tv Dateline London BBC News August 29, 2022 3:30am-4:01am BST
this is bbc news. the headlines: more than a thousand people have now died in pakistan where floods have been described by the country's foreign minister as a catastrophe. bilawal butto—zardari told the bbc the disaster was on a scale he has never seen before. pakistan's government has issued a fresh appeal for more international aid. nasa is preparing to launch its new rocket for its first mission to the moon in 50 years. it's the first of the artemis mission — an uncrewed test flight to see if the technology works. it could pave the way for human beings to return to the moon. roland mesnier, the veteran white house pastry chef, has died at the age of 78. the french—born confectioner spent 27 years serving five us presidents.
he built his reputation in large hotels across the world before he was hired by first lady rosalynn carter in 1979. now on bbc news, dateline london. hello and welcome to the programme which brings together some of the best—known british commentators and correspondents who write, blog, podcast and broadcast to audiences back home from the dateline london. this week, britain's elusive prime minister turns up in ukraine, as the country marks six months since the war began. we now know in the uk how much energy bills will rise from october, but not what the new prime minister will do when they take over. where has power gone in the uk?
where's it going in the united states? and in australia, how come much of it ended up in the hands of just one man? and even his his friends aren't happy about it. to discuss all of that, in the studio, we have latika bourke, a correspondent for the australian newspapers the age and the sydney morning herald, a writer who has been writing a weekly column for the guardian since 1987, polly toynbee, and michael goldfarb, who was a foreign correspondent for national public radio in the united states, his podcast is called the first rough draft of history. lovely to have you all back in the dateline studio. this is ourfinal month on air, so we'll make it a good one. polly, let me start with you, with a week left of voting, how confident are liz truss�*s supporters that she will be in downing street at the beginning of september? absolutely. every poll puts her further and further ahead. it is a funny little electorate — just 160,000 people choosing a prime ministerfor all of the rest of us, it is very bizarre. but she certainly seems to have captivated them. she has played absolutely to the core of the conservative party. which is very particular and not necessarily much
like conservative voters — far more extreme — and we have seen her putting out one policy after another every day, really playing to the right. the question is whether, when she gets in, she is going to have to swerve back again. i think she'll find it quite difficult because she has really put herself out there, and she seems to be about to choose a cabinet who are going to keep her strapped to the mast. the curious thing about this is that, as you said, there is a policy initiative almost every day to grab the newspaper headlines. we have effectively a manifesto from these guys. they also both saying there are things in the manifesto that were elected on by the general public in 2019 and that they still want to implement. yet when you ask about energy bills, you get told, "come back to us in two weeks." here we are, in the middle of a great national emergency, really serious, energy bills up 80%, millions of people destitute. they will talk about anything else except the one thing everyone wants to know. they are not telling their own
party, and i would have expected those conservative party people at the hustings, who will also be affected, to say, "tell us," but for some reason they have slipped off. it has been an irrelevant charade for them. today, not one single government minister or any of the candidates has come out and spoken on this. not one, on the day of a great national emergency. we had some clips, didn't we, of the prime minister saying, "we are already offering some help and that will come through. but the chancellor saying there will be help — watch this space, but not actually through proper interviews where you kind of explain what this is going to be. not willing to talk to anyone. they dare not say anything. the two candidates are terrified because what they would have to say are things that they think wouldn't please the conservative party. they will have to say, we are going to put out a lot more money.
they have hinted they will put out more, they will have to do, but they dare not say how much it has got to be because it will have to be a lot, unless they want children starving on the streets. unless they want old people dying. they will have to put a lot of money out there, and they would have to push up borrowing a huge amount that would be the right thing to do, or put up taxes. international viewers, we're talking about bills as may 300 british pounds — £500. initially, maybe 500 as the maximum, as the regulator looks again, in a month, on average. but that is an average. and the proportion of people's income, that could be that people are paying 20 or 30% of the money that they have got. people living on fixed incomes or lower incomes, there is a greater proportion than they are paying on housing costs and even coming up to the levels they may not be able to afford. exactly. — i hate this cost of living. it is a too easy catchphrase. the thing about this news that has come out today,
we have known it is coming. it underscores how these last weeks, month and a half almost, there has been no effective government. this government which has been in power since 2010, they talk about the blob, that being being civil servants, etc, in a functioning government, the department of energy's top civil servants would say, "in 90 days, 0fcom is going to have to deal with these price increases." remember that prices are going up because russia's got its thumb on europe's natural gas supply, and that affects us. the secretary of state, in a conversation with the prime minister, if there wasn't one who was on holiday in greece or another country getting adulation, he would say, "we had better get a policy pronto." on this day, there would be a response. it doesn't exist.
