With Kirsty Wark. The Government is under pressure over the National Insurance hike. Plus, Richard Dawkins on Brexit and what can the French film Elle tell us about rape?
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Is the answer when it is in a party manifesto?
As Philip Hammond is attacked from all sides for raising
National Insurance, will this become Theresa May's big issue of trust?
David Cameron's former Director of Communications
He can explain to people, here is a path I took and this
is why it is not a breach of a manifesto promise.
The problem with that, as you are asking me
and as you should rightly ask him and other members of the
government, is people perceive this to be a breach.
We'll be discussing making and breaking political promises.
Also tonight, we discuss Isabelle Huppert and Paul Verhoeven's Golden
Globe-winning thriller, Elle, and its complex portrayal
of one woman's response to the most horrific rape.
Can cinema take us to dark places where accepted views
on rape are challenged through the character of a woman
Three words freighted with probity and trust.
But, after anything but an explosive budget, a firecracker blew up
in the Chancellor's face today over the issue of a promise.
The question being, why does the government deny
breaking a manifesto pledge on National Insurance when the 2015
election manifesto clearly said there would be no increase
in National Insurance for the five years of an incoming
Is it ever right to to promise one thing and do another?
The Chancellor has raised the hackles of the right-wing press,
Tory backbenchers of many stripes, and the opposition alike.
Theresa May is in Brussels tonight where, at a press conference,
probably for the first time in her life, she was hoping
for questions about Brexit, but was pressed on this instead.
I'm joined by our political editor, Nick Watt.
What did she had to say about National Insurance?
She is standing by the fundamental principle of this budget change
which is that the self-employed should pay more in national
insurance contributions because now they are able to benefit from the
new state pension. She also bought herself time because legislation to
implement think these changes is not going to be introduced until the
autumn and I am hearing the first signs of how they are going to
soften the impact of this National Insurance rise, by waiting until the
autumn, the Chancellor will give himself the option of implementing
some of the recommendations in the report by the former Tony Blair at
Downing Street adviser Matthew Taylor. That could see maternity and
paternity rights extended to the self employed and that would be
very, very expensive. As I understand it, Philip Hammond is
watching this very carefully because what he is concerned about is the
revenue he has raised this week could be wiped out by that change.
All this for that. Possible we could be seeing the first signs of not
such a great relationship between numbers ten and 11? Theresa May and
Philip Hammond made great play of the pack they want to restore the
traditional relationship between Prime Minister and Chancellor and I
can now confirm we have the traditional tensions between a Prime
Minister who wants to spend and a Chancellor who wants to restrain
public spending. And I am hearing the sound of complaints from the
Treasury, firstly that number ten, I'm told, just want to spend money.
Important visit the Chancellor did cough up on schools and social care.
Secondly complaints that some senior political advisers around the Prime
Minister have what are described as anti-Tory ideas about raising taxes.
I'm told Philip Hammond had his work cut out battling against pressure to
raise capital gains tax and, wait for it, increasing the national
insurance contributions proposed this week to an even higher level
for higher rate taxpayers. It has been a pretty bumpy response to the
budget for the Chancellor so we thought we would take a look at the
pressures on him. There have been too many
in the last few years, too many Broken promises can be
lethal for politicians. Look what happened
to my namesake when the Liberal Democrat policy
on tuition fees collided with the harsh reality
of coalition government. And now Philip Hammond, the man
who hoped to forge a duller and less glitzy era in the Treasury,
and who would never be seen dead doing a stunt
like this, has been caught out Make no mistake, they
are feeling pain in the Treasury today as
the right-wing press savages the Chancellor for breaking
that general election pledge One source familiar with
the thinking in numbers ten and 11 Downing St told me,
this is all about trust. This troubled Budget will be
remembered as the first self-inflicted wound
of this government. And so far, nearly 20 Tory MPs,
including the Wales Office Minister Guto Bebb, have
questioned the change. It won't have the
support from people We need to get out there
and support entrepreneurs. As I say, they are the
backbone of this economy. They are taking risks,
opening small businesses, employing those apprentices, giving
young people a chance. We have done for seven years and I'm
going to make sure we My Whitehall source admitted
that the government had slipped up by appearing
to target white van man. In fact, the changes
were aimed at catching out what are described as spivs
and dodgy accountants. I think this is an interesting
cultural economic moment, where the Conservative Party, which has long
revelled in the impression that it was the party of enterprise and
small entrepreneurs, has shown it There will be an opportunity
in politics for other parties to make
a pitch for these voters. The Chancellor is
reluctant to back down. He needs the ?2 billion
the changes will generate This evening, Theresa May pointed
