06/02/2017 Newsnight


Reporting on the latest developments in the French election campaigns, Donald Trump, the idea of an NHS tax, prescription drug addiction, and House of Commons speaker John Bercow.

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Missing the excitement of the US election?


The Clinton-Trump fight between populism and liberalism.


It's France that's the battleground now.


It's been a wacky race - likely candidates falling by the wayside -


but looking at the current front runners, this is set to see populism


fight liberalism in THE political showdown of 2017.


Our opposition to racism and sexism and our support for equality before


the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations


in the House of Commons. Those words from John Bercow aren't exactly


aimed at Washington, but they are in the headlines. We'll be asking a


leading Republican Congressman how Donald Trump's doing so far.


Here in the UK, we have exclusive access to a report on addiction


We speak to those with first-hand experience of a hidden epidemic.


My doctor then just upped and dose and upped the dose. That's when it


all went slightly wrong. Well, actually that's the understatement


of the year. It didn't go slightly wrong, it went horribly wrong.


The build-up to the May presidential election is in full swing.


Two presidential campaigns were launched this weekend


in the city of Lyon - the Macron and Le Pen


A third campaign - that of Francois Fillon -


struggled to keep itself alive today.


He was the favourite at one point - but is ensnared in an


The revelations about his family being on his payroll


and the implosion of his campaign is quite something to behold.


and the man himself came out to make a grand statement today -


not a withdrawal from the race, but an apology and


TRANSLATION: Things that were acceptable in the past are no longer


acceptable today. I put a premium on trust and decided to work with my


wife and children. That has earned me disapproval. It was a mistake. I


regret it profoundly and I apologise to the French people. Like many


other Parliamentarians I behaved in a manner that was legal but which is


clearly no longer supported by our compatriots.


Now, that statement was important, because he remains in the campaign,


but badly wounded, which is good for the other two


The battle to watch is between Marine Le Pen


It is so fascinating, because it represents the schism


Not the old hat 20th century struggle between left and right -


but liberalism versus what's usually called populism.


It was the battle that Donald Trump won in the US.


But in Europe, there has not yet been a similar,


clean-cut clear fight between those two sides.


In Britain, Brexit might have been a proxy war.


But our two-party system is still trying to hang


on to the geography of left and right.


France, though, has a more fluid party system, and its election may


well end up as a kind of Trump-Clinton grudge match -


And as I say, it really got going this weekend,


not here in Paris, but in France's second city, Lyon.


Politics descended upon Lyon this weekend.


It's away from the Paris elite, a sizeable city,


towards the geographic centre of the country, and it's


What better place to launch a presidential election campaign?


The striking geographical feature of Lyon is that it's


where two huge rivers, the Rhone and the Saone, meet


to become one, just over there - rather like the French electoral


system, which through its stages, ends up as a giant showdown


Now, if nothing changes - IF nothing changes -


the two candidates launching their campaigns here will be


And what is so striking is that neither of them can be said to be


part of the traditional right or left.


Yes, what's missing in Lyon are the old parties.


The low reputation of Francois Hollande has met


Hollande did not bother to stand, and his mate Manuel Valls didn't


The party has a left-wing candidate, Benoit Hamon, running


The old right, now called the Republicans, picked


Francois Fillon, but this was a bad election to be drowning


in allegations of family profiteering, given that voters


everywhere are expressing anger at self-serving elites.


Which is why the polls say these two are the ones that'll make it


to the second round, outside the big left-right party


structure, both coming to the same city on the same weekend.


Emmanuel Macron came from the left, but is defining


himself as the new centre, which is I suppose a bit


like the old Blairite centre - pro-EU, social and economic


Supporting him here, the socialist mayors


In his favour, in contrast to Hillary Clinton, Macron


is a relative newcomer, and is pitching himself not


His wife is 20 years older than him, and was his


The next day, across town, the Front National rally.


Marine Le Pen is leading in the polls, but with the baggage


of her party's past, she'll struggle to win


Without that baggage, her message would probably be doing very well.


A lot of people hate the word populism, but we surely need a word


to describe the mix of policies being outlined here.


Tough on law and order, anti-immigration, and yet


a detestation of globalisation and liberal economics.