other things... last time i was on the show, we were talking about this. it seems to have been quite a long time ago. you should never look inside the sausage factory to see how sausages are made, and one should never look inside the conservative party to see how they select their party leader. they should do it more quickly, but leaving that aside, the other thing that is happening is ijust wanted to get this out. the financial times this week has an excellent data analyst injohn murdoch, he has figured out, going through data — he has got no axe to grind — that in the month ofjune, there were 2,000 excess deaths in britain. and he has gone through all the numbers, it has nothing to do with covid—19, it has to do with the fact that the systems are near to collapse, people are dying on trolleys, of cancer because they can't get seen, because of the backlog of the last years.
again, a functioning government hits this stuff at the pass, and at the moment, we do not have one. it is curious this, because michael gove, one of the cabinet ministers who left when boris johnson was got rid of — he was sacked. he gave a policy exchange speech where he said, "the truth is, quite a lot of government at the moment is not functioning." in other words, somehow, they have created a situation, partly because of the political crisis, but more generally, with things like passports, and somehow the political leadership did not seem to be focused on making the machinery work correctly. it was quite striking to hear- a cabinet minister who has been in the governmenti for how long now? that he basically admitted their own failures in - supplying basic services. he is right, it does feel like this is britain circa 1970. i i'm not old enough to remember that time, clearly! _ 38, i've never lived| through a recession because i grew up in australia.
you don't have them?! thanks to our digging up| of fossil fuels and selling them to the rest of the world. this is a very alarming time and it does feel. like the government here isjust not in control. - and worse, it's not interested in listening and talking - to the community about| their very genuine fears. i'm not a journalist who likes to sensationalise or alarm i unnecessarily, but i do feel like today was a real line i in the sand where - people are frightened. and those things will have to be addressed, come the fifth, 6th of september when the new prime minister takes over. on this campaign, what is fascinating about how liz truss has positioned herself is she is the longest—serving cabinet minister, yet she seems to have redefined herself as the outsider. rishi sunak has been a bit left behind in that. the great name that conservatives talk about, almost in hushed tones, is sir lynton crosby, the australian strategist who has worked for tory leaders since michael howard early in the century —
it's that long he's been involved in british politics. do you detect his hand in this? is he one of the people influencing or inspiring the political strategy that has been adopted for this campaign? not lynton crosby himself, . but lynton was in partnership with mark textor and another - gentleman named mark fullbrook, who is running liz's campaign. so, yes, i think you can. absolutely say that there is a legacy there. mark fullbrook is pretty much| destined to go into number 10 as chief of staff, should liz truss be victorious. i i think sometimes though there is a little bit- of exaggeration about - the wonderful wizardry effects of lynton crosby. we all like to look for svengalis, don't we? he basically made a political. kind of strategy out of wedging community, seeking division lines and relentlessly- prosecuting them. i haven't seen liz truss do - as much of that this campaign. but she has been quite good at defining her opponent and putting him on terms that are not flattering to him, he then ends up having
to defend his reputation. i think this is where - lynton crosby may come in, because that damage has been mainly done by boris johnson i and his supporters, i who are quite shirty. i'd be steering well clear of this one because she is not at all popular. she is going to win because of her tiny conservative party choosing her, she is not popular with her own mps — only 50 chose her. she is not popular with conservative voters and her lack of policy on this critical question. so i think nobody wants to say, "i ran this campaign," because it has not been a very good one. a mark of valediction for borisjohnson, hinted at, michael, and i mentioned it at the top, his farewell tour of kyiv, where he was given a presidential award, like a hollywood hall of fame — he got a flagstone on the pavement.