to a way out, using a review by a former Labour Downing Street
official to soften the tax rises. What we are likely to see
from the government is probably what they should have done
when they first made this announcement yesterday,
which is to set it much more in a broader context of
looking at the whole picture of taxation for the self
employed, which would be about the national insurance that
firms pay when they employ people and use
self-employed workers, not just that paid directly
by the self-employed, and set it in the context of giving
the self employed more benefit entitlements,
like an maternity pay, and more support with things
like pension savings. That overall package of support
and slightly higher taxes is probably what we will see
from the government in the coming months,
and that's a good thing. If he emerges unscathed,
Philip Hammond may reflect, he is the victim of a style
of politics he hoped to end. That was the habit of George Osborne
and Gordon Brown to lay traps for their
political opponents. It was George Osborne who outlined
the tax lock at the last No increases in VAT,
National Insurance contributions, or This was a political trap,
the so-called tax lock, to try and catch Labour out,
but actually it has ended up catching out the Tories
and they have fallen Probably the best comparison
for Gordon with the 2015 Budget was Gordon's 2001
pre-election budget, where he framed the election question as more
investment, not less, and he invited the Conservative Party
to oppose his spending plans. The difference was that Gordon
was almost certain to be back in Downing Street
after that election, so he could only make commitments
like that if he was certain that he could
deliver on them. The difference with George Osborne
was that he probably wasn't ever expecting to be back
in Downing Street to have to implement this tax guarantee,
which made him far more reckless than he otherwise
would have been. Who would have thought that such
a steady Chancellor would find his budget being
buffeted in the wind? Perhaps spreadsheet Phil is looking
back wistfully at his The man who was at David Cameron's
shoulder when the Conservative manifesto for the 2015 election
was written and pledges made, was his Director of Communications,
Craig Oliver. You have been literally in the thick
of this before. In terms of manifesto pledges and commitments
and so forth. Looking at this, the Chancellor insisted this is not the
break of a manifesto but is it or not? The issue is, do people
perceive it to be. The reality is that most people perceive this to be
the breaking of our pledge. Would it have been better if he had just
said, I'm breaking a manifesto promise, I'm going to raise class
for national insurance because circumstances have changed since
2015? Philip Hammond as a defender and I believe he is sincere in that
and thinks that he is in a position where he can explain to people, here
is a path I took and it is why it is not a breach of a manifesto promise.
The problem with that, as you are asking me and as you should rightly
ask him and other members of the government, is people perceive this
to be a breach. They feel that when they looked specifically at what was
written, you have breached that. The problem again with that if people
start asking questions, can we trust you, are you being legalistic,
dancing on the head of it was a ludicrous pledge to say that over
the whole lifetime of the next government there would be no
increases in VAT, national insurance for income tax? I don't think it is
but once a political party has made that pledge and got into government
you end up in a difficult decision if you are perceived to have broken
that. David Cameron was always clear on this that when you made a pledge,
you should not go back on it. He was constantly lobbied on international
aid or the triple lock for pensioners by people saying, look at
all this money we could take it we went back on this and he said, but
I've made a promise to the poorest people and pensioners and what would
people say if I went back on that? He knew he would reap the whirlwind
if he broke those pledges. If you were advising Philip Hammond what
would you advise on to say? The most interesting question is, do you
actually intend to stick with this having delivered it in the budget?
If you are going to and you are sure you will, you have to defend the
decision you have taken an explain it. Having said that, the great
difficulty for him, the sheer fact we are doing this interview, is that
the entire perception of anybody looking at this is that you have
broken a pledge. I can see how people in government, when they are
balancing a lot of things, also moving parts, they get themselves
into a position where they persuade themselves that is dependable. Not
only was it called a pledge, David Cameron called it a Balliu, almost
it had a religious significance that they would be no tax rises so in
that regard it was very serious -- called it a value. When the decision
was taken to make this pledge, people thought through that this was
something that had to be defendable and people would be voting for them
on it. When that decision was made, it was done very seriously. If you
are the current government, you can say that actually the reality is
there are different people running number ten and number 11. I suspect
Philip Hammond actually thinks he was not explicit on this very
specific area and technicality. In political broad terms, you can
lampoon that and say it is ridiculous and a breach of trust but
I can see how people can get themselves into that position but
the problem is you have to be able to have people coming in late in the
day and say, how will this look? Thank you very much. We did ask to
speak to someone from the government tonight but nobody was available.
