19/02/2018 Newsnight


19/02/2018

In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Emily Maitlis.


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Tonight, powerful images

from Washington as America's young

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stage a lie-in outside White House

to demand a change to gun laws.

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President Trump backs

calls for checks

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on those buying weapons.

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Nobody is now better

placed to bring gun owners

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into a more reasoned debate.

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But will he choose

to fight the fight?

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We'll ask the NRA.

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Also tonight...

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Does exploitation cut both ways?

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I'll ask the Chippendales if they

feel objectified for their looks.

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Do you enjoy the touching?

I do

enjoy the touching but it is mostly

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because... It isn't so much the

touching itself, people are having

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fun.

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And as Iceland proposes a ban

on male circumcision,

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we'll ask whether the practice

is a violation or a religious right?

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Good evening.

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The pressure to talk about gun laws

is now coming from America's young.

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Students in Florida who survived

last week's mass shooting have

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received the support of others

around the nation.

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Marches are being planned all over

America to amplify their message

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of stricter gun control.

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And when school kids,

showing a maturity and a drive

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their elders may have lost,

threaten to march on Washington,

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the optics don't look

good for a President.

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Perhaps with that in mind,

President Trump today

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signalled his support

for a cross-party effort

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to improve the national system

of background checks.

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It's a small move.

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And, since being in office,

he's rolled back more

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checks than he's created.

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But the irony is perhaps this one -

a man who has no particular affinity

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with gun culture but is backed

squarely by the rump

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of those who do - including

the National Rifle Association -

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could not be better placed to change

one of the most critical,

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corrosive terrors of modern America.

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Will he?

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Having mulled it over at his Florida

country club this weekend, President

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Trump is ready to shift ground on

gun control.

Donald Trump has

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signalled through his press

secretary that he is interested in

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considering and potentially

supporting a bipartisan bill by two

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senators that were tried to close

loopholes in the national and

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criminal background check system to

make it harder for felons to

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purchase guns and to be more

effective in checking registration

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and licensing before things are

sold. I would not call that a

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rethink. This legislation has been

floating around for a while.

It's a

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small step, for sure, but the

Americans love their guns and it's

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striking for the fact it is almost

exactly one year ago President Trump

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rolled back Obama registration rolls

that made it harder for those

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mentally ill to buy guns.

Given his

emphatic support for what he'd turn

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gun rights, a pro-gun position, the

measure you are referring to be

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obtained to people with mental

issues being able to buy guns. More

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broadly, he has been extremely

supportive of those who favour the

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second Amendment.

With the first of

the Florida victims buried yesterday

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and further funerals do -- chew,

this could signal a change. A huge

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march has been called for next month

and the massacre's survivors are

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taking aim at the gun lobby and its

captive politicians.

This is our

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opportunity to talk to President

Trump, Governor Rick Scott and the

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State Senator to make sure that they

know we are talking directly to them

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and all other members of the United

States government that are being

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funded by the NRA to tell them now

is the time to get on the right side

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of this.

So, Trump consulted people

at his golf club, reportedly asking

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about tighter checks and bans on

selling assault weapons to under

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21s. Quite different from his pledge

at the NRA convention.

You have a

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true friend and champion in the

White House, no longer will federal

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agencies be coming after law-abiding

gun owners.

Until today, the

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president focused on first

responders and characterise the

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Florida shooting in terms of mental

illness but gun-control is creeping

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onto the agenda. Years ago,

trumpeted right in favour of it but,

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given the millions he has taken from

the gun lobby, today's move may be

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tactical in nature.

It seems as

though his new-found support for gun

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control, especially this very basic

not at all controversial

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legislation, is a way to regain

cover, to say he's doing something,

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to show he cares. Even though it

isn't much of anything he has done.

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But the Florida victims, both those

whose names were recited by

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protesters today, and the articulate

survivors, are having an impact. If

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they can build momentum, Trump could

face a more serious reckoning, one

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which would require him to push it

-- position himself as the NRA's

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friend and in favour of

restrictions.

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Joining me now from Dallas

is Antonia Okafor - she's a member

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of the National Rifle Association

and founded Empowered,

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an organisation to promote armed

self defence in US colleges.

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You support an organisation most

people marching today find abhorrent

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and vile, what is your response to

them?

That isn't true for all young

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people in America. As a millennial,

I support the NRA and the gun rights

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movements and groups, and there are

thousands if not millions of young

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people who also believe it is about

empowering few law-abiding citizens

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who are doing the right and correct

thing, the rights we want to protect

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and defend when the situation comes.

So I don't think... Groups like

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Bloomberg, they are not

representative of all young people

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in America.

This is a hard one, as I

know you know, for a British

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audience. Take us inside the mind of

an NRA member. Did what happened in

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Florida shift your support at all?

