Matters because involves standards, rules & integrity in public office.. once those values erode - can ever expect to get back?

It matters because it involves standards, rules and integrity in public office. And once those values start to erode - can the public ever expect to get them back?



Newsnight 28/04/2021 (m000vln0)

Last on

Wed 28 Apr 2021 22:45


The Electoral Commission says there
are reasonable grounds
to suspect an offence may have
occurred - as it launches
a full investigation into the
Conservative Party over
payment of the Downing Street


Why do we still not know the sequence
and timing of a payment
that is causing the PM such a
Wouldn't it be simpler to tell the
public what went on?
Also tonight...
Bodies pile high than implement
another lockdown.
The PM is forced to confirm in the
Commons his denial
of statements he's alleged to have
made about Covid deaths.
What happens if it's proved he did say
Arlene Foster resigns as Northern
Ireland's First Minister
and head of the DUP.
And what do we know about Covid and
mental health -
after a year which has taken its toll
on so
many of our minds?
Good evening.
This is not a story about furnishings,
wallpaper and mood lighting.
It's not even a story about John
It's a story about which money changed
hands to pay for them,
why it has not yet been formally
declared, and why we still
don't know what happend.
Today, the Electoral Commission
launched a full investigation
into the question, saying they had
reasonable grounds to consider
an offence may have occurred.
And it comes in the middle of a week
when the Prime Minister had to face
inquisition on other matters of
Today, he was forced to flatly deny in
the House of Commons a quote
widely attributed to him about Covid
If today's denial is proved to be
untrue, he could be forced to resign
for misleading parliament.
Why does all this matter?
You know the script - that this is an
internal row
between a boss and his former advisor,
that any donations
have now been repaid, that fittings
and fixtures
are the least of Britain's problems
right now.
It matters because it involves
standards, rules
and integrity in public office.
And once those values start to erode
- can the public ever
expect to get them back?
Our first report tonight is by Lewis
Fancy wallpaper, fittings and fixtures
aren't often manners which
landmass ministers let alone Prime
Minister is in trouble. But then
this isn't really about wallpaper or
nature or designers, it is about
pivotal democratic questions about
transparency and law, whether
someone might have a financial hold on
the Prime Minister and about
knowing whether they might. About
potential corruption or even the
perception of corruption. And it is
the Electoral Commission in charge
of investigating whether any rules or
laws have been broken in regards
to the Downing Street flat
refurbishment. This morning they
confirmed they will be investigating,
being Mike...
Are you worried about the
investigation, Prime Minister? That
statement came less than an hour
before Prime Minister's Questions.
Who initially paid for the decoration
of the Downing Street
flat? Boris Johnson refused to answer
whether he made the initial
payment for flat refurbishment were
someone else, clinging resolutely to
one form of words. As for the latest
stuff he is bringing up he should
know I have paid for Downing Street
refurbishment personally. I have
given him the answer and the answer is
I have covered the costs and I
think... I have answered this question
several times and the
answer is that I have covered the
cost. The central question is
whether a donation or loan was given
for the refurbishment, whether that
was a proper use of party money and
whether it was declared properly.
The responsibility lies on the
recipient of the donation. It can be
either the party or individual. Why is
it the case it really does
matter? It is about transparency and
openness. The public is entitled to
know who is paying who in politics.
This is not a trivial matter or just
a convention over a social matter,
these are legal rules and disobeying
them by people in positions of great
power and importance is a serious
matter whatever they are. So where
might the money have come from? It's
been reported in the Daily Mail that
Lord Brownlow is the man who
provided the initial donation to the
Conservative Party and had later
been lined up to be chairman of the
Downing Street trust which never got
off the ground. He is a Tory donor of
long standing appointed to the
Lords by Theresa May stop an investor
in some Cameron's function
business. But in terms of those under
scrutiny it will just be the
Prime Minister, rentable in the
commission's line of sight will be
Tory co-chairman Amanda Milling and
Ben Elliott. Even if the Electoral
Commission decides no wrongdoing is
committed the stonewalling is itself
a problem. The ministerial code does
make it clear that ministers must
ensure that not only is there no
conflict of interest but there is no
perception of a conflict-of-interest.
