27/02/2017 Newsnight


With Emily Maitlis. A former Tory leader calls John Major bitter and sad over Britain exiting the EU, plus the war on 'experts', and the The White Helmets.

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John Major hits out at the Brexiteers, accusing them


of attempting to silence the 48% who voted Remain.


Freedom of speech is absolute in our country. It's not arrogant or brazen


or elitist or remotely delusional to express concern about our future


after Brexit. First amongst cheerleaders,


Ian Duncan Smith tells me the former Prime Minister sounds angry


and strangely bitter. Also tonight: The experts are


terrible. I think the people in this country have had enough of experts.


We kept hearing winning politicians say they've had


What does Michael Gove think of experts now?


Many of those making assertions on the Remain side were relying on


people meekly submitting to authority as though we were still in


the prereformation Catholic Church rather than making proper arguments.


We'll speak to those who think Mr Gove was putting his


finger on something. And, of course, the Oscars.


I'm sorry. There's a mistake. Moonlight you won Best Picture. No,


not that, this... The Oscar winner Best Documentary


is about the civilian We'll speak to one


of the White Helmets. For the first time since the UK


voted to leave the European Union, former Prime Minister,


John Major, has spoken out of his He warned of a real risk that


Government would not achieve all that it had


promised from Brexit. He said a comprehensive deal


was unlikely by 2019 and that a failure to deliver would result


in further distrust He launched an excoriating attack


on the cheerleaders for Brexit. He accused of shouting down


the legitimate comment We'll hear response to this


carefully-timed interjection from Iain Duncan Smith in a moment,


first let's go to our Nick, as I was saying, you don't


hear from John Major that often, what did you make of it? This is a


significant speech. John Major is normally very careful to ration his


interventions. He's sensitive to the charge he would be criticising his


successors in Number Ten. Don't forget, he's deeply scarred by his


experience, after becoming Prime Minister. Margaret Thatcher famously


said she would make a great back seat driver. When David Cameron


became Prime Minister, he had an informal understanding with David


Cameron, who had worked for him in Number Ten in the early 1990s. The


agreement was that John Major would only make intervention that's were


helpful to him. Clearly he feels different about Theresa May, elected


to Parliament in 1997, the year that he lost that election and ceased to


be Prime Minister. He obviously feels there is a danger that she is


presiding over potentially a damaging Brexit. So he's decided to


speak out. This was his central message.


I have two objectives this evening, to offer a reality check on our


national prospects and to warn against an over optimism, that, if


it is unachieved, will so further dis-- sow further distrust between


politics and. Unlick at a time when trust needs to be rebuilt. It would


be better to underplay rather than overplay expectations. The


post-referendum debate has been deeply disspiriting. After decades


of campaigning the anti-Europeans won their battle to take Britain out


of Europe. But in the afterglow of victory, their cheerleaders have


shown a disregard that amounts to contempt for the 48% who believed


our future was more secure within the European Union.


It's clearly heart felt, but what do you think more than that is driving


it in terms of the timing? John Major profoundly believe that's the


UK should have voted to stay in the EU. One of the first trips he made


as Prime Minister was to the then capital of Germany Bonn and said


Britain should remain at the heart of Europe. Some, though by no means


all of the message in this speech, echos some of the concerns raised by


Tony Blair, who unseated him in 1997. There's a faint echo of Tony


Blair when he was saying that Theresa May is not driving the


Brexit bus. It is being driven by those hard line Euro-sceptics who


want a clean break from Europe and John Major obviously is haunted by


those Euro-sceptics who gave him such grief on the Maastricht Treaty


25 years ago. He warned Theresa May to face down those who favour total


disengagement from the European Union. You've been gauging a bit of


reaction to this as it came out Yes, a terse statement from Number Ten,


challenging John Major who praised the Remainers and criticise the


Leavers. Number Ten says, we're moving beyond the language of Leave


and Remain because we want to unite the country. I spoke to some Remain


ministers who privately welcome this. Interestingly, quite senior


figures in the Government, who are fans of John Major are saying, this


doesn't sound quite right. This is not in the spirit of what I was


talking about earlier, where he tries to make constructive


interventions. What these fans are saying are by all means raise your


concerns about Brexit, but if you are seen to undermine the Prime


Minister, then I'm afraid to say, you are only going to undermine your


own position within the Conservative Party. Thanks very much. John Major


talked about the Brexit cheerleaders.


