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tv   Newsnight  BBC News  July 21, 2017 11:15pm-11:46pm BST

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well, zombie or not, theresa may is still with us and has managed to beat the likes of sir alec douglas home and the duke of devonshire in the battle not to be one of britain's shortest serving prime ministers. as she packs the walking sticks and insect repellent for a summer holiday with husband philip in switzerland and italy, we'll be asking was everyone wrong about mrs may's staying power? do the conservatives really want her to remain in post until the end of the brexit process, that's march 2019? or will events catch up with mrs may, meaning she doesn't have time to "clean up the mess she created", as she told her cabinet colleagues was her desire. and what aboutjeremy corbyn and his plea for the pm to simply stand aside? with his take on mrs may's long and tricky summer ahead here's our policy editor, chris cook. the conservative party candidate... last month's general election did not go to plan for the prime minister and shortly afterwards
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she ran into trouble over her handling of the grenfell tower fire. it felt for a spell that she might have to quit. it has been a month and a half since that general election but theresa may is still the prime minister. there is talk of succession all the time but it is not about imminent succession, it is about the medium term. what are the factors that are keeping her wedged in here? one major reason is a fear ofjeremy corbyn. tory mps do not want to do anything that would make a snap general election likely. jeremy corbyn has gone from being the no—hoperjoke to the very real threat, a proper socialist now much closer to number ten and the whole country has woken up to that and the conservative party certainly has. tory mps want to avoid upheaval during the brexit negotiations, not that they are not split about how negotiations should proceed. that has been a major cause of recent cabinet tension. there is a lot of concern about business and the effect of brexit on investment.
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you are seeing david davis, liam fox and borisjohnson begin to speak in more moderate terms about the brexit that, yes, put britain back in charge but does not do so in a way that damages our economic competitiveness. an important part of the answer is there has been a blood—letting, the prime minister's two cochise of staff were forced to resign. it was a big decision to have the election in the first place so when it went so spectacularly wrong, the idea that someone had to be accountable, the removal of two peer advisors very close to theresa may, but at the same time were also the subject of great criticism. another element of the survival strategy has been a more moderate strategy than before. she arrived in downing street with grand ambitions. fighting against the burning injustice that if you are born to you will die on average nine years earlier than others,
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if you are black you are treated more harshly by the criminaljustice system. if you are white, working—class boy, you are less likely than anyone else in britain to go to university. that speech feels like a lot more than just a year ago. since the general election the government has only got a wafer thin majority in the commons and thanks to the dup. it has no majority in the lords. they are keen to avoid unnecessary birds that they might lose and that means they have had to ditch huge swathes of their domestic agenda. it is only things like brexit wearables have to be passed through parliament that they are persevering with legislation. the vast majority of that through the campaign puts us in a different situation. the prime minister has said, we need to reach out to other parties.
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you do not need legislation on mental health, some of the social justice work i was working on for her as chair of the policy board. there are cross—party alliances. it remains to be seen whether the recent anonymous leadership briefing will be seen as a durable new normal or whether the party might drift into rebellion. the good thing is that keeps people occupied, not having a nonexistent agenda in parliament, that enables people to have these conversations and it enables the discussions to go on about what next and makes the government looked like it has not got enough to be doing. we do not know how the crisis involved and in golfing theresa may six weeks ago will end. for now, though, the party is keeping her out there the stage. i'm joined by tim shipman, who's political editor at the sunday times, ash sarkar, senior editor at novara media,
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and polly mackenzie former special advisor to nick clegg. tim, if i can start with you. i read every week in the sunday times the cabinet riffs, the plot against theresa may. the tone since the general election seems to be that she would not survive, the party and the cabinet would turn against and maybe she would decide she had had enough. what do you put the fact she is still here, she is going on holiday, she is still on prime minister, there is no move against, what do you put that down against? i think she is weak, but so is everybody else and they are fighting like rats in a sack and nobody else was to take her on. the conservative party generally has taken the view it is better to have a bad prime minister than no prime minister. any minister that seeks to move against her will get punished. the most significant thing is the 1922 committee, the group of backbenchers, the shop stewards for the people without the top job have said,
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if you want to sack any of these recalcitrant ministers, be our guest. there are a good number of people who would like to lead the conservative party and the others have said they were not put up with it. the party may not want her to go, but is she define parliamentary political gravity with the fact that she might not be able to get any legislation through and in the end events will plot against her rather than her party? they usually do and the summer is a time for people to do a lot of thinking. there are some people who hope if she goes away walking she will come up with a dramatic decision largely came up away with the last time,
