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Friday 20 January 2012

Verity Murphy | 18:26 UK time, Friday, 20 January 2012

Mass protests are continuing in Syria, even after the Arab League observer mission ended.

The country's capital, Damascus, has seen rallies by the Free Syrian Army, a group previously located in Homs.

Tonight, Tim Whewell reports on whether the unrest is gaining momentum, or are the many thousands of deaths and detentions taking their toll on the spirit of the activists?

Also, the government has published its first ever estimates for the proportion of foreign-born people who are claiming working-age benefits in the UK.

It found that 371,000 migrants made claims last year, the vast majority of which were legitimate.

So with immigration continuing in the hundreds, rather than tens of thousands, how will the welfare system be effected? David Grossman reports and we'll be crunching the numbers in the studio.

And finally, letters by Voltaire have been uncovered which reveal how much this icon of French writing profited financially and intellectually from a stay in England.

They include a signed acceptance from the 18th Century philosopher for a £200 grant from the Royal Family. Steve Smith looks into the writer's time in Blighty.


  • Comment number 1.

    Only meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  • Comment number 2.

    "So with immigration continuing in the hundreds, rather than tens of thousands, how will the welfare system be effected? David Grossman reports and we'll be crunching the numbers in the studio."

    That's funny BBC....really funny!

  • Comment number 3.

  • Comment number 4.

    The Voltaire piece was on R's Today programme very early this morning.....Laaaazzzzyyyy!

  • Comment number 5.

  • Comment number 6.

    One does not wish to be a pedant, but Blighty is NOT the same as England i.e. Blighty is a British English slang term for Britain, deriving from the Hindustani word vilāyatī.

    English patriots are always going to be miffed when England is deliberately mashed up into Britain, which is something else entirely.

    Anyway, as Voltaire profited financially ... from a stay in England, so do our immigrants.

    As long as the BoE keep pumping money from thin air into the economy, who is bothered?

    Everyones a winner.

  • Comment number 7.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    Junkk I wuz rong!

    They are going to discuss the 371,000 foreign benefit clamaints, albeit in a positive light, they are entitled to them..

    We're told all these immigrants were coming to do the jobs we wouldn't do, 'cos us english are lazy slobs who won't work......

    How come these immigrants are becoming like us so quickly?

  • Comment number 10.


    "If you wish to sensor me, first DEFINE your terms." I suspect Big V was incensed that the moderators terms are looser than a Panda's Jock Strap!

    Nuff sed

  • Comment number 11.

  • Comment number 12.

  • Comment number 13.

    370k identified and nine thousand selected as a ‘control group’ for further research. Of that 9k group 27 per cent i.e. 2430, cannot be linked up to the validity of their entitlement for various reasons i.e. recording inaccuracies e.g. mis-spelling of names.

    (V) Simple math …. (Not to ‘ot onda maffs man …. so E&OE! …. Pleez?)

    Does that then mean that the 370k needs to be increased by the same figure?

    i.e. 496,000 or 507,000 to take into account as how the figures might vary following further investigation. And will we be told the - eventual - truth should there be a considerable change in the ‘outcomes’?

    And why do the ‘figures’ not include those in receipt of other non-work related benefits i.e. child benefit? (Previously reported …. One of the the most sought after ‘fake documents’ is an east european child’s birth certificate. To claim CB you only need to have the piece of paper and state that the relevant ‘child’ is resident in country of origin.)

    And why do the ‘figures’ not include those seeking ‘asylum’?

    And if ……

    Q …. The analysis found that the highest number of migrants on benefits originally came from Pakistan, Somalia and India. Bangladesh, Iraq and Iran also featured prominently. …. unQ.

    How does that equate to one estimate stating that there are 300,000 Somalis living in the UK? (Note. The largest single ‘settlement’ - of Somalis - in the EU)

    Interestingly Baroness Flather - whom gained attention for wearing a Sari in the House of Lords - has put in an amendment to the current Social Security bill going through the Lords to limit Child Benefit to four claims per ‘couple’ stroke single parent. Her logic, for this amendment, is intriguing.

    Any bets as to whether it will make the statute books?

    And …. Oh yes!

    Monday’s ‘piece’ on Academy ‘scams’ …. Nice try but you’re fighting the ‘current’ status quo i.e. it doesn’t only apply to Academies, most school;s have been ‘at it’ for some time! The downside …. private provision is ‘stepping in’ to mop up the slops’! (But at what extra cost? And not just money!)

