09/04/2017 The Papers


09/04/2017

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


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That is all the sport, now on BBC news here is Maxine with The Papers.

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Hello and welcome to our look ahead to what the papers will be

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With me are the Home Affairs Editor for the Evening Standard Martin

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Bentham and the journalist and broadcaster Rachel Shabi.

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So let's look at the front pages this morning. We're starting with

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the Mail. Boris Johnson's decision

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to cancel his trip to Russia The Mail on Sunday

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reports the criticism from the Kremlin as well as Liberal

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Democrat MPs here. The Sunday Times says

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Britain and America are preparing to accuse Russia

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of complicity in war The Telegraph says Vladimir Putin

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will be told to pull troops from Syria and withdraw support for Putin

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in an age dish and it headed by the UK.

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The Observer leads with a story about Len McCluskey,

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the leader of the Unite union, who wants the Labour party

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to investigate MPs who he says are plotting against him

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about Eastenders actress June Brown - who plays Dot Cotton -

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who's had eye surgery lasting 60 seconds -

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that she says allows her to see again!

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Let's begin. Most of the papers talk about the Syria- Russia situation

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and what the allies will do about it. The Sunday Times splashes on a

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piece by Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, setting out what

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the forthcoming agenda will be which will be, as it says here, turning

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the screws on the Kremlin, holding them responsible for every death

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that happened last week because of this gas attack and saying that the

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Russians must do much more to bring Assad to heal and bring peace in

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Syria. That is the rhetoric that is coming out. Later this week the

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United Nations is set to deliver a strong message, the question is if

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the Russians will listen to that, it must be hoped that they do that this

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is going on for a long time and it is not clear this will happen.

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That's the thing. Now Boris Johnson says he isn't going. Boris Johnson

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was due to go to Moscow. He has called off that mission. The theory

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is, I don't know if that is true or not, but the working theory is that

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the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is due to visit Moscow

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this week and they have divided the workload in the sense that Boris

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Johnson will be going to the summit this Tuesday to try to rally Western

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support for this sort of US-led position on Russia while Rex

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Tillerson handles the Russian side, I don't know if that is true or not,

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some people have criticised Boris Johnson, saying he is clearly seen

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as a liability, the fact that he has postpunk this engagement makes him

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look like a poodle -- post-poll engagement. If you look at the front

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page of the Mail on Sunday that is the headline! They call him a

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poodle. It's a difficult one. The Kremlin is not easy to negotiate

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with and is a huge supporter of Assad. Is a quote in the Observer

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saying that this, the positive scenario of what happened last week

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because the crucial question is whether the effect of America

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showing military force in that area suddenly changes the dynamic and

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makes the Russians listen more rather than less, because previously

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they had just gone on supporting Assad ever since the previous

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failure to carry out an air strike in the wake of a chemical attack,

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the Russians have got ever more deeply involved, overtly supporting

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Assad on the ground and so on, and whether this air strike last week

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changes the dynamic and this Russian analyst in the Observer suggests

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that it might. The Russians will see America as a serious player with

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some weight, that's the positive part of it, the negative part is

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that there's the risk of confrontation things getting worse!

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That's what we have to see as the next week unfolds and the weeks

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afterwards, as to whether Putin, who clearly believes in strength himself

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and shows of force, response to someone doing the same. It is

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interesting that, is it not, Rachel, that the USA has changed its tone on

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Syria following this chemical attack. Speaking to Russian analysts

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earlier today, they were saying that having gone from "We are not

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interested in Assad and Syria, we are keeping everything inside the

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United States" they have now gone the other way. Do you think that

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will make any difference to Russia, the fact that the US has taken

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action? Well. This idea, none of this would have been possible

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without Russia backing President Assad along with other players in

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the region, that precisely has been the tragic problem with the Syria

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war, that it has been sustained in a deadly way by outside players on

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both sides, so that any escalation on one side is met with an

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escalation on the other side. And that has been the worry. And that is

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why in 2013, President Obama decided not to go ahead. And if we look at

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what has happened since the very limited US air strike in retaliation

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for that gas attack, while Russia has amassed warships in Syria since

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that happened, bombing has resumed in the area that was subjected to

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that horrendous gas attack. And that is the worry. It is not like this

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doesn't have consequences, and the consequences have to be calculated.