People like the idea of a strong state, an etat-fort.


Now, it's interesting that one of the appeals of Marine Le Pen


is that she's strong, uncompromising, no namby-pambyism.


But of course, she HAS made compromises to soften


her image and appeal to more mainstream voters.


Her message has now been honed to fit a global populist mantra -


Her overall vision is for a protective state,


but with a very clear idea of who is in that


The party is easy to caricature, but in reality,


its supporters are a mix - most I encounter, closer to Trump


Sebastien Chenu, a gay activist, used to be an apparatchik


of the UMP, the old name for the main party of the old right,


Here in Lyon, in early February, THE contest began, the ground set -


a battle that is probably nothing other than the one to define


Europe's direction for the next few decades.


I'm bigging up this contest - because it is big,


If she wins, she would try to reshape the EU completely.


A victory for her would also be significant, one assumes,


If he wins, it would give that much-persecuted minority,


the liberal elite, a proper leader - a global beacon of success.


I was taking to a former British centrist Cabinet minister recently,


who said that what Britain needs is a Macron.


So yes, the stakes are high - but do remember that this French


election has hitherto been as unpredictable as a Tory


leadership contest, and it is perfectly possible that


Le Pen or Macron will be eliminated early on,


a result that would tell us that European politics is even more


But as we speak, Macron is the favourite to be


the next president. Let us digest this start


to an important election with two veteran commentators.


Christine Okrent is a political analyst, broadcaster and writer.


And Pierre Haski is a co-founder of an opinion and debate


platform on the web, called Rue 89.


Good evening to you both. Thank you for joining us. I'm pitching it as


populism versus liberalism. Is that how we should look at this election?


Sure, of course. Populism, you know, it's all over our Western world.


Populism can be on the left or on the right. The issue is whether the


left and the right divide still matters and that's the main argument


of Macron. It was also somehow the argument of Le Pen yesterday. Do you


think, am I writing off Fillon a bit early? He's the one who is basically


on the right. He stays - he doesn't stand by this right-left is dead


notion yet. Fillon is a Conservative. On one side he has a


programme, maybe exaggerate a little bit, but tough, liberal programme.


On the other side he's got conservative values. He was almost


out of the race because of a scandal affecting a money issue, as you


know. He's back in the race because he's managed to impose to his own


party to stay on. First of all because they have no-one else to


replace him. Secondly, because we're in a post-truth era and not sure


that a good lie repeated many times cannot win the day. No-one's going


to vote for him, are they? The voters are totally disenchanted.


You're wrong. When you look at the polls. Of course, the general public


says OK, let's get rid of him. But his co-constituency, two thirds of


them still want him as their candidate. The traditional, typical


French Catholic conservatives, older people, they stick to Fillon. Fillon


is very much back in the race, if only because all the others in his


own political tribe hate one another so much, that somehow Fillon is the


least worst solution. It's an amazing scenario. But there it is.


There's something about our political situation which is unique.


It's a two-round election. All you need at this stage is get to 25%.


You don't need to reach 50% immediately. If Fillon or Macron


gets those 25% they are sure to be on the second round and have a great


chance to beat Marine Le Pen. That's the key issue today, not to reach an


overall majority. It's to reach 25%, which is - Doable for either of


them. Yes. Let me ask you this: If Marine Le Pen didn't come with all


the baggage of her father dabbling in Holocaust denial and all that


stuff, do you think her message, which is one of a strong state,


protective of its own people, that message would go down very well with


the French, wouldn't it? It does go down well, she has had


25% in the sand ex. But she could be way out there, if it wasn't for...?