I think that
is the really important thing to bear
in mind. Even if the Electoral
Commission finds no law has been
broken or rule has been broken it if
it were the case that a donor gave
money for the Conservative Party
which it subsequently loaned to Boris
Johnson, that didn't break any
law to do that but he was aware of who
had given that money that he was
then able to make use of, surely that
is still conflict-of-interest
and might be perceived as such and
that really is the damaging thing.
Then there was this, when the Prime
Minister was asked on the record
when he did make the comment about
bodies piling up. He said this. No.
But notice the satisfaction at the
end. I will leave it there for now.
Turning to another issue, there will
be further on this, there will be
further on this, believe you me.
Perhaps it was just a down payment
on a potential political future, gear
stomach making sure he has what
he needs, if a recording emerges or
something else should happen in the
meantime. -- dear Starmer. There seems
something deliberate in how
Keir Starmer reacted. It may have
caused a bit of disquiet or
nervousness inside Number 10. But
today seemed like a day of we don't
have many. The day when low of
political gravity which Boris
Johnson so often devise if not quite
got up within then certainly began
to exert an almighty gravitational
pull. As he sits in the Downing
Street flat tonight Boris Johnson can
admire his new decor, E and we
are only too aware of its price he may
be about to discover its cost.
Lewis Goodall is here now. We have new
information. Tonight we spoke to
a Labour peer. There was a lot of
speculation about the idea of a
Downing Street trust. We know from the
Cabinet Secretary appearance
that Lord Brownlow who is alleged to
be the donor behind so much of this
trouble was going to beat the head of
that trust and we have spoken to
a daughter of a former Labour Prime
Minister Jim Callaghan who said she
was approached personally by Lord
Brownlow earlier this year to sit on
the Downing Street trust which never
got off the ground. This is what she
told us.
I think the interesting thing about
that was reporting yesterday by Sky
News saying that Lord Darling the
former Chancellor Alistair Darling
had been approached and he turned it
down and it said he was approached
by Number 10 officials. Confirmation
denied that Lord Brownlow was
approaching at least Baroness Jay of
Paddington indicating that he was
central to the idea of the trust. No
suggestion they were making a
donation that he has done anything
wrong, he seems to have been a
central player in this affair.
Interesting stuff. Thank you.
Joining me now, Andrew Bridgen for the
and Thangam Debbonaire, Labour's
Shadow Housing Secretary.
Welcome to you both. Andrew, if I
could start with you and the
statement in the Commons where the PM
made it very clear he never said
no words or phrases about the bodies
that were attributed to him to him
by many who claim he did. What happens
if it is proved that he did?
We know what the Prime Minister did by
his actions, we have had very
strong lockdowns, he has delivered
that, we have suppressed the virus,
that we have very important local
elections next week. The Labour
Party can't attack the Government's
record on delivering Brexit or on
the vaccine roll-out which is the best
of any developed country in the
world, independent forecasters
predicting. Forgive me, this is
about the Prime Minister's word. He
was asked very clearly by the
opposition leader if he denied saying
those words. And he denied
anything around it. Was very clear at
the dispatch box but what this is
about is Labour can't attack the
Government's record and they can
play the ball, important elections,
they are just playing the man. You
are going along with it. If he did say
those words, if it is proven in
a later time that he did say those
words, would he need to resign for
misleading the House? If he has
breached the code of conduct, the
ministerial code, there would be a
sanction and that could be
resignation. It isn't always but it
could be. The Prime Minister was
very clear and he has denied the other
allegations laid at his door
as well very clearly. Has indeed and
the Electoral Commission tonight we
know is investigating that initial
payment for the refurbishments, they
say there is reasonable grounds to
suspect there is an offence. We all
remember not so long ago that the
Tories tried to scrap the Electoral
Commission, so will you accept any
outcome that they do find? We will
have to see what their outcome is. The
Parliamentary standards are
investigating the Labour my oral
candidate for the West Midlands for
diverting potentially parliamentary
funds into the Katie Pennick antics
and we are not talking about that
tonight, are we? No, we are talking
about the Electoral Commission
investigating behaviour. The Council
in Liverpool was so corrupt it is now
under direct government control.
If Labour want to go on sleaze they
are on a kamikaze mission quite
honestly. Their track their track
record is appalling. It does involve
the Prime Minister right at the centre
tonight and you will know
Lord Geidt has been brought in to
investigate that payment. If it is
found by him Boris Johnson broke the
ministerial code, should he resign?
