03/04/2016 The Papers


03/04/2016

A lively, informed and in-depth conversation about the Sunday papers.


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That is all the sport for now, and now on BBC News, here is Govan with

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the Papers. -- Gavin. Hello and welcome to our Sunday

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morning edition of the Papers. former editor of the

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Independent on Sunday, and Ian Birrell, associate editor

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of the Mail on Sunday. The Observer's main story is a poll

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it carried out on the EU referendum, which suggests

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the Out camp is leading. The Sunday Express claims police

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have been given six more months to find out what happened

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to Madeleine McCann, who went missing from a holiday

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apartment in Portugal The Mail on Sunday alleges

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the Government overspent its foreign aid budget

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by some ?200 million last year. The Sunday Times

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carries an investigation and claims one doctor

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has prescribed banned performance enhancing drugs to 150

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well-known sporting figures. British aid to Tanzania is the

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headline on the Sunday Telegraph, which suggests the Foreign

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Office should suspend aid to the country, following

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disputed elections in Zanzibar. And the Simpsons characters

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Smithers and Mr Burns are pictured on the front page

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of the Independent. Smithers is due to declare his love

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for his boss, Mr Burns, Let's begin with what we have been

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leading on, picking up from the Sunday I'm story, British doctor

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claiming he doped sports stars, are you so prized by this? I am not

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surprised by it. This particular doctor, it is quite interesting,

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because the UK Anti-Doping agency had identified him a couple of years

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ago, I think, but any investigation was quickly dismissed, and the

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Sunday Times team have gone back to him. He has named names, and they

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are not giving those names here, unsurprisingly, he has given 150

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high end the sports stars. One wonders if a little bit of that,

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because it was all undercover filming, was some that the sales

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pitch for someone trying to attract new clients, I don't know. But given

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that we have already heard about athletics, cycling, tennis quite

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recently, there was a BBC investigation with Buzzfeed into

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that, so it is not surprising that it was all focused on this one

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doctor. I would like to see now a deeper and wider investigation. As

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an editor, if you have got the names and know the names of these people,

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which have not been published in the paper, and I noticed on Twitter some

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people are saying, typical mainstream media, what do you have

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to think about before you publish these names of presumably very

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famous people? First of all, you have to think about what the lawyers

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are going to say! They would say, do not publish those names, because

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this is one person's word. It could be a complete fabrication, so first

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of all you would go to each and every one of those stars before you

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named them. They do seem to have gone to some of them. You say, this

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is the allegation, what do you have to say? I don't suppose any of them

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would be likely to say, well, yes, caught bang to rights. There is an

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ethical issue, this is just one person's word, and these careers

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could be ruined, the public would think they were true, so you have to

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think through that as well. I am just surprised it has taken force

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along for people to suggest that some people in the Premier League

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are involved, because given the rewards, particularly in football in

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this country, perhaps it is up rising it has taken so long. It is

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not at all surprised in, but it is a great story, credit to the Sunday

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Times for getting it, because I think the real scandal is that we

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are seeing sport at the sport at the sport whereby the authorities who

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are meant to be in charge of anti-doping, meant to be in charge

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of regulating the game, have been basically allowing shady practices

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to be going on, presumably because of the tide of money, but we have

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seen it in athletics, cycling, tennis, football allegedly. I think

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the authorities have behaved atrociously, because I assume of the

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sums of money involved. And apart from the fans, if you were an honest

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sports or woman,... That is the argument, and the UK anti-doping

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authority, they are the people who have been called to look into the

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big Russian scandal of doping, and so, if they were given information

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about this doctor and did nothing about it, there are already calls

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for the person who runs UK Anti-Doping to stand down or for

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there to be an investigation, because it is not surprising, but it

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needs to be rooted out, because there are honest sportsmen and women

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who need this to be dealt with. If they knew about it for two years,

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they should all be cleared out, none of them should be allowed to carry

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on. Let's move on to the Mail on Sunday, a lot on foreign aid, quite

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an extraordinary story, I will read a front page. ?172 million is what

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we overspend on foreign aid last year by mistake as sneaked out by

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the Government on Friday, another to keep Port Talbot plant alive for six

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months. There are pages and pages of very detailed investigation into

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foreign aid, a good story on page seven, despair for steelworkers, so

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why are we giving ?9 million to Nigeria to help its leather tanning

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industry? That is the context, hard times at home, giving money abroad.