Did what happened in Vegas last year

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shift your support at all? Do these

register for you? Absolutely and it

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registered for millions of

Americans.

If not worldwide. There

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was a study which showed that

American people are sick and tired

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of what people would call

gun-control, it isn't working. I

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grew up in an era when we had

Columbine, and those situations are

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why I have the position that

law-abiding citizens, even students

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on campus, should be able to protect

themselves. Just because these

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things happen doesn't mean we are

going to come to agreement on how we

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should proceed in the future. I

believe that...

The solution is more

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guns? More arming, more students? Is

that honestly how you see it?

The

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solution is that the right people

have firearms, the right people are

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the ones when something like what

happened at the shooting in Florida,

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when we expect the students and

administrators to defend our

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students, but we don't give them to

the tools to defend them, that is

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the problem. People are ready,

especially now, to try something

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different because what has been

happening before isn't working.

Quds

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trying something different been

making gun laws tighter? When you

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see the impassioned voice of Emma

Gonzalez, when you see the students

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staging a sit in to represent

corpses of their colleagues and

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friends killed, do you not start to

think you might be on the wrong side

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of history here?

No. I am not on the

wrong side of history, I am on the

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right side of history. If anything,

we can look at Baltimore, Saint

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Lewis, Chicago who have the

strictest gun laws in America to

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date but, yet, we are seeing

hundreds of people killed every day.

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What has been going on in terms of

gun control isn't working so I am

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saying people are sick of gun

control when nothing is changing.

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The presidency looks worried today.

Probably the optics of young people

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marching on Washington after their

colleagues and friends have died

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isn't good for a president that has

been so heavily financially backed

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by the NRA. Is he right to start to

look again at background checks?

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Well, Sandy Hook happened during

President Obama's term.

And he did

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look at those checks.

I'm sorry?

He

did try to introduce measures, that

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is the difference between them,

isn't it?

No, President Trump has

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said he was going to look at mental

health reform. He said he's going to

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look into a background check system.

The bill we are talking about, that

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took place in November after what

happened in Texas. It is really

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looking into what we should already

have implemented. The Air Force one

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to talk about the domestic abuse

that happened in South Texas with

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the perpetrator. They failed with

the FBI to go multiple times to

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restrict this person from having a

firearm. Nobody is against that. We

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are against making it harder for

Laura biding citizens who just want

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to make sure they are able to

protect themselves. One of the

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suggestions is we should change it

from 18 to 21. We have people as

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young as seven who grew up with

hunting rifles.

With the greatest

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respect, though, the young people

marching on Washington today are not

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looking at that. They are saying we

need, altogether, stronger controls

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and we will go after the legislators

that are supported and financed by

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the NRA. Should that worry

legislators?

No, it shouldn't.

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Again, I am saying these people are

not representative of all Americans

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when it comes to this issue. We have

to make different ideas of what it

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looks like. Of course, we want to

make sure students are safer. But

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unfortunately we continue to think

gun control is the answer. I'm here

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to say that isn't true and there are

millions behind me who believe that

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as well.

Thank you for joining us.

You can read it as reassurance or as

0:11:370:11:43

a climb-down but are the Brexit

secretary will seek to quell fears.

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David Davis will talk of those

who sense Brexit leading

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to an Anglo-Saxon race

to the bottom, a Mad Max style world

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borrowed from dystopian fiction.

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And he will explain why that's

not going to happen.

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Our political editor,

Nick Watt, has some

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of the details and joins me now.

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So, that is good news? That

arresting phrase, Mad Max, that

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should make the front page of the

Guardian.

What is David Davis

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saying? He says there are people in

the EU who are concerned the UK will

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use brake-mac said. He says they

fear Brexit could fear to an

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Anglo-Saxon race to the bottom with

Britain plunged into a Mad Max style

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world borrowed from dystopian

fiction. What is he saying? He's

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saying the UK has high standards and

will continue to have high standards

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and doesn't want to use Brexit to

undercut the EU bike/ it taxes and

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regulation. And what he is doing is

burying the Singapore model. This

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was the model in the dim distance

past of January last year when

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Philip Hammond said if the EU fails

to agree a deal with the UK, maybe

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the UK will have to think of

remodelling its economy. There is

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and if in his speech. He says the EU

does need to agree a free-trade deal

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the UK. That needs to include

financial services and, if that

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happens, you can then have the

mutual recognition by the UK and EU

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of those high standards.

Who is he

talking to? Remainers? The hard-core

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Brexiteers?