It depends on the degree with which he
has broken and what he has
actually broken. We are talking about
the Prime Minister spending
his own money doing up a flat that the
incumbent for a period of time
he will not be taking the benefit with
him, it has not cost the
taxpayer anything. What is really
important on the doorsteps or the
matter is we are not talking about,
which is the vaccine roll-out, the
economic growth, the jobs and
prosperity this government is
delivering in advance of these local
elections next week. That is what
people are interested in on the
doorsteps. This is a media bubble
story which only resonates in central
London. Except I put to you
it is not just about electoral prizes
that you are getting on the
doorstep, this is about the
foundations of democracy, decency,
accountability, integrity and inch
transparency. It took me three years
to get the sleazebag Keith Vaz out of
Parliament. He remained a member
of the Labour National Executive
Committee and is still a member of
the Labour Party but he is banned from
sitting back in Parliament. He
is not here to defend himself.
Have got on the Electoral Commission
and presumably, you now -- you have
got the independent adviser and the
Electoral Commission on this and you
trust them to do their jobs? They are
conducting this enquire because
they believe, not us, that there is
sufficient grounds to suspect a
crime may have been committed, sorry,
an offence may have been
committed. That is important but we
also welcome the other eight
enquiries and counting who have all
decided that there is something to
look at here, that there are contracts
that were inappropriately
awarded or could have been, that there
has been cover-up and favours
for mates. That there has not been,
the selflessness, the
accountability, the honesty and
openness which Andrew Bridgen but
more importantly the Prime Minister
signed up to when he became an MP.
Those are the principles of public
life and the seven principles should
govern everything, they are higher
standards than merely what is
expected by the law. They are higher
than that and important to keep to
because the British public, after what
we have been through this year,
after what every member of the British
public has been through in
terms of loss, pain and grief, they
deserve better. They deserved to
have a Prime Minister that actually
sticks to those principles of
honesty and leadership. Let's not jump
ahead because Sir Keir Starmer
cited media reports of the quote Boris
Johnson is alleged to have
made. Does the Labour Party and Sir
Keir Starmer know he made those
remarks about the bodies? Does he have
evidence? Sir Keir Starmer said
he was going to return to that and
mentioned that in Prime Minister's
questions but we know that the
Electoral Commission has decided
there is something to investigate
here. Is not about that. No, but we
started out by talking about what the
Electoral Commission is
investigating. I don't know what is in
Sir Keir Starmer's notebook but I
know he's a very experienced lawyer
and he helped prosecute many bad
people over the years when he was head
of the CPS so I think he
probably knows what he's doing there.
Except it all comes back to,
not the Electra commission, that is a
separate thing but the ministerial
code goes back to the Prime Minister.
Andrew Bridgen, the Prime
Minister can decide himself whether he
wants to abide by the ministerial
code whatever its findings. And that
is under the gift of the Prime
Minister. Should it be? These
allegations have come from a former
member of staff at Downing Street,
Dominic Cummings, a man who, when he
gave his reasons for travelling to the
north of England, you called him
a liar, and yet, when he makes
allegations... I didn't call him a
liar. You disbelieved him and called
for him to be sacked. I didn't do
that either. Now he makes these
allegations, you believe everything
he said because it suits the agenda
you have got. It is the hypocrisy,
quite honestly, it is rank. Well,
actually, I think it shows
consistency that our job is to try to
hold those in power to account,
so we ask that question is, whatever
side they are on, and just because
they are on different sides... You
don't believe a story about
travelling to the north of England but
he believe word for word
everything a disgruntled former
employee says about the boss who
sacked him. I'm interested in whether
you think it is important we
get to the bottom of this because
there are questions that we just
don't know. That is all we are trying
to do. There is an
investigation ongoing and we should
let it run its course but in the
meantime we have got very important
local elections and these are not
issues that are important to my
constituents on the doorstep in
Coalville this afternoon. They are
interested in whether they are going
to have jobs. Thangam Debbonaire, what
do you say to Andrew Bridgen's
constituents and the electorate? I
expect that constituents across the
country think honesty is actually very
important and that it is
something they deserve to have in
their politicians and especially
their Prime Minister. We have got
numerous scandals going on here and
if we look at what is happening with
the Greensill affair, with the
former Prime Minister David Cameron,
having written a lobbying at and
whipped MPs to vote against a register
for corporate lobbyists to
be registered and have two be required
to sign the register, he is
now one of them. He's taken advantage
of something he wrote into
law in order to put himself in a very
murky position and the defence
is that he has not done anything
against the rules, so I say again,
we should be set to higher standards
and in fact, we are. We all as
politicians have to sign up to the
Nolan principles... The government
did not give into any of his requests,
nor did the Treasury. And
if I could finish, I believe that
Andrew Bridgen's constituents, like
mine, expect honesty from their
politicians and they certainly
deserve it, even if they don't expect
it from some. Andrew Bridgen,
you talked about constituents carrying
about jobs and it seems
extraordinary that last spring, this
all happened, the pandemic raging
around us, our neighbours Italy
showing us what an emergency health
crisis looked like, the Prime Minister
still had the time to set
up discussions about a trust fund for
his refurbishment. Everyone was
thinking about their jobs then and
what happens then. Why wasn't he?