in his farewell remarks there, he made the point that we are paying high energy prices because of this war, but the sacrifice by the ukrainians is greater, of course, it is, it is a blood sacrifice. it is the fundamental existence of their country, or not, but i wonder whether at some point, that problem is going to become more acute, where people say actually, "yes, we are paying the higher bills, we have the sanctions, but it doesn't seem to be bringing the war to a rapid conclusion." going to kyiv is a good idea, maybe for the ones sitting on earth, he will have a monument to himself... and there are these bloodlines that go deep into the caucasus. he might one day claim, well actually, my grandmother the slave girl, that he talked about, actually did time in crimea, "so i'm
a ukrainian citizen." he will challenge zelensky for the presidency! no, i'mjustjoking. what is happening now is it is clear that we are heading into a world war i situation — this war will not be resolved. it simply isn't russia can empty its prisons and get two weeks of training with the wagner group, they still can't take the country. it is a big country and they don't have enough men and arms, they don't have enough armaments to take the country. we are going to see this stalemate. clearly, putin is betting not just on britain's but also on western europe to get its natural gas from russia. sometime in december, saying, "0uch. we're demanding that the ukrainian government somehow come to an accommodation." i'm not sure. i'll tell you why, there are two things, firstly, me being hopelessly naive, i think there are enough stories out there about the grotesque atrocities
that the russian forces are creating and i think it does offend western liberal sensibility, if there is such a thing. when i say liberal sensibility, people just don't... you can't take 1,000 children and stick them deep into siberia as hostages, which is... you can't do that. the other thing, it is more recent and dangerous, is the situation of the nuclear power station. if anything goes wrong there, and a few days ago, there were reports that there was no electricity getting in, you had to get electricity to see getting in to keep the fuel rods cooled down. to get fuel. otherwise you get chernobyl ii, but on a much bigger... than it overheats and explodes? this is something no—one wants, but if it happens, russia will carry that.
i think come december and january, when putin would hope that europe is squealing it may not happen, but i wouldn't firmly bet on it. people will be trying to shaping a tremendous matter of money... imagine the european leaders, the western leaders, who stand back and say it is cold, it is too expensive, we can't pay the cost. then whether they go? what do they do next? —— where do they go. do they put pressure on the ukrainians to give up donbas? how do they account to their own voters? what do they say to putin? i think it is unthinkable. i think so too. it may be that the ukrainians themselves at some point decide to settle, but i do not think that it will be that the west or europe will pull the rug from them. it's interesting.
this week, joe biden has been riding a little high, getting some stuff done, announced that he was committing to several billion more dollars in aid. that is a lot of money to throw forward and commit the next congress to, when he is not sure he is going to have control of congress. this is him putting a marker down to the western alliance as well. so i agree with you, polly — i doubt very much that the pain — i've reported from ukraine a couple of times — as a nation being born... 32 years after it was born. icannot imagine them eversuing. no, they will have to be dragged, kicking and screaming and that might happen, but the ukrainians themselves want russians out.
even russian—speaking people, identify as technically russian, they don't want this, they don't want the aggression that has visited them and they do not want the destruction of their cities. but it has to end sometime, one way or another, whether in five years�* or — god help us — in ten years�*. it will have to end somehow, as you say, it is a stalemate. it could be for a very long time. i think there is another - conversation to add to this mix, though, and that is this energy crisis did not just - happen because of putin. this energy crisis happened because we have failed - to transition our economy - to renewables where we could have actually had some - independent energy security right now. fast enough, yeah. i think you'll see two things - happen, i think the short term, you will see countries like mine, australia,| just opening up under- a new labor government, after another climate change election. - just opened up ten new sites for offshore gas drilling. - so in the short time, i think you will see, i let's — maybe just a bit more fossil fuels, until we can get| to things like green hydrogen. and so i think you're - going to have two different parallel conversationsl happening, in tandem, because of the same crisis.