This is one of a series

of speeches by Cabinet ministers in

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the run-up to the march summit where

EU leaders are meant to agree the

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guidelines on the future trade

negotiations. Interestingly, the CBI

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tonight, they say that they are

pleased David Davis is talking about

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high standards. They say it is

important to align rules and have no

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divergence. The government is saying

you're missing the point. What we're

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talking about is mutual recognition,

as I was saying, for financial

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services that is breaking new ground

because it isn't going to be about

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passports, and it isn't about this

idea of equivalence where the UK

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would say we will have the

equivalent rules to the EU. That

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wouldn't be any good because that

would be a supplicant. This is going

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along with mutual recognition, an

idea that has been put together by

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Mark Hoban, the former Conservative

city minister.

OK, thank you.

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When Formula One confirmed

at the end of last month that

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grid girls would no longer be used

in its world championships,

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a new conversation began.

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Are the women who do a job

they enjoy now told they're

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demeaning themselves by doing them?

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And should the same standards apply

to men who use their looks,

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their bodies and their sexuality

in their daily work?

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Or do we have different standards?

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I went to meet one of the most famed

male adult entertainment

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acts in the business,

the Chippendales.

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They dance, they striptease,

and they get endlessly

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touched by their audience.

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I wanted to know if they felt

a cultural shift now

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and if they would describe their own

jobs as exploitative and demeaning?

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MUSIC PLAYS

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The Chippendales describe their work

as half show, half party -

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a male revue that, in their words,

reveals a little more.

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They call it having

fun with the audience.

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You'll see hen nights

and birthday girls celebrating

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at the Rio Theater in Las Vegas,

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but you'll see men here too -

gay and straight.

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Some women even

bring their partners.

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It's just a fun night out.

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Have you seen the

Chippendales before?

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I'm actually a regular,

I'm a local groupie,

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I love to come out and support them,

the guys are awesome.

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They dance with you,

sometimes they'll pick you up,

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it's just clean fun.

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You don't have to worry

about anyone trying to go home

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like if you went out to a club,

it's just good, clean fun.

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During the course of the evening,

encompassing around

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15 dance routines, fancy

costume changes and roleplay,

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women are able to participate

as much or as little as they like.

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Touching is encouraged -

above the waist only.

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But the hands, they confided,

tend to get everywhere.

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So what brings me to

a Chippendales show?

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Well, we've all been asking

a lot of questions recently -

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about abuse, objectification,

on where to draw the line

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between appropriate

and inappropriate sexual behaviour.

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We have mainly, rightly,

focused on women -

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be it at the Presidents Club dinners

or on the Formula One grid.

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But what happens if we turn

it around and ask professional

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men the same questions?

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Are the responses the same?

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Do they feel objectified, belittled,

in the same way many

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women have described?

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I was here anyway on holiday,

so I thought I'd try to find out

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if the Me Too movement

had left its mark

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on men who choose striptease

entertainment for a living.

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I talked to Ryan Kelsey,

the Chippendales' dance captain.

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He's 32, and he's been with

the company for four years.

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On an average night, how many hands

would you say touch you?

0:16:540:16:57

Oh, that is a great question.

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Probably somewhere in the 40,

50 range, I would guess.

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I mean, we run through our crowd,

our house holds a max of about 350

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here, so even in a totally full

night, if you pass through

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the audience, you're interacting

with a bunch of people.

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We call them crowd runs,

so my crowd run, you know,

0:17:150:17:19

tries to get to as

many people as we can.

0:17:190:17:21

We try not to stay in one area

too long

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so everyone gets the maximum

Chippendales experience.

0:17:240:17:28

And do you enjoy that?

I love it.

0:17:280:17:30

Do you enjoy the touching?

0:17:300:17:31

I do, I do enjoy the touching.

0:17:310:17:33

But it's mostly because...

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It's not so much the touching

itself, I mean, people

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are having fun, you know,

yes, again, it's cheeky,

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but you see the brightness

in their eyes, they're smiling,

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they're laughing, they're giggly,

you walk away, they giggle

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with their friends.

0:17:520:17:54

Like it's more the joy

that is created from it, rather

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than the actual sensation itself.

0:17:570:17:58

Would you say it makes you feel

empowered, then,

0:17:580:18:00

or it doesn't make you

feel belittled?

0:18:000:18:03

The big difference here is that,

you know, I know what this job is.

0:18:030:18:07

I willingly show up

to work every day.

0:18:070:18:09

So it's not a surprise,

it's not getting, you know,

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catcalled on the street,

maybe something unwanted.

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So it's not belittling to me,

because it's voluntary.

0:18:130:18:15

You know what I mean?

0:18:150:18:17

I willingly show up every day,

I know what I'm getting in for.

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If I was uncomfortable,

then it would be moved me to find

0:18:200:18:23

other work that was more in line

with my comfortibility.

