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tv   Dateline London  BBC News  October 4, 2021 3:30am-4:01am BST

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is bbc news. the - is bbc news. the headlines: _ the secret wealth and business dealings of hundreds of world leaders, politicians and billionaires has been exposed in one of the biggest leaks of financial documents dubbed �*the pandora papers.�* bbc panorama, and a year—long investigation involving 650 journalists, hazard access to 12 million documents, sparking allegations of global tax avoidance and corruption. the united states as it is very concerned about the rising tensions between china and taiwan with chinese military jets flying into taiwan's air defence zone over the last three days. it raised tensions between the island and beijing. a large oil slick has begun washing ashore in southern california with beaches in orange county closed as oil and dead wildlife washer on the sand. almost 500,000 litres of oil has leaked from a pipeline.
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it is 3:30 and now, time for dateline london. hello, welcome to dateline london. i'm geeta guru murthy. it's conference season for the political parties here in the uk, the moment in the year when parties seek to define who they are and where they are going. well, for sir keir starmer, the labour opposition leader, his first conference speech in person was billed as "make or break". where did it land? and with borisjohnson heading to manchester — if he can manage to fill up his petrol tank — what will conservative conference bring this week? we also head to germany, where a political leader who mastered staying power, angela merkel, is now only
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a caretaker chancellor, whilst the german political class decides who to form as its coalition government. what will emerge and what does it all mean for germany and europe? and we end today with a brewing storm here in the uk. empty petrol stations, empty supermarket shelves, surging living costs, cuts to benefits, a struggle to see your doctor in person all combining to create a sense of deep frustration in the uk — and we haven't even mentioned christmas! are we already in an autumn of discontent or will the labour shortage ultimately help the conservatives as they try and force businesses to pay british workers more? well, with me today are columnist at the guardian, ian birrell, contributing editor at the mail on sunday, and here in the studio — at a safe social distance — the veteran german commentator thomas kielinger. a very warm welcome to you all.
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first the labour party conference was by the sea in brighton this week. at times stormy, it's set labour on course in a new direction, tacking right, leaving corbyn supporters somewhat out at sea. starmer told his party they had nearly been obliterated but essentially, given they were roundly beaten byjohnson, by whom he described as "a trivial man, a trickster who had performed his one trick", it was clear labour had to shift back to the centre if they ever want to be in power again. there were also important rule changes strengthening starmer�*s hand, but as was his speech that was billed as "a make or break moment". let us examine the last few days politically. ian was it make or break or where did it [and in your view? i don't know if it was make or break but i think keir starmer could certainly feel happy with his progress over the week. the conference went pretty well for him — even the heckling probably helped him, particularly when it was so crass as to come when he was talking about his sick mother being in an emergency ward in hospital. to have people heckling there didn't look very
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good on them. he made some good lines in it. he's not a natural speaker, he's not a brilliant, engaging orator but he comes across as a competent, steady character. he told a good story about his own background and his own past and family, which i thought was very effective. he repudiated the last manifesto, which i thought was a sensible thing to do, given how it was defeated. he told the labour party, "well, if you hate boris johnson, bear in mind that he beat you, so look at yourselves" which is valid point to make, and he also tried to bring back and reconnect the party that won elections under tony blair by arguing that if you want to look at levelling up — which, of course, is borisjohnson�*s big phrase — he argued that the last labour government actually did a lot of levelling up. so overall, i think it was a sort of b+, competent, good, could have been a lot worse, hasn't changed the game, hasn't answered a lot of contradictions facing the labour party of how to web together the various elements within the labour party, but keir starmer reasserted his own authority and stamped a little bit of his character.