The Sun newspaper has been fiercely critical of the budget, and I'm now
joined by their political editor, Tom Newton Dunn.
Also, Polly Mackenzie, who worked for Nick Clegg and is no
stranger to the fallout of broken promises.
Good evening. First of all, how damaging is this for the government?
Having a broken promise can be enormously damaging to a political
party but the truth is that Philip Hammond and Theresa May don't think
of this as their manifesto, it is George Osborne's. They don't want to
put it out because they put it undermines the legitimacy and feels
they might have to call an election but said conduct have change and
environment have changed and if they own the truth which is that they
have defied the manifesto and make the case for this is not being...
And a bonkers idea in the first place? The triple lock? Absolutely.
It is George Osborne's political positioning and he is not exactly
the most popular person in the country. Call it his manifesto and
start talking about the fact that the Prime Minister, who is much more
popular, doesn't want to be limited by the political promises of her
predecessor who basically has moved on. The Sun newspaper said fight ban
scam. You are going to make sure it is damaging for the government. Very
much so, until the government decide they are not going to damage
themselves any longer. Theresa May seem to be starting some kind of
climb-down tonight, a recalibration. The truth is this will never get on
the statute books and we knew that from about half past eight this
morning when the first Tory MP said on the radio that they would vote
against it. They were joined by about 30 others so this will not go
ahead. What we will see if this play out over the summer, how they craft
some travel package together to make it look like they are not doing a
U-turn but they are. You take the view that actually gives government
should not be tied up by a manifesto from 2015 or does it require another
election? The entire government are all Tory
MPs getting themselves elected with the same problem. I am afraid that
they have to stick to this. Theresa May will say, huge amounts have
changed, different economy, different membership of the European
Union or not, so I can do something different. I have some sympathy for
Philip Hammond in that he has been immensely boxed in by all sorts of
clever gimmicks and promises made by George Osborne very successfully. It
destroyed the Lib Dems. They won the general election and they destroyed
Labour. Then they had to go on and govern with this incredible
ring-fencing on pensions, the lot of it. The manifesto also commits us to
staying in the single market. No Tory backbenchers are upset about
that. We have an entirely new government setting out a new agenda.
One of the key things that key things that Craig Oliver talked
about was the foreign aid, which is deeply unpopular in some sectors.
Many people want that shifted to social care. I doubt that Philip
Hammond will tamper with foreign aid. Do you think he might unravel
other parts of the manifesto in successive budgets? I don't think
they are going to make a priority of bringing a free vote on fox hunting.
Manifestos are filled with promises. The last manifesto was 25,000 words.
Probably only about 15 words from the Liberal Democrat one! There are
endless subclauses. So why have them? The voters must be going, what
is the point of a manifesto? It's all very well for you to say, they
don't read it, but the manifesto is meant to set out what the government
believes in. Brilliant, that means we can stay in the single market.
It's a promise, you say, this is what we are going to do, vote for us
and then we do it whether you believe it or not, you have to go
out of your way to do it, especially when these Sun readers vote for you
would it not dead, you can't turn round and say, no thanks. He is in a
terrible mess and we have sympathy. The other thing we will see if the
triple lock promised on pensions. The spending on the triple lock and
protecting Gray 's spending OAPs is astronomical, about ?78 billion,
which puts all of these 3 billion here and there on national insurance
rises into a small corner. Philip Hammond has bravely, I think,
already said, we need to look at this. Whether they will be able to
do it in time before the next election, it would be politically
toxic. But if pensioners agree that they want to undertake the triple
lock, they are not complaining about the manifesto. It becomes a badge of
honour to say you are complaining about the manifesto when actually it
is just a policy that you don't like.
Tom Newton Dunn and Polly Mackenzie are staying with us because,
alongside the farrago of the manifesto pledge
was the revelation that Philip Hammond's predecessor
is making good use of the economic and political acumen he gathered
when he was at number 11 Downing Street.