0:18:230:18:28

Are there than incidents

where the fans

0:18:280:18:29

have got a little too physical?

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Yeah, it has happened,

the nails are usually...

0:18:330:18:37

If something happens,

which is very rare...

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It's usually out of excitement,

they're having fun,

0:18:420:18:44

hands on the chest,

they're getting excited,

0:18:440:18:46

and you get a little claw mark,

0:18:460:18:48

but it's usually not from a place

of malice or weird intent -

0:18:480:18:51

again, not knowing

quite where the line is.

0:18:510:18:54

But you don't come off stage

thinking, "That was really painful"?

0:18:540:18:58

I mean, you know,

a scratch is a scratch.

0:18:580:19:02

But again, I know where I work,

I understand that even though

0:19:020:19:05

that is not really in our rules,

that it's in the scope

0:19:050:19:08

of possibility, you know,

and if you feel someone

0:19:080:19:10

starts to do it, again,

"Hey, no, that is not OK."

0:19:100:19:13

"You can touch, don't do that."

0:19:130:19:16

Do you see yourselves

as having the same job

0:19:160:19:19

as female strippers, strip dancers?

0:19:190:19:22

We have no tipping at our show,

so there's no dollars,

0:19:220:19:25

there's no interaction based

on how much money

0:19:250:19:27

you have that day or that moment.

0:19:270:19:29

It's one of my favourite

things about the show.

0:19:290:19:32

So the idea behind the no tipping

is that nobody is paying

0:19:320:19:34

for sex or sexual favours?

0:19:340:19:36

Well, not even so much

sexual favours,

0:19:360:19:39

it's just you can't even influence,

you know, attention,

0:19:390:19:42

you know, if someone, you know,

if someone is well off

0:19:420:19:46

and well to do, they can't just...

0:19:460:19:51

I'm sure it would spread

very quickly through the cast,

0:19:510:19:53

"My God, this lady is loaded,

she's throwing out 20s,

0:19:530:19:56

she's throwing out hundreds,"

and we could gravitate there.

0:19:560:19:58

Somebody else who maybe saved

up their whole allowance for weeks

0:19:580:20:01

and months and got this trip

to Vegas and barely scraped by

0:20:010:20:03

to get our show could get ignored.

0:20:030:20:11

The Me Too movement has raised

awareness of the way women

0:20:120:20:15

have been abused or objectified.

0:20:150:20:16

Does the question also need to be

asked about men, do you think?

0:20:160:20:19

These kind of roles?

0:20:190:20:20

Well, I mean, I think it is,

in general, great to...

0:20:200:20:23

I love what the Me Too movement

is doing, and I love the amount

0:20:230:20:27

of awareness it's created,

including in myself.

0:20:270:20:31

You know, I like theoretically

knew some of my friends' stories,

0:20:310:20:33

but watching them actually type them

out on Facebook, and hearing them,

0:20:330:20:36

just made it tangible

to something I haven't experienced.

0:20:360:20:42

As far as it relates to our show,

again, kind of like I said earlier,

0:20:420:20:46

I think it's a little different,

0:20:460:20:47

because we are voluntary

participants, you know what I mean?

0:20:470:20:50

You're not going about your day,

you're not getting a coffee,

0:20:500:20:55

or even thinking you're on a nice

date and get forced into a corner,

0:20:550:20:58

your theoretical or your literal

back against a wall,

0:20:580:21:01

trying to escape.

0:21:010:21:03

This is somewhere I choose to work,

I choose to be employed here.

0:21:030:21:07

So I think, you know,

just participating in that way

0:21:070:21:09

changes the dynamic.

0:21:090:21:15

You know, I know that

I'm going to be looked at

0:21:150:21:19

just strictly for my muscles,

but I've engaged in that

0:21:190:21:22

agreement, I work here.

0:21:220:21:23

Do you feel objectified?

0:21:230:21:28

No, because, again,

I'm participating, so I feel like

0:21:280:21:31

I'm being admired for my

physicality, you know what I mean?

0:21:310:21:34

Objectification means someone

is reducing you against your will,

0:21:340:21:38

which is not against my will,

like, hey, I worked hard,

0:21:380:21:45

I did some push-ups,

and I enjoy it, you're enjoying it,

0:21:450:21:51

it's going to be wonderful

symbiotic relationship.

0:21:510:21:55

That is what's so great,

that if you're not OK with that,

0:21:550:22:00

you can go get a different job,

you can work somewhere else where

0:22:000:22:03

you're going to feel comfortable,

which is what's different

0:22:030:22:05

from the Me Too thing.

0:22:050:22:07

You know, if everyone, you know,

trying to crack into Hollywood

0:22:070:22:10

has to go through Harvey Weinstein,

0:22:100:22:11

it's a little bit

of a tougher situation.