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and underlined the fact that he sees himself as a serious player up against what he calls a trivial prime minister. ian, thank you for that. thomas, do you think it's changed the game? i think it has. for one thing, i agree with ian that he is a totally different beast, starmer. he is against theatricality, which is very much the hallmark of a lot of british policy production and performance. he is serious, down to earth, and he means business. and this is not the time where you want actors on the stage parading themselves — asjohnson has successfully done over the last few months in his term in office — you want a sober guy like keir starmer who is not charismatic or anything which will help them to get his message across. and johnson will have to watch out for a man like him who speaks directly
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to the senses and the normality of people and does away with all sort of extraneous sort of efforts to be a showman or showboating. so i think that'll stand him in good stead. i agree with ian it was a good week and a good speech. not too much should be made of one individual speech. i mean, britain has this tradition of speech—making being part and parcel of shakespeare, so all the world's the stage, you know — you have to be an actor. he is a bit like market in his own way. merkel was not a show—woman. she was understated, uncharismatic, just plodded and got along. and people will get used to him, i'm sure, as a different sort of voice in a different approach to politics. so i think i can agree with the positive result over the last few days for him. thomas, thank you. i'm delighted to say we are also joined now by polly toynee — we weren't sure if we were going to get to you, trouble on the line.
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very good to see you. you were at the labour party conference this week. i was just saying at the top of this that it was billed — it had a very big billing as a make—or—break moment for starmer. which one was it, in your view? well, it certainly| wasn't break and i would say it was i on the way to make. i think it's probably the firstl time he's really had a chance to introduce himself in his 18 months of being leader- because everything has beenj covid, there's been no public meetings, politics has been entirely about covid - and a very wise and sensible opposition leader— to challenge the government at every point _ the consensus of the public i on the whole most of the time during this pandemic has been. "who'd want to be in government at a time like this?" i and giving the benefit of the doubt. " we hope that this is over- and politics returns to normal. we are now in the middle of another crisis — - partly—
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as a result of brexit, partly as a result of covid — and i think that whether. the public has decided that_ they've had enough - of clowns and showmen. everybody always said i "boris johnson has such charisma, he's such a brilliant campaigner, he's such - an election winner". the question is whether that goes on, whether he if- is incompetent in government — which it's increasingly looking like — people will change - their mind to decide - what they want is a serious, competent party, - and labour looks like that. certainly he's a sober man- who doesn't do too manyjokes — one or two sprinkled _ in his speech — but when people think it's time for a grown—up, it's quite possible _ that they will take . another look at him. but labour is still miles behind. - and the reminder from the small number but very noisy, - far—left—wing - hecklers of what lies underneath the labour party certainly always _ puts people off. so there is still a long way to go before he level pegsj with the tories.
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ian, do you think the conservatives, as they come into their conference week in manchester, will be at all concerned about the change they've seen in the labour party? clearly, there has been a very clear shift to the right, rejecting of the far left, as labour centrists see it, trying to make it basically an essential winning around —— ground of previous leaders. certainly, it's not the ideal scenario for them going into a conference with such chaos in the country. a leader who is someone who likes to promise a lot and perhaps not deliver so much, makes a lot ofjokes, etc. while at the same time, you've got this very solid, sort of very middle english characterm and he has —— sort of very middle english character, and he has pulled the party a little back towards the centre, a little bit back towards reality.
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there's not a lot behind them but the shadow chancellor did well as well. certainly, i think the tories would prefer to have jeremy corbyn there than keir starmer at the moment with all this going on. polly, there is a big question for labour which starmer addressed. he listed the faults of the tories as he sees it, then said, "ok, if they are so bad, why did they beat us so roundly?" and that is still the question, as you said, because the tories are ahead in the polls, borisjohnson has a huge majority and we are some time away from election. borisjohnson - is a great campaigner and that's very different i to running a government. borisjohnson runs a government i as if he was still campaigning. i he approaches every issue not as a problem to be solved - in the real world, - but how will this play? they have more focus groups, i they have more opinion polling according to pollsters - than any other number ten according to pollsters, - than any other number 10 downing street has ever had. they are obsessed with this. so they are constantly in that mode. - and in the end, - reality does catch up.