George Osborne declared an annual salary of ?650,000 for four days
work a month from the world's biggest fund management
It will augment his backbencher's salary of ?74,000, and speaking
engagements which bring in north of half a million.
He's certainly not the only former senior politician
to purse a lucrative life - Tony Blair owns the playbook.
But is all this good for politics or bad?
Do we need to talk about the revolving door?
People moving back and forth between government and the private sector.
George Osborne, the former Chancellor, is, we learn,
being paid ?650,000 per year to advise BlackRock,
an investment manager, for four days of work each month.
I think George Osborne would bring a wealth of knowledge
Having been the Chancellor of the Exchequer of this country.
He would also bring very good contacts around
the world in governments and the private sector.
The knowledge and the contacts that somebody like George Osborne
would have accumulated over his tenure are very
valuable for a period of about three to five years.
There is a Whitehall process for approving these things,
the advisory committee on business appointments, Acoba.
Acoba approved Mr Osborne's plans, and they've barred him
But lots of people who have been through Acoba don't
Acoba is this slightly eccentric body where,
when you leave government having been in a senior job,
you have to get their permission in theory before you take
If you disobey them, there is literally nothing
It's hidden, you don't really understand how it works.
They don't unfortunately give you straight answers
to straight questions so, when I went through the process,
I asked them, would I be able to come in and see government
They will not answer questions of that sort.
Which covers their back because, if you put your foot in it,
they will be able to say you broke the rules.
But you're never really told quite what the rules are.
The voluntary nature of Acoba is a particular problem.
48 senior special advisers have left government since December 2014,
but there are published Acoba approvals for just 14.
Jobs are not the only part of an ex-minister's life
Today we learned Gordon Brown is releasing a memoir.
Perhaps surprisingly, there is actually a rule book that
governs what ex-ministers are allowed to put
into their memoirs, the so-called Radcliffe rules.
They can really be boiled down to three principles.
The first is, don't publish anything that damages national security.
The second principle is, don't publish anything that
would damage our relations with other states.
The third principle, though, is a bit odder.
It states that ex-ministers shouldn't criticise any of the civil
In fact, they also state that ministers shouldn't even name
civil servants who gave them specific advice.
In short, the Radcliffe rules basically get in the way
of ex-ministers scrutinising their former departments.
This country does have a revolving door problem in a variety
of sectors, but we should worry as much about middle
ranking officials who slip into the companies they are supposed
to be regulating as we do about ex-ministers.
And we're back with Tom Newton Dunn and Polly Mackenzie.
Tom, is there anything wrong with a man who was Chancellor less than a
year ago, who is still an MP, working for the biggest fund manager
in the world and getting a lot of money for four days of work? That is
a loaded question! Look, it stinks totally. George Osborne will make
the argument that immersing himself in what he would call the real
world, actual business, decision-making and hedge funds is,
informs his ability as an MP to contribute to the public debate.
Personally, I think by simply accepting a ?650,000 per year job
for four days a month, ?30,000 per day, what he is saying is, I now
know I will never be Prime Minister, because nobody would accept him with
something like that. If it brings some expertise to his field, I would
not want to stop it. It is not exactly a new issue. Ever since big
business, MPs, prime ministers, chancellors have all gone into the
private sector. Yes, but I think it's different once you have left
government and parliament and you are just a private citizen. What is
strange about this for me is George Osborne's priorities. He's got a
constituency to represent, a job to do, and he is prioritising jetting
around the world, receiving awards from the Americans, earning ?13,500
per day. For me, it is about the principle of having a job in
Parliament and the juicy details. Wood he did say that this week is
not a bad snapshot of my life. On Monday, I was in New York accepting
a Kissinger Fellowship. On Wednesday, I was in the Commons
speaking about Europe Nato, you can join me in Knutsford in my
constituency. This seems a very quick to spend my time and hopefully
make a contribution to our national life. Fair to say that George
Osborne believes passionately in this northern partnership and, if
you can bring money from whoever, that is good, isn't it? He has a
great lifestyle, but it is all about him and not really about its
constituents. But he would accept that there is life after parliament
but not, as far as you are concerned one they are still getting an MP
salary. It is about time. If you are an MP and you want to spend an
afternoon earning ?13,000 to be not being there, doing something else
with relevance to being an MP, fine. If you are spending four and a half
days jetting to New York, giving speeches in Berlin and then in some
hedge funds of this in the city, is wrong. You should be looking after
your constituents. What about the argument that a lot of people in
parliament could earn a lot more money outside but they choose to
deny themselves a bigger salary than 78,000, so it is acceptable when you
leave office to augment that salary, and that is the way you get a flow
of people into Parliament with greater ambition? You only allow a
new flow of people if you allow the bed blockers, those who have been
Cabinet ministers, to get out of the way. You don't catch people on
?78,000. Look at some of the talent in parliament and you think, we
could probably do better than that. I would probably take a close look
at how much time they are spending in the building doing the job they
are elected to do. They need performance related pay.