Come on, in no democracy, nobody ever gets 70%. No, but she's very


high tree should the Front National has been in our politics for 34


years. They have never managed to win a major election. So they are


there, Marine Le Pen has been very, very clever that enhancing the


platform and the arguments. But there again, I don't think you


should transform her into the one player who is going to actually


change our political scene. She has been around, you know, she's been


there. And also, I think she's been smart to have a political language


that allowed her to steal part of the popular vote which traditionally


used to be on the left. So that has given her an edge over her father,


who was strictly on the nationalist, quite racist, platform. And so she


has opened up, and is making a bid for power. But I don't think she


will make it this time. The system is still resisting. Basically there


are just too many people who will never vote Front National. Yes,


definitely recall we have to talk about the Socialists. Why? Because


no-one's talking about the Socialists! Where has it gone in


France, we thought France was a socialist country?! Come on, we have


our Jeremy Corbyn! He did an extraordinary thing yesterday, he


had his sort of official speech as the new Socialist candidate, and he


said, I am not a providential man at all. And the impression was, he


doesn't want to be president, he doesn't believe he can become


president. But he is there to pick up what is left of the socialist


party. Because the Social Democrats will probably opt for Macron, all of


those who were previously backing the former Prime Minister Manuel


Valls. So he is playing really the next act after the presidential


election, Benoit Hamon. He's keeping the flag flying! The Socialists have


to recover from five years of Francois Hollande, which has left a


disastrous impression with the French, to the point where the


president himself decided not to go for a second mandate. So they know


that they have got nothing to do this time, and their best chance,


someone who has been one of the government but has left, is Macron,


although that does not please many of the Socialists. So they need a


few years to rethink. Thank you both very, very much indeed. Thank you to


my guests. Lots of twists and turns to go


between here and the spring - but if this is the contest of 2017,


the consequences of the battle of 2016 are still being


felt over in the US. Well, never a dull moment here,


either. President Trump has been continuing his spat with the


American judiciary over their actions on the immigration ban. They


have overturned it, of course, at the weekend. And he carried on today


Billy Haas -- with a harsh message in a speech he delivered at a


military base in Florida. And all across Europe, we've seen what


happened in Paris and Nice, all over Europe, it's happening. It's gotten


to a point where it's not even being reported, and in many cases, very,


very dishonest press doesn't want to report it. They have their reasons


just you understand that. So many issues being thrown up by President


Trump and his statements. And earlier, I was joined by Republican


Congressman Joe Wilson, senior Republican on a couple of key


committees here, and I started by asking him, on another one of those


issues, the statement by President Trump at the weekend which compared


Putin and America, saying America was not so innocent. I looked at it


as prior history, working with Stalin. And we know that his demonic


background, and so it was not a reflection on America as much as it


was that we worked with people who we can look back and say, it would


have been better to have worked with someone else. But that's who was


there. In general, do you think he has sold himself as the president


who can make a better bargain for the country, do you think he is too


soft on Putin, he's like the one person he won't criticise? He really


is trying to reach out to the Russian Federation. Many of us had


hoped, in the UK and the US, for a positive and bright future after the


Cold War, with the Russian Federation, but it's not turned out


that way, which is so disappointing. And so he's still reaching out a


hand of friendship, hopeful for change, in the relationship between


the Russian Federation and the rest of the world. Now, an important step


at the end of last week come the National Security Advisor saying


Iran was on notice as a result of its missile test - how dangerous is


that in terms of tensions in the region, that they might misinterpret


what being said, maybe attack US forces, something like that? Well,


sadly, they already have attacked US forces and captured US forces. And


then it was believed that the most recent attack on a ship was intended


to be an attack on an American position, which would be a danger to


the west. This was off Yemen? Off of Yemen. But the danger to the Western


world is that we had the Iranian nuclear deal, and that the same


time, they are developing intercontinental ballistic missiles.


There is only one purpose for those, and that is to deliver nuclear


weapons. They already have warheads capable of wiping Israel off the


face of the earth. But this could be a danger to the people of Europe and


the United States, as they develop this capability. With the language


changing in the way that it is on him and, and President Trump has


been critical of the deal, do you think it can survive? No. And it was


really a poorly agreed to any situation, that really, there is no


safeguards in hit. It is really appalling to me. I am really


grateful that Congress itself did not favour the dangerous Iranian


nuclear deal. Probably the most controversial executive order so far


was the one banning people from seven countries from coming in. We


know there has been a big legal fight over that. When you look back


on that, it was part of his platform, but don't you think he


could have gone about it in a more...? However he did it, we are


really in a political war here. Personally, eight years ago, when Mr


Obama came into office, the tradition, you give a honeymoon.