    Questions ……

    Why are so many small ‘fee paying’ schools becoming “Free Schools”?

    And whom really benefits?

    And …. Oh yes!

    Profits down, bonus fund up!

    And the actions of …..

    A shillings worth of super-heated, super-compressed carbon!

    Undeniable proof that …..

    ‘They are all in it together'.?


  • Comment number 14.

    RIP The Late Great Etta James :o(

  • Comment number 15.

    I don't understand why we don't have the Australian system where a citizen of the country is given an ID card where they are entitled to healthcare/benefits etc. Surely that would curb the illegal immigrants and "health tourists."

  • Comment number 16.

    Excellent debate by Jeremy with Sargent et al :o)
    And thanks for the Etta James tribute at the end too.

  • Comment number 17.

    In view of the interplay between employment, education, health service and immigration, it is not clear why in the 80s and 80s early retirement was encouraged and now the opposite or why the health service then was said to be under managed and is now over managed. There is no connection between work, earnings and stability of employment. Forget politics. this has no psychological resonance.

  • Comment number 18.


    Your up against debating the pitfalls of immigration and especially on the BBC who have their own head and neck firmly stuck buried in the ground'

    Here's how it is regarding immigration:

    Historically, immigration can be problematic at best; highly dangerous at worst. Take your pick.

    Why the good folk at the BBC can't see that God only knows but would suggest they suffer from from that all-to-common illness: Guardianitusliberialitus. Symptoms manifest with the usual excessive kindness and sanctimonious good intentions...which leads the rest of us - one day soon -to that road to hell.

  • Comment number 19.


    I've been pondering. Dave has all those problem families to sort out (he's going to send in super-nannies and drill sergeants, I think). Why not just ignore the bad kids and let the families replace them with good ones, from other countries - kids with a good 'kid ethic'? If our kids just won't 'do kid', get some who will - THAT'S WHAT WE DID TO 'SAVE' THE NHS - apparently. (The Future Britain guy.)

    How many times must we hear that shibboleth trotted out, without challenge by Maestro Jeremy et al? The reason there is a poor work ethic in this country is because SUCCESSIVE GOVERNMENTS HAVE ALLOWED IT TO DECAY. The culture of obscene returns, demonstrated by Westminster and The City, translates as 'something for nothing' down in the pits. I accuse Westminster governance.

    Do your job NewsyNighty - or you will find you are ALL foreign!

  • Comment number 20.

    It depends upon how long people have been in the country, and independently, how long they've been claiming benefits.

    On the one hand, there must be some people who've been here for decades and are naturalised, who now find themselves long term unemployed. If they've worked and paid their stamp, then they are as entitled as anyone else.

    On the other hand, one should remember that if it's the EU, then there are reciprocal rights. Mr friend's brother recently moved to Germany, after hitching up with a German girl a couple of years ago. He had never been out of work in the UK, but he did claim German benefits for a couple of months, but then got a job. Since then he has had a promotion and is also about to become a father. Who knows, they may end up back in the UK, but wherever they go they will be an asset to the community in which they live. If you want to stop this kind of thing you might as well reintroduce serfdom and tie people to the land, or the village they were born in!

  • Comment number 21.

    'So with immigration continuing in the hundreds, rather than tens of thousands, how will the welfare system be effected? David Grossman reports and we'll be crunching the numbers in the studio.

    Eats, shoots and gets a job as a sub.

    Voltaire (or a bloke sort of quoting him) would nonetheless approve the right to print that.

    Another French geezer said we were a nation of shop keepers.

    How's that awesome basis for an economy working out in the new world order?

    If a large chunk of the country is in the public sector, and another in Tesco Metro, and the remainder on benefits, with a few on the periphery 'reporting' from a position of unique empathy, who is actually generating the income for the aforementioned to spend or ring up?

  • Comment number 22.

    Perhaps we need shopping businesses in which we begin as apprentices and where we earn a wage with which to shop for the things that are manufactured at increasing speed by fewer people. If there can be retail analysts why not retail practitioners? That would use all the unemployed who would then become an asset. Nothing else makes sense unless there is a return to manual work then we'd all become slim and fit. Salvador Dali thou shouldst be alive this hour.