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this time to walk away. none of the other ministers are strong enough to get rid of her, but if she decided to go of her own accord, a lot of people would welcome it. you are a firm supporter ofjeremy corbyn and labour did better than many people expected in the general election. he did not win is one point worth making. what do you think about theresa may's position and what you thinkjeremy corbyn, if anything, can do to get himself to the position he wants to be in, which is in number ten? i think we have a strong but unstable government which is the worst of both worlds. there is very little in the wake of democratic oversight or accountability so we saw with the state pension age, the timescale to increase it has been brought forward and there has been very little noise about that made because once more our attention is focused on this short time, petty analysis of personality rather than substantive policies and that is where jeremy corbyn comes in. our political classes, our media classes all banked on him
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having a kind of off— putting, socialist, grandad style that would put people off. that was not the case. jeremy corbyn, john mcdonnell and diane abbott presented a fully costed and substantive manifesto and they talked about issues and that appealed to people. the best thing they can do is keep doing that over the summer and that will make theresa may look weaker because she will be away on holiday, and she will look weak and jeremy corbyn will be addressing the real needs. is that anything in parliamentary terms thatjeremy corbyn can do to spike the smooth that he wants to get into number ten? at the moment he has not got the numbers he needs to be able to move. in my view the best thing he can do is focus on modernising the labour party, making it more
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open and democratic and focus on his policy platform. let the tories rip each other to shreds because they are doing a very good job of it right now. they look an absolute shambles to be honest. what we have seen is that people find party infighting very unattractive. if i was jeremy corbyn's advisor i would say lead them to it. so vince cable, your new leader of the liberal democrats, what is the role for the liberal democrats? 12 seats, not in coalition with anyone, does not want to be in coalition with anyone. how does anyone engineer anything different from theresa may basically carry on for as long as the conservative party once? that is right. —— party wants. what vince is doing already is being the only party in parliament that is firmly against brexit. jeremy corbyn is backing up everything the government is doing, making a hash of these negotiations,
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cheered on by the labour benches, at least the leadership. but there is very little anybody can do to get rid of theresa may. they are holding onto the nurse for the finding anything worse, which is what they about margaret thatcher. you cannot get an election to happen. in 2010 everybody said the coalition would fall and it would fall over the first summer and then they said by conference, by christmas, by easter. for years we were constantly told there would be an election. but it was a proper, full coalition. that is true, she has a majority, the dup will not turn against her. there is a lot you can do without legislating atoll and getting frozen and carrying on in government for as long as they can, nobody wants that poisoned chalice of eating the brexit negotiations. of course the conservatives are nervous about losing the tenuous control of power they have,
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but rememberjeremy corbyn lost a c0 nfe re nce vote with his backbenchers. they are not convinced they can robbed of victory quickly either. isn't the big danger for the voting public that the parliament is there, but it is not doing any legislating? —— can romp. we have already seen the conservative party bend a lot of its manifesto. the focus is on brexit, they are not dealing with social care, mental health, the problems in the economy. this is called a zombie parliament, that might be unfair to zombies because they move forward in some way, but this parliament is static. a lot of people say politics is not just about legislating and we have a chance to see whether the public by that argument or not. it looks like chaos. when i announced on twitter i was coming on tonight to talk about politics, people tweeted back at me comments like we are in search
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of a paddle but there are none. the general view of politicians at the moment is this whole thing is a shambles. if the labour party brings in all this democratisation, that creates infighting in the labour party as well with the selection. will he lasts until 2019? oh, god, no. —— will he last until 2019? and do you think he will he last until 2019? yes, but if she goes she is replaced with another conservative and it does not change anything anyway. thank you both very much. he was a one—man media battle tank, the provider of alternative facts. and tonight he's gone. sean spicer, the president's
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official spokesman and bulldog in chief, resigned from the white house after mr trump hired a new communications chief, anthony scaramucci, as mr spicer‘s boss, something that mr spicer found hard to stomach. sean spicer has resigned from the white house after mr trump itu communications chief. something that sean spicer found hard communications chief. something that sean spicerfound hard to communications chief. something that sean spicer found hard to stomach. now, let's admit it, sean spicer may have broken the first cardinal rule of comms, don't become the story, but some people will miss him at his unique approach. we have the mpr white house correspondentjoining me from america. good evening. if nothing else, mr spicer was great
