28/02/2018 Newsnight


28/02/2018

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


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Transcript


LineFromTo

Thought you'd settle

in for a nice warm, cosy watch

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with Newsnight this evening?

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Well, we're reporting on:

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Democracy in Russia...

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Brexit!

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And this...

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Tonight, Gabriel Gatehouse follows

the Russian presidential race

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with Opposition candidate Ksenia

Sobchak.

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It's a fake election.

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It's a fake election?

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Yes, I'm always telling that.

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But is everything quite as it seems?

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Could it be that Ksenia Sobchak

is doing the Kremlin's bidding?

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Also tonight, John Major today

called for a free vote in Parliament

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on Brexit, with the possibility

of a second referendum.

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It's fair to say Brexiteers

are not impressed.

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I think generally a good idea for

previous Prime Ministers, whatever

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their views on either side of this

argument or any argument...

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Normally, if you haven't got

anything positive to say,

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probably best to keep quiet.

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And did we used to be better

at dealing with this?

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Good evening.

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From Syria, to cyber warfare,

to the American Presidency,

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to energy supply - if you think

the Russian Presidential election

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doesn't have an impact

on our lives, think again.

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Tonight, an extraordinary film ahead

of next month's vote.

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Tomorrow, Vladimir Putin

delivers his annual address

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to the Russian parliament and other

members of the Russian

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political elite.

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The speech is likely to contain

a slew of spending promises,

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but even if he feels the need to go

a-wooing, there's little

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doubt that he'll be

the man delivering them

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after the election.

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The first round is in

less than three weeks,

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and without some seismic

upset, Putin will win

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his second consecutive

term, and fourth term overall.

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In a race where at least one

contender, Opposition

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leader Alexei Navalny has been

barred from participating,

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why would anyone risk

all to challenge Vladimir Putin?

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Ksenia Sobchak is a former

Russian socialite turned

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Opposition journalist.

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She's now running for

the Russian presidency.

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But many opposition supporters say

she's a fake candidate,

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running a no-hope race to boost

the Kremlin's

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democratic credentials.

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She herself admits she has

no chance of winning.

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But take a deeper look,

and her candidacy in fact reveals

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much about contemporary Russia.

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Gabriel Gatehouse joined

Ksenia Sobchak on the campaign trail

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and found a twisted tale

of intrigue, power struggles

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and family loyalties,

in a country where nothing

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is as simple as it first appears.

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APPLAUSE

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In a Moscow nightclub,

the Opposition candidate

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makes her pitch to the capital's

cultural elite.

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Russian democracy is a strange

and sometimes dangerous beast.

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It's a fake election.

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It's a fake election?

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Yes, I'm always telling that.

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Explain what you mean.

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I mean that like in a casino,

where the winner's always the house,

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in Russian elections,

the winner's always on Putin's side.

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So I'm taking part in the elections

not to win, I have no

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illusions about that.

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I'm taking part to be heard.

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Once upon a time, in the capital

of the Tsars, a girl was born

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with a silver spoon in her mouth.

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When the Communist empire collapsed,

the chaotic transition to capitalism

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produced a sort of alchemy that

turned silver into gold - for some.

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Ksenia Sobchak's family

was one of those few.

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Her father, one of the founders

of Russia's new democracy,

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became the mayor of St Petersburg.

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He would later die in

uncertain circumstances,

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while his former deputy,

a once unknown KGB officer,

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would become the most

powerful man in Russia.

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He was a person who gave

Putin his first job,

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I was a little girl then.

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But, by a strange twist of fate,

nearly two decades later,

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the girl with the silver spoon

would challenge the new Tsar

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for the highest office in the land.

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350 miles south of Moscow,

the city of Kursk.

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Ksenia Sobchak is on

the campaign trail.

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Her task here is to show

that she can speak to

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ordinary Russians too.

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The biggest problem in Russia

is not freedom of speech,

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unfortunately, for many people.

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It's the poverty.

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Out in the suburbs, residents

have been complaining

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they can't get their children

into a local nursery.

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Now she's haranguing

some local officials.