  • Comment number 23.

    Voltaire described history as "a pack of lies we play on the dead".

    He obviously decided to get his in before he died.

  • Comment number 24.

    'So with immigration continuing in the hundreds, rather than tens of thousands, how will the welfare system be effected? David Grossman reports and we'll be crunching the numbers in the studio.'

    But once again that is exactly what the BBC did not do as the latest 'immigrant welfare' stats are incomplete and compiled to give a politically correct view.

    Labour govt let many more than 3 million into the UK as the true number is not known as many immigrants are not stupid eneough to claim benefits when they are 'illegal'.

    Many welfare claimants have been given immigration stay amnesty & do not show in the latest figures at all. Easiest way to get immigration stay amnesty - have a baby in the UK or claim that you are the baby's father - as is a direct claim on UK welfare state, housing, NHS, education etc. This is where many costs are being incurred - never mind the 'job stealing'

    NI numbers chucked around like confetti?

    Immigration is very much out of control with rabid immigration think tanks (publicly funded (?)) making the situation worse with their foreignising agenda and the 'voice of reason' being ignored.

    Lessons of Labour immigration crimes are not and have not being/been learned/learnt?

    Prediction - unemployment will continue to rise because of immigration & not because of 'austerity'

  • Comment number 25.

    On planet K Pax we have similar problems with imigration. Its mainly the zirconites, Rodobairans and smaller numbers of Tishebonites from the western zones of Stella Uxorious. We tried mind information control in an attempt to plant thoughts of inevitable fatalism that would eventually see the wipe out their cultures if they tried to assimilate to our planets cultures. It was thought this would deter many from coming to our planet. But we've just ended up a jumbled up mess. I hear the constellation Alfa migratory can be quite pleasant this time of millenium.

  • Comment number 26.

    More proof that successive UK govts only purpose is to serve a cabal of elites in the City...

    UK rejects German 'olive branch' of exchange tax

  • Comment number 27.

    its yesterdays news.. but what the hell eh:

    "Labour has launched a furious attack on ‘nasty’ Conservative ministers for publishing statistics showing that 371,000 immigrants are on benefits"

    Labour haven't got much in their box have they...they've pulled out their oldest trick yet again, even if their propaganda arm -the BBC - will spin it for them.

  • Comment number 28.

    I had to read Voltair at University and according to NN he lived here, must admit I missed that bit....good piece though and Steven Smith excellent...

  • Comment number 29.

    #27 kev

    Remember, the Tories like more consumers just as much as New Labour do.

    Just because they have printed some numbers about immigrants, it doesn't mean they're going to do anything about them.

    Immigrants on benefits spend their money to the benefit of the private sector. Tescos yesterday. Sainsburys today.

  • Comment number 30.

  • Comment number 31.

  • Comment number 32.


    Having watched, ALL SHOULD WAKE UP to the degree to which we are being played for suckers. The stuff that NewsyNighty et al put on in their three ringed circus, is DISTRACTION. 9/11 lies - no word; Ron Paul advance - no word; illegitimate UK governance (liar flyer) - no interest. Media selectivity is deeply sinister. Freedom of speech is eviscerated if no one transmits anything contentious.


    In passing: this is though provoking. Manipulation knows no boundaries:

  • Comment number 33.

    The second half is all about how the oil market is rigged and is due to collapse !

  • Comment number 34.

    Even if only 10% of the output from Mad Max's Keiserdome is true, then that is still 10% that you are unlikely to find out from mainstream media (MSM).

    However, I would always check out any assertions made on the Keiser site for myself. For example, the recent Gonzalo Lira interview mentioned that the US Government was moving to confiscate the hugely popular 401K plans, which hold about $6Tn of Americans savings.

    I have American relatives with these 401K plans and I can assure you that if the US Government attempts to effectively confiscate them by 'converting; them into Treasury Bonds, then all hell will break loose and the game will be up, in that it will signal to ordinary Americans that the country is effectively bankrupt.

    Regarding Ron Paul and the virtually total absence of any MSM attention, well maybe the media has just taken it upon itself to decide that he is a no-hoper, despite his coming second in some primaries.

    Look, I'm the sucker who really believed that Americans could not possible vote for Richard Nixon when they had George McGovern on the ticket. I lost a lot of faith in politics after that episode, which only really came back with Obama (in our England of course, nobody of note has emerged from the political swamp in my lifetime).

