13/02/2017 Newsnight


Have the baby-boomers eaten all the pie? Plus the Stoke by-election and satire and Donald Trump.

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Will the generations go to war for a pension, a house, a job?


Is young versus old the prize fight of the century?


Your generation - is it the one that has never had it so good?


Or the one that has worked its socks off to get Britain


Tonight, have the older generation taken more than their share,


and should the young feel aggrieved?


With our guests in the studio, we'll work out how far your age


It is nice living in Stoke, it's just poor, really.


Ten days to the Stoke Central by-election -


we don't hear from the candidates - we talk to the voters.


It was tradition, they used to say if you put a monkey up for Labour


people would vote for it. They have lost the common touch.


President Obama said America would accept 1200 refugees. No, prepare to


go to war. Is satire now the effective


opposition to President Trump? We'll ask erstwhile


American Ruby Wax. Have the baby boomers robbed


the millennials of their future? Probably not, but research out this


morning DID suggest something extraordinary is happening in terms


of intergenerational incomes. The Resolution Foundation says that


typical pensioner incomes - after housing costs -


are now higher than those I can't overstate how unusual


that is - in the old days we tended But a lot has happened


in the last few decades. For one, the old have


carried on working. A fifth of pensioner households


have a wage earner in them. And of course they are enjoying


the fruits of the heyday of the old final salary pension


schemes - Add the way the housing market has


worked in their favour... And politicians dumping the burden


of austerity on the young... And for all the difficult decisions


we've made over the past five years, we have said all along that


dignity for older people And over the next five years,


that should be the case again. And you can see why those


starting out feel the cards So does it make sense


to look at our economy through intergenerational eyes,


given that society can be divided A lot of pensioners aren't well off,


and don't understand why The income figures for the elderly


are flattered by more recent, And anyway, there are plenty


of well off youngsters. Many of them by the way, given


a helping hand by their parents. So maybe the issue is inequalities


within the generations that matter. Or is it a north south divide,


driving house prices? Lots to think about,


so let's start with some intergenerational facts


from our policy editor Chris Cook. The road to a steady family life


is longer than it used to be. Even for people who start off well,


say by getting a degree. In 2016 the average person starting


to repay a student loan in England Even in fee-free


Scotland it was ?10,500. Now a large minority of young people


have to service such debts. But wages for young workers


overall dropped by around Wages have done a bit better


for slightly older workers but the 60 pluses have done best


of all, seeing real The median first-time buyer


now is 30 years old. In 2017 first-time buyers borrowed


3.5 times their annual earnings. And it's all money,


of course that largely goes to existing homeowners,


which is to say, older people. Some of this money heading up


to older people will of course Of those born in the 1970s, 75% have


received or expect to receive The equivalent number


is just 40% for those But that effect means the wealth


of younger generations will depend more on who their parents are then


was the case for older generations. A study has also found that a 10%


increase on house prices feeds through to a 2-4% drop


in the likelihood of having a baby, And that effect persists so it's


likely to mean young people who cannot get on the housing ladder


end up with smaller families. Older people are also much more


likely than younger people to be members of so-called defined


benefits pension schemes. These are pensions where in effect,


your employer guarantees a certain And young people are hit by that


in two important ways. First of all, they just don't have


that level of security. Their pensions ride


on the stock market. And secondly, they manage


to find their own wages, while they are employed,


suppressed by their employers who have to bail out


their old employees' pension funds. There are big inequalities


within age bands. Poor young people and pensioners


mustn't be forgotten. But there are big problems for young


people's ability to navigate the path into adulthood,


and through it. We're now joined by Laura Gardiner


from the Resolution Foundation whose report prompted today's talk


on this, Dame Esther Rantzen the founder of The Silver Line -


a helpline for older people, Shiv Malik, author of the book


Jilted Generation - referring to his generation


as jilted, and Sean O'Grady Do the young complain too much? They


do. Like the title of the book Jilted Generation there is nothing


jilted about this generation, no sense in which we in my generation


have eaten our lunch, we made their dodge ball them. There was an idea


abroad that everything was easy in the old days, it was a kind of


nirvana of economics but it was not. The 1970s and 1980s where an Origi


of high inflation, mega high interest rates, negative equity when