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This is pretty much the kind

of thing that Putin does

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when he goes around the regions.

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How do you feel like people react

to you, coming - as you do -

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from quite a privileged background?

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You know, I don't try to be

like "I am like one of you",

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because, well, it's not true.

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If I wear red lipstick

in my everyday time,

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why should I go without make

up to them?

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It's not kind of true,

I'm not a populist.

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So, yes, I come in a good car

and in good clothes,

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but I earned this money,

I didn't steal that.

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Corruption is a big issue in this

election for all candidates.

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After a slightly optimistic welcome

at local campaign headquarters,

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Ksenia takes things

one step further.

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In Russian politics,

there are certain red lines;

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among them, Putin

and his inner circle.

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Are you saying Putin is corrupt?

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I say that Putin created a system

that allows those people to get

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funds from the state.

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Direct criticism of

Putin feels dangerous,

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and out on the streets, many people

simply don't want to know.

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Crazy.

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As soon as you approach

people, they run away.

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But Sobchak's journey to dissidents

has been an unusual one.

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When money gets into my hands,

I spend everything.

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Clothes is where my budget stays.

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It's a lot, it's about

$3000-4000 a month.

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I really like this sweater...

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In the first decade of this century,

as millions of Russians struggled,

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Ksenia Sobchak transformed

herself from society rich

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kid to TV celebrity.

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Feeding the masses a diet of reality

television and branding

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herself simply Ksenia.

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But then, the girl with the silver

spoon had another transformation.

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In 2011, she joined opposition

protests and was promptly carted

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off to a police cell.

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Alexei Navalny -

the movement's leader -

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has long been a thorn

in the Kremlin's side.

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I was close with him all those

years, we shared many values,

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and we are still sharing

those values, I hope.

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But when Navalny was banned

from standing in this year's

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elections, and Ksenia announced

she was running instead,

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his supporters called her a traitor.

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Ksenia, they said,

is a Kremlin agent -

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her campaign just more reality TV.

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Could that be true?

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Could it be that Ksenia Sobchak

is doing the Kremlin's bidding?

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I paid a visit to her campaign

headquarters, to meet one

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of her top advisers,

a woman well versed in the dark arts

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of Russian politics.

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She should be, she used

to work for Putin himself.

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Just to be clear, this is Sobchak's

own campaign adviser saying, "Yes,

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we're playing the Kremlin's game",

but in Russia, there's always more

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than one game going on.

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And that's exactly what Sobchak

says she's trying to do.

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If there's one thing

Ksenia understands, it's

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the power of television.

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She's using her candidacy to talk

about issues that are taboo.

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To say this on state TV is heresy,

genuinely subversive.

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Shocked presenters have resorted

to surreal measures,

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to try to drown her out.

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But here is the conundrum,

the Kremlin controls everything.

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Who gets to stand in elections,

and who gets to go on TV.

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So, what is going on?

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Ksenia treads a delicate path.

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Before she set out on her journey,

the girl with the silver spoon

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needed to get the approval

of the Tsar in the Kremlin.

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She needed wise counsel.

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Alexei Venediktov is one

of Russia's most famous

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and well-connected journalists.

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As it happens, Ksenia

is in the process of making

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a film about her father,

the former mayor of St Petersburg.

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Putin, who'd been his deputy,

had agreed to an interview.

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So, in September, she went

to see him in the Kremlin.

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And then in the end, I said this,

that I took this decision and I just

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want you to know that I'm

going to challenge you,

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and he was like silent

for a second and said,

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"Well, it's your decision,

but it's also your responsibility".

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What do you think you meant by that?

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Well, I don't want even

to think about that,

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I don't think anything nice.

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And so, the Tsar decided

to accept his challenger,

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but not everyone was happy.

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Behind the facade of monolithic

power, different factions

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struggled for control.

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How indeed?

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How did the girl who spoke out

against the Tsar get

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permission to run against him?

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The answer to this riddle

lies buried in the past,

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when Putin worked for Ksenia's

father in St Petersburg.

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Or perhaps it should more accurately

be titled the 'Museum of How Russian

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Democracy Was Poisoned at Source'.