There is no honeymoon. President Trump truly is at war with the


Democratic Party, and they are at war with him, more with him than he


is with them. And then sadly, we have a media here which is very


supportive of the Democratic Party. This is not new. In fact, we have


overcome this over the years. But what about the judiciary? He has


tweeted about so-called judges, and people even on the right of politics


here say that is dangerous language in a constitutional setup? The good


news even on that, by his most recent appointment to the Supreme


Court, we have a person who will really respect the role of the three


branches of government in our country, and that is the


legislative, executive and judicial. And he indicated that he would not


be making law, he would be interpreted what the elected


officials of the people have established. And so his actions are


really very, very positive, some of his words can be taken out of


context local lastly, the Speaker of the British Parliament, John Bercow,


has said that President Trump should not come to talk to members of


Parliament when he visits the UK later this year - what's your


response to that? That's very disappointing, because if ever in


recent years, there has been a more pro-British president of the United


States, its Donald Trump. And it's been by his words, his assurances,


with Prime Minister made, 100% standing with Nato and working to


create trade relationships. But it has also been symbolic. He was the


one who return to the bust of Winston Churchill to the Oval


Office. And I consider it a slap, sadly, at the Republican party. It


was the Republican party, leaders of our party, that actually placed the


bust of Winston Churchill in the US Capitol building. And we urge all


buildings to come and visit the building, and they will be welcomed,


especially welcome to know that there is a bust of Winston Churchill


in the US capital building, showing our great affection for the people


of the United Kingdom. Thank you so much, Congressman. Thank you, my


honour. Congressman Joe Wilson. Extraordinary phrase there,


political war, when referring to the Democrats, but that's how many


Republicans here in Congress feel, which is wife at the moment, they


are standing firmly behind Donald Trump. Back to London.


It's time to face the realities of a new America -


so says the former Prime Minister of Finland.


That means that there is a power vacuum in 2017 and Alexander Stoob


Do we look east to China, as it champions globalisation,


or over to Russia, as Putin becomes ever more emboldened


Does a post-Brexit, fragmented Europe even get a look-in, as it


Recently you wrote a piece, Trump's putting America first, looking


inwards, he's not doing anything wrong, is he wanted from a global


perspective, and for someone who believes that three things have


defined successful societies, liberal democracy, market economy


and globalisation, one would say that he's doing something wrong. If


you believe that the leader of the free world can close shop, build


walls and throw the key away, and I'd say that he's doing something


wrong. I guess the big question right now is, who's going to fill


the power vacuum which the Americans will be leaving? Can Europe? I think


Europe should try. I think what might be happening is that China


will take a lead in economics, globalisation and free trade. And


then Russia will want to take a lead in the military. And they are a


superpower in that. And then Europe, we should now fill that void a


little bit. And I think we should do three things. I am an optimist, I


would say that we need to be champions of free trade, secondly,


we need to promote Western values, and this is very important, someone


needs to do it. And the third thing we need to do is to focus more on


foreign policy, but there, we need the UK's help as well. How do


countries in the EU do that when they seem to be fragmented, as we


are seeing on this programme, in France, for example, liberal ideas


falling apart in the EU, it is a fragmented EU, how can it fill the


void left by the US? I think of free trade, we can do that by


establishing bilateral relations. The big question is the value issue.


We will have three key elections here to see the direction of Europe.


The first one is in the Netherlands coming up in March. The second one


is in May in France, and the third, in Germany, in September. Obviously,


if these go wrong, from a liberal international perspective, then it's


very difficult to lead on values, you're correct on that. But I


believe that the values of liberal democracy, openness, transparency,


human rights, fundamental rights, they are the basic foundation of our


success. So if our political leaders cannot promote those values, then I


think we are in trouble. How big a crack as Brexit made in the EU?


Definitely a big crack. I think we are all pragmatic about it, however.


I for one will be the person who is trying to make the best out of a


very difficult situation. You once predicted there would be economic


mayhem? Yes, and I think in the long run it will. I think short-term it


didn't, it wasn't the Lehman brothers moment. But in long-term


economic cycles, we will have to seek. I think we are trying to avoid


that. There are people on the continent proper who want to punish


Britain for this. I don't want to do that, I want to find a good deal for


Britain, and one for Europe as well. We have to live with this new


reality but we have to understand that it weakens everyone. Theresa


May has a shopping list, she's looking for good deal for the UK.