Earlier, I spoke to the former Cabinet Minister and stalwart


of the Leave Campaign, Iain Duncan Smith.


I asked him if John Major's speech made him think twice


about what Brexit promised and what it is actually delivering.


What I thought when I looked at this speech was that this was a peculiar


speech in the sense that it looked backwards the whole time. It was


almost like a refight of the referendum all the same threats and


issues that came up during project fear were all in here. Strangely


bitter, really. And almost really the speech of someone who simply


refuses to accept that the British people should have made a decision


such as they did and wants them almost to rerun it again until they


get it right, which is rather sad. He doesn't seem to question the


result. He says there's a growing concern the British public have been


led to expect a future that's unreal and over optimistic, that obstacles


have been brushed aside. He's asking Brexiteers to be more honest with


the British public instead of pretending it's a walk in the park.


I don't think anyone's pretending it's a walk in the park. Theresa May


least of all. She's going to do the negotiations. I think she's taken


this on in a very realistic way. What she's saying is the British


people voted to leave. We must now deliver that. At the end of it all,


we want a decent relationship with Europe. We're leaving the European


Union, we're not leaving Europe. The speech was full of unrealistic


rather angry threats. I can't see the point of that now. 69% of the


public voted in a poll to get on it. They're not looking back. What do


you thist threats? They're a rerun of - you know, oh, it's going to be


a disaster, you're being too optimistic. What's the alternative?


You go into the European Union saying this is all going to be


terrible, help us out, it's a disaster, it's miserable. That's not


the way to run a negotiation. When you look at the rhetoric used, John


Redwood saying there will be no economic damage. Boris saying


countries will be queueing up to be our trade partners. Michael Gove


saying our best days are ahead. He's saying don't promise otherwise you


create a distrust all over again between the public and politicians.


I don't think the public expects this to be a complete walk in the


park. The way it's sold, they would. I'm not so certain about that. If


you look carefully at what's being said, what people are saying are


that it's in the hands of the British people to do the best out of


this and actually do well. It's in our hands. It's not in somebody


else's hands now. That's the point. You can be optimistic going forward


because you believe that the British people are capable of remarkable


things. But to be pessimistic about them is the wrong attitude. I got


from this speech a deep pessimism about the idea of the UK outside the


European Union. But we've had that debate. We've had that vote. The


point I'd simply make is, and I'm really sorry that he's chosen to


couch this in really what I consider to be quite bitter terms about the


process, and such a depressing forecast about the future, it would


be far better that he should actually say, like the British


people have made their minds up, let's get on with this. Let's make


of most of this. Let's do the best. A former Prime Minister should have


more faith in the British people. He points his finger at the Brexiteers


who shout down disagreement, who claim to want Parliament to have


sovereignty and have taken issue with anyone that has asked about


amendments, questioned how Brexit will happen. That's crazy, isn't it?


That's the nature of debate. That's what he says. He says you have shut


it down. You talk about frustrating the will of the British people, or


calling it a slap in the face if the Lords frustrate it. He says you have


shut down debate. With a bit of respect to John Major, I was here 25


years ago when the Maastricht Treaty was being pushed through. I seem to


recall he and many of his Cabinet shouted down those concerned about


Maastricht, which has turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. A bit of


humility in this might not be a bad thing. The reality is that is the


nature of robust debate. We're going to have this huge reform bill coming


through. Everything will be debated ad nauseum. Then people will get a


vote at the end of it on whether or not they agree with the agreement


that Theresa May brings forward. When he says Brexit cheerleaders


have shown a disregard that amounts to contempt for the 48% of those who


voted Remain, you don't call that a disregard for what they're saying.