we had housing crashes. Rising unemployment, public services


continually under strain. The economy went bust in 1976. These


were terrible years and we lived through them, we built the country


we have now today. By seeing that through, by reducing union power,


reforming the economy and making all the changes that made all the


wonderful things, wonderful new building here at the BBC, all these


things possible. The only good thing about the 1970s was television was


better. That is the truth of the matter. You get this idea everything


was wonderful in my day and terrible today and that is not right. Would


you rather have been born 15 years earlier than you were born, do you


think in material terms... Yes, that is the existential problem facing


the country. Also America and many other developing nations. That could


explain why politics seems to be in turmoil as well. When the boomer


generation cannot replicate what every other generation has done,


make the next generation which, this is truly the legacy. And you think I


wish I was born earlier, I would have been any more and had a better


standard of living, more able to have a house and family, be able to


own my own home. Would he have been worse off born 20 years before or


about the same or a little better off but it feels worse off because


he's not as much better than he wants to be? In terms of income, the


best measure of current living standards, after housing costs we


look to bat and every generation since 1881, and we only begin then


because it is the first week of measure, has done better than the


last at each stage of their lives. So it went a goal now should be


better off? That is what we have come to expect in the 20th century


and before but so far, and not all of them have got the way through yet


but the millennial 's, born between 1981 and 2000 have failed to achieve


those living standard improvements of the generation before. So this


looks like a threat to the very core that has underpinned the social


contract that generations improve on the previous one. So it is not that


expectations have been richer than his parents, but he's a little bit


behind where they wear? Slightly above, slightly below but compared


to the generation just before, largely the same, those large


improvements and disappear. Because the recession and pay squeezes but


other trends as well. And with that start in life we should be worried


about future of the millennial. Is your heartbreaking for the younger


people? There is some self-pity going on which is interesting. I'm


sorry your youth was so miserable and you feel you have lost out to be


rich fat cats of the older generation. I was talking to a


family, the mother, all her savings had gone to pay for her care and


that of her husband, so her husband was left unburied for seven weeks


because she could not afford his funeral. So you're right that some


people are better off than others. There is still a great deal of


poverty in old age but I am 76 years old, as I believe you are announcing


to your viewers! That is OK I'm not ashamed. Let me just say that wealth


and happiness are not the same thing. I worry about the millennial


generation and younger, I worry about all kinds of dangers facing


them. I worry about my own future because I do not want to be a burden


on my children. So I have to have enough in my savings to pay for my


own care, that is my big worry. But in the meantime stop being so


envious of previous generations and little old people like us. Get on


with it, enjoy your life. You have health and strength, you look fit. I


always hate this condescension which I always receive from Esther. Every


time we have this conversation. It is simple, people in my generation


need simple things, housing, the ability to have an raise a family.


And they need to be able to get on in life and know their future will


be better. If that doesn't happen for our generation it will mean the


entire country eventually will go bust. Better in which way? A bigger


television? This is really serious. It is an existential threat to the


country. It is very simple. It is the ability to own a home or be able


to read in a place where you can raise a family. Anyone under 35


knows what I'm talking about. It is definitely harder for this


generation? There's no sense of perspective in this. If you record


start in 1881, that is yesterday basically in human existence. For


most of human life your parents or grandparents, they had the same


standard of living. This is a relatively recent thing. There is no


God-given right to have a higher or same standard of living for the


fifth generation as for the previous one. The second thing, it is all


about money with you young folk. It is OK for the people to say that


having taken all the money! Let's look health, today and I am a


beneficiary, there are treatments and drugs and machines and things


like stem cell research that will mean that a child born today will


never have any of the diseases that are so commonplace and hit people so


hard today. They will not have so many strokes or cancers, all the


other things that can go wrong. Not something that shows up in income


numbers or house prices but it is a real boon. There is something in


that. And you have a Spotify, smartphones, Facebook, lots of


things. This kind of living standard versus the weekly income?


