumble of an earthquake we can hear,


rattling the Elysee Palace, shaking up France?


Could she really win the Presidential election in 2017?


And what on earth would she do if she did?


But even if she loses France could be changing direction.


We'll try to work out where the country


is going and what it means for the rest of us?


You to continue to look for work or your benefit


The sanctions regime: life for those who've had welfare


Ken Loach, the maker of I, Daniel Blake,


will be here to discuss whether benefit sanctions have a place.


They come from the same background, maybe they went to the same


And they work together to build a brilliant company but then at some


point they realise they need to start focusing on people


who didn't come from the same background as them and did not go


to the same university and do not look like them.


How the royalty of Silicon Valley are coping in America.


We know President Hollande will not be in power after May.


What is to be determined is who will replace him.


Marine Le Pen of the Front National hopes to pull a Trump-like shock,


and to that end, she has been putting flesh on her policy platform


The big news is that she's inserted some nuance


She's no longer saying France must come out.


But she is for change, and even accepting that she'll


probably fail to win, France could take a radically


Our diplomatic editor, Mark Urban reports.


For many French, the Front National, the National Front, and its former


leader Jean Marie Le Pen, had become like the baddies in a graphic


novel, there to menace, but never to win.


But his daughter has sought to rebrand the party, shed its racist


I think she has done extremely well in detoxifying,


that's the word she uses, the Front National brand and saying,


"I'm not an extremist, I do not make nasty


jokes about the Holocaust and parties like mine


"Look at Ukip, look at Brexit, look at Trump in America".


"It is perfectly normal to vote for me,


I'm just a politician, except that I'm different from the others".


Le Pen's platform unveiled during recent days has a take


back control feel to it, restoring sovereignty of


the economy, she says, being more protectionist of the territory of


France itself, imposing permanent border controls and of monetary


policy, reintroducing the franc, albeit pegged to wider European


currencies in a kind of new exchange rate mechanism, a more moderate


message than some of her recent pronouncements


She's not going for hard Frexit, she's trying to explain


to the electorate that she wants to renegotiate things with Europe.


She is doing this probably because she wants to reach


beyond her traditional electoral base.


If Marine Le Pen is to win, she has got to leap a whole series


of hurdles, from appealing to voters who usually stay at home to racing


through a crowded presidential field, and indeed,


With the party short of cash, it may seek another loan from


Russia, a country the party leader has been reluctant to criticise.


The Front National has a storeyed past of aligning themselves


Marine Le Pen's stepmother and her father got money


They campaigned heavily for Saddam Hussein, saying that he was


misunderstood, a bit like Bashar al-Assad today,


and a beacon of secularism in the Middle East.


And strangely enough, it has not harmed her.


Received political opinion suggests she may


get to the last two for a second-round vote, as indeed her


But it will be very hard for her to clinch victory.


But then again, that's received opinion, based on polls,


and one French paper announced yesterday that it


TRANSLATION: We realise that pollsters did not predict several


big events - Brexit in Great Britain, Trump in the US.


In France, we have primaries on the right and


we didn't expect Nicolas Sarkozy to be eliminated in the first round.


We all thought Alain Juppe would win.


That's what the polls were telling us.


But it was Francois Fillon who won, and nobody


Francois Fillon, now leading the polls, is a man of


He may well cast doubt on Marine Le Pen's values,


or even suggest she's not so different from her father.


She is suddenly looking not as the newcomer,


as she would hope, but somebody who has tried again and again to be


elected, while Francois Fillon was prime minister for five years


and is now the favourite, the newcomer.


She didn't expect him to win the primary.


So this is a new battle for her and it is dangerous


Mobilising people against an establishment candidate


will still provide Le Pen with plenty of options, and the success


of her messages on border controls and leaving the single currency may


yet produce in France a huge challenge to the European project.


Joining me now are Benedicte Paviot, the UK correspondent for France 24,


and Philippe Marliere, Professor of French and European Politics


at University College, London.


I want to start by getting you to reflect on the Front National, they


seem to have softened enormously. Should we think of them as the


Fascist party or the French Ukip? It is more the French Ukip but it is a


different animal to Ukip. There is very much the question of identity,


this is across the French spectrum, people are concerned about security


and France is still under a state of emergency, about immigration. And


that is they are concerned, very high unemployment, France has almost


10%. The economy is not doing very well, so it is difficult and people


are finding it very hard to get by. But I wouldn't compare and Nigel


Farage doesn't like her thinking they are in the same boat. He has


never said a word against, he said, but he has criticised her father.


