03/12/2017 The Papers


03/12/2017

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


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LineFromTo

A wicket in Adelaide, England are

29-1.

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That's all the sport for now.

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Hello and welcome to our look ahead

to what the the papers

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will be bringing us today.

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With me is the political commentator

James Millar and Sian Griffiths,

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Education Editor of the Sunday

Times.

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The Observer leads with news that

Theresa May's social mobility Tsar,

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Alan Milburn, has resigned

in protest against the

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government's policies.

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The Sunday Times goes

with the same story,

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reporting that Mr Milburn accused

ministers of betraying the people

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who voted for Brexit.

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The Mail on Sunday says

a Labour peer has been

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wrongly claiming expenses -

the peer says he will pay

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some of the money back.

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The Sunday Telegraph

reports on dissent within

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the Conservative Party over the role

EU courts will play

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in the UK after Brexit.

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And the Sunday Express claims

the upcoming royal wedding will lift

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the economy by half a billion pounds

and boost the UK's diplomatic

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relationship with the United States.

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Let's start off, Alan Milburn

quitting along with the rest of the

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social mobility team. Is it a

surprise?

I don't think it is

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completely a surprise. It is

embarrassing for Theresa May because

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she has made this a personal mission

of hers. She said the famous quote,

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we will make Britain a country that

works, not for the privileged few

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but for everyone of us.

When she

first arrived at Downing Street.

It

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was her pledge. So Alan Milburn has

quit today as her social mobility

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tsar, taking with him three other

members of the commission, including

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Julian Sheppard, a former Tory

Education Secretary. It is

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embarrassing. Not completely

unexpected because there is a back

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story to this, which is of course,

Alan Milburn, who has been the

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social mobility tsar for quite a

long time, his position came to an

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end this summer and the post is

being readvertised. So he's making

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political capital from this, because

I think his position was going to be

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readvertised. It was open for other

applications and he has come out and

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said I am quitting and this

government is not doing enough to

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mend the divisions of our society

and make it easier for poorer people

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to access wealth, jobs and

opportunities.

James, it is time for

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the Sunday papers to report on their

front pages, could he be accused of

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gesture politics by the Prime

Minister?

Yes, he has jumped before

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he was pushed. He is a former Tony

Blair Minister and has done an

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excellent piece of media management

in a classic Blairite fashion.

Do

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you think Alastair Campbell might

have been involved?

I don't know,

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but it is a good bit of media

management because he would have

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been out of the post probably

anyway. But the stuff he has put in

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his resignation letter is quite

explosive. He said the government

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doesn't have the bandwidth to look

into this because of the Brexit

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stories going on. He said the worst

position in politics is to set out a

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policy to heal social divisions,

then do nothing about it. It is

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hard-hitting and for a Prime

Minister who is already fairly weak,

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the Prime Minister 's -- the papers

will lap that.

The government does

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have two focus on Brexit, and it is

hard to focus on anything else at

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the moment?

Obviously, they have to

focus on Brexit, but you cannot

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forget the fact that people who

voted for Brexit voted because they

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were feeling hopeless about their

prospects and the prospects about

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their children. Focusing on Brexit

ignores the problem is why we got to

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the position we are now in. Alan

Milburn is right to be highlighting

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this issue. If you don't tackle it,

what you risk is extremism,

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populism, these part of the country

feeling left behind, really getting

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very, very angry and where does it

lead to? Civil Unrest. It is

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worrying.

Brexit and social

mobility, Brexit will have a massive

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impact, it will happen and will have

a huge impact. Part of that will be

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economic and that will impact on

social mobility. Whether that it is

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being worse off all better off,

depending on what you think will

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happen, conditions at work and the

benefits guaranteed by the EU at the

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moment, it is all connected and you

cannot ignore social mobility to do

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a trade deal with New Zealand, you

cannot ignore it.

Coming at the end

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of a difficult week for the Prime

Minister, the Damian Green saga and

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other things, and this resignation.

That is why it is on the front pages

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of two papers. It is not that big a

deal. The government was having a

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decent time post-budget, getting

their act together. It looks like

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they will get some stuff going on

with Brexit coming to an agreed

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position. It could be a lot worse in

terms of front pages.

There was a

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time when Theresa May, people

thought, she only had a few days but

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she is still hanging on.

She is, but

who is a possible contender for the

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job? Who wants the job? These

pictures on the front of the

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Observer very revealing.