The health care benefits are a benefit in itself and a measure of


progress but it highlights longer retirements in which people need to


raise more assets and wealth to live through them securely. You are right


to highlight, it isn't just about incomes. The big ticket items, a


pension and a house that you own to provide security in retirement, the


reason we've highlighted a lot of the current pensioners in today's


statistics is not pensioner bashing, it is not generational war, it is


because our concern that this welcome performance in current


pensioner living standards is going to be a one generation blip with


those generations behind without those assets are unable to secure


those living standards. It is a blip because the pensions you were


promised, which you didn't give your parents, which you are now getting,


have been much more expensive than anyone anticipated because life


expectancy shot up for your generation. What are we doing with


our money? Most of the people I know are helping to finance people of


their children's generation and grandchildren. We are aware of that,


we don't want to have money lying idle in the bank if we can improve


the quality of life and give you the house you dream about. This is such


rubbish. If you run a candidate based on that kind of thinking, you


end up with a patronage society when families that are wealthy and those


who are not wealthy don't get ahead. There is no collective investment. I


would put it differently, it is welcome that parents and


grandparents are supporting their children and that is a big trend,


half of first-time buyers are getting help from family. The


concern is that inheritance was mentioned in the package, if we rely


on greater levels of inheritance to fund asset building for the younger


generations, we know that younger people with higher lifetime incomes


tend to get those inheritances, we are staring down the barrel of


greater inequality in the future. Inequality, I think your report


said, among his generation is worse than it is amongst the old


generation, so you are cascading down inequality. When you argue


about whether we should be focusing on intergenerational differences,


class, the North and south, the things you mentioned, it's right to


focus on those things but one important to focus on these new


generational divides, which are very clear, there's a good chance that


they will fuel divisions between rich and poor, different social


classes in the future. The issues are connected and they are


important. When you were looking at these statistics, is it not right


that for the older generation, especially the frail and very old,


everything is more expensive? It's more difficult for them to get


around, difficult to get the right nutrition, everything becomes


expensive and difficult. Just getting the basics of a comfortable


bed, being able to get out of bed, being looked after properly. We


don't want people to live in cold houses and dying in them because


they can't afford to put the hate -- the heating on. The very old ones


are not among the rich are pensioners, it is the younger ones.


Pension income does not reflect individual experiences, on average


we have which, younger of pensioners coming in. You are right to


highlight the very old pensioners, the Silent generation and our report


looks in detail at the increased costs a face and why the statistics


may overstate their living standards. We've got into that


detail and not everybody in the pension group is the same. The


averages cover a lot of sins. Thank you very much.


On Thursday week, the voters of Stoke Central will go


to the polls to vote for an MP to replace Tristram Hunt.


Since 1950, when the seat was created, it's been Labour.


But such are convulsions of politics at the moment,


that no-one is at all sure that Labour will win it this time.


The reason is that Stoke-on-Trent was firmly for Brexit;


so in the great schism of our age, the city seems more sure


of which side it is on than the Labour Party is.


Because of that, a lot of attention is being devoted to this by-election


as telling us something about whether Labour can


hold on to blue collar votes outside of London.


Now, with a by-election pending, you'd expect a programme like this


to send someone to Stoke to interview the candidates,


follow them canvassing and probably poke a bit of fun at the theatre


But we decided to do something different -


we sent Katie Razzall to go and talk to the people of Stoke Central.


I worked in the Pots most of my life.


Stoke-on-Trent, it's a little backwater.


No one in this country's interested in Stoke-on-Trent.


People are very angry and I think people just want change.


Eight months ago Stoke-on-Trent sent tremors through the political


establishment when almost 70% of voters here opted


It was a signifier of the fault lines opening up in Britain.


At the Oakcake shop near Stoke's vast Bentilee estate,


people queue to buy what was once the staple food of the Potteries.


The recipe for oatcakes hasn't changed much


The same can't be said for the place.


My mum and my dad never ever were out of work


We weren't rich, but we weren't like we are today.


My childhood is and will always be better from what his


Families like Kirsty's have lived around Stoke's Bentilee


Once they expected to walk into a job.


In the mines, the steelworks, or the pottery industry


Her aunt Marie remembers those times.


I worked in the Pots most of my life.


You came home at night you were absolutely shattered.


But you just had a family, they were really,


And everybody, just everybody helped everybody.


They shut all these pot places down and there was no help.


Just as if they just disappeared off the face of the earth.