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There is no point, of course we want to see something as horrendous as a

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chemical attack like this. Of course we want to see some kind of response

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to that. It is a very human reaction. But it is not something

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that should factor into a calibration as serious and as

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dangerous as this. I just want to move on, it's a continuation of the

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same discussion with the bombers backing new strikes. It is the point

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Rachel made, the bombing continues. I suppose if you say that the

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chemical weapons are a step too far, it's an arguable position, because

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clearly those things kill people as these bombs have killed some people

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in the last day or so, every bomb is likely to kill somebody. From that

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point of view we can understand the argument but the world in general

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draws the line at chemical weapons. If you calculate too much, as Obama

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did, and do nothing, it doesn't help the situation necessarily. So I

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don't think responding to this one thing means the whole problem will

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be solved. If it were to happen again what would the response be? If

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you've done it once...? That's the worry, it's right that chemical

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weapons are a red line. There are lots of things that are red lines

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that we have not respected either in Syria or elsewhere. But let's look

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at what happened. In 2013 to an agreement was brokered by Russia

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whereby Bashir al-Assad was supposed to get rid of his stockpile and his

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capacity to generate more weapons. But clearly hasn't happened. And

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Russia has known that it wouldn't. There have been 120 red strikes,

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it's just as horrifying to be subjected to that so we don't have

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any consistency and that is the problem. If you are going to have a

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policy needs to be consistent and consistent throughout the Middle

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East. Possibly although nowhere else is using chemical weapons at the

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moment, is there? That would be the argument of the Trump

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administration, that they have set a new tone, and the previous failure

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of Syria to disarm is the result of the inaction before. Setting a new

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tone is not diplomacy. Saying Assad must go, as they now say, is not,

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what are you going to do them, who will replace them, how will you

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broker that agreement? Look at what happened when we said that in Libya

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and Iraq. Surely those are signs of what happens if you leave a vacuum

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where there once was... A brief comment because I want to move onto

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some other stories! The point is, by saying, do nothing, the example of

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Syria... Right, I'm calling a halt! Let's move on. The Syria vacuum has

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created a massive problem. We could discuss this for a long time, we

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must move on now. Dirty tricks, Labour MPs accused of dirty tricks

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in union vote, says Unite. Len McCluskey is up for reaction. He is

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arguing, he is a big Jeremy Corbyn supporter and is claiming that the

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right wing of the Labour Party, people like Tom Watson, the deputy

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leader and so on, are backing his opponent in the election because

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they want to oust him to get at Jeremy Corbyn, basically. He alleges

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dirty tricks. We don't know the rights and wrongs of it. What does

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that tell us about the closeness of unions and political parties? It is

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a weird one, this. This is quite an interesting interview with Len

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McCluskey in the inside pages. I think there is perhaps a more

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interesting points than the sort of political stuff that has made the

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front pages, which is how unions are going to respond and stand up for a

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workforce in a workplace that is increasingly zero hours, contracts,

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that sort of gig economy climate. It's possibly a more useful

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conversation to the public. That this will get the headlines! The

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right of the party of Labour will be saying, if you can't stand up for

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things, you can't achieve things if you are not in power and that is

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their argument, to save Len McCluskey's propping up Jeremy

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Corbyn, to say that is heading for electoral disasters of the party

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needs someone with a different approach. That will be their

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argument. I'm going to jump over a couple of papers and go to the

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Sunday express. This is interesting. Fly-tippers. They will be forced to

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clean up, pick up litter, if they can be found in the first place!

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Yes! Fly-tipping is a big issue. You can see it. Beside the road. Utterly

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selfish. The story is exactly that, they are trying to do something

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about it. The gimmick is that they say that these people will be forced

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to clean up, if they can be caught first! They will have to be caught

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first to clear up as part of community service. Unfortunately

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there's quite a lot of control over what you can do, community service

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and so on, how many of those people would actually do it is

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questionable. Everyone would like it stopped, the question must be

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educating people not to do it in the first place. Will it put people off

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if they think they might get caught and have to pick up litter? No. The

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other angle of this story apart from what you said is that the government

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wants to stop councils charging to take non-household rubbish to the

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tip. Which is the responsible thing to do when you have non-household

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rubbish like loads of DIY materials and that kind of stuff. So that is

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the argument, that if people knew that they did not have to pay for

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that, then they would responsibly go to the tip. One of the charging

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issues is to stop builders and commercial people taking stuff to

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the tip. You can't go with enormous skip loads of things and say it is

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all household waste! This is all-day YY! -- this is all DIY! On the other

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hand, people have bins that they can put normal litter in and a lot of

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people don't do that! I don't think this issue will go away because of

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this. The final story, did you put a bet on the Grand National yesterday?

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No. No, but a great story in the Sunday Telegraph of the golf widows.

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I think it's fantastic. They are not really widows, they golf widows

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because their husbands go out playing golf and they bought a horse

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and it won. Two aspects to this story, one, it is encouraging if you

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are busy and your wife or partner goes out and spends in this case

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?30,000 each on a horse! They picked a winner, that's great! If they

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spent ?30,000 because you were busy doing something else that is

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alarming! Imagine if they did that every time you were busy. Although

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it is a lovely story, very uplifting, I loved it and I loved

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the picture. It is a great picture of the two ladies. Anything you'd be

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tempted to do? By a horse with my spare 30p?

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LAUGHTER What did they win? They won

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?600,000. I might have that wrong. They did pretty well. They can

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probably sell the horse now for more money. They could. They have won

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all-round. On that note, while you are checking the numbers and

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thinking of buying a horse I want to say thank you very much indeed for

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coming to look at the papers. That's it for The Papers.

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Keirin hello, yesterday just about everywhere enjoyed the warmth

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