Would you call them a fascist party? She is very astute in her language,


so she is able to appeal to people who would be described as probably


fascist but she is careful, unlike her father, not to generally say


things, although she has been in trouble herself, whether it is about


Muslims and also about the Holocaust. Do you think of them as


the Fascist party? Or Ukip? It is hard-core them a fascist party today


-- it is hard to call them a fascist party today, although their roots


are in the far right, and they are clearly an extreme far right party,


but they have softened the image, the brand, because of Le Pen


herself, the message is soft, but when you look at the core policies


it is about immigration and law and order. Identity politics. It is


still about Islam posing a major threat to French identity. The have


-- these have been very important in other elections, like in America. If


many French voters think they are a fascist party, they will think they


will never vote for them, but if you look at the policies you have


described, populist economics, sovereignty, national control, you


could see people voting for that, couldn't you? It would appeal to the


mainstream? It is a difficult question, opinion polls have said


for the majority of people the Front National remains a party which is a


threat to French democracy. That is very clear. It is not a normal party


in that respect, but if you want to see it as a fascist party along the


lines of the Nazis in Germany or Mussolini, there are differences,


clearly. Let's talk about the Front National, being parked between Ukip


and more extreme, but Francois Fillon, he is not a normal French


candidate, he's quite right wing. Thatcherite. Which the French don't


like. Very socially conservative. Yes. Francois Fillon, I would not


agree with your reporter, he's a known quantity, he would like to


present himself as a newcomer, but the French people know him very


well. He was a Prime Minister under Nicolas Sarkozy and we should point


out that it is quite a surprise that we are sitting here at the end of


November... He was not seen at all by the polls as the favourite to be


the Conservative candidate, but he is the official candidate in what


was a very successful first time exercise for the French


Conservatives to do these primaries, that is the... Be socialists did


that at the last election, they will go through their second exercise. It


was very successful because they got millions of people do come out and


vote and we ended up, not with another former Conservative Prime


Minister, we got Francois Fillon, who has a track record, and is a


known quantity. He has parked his tanks very firmly on the right,


which is a slight problem for Marine Le Pen. She had geared herself up to


be dealing with Alain Juppe. He's not doing well in the polls, though.


Ever since his victory, which was very good, and the expulsion in


third place of the former President Nicholas Sarkozy, he has been


completely silent and 53% of the French people feel he has been to


silent and he has disappeared, you can't afford to do that. And that he


should also change some of its policies. What is going on in


France? We have not spoken about the Socialists, no one seems to be


bothered by them in this election. Is it cultural or economic question


mark it is very simple, the Francois Hollande presidency has been a


fiasco, really, there's a strong rejection of what Francois Hollande


and the government have achieved, so a very unpopular government. That is


why one of the candidates, Manuel Valls, will have a mountain to


climb. If he's nominated by his own party. The second reason, the left


is not united. There will be many many candidates, 5-6 candidates on


the left. Very briefly. What do you think the EU should be thinking


about this election? Should they be terrified of both candidates? Marine


Le Pen is a bit softer towards the EU than she was six months ago. If


Francois Fillon wins or a socialist wins, any candidate will be rather


lukewarm regarding Europe but they will be the same continuation of the


same policy as at the moment. If Le Pen wins it is a totally different


situation. She would like a referendum about Frexit. That would


be a different proposition, but she has to win, and she's not there yet,


in my opinion. There is one other person to watch out for, the


independent candidate. The wild card. Thanks for joining us.


Britain has a new ambassador to the EU - didn't take long.


I'm joined by our political editor Nick Watt.


What do we know about Tim Barrow? He's an immensely respected figure


and his nickname in the Foreign Office is deep state, which means he


has the answers to everything. He had a stint in Moscow and a couple


in Brussels. Boris Johnson is delighted. He believes the UK


mission to the EU needs to be headed by someone who speaks the language


in Europe. He was one of the diplomatic high-flyers who takes the


form or notes of the European Council some years ago. They also


believe because Tim Barrow has been the political director at the


Foreign Office, he is June to the politics and he also has something


of a sense of humour and is aware of the intricacies of the Brexit


debate. This became apparent in a recent appearance before the foreign


affairs select committee when his boss Alan Duncan inadvertently set


him up as one of those dreaded experts. This is the exchange. I'm


not perhaps as deeply immersed in the


thinking, but maybe I can bat that to Tim Barrow, who has been living


with this... I'm not an expert. Michael Gove might approve, but not


me. Where did disappointment come from?