There's a hell of a lot of people depressed.


Hell of a lot of people struggling moneywise.


And it isn't as if they go on holiday or they've got a fancy


car, they don't have cars, they don't go on holiday.


There's people who work and they're slogging and they've got nothing.


And it's sort of one week to the next, hand to mouth.


The overwhelming Out vote was a wake-up call.


Now all eyes are on Stoke once again.


The Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central,


The by-election he's triggered is being seen as a test


of whether voters in this Labour heartland are as loyal


Would everyone on this estate have voted Labour in the past?


They were just the working man, weren't they?


It's what your mum and dad did, so you did it.


They used to be saying, if you put a monkey up for Labour,


Certainty comes in other forms, wherever you travel in Stoke.


These days you're more likely to meet an Out


And many of them will tell you how much more vibrant


It changed because all the shops have gone, left empty, falling down.


There used to be 20 pubs along this high street, 20 pubs.


Chris Humphries runs the pensioner events


at her local community centre, and voted Out.


I thought that was probably going to be the best thing


because we probably could make the elitist government


start thinking about the whole of the population.


Do you feel that there is an elite and they don't listen?


Many here told me they do still support Labour.


But turning round the party's electoral fortunes


In the Stoke Central constituency, Labour lost 27% of its vote share


I always voted Labour but then I got thinking about lots of things.


Labour are fighting amongst themselves, aren't they?


And there doesn't seem to be leadership there.


And Ukip seem to, I don't know, they seem to know


They're so prosperous down in London, I think they think


we are a load of idiots or something like that.


Do you think that the people you're talking about in the south,


do you think we'd listen if you voted in a Ukip


I don't think so, I don't think they want to know anything


Ukip sent in the big guns to persuade voters that


It'll take a seismic shift though, to oust Labour


But if it's going to happen anywhere, it'll happen in a place


Plenty of people I've spoken to say they've had Ukip knock on their door


The party is clearly sensing an opportunity


to make a real breakthrough into Labour's heartland.


If they do, it will be down in part to a feeling from many that for too


long the Labour Party took their vote for granted.


I've lived here now for about 25 years and nobody has


ever knocked on my door during election time, ever.


Conservatives aren't going to come, are they?


I'm not saying they've never knocked on a door,


Labour may still be able to count on Marie, but allegiances


in politics aren't as solid as they once were.


Here people take pride in Premier League Stoke City's success story.


This is one of the few things that puts us on the map.


You know, my father was in the mines, you know,


I think it would be a kick in the teeth


Because this city, you virtually guarantee, there's three


In a place where the bedrock of support for leaving the EU came


from traditional working-class Labour voters, perhaps


the referendum illustrates just how much we've shifted as a nation.


I'm a Conservative, and you won't get too


But I wonder how many, you know, we've got the by-election coming up


and it'll be very interesting for me to see who gets in.


Because I think it's over 60 years since we had a non-Labour MP.


People used to really associate strongly with political parties.


But do you think that has changed in Britain?


I think most definitely, it's did you vote In or did you vote Out now.


And the lines are so blurred between the political parties that


you can sometimes excuse people for not knowing who


Those people that aren't from Stoke who are just seeing


we voted 70% to leave, think that we're probably


Stoke can seem a city of the left behind.


But there is actually much more to be positive


Knocking down the old for better homes.


What's left of the pottery industry is thriving.


And though wages are low and jobs still insecure, unemployment has


Watch it doesn't touch the walls because it's a bit damp and muddy.


After seven years on the dole, Alex Petula now has a paid job


with Bentilee Volunteers, a charity on the estate.


I'm glad the pits have closed because I wouldn't have wanted


I much prefer walking in a warm warehouse you know with proper


training and health and safety and all that.


Because the stories my dad told me, there was no health and safety,


you know, there was nothing safe about working in the pits.


As a Remainer, Alex is a rarity in Stoke.


He told me he might now consider voting Liberal Democrat and has no


truck with those he believes wrongly blame others for their problems.


The first thing most people say is, you know, you can't get any jobs


But, you know, the Polish were willing to come and do


You know, "I worked 40 years, blah blah."


Well, you know, that's life, that's what happens, isn't it?


