With Evan Davis. Britain's importantance, the legal fight for a baby's life, Turkey, honour-based violence and men, and black representation.
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We've become used to seeing ourselves among the big players
Is it time to scale down our sense of self importance?
Boris Johnson didn't get his way at the G7 foreign
Was he naive to think he could push his weight around?
All we can say is he got himself out on a limb and the
branch was cut off in Lucca Italy at the G-7 meeting.
We'll look at the state of foreign policy, and ask if we should start
thinking of ourselves as a medium-sized nation?
Also tonight, Katie Razzall has been looking at the hidden side of honour
violence; the men who have been victims of forced marriage,
There is a lot of shame and pride and ego involved.
This is wrong, it's dirty, we're going to beat you up,
we're going to put a Black and Decker drill up your arse.
We discuss the representation of black people, and black
But do those working in the industry feel like times are changing?
Yesterday foreign secretary Boris Johnson had a plan
for targeted sanctions against Russia, as a response to its
Mr Johnson was public in promoting his idea,
and he took it to the G7 foreign ministers meeting in Lucca
Sanctions weren't even mentioned in the communique.
The view that prevailed was summarised by the Italian host,
that "we must not push Russia into a corner".
Now what does this say about British foreign policy?
For some, it is simply a Boris Johnson fail -
that he pushed his plan without knowing
But for others, it speaks to a diminished
That we should never expect the world's players,
to be hanging on our every word or idea.
We'll talk about that shortly, but first here's Mark Urban.
The Lucca meeting offered western Foreign Ministers a chance
for a united response to Syria's chemical weapons strike,
Boris Johnson ended up in a lonely position of proposing new sanctions,
and even the idea of pressuring the Kremlin over Syria
We want to create a future for Syria that is stable and secure.
And so Russia can be a part of that future and play an important role,
or Russia can maintain its alliance with this group which we believe
isn't going to serve Russia's interests long term.
As the US Secretary of State carried that message off to Moscow
one thing was clear, Britain's attempt to get the other
leading economies to buy into sanctions had misfired,
drawing some American backing but little from any other quarter.
All we can say is he got himself out on a limb and the branch was cut off
I think it is extremely unwise to go out and say this
is what we are going to try and get when probably your advisers
already know that you are not going to shift the Germans
or the Italians, at least, to name but two.
And as Rex Tillerson sits down with the Russian Foreign Minister
he knows that Sergei Lavrov has batted away every attempt the West
has made for five years to get the Kremlin to push Bashar al-Assad
-- And what happened in Lucca won't have strengthened the American hand.
Well, I think first of all it was a United States,
I always was a bit suspicious about its wisdom, because there
has to be some doubt as to whether further sanctions
would make any impact given that they were going to be targeted
against individuals and unlikely to change the Kremlin's view.
But also what we've now got is actually a worse situation
Because Tillerson will now be told by the Russians
when he sees Lavrov, well, you don't even
Of course there is one difference this time,
which is the recent American missile strikes on a Syrian air base.
Whether that will leverage American diplomacy at Moscow
That hope springs eternal on the part of American officials,
no matter what their political party, that somehow the Russians
are going to ditch al-Assad and embrace somebody else.
And I think that is a profound misreading of Russian interests.
This was what kept John Kerry alive, apparently, in the last two years
I can't imagine to myself that the Trump administration
Britain's intervention at the G-7 may well have been well-intentioned
but has it just exposed the weakness of this country's
Last week's chemical weapon attack came at precisely the moment that
many Western countries had been gradually accepting they might have
to put up with the Bashar al-Assad government and wanted to do
something to improve their relations with the Kremlin at the same time.
So any idea for targeted sanctions coming from the desk
of the British Foreign Secretary was never really going to fly
Instead, as so many times during the Syrian civil War,
Western countries are set to put their own wider
For US Russian relations that takes some of the poison and some
of the heat out of the relationship and then move on to try and sort out
a few things in the world, which includes the chaos
So in Moscow they will talk about Syria, but the bigger
For the Trump administration has been clear about its desire
for better relations with Russia, and it still seems intent on that.