You're encouraging them to do that, are you? I encourage everybody to


debate. I'm happy with debate. Why do you call it a slap in the face,


why call it shenanigans? Those who voted Leave will have their opinion


on where we go in the future. I relish that. And amending if you


need to after the debate? What are you going to amend? The difference


is are you going to amend this short bill that says we want to trigger


Article 50? There's no point in debate then. You can have a go at


amending the other bill ad nauseum. Why do you think John Major entered


the debate now? I don't know why he chose to speak. I would have hoped


had John Major spoken he might have been a lot more positive. He might


have actually said, there are going to be difficulties rgs thction what


-- difficulties, this is what I would do, this is what we can


achieve. I felt today's speech was a lost opportunity for someone who was


the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, rather like Tony Blair, not


harking back to what happened, not sounding bitter and angry, not


looking like you don't have a lot rove inspect for what the British


people are capable of doing and making the wrong decision. Instead


of which saying, look, we can do these things. We have faith in the


British people. After all, when we were elected in 1992 and John Major


became the Prime Minister, I don't recall he turned around and said I


really don't have a lot of time for the British voters. They seem to


have made the wrong decision. He accepted their decision. Thank you


very much. Michael Gove's claim that "people


in this country have had enough of experts" was one of the most


memorable lines of the EU But was it just a throwaway


soundbite or did Mr Gove Are we really less willing to trust


the people who were once And have we come to distrust


all experts or just the kind who claim to know how


the economy will behave? Our editor Ian Katz went


in search of some answers. June 24th was a grim day


in Britain's ivory towers. The Brexit vote a punch


on the nose for an intellectual elite who had lined up


in favour of staying in the EU. This will be affected


for ordinary people. But did the referendum reveal,


perhaps even cause, lasting change in our relationship


with the people we once The Bank of England,


the IFS, the IMF, the CBI and most of the leaders


of the trade unions The working people of this country


at last get a fair deal. I think the people in


this country have had enough of experts with organisations


and acronyms saying that they know what is best and getting


it consistently wrong. Michael Gove may have trotted


out a glib sound bite to deflect an awkward question,


but it was one with potentially Have we ceased to believe


that men and women with An assault on the very idea


that society is built Those who are expert,


who have the knowledge, who have the intellectual ability


to dissect these difficult problems In recent years politicians


have increasingly pushed experts to the fore,


to justify their decisions. But in a world where experts lose


trust, how can politicians tackle climate change or convince us that


vaccinations are safe? Some even see in the anti-expert


rhetoric a slippery slope that leads to the post fact morass of Trump's


America. I've always wanted to say this,


I've never said this before, all the talking we all do,


all of these experts, we need an expert here,


the experts are terrible. The assault on experts has


implications for fields But it's economists who find


themselves on the front line. We are right to question experts,


particularly after what happened When experts said that consumer


confidence would fall, the stock markets would fall,


growth would cease, house prices would go up immediately,


as a result of the vote, Do you think it's time we gave up


listening to economists? I think we should pay a lot


of attention to economists except when they're talking


about the future. In 1949 a young economist


from New Zealand built this He used bits of old Lancaster


bombers and DIY skills picked up Phillips's machine, now


at Cambridge University, uses flows of water to model


the behaviour of the British economy, literally


trickle-down economics. The economy comes out through here,


around the pump at the back, Some of which goes off to savings,


so this is the banking sector. It could be a perfect metaphor


for what's wrong with economics. The embodiment of a mechanistic view


that assumes people will behave Social science


masquerading as science. It is telling us when you move


the levers in the economy how It's a model of the economy


as a machine isn't it? Is it reasonable to see


the economy as a machine? I don't know, that's a deeply


philosophical question. Economic forecasting has always


been a bit hit and miss. It's early function,


said JK Galbraith, was to make Economists flag up the uncertainty


and assumptions behind their But that nuance is often