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The name Anatoly Sobchak

stands alongside the likes

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of Gorbachev and Yeltsin.

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The story of how the anti-Soviet

reformer chosen an obscure KGB

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officer as his deputy is also

the story of how factions

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from the old Soviet security

establishment have come to be

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running Russia today.

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Anatoly Sobchak was voted

out of office in 1996,

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amid allegations of corruption.

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When investigators called him

in for questioning, Putin helped

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spirit him out of the country.

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But in Moscow, factions

were manoeuvring.

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Putin was being groomed

as Yeltsin's successor.

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The battle was over who would have

sway over the new leader.

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Then, in February 2000,

Anatoly Sobchak died

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suddenly at the age of 62.

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At the funeral, Russia's

new president was distraught.

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That was the first and last time

everyone saw him crying in Russia.

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This day I still remember it,

and one of the shocks

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I had was his reaction,

he was totally killed by this.

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But what killed Sobchak?

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To this day, that remains a mystery.

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The original autopsy

was inconclusive, and many

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were suspicious, including Sobchak's

widow, Ksenia's mother.

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Narusova had her own autopsy

performed, but instead

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of making the results public,

she keeps locked in a safe

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of making the results public,

she keeps them locked in a safe

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in a secret location.

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The Kremlin today is still

a place of rival factions,

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to threaten their power is to take

a terrible risk.

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The girl with the silver spoon

is not a girl any more.

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Her family history may protect her,

but only up to a point.

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Meanwhile, back on the Sobchak

campaign trail...

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From public transport

to pensions, to childcare -

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Ksenia listens to people's everyday

problems as if she were a real

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candidate in a real election.

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The passengers on the Kursk trolley

bus know all about Ksenia's

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family ties, and yet...

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What then is the purpose

of all this elaborate theatre?

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If Ksenia is a threat to the regime,

why let her run at all?

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I've spoken to a senior

government official,

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on condition that I couldn't

quote them by name.

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I said, "What's the point of having

an election when everyone

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acknowledges that only

one person can win?"

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They said, look, this is a western

invention that you have.

0:20:430:20:47

We don't have a classical

democracy in Russia.

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We have what they called

a 'developing democracy'.

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The truth is, Russian democracy

has stopped developing.

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It is frozen, paralysed by two

certain facts:

0:20:560:20:59

Just as surely as Putin

will win the next election,

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he will also not be around forever.

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Behind the walls of the Kremlin,

powerful people are playing games.

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Ksenia Sobchak is a pawn.

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Some factions are pushing

her forward,

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others want to hold her back.

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The girl with the silver

spoon knows all this,

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but she thinks the pawn might just

become a queen.

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That's my chess game.

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I played this option

of going to elections,

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because I was thinking that

I have a chance to go through,

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because of my name,

because they underestimate me,

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because I have a past

which they can always punch at me,

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because they're not afraid of me

as much as Navalny,

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so these are my chances.

0:22:180:22:20

Who's a better chess

player, you or Putin?

0:22:200:22:21

I don't know, we will

see in the end.

0:22:210:22:24

But the end is not near,

because I'm only starting.

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And you can see a longer version

of Gabriel Gatehouse's film

0:22:320:22:34

on Our World on the BBC

News Channel and on

0:22:340:22:37

iPlayer this weekend.

0:22:370:22:40

We asked the Russian embassy

whether they'd like to comment

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on the Russian elections,

and they told us that they weren't

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in a position to do so.

0:22:450:22:47

But they did say that they invited

all Russian citizens in the UK

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to vote in the March 18th

presidential elections at polling

0:22:520:22:55

booths in London and Edinburgh.

0:22:550:22:58

There's no sign of a ceasefire

in the Tory party over Brexit.

0:22:590:23:02

Today, Sir John Major made that very

clear with his depth charge

0:23:020:23:06

of a speech calling for a free vote

in Parliament on the final Brexit

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deal with the option

of a second referendum,

0:23:090:23:11

and hence the possibility

of remaining within the EU.