She has put the white paper out there. She's not going to get


everything on that list, and how much pain, how much compromise, are


we going to have to offer in order to get some of those things? You


never get everything that you want. I think usually a list is a starting


position for the negotiations. What don't you think we will get? It's


impossible to save. The negotiations themselves will take about two


years. And at the end of the day they will decide on two things, the


exit date, which will be the 1st of April 2019, and secondly, probably


linked to money. Then there are a lot of key issues in between. She


wants to take control of our own laws, Freehand frictionless trade, a


new strategic partnership and a smooth and orderly exit, will she


get all of those? It would be wonderful if she did. I think we


need to work in that direction. Nobody wants to isolate the UK in


terms of trade, there is no question about that. In terms of taking


control of your own laws, yes, that will happen, but first, you will


probably have to take lock, stock and barrel of thousands of pages of


European law. You have been speaking to team members involved in the


forthcoming negotiations, and considering you thought there would


be economic mayhem from Brexit, rather pessimistic approach, how do


feel now about the UK's prospects of a successful Brexit?


The whole Civil Service is no nonsense pragmatic people. This is


good to see. There was the shock in the summer, what happened wasn't


supposed to happen. Then there was a period of remorse. Now people are


pug up their -- pulling up their sleeves and starting to work. I


leave London quite optimistic. I used to say that everyone says


Brexit means Brexit but no-one knows what Brexit means. Everyone is


starting to understand what Brexit means now. There's no nonsense,


business-like sense about it. Thank you very much for your time on


Newsnight. Time now for Viewsnight,


Newsnight's new platform And, as it's NHS week


across the BBC, tonight, the neurosurgeon


Henry Marsh speaks up. Benjamin Franklin once observed


that the only certainties in life None of us want to die and none


of us want to pay taxation. But our politicians


need to make a choice. Hospitals finished the last


financial year ?2.45 billion in the red -


that's the biggest overspend The simple fact is that NHS spending


is not keeping up with medical technological progress


and the ageing of the population. This country spends less on health


care per capita than any other But the Government says everything's


OK, and it's just that the GPs So how can we find more money


for health care without putting The private sector


is entirely parasitic For instance, all the training


is done in the state sector, It's also well-known that


profit-seeking in medicine inevitably leads to unnecessary


treatments and unnecessary What about a stripped-down NHS


which only treats serious conditions But then what about conditions that


might lead to cancer, what about high blood pressure,


what about diabetes - The answer surely must be


a dedicated health care tax, what's called in the trade,


an hypothecated tax. Now, the Treasury make strong


arguments against this, they don't like the public picking


and choosing what they But surely an exception should be


made for the NHS we all love? If we knew what we were paying for,


this would empower us as patients, and this would be an enormous force


for improvement in the NHS. The Government has made


honesty a statutory duty for doctors such as myself,


but its own dishonesty over the financial crisis facing


the National Health Service is instead condemning it


to death by a thousand cuts. And we'll have a Viewsnight


with a different perspective Lastly tonight - how much do we need


to worry that the prescription-drugs epidemic sweeping the United States


could be replicated here? Our special correspondent,


Katie Razzall, has been given exclusive early sight of a report


into drug use in the UK What is this report? What is the


point of this report overall? This report is a snapshot of UK drug use


in 2016, from the charity Drug-wise. They've conducted interviews, mainly


with police officers and drug workers. Most of their findings


don't relate to prescription drugs, but they are interesting. They say


there are unprecedented purity levels of the likes of heroin,


crack, cocaine and ecstasy on the streets of Britain. They say drug


gangs have extended their distribution networks. They point to


the success of the Government's attempts last year to crack down on


legal highs, the likes of synthetic cannabis, spice, those kind of


drugs. For me, the most interesting thing in it is what they say about


the kind of drugs we can all get over the counter or from our GPs.


Prescription drugs. It's like this story has come as a by-product of


this report. Yeah, in America there's a serious heroin ep dopic


killing people, but it's related to a serious prescription drug abuse


epidemic. The biggest single cause of accidental death in the States.