Well, it's particularly intriguing to ask if Britain needs to adjust
We are 0.9 per cent of the world population, the ninth largest
economy measured properly, and the fifth largest
Jeremy Shapiro is research director at the European Council
on Foreign Relations, and used to work at the US
State Department advising Hillary Clinton on the Middle East.
Emily Thornberry is the shadow foreign secretary.
Good evening. Jeremy, uninterested in your perspective. Do you think
the expectation that Boris goes in and says what he would like
everybody gathers round, says yes or no, is that just one way of thinking
about it? -- I am interested in your perspective. Great Britain has a
great history of diplomacy. It likes to think of itself as a great power.
But it has been a medium power for decades now. It has punched above
its weight during those decades because it had a good relationship
with the US, and it has been a member of the EU. And it has managed
to work both sides of that I/O and punch its weight diplomatically. But
with the Brexit decision those days are, sort of, over. -- both sides of
that aisle. Do you accept that? I think we have navigated our foreign
policy between the EU and America and our relationships with both are
profoundly changing. I think you underplay the many positives we have
as a country. We can continue to punch above our weight. We have a
place in the Security Council. We don't need to be second fiddle to
the Americans there. We could have a distinctive voice. People speak
English. We have a huge amount of soft power. We spend vast amounts of
money on aid. We might be the worlds biggest when it comes to the
Americans... A large amount of foreign ministers have been educated
in Britain. At an important time in their lives they fall in love with
this country. We spent a lot of money on defence... Boris has
written this article... I will tell you the difference I have with him.
In order to be influential you have to have... Today was about tactics.
It was completely the wrong one. We had to take advantage of the fact
that we have a massive brains trust in the Foreign Office. The best and
brightest of Britain go out for this country. That has been cut by 40%,
it has been undermined, it has an eccentric, at least, you know,
Foreign Secretary, that perhaps undermined them. And Brexit has been
taken away from the Foreign Office and given to another department...
The Foreign Office didn't want to come on this evening. In some ways,
Jeremy, you have a grand vision of Britain as a great power. Spend more
on the Foreign Office, you could have more the Britannia is floating
around... I'm not talking about that. We should hold our heads up
high and be more confident about ourselves.
-- more royal Britannias floating around. That's great. All of the
things you've talked about our British strengths. But I can tell
you they are more keenly felt inside this country rather than outside.
When I was in the State Department we didn't focus on that. We barely
noticed it. If you look at the article in the New York Times about
the G-7 meeting, it barely mentions Britain. I looked at several of them
in other countries. They didn't mention Boris Johnson. But it was
buried under... They did, it was buried, he was not seen as the
story. The story was the US, the Russians, the Italians, it was not
Britain. Yet if you read the British press's coverage it was all about
Boris Johnson's Fabius, all of the tactics you were covering. King of
what you said was right. -- Boris Johnson's failures. Let's focus on
the Middle East. Our historic links with the Middle East are profound.
We have an understanding. America doesn't have that. As a close ally
of America we can, hopefully, if we were prepared to stand up to the
president and say no, you've got that wrong, actually this is a
better way of approaching things, we would have more clarity. That is the
key point. -- we would have more clout. Would anybody listen to us if
we deviated from the US? We are essentially the deputy to the US
sheriff and everybody listens to the deputy and we need to agree. If we
disagree with the US people will listen, do you agree with that? You
pick your battles, you do not disagree with everything. Jeremy?