stripped away by politicians In defence of economists I would say


that short-term forecasting We are talking about trying


to predict the actions of millions of different consumers


across the economy and trying to impose some order on all of that,


those millions of decisions, is inevitably going to


be really difficult. Victoria Bateman is


an economic historian. She thinks the attack on experts has


implications far beyond economics. I also think it was dangerous,


when we looked through out history, when we look at attempts to attack


intellectuals and those go back to the period


before the Enlightenment. I think it's particularly dangerous


for a western politician in a western democracy to be playing


this game of anti-intellectualising. I think the people in this country


have had enough of experts, It's perhaps ironic that


a man regarded as one figures in British politics is now


famous for one of its most Gove insists he was


quoted out of context. He didn't mean to


impugn all experts. I was particularly thinking


about organisations like the IMF, who I thought had called the Euro


wrong and were calling And I felt, at the very least,


we should challenge their arguments rather than simply saying,


oh well, because you are a tenured academic, or because you work


for the IMF, you must be right. You are famous for your linguistic


rigour, why didn't you say something more like what you've just


said to me? It was a high-profile,


high intensity, high tension, There is a difference


between the considered use of language in a conversation


like this and having Do you regret having used the word


experts in that context? No, I think, life is


too short for regrets. I think one of the things


that is occasionally irritating is that people assume that


what I was saying was a blanket rejection


of facts, evidence, rigour. Or the Chancellor or


the Prime Minister? They don't know any more


than we do, do they, really? Before the referendum,


Newsnight came to Bognor where Joan and some friends told us why


they would ignore warnings from experts like the governor


of the Bank of England. Does he know what it's like to go


around Sainsbury's, shopping? That line seemed to reveal something


profound about our changing relationship with experts,


so we've come back. Joan is away but over a cup of tea


I asked a few of the locals how It's too much scaremongering


from so-called experts. Too many organisations


and businesses that all they do is study graphs and take polls


and they just seem to make And I don't believe that they can,


that they know best. How on earth do we decide what to


listen to and what not to listen to? A lot of people have


got good common sense. You are not impressed


by the expertise of academics, why are you sceptical about people


who have spent often years They are just ordinary people


but unfortunately they get stuck in this little bubble


of what they are doing. So you will make all your judgment


based on what you hear, not It depends on what


they actually say. It sounds like what you're saying


is we should just pick Well there's plenty


of them out there. Perhaps not everywhere in Britain


is as allergic to boffins as Bognor. But it does seem we are far less


willing to take the pronouncements At least part of the answer must lie


with the Internet and the way it handed all of us the keys


to the kind of specialist knowledge Which of us hasn't diagnosed


an ailment with a little help from Doctor Google long before


arriving in the doctor's If the Internet has chipped away


at the respect commanded by many experts, it's done the opposite


for one man. Polls, if they still count


for anything consistently found that Martin Lewis was the figure trusted


most on Brexit. He thinks the trouble


starts when experts start Because you can't


make that prediction. This is a world about probability


and chance but what we had in the EU referendum was people giving us


black and white Lewis thinks that part


of the problem is that many experts appear to take sides


in the referendum argument. It was a problem we wrestled


with on Newsnight. In the eyes of the two campaigns,


no expert was sufficiently I think some experts made


the mistake of campaigning and therefore presenting their views


as part of a campaign which immediately says that


you are biased one way or the other. The public will perceive


it and not trust you. And even those who didn't then


allowed their information to be If the Enlightenment


has its sacred texts, one of them is Isaac Newton's Principia


Mathematica. Newton's own annotated copy


is the prized possession A temple to knowledge so chilly,


the librarians wear anoraks. So this is a Newton's own copy


of the Principia Mathematica? This is indeed, it's


one of the great works It's the book that inflicted


calculus on centuries Newton helped put science


at the centre of our modern world. Yet some worry that the assault