It has been quite quick. Is it a solution, or does it create another


problem inside the Foreign Office? Tim Barrow was only approached for


this job in the last 36 hours after Sir Ivan Rogers stood down, and the


process a successor was led by Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet


Secretary scotching rumours that a political Brexiteer would be put in.


Sir Jeremy has ensured that at one level, nothing changes. A Whitehall


life will run the British mission to the EU. But at another level,


everything changes. He is a clean slate. Sir Ivan Rogers carried a lot


of baggage because he was associated with David Cameron's negotiations.


Interestingly, Tim Barrow has achieved a first. He has united


Remainers and almost all Leavers. One dissenting voice is Nigel


Farage. In the film I, Daniel Blake,


you see the main characters Daniel Blake and his friend Kate


lose their benefits after being Sanctioning is a punishment for not


looking for work hard enough or turning up on time


for appointments or whatever. Now, Daniel Blake's story


is fiction, but those who work in food banks


say that sanctioning does force


people into charity. We're going to debate sanctioning


shortly with Ken Loach, who made But first, we go to the town


of Accrington to meet some people Filmmaker Nick Blakemore has


returned to Maundy Grange, a charity relief centre he visited


in 2014, which tries to help them. I've had a bit of a bad


situation with a landlord. Got in rent arrears with


the landlord and he's just started At the moment, he's struggling


hard for furniture. Here, we try to provide an immediate


response to poverty and need Need can be defined as not having


enough to eat or suffering from mental ill-health or needing


help with a form. It's difficult to be optimistic


at the moment because we've seen three years of things getting


gradually worse and I think there are things which we weren't used to,


like benefits sanctions and people being left to be destitute,


which are now more commonplace. And that's a worry, and that doesn't


seem to be getting better. I can't get into the house


to get my stuff, so while I'm fighting to get my stuff,


I've got nothing to live on, If I can get hold of


a bed or something. I've got no debts and I don't


owe anybody any money. When he lost his job four years ago,


he says he gave up on the system I've worked all my life and now


they expect me to do I do volunteer work


five days a week. There should be heads


rolling for that one. When you say you worked


all your life, what were you doing? My first job, I worked in the mill


for six years and then in a foundry for a couple of years,


and then in another foundry When I was here last,


I met John Crabtree. The sanctions are basically


about saying you're not making enough of an effort


to look for work. I turned around and said to them,


"Look, I'm 61 now, there's no jobs So how can you sit there, young


person, 25, and tell me about work? You haven't even had


the experience I've had". I tracked John down to his


new place in Accrington. he says, because he did not fill


in a form correctly. This is where I've been


for about three year. Last time I spoke to you, you'd been


sanctioned and you said you'd I spoke to you the other day


and you said you'd been in prison? I got caught, obviously,


so I got 20 months. The plug was in, it ran over,


and that's what it did. Well, it's better than the place


you were in before. Can I just ask you,


when you think back, Yeah, I worked from


the age of 15, 16. Things should be easy now,


not worse, but anyway, Jonno, are


these your supplies? Chocolate's my favourite


drug, then weed. Sometimes I wake up


and think, oh, shit. Sometimes I have a nice


dream and I think, ahhh. When you find a place to sleep


at night, what do you look for? It's got a bit of light,


that's quite nice. As long as you have a couple


of sleeping bags, something It's a lot better than,


say, sleeping in a Tesco You get over here


and out of the way. You know you have to get


up in the morning by You find a place that's


sheltered like this. Back in 2014, Zack was


struggling to make ends meet. Some jobs, they're only taking


on certain qualified people. What happened after you


were sanctioned, then? They basically messed around


with my housing benefit and it still carried on until not


so long ago. They got me over ?1,000


in debt with my landlady. Messing with my jobseekers'