let's talk about your country and these political events. i saw on thursday, i think, it was described as a mini—constitutional crisis, not about the current prime minister, but the last prime minister and what he was doing during covid—19. tell us. it is the most wild| story to come out. scott morrison decided at - the beginning of the pandemic to sign him into another couple of other ministerial— portfolios. — not telling his colleagues that he had signed himself in. these were not emptyjobs — these had ministers in them? the health ministry, - the ag and then, a year later, he decides to go and secretly sign himself into a few morel ministerialjobs withoutj telling those ministers, who onlyjust learnt. a couple of weeks ago, when scott morrison decides to buddy up with one - of his favourite journalists . and tell him for a new book, telling him — about how great he was, and how he managed the pandemic so well! _ that was a like bombshell- in australia, you can imagine, and it is completely unprecedented. -
but they are all on the same side. but what does it matter? the secrecy that must have been involved?! don't they talk when theyjust have a few beers in canberra?! australia was very locked down. interstate. people did not travel for two years. - so, he was allowed to get away with this incredible power- grab. to put this into context, he is very, very disliked | internally from his own - colleagues, and you have seen lots of those colleagues, including one minister. who belatedly found out. he was also in her position, calling for him to quit- the parliament because now he has — been ousted out of government, he is still an mp i on the back bench. i saw a quote from the solicitor general that — stephen donoghue — speaking in the week, that "it is impossible to hold ministers to account if it does "not know which ministers are responsible for which "department" — that kind of sums it up, doesn't it? we can kind of imagine borisjohnson saying, "i have that one.
i'll have this one." i can imagine liz truss, saying, "why do i have to have these other cabinet ministers, "i can do it all?!" there is that power grab instincts around in the air at the moment, you can imagine donald trump doing it. now, constitutionally, it's interesting, isn't it? there are issues, because the governor—general, who is the queen's representative in australia, appears to have signed off on these changes but again didn't tell anyone. he was secretly sworn in — i there are secret ceremonies that took place. i mean, it'sjust so bizarre, the whole situation! - now, it is important - to stress that he did not do anything illegal. he acted completely legally. it is within his power to sign himself_ it is within his power to sign himself secretly— it is within his power to sign himself secretly into - it is within his power to sign himself secretly into jobs. l of course, there is a public- expectation that you would tell us this, and of course, i if not the prime minister, then maybe the _ governor—general should have. and this is very worrying i territory because we have a different climate, i a different landscape in australia now under- the new labor government. they have appointed i
the first ever republic minister. in the second term, - they would definitely push forward for a republic. the reason the monarchy stays in australia is not. because they really love the monarchy so much, | it isjust because it is l a system that, for now, is not broken. so why fix something that is not broken? . if we start getting into - a situation where the queen's representative and his - ultraneutrality's beginning to be — questioned or the acquittal of hisjob, you are into some really fertile territory. very interesting, it is exactly the same here. when we have had a prime minister absolutely going rogue — who prorogued parliament without — against the constitution, we suddenly realised too as you have a governor, we have a queen — there is nobody that stands there as an authoritative, elected figure to be the protector of the constitution. who does the queen turn to for advice? the prime minister! and it is the prime minister who has gone rogue. we are beginning to
realise we need a written constitution and a guarantor of it, a president, as most european countries at... the australians, the governor—general signing off on something elected prime minister does, it is not in the league of say the — excuse the noise in the background, not sure what's causing that — it is not on the same level as the then governor—general kerr dismissing the elected whitlam government. it is small beer in those terms. yes, in the sense of what borisjohnson did it is relatively small beer, but he did prorogue parliament against the law, and told the queen it was the right thing to do and told the queen to give him permission to do it. and so, you really do feel you need somebody to be in charge. you are used to politicians sort of riding roughshod over political convention. well, i mean... donald trump set the template. i think what is interesting is that it does seem that in the anglosphere — not in canada, but in the anglosphere in general — we have come to this remarkable confluence where hard right—wing governments have shred normal
customs — ours is a written constitution and a flawed document, but — that can be amended of men and women of goodwill, but there is no goodwill any more. we have seen what donald trump did in the period of his presidency. we saw what boris — 'britain trump', as donald trump called borisjohnson, and now the story about scott morrison. there is no sense of decency of, "we can't do that..." i sound like a traditional tory~ _ what it says to me is the system that has run from 1980, the thatcher— reagan duopoly, across our country's economies, it is coming undone. it does not work any more. 0r — or that the sorts of politicians going .