0:22:110:22:15

We've seen a move in the UK,

the disappearance, we hear,

0:22:150:22:18

of grid girls or walk-on girls

or the same in boxing -

0:22:180:22:21

what is your sense, is that a move

in the right direction,

0:22:210:22:26

or do think that is a denial of...?

0:22:260:22:30

Yeah, it's complicated,

because if anyone of those girls

0:22:300:22:32

was, you know, proud to do

that, proud to be there,

0:22:320:22:35

may be proud of their body,

you know, enjoy the money,

0:22:350:22:38

thought it was easy,

thought it was a fun job -

0:22:380:22:40

if they were there 100% voluntarily,

then it's hard to argue against it.

0:22:400:22:43

But that said, though,

things have been clearly,

0:22:430:22:48

as all the stories are coming out,

things have been wrong for so long,

0:22:480:22:51

you know, that we might need

to overcompensate for a while

0:22:510:22:55

before we find the middle ground

that we all want to live at.

0:22:550:23:02

So just a basic premise of taking

away something that looks,

0:23:020:23:05

on the surface, especially

because females have been

0:23:050:23:07

repressed for so long,

I know there is a lot of guys

0:23:070:23:10

with stories too, but as a whole

females have been pushed back

0:23:100:23:15

or been objectified so many times

and so often that, you know,

0:23:150:23:18

things that sort of personified

that old guard might need

0:23:180:23:20

to drop off for a second.

0:23:200:23:25

So like socially I feel one way,

then towards individual rights

0:23:250:23:28

I feel another - it's tricky.

0:23:280:23:35

That was the Chippendales dance

0:23:350:23:38

That was the Chippendales dance

captain, Ryan Kelsey.

0:23:380:23:41

One of the stories of the last

election was Labour winning

0:23:410:23:43

heavily amongst the young.

0:23:430:23:44

Today was time for the Tory

fightback with a speech

0:23:440:23:47

from the Prime Minister in Derby

on higher and further education.

0:23:470:23:49

The current system, she explained,

is broken, and her government

0:23:490:23:52

is working out a way to fix it,

just as soon as the review

0:23:520:23:55

she ordered today wraps

up in 12 months' time.

0:23:550:23:57

So what happens now?

0:23:570:23:58

Chris Cook been covering education

since the last such review in 2010,

0:23:580:24:01

and he's with me now.

0:24:010:24:02

What do you think of

all this, then, Chris?

0:24:020:24:08

Well, the big thing today from the

sector is just a sort of weary sigh.

0:24:080:24:13

Starting in 2010, we had the Browne

review now to reshape the system,

0:24:130:24:20

then we raised fees, we got rid of

the rules on how big universities

0:24:200:24:24

could be, then we introduced this

teaching excellence, giving gongs to

0:24:240:24:30

universities for academic teaching,

huge structural reforms. And we have

0:24:300:24:33

this enormous evidence base about

how it is working, there is an

0:24:330:24:37

active conversation within higher

education on how to reform itself,

0:24:370:24:40

so there is a sense of, we know all

of this, ministers just have to

0:24:400:24:45

choose. And this review goes into

further education, where the

0:24:450:24:53

situation is more extreme. They had

their last big structural review on

0:24:530:24:56

further education only 18 months

ago, so recently that the

0:24:560:24:58

consultation on how to implement

that review only closed 11 days ago.

0:24:580:25:01

We are literally going from review

into review, back-to-back, without

0:25:010:25:05

any time in between.

0:25:050:25:09

With me in the studio

is Universities Minister Sam Gyimah.

0:25:090:25:13

This must be very frustrating for

you as a new minister, to hotfoot

0:25:130:25:18

from one change, one reform,

straight into a new one, it doesn't

0:25:180:25:22

instil confidence, does it?

It is a

time of opportunity. I think Chris

0:25:220:25:30

Meares characterised the

opportunity, but since 2010 a lot of

0:25:300:25:34

us happened in higher education, we

have more disadvantaged people going

0:25:340:25:38

to university than ever before as a

result of those changes.

Should it

0:25:380:25:42

be more or fewer, what do you think?

We also have world-class

0:25:420:25:46

universities, four in the top ten,

so these reviews have actually

0:25:460:25:52

brought...

So should it be more now

or fewer, is the number about right,

0:25:520:25:58

the number going to university?

We

are not capping aspiration, we want

0:25:580:26:01

anyone who is capable going to

university.

Does that mean more

0:26:010:26:07

people?

The numbers that can go to

university as no limit, we do not

0:26:070:26:13

put a limit.

You must have a broad

idea whether this feels like the

0:26:130:26:17

right number or whether people are

going to university when they should

0:26:170:26:20

be doing more practical courses,

more practical degrees, or do you

0:26:200:26:25

think it is about right? What is

your sense?