0:23:110:23:16

Always a passionate Remainer,

the former Prime minister has denied

0:23:160:23:19

he's trying to undermine Theresa

May.

0:23:190:23:22

But one of the "ultra Brexiteers"

he was taking aim at,

0:23:220:23:26

Jacob Rees-Mogg, said that Major

was "all cheap comments

0:23:260:23:28

and propaganda."

0:23:280:23:32

Timing is all, and of course today's

EU draft legal agreement has

0:23:320:23:35

particular resonance for Sir John,

whose dogged work on the Northern

0:23:350:23:39

Ireland peace process led finally

to the Good Friday Agreement.

0:23:390:23:43

The idea of a "common regulatory

area" for Ireland was rejected

0:23:430:23:46

immediately by the Prime Minister.

0:23:460:23:50

So, is the man who as Prime Minister

in 1993 faced his own hell

0:23:500:23:54

at the hands of the Maastricht

rebels, now in full

0:23:540:23:57

rebellion himself?

0:23:570:24:00

One of those Maastrict rebels

is here, but first, Nick Watt.

0:24:000:24:08

Europe, a storm that has consumed

successive Conservative prime

0:24:140:24:16

ministers. When this one was bundled

out of office, she promised to keep

0:24:160:24:22

an eye on this one. When he exited

the stage, he promised to be more

0:24:220:24:29

friendly and was supportive of this

one. But today, he cast his own

0:24:290:24:33

shadow.

Thank you very much and good

afternoon, everyone.

The

0:24:330:24:41

mild-mannered former Prime Minister,

usually punctilious and polite to a

0:24:410:24:45

fault, if this are Theresa May on

Brexit.

For the moment, our

0:24:450:24:51

self-imposed redlines have Ochs to

be government into a corner. -- have

0:24:510:24:59

boxed. They are so tilted to

ultra-Brexit opinion, that even the

0:24:590:25:04

Cabinet cannot agree them. And a

majority in both houses of

0:25:040:25:08

parliament oppose them. If

maintained in full, it will be

0:25:080:25:12

impossible to reach a favourable

trade agreement.

The intervention by

0:25:120:25:18

the former Prime Minister echoed the

private fears of many remain members

0:25:180:25:22

of the Cabinet who have been

fighting their lips. An old foe who

0:25:220:25:27

clashed with the former Prime

Minister on Europe was surprised to

0:25:270:25:29

hear him call for a free vote in

parliament on Brexit.

During

0:25:290:25:34

Maastricht there was such a strict

whip imposed that there were a whole

0:25:340:25:39

bunch of Conservative MPs who lost

the whip for voting against the

0:25:390:25:42

whip. That means being kicked out of

the party and parliament. They were

0:25:420:25:46

stateless, as it were. And people

were shipped in by ambulance and all

0:25:460:25:51

sorts of things, to comply with the

vote, such was the benign and kind

0:25:510:25:54

nature of the then regime, which I

do believe at that stage was led by

0:25:540:25:59

John Major.

Pro-Europeans welcomed

John Major's intervention.

You go

0:25:590:26:04

into a negotiation knowing he will

have to make some concessions in

0:26:040:26:09

return for gaining some. The quite

rightly pointed out that every time

0:26:090:26:13

we create a red line, Europe in turn

removes options from the table for

0:26:130:26:18

the UK.

Sir John chose a significant

moment to issue his warning. A few

0:26:180:26:27

hours earlier, the EU's chief

negotiator upped the ante. By

0:26:270:26:33

tabling a series of demands that

trampled all over the UK's Brexit

0:26:330:26:38

redlines. A new European Commission

draft of the UK and EU withdrawal

0:26:380:26:44

treaty calls for "A common

regulatory area between Northern

0:26:440:26:48

Ireland and the Irish Republic if

the UK and EU failed to negotiate a

0:26:480:26:52

comprehensive free trade deal"

0:26:520:26:55

the UK and EU failed to negotiate a

comprehensive free trade deal". A

0:26:550:26:56

definitive role for the European

Court of Justice in policing the

0:26:560:26:59

withdrawal agreement. Theresa May

rejected the EU's proposals, which

0:26:590:27:05

could place a border within the UK

between Northern Ireland and Great

0:27:050:27:09

Britain.

