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Prospects for Monday, 19 May, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 19 May 08, 10:22 AM

Today's output editor is Robert Morgan. Here's his morning e-mail to the production team:

Good morning everyone,

There's quite a bit around today. There's the embryos bill, Conservative tax and spending, and Burma for starters. Any ideas welcome.

We also have the latest instalment from Matt Frei and the good people of Culpeper.

Playout thoughts?

See you in a minute,



  • Comment number 1.


    Cherie Blair has documented and announced her lack of maturity, loud and clear.
    That this persistent little girl was (and still is) wife to Anthony Blair - Prime Minister, and is a QC, standing high in the British judicial system, tipped as a future judge, shows how dangerous the elevation of individuals by NARROW PERFORMANCE alone can be, and highlights the need for assessment of human competence and aptitude in aspirants, before they are let loose on the lives of millions.
    Britain excels in her ‘output’ of driven desperados, who apply rote, charisma and cunning, in any permutation, to gain trappings of office and power in the quest to salve their needy pain. Cherie (Campbell, Prescott, Curry, Alan Clark etc) through their writings, all make clear to us that governance and ‘justice’ are peopled by very limited individuals; not the shrewd, sage and stable (now almost bred out of British stock) that we need in high office. What hope that the incumbents of other sensitive offices are any more appropriate? It behoves us to think before we elevate, but are we so caught up in cultural mendacity that we no longer understand human value and worth, nor how to promote and nurture it?

  • Comment number 2.

    The Max Mosley scandal always stank. Now that a connection has been made with the British security forces, should we not be looking critically at their alleged denials that this affair was an elaborate sting? And should the trail of who would benefit from this situation, not be followed? This story is likely to come back to haunt both MI5 and Brown's accident prone Govt.

  • Comment number 3.

    If not tonight, perhaps later in the week, how about an in depth look at the navy especially with the proposed two new carriers they are considering but so short of manpower and money looking at a joint share with the French.

    In the Times last week there was a report on the current strength of or surface ships which is sadly sinking (excuse the pun) fast.

    If we dis get theeae carriers, looking entirely unlikely, then tpo excort them in conflict we need at least 5 protection vessels each which leaves precious little left to patrol the rest of the World.

    Cuts have hit the Navy but perhaps many of the Admirals, Vice admirals, rear Admirals, 40 in total plus a vast number of civil servant running the depleting show, could man thses carriers?

  • Comment number 4.


    I gather our MPs, who were voted into Parliament as ‘rosette stands’ on platforms of manifesto dogma, will now vote on matters of human cell manipulation, on the basis of ‘conscience’. I can say with certainty that my MP is a bit of a comedian, but as to the contents of his conscience, let alone his grasp of embryo-philosophy, I am uninformed, though his Westminster affiliation suggest some lack. I suspect, like many others, he has no realisation that ‘life’ is shorthand for the exquisite organisation of about one third of the periodic table of elements, ‘doing stuff’. A crystal grows but is not alive. An enzyme promotes other activity but is not alive. A virus persuades a cell to change its function, but only by accidental meeting. A single cell divides to make more like itself – some life (some life!) Then cells start to cooperate and things get complicated. To make a living human, you need a period of cellular arrangement (gestation) followed by a long period of nurture (programming). Without the programming, you get a human SHAPED ‘dumb animal’.
    It is the beginnings of the ‘container’ that MPs will be grappling with. I doubt their reasoning will bear too much scrutiny. Next time your pet seems almost human, it will be because we are almost animal. Life, for both of us, is just wonderfully organised dead stuff.

  • Comment number 5.

    Labour could easily lose Crewe and that puts Browns position under further scrutiny. This will then accentuate his Scottish position and Labours electoral chances there and at the next general election.

    If Labour cannot win the next election, and the Tories are as rare as Nessie in Scotland, and there is the likely bloodbath in Scotland (and Wales) then only the SNP can lose the 2010 referendum. Thats VERY close in time. I like the Lib Dems but don't see the Cheeky Boys and Girls making up the kind of ground required.

    Should the Scots go for independence, and the Welsh look likely to follow as Labour support collapses in the valleys, how prepared are we in practical and policy terms for what follows?

    How do you decide on who actually is Scottish? Will there be large scale tax evasion as Scots in England say they are paying tax in Scotland - and aren't - and vice a versa. Who pays to set up the computer systems the Scots will need? What happens about the armed forces and membership - big employer in Scotland and Wales, will it be open to them as per the Irish. Will they have an army of their own ? Nuclear weapons locations and existence? Renewable strategies - will England have enough wind farms etc to meet its obligations and create energy security?

    Are the politicians so hooked up on short term issues like expenses, memoirs and survival that they are not preparing for contingencies for this?

    How did the Czech Republic and Slovakia manage this and are there lessons?

  • Comment number 6.

    By the way I agree totally with grumpy-jon.

    I myself, although probably considered as a crank at very best, regularly complain about MI5. I know some of them are brave people doing a fantastic job - but I have never believed that they were ever anything like under control.

    Also I saw the Channel 4 report but zip on the BBC? More D-Notice shenanigans?

    No sympathy for a Mosely by the way, although he is not his father.

  • Comment number 7.

    Why is British Council advertising for a new Finance Director I wonder?

  • Comment number 8.

    Mongo, my Labour MP (I am also a party member) has already conceded Crewe so that is why no visits from Brown. (aka Bury??) He's written it off! The voters there still want to give us a good kicking inspite of an excellent Labour Candidate. I think, come a general Election, she will win it back.

    According to Portillo in the Sunday Times, all Cameron has to do to become PM is to sit on his hands and have no policies. Let the Labour Party win it for him. I hope the Crewe electorate will eventually see through this. We are coming up to the "silly season" in the press so expect more Brown bashing.