on experts has spread beyond economics and the social


sciences and now challenges Unfortunately, Mr Gove's remarks


spilled over into all sorts of other areas where experts have an enormous


contribution to make to the proper running of society


and for good policy development. Science is absolutely


there because science is based on reason and evidence and the fact


that experts have been derided in this way does have an effect


in undermining science We've come to another


temple to knowledge, London's gleaming Francis Crick


Institute. Noble prize-winning geneticist


Paul Nurse believes Michael Gove probably was thinking of economists


in his infamous comment, but it was irresponsible not


to clarify his remarks. Opinions on the front foot,


and those who are expert, who have the knowledge,


who have the intellectual ability to dissect these difficult problems


are being derided and pushed back. My view about this is that it cannot


last very long because opinion And it rapidly falls apart,


and I think we are seeing that The expert bashers believe


they were vindicated by the fact that most economists got


the short-term consequences But have they started


something more dangerous? Has Gove emboldened people


to dismiss all kind of expert Worry that you've actually let


something bigger get rolling that I entirely understand that,


yes, and I think that, I'm sure there are people who have


latched on that word, either those who fear that rise of,


a superstitious approach towards knowledge, who think that


I may have legitimised it and it may be that there are some people out


there that think that I am giving All I would say is that that phrase


apart, during my political lifetime, both when I was Education Secretary


and when I was Justice Secretary, I wanted people to know more,


to have more information and knowledge and a greater capacity


for critical thinking. You were out campaigning every day


after that interview, you could at any point in the days


after when I am sure it came up countless times, you could have


qualified that remark. Funnily enough it did


not come up that often I think it was used particularly


afterwards because people felt that the Brexit vote had somehow


been a triumph of know My argument is that actually


many of those who were making assertions during the campaign


on the Remain side where relying on people meekly submitting


to authority as though we were still operating in the age


of the pre-Reformation Catholic Church, rather


than actually making Science writer Matt Ridley believes


this greater public scepticism about experts is healthy,


the very opposite in fact of the challenge to Enlightenment


values others fear. One has to remember


about the Enlightenment did consist of challenging the experts,


particularly challenging priests and saying you do not


have all the answers. People can work out


the answers for themselves. It's hard to argue that a more


questioning public is a bad thing. But here's the problem,


where do we stop? All these people have had experts,


oh, we need an expert. Can any layman decide


that if the evidence on climate change stacks up,


or if vaccines are safe, or whether After seeing their Brexit advice


ignored, at least one expert decided to express herself more forcefully


in the days after the referendum. Yeah, so I made the decision


to spend the day at the University naked, as both an expression


of my feelings about the referendum, which is that it's a rather dramatic


event and will have dramatic long-term consequences,


but at the human level more Victoria attended the monthly


faculty meeting wearing only the words "Brexit leaves us naked"


scrawled across her torso. For some, the scene might have been


a perfect metaphor for our changing The emperor revealed to have


been naked all along. So did Michael Gove put his finger


on something no one had yet noticed? If only there was an


expert we could ask. Well, we have three right here -


although maybe they won't Tracey Brown is the Director


of Sense and Science - Because Evidence Matters,


Nassim Nicholas Taleb is the author of Black Swan and Swati Dhingra


is an Economist LSE. Nice to have all of you here, I will


start with you Nicholas, did JK Galbraith get it right when he said


economic forecasting makes astrology look respectable, should it all be


left well alone? Well, it's right that in a similar system you should


let the system decide for itself, but, let me put some precision here


because I've done some work since, the first time I was in your studio


was nine years ago where I had to explain that economists were not


experts. Since then I have had to refine some of my work, so there are


domains where we have experts, we need experts, 99% of the people you


will run into tomorrow through evening will be experts, the driver


will be an expert at driving, the baker and expert at making bread.