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sport and gave you lot in the press lobby of the white house plenty to talk about. you are going to miss him? yeah, sure. he definitely got good ratings as the president said in his statement bidding sean spicer farewell. the white house press briefings became must see television. you know, the saturday night live skit that came out of it and also there were quite a few viral videos, including one with the faces of correspondence in the room reacting to some of the things that he said. some of us would rather not be part of those viral videos, but suchis be part of those viral videos, but such is life. why do you think the president chose him to have that role, given that he did that role in a controversial and very different way from his predecessors? that's exactly why the president would have
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chosen him to do that role. sean spicer, from when he was... he was at the republican party and he showed an incredible amount of loyalty a nd showed an incredible amount of loyalty and an incredible ability to speak up for the then candidate trump and president trump, in a way that was somehow out of sync with reality, like the clip he played about the crowd size. a formative moment for sean spicer was during the republican convention, melania trump gave a speech that it turned out was strikingly similar to a speech that first lady michelle 0bama gave at another convention. there were all of these questions about whether it was plagiarism and sean spicer came out and said, well, i think sparkle pony also said something that was similar, is that plagiarism? a day something that was similar, is that plagiarism ? a day later something that was similar, is that plagiarism? a day later he was com pletely plagiarism? a day later he was completely contradicted when a trump campaign without a statement from
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the person who wrote the speech saying, it was inspired by and lifted from michelle 0bama. but spicer a game and again has come out and defended the president in the —— and defended the president in the —— and hours or days later president trump contradicts him. tell us a bit about the new communication secretary. he seems... you in the media were little bit bias. easy going to be a more in morley and video? is mrtrump going to be a more in morley and video? is mr trump showing he might wa nt to video? is mr trump showing he might want to change to an? that's really not clear from this first moment. it's really not clear also that scaramucci will be the one doing the briefings. when he came out he said sarah huckabee sanders will be the new press secretary. she has been conducting a lot of the briefings, and they've been off camera a lot
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lately instead of being on camera and she has been conducting them. the thought is that she will continued to conduct briefings. what he really brings is a loyalty to the president of the united states. time and time again he said, i love this president and i love this team. he doesn't bring a lot of communications experience. he is good on television, he has been out on cable defending the president. his background is in finance and most of his political experience has been as a political donor. thanks so much forjoining us. it is a new and frightening weapon, acid, often thrown in people's faces with horrific results. assaults involving corrosive substances have more than doubled in england since 2012. the vast majority were in london.
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the question is should any potential weapon capable of disfiguring people for life be readily available in the shops and available legally to anyone of any age who wants to buy it? after a series of attacks on moped riders in the last week, there have been demands for change. but, with mps now on a lengthy summer break, will there be reform any time soon? here's john sweeney. it's illegal for anyone to buy acid butjust so easy is it in practice for a teenager to get hold of a litre bottle of sulphuric acid? today, newsnight asked a 17—year—old to buy acid that can unblock drains but it is fast becoming a weapon of choice for the criminals of young london. in the past few years, dozens of attacks of terrified londoners, scarring some people for life physically and mentally.
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on tuesday, labour's stephen timms staged an emergency debate, calling for action. carrying acid without good reason should be as much as a criminal offence as carrying a knife is already. of course there are legitimate reasons for obtaining acid as for obtaining a knife, but we do not want people carrying them around the streets. javed hussain knows all about that. last week he was the first victim in a series of five attacks staged by two youths, reportedly to steal mopeds. he was just returning home when they struck. the skin was burning on my face, i was just knocking on the windows. they weren't opening, probably they were scared. the acid hit me on that side.
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physically, his helmet saved him, but mentally he is still suffering. when was the last time he went on your own onto the street? i didn't go on my own after this accident happened. i will always take my cousin or my brother with me. and i always keep my door locked as well. for my safety. have you lost trust in others? yes. i don't trust anyone who's passing by. how can this resolve itself? you can't stay locked up in your room on your own forever. what will you do? ifeel like if my daughter came next to me, i can hug her, i should be ok. but this does not work.
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even my wife, she's looking after me, giving me support, but i feel something dark behind me. that is what i think. i need to get back to work and i have to be safe. we asked a 17—year—old how difficult it would be for him to get hold of some acid. sulphuric acid, i believe? yeah, there it is. i said to the person, do i need to wear gloves? he said, yes, keep well away from any skin contact. wear gloves. so i knew it was the right one. did he ask for id? he did but it was not enforced, it was like reading from a script, do you have id? i said, look at me? do i look under 18? he was like, yeah, all right, then. it cost £7.