Florists in

Berkshire.

Biting her lip, looking

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great, tired and anxious. He would

want to be in her position.

There is

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a narrative that she is, suggested

partly because she was a woman and

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these papers are produced by men,

suggesting she is a bit weak,

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surrounded by flowers because she is

a lady. I am always concerned about

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that narrative on what is driving

it.

And you can always find a

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picture of a politician looking

tired. Onto the Telegraph, children

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being offered counselling in the

classroom because of the mental

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health crisis. We hear so much about

young people facing this mental

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health crisis and it is a step that

is sensible to send experts into the

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classroom?

It is a step in the right

direction, I am glad this is a Green

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paper coming out tomorrow. It is a

joint Green paper between the health

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Department and the education

Department and is trying to address

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this problem. It is an epidemic of

mental health disorders among our

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young people in schools, children as

young as five.

What is the reason

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for that? Is it social media, an

increase in reporting on mental

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health problems, why do we have this

epidemic?

There isn't one single

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reason. If you talk to headteachers,

they are very worried. They come up

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with a range of factors they think

may have caused it. That comes from

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living your life and social media to

testing exams, GCSEs and A-levels

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being made harder, SATs in primary

schools. There is an acceptance of

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young people but there aren't enough

jobs for many of them when they come

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out of university. I do agree, there

is more being talked about in terms

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of mental health and the Sunday

Times has the same story today. They

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have targeted all sorts of things,

Prince Harry talking about his

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mental health problems, which has

been helpful in breaking the stigma,

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opening up the conversation. One in

four of us, probably more will

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suffer from a mental health

disorder, that can go on to

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self-harming, depression,

self-harming, anorexia and sadly,

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some people kill themselves. But

talking about it, having an outlet

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for your feelings, hopefully this

will be able to identify the

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children at risk and stop the

conversation.

One of the problems is

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the NHS has been criticised for not

being very good at mental health

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treatment, particularly amongst the

young?

Don't get too excited because

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this will not happen until 2021 so a

lot of kids struggling at the

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moment, it will not help them. My

concern with this, it is coming at

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it from the wrong end of the

telescope. If you ask me what is to

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blame, it is Michael Gove.

That is a

little bit harsh?

His education

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reforms have made exams much harder.

I have been looking at secondary

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schools for my daughter and the

teachers are saying they have had to

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set up meditation rooms because the

students are buckling under the

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weight of expectation from exams.

That is what is causing a lot of

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this. Not all of it, but correlation

is not necessarily causation.

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Michael Gove is in here to answer

that criticism but he will say he's

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trying to improve standards in

education.

But at what cost? That is

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the question. I defer to your

expertise, but standards have gone

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up, but what cost are we doing that?

Exams cannot be the only reason

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behind a mental health crisis?

Not

the only one, but if you looked at

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the education system you might be

able to do with it that way, rather

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than send in therapies.

Sian, ease

up on exams, can be tackled it that

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way?

At the end of the day, our kids

have to compete with kids from

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across the world for job snobs

standards need to go. Also two

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families, working, that has had a

big effect on mental health in

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children. But it is good something

has been done to address it. I'm

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about to see the health department

doing something about it.

Speaking

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of jobs and opportunities for young

people, what about the SAS? It looks

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like they might be recruiting women.

I love this story. It is on the

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front of the Sunday Times. They say

it is the last frontier for women

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serving in the Armed Forces in

Britain. It is a proposal to modify

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the gruelling selection tests that

they hold to give female recruits a

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better chance. Reading it, I gather

women wouldn't have to wear such

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heavy packs when they do the

selection tests. It would be great

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to see more women in the SAS but

there is a bit of me that worries,

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if you cannot wear that heavy pack,

he can manage it, what happens if

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you have to carry an injured male

soldier in battle? Will you be able

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to carry them?

With that apply to

any soldier, not necessarily just in

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the SAS if they have to carry a

fallen comrades from the battlefield

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as Jamaat odessey warfare is

changing and I am sure there are

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many other abilities and skills in

modern warfare that perhaps women

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have and could be very useful in the

SAS apart from this physical

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strength.

Nobody is saying women

should not be physically fit, but

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the idea of how much they can

physically carry.

Apparently it is

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causing much discussion in the Armed

Forces about whether the rules

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should be changed. I don't think

there is any argument about whether

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women should be allowed in, all

roles will be open to women, it is

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the question of whether they change

the bar they need to get over

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because they are not as physically

strong as the strongest men. That

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sounds fantastic. I would love to

hear what they are having to say

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about this in an office's mess. How

politically correct it might be. I

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have no idea.