The draft legal text the

commission have published would, if

0:27:090:27:15

implement it, undermine the UK,

market and threaten constitutional

0:27:150:27:19

integrity of the UK by creating a

customs and regulatory border down

0:27:190:27:23

the Irish Sea. And no UK Prime

Minister could ever agree to it. I

0:27:230:27:28

will be making it crystal clear to

President Juncker and others that we

0:27:280:27:33

will never do so.

In Downing Street

officials acknowledge Brexit

0:27:330:27:39

negotiations are entering a crunch

phase ahead of a showdown summit in

0:27:390:27:41

three weeks' time. Ministers leading

to the Brexit side believes the EU

0:27:410:27:47

is turning the screws to improve its

negotiating position. -- ministers

0:27:470:27:51

leaning. Other ministers fear that

the long drawn-out process to reach

0:27:510:27:56

a Cabinet consensus on the future

trading relationship has provided an

0:27:560:28:01

opening that the EU is exploiting.

Even a Prime Minister cocooned in

0:28:010:28:07

their security bubble cannot escape

the UK's Chile visitor from the

0:28:070:28:11

east. When the elements turn, it can

feel like the world is closing in.

0:28:110:28:20

Nick is here now.

0:28:200:28:24

Simulate a reaction tonight? I was

just talking to Lord Howard about

0:28:240:28:27

that John Major speech. He says it

is very sad the former Prime

0:28:270:28:31

Minister cannot come to terms with

the results of the British people.

0:28:310:28:35

You will remember Michael Howard had

run-ins with John Major when he was

0:28:350:28:38

a member of his Cabinet in 1990s

ovate Europe. He was labelled by

0:28:380:28:45

John major as a bustard. I asked

about feud was going and this is

0:28:450:28:52

what he said.

He wasn't keen on free

votes at that time, no questions

0:28:520:28:56

about that. Indeed, this speech was

full of rich ironies. I seem to

0:28:560:29:04

remember that when he was Prime

Minister, he was quite upset about

0:29:040:29:08

the interventions of one of his

predecessors. I think he was called

0:29:080:29:14

back-seat driving in those days.

The

Cabinet will meet tomorrow to

0:29:140:29:18

approve the decision by the Cabinet

subcommittee, Brexit subcommittee,

0:29:180:29:23

to have the end state negotiations

pursuing an ambitious managed

0:29:230:29:28

divergences. That really is going to

set the countdown, a three-week

0:29:280:29:33

countdown to the opening council at

the end of March, where hopefully

0:29:330:29:36

guidelines will be agreed on the

future, the nature of the future

0:29:360:29:41

trading relationship. I asked

Michael Howard what he thinks of

0:29:410:29:45

that Cabinet decision we are likely

to get tomorrow and this is what he

0:29:450:29:48

had to say.

I do think it's realistic. It's

0:29:480:29:53

realistic because the European

Union, at the end of the day, wants

0:29:530:29:58

a deal, it wants a deal on goods and

services because it sells more goods

0:29:580:30:03

to us than we do to them. It uses

London not because they love us but

0:30:030:30:09

because it's the most efficient

capital market in the world and they

0:30:090:30:12

want the deal because they want our

money, and without a deal, they

0:30:120:30:16

won't get it.

Michael Howard, thank

you.

0:30:160:30:26

I'm now joined by one of those

Maastricht rebels who made

0:30:260:30:29

John Major's life

in office a misery,

0:30:290:30:31

Sir Bill Cash.

0:30:310:30:32

He rebelled the party whip 48 times

during the period and is now Chair

0:30:320:30:35

of the European Scrutiny Committee.

0:30:350:30:37

Good evening. . I want to start with

a tweet by George Osborne. Why this

0:30:370:30:45

synthetic Brexiteer anger over the

EU tax and Irish border. Number ten

0:30:450:30:49

made key concessions in December,

they made a deal in which you all

0:30:490:30:53

cheered, in the absence of agreed

solutions UK will maintain full

0:30:530:30:57

alignment with the EU and Customs

union.