The question is, could that happen here? This report makes very clear,


we don't have the pill mills that they have the States. We're a very


different proposition. We don't have GPs involved in illicit supply. It


says the lines are blurred between medical overuse, recreational use


and addiction. One of the examples are the codeine housewives of


Hartlepool. These are women who started taking codeine to take the


edge off their day and now find themselves addicted. But this is


about much more than codeine. What they say is that we could face


significant problems in the future and we must watch what's happening.


Newsnight's spoke ton three people who understand this issue well. They


were all filmed at recovery service for tranquiliser dependency. The


first is a woman who was prescribed benzodiazipine when her brother died


and her mother had a stroke. The doctor upped the dose and upped the


dose. Then it all went slightly wrong, well, actually that's the


understatement of the year. It didn't go slightly wrong, it went


horribly wrong because then that made what I was going through


actually worse. I don't know about you, if you've ever been given


antibiotics you don't go, what could this do to the rest of my body. I


now read everything. Although my GP did say, you know, these can


actually become - you can get used to them, so we don't recommend you


take them for too long, that wasn't the case right from day one. By the


time that was made clear, it was too late. You do tend to keep it a


secret. It's like an awful secret because you just feel that you


shouldn't be in that position. You feel weak. You feel that you should


be more in control of your life. You feel upset that you've actually got


to this point. You feel ashamed. It's so great when you feel so


stressed to have something that's going to actually take that edge


off, so you can actually calm down, relax and then think logically


again. Or that's how you think you're thinking. It took me a period


of just under two years to come off them in a staged way, in a sensible


way, so that it didn't affect my health and didn't make me have any


awful side effects either. Are you taking anything now? Very


occasionally I might have a couple of milligrams if I'm having a


particularly stressful time. The main tablets are


diazepam/Valium. We have people on the Z drugs, zopiclone, drugs that


are prescribed for anxiety or sleep problems. The vast majority of


people we see here aren't using them illicitly. They take them as


prescribed and doing exactly what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately,


they still start to develop a problem. The withdrawals that I've


witnessed that people have explained to me do sound very intense and


quite honestly, nightmarish for a lot of people. They describe things


like overwhelming fear, absolutely scared of everything, not able to go


out, stomach problems, per Septemberual problems. -- perceptual


problems. We hear all the time from people that they weren't fully


warmed about the dependency potential of the compound they are


taking. In fact, they really had no idea just how severe the withdrawals


could be. In the last five years, when the drugs have been readily


available on the internet to buy, we have seen a large increase in a


younger group of people who are using them in an illicit way.


It really is quite startling when you think that if you take together


the opiate pain killers, tranquilisers, antidepressants,


you're looking at 100 million prescriptions being written in the


UK every year. The percentage increases in prescribing in recent


years is in the hundreds, 400%, 500% increases in prescribing. Have we


got more pain? Are we more depressed than we were? Because these drugs


are so readily available online and over the counter, people become


dependent on these drugs and take a different - they don't regard


themselves as drug addicts. These are medicines and tablets and pill


that's they've bought. It becomes almost the acceptable face of


addiction. The other dimension to this, particularly in some parts of


the country, like Scotland, is where you actually have what you might


call breaking bad type drug labs making them. However you want to


define it, there is a substantial public health problem here which we


feel, which the charities and various organisations feel just


isn't being addressed. Some shocking statistics there. Thank you.


We leave you with the Speaker of the House of Commons,


John Bercow, who was asked today about President Trump


addressing Parliament during his upcoming State Visit.


I would not wish to issue an invitation to President Trump to


speak in the royal gallery. And I conclude by saying to the honourable


gentleman this: We value our relationship with the United States.


If a state visit takes place, that is way beyond and above the pay


grade of the Speaker. However, as far as this place is concerned, I


feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and to sexism


and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary


are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons.


CHEERING Very good evening. The weather's


been pretty horrendous in some parts of the country during today.


Northern Ireland severe gales here and some rain. Tomorrow's looking a


bit better. Let's start


Reporting on the latest developments in the French election campaigns, Donald Trump, the idea of an NHS tax, prescription drug addiction, and House of Commons speaker John Bercow.

With Evan Davis and Naga Munchetty.

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