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i gave him tenner. i said, this is between me and you. of course. nothing happened. the latest numbers the police believe there have been 400 acid or corrosive attacks in the last six months orso and it feels that the problem is getting worse. so what are authorities doing? the home office promises a review. and parliament? the mps have gone on holiday. there is something horrible about using acid as a weapon. and something troubling. —— when the authorities seem so slow about trying to stop this. "we expect too much of new buildings and too little of ourselves," so said the urban theorist jane jacobs in her acclaimed 1961
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book the death and life of great american cities. central to the development of cities for more than half a century has been the high rise. seen first as the answer to alleviating poverty and post—war slum housing, and then as a monument to poor planning and urban failure. is there a difference between a tower block and an apartment block? terms which say a lot about the lens through which we see high—rise living. following the grenfell tragedy, what is the future of building upwards? we asked the writer and chair of new london architecture, peter murray, for his take. in the planning of our cities, few topics generate as much heated debate as tall buildings, whether they are ‘60s council blocks, glass and steel offices or modern apartments. since the grenfell tragedy, council built towers have been under particular scrutiny.
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the discussion has notjust been about what the towers are made or what risks they represent, but how they become symbols of broken britain, of inequality and social disparity. strange, really, when only last year towers were being accused of being money boxes in the sky for the offshore wealthy. ghost buildings whose chinese and middle eastern investors kept them empty as they profited from the uk's housing shortage. strange, too, when you realise that the millionaires who paid huge amounts for top floor flats did so because of the spectacular views they provide, a luxury that thousands of council tenants have enjoyed since towers were first built to solve the housing crisis in the post—war era. as authorities around the country assess the risk of towers in their boroughs, there are suggestions that the days
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of the tower block are over. newsreel: from the home of war times to the homes of people. tall, modern new homes where once there were slums. constructed in great numbers in the 1960s, they have long courted controversy. the series our friends in the north charted the shady dealings of newcastle's council house building boom and the social issues it generated. for all its inconveniences, lionel was satisfied with life in the high—rise. jg ballard's high rise portrays a dystopian future and a tower that falls apart as poor residents on the lower floors revolt against the rich at the top. yet there are billions of people living successfully in tall buildings around the world and the scale of tragedy that we saw at grenfell tower is, thankfully, very rare. the safety record of tall buildings
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tells us that a well—built, well—maintained tower block is literally as safe as houses. well, just look here at the barbican. it enjoys fantastic levels of maintenance, the public space here is freed up by the towers, the people in the towers have great views across london and the concrete structure is virtually indestructible. but most importantly, it is dense, close to the city and the barbican cultural centre, allowing residents to easily enjoy the concerts, plays, exhibitions and amenities of urban life. density is a good thing and should be encouraged where there are good transport links. it is sustainable, reducing reliance on the car and it is essential in the future as cities around the world grow exponentially.
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but density doesn't necessarily mean building high. the centres of paris and barcelona are the densest in europe but tall buildings do help to create greater density in existing urban centres. after 9/11, some thought it was the end of the tall office building. people would not want to work in them, they would feel unsafe. that did not prove to be the case. the leadenhall building, with its dramatic glazed lifts, was designed just one year after the destruction of the world trade center. the grenfell tower tragedy is unlikely to herald an end to high—rise living. over 400 new tower blocks are planned in the capital alone, reflecting a desire for city centre living which is fuelling a spate of taller buildings across the uk. nevertheless, we have to up our game
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in the design and location of new towers as well as the maintenance and improvement of existing ones. post—grenfell, the government, which was responsible for ignoring the warnings of the lakanal fire in 2009, has much to do to upgrade to building regulations and to make more money available. local authorities need the resources to retrofit sprinklers, ensure fire doors are in place, that maintenance work is properly done and regular safety checks are carried out in order to ensure that nothing like the grenfell tower tragedy ever happens again. that's almost it for tonight. but we thought we'd leave you with a taste of next week's
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prom, which celebrates the songs of scott walker, featuring jarvis cocker, john grant, richard hawley and susanne sundfor. you can catch it on bbc four next tuesday, but here's a taster. here is susanne singing walker's 1969 song on your own again. goodnight. # wasn't it a good year? # wasn't it filled with talking # it still moves through my heart # from time to time # city after city # granite grey as morning # heroes died in subways left behind # far behind like our love
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# you're on your own again # and you're your best again # that's what you tell yourself # i see it all the way as far as anyone can see # except when it began i was so happy i didn't # feel like me #

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