And so on. And now technicians, I am in New York, the technology is who


are able to make that connection are experts however they are domains


where they are not experts and where is the boundary? The boundary


appears to be micro versus Micro. There are three boundaries, micro


versus macro, in other words someone who deals with smaller fierce, it's


much easier to do micro because you're not going to be held to


account... Soap economics basically fits as macro? It's too big to get


right? That is not true, there are many facts we do know from


economics, how does trade work across countries from example and


that is what we know from hundreds of data and those are the facts we


are bringing to the public and I want to point out two issues in the


film, one is that experts and academics are being put in the same


category even though we know there are not many THEY TALK OVER EACH


OTHER I am talking about academic... Sorry, I don't see you guys here, so


I don't know, let me say a couple of things, I was a trader for 20 some


years and then I saw, I am not of course in an economic 's department,


I do applied maths, then we saw the rigour and economics, it makes me


cry, the statistical rigour because you use Gal C and distributions and


calcium metrics for things which are repeatedly not them. It's too


technical for the audience. I don't know what that means but broadly, is


economic forecasting something we should leave alone?


Joo economic forecasting, predicting the future, is taking the definition


of expertise to its outside edges. Most people in your film and people


in the business of looking at the economy recognise that. I really


feel we need to say something about this interpretation of what happened


in that debate because the referendum has become the reference


point for this discussion about expertise. It's a bit a false


situation for us to be drawing big conclusions about what people think


about experts based on that. I'm deeply suspicious when people make


sweeping retorical newerish of an anti-intellectual nature. They


usually don't mean let's equip the public with critical thinking. They


usually mean believe me don't believe them. That's an interesting


point. To go back to you Nicholas, when people reject experts what


they're saying is don't believe them, take it from me or another


source that I trust. Do you buy that? I definitely buy that. I buy


that people in at a microlevel trust some people for their opinion. To


build a pyramid at the bottom most people are experts at what they're


doing. Awes go up layers, the scaling, as you go higher and higher


then you lose in expertise because you can't check the person's


results. Eeconomists live in their own little bubble when they're not


judged by reality, they're judged by other economists. They can keep


being incompetent forever. I mean... Let me tell you... Just let me bring


you to one point, is it irresponsible when you hear


positions in great, politicians in great positions of power, be it


Donald Trump or Michael Gove at the time saying we've had enough of


experts or experts are wrong, do you agree that is irresponsible? I mean,


the word "expert" can mean a lot of things. Some classes of experts we


should dispence with because they've been very dangerous. When I was in


your studio nine years ago, talking about economics, it was an expert


problem. There is something we call an expert problem. There is an


expert problem we just have to train society to distinguish. It's


society's fault that we don't explain properly who is an expert.


It's not just about explanation. No, it's not. This is about how the


debate was portrayed. The same kind of people like Michael Gove was


letting their information being misused. They were saying ?350


million per week coming back to the NHS, we haven't seen that happen.


Why are only those particular experts who made - It happened on


the other side, we all remember them showing, on the Remain side it would


cost ?4,300 per family. These specific numbers. Those short-term


officials were made by public officials not independent experts.