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i whether the results are there — i he's made this enormous problem promise of levelling up as if britain's serious. inequality — one of the most| unequal countries in europe. only america and the western world is more unequal. - he's made this impossible - promise that he cannot meet. so i think keir starmer- was laying out in his speech some of the ways forward l and some of the things that labour would do, but without making wild,| extravagant promises . that he could be tripped up on in future. thomas, when we look ahead to what the conservatives might want to do, presumably they'll be focus on delivery — borisjohnson has delivered brexit, he's delivered a successful vaccine programme, which is still ongoing. the levelling up agenda is clear. what do you think the focus might be over the next few days for the conservatives, given the very difficult backdrop that we've got at the moment? let me say the positive
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things in the government — i'm the beneficiary of that. i got the grant scheme in my way as a self—employed person which helped me and tied me over the hard times when my business was flat and right down. i applaud them for the scheme and for granting people like myself help to survive. but the future is now upon us. this is all behind us. the furlough scheme and the scheme for the unemployed. how are you going to cope with the lack of skilled labour in britain? i think that is the biggest problem he will face. it's notjust a question of pay — everyone is now talking about lorry drivers and other employees have to be paid better. that's true. but the problem is with the absence of so many employees from the eu, you have forgotten to skill up the british work sufficiently well over the last few years. and if you want to level up, you need to skill up the workforce. you need more apprenticeship
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training to make them fit for the jobs that are waiting for them — there are a huge number of vacancies — and you can't just— fix them up like that because there are not enough skilled people around with the absence of forei-n labour. that in my view is the biggest problem that we face to get the country out of the crisis and get them working at affordable wages and with enough skilled apprenticeship training in place to make up for time lost on that issue. we will come back to the current crisis, the current difficulties, in a few minutes. ian, if i can come to you. you wrote speeches for david cameron, the former prime minister, of course. we would expect fireworks for mrjohnson over the coming weeks for his speech with a lot of expectation, but there's a lot of question about his competence in government is in it now. also he will be criticised from the right of his party for spending a lot,
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for not being responsible, not following the sunak mould whether there is a split between number 10 and number 11 in that mould as questions of interest rate and so on unfold. i think the issue is really that we know boris johnson will give an entertaining speech because he is a showman and that's what he excels at. but what we don't know and have any signs of is whether he'll deliver in government. and as yet the record is very, very poor. the pandemic has masked that but this is the man that gave us brexit, this is the man who has promised to fix social care and has come up with a plan that doesn't do anything towards it. this is a man who hasn't prepared for all the staffing and skilling problems we are seeing in hospitality, in care, in driving, of course, and it's a terrible scenario. and he's going to mention the word delivery endlessly. i think will hear that more than any other word. but of course, the proof will be in the christmas pudding. are the goods in the shops at christmas? are goods being delivered? is there fuel at the petrol pumps? right nowm it doesn't look like that.
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so i think it's quite challenging forjohnson that he can uplift the conference with his character and charisma but questions are beginning to be asked — not so much political questions about the direction of the party, although those exist underneath, there are simply questions as to whether this is a government which is chronically incompetent and whether that comes from the top downwards. and that's really the question confronting him which with what we've seen last week in brighton with keir starmer putting labour back partially in the game becomes a very difficult and valid question. less so in a way for the party conference, more going beyond that as we head towards the next election. polly, in terms of party conference what do you think the focus will be, do you think it will level up and delivery? and how much concern might there be from the party members, the activists are always a very particular group at all the party conferences. what will they want to see from johnson? yes, they will certainly want action, they will.