What the Prime Minister

0:26:250:26:29

said, and what I agree with, is that

we want more options at the 18th

0:26:290:26:34

stage, and you do not want the

default to be university, because if

0:26:340:26:38

you do not go, you do not feel

bright enough, and that means having

0:26:380:26:42

more technical options, there are

some great technical options within

0:26:420:26:46

universities, like Southbank

University, not far away, great

0:26:460:26:49

technical options in construction,

but there are also technical options

0:26:490:26:54

outside of universities, and within

the system we want different types

0:26:540:26:58

of options, two year degrees,

community degrees, degree

0:26:580:27:02

of options, two year degrees,

community degrees, degree and

0:27:020:27:02

apprenticeships

and the Secretary of

State was

0:27:020:27:05

apprenticeships

and the Secretary of

State was signalling at the weekend,

0:27:050:27:08

courses varying depending on cost,

benefit they give to our country,

0:27:080:27:12

you are backing that, are you?

There

is a review, there is a panel which

0:27:120:27:17

will make recommendations. There is

no point in writing the outcome of

0:27:170:27:22

the review before the review.

But

you here to tell us something, you

0:27:220:27:27

are presumably backing your boss.

If

you would bear with me, there are

0:27:270:27:33

500,000 people accept the university

place every year. It can't be that

0:27:330:27:36

all of them have the same desires

and aspirations when it comes to the

0:27:360:27:40

type of course they have to study.

And yet the default option at most

0:27:400:27:44

of our institutions is three years

on campus, pulled agree, and we say

0:27:440:27:49

there should be more variety.

You

have me that point well, but one of

0:27:490:27:56

the things we heard was that fees

should vary according to cost,

0:27:560:27:59

according to the benefits to the

individual and the benefit they give

0:27:590:28:02

our country. Would you back that?

I

think the review should look at it.

0:28:020:28:07

The review should definitely look at

value for money that every course

0:28:070:28:11

provides for the student.

So if you

are looking, for example, at value

0:28:110:28:17

for money, you might say an English

degree would have a lower rate of

0:28:170:28:21

return than a science degree?

How do

you know that?

Well, I am asking, it

0:28:210:28:28

is not your idea, your Secretary of

State has said we will look at cost

0:28:280:28:31

and benefits to the country, so is

that something you can quantify?

0:28:310:28:37

Steve Jobs studied calligraphy. Who

would have known the value of that?

0:28:370:28:42

So you cannot agree with your own

boss, right?

It is not for ministers

0:28:420:28:46

to say which causes have value, but

it is right for a review to look at

0:28:460:28:52

the different courses, different

institutions, and the returns, for

0:28:520:28:56

independent experts to look at it

and make recommendations.

Would

0:28:560:29:01

independent experts decide, if you

like, a pecking order of degrees

0:29:010:29:05

that you value? Will some be worth

more to the country and some less?

0:29:050:29:09

Of course not.

I don't understand

it, then. What is the point of

0:29:090:29:15

getting independent reviewers to

decide that some degrees with more

0:29:150:29:18

and some less?

I think you can look

at is, does every different

0:29:180:29:24

institution have different

offerings? Every institution does

0:29:240:29:26

not have to have the same offering

for every subject across the

0:29:260:29:29

country, it can have diversity of

provision. You can have English in

0:29:290:29:34

one university that is a two year

degree, in another it is three

0:29:340:29:39

years. They will not prescribe that

they can look at what has happened

0:29:390:29:42

across the system and look at ways

in which we can have that diversity

0:29:420:29:45

of choice.

0:29:450:29:48

What are you doing in the education

department, then? The sector has

0:29:480:29:53

been in the state of reform since

2010. We know the options. We know

0:29:530:29:58

you've looked at them for years. New

stuff happens every year and now you

0:29:580:30:04

have to make the choices, you have

to show leadership on theirs.

I

0:30:040:30:08

think you've misunderstood what has

happened. In 2012, a big move, the

0:30:080:30:14

student invested a huge amount of

money in their own education. As a

0:30:140:30:20

result of that change, the whole

architecture around student finance

0:30:200:30:24

had to change and we had to go

through a system...

And now you've

0:30:240:30:28

decided that change was the wrong

one.

Can I finish? The architecture.

0:30:280:30:37

For example, if students are now

investing their money, someone needs

0:30:370:30:40

to be there to make sure they are

getting value for money and that is

0:30:400:30:44

why we have a new regulator coming

into force. Those changes were

0:30:440:30:50

necessary to reflect those changes.

No one is saying £9,000 is wrong. A

0:30:500:30:54

good degree is a good investment.