Because the Prime Minister has to
juggle many things at the same time.
A trust fund for his refurbishment?
That would be dealt with by people
below him. It would not be dealt with
by the prime and esteem sell.
You wouldn't be spending his time
doing that. He was dealing with a
pandemic. -- it would not be dealt
with by the Prime Minister himself
as we have rolled out the best vaccine
response of any developed
nation, no wonder the Labour Party
don't want to talk about things like
that but they want to talk about a
media bubble story that nobody else
is interested in. Thank you very much,
both of you.
Arlene Foster - the doughty doyenne of
the DUP and First Minister
of Northern Ireland - has been forced
out of her
job by her own party.
She seemed at times an indomitable
figure -
and held the balance of power at
Westminster during those crucial
Brexit negotiation years.
Utimately, though - ironically,
perhaps -
it was the resulting Northern Ireland
Protocol that
partly made her position untenable.
She lost her party over tensions that
grew up in the country
as a result of what became a border
down the Irish Sea,
as well as her position on gay
conversion therapy and abortion,
which some in her party felt not
hardline enough.
So who takes her place?
What direction will the party go now?
And what effect will all this have on
one of the most politically
fragile parts of the UK right now?
Here's Nick Watt.
A short time ago, I called my party
chairman to inform him that I intend
to step down as leader of the
Democratic Unionist Party.
A sombre end to the trailblazing
career of
the first woman to have a leadership
role in the new Northern Ireland.
It has been the privilege of my life
serve the people of Northern Ireland
as their First Minister.
This was hardly a surprise.
Trouble had been brewing.
There was unease with Arlene Foster as
opposition to the Brexit deal
amongst loyalists spread to the
She was blamed for failing to stand up
to Boris Johnson when he
agreed to checks.
He is a fabulous friend to the Union
and a promoter
of unionism.
Between Great Britain and Northern
Ireland as the price
with the EU for avoiding a hard border
on the island of Ireland.
"A First Minister implementing
something she opposes," went the
cry from Unionist critics.
I think that Arlene Foster had become
somebody who was something of a hate
figure for sections of loyalism.
She was seen as too close to Sinn
too cosy with Sinn Fein, somebody who
had failed in her central
ideological responsibility, as the DUP
would see it,
that is protecting the Union, stopping
Northern Ireland
being cut off from the rest of the UK.
And in the 50th anniversary of the
foundation of the DUP by the
Reverend Ian Paisley, the firebrand
preacher and deep social
conservative, Arlene Foster recently
found herself out on a limb.
She abstained in a vote calling for a
ban on gay conversion therapy.
That was the final straw after a
of DUP Assembly Members voted against
the motion.
Sinn Fein's Deputy First Minister, who
power with Arlene Foster in an uneasy
cross-community alliance,
expressed some sympathy.
Are you sad to see Arelene Foster go?
Well, I mean, in political leadership,
you know,
it is always very difficult when
something like this happens.
So I am mindful of herself, her own
feelings and her family's feelings
A leading journalist who has
chronicled Arlene
Foster's career says
her departure tells a wider story
about her party.
There is a pretty widespread sense
across a lot of
unionism that the DUP has lost its
It's forgotten about its roots, it's
forgotten about what it really
stands for.
Brexit has been really fundamental to
the unravelling of
Arlene Foster's authority within the
She is someone who backed Brexit.
Quite late on, there are people who
suggest she was not as
enthusiastic about it as some of her
party colleagues.
There was a sense that the DUP under
Arlene Foster
were really swaggering.