Look at what happened before the Trump administration took over on
the Israel Palestine issue. The government betrayed its position
from a week before. Essentially attacked the Obama administration on
its Security Council resolution that the UK Government had drafted for
us. And voted for it. To me what that indicated was that the UK
Government was afraid to be separate from the new American
administration. And you can say... It is a sell-out. Maybe, but I think
it is indicative of a larger problem any UK Government would have. Emily,
do you think it would be difficult for politicians to tell the British
public would Jeremy is saying? Look, guys, we are as important as Norway,
maybe more, but we are a medium-sized power, we will find it
difficult to swagger about, would you say that? I wouldn't say we have
the same influence as Norway. We are not a superpower. Clearly. But I
think we have and should continue to have much more influence than the
size of our country because of all of the positives we have in our
history and culturally what we have. And our connections. And we need to
take advantage of that. Our place in international institutions is
pivotal. We have been responsible for legal imperialism in the way
we've exported human rights. We draft of the human rights which is
now being used throughout. Which is why it is damaging to this
government so we are not so keen on that like we used to be. Do you
think soft power is more important than defence power? Give us some
more advice. Is it spending more on defence, always the aid Budget that
doesn't it? Soft power is what people appealed
to when they want to talk about the power asset too nebulous to pin
down. There is something real to it but hard to get your hands around
and it does not move G-7 meetings. If we want to be heard above the
cacophony of noise on foreign policy, if we had foreign policy
that was a bit more principled unpredictable and people could
understand the basis for decisions we could have a great deal more
influence. Thank you both very much. It's been a year in which
experts have been pitted But there is no case of that sadder
than the one involving Charlie Gard, the eight month old baby
with severe brain damage. The doctors at Great Ormond Street,
think he must allowed to die peacefully, his parents
are desperate for him to have a last shot at an experimental
treatment in the US. They've raised the money for that,
but to their bitter disappointment, the High Court found in favour
of the medical professionals today. The parents' lawyer expressed
their feelings after the verdict. Connie and Chris are facing every
parent's worst nightmare, they are struggling to understand
why the court has not at least given Charlie the chance
of treatment in America. The medical evidence is complex
and the treatment offered These are not easy issues
and they remain utterly committed, like any parent, to wanting
to do their outmost for their child. the judge and everybody who reads
about the case, all have nothing but respect and sympathy
for the parents, Connie and Chris Well, Professor Dominic Wilkinson
is the Director of Medical Ethics at the Oxford Uehiro Centre
and Sarah Barclay is the director Sarah also happens to sit
on the Clinical Ethics Committee at Great Ormond Street Hospital,
but is not tonight representing them Let's put the case of Charlie aside
and talk general principles. Dominic, how do the experts decide,
how do the professionals decide. What is in the interests of this
child or a child in general. In these very difficult cases all
anyone is trying to do is work out what is best for the child. They
look at the different treatment options, they weigh up the risks and
benefits of those different alternatives. And there is going to
be different evidence that people look at. We focus on the individual
and not on the statistics. And safer this child, does this particular
experimental treatment or perhaps mainstream -- mainstream treatment,
to the risks outweigh the benefits. There doing it, thinking about it in
a spreadsheet mentality rather than an emotional mentality because I
suppose in a way the question is which is more valid,? We should not
undertake the role that emotion plays in any of our decisions. Of
course these are taken very seriously and to the heart of all
professionals involved. There are also trying to weigh up as
impartially as they can the information available about the
different treatment options. One of the reasons this dispute arises is
because people look at the evidence and they weighed up in different
ways, the parents, the professionals, and they come to
different conclusions. Often with time and careful thought and
conversation, it is possible to reach agreement but sometimes not.
Sarah, you handle the process of trying to manage some of these
complicated and difficult relationships. What is it that makes
someone break down. I think that is an important question, the point at
which a situation which is desperately painful and complex
become something more confrontational and something we
might describe as a conflict. And so our work has been focused for the
last few years on trying to unpick what it is that causes these
situations to occur. And often not always but often, it is about
communication breaking down, trust breaking down between the treating
team on the one team and the parents on the other. And when that begins
to happen, you get a situation which is entrenched and when that goes to
court and becomes a very public conflict, with the language of the
battlefield, the winning and losing, in these situations there can be no
real winners and losers. At the heart of it is a very sick child.