Time now for Viewsnight, the part of the programme that actively seeks
argument and dissent, often from surprising places.
So today, when the latest Ipsos Mori STV poll puts support
for Scottish independence at 50%, and Nicola Sturgeon talks
about the commonsense timing of another independence referendum,
here's Richard Dawkins's trenchant view of plebiscites.
Watch this space for more Brexit views.
French actress Isabelle Huppert received her first Oscar nomination
this year for a film that, according to Huppert herself,
The controversy around Elle - which won two Golden Globes
and which opens tomorrow - centres on a horrifically violent
attack and vicious rape which is revisited graphically
during the film, along with further sexual attacks,
and the unusual and shocking way that the woman who is
Elle is the explosive result of the collaboration
between the fearless, often transgressive actress
and the Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, he of Basic Instinct
The thriller-cum-black comedy tests the viewer to the limits.
In a moment, we'll be discussing whether such
a narrative is anti-feminist, or whether we need to accept
a complex, often unpalatable truth that, for some,
extreme violence is part and parcel of sex.
But first - spoiler alert - here are some scenes from the film,
Michele Leblanc starts to track down her attacker
but doesn't go to the police, mainly because of the notoriety
Her father was a psychopath who killed more than 20 people
and who was unmasked when Michele was just ten years old.
As the film unfolds, we have the unsettling
sense that she could be luring her attacker to identify
him or to kill him - or because, in some way,
she is intrigued, even turned on by him.
Well, Newsnight took two women to watch the film -
Polly Neate, chief executive of the group Womens' Aid,
Good evening. Is it important to have such a complex expression of
rape as this and the impact of it? I think it is important to show how
Watmore Neumann -- how one woman's life is completely framed every
angle by male violence. Her father, her lover, by male violence and
entitlement, her lover does not take no for an answer albeit in not in a
physically violent way, and she is raped. But the extreme complexity of
her life means it's very difficult to generalise from her reaction to
what is an horrific assault. Ahead of it there is such controversy and
yet it is important to have a complex view of rape. That is true,
and it is conceded that she grew up with this violent father, but I felt
very much it was an act of bad faith. All this effort put into
creating the female character who wanted to be raped. That is quite an
extreme position. Not really, because if you look at the structure
of the film, and I allowed to spoil it? You can take a couple of things.
She seeks out the situation in which she is going to be raped because she
knows in the rapist is and she gets into the situation with the rapist.
The creative drive is, this person, we have gone to a very deliberated
place where this person for this reason and this reason wants to be
the victim of rape. That may be your interpretation but the point surely
is that what we have is an expression of damage in many ways
and the idea that we should not just see a woman who has been raped as a
victim. This is about an attempt to take some kind of control. I felt
the film to a very great extent was about control. Talking about her
being assailed by male violence at every... Even in her own business
where she is the boss, her much more junior and younger male employees
are still abusing her and harassing her. I don't agree it is an
empowering narrative. It is exploitative of the viewer, it
basically takes all your human empathy, your understanding, the way
you would say, nobody has a right to legislate for the way another woman
feels, nobody has the right to get another woman is feeling to it takes
your sensibilities and uses them to submit you to repeated acts of
sexual violence against a woman. I felt that the main character and all
the women in the film actually, what they are exhibited towards the male
characters was this mix of incredible frustration, anger and a
level of disdain. I felt what it showed was a really toxic society in
which male violence and entitlement on the one hand... Can accept, even
the idea, she was looking for it, which is some of the narrative is
you get, rather you might say that for some people clearly violent sex
is a turn on. Sure, I have no problem with that is the premise for
a film, no problem with the exploration of a character's
sexuality as the premise for anything but I think this was used
instrumentally... For gods you have somebody raped and repeatedly in
flashbacks every five minutes and then again by the same person three
more times so of course it was gratuitous. But she is imagining
different outcomes and I think that is quite interesting, and she will
be able to attack him back. I felt she was struggling for some control
and an opportunity to attack him back. I'm sure it was ever realistic
that would happen and I felt -- I'm not sure. I felt it painted a
society where there was a veneer of wealth, style, that Parisian
elegance but within that still male violence... To be fair, Isabella
Bird said she read the book and wanted it to be put on film and
wanted to do it -- Isabelle Huppert. Does it tell the viewer something
about the possibilities of a real life rape situation? I don't think
you can generalise anything from the reaction to rape of any woman, any
single woman and particularly of somebody with the level of trauma...