    As Steve Jobs discovered when speaking privately to POTUS Obama, it may have been "Yes we can" in public but it was "No, we cannot" in private, at least as far as domestic American politics was concerned.

    Ideally it would be a straight battle between Obama and Paul, but it'll probably be Romney instead, which means that Obama will be returned for hopefully a much more effective second term, fixing the US economy before it is too late.

  • Comment number 35.


    "I can assure you that if the US Government attempts to effectively confiscate them by 'converting; them into Treasury Bonds, then all hell will break loose and the game will be up,"

    'Do the math'?

  • Comment number 36.

  • Comment number 37.

    ET TU OBORNE? (#36 link)

    "For David Cameron the problem is especially serious because his political credibility depends on a solution. He himself, WHILE DRIVEN BY AN HONOURABLE SENSE OF PUBLIC SPIRIT, is also a product of Britain’s equivalent of Charles Murray’s gilded elite. Perhaps this is one reason why he has been so slow to confront the growing divisions in British society.”

    Is it me?

  • Comment number 38.

    There is a view that Ron Paul may run as a third party candidate: (Though at at 9 days old, this report is out of date.)

    Watch out for the Stephen Colbert/ Herman Cain vote. Colbert is running a comic campaign against the way that "PACs" (political action committees) raise and spend anonymous unlimited and unaccountable sums of money on political campaigns.

    Colbert is certainly having fun attacking the the others:

  • Comment number 39.


    Alastair Campbell speaking on the side of INTEGRITY.


  • Comment number 40.


    More on PACS....

    Israeli Lobby launch new Super PAC effort to bring down Ron Paul

  • Comment number 41.

    Well Ron Paul is in the lead!
    "Ron Paul cruising smoothly with more than half of Hell behind him at 53%, and a nearly 20-point lead over Newt Gingrich's 34%."

    Note: Hell is the name of a place in the USA.

  • Comment number 42.

    The benefits cap is based on average earnings NOT average income. Along with child benefit will this take into account other none means tested disability benefits as part of income when capping benefits. What about war pensions, industrial injuries, criminal injuries compensation awards, etc, etc. will all these be counted when they cap benefits or what? they all come out of the tax payer pot! The poor and vulnerable are being used as scapegoats once again for oppressive politics. Where poor people lived wasn't an issue until the bankers raped the economy. Now, suddenly, they are depriving degreed up aspiring middle classes of a place to live. So they must leave their homes of God knows how many years to make way for the daily mail readers. Rise up the poor!

  • Comment number 43.

    The benefits law as proposed to be based on average wages. The application of the same law will be based on ACTUAL INCOME! perhaps there is a case for a legal anomaly challenge.

  • Comment number 44.


    Candidates not chosen for ability, and ministers not promoted on basis of aptitude. Result: surreal disaster across Governments of all parties.

    Watch and weep.

  • Comment number 45.

    :o) Can't wait to see Jeremy's reports from China tonight!!!!

  • Comment number 46.

    42. At 12:33 23rd Jan 2012, funnyJoedunn - Rise up the poor!

    Might help, as lying down, in the various incarnations of the term, seem to have led to this point.

    Always wondered if folk conjuring the spectre of 'Daily Mail readers' have never read it out of logical fear of tarring themselves with their own brush? Or simply don't 'do' irony.

  • Comment number 47.

    Junkmale (46)

    I read the daily mail once but it was mainly junk (mail). As for 'irony', is that a course in home economics, latterly known as domestic science, latterly known as cooking? I did woodwork and metal work. I made a lovely brass ash tray for mi mam in the 4th year at secondary school.

  • Comment number 48.

    Meanwhile, beyond 'accidently' not cut and pasting folk's names correctly (tee hee), one has to wonder if 'the poor' are best served in this manner...

    What Newsnightie gets excited about tonight, or perhaps on what not, will be fascinating.

  • Comment number 49.

    'What Newsnightie gets excited about tonight, or perhaps on what not, will be fascinating.'

    Jeremy interviews Vince Cable about plans designed to curb executive pay, including giving shareholders the power to block excessive bonuses.

    What that is excessive, for whom, funded by the public, and does or does not get blocked, being very much a matter for editorial selection.


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