The point is you're making it very

0:30:540:30:58

easy for Labour now and making them

happy...

I think you are making it

0:30:580:31:02

very easy for Labour.

He is the

point. If you are confident in what

0:31:020:31:07

your project was, and if you're

confident because you are in power

0:31:070:31:12

for a long time... You've been

unable to tell me anything.

We

0:31:120:31:19

know... We know that if you make

university education free, the

0:31:190:31:24

numbers will be capped and therefore

it will be exclusive. Ward

0:31:240:31:32

Mandelson, a former Labour minister,

said it would be a bonanza for the

0:31:320:31:35

well off. That is the labour offer.

Our offer is we want world-class

0:31:350:31:41

universities that are properly

funded, open to the disadvantaged.

0:31:410:31:44

You're

0:31:440:31:49

You're -- I'm going to invite you

back in 12 months and ask you what

0:31:490:31:53

you've decided about. Thank you very

much.

0:31:530:31:57

The Icelandic parliament

is considering legislation that

0:31:570:31:59

would make male circumcision

illegal, the first country

0:31:590:32:01

in Europe to do so.

0:32:010:32:02

It would jail any practitioner

of the surgical operation

0:32:020:32:04

for up to six years.

0:32:040:32:05

Muslims and Jews both practice male

circumcision on newborn babies.

0:32:050:32:08

Leaders of both faiths have

condemned the plans as an attack

0:32:080:32:11

on religious freedom.

0:32:110:32:12

So, is it a violation of the rights

of boys too young to choose?

0:32:120:32:16

Or an unnecessary and

alienating cultural ban?

0:32:160:32:22

Joining me now is Jonathan Arkush,

who is President of the Board

0:32:220:32:25

of Deputies of British Jews,

and Dr Antony Lempert, a GP and

0:32:250:32:32

Chair of the Secular Medical Forum,

is in our Birmingham studio.

0:32:320:32:36

Dr Antony Lempert, would you,

do you feel uncomfortable

0:32:360:32:38

performing these operations?

0:32:380:32:46

Certainly, every operation that any

doctor or surgeon performed should

0:32:490:32:53

have a valid medical reason and the

absence of one, the person

0:32:530:32:57

themselves should be in the position

to give consent to that. Children of

0:32:570:33:00

a young age are not yet mature

enough to have the capacity to

0:33:000:33:08

consent to this procedure. And every

procedure has risks but particularly

0:33:080:33:13

a procedure on the most intimate

part of a child's body should be

0:33:130:33:19

something a person chooses for

themselves.

Let me ask you, you were

0:33:190:33:23

brought up in a Jewish home, you

understand the cultural significance

0:33:230:33:27

this means to dues and Muslims.

I do

understand it and I realise that

0:33:270:33:34

many people... Actually haven't

given it much thought because I was

0:33:340:33:38

one of them. Even into adulthood. It

wasn't something you gave much

0:33:380:33:44

thought, it was a minor slip that

didn't cause much harm. The reality,

0:33:440:33:48

when you look at the evidence is

quite different. This is something

0:33:480:33:53

that if you ask many intact men

would you like us to snip of this

0:33:530:33:58

bit of body, they'd say, no! This is

one of the most sensitive and

0:33:580:34:02

important parts of my body. And,

really, to assume any child is going

0:34:020:34:09

to belong to the religion of their

parents and even if they choose that

0:34:090:34:12

belief, they are going to want to

have a branding procedure, to be

0:34:120:34:17

marked. It is extraordinary.

Do you

accept we don't think about that

0:34:170:34:26

enough, that people go ahead with

that procedure because it is ritual

0:34:260:34:30

and cultural, they don't think?

As a

Jewish father myself

0:34:300:34:34

of a son, I absolutely thought about

it, as did my wife, and we had no

0:34:340:34:40

doubt whatsoever we wanted our son

brought up in traditional Jewish

0:34:400:34:45

religious values and complying with

what we understand to be the divine

0:34:450:34:51

commandment in the Torah.

If you

hadn't gone ahead with it, how would

0:34:510:34:55

you have felt, your wife and your

son have felt?

I wouldn't have

0:34:550:34:59

wanted my son to have grown up with

other Jewish boys, going into the

0:34:590:35:04

changing rooms, swimming pool and

being different. I wouldn't have

0:35:040:35:08

thanked my parents if, under Antony

Lempert's rule, and 16 I was asked

0:35:080:35:16

whether I want the procedure, and

told it is painful and hazardous. I

0:35:160:35:20

much rather they did it at eight

days old and I thank them that they

0:35:200:35:26

did it.

You pulled it branding a

second ago. Identity, that is what

0:35:260:35:33

Jonathan is talking about, isn't it?