and all that lot. That's what made me want


to get a job, really. So obviously, I don't


have to depend on them. All we have is emergency


accommodation, which is literally It's easy to agree with


the principle that people But what worries us is the number


of people who can't work who are being penalised for not


being able to work. The way things are going,


I think there's a big gap in people's awareness


of what's going on. Maybe some people feel we're moving


out of recession and things are getting a bit better and maybe


there's a lack of willingness to look at people who don't have


that feeling that things are getting better, and for whom things


are getting considerably worse. I use a lot of food from the skips,


I've got to admit. I find a lot of chocolate biscuits


sometimes, a lot of cake. The soup kitchens, things like that,


there's not enough to cope So when you are hungry at tea


time, you do the skips. Can you explain how


often you go hungry? Because I'm homeless,


I'm on the streets at the moment. We did ask the Department for Work


and Pension for an interview, but they weren't able


to offer anyone. They did say, however,


that sanctions are only I'm joined in the studio


by Matthew Oakley, who was commissioned


by the government to write an independent review


into the impact of sanctions And in Bristol we have


director Ken Loach, whose award winning film I,


Daniel Blake told the story of people struggling


with the bureaucracy Matthew, I would like to start with


you for some facts. You did a review and you found it was basically


working, is that right of the sanction system? Essentially so. We


need to take on board the wider context, that this is a system of


sanctions that only applies to a small number of people. The majority


of people on benefits are not sanctioned. So the people you see in


that film are at the hardest end of what are talking about. Secondly,


there is a huge amount of international evidence that shows


that conditionality, requirements placed on people who are on


benefits, backed up by financial sanctions, penalties for not doing


what they should be in terms of looking for work, is effective in


getting people back to work more quickly. Thirdly, this is a system


that is supported by both the majority of the public, but also


benefit claimants themselves. That is one of the surprising things from


my review. We spoke to a lot of benefit claimants and charities who


support them and even people who have been sanctioned, and they


supported the principle. What is your reaction as you watch that


film? Do you think those people should


have been sanction, or do you think they are just, if you like, the cost


of a sanctioning system, that you will have some people who shouldn't


be sanctioned who are sanctioned? It looked like someone find it quite


difficult to get a job. Absolutely. What my review said was that in


certain situations where people are obviously vulnerable, we are talking


homelessness here, that should act as a signal for people to step in


and provide more support for those people so they can get themselves


out of that situation. Did you see I, Daniel Blake, the movie? I have


not seen it. Ken Loach, did you recognise the finding that some


conditionality in a system that is, you have got some responsibility is


and you are punished if you don't meet them, do you accept any of that


in the benefit system? Well, what's clear is that sanctions are a cruel


and vindictive way of treating vulnerable people. People are to


fail. The system is there to trap them. When they go to a Jobcentre,


they are not shown the jobs that are available. The job coaches aren't


allowed to show them what jobs are available, and people are inferior.


And a lot of people are sanctioned because of the work capability


assessment -- people are in fear. We heard a story of a man who had a


heart attack in the course of the assessment. He had to go to hospital


and was sanctioned because he couldn't complete the assessment.


There are absurd stories of people being sanctioned for being a few


moments late. And of course, we know Jobcentre staff, I don't know if


Matthew Oakley got this in his report, but Jobcentre staff are


given targets. They call them expectations, and if they don't


sanction a certain number of people per week, they get into trouble.


Let me put this specifically to Matthew. They have to work in a


terrible atmosphere. Is that correct, they have do sanction a


certain amount of people? I'm telling you it is correct. Wouldn't


you be more concerned if we did not know how many people at a job centre


were sanctioned? That we didn't know they were sanctioning, say, 30% of


people, is it not right, in terms of standard management practice, we


understand what proportion of people on benefits each office is


sanctioning. Are they forced, they told you should be sanctioning this


number? That is not my experience, we have spoken to Jobcentre staff,


in the review, what we found is a large proportion of the staff


actually supported the system. Ken Loach, I'm interested, you say there


is no conditionality at all, or there are some kind of sanctions,


and in a way, you said there should be no sanctions at all. Nobody


supports cheating. Nobody supports tax cheat, but they don't seem to


get the same coverage. Yes, of course, people should not cheat, and


there should be a way of dealing with that, but when you stop people


odds money, you force them into the dire poverty, they have nothing --


when you stop people's money. They are driven to the streets and food


banks, and last year out of one group of food banks, 1,100,000 food


bags were given. Half a million of those went to families with


children, children would not eat unless people put tins into a


charity bag. Don't you think that is disgusting? We accept that as part


of our society now. That is the system which Matthew Oakley appears


to be defending. What I would say, this is a system which the vast


majority of the public actually support, the claimants... You can't


hide behind that, this is an appalling system. That is not to say


that there are people who need more help. We have a binary system, you


are either capable of work or you're not. But there are people who are on


the margins and they will find working quite difficult, they have


ragged lives or the responsibilities are a bit own a bit much. Are we


applying sanctions to those people? Most people would say we do not want


sanctions apply to people who are not capable of holding down a job.