It would be symbolic

because the SAS is this elite

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regiment and to have women SAS

soldiers would be symbolic for the

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Ministry of Defence, the Armed

Forces?

It would be symbolic and

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there have been these professions,

traditionally have been hard to

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break into four women and this is

one of the last bastions where it

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has been difficult. I think some of

these tests, the police used to have

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to have a test, being a certain

height and I did consider it at one

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point and realising I was too small.

I think things have to be modified

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as society changes.

We have a female

doctor, whether we have a female

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James Bond down the line. We can

have James Bond.

Good idea. Let's go

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on to the Mail on Sunday. Jeremy

Corbyn in expenses scandal.

This is

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a senior Jeremy Corbyn in the Lords.

He is not a senior aide to Jeremy

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Corbyn.

Is he a friend to Jeremy

Corbyn?

Not really. Most of them got

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their job under Tony Blair so they

are not massive fans Jeremy Corbyn.

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He has been claiming money for a

second home in London. He is

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entitled to claim about £36,000 a

year allowance. Because that would

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be OK if he didn't live in Brighton

and commute every day from Brighton

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and he has also been claiming

expenses for his train ticket from

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Brighton. If you claim one of the

other you will be all right, but

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claiming both has not been looking

great. He has said he will pay some

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of it back, he said he will pay the

train fare. When we had the expenses

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scandal, not many broke the rules,

it just looked bad.

The focus seems

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to has gone on expenses from MPs to

the Lords. More focus on collecting

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the daily allowance but not

speaking. Various peers accused of

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not taking part in debates for

months on end.

Of course, he is said

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he will pay back the £41,000 for

rail and taxi fares but said he will

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not play the money back for the home

allowance. He is choosing to pay

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back the smaller of the amounts.

There is, it seems rules in the

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Lords that can be bent. There needs

a massive review of these rules and

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put in place something simple,

transparent and straightforward that

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cannot be bent got around easily

because they are old-fashioned

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rules.

And they call him Lord

swampy. He used to be a squatter

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Sobey are any he has been caught out

on the issue of housing expenses is

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too good for the papers to leave.

That was a long time ago.

We talked

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about women in the SAS and the

female James Bond and now it is the

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unisex scouts at the transgender

guides, Scout leaders are told,

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don't call them boys and girls.

Scout leaders have been told to

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refrain from calling children boys

and girls to make sure transgender

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children are not offended. I think

it is part of a general thing across

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organisations dealing with young

people, to try to get them to

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consider these gender stereotypes, I

am not sure boys and girls are

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gender stereotypes, but there is a

movement at the moment in getting

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children to think. Should I be

wearing pink if I am a girl, should

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I be wearing blue if I am a boy,

should I be playing football as a

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boy, or playing with dolls as a

girl. It goes, in my view into

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political correctness and lunacy. So

it can go too far and I think there

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are boys and there are girls, it is

fine to call them boys and girls we

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don't need gender neutral pronouns

for everything.

James?

As part of

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that movement, this is a good thing.

There is no need to call the kids

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boys and girls, you can call them

children. If you do call them boys

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and girls, you trigger what that

means. There is so much about gender

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stereotypes where boys are told,

this is what it is to be a boy.

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Girls are told this is what it is to

be a girl. There was a programme in

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the summer called there are no more

boys than girls. They stop calling

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them boys and girls in the classroom

and the girls' confidence went up

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and the boys, in terms of the

Calgary, improve. Simplifying it

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somewhat, but it helped.

So you can

never say boys and girls?

Don't hang

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your body out to dry who calls

anybody boys and girls, but there is

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nothing wrong in thinking about it

and tackling those stereotypes. Then

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there is another issue where the

stereotypes are so ingrained we

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start confusing or conflating gender

and sex. Then we get into Sian's

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story in the Sunday Times about

books on transgender being

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distributed in schools. Which is

very much in the same sort of

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ballpark. That is a related but

different issue. I think it is a

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good thing not to call kids boys and

girls. If you can avoid it.

Sian is

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laughing.

I don't have a problem

with this.

We will have two end it

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there.

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We do take a look at the front pages

of the next day's papers every

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evening here on BBC News at 10:40

p:m., but thanks again to my guests.

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Goodbye for now.

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