They were not seeking to persuade
They were seeking to use their raw
political power at their disposal.
The departure of Arlene Foster marks a
seminal moment for Northern
Ireland, where the political
settlement glides in an acutely
fragile condition.
Unionists are as one in agreeing that
the Brexit deal
jeopardises their place within the
Union, but today, divisions blew
into the open within the largest
Unionist party, which may now turn
to a new leader, less inclined to
support the power-sharing
executive at the heart of the Good
A timeless reminder that historic
emnities require walls of
protection, two decades on from
Northern Ireland's historic
political settlement, and tensions,
which see
peace walls rise high above
divided communities, are being fuelled
once again as Northern
Ireland faces an uncertain future.
Joining me now, Naomi Long, the
Minister of Justice
in the Northen Ireland Assembly and
leader of the Alliance Party,
long considered a bridge-builder
between the DUP and Sinn Fein
Nelson McCausland, former DUP Assembly
and Professor Peter Shirlow, Director
of the Institute
for Irish studies at the University of
Thank you for joining us. Naomi Long,
it came rather quickly today
and as Nick what was then, Northern
Ireland feels quite a politically
fragile place right now. I wonder if
you think this will calm things down
or heat things up? Well, Emily, I
think that Northern Ireland has felt
like quite a fragile place now for
some time. We have only had the
restoration of devolution for the last
quite tense throughout that period.
This was a marriage kind of forged
under huge pressure from the public
generally and also politically for
us to returning to government and it
was always going to be a very
uncomfortable marriage with Arlene
Foster and Michelle O'Neill at the
helm. We have all experienced that as
members of the executive. It has
not been quick in terms of coming and
it hasn't been a surprise,
events for quite some time now, Arlene
Foster's own colleagues have
been primarily the people who have
undermined her authority. We have
worked together in the executive. I
don't always agree with her, in
fact, it would be fair to say I often
disagree with Arlene Foster
but nevertheless, I recognised she had
an incredibly difficult job to
do. She was very passionate in her
pursuit of trying to do that job
with great integrity. And I think
unfortunately, when she made the
necessary compromises, and they are
necessary compromises, in order to
be able to allow us to deal with
crises such as the pandemic that we
are all facing, she was off and
immediately, almost immediately
undermined by her own party
colleagues, not by politicians
outside or the general public but then
her own colleagues who would
come and criticise their approach to
white Nelson McCausland, let me
address that you, do you accept it was
her own party and colleagues who
undermined her position? Arlene took
over the leadership of the DUP about
five years ago and within a year, the
DUP had a difficult election, it
emerged with 28 seats, just one head
of Sinn Fein and in the three years
after that, of course, we know that
the assembly was collapsed,
devolution was collapsed by Sinn Fein.
And a whole series of issues
have come together, I think, to create
this situation. It is
regrettable because I think that
Arlene is a very able and capable
and affable person who has given many
years of service and we
remember that she came from a
background where her father was shot
by the provisional IRA, her family...
And even when she was a
schoolgirl going to school, the bus
she was going to school and with the
children was bone up by the
provisional IRA -- I was blown up.
Appalling stuff but I want to bring
you to the recent vote, her refusal
to vote in favour of gay conversion,
she abstained on that. Am I right in
thinking that you and others found
that position too weak, not hardline
enough? Well, I think first of all,
everyone is very clear within the
DUP that there is a concern that
legislation might be introduced
which is not about some quack therapy
or other but is about
effectively preventing and interfering
with the preaching of
the gospel and the practice of prayer.
And in fact, on the day of
the vote, there was a large article in
the morning newspaper from the
moderator of the largest Protestant
church in Northern Ireland, the
Presbyterian Church, expressing
concerns about these issues. So it
is a matter of real concern and it
needs to be handled very carefully.
And I think in a sense, what happened
last week was simply the
thing that brought it all out into the
open when so many MLAs rebelled
because there are whole series of
issues over the past few years that
have been very difficult to handle.