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want levelling up. those new mps in the north will say, what's in it for us? j you promised us and they've had nothing so far. - i'm sure there will be lots of promises that| will sound good until you count up the millions and billions. i the amount of heavy lifting required is absolutely - enormous. and i very much doubt he will satisfy them, l at the same time the people in the south, his southern . heartlands will be very - worried that moving money from the south to the north will disadvantage them - and lose them some seats. thank you. let us move in to our next subject. here in the uk as the showmanship versus competence argument rages, in germany it seems stable pragmatism is the more prized virtue at present. with the contenders for the merkel crown doing their best to apparently
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emulate her, who is likely to emerge on top, thomas? well, i can tell you the person who is likely to emerge which is the former finance minister who served angela merkel's government as the deputy chancellor. he is from the spd and he's been given a chance to form a government, that doesn't mean that he is chancellor in waiting. don't forget we have an unusually complicated situation in germany because the first time since the war we have to have a part... a coalition consisting of three parties. no two parties can form a government unless it were the old grand coalition which none want to repeat. so you're going to see a negotiation marathon. four years ago at the time of the last election, merkel took five months to create a government, five months of negotiation, germany went into purdah in those days. i wonder, can we afford to do the same shenanigans again
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and lose such valuable time to form a government? indeed it is difficult. he will have to use the services of the market —— free democrats, a market party and the green party which is on the other side of the political spectrum in favour of big spending programmes, raising taxes which the free democrats are deadly set against. so mister scholz will first have to mitigate between these two coalition partners. he also has to get his own party behind him. don't forget two years ago the party did not support him as leader of the party. he was too right wing for the socialists section of the spd. there's all sorts of uncertainty. you ask about what it means for europe? i ask that myself. one thing is certain with the absence of britain
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who was always a face for germany in terms of economic management and so forth in line with the northern european countries, that country is now missing, there is a lacuna where britain used to sit. who is he going to pick? i think he will move closer to france. and additionally closer to italy as well. italy is in safe hands, the president of the economic bank in europe. i'm looking forward to a new tripartite arrangement of berlin. — rome and paris coming together and to agree on things. personally, i like scholz to be in charge. he is an understated man like merkel was and some of the other days that he reminds them of attlee — a modest man and has much to be modest about. underrated, he is a smart man. very on top of his financial remit. he will do all right. except don't lose too much time negotiating, i'm just hoping that they won't need another five months before a government emerges. ian, you've obviously
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been in germany too. how much does the leadership of germany matter outside its own borders, cross—border in europe and internationally? we have seen changing alliances. tensions between the uk, europe, america as we face east. it obviously matters hugely, it's the most important country in europe. it's interesting also that i thought the greens did quite well and were probably the most forceful on the emerging issues of how to deal with the dictatorial regimes, in china particularly but also in russia. the whole attitude towards russia is quite interesting with the energy crisis whereby germany seems very complacent about russia and this is alarming some of its allies but particularly in eastern europe in poland, ukraine and the baltic states. it symbolised by the new gas pipeline which allows putin to pump his into europe and circumvent ukraine. we've also seen how
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the greens came back, that was very interesting. i was also very struck by the spd were in the doldrums at the start of the year and were nowhere. it does show again the volatility of european politics. here is a party that was really going nowhere and the cdu were way ahead. one party picked the wrong person, they collapsed to lose 1.3 million voters, particularly a lot of older voters. the spd came back and also we've seen the two main parties go under 50% of the first time. again that fracturing of politics we are seeing in all the countries. the intriguing difference for germany is that the populace are not on the edges. so the hard left and hard right did very badly and lost votes, particularly the hard left. and yet we are seeing the success of the greens did very well. there is an interesting phenomenon in germany that we are seeing the same break—up in traditional politics but people are not
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going to the extremes. they're looking for a relatively centrist forces and i do find that intriguing as well. can i just ask you very briefly on germany? obviously it matters hugely to the uk, this very changing relationship with the eu at the moment. absolutely. it will be a great fillip to the labour party . and to social democrats and people to the left . of the conservatives to have - seen a wave of social democrats taking over in europe - whereas only a short time ago people were gloomily- predicting that the populace —— populists would be in power. we have norway, sweden, finland, spain, portugal. and a large chunk of. the italian government. and now the social democrats . coming top in germany a sense, a wave of things happening. very often those things i will roll over the channel towards us. a lot of people feel
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encouraged. - it's often been said that merkel was a steady hand and quite patient, waiting for the dust to settle before making a wrong decision. —— making her own decision. she made some important, hugely important unilateral decision and time in office. she advocated atomic power in germany, she opened the doors for refugees overnight without consulting anyone. she also decided on the russian deal which came along and again it was a unilateral act of germany. scholz is going to be more engaged with collateral thinking. he will be moving close to the other regimes in europe and make sure germany returns to a more of a collective decision making in europe. and that will be all for the good and will be quite a warning sign for boris johnson, i quite agree. our last topic we have touched on — the current petrol crisis. and the labour shortages. it is extraordinary that we are in this moment
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and yet the conservatives are still polling very well. what does that tell us? i think it takes a while for polls to come through. i it depends on how long this crisis goes on for. but you can't have our country brought to a halt by lack- of petrol for very long . without the government getting severe penalties. it's not clear the government is going to escape from this. | a lack of drivers and - a pathetic offer was made so we can of european drivers| back forjust three months set back on christmas eve. there are conditions here for lorry drivers are appalling. . they're not likely to come. meanwhile our agriculture . is in a very bad state for lack of workers in our| meat processing. i think this crisis is going to last and in the end - governments that can't i competently keep things going in a country, pay the penalty. . and i think this one j will if they can't get a grip on it.