Look, basically what they

0:30:570:31:03

said in this draft legal text, and

my European scrutiny committee are

0:31:030:31:07

looking at it right now, the bottom

line is what they are trying to do

0:31:070:31:11

is to create a constitutional crisis

in the UK. This is basically the EU

0:31:110:31:18

which is seeking to achieve this

hardboard, where actually they have

0:31:180:31:22

said they don't want it. We have

also said we don't want it and the

0:31:220:31:26

Irish government has said they don't

want it. Nothing synthetic about

0:31:260:31:30

this. Have actually created, trying

to create a constitutional crisis.

0:31:300:31:35

The truth is, the question of the

Irish border is a key issue in

0:31:350:31:42

Brexit. It's not some kind of fake

argument. You have a situation here

0:31:420:31:47

now where you have either got a

customs union or you get a border.

0:31:470:31:52

If you take for example that we've

got the Euro row at one end of

0:31:520:31:56

Ireland and the pound at the other,

you have different fiscal

0:31:560:32:01

arrangements, you've got different

corporation tax, there are

0:32:010:32:05

differences already within Ireland

north and south.

Do you believe it

0:32:050:32:09

can be something like Boris a --

Johnson said, congestion charge?

0:32:090:32:18

Bertie Ahern...

Nobody is prepared

to say what would be in place from

0:32:180:32:23

the British side just now, we are

still waiting.

I don't agree with

0:32:230:32:27

that, we put forward proposals on

those proposals are based on the

0:32:270:32:31

fact there are technical ways of

dealing with it. Bertie Ahern

0:32:310:32:35

actually said you can turn a blind

eye to a lot of the local trade and

0:32:350:32:40

that most of this stuff...

A blind

eye?

There is a Swedish expert and

0:32:400:32:47

Customs who says it is perfectly

feasible to do it. Real experts were

0:32:470:32:52

saying that. The EU are trying to

dig in and over this, in order to

0:32:520:32:57

create maximum trouble for the

government.

It's very, very obvious.

0:32:570:33:01

Also the concern with the

government, with the goodwill of the

0:33:010:33:08

DUP, do you think what you are

fighting for is worth threatening

0:33:080:33:10

the Good Friday Agreement?

It is not

threatening the Good Friday

0:33:100:33:14

Agreement. The Prime Minister today

said we are going to stand by the

0:33:140:33:19

Good Friday Agreement, everybody

will stand by it. The bottom line is

0:33:190:33:23

this is the synthetic argument, as

you said from George Osborne, author

0:33:230:33:31

of Project Fear, this is the

synthetic part of the argument which

0:33:310:33:34

is coming from the EU. There is no

need for them to do this but they

0:33:340:33:39

are doing it in order to create

maximum trouble for our

0:33:390:33:42

negotiations.

By John Major's speech

today it is very clear there is no

0:33:420:33:50

harmony in the Conservative Party,

never mind conservative membership,

0:33:500:33:54

all about the kind of Brexit there

should be. He famously called you

0:33:540:34:01

one

0:34:010:34:08

one knows the bastards in the

Maastricht Treaty.

I thought I was

0:34:080:34:12

watching another edition of spitting

image when I saw the speech he gave

0:34:120:34:15

today. I actually think the real

problem here is that he can't come

0:34:150:34:20

to terms with the fact he has lost

the debate. Actually, it much worse

0:34:200:34:26

than that because when you examine

what he says, he talks about

0:34:260:34:29

conscience voting for study talks

about a second referendum. I do

0:34:290:34:36

remember a thing called the

Maastricht referendum campaign,

0:34:360:34:39

which I organised with some friends.

Give a free vote now.

The position

0:34:390:34:47

was neither an Maastricht or in

relation to the Lisbon Treaty have

0:34:470:34:52

ever been any free votes on this

question.

Bill Cash, thanks very

0:34:520:34:55

much indeed.

0:34:550:35:01

On the eve of meteorological

spring...