Let me bring in Peter Shirlow
because I think gay conversion therapy
is something that will
horrify a lot of our viewers but when
you hear it from Nelson's
perspective, he says it will lose
party members. Just give us your
crystal ball on this one, Peter. Which
way is this going and what
concerns you? What concerns me is this
is another Unionist leader who
has potentially try to square the
circle in terms of modernising
unionism. We have had David Trimble,
Peter Robinson, Mike Nesbitt of the
Ulster Unionist Party and these are
people who know very clearly that
the Unionist community has changed
dramatically in the last 20 years,
massive growth in secularism within
the Unionist community. The
community in Northern Ireland which is
actually most supportive of
marriage equality and most supportive
of intercommunity
engagement like shared education and
also relationships across the
sectarian divide are nonvoting
Protestants and in particular, young
Protestants who are supportive of the
union but who are increasingly
looking at this type of politics and
trying to understand where it is
going, and if the DUP...
Who is that boat? Who are you talking
about that about going to?
Increasingly between 2017 and 2019,
the two Westminster elections it
went to the Alliance Party, in terms
of the people who voted for them in
directly from the DUP and these people
support marriage equality,
intercommunity engagement, who support
a pluralist and modern
Northern Irish society. From an
electoral perspective, now yummy,
you could stand to gain from the DUP
moving more to the right, but from a
wider -- now yummy. You could risk
seeing Stormont collapse again if
they chose to walk out. We go to the
electorate based on our principles
and visions and values, we don't rely
on the demise of other parties,
we have to provide a positive vision,
it is not bashing other
parties, the progressive policies in
terms of how we want to see Northern
Ireland work. I want to see Northern
Ireland and the Assembly function.
We need to be honest. We have a direct
conflict between the base the
party was built on, a Free
Presbyterian fundamentalist
religious base, and that translated
into quite fundamentalist unionist
politics but also it hasn't moved to
take in the change of the beat is
talking about the development of more
secular Unionism, people who
still feel very comfortable part of
the union but want to be able to
access the same rights as the rest of
the people in the UK. Nelson,
you're losing your party. We find
ourselves early from that. I think
there is certainly a need for
modernisation within unionism. But
that is not about changing your core
principles or core message. How you
present that message, how you organise
as a party, the way you
present that and work, all those
things. There is no way of
presenting gay conversion therapy to
make it something else, is there,
the legalisation of abortion or gay
conversion therapy to make it
something else? I said earlier that
any sort of quack therapy that might
be talked about is rejected by
everyone. No one is in the business
of defending that. What is important
is to ensure that the basic human
right, does a human rights issue, the
right of religious practice, the
right to manifest your religion that
that is protected so the rights of
everyone are protected. Could to just
finish what I was saying? That
is why there was concern expressed by
people from religious
denominations that are not
particularly fundamentalist. In fact
the moderator of the husbandry and
church is a denomination that now
yummy long was previously a member. To
explain how this one is result?
-- Naomi long. But she says this is
about human rights and Peter says it
is about religious rites and those to
conflict about what the party
does and where it stands. Conversion
therapy is not a therapy and I think
yet again it speaks to what I said
previously, if you want to look at
where the pro-Unionist community is
going it has gone over the last 20
years, the biggest change in our
society in terms of the last two mag
censuses is the growth in people who
do not state religion, the biggest
change in our society has been rapid
social liberalisation. If you want
to support a traditional type of
unionism you are trying to sell
somebody a black and white television
in the modern era. You
look at the data and where people have
gone, to the Alliance Party,
Green Party, other assorted
independent left-wing parties, there
is a drip in unionism which is to
other parties but the biggest share
of people who don't vote in Northern
Ireland are people who support the
union. The bigger question which is
where power-sharing goes now which
is so critical to Northern Ireland is
what? The answer is power-sharing
is the only way forward in terms of
Northern Ireland. The Good Friday
Agreement is part of how we actually
move forward together as a community
and build for our future. Let's be
clear. Arlene has been scapegoated
for a number of policy issues that
have been raised here in terms of
Brexit, Boris Johnson and the fact he
let them down, not the only he
has not done but people feel aggrieved
that he let them down
promises he didn't keep. All these
things are not simply about Arlene
Foster. She had the full backing of
her party and MPs when it came to
that policy. Arlene Foster going
doesn't change anything. The
fundamental question that Peter
Shirlow has outlined in terms of the
dichotomy within unionism or there are
those who want to engage on a
cross community basis who want
progressive policies and a free and
Liberal society and those who are
still tied to a very fundamentalist
and religious it is... We are out of
time, I am so sorry. A conflict
between religion and freedom because
freedom of religion is fundamental
to any stable society. Thank you all
very much indeed.
You don't have to look far to see that
the pandemic has taken a heavy
toll on many people's mental and
financial health.