It is forcing your child to adopt

0:35:330:35:37

the identity of its parents choice.

We do it all the time, whether it is

0:35:370:35:44

the language we teach them or their

religion whether or not we pierce

0:35:440:35:47

their ears, all of these are choices

we make.

Any permanent modification

0:35:470:35:53

is something that shouldn't be done

by parents. Parents should share

0:35:530:35:56

their values with their children but

there are limits to this. Sharing

0:35:560:36:00

ideas is one thing but making a

permanent bodily change particularly

0:36:000:36:05

to the most intimate part is really

going too far and breaks all the

0:36:050:36:10

codes of child safeguarding that I

am involved in. I'd like to say one

0:36:100:36:13

more thing...

It is the

irreversibility, isn't it, that

0:36:130:36:18

makes this different thing else, a

child has no chance and no choice.

I

0:36:180:36:25

don't know any Jewish boy who would

ever want to reverse it. We are

0:36:250:36:29

proud of the way we look, it is

integral to our core values and our

0:36:290:36:35

identity, and I am delighted that my

parents enabled me to have the

0:36:350:36:41

procedure, to be part of that

identity and I wouldn't want to have

0:36:410:36:44

to choose.

If Iceland goes ahead and

the parliament bans it, how will you

0:36:440:36:49

feel about that?

The most amazing

thing is that Iceland is a liberal

0:36:490:36:54

country and is doing something

something extremely liberal. Just

0:36:540:36:59

banning something because you don't

approve it. Why don't you ban

0:36:590:37:03

smoking which causes real harm,

including two people that don't

0:37:030:37:07

smoke?

I wonder what message the

Icelandic parliament sends out by

0:37:070:37:10

doing this?

I think it sends out a

message of protecting religious

0:37:100:37:16

freedom. True religious freedom

means allowing people to choose for

0:37:160:37:21

themselves. Jonathan Arkush

articulated it well when he said I

0:37:210:37:23

don't know any Jewish boy who... I

do remember his final sentence, that

0:37:230:37:29

doesn't like it. He ignores the

people that don't want it because

0:37:290:37:33

perhaps they are not Jewish or...

There are a lot of Jewish people

0:37:330:37:40

having a peaceful welcome ceremony

into the world without cutting a bit

0:37:400:37:44

of body.

Is it possible to go

through the understanding and

0:37:440:37:48

ceremony without getting surgical?

Not in Jewish religious law. And it

0:37:480:37:54

is an attack on religious freedom in

Iceland, not a protection. It is a

0:37:540:38:01

straightforward attack and the

Bishop of Reykjavik, and the

0:38:010:38:05

catholic bishops of Europe, have

criticised this ban as an

0:38:050:38:07

infringement of religious freedom

and they are right to do so.

0:38:070:38:11

Gentlemen, thank you very much

indeed. Let's take you through the

0:38:110:38:18

front pages of the papers and we

start with the Guardian, which you

0:38:180:38:22

heard from Nick talks about that Mad

Max dystopia or rather what David

0:38:220:38:28

Davis is promising Brexit will not

be. And then they've got a picture

0:38:280:38:32

of Britain's

0:38:320:38:37

of Britain's most schnmoozed

councillor. In the Times, the

0:38:400:38:43

University strike puts the final

exams in danger. And an Oxfam chief

0:38:430:38:47

investigated over the sex claims.

And our interview with the

0:38:470:38:54

Chippendales at the top. The Daily

Telegraph, call been urged to

0:38:540:38:59

relieve his Stasi file. Theresa May

puts the Labour leader under

0:38:590:39:05

pressure to authorise release of

East German records. He is denying

0:39:050:39:08

all of that, it goes without saying.

That is all we have time for

0:39:080:39:12

tonight.

0:39:120:39:14

We'd like to reflect on the fowl

news that might have troubled

0:39:140:39:17

many of you who felt

a bit peckish today.

0:39:170:39:19

KFC were forced to close most

of their 900 restaurants

0:39:190:39:22

after the firm had its wings clipped

by a shortage of chicken.

0:39:220:39:25

The news ruffled more than a few

feathers across country

0:39:250:39:27

but there was one group who may have

felt relieved that, for now

0:39:270:39:30

at least, they won't be

kicking the bucket.

0:39:300:39:33

I promise you I didn't write these.

0:39:330:39:35

We leave you with a chick flick made

specially for Newsnight viewers.

0:39:350:39:38

Goodnight.

0:39:380:39:40

MUSIC: "One Day I'll Fly Away"

by Randy Crawford

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# One day I'll fly away

0:39:510:39:58

# Leave your love to yesterday

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# What more can your love do for me?

0:40:040:40:09

# When will love

be through with me? #

0:40:090:40:17

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