People's fears about immigration helped make Ukip


But the by-election isn't just a huge test of Labour support.


Winning is also vital for Ukip, who've pledged to replace Labour


If they win, they'll have started a transition from a Brexit party


If they lose, they'll be written off as irrelevant in this


For the people of Stoke, though, life isn't as binary.


Whoever the winner, the difference to this place will only come


if prospects improve and lives take a turn for the better.


Well, even though you didn't hear from the candidates in that piece,


And it's available on the BBC website.


Stoke is not the only by-election next week -


Copeland in Cumbria also goes to the polls.


Let's talk about what to expect with our political editor, Nick Watt.


Well by by-election in Stoke is a test for Labour and Ukip. If Labour


cannot hold on to this seat then Jeremy Corbyn has big problems,


number one reaching out to Brexit voters and number two reaching out


to working class voters. But the Ukip if it cannot win in the seat


which finished a strong second at the general election then that will


raise wider questions about Paul Nuttall and his attempts to reach


out to working class voters in the Midlands and the North. No great


surprise that both parties are talking up their chances. They were


saying it did not sound great in Stoke Central about three weeks ago


but now looking up. Ukip buoyed by that poll in the Times today saying


Labour is the third most popular party amongst working-class voters.


What about the Tories? Of course they're taking Stoke Central


seriously, they finished 33 votes behind Ukip in the general election


but the focus is not so much on winning the by-election but raising


their profile across Stoke because the three seats are due to go down


to two seats after the boundary review and they hope they can win


those two seats in 2020. Their hopes Aaron Copland and Theresa May will


visit that West Cumbrian seat later this week and if the Tories were to


win that would be the first time a governing party since 1982 would


have taken a seat from the main opposition party as a by-election.


And Labour is sounding a lot less confident in Copland than in Stoke


Central. Jeremy Corbyn less enthusiastic support for the nuclear


industry not great in the home of the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing


plant. I don't know how many


times in the last year, I have heard people gaze


upon Donald Trump with perplexity or disbelief and say


words to the effect, Well, they are obviously wrong,


because satire in the era of President Trump has


never been as strong. Dear Mr President, welcome


to this introduction video It's going to be


absolutely fantastic. Are you sure Russia


was behind hacking? We've got all the best words,


all the other languages failed. I figured out a smart diplomatic way


to get them to pay for this wall. Guy who's going to pay


for the wall says what? An entire ocean


between us and Mexico. Nobody builds oceans


better than we do. Well, one contention is that satire


has become the most effective form of opposition to Donald Trump,


what with the Democrats Let's talk to the comedian


Ruby Wax and the columnist, wit and baiter of liberals,


Rod Liddle, who also happens to be Spectator's Associate Editor and who


joins us from Middlesborough. And also, Scott Dikkers is in


Chicago - he was the founder-editor of satirical online magazine,


The Onion. Good evening. Scott, what is the


satire trying to achieve, just trying to make people laugh or is


there a political edge and purpose to it? Before I answer that I want


to make sure you know I'm just going to make up a bunch of stuff in this


interview and called it a fact. Everything that you say I'm going to


call that fake news, just to set the ground rules. So satire is supposed


to be funny. The main thing is it has got to get people laughing. It


does not necessarily have any serious intent unless you get the


subtext. Maybe a lot of people is -- and not just getting the subtext of


do not think it is funny. But those who get it, do. Is it better though


if it upsets Donald Trump, do you want it upsets Donald Trump, do you


wanted to upset him, some people say he is getting upset and riled by it.