What we would try to do is try and see it that you can begin to work
with teams of clinicians to say when is this beginning to happen, what
can we do to get in there earlier. Is it harder with parents with young
children then it would be perhaps with a spouse, a husband or wife
brain-damaged, is there something about the bond of the parent to a
recently born child that makes it more complicated? It is incredibly
powerful and strong and of course these are small, newborn babies in
many cases and the parents are only just beginning to get to know them
but their role as parents they feel is absolutely to be the advocate for
that child. All research will show even if there is a minute percentage
chance of success of any kind of treatment, they will jump at that
chance. As parents that is quite understandable. Why would you ever
want to stand in the way of the parents being the decider of what
it's worth taking a risk on or not? Parents are at the heart of the
decisions we make in intensive care, that I make when I'm working with
very sick babies. And rightly so. But there are limits to the
decisions parents can make. We are certain for example the treatment
would benefit a child and we do not think it is parents -- it is right
for parents to refuse treatment, chemotherapy for example that would
certainly improve the chances of a child. On the other hand when
parents request something that clinicians feel certain would do
more harm than good... People do get it wrong sometimes. One of the
things we try to do or should try to do is to be humble and acknowledge
our uncertainty and there are going to be times where we are more
uncertain than others. Where we are uncertain parents should have a
fundamental role in these decisions. But sadly where we've come believe
that a treatment cannot help, and in fact will do more harm than good, it
is important that we make that does that decision that we have to make.
Thank you both very much. -- that's sad decision.
Time for a quick spot of Viewsnight now.
This Sunday there's a referendum in Turkey -
it's about a proposal to change the constitution, giving
the president more power and getting rid of the post of Prime Minister.
It is fair to say it is controversial; and here is Turkish
author, Elif Safak to offer an opinion on it.
Hear the words honour-based violence, and most of us will assume
the victims in any particular case, are women.
Coming from conservative religious communities,
they can find themselves having to hide anything from sexual abuse
to domestic violence to their being gay, because to speak
out would potentially dishonour their families.
At worst, that puts their own lives at risk.
It's not much talked about, and frankly to most of us honour
punishment of relatives is incomprehensible,
but Newsnight has been speaking to men trapped in this predicament.
Katie Razzall has this special report.
What would members of the community think?
I could have been disowned, I could have been forced to marry
Being abused, you associate with women in the Asian community.
Up to now when we talk about online abuse we tend to think of women.
But Newsnight has uncovered another side to honour violence.
And found whole groups of men silenced and ignored.
Men can be hidden victims, of forced marriage, physical
They're subject to the same cultural codes of kinship
and honour as women, but they're telling
Men like this British imam, who we are calling Meneer.
He asked us to disguise his identity to protect him from repercussions.
We are trained from a young age to keep the family honour intact.
Even if it means that you might have experienced abuse or you might have
At the age of ten to 11 if I remember correctly,
a relative of mine used to come and visit us from overseas.
And he would fondle, kiss, and he raped me once.
And I remember that incident very clearly.
It affected me to such an extent that about ten years ago
I was on the point and on the verge of committing suicide
and ending my life, despite the fact that I have been working as an imam
and as a teacher for almost 25, 30 years.
After decades of torment, Meneer finally told his family
My family members, some of them were shocked.
But again, they did not want me to take it further.
And again, the reason is about honour, shame,
It's about honour and fear of my life.
One honour-based violence charity, Karma Nirvana, told Newsnight
between 2015 and 2016, it saw an increase in men
And Virgina International said from having no male
victims contacting them, now one in five of their
But still it's thought the majority don't talk to anyone.
We've had contact with more than 70 alleged victims.
These men have been shamed into silence and shockingly,
many told us they'd contemplated suicide
because of the torment they have gone through
Being gay can dishonour a family and the wider community.
From a young age he understood his homosexuality didn't fit
Definitely I feared my life, I thought I could be killed.
And that wasn't a joke, that was real.
I felt I would be disowned for sure, and kicked out of the house.
Definitely, I went through depression, suicidal tendencies.
I used to think about it, yes, especially when I was at university,
I used to think about throwing myself off the balcony or taking
I wanted to find out more about these codes of honour
and shame that silence men like Majinda.
