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"Do you think you'd have become Secretary of State had you not been Mrs Clinton?": Jeremy Paxman interviews Hillary Clinton

The Newsnight presenter grilled Hillary Clinton in an interview shown on last night's programme about Iraq, Russia, her husband, Scottish independence, and returning to the White House.

Jeremy Paxman interviewed Hillary Clinton for last night's Newsnight, asking the former secretary of state if she would have ever risen to the position had she not been "Mrs Clinton", once the first lady.

"Absolutely", she snapped back in a reply listing the political achievements she's had since becoming a New York senator.

Watch the full interview here:

Some other notable parts of the BBC interview include:

Intervening in Iraq:

"Not at this time no I agree with White House’s objection and reluctance to do the kind of military activities that the Maliki government is requesting, namely fighter aircraft to provide close support for army and to go after targets. That is not a role for the US. There needs to be a number of steps that Maliki and his government must take to demonstrate he is committed to an inclusive Iraq, something he has not done up to date. The army which has not been able to hold territory has to have an injection of discipline and professionalism something the US has been trying to help with and Maliki has to be willing to demonstrate unequivocally that he is a leader for all Iraqis’ not just for a Sectarian slice of the country."

But the Whitehouse is saying that No Option is ruled out? "That’s what they should say."

But you think they should rule some things out? "At this time I said, at this time, yes because the conditions precedent have not been accepted or set by Maliki and what the Whitehouse is doing is making it very clear to him that they would provide the sort of support that they think is appropriate… It would be inappropriate to send in ground forces of any kind in any foreseeable future."

Syria? "I did advocate for limited but focused action in Syria…"

And you were overruled by the president? "And I was overruled by the president, in part because of Iraq, its hard to get a little bit pregnant in these situations, but I did think there was a role. And as I say what was a wicked problem has become even wickeder."



Do you think Putin’s a dangerous man? "He can be – he can be."

Man who exploits weakness? "I think he acts out of his perceived weakness of Russia. I believe his goal is to reassert Russian power. He’d be perfectly happy if the Soviet union could be reconstituted but he’s enough of a realist to know that’s not going to happen. But he wants to control former republics in central asia. Like any person with a view that that’s what power should be used for if he sees weakness or if he sees disorder. I think he was as affected by what he perceived as disorder in Ukraine as what he saw as weakness. He acted in large measure because of what was happening in Maidan square."


Britain in Europe:

"Europe needs Britain, in my opinion. I think Britain brings a perspective and an experience that is very important to Europe especially post economic crisis. So Britain will have to decide if they agree with that."


Scottish independence:

"I would hate to have you lose Scotland… I hope it doesn’t happen but I don’t have a vote in Scotland."


Running for president:

"There are a number of factors… personally I’m about to be a grandmother… and I want to be right in the middle of it, and a presidential campaign is all over-consuming and 24/7 and I’m not ready for that. But the most important thing is not the question will you run and can you win but what’s your vision for America and can you lead it there? I have a pretty good idea that this a contact sport as they say – politics in the US at this point in our history is very rough and tumble because there are big stakes and people unfortunately sometimes engage in unsavoury negative name calling and the like and that’s part of it – I understand that and if you are not tough enough to get into that arena then truly you should not even put your toe in because truly you should not even out your toe in because it is quite a gauntlet."


I'm a mole, innit.

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How tribunal fees silenced low-paid workers: “it was more than I earned in a month”

The government was forced to scrap them after losing a Supreme Court case.

How much of a barrier were employment tribunal fees to low-paid workers? Ask Elaine Janes. “Bringing up six children, I didn’t have £20 spare. Every penny was spent on my children – £250 to me would have been a lot of money. My priorities would have been keeping a roof over my head.”

That fee – £250 – is what the government has been charging a woman who wants to challenge their employer, as Janes did, to pay them the same as men of a similar skills category. As for the £950 to pay for the actual hearing? “That’s probably more than I earned a month.”

Janes did go to a tribunal, but only because she was supported by Unison, her trade union. She has won her claim, although the final compensation is still being worked out. But it’s not just about the money. “It’s about justice, really,” she says. “I think everybody should be paid equally. I don’t see why a man who is doing the equivalent job to what I was doing should earn two to three times more than I was.” She believes that by setting a fee of £950, the government “wouldn’t have even begun to understand” how much it disempowered low-paid workers.

She has a point. The Taylor Review on working practices noted the sharp decline in tribunal cases after fees were introduced in 2013, and that the claimant could pay £1,200 upfront in fees, only to have their case dismissed on a technical point of their employment status. “We believe that this is unfair,” the report said. It added: "There can be no doubt that the introduction of fees has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of cases brought."

Now, the government has been forced to concede. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Unison’s argument that the government acted unlawfully in introducing the fees. The judges said fees were set so high, they had “a deterrent effect upon discrimination claims” and put off more genuine cases than the flimsy claims the government was trying to deter.

Shortly after the judgement, the Ministry of Justice said it would stop charging employment tribunal fees immediately and refund those who had paid. This bill could amount to £27m, according to Unison estimates. 

As for Janes, she hopes low-paid workers will feel more confident to challenge unfair work practices. “For people in the future it is good news,” she says. “It gives everybody the chance to make that claim.” 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.