0:35:020:35:05

It was the bleak midwinter today

for millions of people in the UK.

0:35:050:35:08

We've all had our fun with the Beast

from the East but tonight it is set

0:35:080:35:12

to evolve into the much more

menacing Storm Emma.

0:35:120:35:14

The mercury could sink

to minus 15 where there's snow

0:35:140:35:17

on the ground, and the blizzards,

gales and sleet just keep coming.

0:35:170:35:20

Worst affected is Scotland,

with a red warning.

0:35:200:35:21

Earlier, I spoke to Lorna Gordon,

who's in Glasgow.

0:35:210:35:24

I asked her whether there were any

signs of supplies running low.

0:35:240:35:27

I did a quick run through

a couple of shops in some

0:35:280:35:31

of the areas I have been today.

0:35:310:35:32

So far, so good.

0:35:320:35:34

I think Scots are pretty stoic.

0:35:340:35:35

We are used to the bad weather.

0:35:350:35:37

It takes quite a bit

to rattle people up here.

0:35:370:35:40

So the shops, I think,

are doing OK so far.

0:35:400:35:43

But this is an extended

period of bad weather.

0:35:430:35:46

We're talking about that

red warning in place

0:35:460:35:50

until tomorrow morning thus far.

0:35:500:35:51

But the bad weather will

continue beyond that.

0:35:510:35:55

But, yes, a big impact on public

transport here in Glasgow

0:35:550:36:01

and in fact over this large red

warning area that affects

0:36:010:36:03

3.5 million people.

0:36:030:36:04

No trains running.

0:36:040:36:06

Here in Glasgow, no buses running.

0:36:060:36:09

And you can see from the road here,

very few cars out on the streets

0:36:090:36:13

as well, at least in

the urban city centre areas.

0:36:130:36:15

One of the most obvious effects

of the snow is the closure

0:36:150:36:18

of hundreds of schools.

0:36:180:36:22

Hundreds of thousands of children in

Scotland lobby off tomorrow. -- will

0:36:220:36:30

be off tomorrow.

0:36:300:36:31

With me in the studio

is Geoff Barton, General Secretary

0:36:310:36:34

of the Association of School

and College Leaders.

0:36:340:36:36

Good evening. Is it an easier

decision to close a school than keep

0:36:360:36:40

it open?

It is always a difficult

decision. I think today maybe a

0:36:400:36:46

slightly easier decision, given the

scale of what is happening. I have

0:36:460:36:49

had people contacting me today, some

of whom are new headteachers, really

0:36:490:36:53

anxious about whether they have made

the right call and some veterans

0:36:530:36:56

also. Ultimately the decision we're

making is about looking after

0:36:560:37:00

children and making sure we can

protect them and get the staff in to

0:37:000:37:04

supervise them.

0:37:040:37:14

You could get the staff in, the

appearance of one teacher would mean

0:37:160:37:18

that the families of 30 kids could

be out of work supporting the

0:37:180:37:21

economy.

What is distinctive about a

school is in my case, 1500 students.

0:37:210:37:23

What you had to do is make sure if

you had 1500 students going to

0:37:230:37:26

school, did you have sufficient

staff to supervise a man for the

0:37:260:37:29

quality of teaching? All I knew is

with 85 teaching staff, there was

0:37:290:37:33

about 30 of those who lived more

than 20 miles away from the school.

0:37:330:37:37

So the decision was, can I safely

supervise those students and bring

0:37:370:37:41

staffing to do it? Every member of

the leadership teams in all schools

0:37:410:37:48

will be making that decision before

seven o'clock, in order to inform

0:37:480:37:51

parents of the decision.

There is

now, here, the safety of the

0:37:510:37:55

children but also in attendance,

record of attendance. If you leave

0:37:550:37:58

school open and children can't get

there, then the attendance record

0:37:580:38:03

gets completely shot.

There is a

scale of different considerations.

0:38:030:38:07

The number one, which parents would

want to hear as saying, which is the

0:38:070:38:11

most important, is good week

supervise their child safely, that

0:38:110:38:14

is most important. And I'll be able

to give some kind of educational

0:38:140:38:18

quality to what we're doing. I know

there was a day when I decided to

0:38:180:38:25

close the school, in my 15 years of

being head, there were three times.