We need to understand what a sanction is. This is not people


being sanction for not being in work, being unemployed or out of


work is not because of a sanction. It is not doing what you have agreed


to do for the people are agreeing to do these things. Seeking work and


taking steps towards work, and maybe you are taking steps to prepare


yourself for work, to take on some kind of activity which improves your


health condition. This isn't people being sanction for not being at


work, this is not taking the steps to what they have agreed. Ken Loach,


the last word. People are sanctioned when they are in work, woman were


sanctioned for going on leave when she was on a zero is ours contract.


-- zero hours contract. We are missing the point, this is a very


cruel way to deal with the most vulnerable people and if all the


people who fulfilled every thing of what they are required, they would


still be 1.6 million people unemployed and there would still be


5 million people underemployed, the system creates the poverty and we


are punishing the poorest and blaming them for their poverty,


blaming the unemployed for the unemployment, and that is really


false and Matthew should accept that. Ken Loach, Matthew, thanks for


joining us. We now move to the other end of the social spectrum.


The billionaire bosses of Silicon Valley.


They have been as taken aback as anyone by the new and obvious


Full, as they are, of the potential of technology to solve anything,


suddenly it seems that real people in their midst, have problems that


Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook made a new year Facebook


post with a hint of guilt at how disconnected he has become


He's challenged himself to visit 30 US states this year,


and to meet the people in them, having, he says, enjoyed


travelling around the cities of the world in recent years.


It's a fascinating post, it not only offers a good idea


for a new year's resolution for upstanding members


But it also tells us something about the tech entrepreneur class -


a kind of new royalty, with a sense of the duty


Or does it tell us something about the challenge of trying to run


a business for everyone, in a society that's split.


Here's our technology editor David Grossman.


The New Year is a time to reflect on times past...


What could possibly help a New Year hangover better than a load of world


leaders popping up on your phone to give you their thoughts


And, how refreshing, amongst the peace and goodwill messages,


to hear the North Korean leader announce a new long-range missile


But look who's also lighting the fuse on the year with a missive,


In a post on Facebook, he says:


In previous years, he has said something more substantive,


"I'm going to programme an AI for my house, I'm going


This year he is like, "I have a toddler and I don't have


that much bandwidth and I'm just going to go to Nebraska


The fact is, tech companies like Facebook don't really


They don't have too many Trump supporters working


They're built of people who look the same, they act the same,


Maybe they went to the same university together.


And they work together to build a brilliant company,


but then at some point they realise they need to start focusing


on the people who didn't come from the same background as them


and did not go to the same university and do not


We need to start bridging our way out and experiencing people in a


different context if we are going to build their products.


And I think that's something I'm seeing more founders


One of Donald Trump's first actions after his election was to summon


the bosses of the big tech companies to Trump Tower for a meeting.


Most had made no secret of their antipathy towards him


But how powerful are these tech bosses


I think that what Mark Zuckerberg does by being the chief


executive of Facebook, which has its own population,


or its user base which is larger than most countries in the world,


And the messaging and the way it convenes people or convenes thought


or informs people is hugely important and can be


transformational for different political agendas.


The Facebook algorithm, of course, has been blamed


for spreading fake news stories during the US election campaign.


The balance between maintaining an open platform and policing


the content on that platform has never been one the tech companies


They don't like the messiness of the real world.


They don't like the messiness of how you deal with unemployment


The hot thing in Silicon Valley right now is this thing called


Everyone loves it for different reasons, because it's a bold


and simple idea which can transform the world.


But politics isn't really about bold and simple ideas.


Politics in the real world is about campaigning and meeting


people and understanding different ways of looking at the world


and forging compromise and legislating, and that kind


of messiness is something Silicon Valley just


This is much more the sort of project they love,


bringing the internet to the unconnected in


Although the big tech firms are more and more powerful in our lives,


they're only now learning how to use this huge influence.


Clearly, they don't want to act like elected politicians,


apart from, that is, sending out the odd


That's all we've got time for this evening.


But before we go, as you might have heard, today was the last day Dippy


the Diplodocus could be seen in the Natural History Museum before


I understand that things are not going smoothly.


Let's go over now to the museum hall.


Skies are likely to clear through the night and it will turn bitterly


cold. A