Charity worker Rani Bilku invited Newsnight to
These practices have little to do with religion.
And apply across communities, be they Hindu, Muslim, or Sikh.
The concept of shame, it dishonours the whole community
You're looking at the immediate family, you're looking
at the community as a whole and that community can also belong
to the community back home from where they've come from.
In another part of Britain another man too ashamed to be identified.
Haroun has escaped what he claims was an abusive marriage.
But still fears the consequences of talking openly.
My ex abused me financially, psychologically, emotionally.
She had been doing it for a number of years.
I didn't speak up before because I was afraid.
Which led me to attempt suicide because I knew I had two choices.
Either die, or live with the torture.
Being abused you associate with women in the Asian community.
If you associate it with men, it's like she's wearing
That extra pressure is on you, it leads to other things.
Today's video is about my coming out story.
Majinda now lives openly as a gay Sikh.
He has a YouTube channel and a book offering advice to South Asians
about how to come out to the parents.
-- about how to come out to their parents.
People I knew were marrying, you know, women, even though
they were gay, or they were killing themselves, having suicide.
I came out via SMS when I was living in the Middle East.
And that's the worst, well, I don't know, there's
And what did being gay mean to your parents?
You had sent them this text, what did they take from that?
My mum having grown up in India, she had seen the Hijra population
So that is the only concept she has of what is being non-straight.
And she thought I was going to wear a sari and that
And then she was like, I remember you had a penis
when you were born, like, do you still have a penis?
And my dad, who did have education in the UK for a few years,
he thought I had a mental condition which meant that I couldn't work.
And he told my mum I will work double hours at work
His mum has been on quite a journey since.
Even appearing in one of his videos about how to react to a gay child.
There's a lot of shame and pride and ego involved,
this is wrong, it's dirty, they're going to beat you up.
And put a Black Decker drill up your arse.
We're going to come and knock you out, you know,
your sister is getting married, we're going to tell her in-laws
In some cases keeping silent to protect family honour
means abusers get away with serious criminal offences.
Maneer only felt able to talk about what happened to him
when his work as an imam put him in touch with other survivors.
Up until that point I thought I was probably the only person
who had probably experienced such a thing.
After listening to at least 30, 40 case studies of young Muslim
males and some females in this country who have experienced also
abuses of a sexual nature, and some by clergy, I felt that
Otherwise I would be answerable to God.
There are individuals in our communities who have
behaved in a manner which is totally unacceptable.
What are the reasons why your community might think it
would be a bad idea for you to talk about these sorts of issues?
The Muslim community is like in a dock at the moment,
everybody everywhere from every corner is scrutinising the Muslims
for whatever they do, from what they wear,
what they eat, what they do, how they behave.
And bringing about something like this will only add,
you know, to the problems of the Muslim community.
However, I see it slightly differently.
I believe that for a long time perpetrators of these type
of offences, which are very serious in my eyes, I believe, have got away
with it by using this card, that it will bring disrepute
Maneer has not pressed charges against his relative,
Perhaps most shockingly, he says his abuser went
Katie Razzall with that report and for details of organisations
which offer advice and support with forced marriage or honour
violence, go online to bbc.co.uk/actionline.
On Sunday, a new six part drama called Guerilla hits the small
Two lovers take a stand amid the racial struggle of 1970s London.
It's a storyline that focusses on the black
Raising the question as to whether there is enough such
portrayal in mainstream film and drama.
Historian and broadcaster, David Olusoga thinks he might
This time last year and the Oscars were being widely condemned
after not a single non-white nominee had appeared in any
Twitter burst into action, condemning the Academy under
A year later and the film Moonlight, a stunning African-American
coming-of-age story, won the Best Picture Oscar.
TV, too, has undergone something of a transformation.
In America there's been a lavish remake of the classic
1970s miniseries, Roots, which starred the British actor
On the BBC we've had Undercover, a drama in which the lead characters
played by Sophie Okonedo and Adrian Lester,
were what academics who studied cinema call "happen
They were black, but race wasn't central to the story.