0:38:250:38:28

One diagnostic, by 11 o'clock it

cleared I felt humiliated. It will

0:38:280:38:30

always be a difficult call.

It's a

difficult thing to leave the school

0:38:300:38:36

open to see who comes on the kids

who don't come then get marks on

0:38:360:38:39

their attendance record which the

school order to avoid that, you

0:38:390:38:44

close the school?

That is such a

small issue. What you would do if

0:38:440:38:50

their school is close, you would

authorise the attendance of the

0:38:500:38:53

children who are not there because

you are in extreme circumstances. If

0:38:530:38:57

parents were unhappy about the

decision, the governing body hold

0:38:570:39:01

you accountable. It is the chair's

decision that you report to the

0:39:010:39:04

governing body and you are

accountable for that. Leadership is

0:39:040:39:06

about making a decision. That

followed the people today have done

0:39:060:39:10

in the of mourning.

Is the primary

consideration health and safety?

0:39:100:39:16

Health and safety but not that

caricature of health and safety, are

0:39:160:39:20

we worried lots of children will

slip on the Pegram? They could slip

0:39:200:39:23

on the street. That is not to say

you wouldn't want to be concerned

0:39:230:39:26

about that but the number one is,

can I supervise the number of

0:39:260:39:30

students in school by bringing staff

who can do it?

Why is this so

0:39:300:39:35

different, briefly, from 1963 when

schools did stay open on this didn't

0:39:350:39:40

happen?

Just like lots of things are

different from 1963. Parental choice

0:39:400:39:46

means more children will be

travelling further, more children

0:39:460:39:50

travelling on parental cars they

were before. I don't think we can do

0:39:500:39:54

like for like comparison of 1963.

Thank you very much indeed.

0:39:540:39:59

That's almost all for this evening.

0:39:590:40:01

A quick well done to the Newsnight

team which picked up

0:40:010:40:04

two RTS awards tonight

for the programme's coverage

0:40:040:40:05

of Grenfell and our film

on the Rohingya massacre.

0:40:050:40:08

Tomorrow, I'll be talking to

Brett Anderson, frontman of Suede -

0:40:080:40:10

and he doesn't hold

back on Britpop...

0:40:100:40:12

I think it kind of became...

0:40:120:40:15

It mutated from a Mike Leigh film

into a Carry On film.

0:40:150:40:18

More from that tomorrow.

0:40:230:40:24

But, before we go, Civilisations,

a new nine part series

0:40:240:40:26

on the history of art,

starts tomorrow on BBC Two.

0:40:260:40:29

It follows from the legendary

original, Civilisation,

0:40:290:40:31

presented by Kenneth Clark in 1969.

0:40:310:40:32

We thought we'd leave you where that

original series left off,

0:40:320:40:35

with Clark musing

on a poem by WB Yeats.

0:40:350:40:41

"Things fall apart;

the centre cannot hold;

0:40:410:40:47

Mere anarchy is loosed

upon the world,

0:40:470:40:50

The blood-dimmed tide

is loosed, and everywhere

0:40:500:40:52

The ceremony of

innocence is drowned;

0:40:520:40:57

The best lack all conviction,

while the worst

0:40:570:41:02

Are full of passionate intensity."

0:41:020:41:08

Well, that was certainly true

between the wars, and it

0:41:080:41:10

damn nearly destroyed us.

0:41:100:41:14

Is it true today?

0:41:140:41:17

Not quite, because good people have

convictions -

0:41:170:41:21

rather too many of them.

0:41:210:41:23

The trouble is that there

is still no centre.

0:41:230:41:27

The moral and intellectual

failure of Marxism

0:41:270:41:29

has left us with no alternative

to heroic materialism.

0:41:290:41:35

And that isn't enough.

0:41:350:41:38

One may be optimistic,

0:41:380:41:40

but one can't exactly be joyful

at the prospect before us.

0:41:400:41:48

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