for the jobs have changed... that is absolutely... it's naked ambition, _ rather than an ambition combine with the art of service. and our great constitutional historian peter hammersely has always called it a fear of "governmental good chaps". they would follow good condition, don't need something written because everyone knows that the system works, but now we have politicians who call the good chaps 'the blob�*, attack the civil service, the people who are meant to keep the show on the road behind—the—scenes and no longer any respect for any traditions and conventions. be careful what you wish . for in a written constitution, polly, because to - change our constutition because it requires a double majority in australia, - and they are almost impossible to pass. | you have to have every state and territory agree, - and by a majority and then i you have to have the national vote to say yes by majority. only a handful of referenda in australia have passed. . briefly on donald trump, this document row goes on, we have the affidavits
on friday, it didn't really tell us much new, but it reinforced this concern about documents being removed. it is political because he is about to declare or will declare for 202a. is he going to go for it? i think that he probably will. he doesn't listen to anyone any more, he has no—one to tell him... he everdid?! well, no — there were, people that weren't much help from our point of view, but from within the white house, all these memoirs coming out make it clear that there were people saying, "no, "you really can't do that," and then he would throw his hamburger against the wall, as they say. everything that is leaked to the press, saying, "yes, he will go for it," that will allow him to mobilise his shrinking base... before the midterms, do you think? yes, because he no longer cares about this. plus, the greatest threat to him running in 2024,
lives up the road from him in the governors's mention, a guy named ron desantis in florida, who sees the world as trump does, but is everything that he isn't — he is disciplined, he is intelligent, it's shocking that intelligence be so wasted. he is ruthlessly focused which is something... but trump owns the party, no one can get selected. looks what might look what happened to elizabeth cheney. no—one can get selected as a republican candidate without. .. yes and no, because in the midterms, what will happen is quite a few trump—endorsed candidates — for example, this guy, doctor oz, who was the celebrity from cnn, celebrity doctor — he was going to lose, and trump backed him. herschel walker, former star football player, is going to lose what is a winnable senate seat for the republicans. so when the dust has settled... people will turn around and say no. and i'm going to say at this point, no! thank you all very much as ever. stay with us for more
dateline london, every weekend between now and the end of september. goodbye. hello. the bank holiday weekend continues for most parts of the uk, and the dry weather continues for most as well, but there will be some contrast in our weather fortunes through monday. the warmest and sunniest weather will be found in the south and the west, where you have some shelter from a keen north—easterly breeze, blowing around this area of high pressure centred to the north of us. along the northern and eastern coasts where you're exposed to that breeze, well, there will be a lot of cloud, even some showers through the morning. also a bit of showery rain
first thing around some of these the irish sea coasts. —— of these irish sea coasts. much of that will tend to ease. now, through the day, we'll keep quite a lot of cloud across northern and eastern areas. more sunshine across western scotland, northern ireland, parts of wales, the south—west of england. there will be some showers around as well, blown along on this brisk breeze, but many places will avoid the showers and stay dry. as far as temperatures go, though, some north sea coasts only getting to 1a or 15 degrees. compare that with a possible 25 in parts of north cornwall and north devon. now, as we go through monday night, we will continue to see some areas of cloud across northern and eastern parts, giving a little bit of patchy rain here and there. clear spells further south and west. it does remain fairly breezy. so, for most, that should hold the temperatures up. nine degrees there for aberdeen, 13 for cardiff and plymouth. now, as we go through this week, we're going to see more dry weather. it may turn just a little bit warmer for some of us around the middle part of the week. there is the chance of rain
later but some uncertainty about exactly who will see that. so, through tuesday — again, a lot of dry weather. a fair amount of cloud, particularly up towards the north—east. one or two showers further west — that's where we'll see the best of the sunshine. still quite breezy across eastern and southern areas. that breeze quite brisk, actually, through some english channel coasts. 2a degrees for cardiff. further north in glasgow, a high of 18. now, as we look deeper into the week, our area of high pressure looks set to retreat northwards. we're watching one frontal system push in from the west and a showery low trying to drift up from the south. some uncertainty about exactly how this will play out, but it does look like there is the increasing chance of rain as we head towards the end of the week and into the weekend but i suspect there will be places that don't see very much and stay predominantly dry.
this is bbc news — welcome if you're watching here in the uk or around the globe. i'm simon pusey. our top stories: a catastrophe on a scale never seen before — pakistan's foreign minister assesses the flooding that's swept across the country. mission to the moon — america prepares to test—launch a rocket, heralding a new era of space exploration. more palestinians face eviction — with their homes destroyed by israel's army — the un says it could amount to a war crime. and tributes to roland mesnier, the veteran white house pastry chef who served five us presidents.
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