Independent experts made only long-term positions. This wasn't all


about you. People were posing all kinds of questions in the


referendum. Like I live in Swansea, and my hope for my kids getting a


job or going on holiday in the next five years is zero any way. So your


national discussion and your national figures and projections are


not talking to me. People were posing questions that were political


questions. They weren't getting political answers. So, what we've


seen is a politicisation of expertise over the recent


discussion. Let's not draw grand conclusions. Last year, you could


say 2016 was not the year of post-truth. 2016 was the year in


which, for example, the Hillsborough families use a mass of expertise and


fact finding to hunt for the truth. You don't think it's eroded


confidence in experts then? I think there's a bigger question, there is


a fracture between the discussion we're having about our national well


being, at a national level, with economic contributions and what


people's lived lives are like that don't relate to that. There are


assumptions there and this has laid them bare. The point about this


question was when you talk about not believing experts and when people


start to gree with it, does it have a knock-on effect in different


fields, whether it's science, climate change, inoculations, all


those sorts of things? The biggest danger is the knock-on effect in


politics. If we have the belief starting to take hold among our


politician that's truthfulness is no longer a public value that people


don't expect things to make sense - It doesn't matter what the content


or the subject is, it's about the approach to trust? Yeah, it almost


becomes subversive. It's like the 50s when it was subversive to talk


about homosexuality or abortion rates. It becomes subversive to talk


about the facts about something if people think it's not going to play


well in one of the national newspapers. Except it's good to


question, isn't it? It's good to use common sense and everything we


heard. Experts have a great history of helping the public to pose


questions about their lives. In the run up to the referendum there was a


survey done which showed that people do trust academics. Our ratings were


at the level of 57 to 60% and that they trust organisations like the


ONS because it gives them fact. It's not as though people don't want the


facts. They want the facts. Nicholas, I know you're very


respected by Steve Bannon in the Trump administration. Have they come


to you with the offer of a job? I will not comment on that. But - Go


on, let us entice you gently on Newsnight. OK, let me tell you the


one thing that people seem to miss about all this thing that the point


isn't so much trusting experts and not trusting experts. The idea is to


build systems that are error proof and microsystems are pretty mush


error proof because the error doesn't generalise. When you have a


concentrated system, as in Brussels, one error can lead to very large


conclusions. Maybe the experts were not error free. This is where the


discussion should be is how can we build systems that can with stand an


expert problem. These systems have one atery bute, they need to be


decentralised. Thank you all very much indeed.


You'd be excused for thinking that the Oscars this year


essentially consisted of one big envelope-related cock-up.


Tonight, another missing piece of the jigsaw, as reports surface


in the Wall Street Journal that Price Waterhouse Coopers managing


partner, Brian Cullinan, was tweeting a backstage picture


of Emma Stone moments before that critical moment.


A tweet, incidentally, that has now been deleted.


But beyond the La La Land/Moonlight fracas, another rather different


The White Helmets are a group of civilian rescue workers in Syria.


You may even recognise their name from Newsnights over the past


few years and a film following their work in Syria,


simply titled The White Helmets, won Best Documentary.


We spoke to a member of the organisation, Majd Khalaf,


This piece contains images from the documentary which some viewers might


find upsetting. TRANSLATION: At the moment we


receive the news of winning the Oscar, one of our volunteers was


pulling a child from underneath the rubble in the city of Idlib. Other


volunteers were helping in the suburbs of Damascus. When we started


our work with the Civil Defence team, the white helmets, we pledged


to help as many civilians as possible.


It is an indescribable feeling when we get the call to help, although


our job poses a lot of threat on our lives.


TRANSLATION: Until now, we have saved 80,000 civilians, but we have


also lost 162 of our colleagues because of air strikes.


Although we are happy to save lives, we are also living the suffering of


the civilians every day. The film was shot in Aleppo, which was


considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Our colleagues


have put their lives on the line to get the message across.


The Oscar has shed a light on the suffering of people inside Syria and


made their voices heard. It introduced the work of the Civil


Defence teams and the difficulties and dangers they face when they


respond to calls. It also showed there is a humanitarian work taking


place in Syria and not just a Civil War happening. It's true there are


people dying and air strikes bombarding civilians, but there are


also volunteers who are working to make the people's voices heard.


We didn't think we would get to the Oscars or win it. Our message is


clear: To stop the air strikes on civilians.


We leave you with the The Sony World Photography awards,


whose 2017 shortlist will be on show at Somerset House in


The actual nominees can only be revealed at midnight tonight,


so obviously I'm not allowed to open the envelope and tell


After the disaster at the Oscars last night,


But here's a peak at a few strong contenders.


# I hurt myself today. # To see if I still feel.


# I focus on the pain # The only thing that's real


# The needle tears a hole # The old familiar sting


# Try to kill it all away # But I remember everything.


By some definition spring starts this week. It feels wintry at the


moment. A cold start to the day. Bright and crisp for some. Showers


for others, especially across western areas, snow over high


ground. This band of showers moving eastwards across the UK, followed by


something brighter for Northern Ireland and certainly plenty of


sunshine across central and northern Scotland through the afternoon.




With Emily Maitlis. A former Tory leader calls John Major bitter and sad over Britain exiting the EU, plus the war on 'experts', and the best documentary short Oscar-winner, The White Helmets, takes us to Aleppo.

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