All the speeches, the empty rhetoric, they do nothing.
And this week Sky Atlantic premiers Guerilla, a drama set amidst
the racial tensions of early 1970s London.
There's also new feature documentaries that
13th uncovers a loophole in the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution,
A loophole that historically has weaponised the US criminal justice
The story of the negro in America is the story of America.
While I'm Not Your Negro is an award-winning biopic of one
of America's greatest writers and sages.
Has Hollywood and TV on both sides of the Atlantic had an epiphany,
or has this just been a good year, a blip?
David Olusoga is with us and we're also joined by the director
Good evening. David, we know you are optimistic, you have seen a lot
going on, do you feel that way? No. CHUCKLES
If we look at the UK situation, if you go back to the 1970s we had a
series like Empire Road, we had a cop series, which was the first
black detective series. We also had in the 1980s a spate of comedies. No
Problem. On the BBC also commissioned some TV series. -- and
the BBC also commissioned some TV series. Where is the black voice
now? Where are the writers? Where are the stories being told on a
consistent basis? We had ongoing series in the 1970s and 1980s but I
don't see that now. Are you excited by Gorilla coming out? -- Guerilla
coming out? I don't know about it, I don't know who the writers are. As
this is not opened up something? Suddenly a realisation that this was
a set of powerful stories and great characters and actors, and maybe
this is something people have cottoned on to, but has he not hew
out of that feeling? I am excited about Guerilla. I'm also excited
that Idris Elba was not only starring in it but he's also the
producer. I think what is different from the 70s, 80s and 90s, we now
have a company of some of the greatest black actors we've ever
produced. This golden generation of British black actors who are sliding
across the world. And some of them like Idris are using their megastar
power in television and cinema on both sides of the Atlantic. That is
how Hollywood works. We talk about people being players. We've not had
that before. I'm more concerned about the British situation because
we often get into the American situation. But he became a star
because he went to America because he didn't get any opportunities
here. My issue is that the actors are leaving here to go to America
because they don't have the opportunities. That is my issue. If
we focus on the British situation, there is not the development that we
have seen previously. And I am looking at the writers, where are
the Black writers in British television, the black directors?
These are the storytellers. For me, we can look at the American
situation, which has its differences and contradictions, but I am
focusing on the UK. We need statistics to see if it is getting
better or worst... We can know by looking at where is the presence?
What is the presence of black content? You used this interesting
phrase, happened to be black characters, which is more important
for portrayal and diversity? Is it black themed dramas that are about
the black experience, or is it mainstream dramas, or any eternal
narratives that affect everybody, and in which there are black
characters, it is not about them being black? It is both. If you ask
a black actor they would like to be involved in roles where they can
talk about the world they come from, their experiences of their families
and communities, but they'd also like to be on Albert Square. They
would like to be a policeman... We are talking about the menu of things
that is available. You can have characters which are coming from a
non-specific place, and you can have characters and stories which are
race specific. That is part of the menu. My point is we are not seeing
the culturally specific, because it makes us grow as a society. It
introduces us to new worlds. We are not progressing in that area. Is the
problem... For good or bad, there is the tyranny of the majority. If 85%
of people are not vegetarians, you will find meet in most
restaurants... -- meat in most restaurants. I don't accept that.
The problem is, as an independent film-maker, I come across writers
who are talented but they cannot get a foothold in television or movies.
So if I am trying to get a product off the ground with a writer, the
writer has no track record, so we end up in a vicious cycle.
Absolutely. We need the writers, we need to stories, because it helps
the menu, it helps make society much better place. We must leave it to
there. Thank you, David. That is it for tonight.
Before we go, you've probably all seen the United Airlines video
by now, several times, where a passenger refuses to give
up his seat on an overbooked flight and airport security are summoned
to 're-accomodate' him in an unconventionally forceful way.
So we leave you with this United Airlines Customer Care
Training Video that's doing the rounds.
Stewardess, please, let me handle this.