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briefly again how much is this can be worrying briefly again how much is this going to be worrying the conservatives? it will be worrying them hugely. it's so extensive, the staffing problems that even there is a shortage of butchers. they having emergency visas to target european butchers in which underlines the absurdity of the situation. it coincides with the cost of living issue, whereby the cost of living is going up, we had extra taxes coming in to pay for the nhs that are claimed to be paying for social care. councils can have to raise moneyjust to stand still because of the extra pressures. rishi sunak has begun to unleash the taxes, he's going to have to bring in and the money raising methods he has to pay for those extra drivers to pay bigger wages for them, somebody has to pay for that and that's to be the customers in the shops. this is also coinciding not only with a potentially chaotic
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government and a chaos in the high street but also with people having to pay more to get less. and that's not a happy situation for any government to be in. 0k. ian birrell, polly toynbee and thomas kielinger. thank you very much for your time. any empty shelves or petrol shortages in germany? no, not to a large extent. very interesting. i know you're going back to germany so we will hear back very soon. thanks, everyone. goodbye.
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hello. we're eyeing up another area of low pressure, another spell of wind and rain heading into parts of the uk overnight monday into tuesday. until then, it is showers, not quite as windy for monday. it will still be breezy out there, especially in wales and england. so, on this brisk flow of air coming in from the west, the showers mostly across western areas developing low pressure, though, to the southwest will bring that rain — later in the day — that next area of low pressure. starting numbers for monday, showers, some heavy, just running through southeast england and east anglia early on before they're clearing away. then many eastern areas will be largely dry for the rest of the day, just the odd hit and miss shower. a scattering of showers to the west, any where you catch a shower could be heavy, could be some hail mixed in and perhaps the rumble of thunder. and as for temperatures, we're topping out at around 13—17 celsius, some decent spells of sunshine around. rain gathering, though, to the southwest, that next area of low pressure pushing the rain into southwest england and wales. some of this will be heavy on monday evening. then it feeds across the rest of england, and then going into tuesday, it's a question ofjust how far
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north that rain is going to get. quite a chilly night, though, in scotland and northern ireland, where it stays clear with lighter winds on tuesday morning. so, something to plan for in the detail of where band of rain is going to come to a halt on tuesday, maybe affecting parts of northern england, but also toward southern and eastern scotland, so we will keep you updated on that. there will be showers elsewhere though much of northwest scotland and northern ireland will avoid the rain from this weather system, it will be a cool day on tuesday and near that rain, there's a chance of gates as well. the area of low pressure will slowly move away into the north sea as we go on into wednesday with high pressure building in behind. still breezy across eastern areas with early showers or some spells of rain slowly easing. lighter winds elsewhere with some sunshine around, clouding up again towards northern ireland and parts of scotland later in the day as outbreaks of rain move in on wednesday. now, later in the week, there's a change of weather
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pattern, if you like, low pressure. this is ex—hurricane sam in the northwest. a trailing weather front, though, will be sitting across parts of scotland and northern ireland thursday into friday with a chance of rain, whereas elsewhere, high pressure is building in. now, all parts will turn milder, but drierfor wales and england, quite a bit of cloud, though, and some mist and fog around.
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this is bbc news. welcome if you're watching here in the uk or around the globe. i'm mark lobel or around the globe. i'm mark lobel. ourtop or around the globe. i'm mark lobel. our top stories: the secret wealth of dozens of world leaders, from the king ofjordan to the president of russia, exposed in one of the biggest ever leaks of financial documents dubbed the pandora papers. bbc panorama in a year—long joint investigation involving more than 650 journalists has had access to 12 million documents, sparking allegations of corruption, money—laundering and global tax avoidance. the us says it's very concerned about the rising tensions between and taiwan, with chinese militaryjets flying into taiwan's air defence zone over the last three days. beaches are closed in southern california as a large oil spill washes ashore, leaving dead wildlife on the sand.

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