In a way that is the because you're not able to communicate any actual


facts to him. Or any reason -based analysis that somehow is going to


cut through the clutter. If you can annoy him then at least you have got


his attention and maybe that is the best you could do. In some ways the


satire is focusing all the rage in America, all the protests and


everything else which he does not see, he thinks that those people


literally are cheering for him. So if the satire can channel but anger


and directed him like a laser pen maybe that is worth something. --


and directed to him like a laser. If we're talking in the context of


Donald Trump, he is the satire. We are in a new situation. Let me just


say, we can talk about satire but we are wasting their time, the elephant


in the room with the roadkill on its head is the fact that the guy is a


narcissist. This is the first time we had someone pathologically not


right, and I'm not being funny. He has a mental disturbance. I


interviewed him 15 years ago in an aeroplane, his claim and he said he


would be president and I laughed in his face. He said I want her out of


here, land the plane and we landed in Arkansas. What is there to satire


when the guy is... Due not like the satire? I like it but to be comedy


should also reflect who we are. The is not think we are so witty, we


forgot about Nebraska and Arkansas, something is wrong in the world when


they do not launch Saturday Night Live so we're going nowhere. So the


smug get smug. I love satire because at least it unites the world. But


you think it was playing to the same people. Exactly add my opinion is


Donald Trump is getting off on those things, the narcissist loves


attention, whether it is for infamy or do they adore him, all the same


to him. He's getting all the luck he ever wanted. I think I heard you say


yes when Ruby said the people of Nebraska are watching. I could name


all the counties in America as opposed to all the love these in


America. I had not heard any satire yet, I heard an explosion of peak


from the well off, the middle-class, the students, the actors and


actresses. I have not heard any satire. There is a problem, the


satirists have two problems, satire is always better when it comes from


underneath, when it is against the establishment. Even the Donald Trump


is now president and we voted for Brexit, we still have an


establishment which loathes Donald Trump and Brexit, the media, the


judges and so on. It is always more potent when it comes from


underneath. But the second problem is with satire, it has to be nasty.


It has to be bad. And I'm afraid the people who most loathed Donald Trump


will not go down that route because they are constrained by their own


ideology. That they cannot be too nasty. You could not get from them


the sort of stuff which Jonathan Swift came up with in a modest


proposal because it is beyond the realm of their intellect to be as


offensive as that. They would not do it. With 15 years, eight years of


jump, 15 years of the post-liberal revolution and then maybe the


satirists will get it again. What you think of what you just heard,


Scott? I respectfully disagree. I feel a lot of the satire so far has


been very biting and not all that comes from the establishment. I know


people who write, many of them used to work for me and these are not


rich establishment people, they are poor down and out people who have


every reason to bring down authorities. That is what makes the


best satire, when you bring down authority and the establishment. And


they're going after him hard, they're being mean and certainly a


lot of it, if you watch late talk shows, that stuff is all kind of


cute and they will bring Donald Trump on the show. I think it needs


to be something that makes them angry and not that he laughs along


with. The point seems to be that the left are the ones trying to satirise


more and they're the ones... There are no other kinds of satirists. I


agree, it comes from an anger and as long as Alec Baldwin keeps it up


unhappy. They are at the top of the game. But still it has nothing to


do, you know, it has nothing to do with what is going on now, Saturday


Night Live. What is going on now is far more dangerous than the time of


spitting image. Let him get nasty, it does not matter, the people who


voted for him are not listening and so we are in trouble. I do not know


what we can do. You consider yourself to be a satirist, you write


witty and biting pieces, and you attempt to offend the people you


politically oppose. Are we over complicating the discussion,


basically some people like to mockery other side and always will


do. It is what they will always do and always do. I'm not sure I would


dignify myself in any way as a satirist but if Alec Baldwin is a


satirist then yes! I must be near the top of the tree if he is there.


The problem is, the problem you have is I heard much the same things


being said about Ronald Reagan in 1980 from the shrieking left. I was


one of the people at the time were shrieking. And I had much the same


kind of stuff talked about George W Bush and his ignorance and


unfamiliarity with foreign affairs. Not perhaps knowing where the


Netherlands is. Exactly the same stuff about him and it made no


difference. We do not make any difference in the short-term but we


drip in over the long-term as part of a kind of reappraisal of where we


are. But the idea is that satire might suddenly stop Donald Trump


building this wall and that is absurd. What makes good starter for


you? Ruby? That is not my style, I like when we held up the mirror to


ourselves and say these are my foibles and everyone goes, that is


me too. Just avoid the finger and he needs the finger. But to meet comedy


is about that. It has to have something real in it and resonate?


And you can mock Donald Trump by picking things that are real about


him. I did the show with him, that was enough satire. Let him hang


himself. But he is getting pleasure out of those Twitter messages. Thank


you very much. A milder prospect for everyone for


the rest of the week. Quite chilly start to the day despite


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