But how are the two related and who
suffered the lion's share of the
financial turmoil?
Tonight Newsnight reveals the findings
of a major piece
of research looking at finance and
mental health over the past year
and asks what can be done to make life
better for those
who have suffered?
Here's our health correspondent
Deborah Cohen.
As the most recent wave of Covid
retreats, we are learning more
about what it has left behind.
Newsnight has had sight of data from
interviews of over 8000 people
throughout the pandemic by the
National Centre
for Social Research.
It reveals the poor and those in
insecure employment are more
likely to report mental distress.
So too are women and those living with
young children.
The researchers divided people into
six groups.
The beneficiaries group amounted to
the self-supporters fell back on
savings and the copers managed
to adjust their lifestyles.
The help-seekers suffered loss and
sought help
and the multi-strugglers were already
reliant on state help
and found themselves needing more.
There were differences in the mental
health of the groups.
This graph tracks the percentage of
each group reporting significant
mental distress over the pandemic.
We can see rises among all groups
during lockdown.
What is interesting is that by January
this year,
the multi-strugglers returned to their
far higher baseline,
but for those seeking help, perhaps
for the first time,
their mental distress was still well
above pre-pandemic levels.
What was surprising in our findings
was that people who have experienced
the largest increases in mental
distress over the past
year are those who have become newly
on financial support systems.
Their mental distress has gone up from
to now 42% have clinically significant
of mental distress.
And these groups tend to be
characterised by particularly
self-employed workers, females, people
who are just
accessing financial support systems
other than the furlough system.
If we break down the figures, we see
that large group of those
unaffected is made up predominantly of
those aged 60-plus.
Meanwhile, among the help-seekers, we
see far fewer older people.
In that group, 41% have children and
Other analyses released today show how
such financial insecurity
impacts on the mental health of
already vulnerable children.
We found that high levels of mental
health problems were reported
in those families who reported high
levels of financial stress and also,
parents who reported high levels of
mental health problems had
children with more significant
emotional and behavioural problems.
So together, it means that the
pandemic exacerbated
the mental health problems in children
who were
already vulnerable.
The link between Covid-19 and mental
health is complicated.
Isolation and loneliness, fear of the
reduced access to services, plus the
impact of Covid
itself, have an impact.
Some psychiatrists say we should avoid
medicalising what are normal
reactions to unprecedented disruption,
but there is agreement
that people will need support.
Newsnight has spoken to GPs and local
who are concerned about the health
service's ability
to cope with demand.
One model predicts that up to 10
million people will need
mental health support as a direct
consequence of the crisis,
and there's a fear about what will
happen if financial support
is removed too quickly.
That cliff edge effect in itself is
going to be
anxiety-inducing for people who know
they will be affected.
So we need to taper back the furlough
scheme gradually,
so that people's finances can readjust
to the enormous financial
hit that they have taken during the
Ministers are investing more money for
the young.
Whether it is enough to help
vulnerable children
remains to be seen.
The plans that are currently developed
to support children
in general in school are not
sufficient to children
who are already more vulnerable, who
already have serious mental
health problems, who live in poverty
and who have parents
with mental health problems.
So vulnerable children need more
sustained and a more
multifaceted, targeted approach.
The government has pledged an extra
£500 million for mental health
services and a new £15 million fund
for the most deprived areas
to invest in preventing mental
Not exacerbating financial insecurity
will be
a key part of this.
Deborah Cohen there.
Before we go, a quote.
"I am alone now, truly alone, and
absolutely isolated
from any known life. I am it.
If a count were taken, the score would
be three billion
plus two over on the other side of the
moon, and one plus God
knows what on this side."
The words of astronaut Michael Collins
as he piloted
the Apollo 11 command module around
the moon while Neil Armstrong
and Buzz Aldrin touched down on its
surface back in 1969.
It was announced today that Michael
Collins has died, aged 90.
Two years ago, he sat down with our
colleagues on Hardtalk
to share his memories.
If there is any part of the flight of
Apollo 11 that
sticks in my memory, it is the memory
of the little tiny
thing that you could obscure with your
blue and white, the white of the
clouds, the blue
of the ocean, just a trace of land,
gorgeous, very shiny.
For some reason, the word "fragile"
came up out
of the murk somehow, I don't know how,
but I thought,
"God, it's a fragile little thing,
isn't it?"

NewsNight 'why it matters' m000vln0