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Tel us why the paper has devoted so much space to this. What is

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interesting is that the paper is focusing on the idea not just that

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aid is a flawed concept, which is my personal view, but the fixed target

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is a nonsense. This beset by Professor Angus Deighton, a Nobel

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Prize winning economist, the man who devised the metrics for measuring

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global poverty, pointing out the stupidity of having a fixed target,

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how it is about us, not them, about making politicians here look good,

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but not about helping. Otherwise, why would you have a figure that

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goes up and down depending on British growth. The paper has tapped

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into something with readers who saw the speed at which they signed this

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e-petition that the paper has launched, to get a debate in

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Parliament on this. There is clearly very strong public anger, and it is

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right, I think, when you see things going on. You picked out the leather

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industry, but if you read the detail, you have someone working on

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a scheme that had ?91 million across various industries to boost

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industries in Nigeria, and one person is quoted saying that Chi

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went in, and the only Nigerians were the drivers and the people making

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copy, and it was full of white Europeans who had flown in at great

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expense to give workshops. -- making coffee. That is the sort of thing

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that gets people annoyed, money going to the Palestinian Authority,

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who is then funding prisoners who are convicted of terrorism. There is

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an interview with a British woman who was appallingly attacked and

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stabbed, I think it was 13 times, she had to play dead while they

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tried to stab her through the heart. She is not surprisingly furious that

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her own country is funding the authorities which are giving these

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people who did this to her, these terrorists, ?9,000 a year. This will

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strike a chord with a lot of people. It does, and all of the examples

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that Ian has given, they are heart-rending, they do inside anger,

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because they sound completely unjustifiable. But I would say, I am

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not a complete scorched earth on foreign aid, and for instance in

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Pakistan, if the money is being used corruptly, that is a bad thing and

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needs to be investigated. But that money is earmarked for schools in

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Pakistan, which particularly for girls is an important issue. The

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foreign aid we do give it something like 0.08% of our gross national

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income, so even though the numbers are huge, proportionately it is not

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the most enormous thing that we do. To be fair, it is 0.7, ?16 billion

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by the end of the parliament. I am seeing damage being done in the

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world of disability, because the Government was cutting disability

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benefits, saving ?12 billion. Yet we are giving away ?16 billion abroad.

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People say it is a small sum, but it is not a small sum of other people's

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money. Let's look at Pakistan, that shows the whole problem, which is

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you pour money into a place which is badly run, when no-one in Parliament

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is even paying taxes, and you give them free money of the scale that

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Britain and America is giving to Pakistan, and it takes away the

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incentive for them to actually set up a proper taxation system and

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deliver decent public services themselves. That is the whole

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problem, it gets to the core of it, you can look at a nice school funded

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by British aid and say it is wonderful, but you are undermining

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the democratic development and fuelling the very corruption which

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creates the state. The counterargument to that, it is not,

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let's be nice to people, it is sometimes that this is hard

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politics, this is about buying influence in places like Pakistan,

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Nigeria and elsewhere, and that may be unpalatable, because people think

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they are doing good, but the idea is very realpolitik. And Justine

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Greening, the minister responsible, her defence is, and I think you made

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some good points which I agree with, but Justine Greening says, and this

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is a real hard politics thing, a real project pier type thing, we are

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trying to deal with problems where they exist, rather than waiting for

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problems to come to us, which is a very veiled message. I wonder what

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she has in mind as I cause a macro frankly, it is not helpful, they

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should look at these examples and deal with them. -- I wonder what she

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has in mind(!) The final word on this. They have got this fixed

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target to throw money at the door, they have to find ways to spend the

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money, and all they are doing is exacerbating the problems they seek

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to... I have seen this all over the world, in Africa, Asia, the

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Caribbean. The problems we are feeling and contributing to, rather

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than solving. It is interesting, and my piece, I have done a comment

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piece in here, and I understand that George Osborne was asked at a

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private dinner, why are you doing this, and he said, simply, to keep

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the charities off our backs. That is a pretty pointless exercise. The

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headline says it is the fear of Bob Geldof, that is one of the things in

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the Mail. Page one of the Telegraph has the other big story, by British

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to save our steel, ministers tell local authorities. This is very odd,

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because is our industrial policy for a major strategic industry to tell

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local councils they have to spend more money on steel than they