Isn't that exactly the point? You are invited into this territory
where your own ecumenical sense of everybody having a right to the own
response did leverage against it in a moral relativism. We are not
allowed to say, yet again the brutalising of the woman is used...
Do you think it is antifeminist? Could have been a comedy of manners,
it didn't brag but it did not have much momentum and there were times
when I thought, this could go on all week. -- it didn't drag. I thought
the rape was being used as a way of forcing the plot forward. It didn't
drag for me, I did find it quite disturbing and I was quite chilled
by it. I felt it portrayed a very complex reaction to a society in
which the one hand you are assailed by male violence and entitlement and
on the other hand women are in a state of anger and almost disdain
towards men. Where do we from there? Thank you very much indeed.
The painter Howard Hodgkin, who died today at the age of 84,
was described by the late Seamus Heaney as "the force that
through the green fuse drives the flower" -
In his very English way, Sir Howard suffered for his art.
His emotions were extraordinarily close to the surface, and his vivid,
seemingly abstract paintings were attempts to capture
He won the Turner Prize and his works could sell
But he always insisted that he hated painting.
Sir Howard, who was 84, gave one of his last interviews
to our Culture Editor, Stephen Smith, who looks back
The artist who suffers for his work is a well worn trope
but Sir Howard Hodgkin gave it a dryly humorous gloss.
Surely such vivid and life affirming paintings as his
I hate the act of painting, I always have done.
People have said to me so often, amateur painters, aren't you lucky
I may be lucky with the result but having to go through the horrors
of painting a picture is not something I ever look forward to.
His canvases, or rather boards, sometimes brooded over for years,
were attempts to capture emotions he felt in certain places and times.
Good luck getting him to explain further.
If I had the temerity to ask you what prompted that
picture, you would give me an old-fashioned look essentially.
India held great fascination for Hodgkin and was a big
The impressions were stored up and dwelt on back in the studio,
a converted dairy opposite the British Museum in London.
And there are lots of walls for me to stare at and...
Our viewers shouldn't get the impression that you're staring
at them bereft of inspiration, quite the reverse, is that right?
Absolutely right, and it's simply so that I can continually readjust
I used to make drawings, do all sorts of obvious things.
And now I just get in there and do it, partly because I can feel time's
winged chariot behind me all the time.
It's been a great plus knowing that my days are numbered but...
Many of us suffer a deterioration of our eyesight as we get older.
That's of course particularly troubling for a painter,
I've been completely spared it but I think that other things have
Is that a fair exchange, would you say?
Sir Howard Hodgkin, whose death was announced today.
Just before we go, what do you get if you cross the French
urban sport of Parkour and the iconic opening scene
The Scottish freerunner Robbie Griffith decided to find out.
Choose good health, low cholesterol and personal well-being.
Choose an invigorated sense of self-worth.
Choose to defy Newton's laws of motion.
Choose to be breathless, tackling the obstacles
Choose to travel, explore, creating experiences.
Choose a mind-stimulating, physically strengthening pursuit
that gets your heart pumping like never before.
We saw spring sunshine across many parts of the country on Thursday.
Friday brings us rather more cloud, but many places staying dry.
With Kirsty Wark. The Government is under pressure over the National Insurance hike. Plus, George Osborne's new job, Richard Dawkins on Brexit, Howard Hodgkin remembered and what can the French film Elle tell us about rape?