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otherwise would do? They already have a strategy for doing that,

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councils and the NHS. Councils and the NHS are two of the most cash

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strapped, needy areas in our society, so it is completely

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outrageous for the Government to say to them, can you sort out this

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rather embarrassing perception problem we have at the moment? ?300

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billion worth of infrastructure projects which will take place in

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Britain over the next five years, and that sounds like a big amount of

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money, that sounds like enough to keep Port Talbot going, all the

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steel to build new classrooms and operating theatres and everything

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else. Well, if the steel that is coming from China is a tiny fraction

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of the price, it would be very difficult for a local authority to

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spend the money on British steel and then go into the red, not be able to

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complete. And close the library! Or cut back on services for local

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disabled people. To save the British steel industry? It is completely

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wrong-headed. Is this a bit of thrashing around? It is difficult

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for any government to sort out. It is a difficult situation where they

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are struggling to control the agenda. They have looked a bit off

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the pace on this issue, and it is the last refuge of the scoundrel,

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almost, to say, by British, please, please! People should buy the best

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steel available at the best price, and the guv Mata should be more

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honest and point out that the fact that British steel is not

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competitive. -- the Government. They should help the steelworkers, but

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there is a perception problem, Sajid Javid was not around, they did not

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have any meetings with Tata Steel, and they want to get a headline out

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of it, they want to deal with it. Young whole Ski-Doo Brexit, usual

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health warnings here! -- hold key to Brexit. I am sceptical about the

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polls, because the most detailed shows that happen next remain is

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probably ahead. The interesting thing they packed the Leave picked

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up on is the difference between young and old. -- shows that Remain

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is probably ahead. They know the generation coming through is

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comfortable with the European ideal, comfortable with travelling to

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Europe, and despite the obvious problems of Europe, whether

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financial or the immigration issue, you have this generational change,

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and it is like the last gasp... Where it is now or never. If they do

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not get it now, it is less likely, and the other dynamic is that old

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people are more likely to vote, and this is a problem. And as we know

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from polls in other countries, referenda in other countries, people

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are more conservative if they are undecided, stick with what they

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know. David Cameron gave an interview to the Independent on

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Sunday pointing out that voter apathy will be the biggest problem

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for the Remain campaign, because if people do not vote, as we saw with

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the Scottish referendum, it was very close because of voter apathy,

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because people thought, we are all right as we are, I don't need to do

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anything about it. This is a super generalisation, but young people are

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less likely to go out and vote, so even though it is a last hurrah for

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the Leave campaign, they do need to engage the young people who perhaps

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are aware of this but do not feel that their voice needs to be heard.

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I wonder if people who are Remain voters will stay at home because

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they are more relaxed about it. That is a problem. The other interesting

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thing in this story is the stuff about Jeremy Corbyn, where it shows

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that the public do not know where he stands on it, which is pretty

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amazing for the leader of the main opposition party in a referendum on

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such a big subject for the country. The public do not know where he

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stands, and that is very telling, an indictment of his stewardship. Do

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they know that Alan Johnson is the main voice for Labour? Is very

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popular within the party. Is the greatest leader they never had. The

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strife in Labour has taken a back-seat with all the other news

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going on at the moment, but there is still a problem that Jeremy Corbyn

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is not comfortable with this, no-one knows where he stands, so he has

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got... We have got a minute and a half left for the Sunday Times, they

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welled in saying the rise of women drive is meant to change sex. She is

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a great star of things, is she having a laugh? This comes after the

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Ian McEwan story, and we are seeing elderly authors having problems with

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the emerging world of identity politics and social politics,

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struggling to understand what is happening. But equally, it is

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obviously a silly thing she said, the headline about men changing sex

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because women have won the Battle of the sexes. Underneath it, she is

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saying some quite interesting things about why we need role models

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anyway. It is not entirely frivolous, although she has got the

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headline she wanted by saying something silly. Also, we do see a

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lot of elderly authors struggling with issues coming through now.

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Transgender politics is a huge subject, on EastEnders, we have at

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Caitlyn Jenner, it has informed the debate about sexual politics. This

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lack of understanding leads to this sort of headline, with, the greatest

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respect for Fay Weldon as an author, but as a commentator and sexual

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politics, she should be quiet. On that note, thank you! We will take a

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look at tomorrow's front pages every evening at 10:30 and right here on

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BBC News.

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