    Your point over Brown's tenure of his Scottish seat is one I raised with my MP in a long discussion I had with him. I reckon he will lose it as things stand. As we use to weigh the Labour vote here and regarded as a "safe" Labour seat, but probably now becoming a marginal seat with a considerably reduced majority, if things don't improve in the next two years, (from over 21,000 majority). Brown might be tempted to carpetbag into it.

    I have prepared my MP for the House of Lords in two years time!!!???

  • Comment number 9.

    Should you go with Billbradburys idea how about examining how we apparently come to be buying planes but "can only launch them in a conflict if the US agrees". I like the Americans and hope Obama comes through but thats absurd. My info for that came from Bremner Bird and Fortune some weeks ago - I assume that is correct.

  • Comment number 10.

    Further to post #5: there was a nice piece in The Glasgow Herald last week entitled
    'Is The Stage Set for a Velvet Divorce?'
    by Neal Ascherson - who knows both
    Scotland and the former Czechoslovakia better than most. (NB He also covered
    The 1968 Prague Spring 40 years ago).

    As for 'how do you decide on who actually is Scottish' there was a mischievous comment on today's Good Morning Scotland from Ken
    MacDonals to the effect that the news that
    Mohammed Fayed who owns an estate in The Highlands would be opting to become Scottish if we get independence 'would have SNP members burning their cards
    as we speak'!

    Myself I like the approach to nationality once commended by the travel writer Jan Morris for Wales: she argued that anyone
    could opt to become Welsh if they made a
    contribution and/or a sacrifice for Wales ...

    That is also one of the ideas perhaps that underpins the recommendation of a very radical review of crofting in Scotland that appeared last week. With concern over the purchase of crofts by outsiders wishing to use these only as holiday homes, the report by this committee chaired by Prof. Martin
    Shucksmith has recommended that: 'Any houses built on land that was under crofting tenure on May 12, 2008 and for which no application to decroft had been received sould be subject to an enhanced burden that would tie the new owner not only to occupancy but also to working the land'. 'The Future of Crofting'

  • Comment number 11.

    I know the London centric media are tired of anything Caledonian, but I can't believe the Scottish Affairs Select Committee has come out in favour of Westminster retaining control of future elections to the Scottish Parliament.

    After the shambles that was the 2007 Holyrood Election, this is surely akin to King Herod being responsible for Child Protection.

    And we wonder why the general public is cynical about politics and politicians!

  • Comment number 12.

    Hey mongodavies,
    don't be bashful about being a crank buddy; cranks often turn out to be right because they don't accept the conventional ( ie. govt and media-hyped) clap-trap. And they don't watch Big Brother or the X Factor.

  • Comment number 13.

    Billbradbury I was interested in your response but my worry is are the Labour leaders really accepting reality and planning for possible Scottish separation followed probably by the Welsh?

    Think T5 and then think Scottish separation!!

    I don't think the Tories are any kind of solution to anything as you say, but they may prove me wrong I suppose.

    If you said the Scots and Welsh separate (leave NI aside for now) and are both prosperous and happy and the English took the opportunity to rethink their needs and created a republic with a constitution then believe me I would be a very happy man.

    But if we sleep walk into such major changes without preparation, I don't think Bosnia would be likely but it could be very fractious.

    Thanks by the way grumpy-jon. Never let the ....s grind you down! Keep plugging away on the D-Notice thing! I think its an outrage the limits that are set and appear to go unchallenged by the media. Why isn't there coverage of the Mosley sting on the BBC site - or did I miss it?

  • Comment number 14.

    I could not have it better myself. Barrie Singleton's warning, about the likes of Cherie Blair and others elevated to dangerously influential positions on the thinnest of merits, should be heeded. It is no wonder that the society that was GB has deteriorated into an uneducated, money grabbing, moral-lacking, backstabbing melee, when we have such role models leading us forward.

  • Comment number 15.


    I despair for rationality in Westminsterly high places. We bomb the world’s humanity, for the greater good, leaving swathes of anger, misery and ‘termination’ in our wake. At home, we bomb our people with alcohol giving rise to a whole unintended underclass of pregnancies that are subsequently, equally gratuitously, terminated.
    Against this backcloth of abject failure by our politicians, they now discuss the number of days of cell-division you can get on the head of a pin, and talk Frankenstein ‘monster-appendages’ (aka the B word) to one-another. They are a banal disgrace, a stupid charade, parading their imagined high-minded concern for ‘life’ without having any idea of what that word encompasses or the amount of its destruction that they have already voted for, or connived at, IN OUR NAME.

  • Comment number 16.

    And finally....

    A scientist has revealed that he today discovered the actual physcial width of the fine line that separates the rich from the poor. It measures about one inch. Dr Joseph McCrumble reports:

    'I was sitting down for a cup of tea in the local cafe when I noticed a copy of the Telegraph. I don't read it normally, but the Guardian was already taken. So, I was leafing through the pages and saw, on the right hand side of page 12 a story of Radio 2 presenter Mr Chris Evans succesfully bidding £5m for a second hand car.

    Moderately interesting, I thought. Then, over on the left hand side of page 13, I happened upon a story about how the people of Haiti are suffering as a result of escalating food prices, with slum families particularly at risk.

    I could not help but notice the physical proximity of the two, somewhat contrasting, articles. By my reckoning (and this can be verified in any copy of the paper) the actual physical distance between the two stories - separated only by the two page margins - is approximately one inch (I might be out by a couple of millimetres - I didn't have a ruler on me at the time). Eureka, I thought. I have finally quantified the width of the fine line between rich and poor. It mde my day!'

    So there we have it. A scientifically robust and reproducible observation brought about by simply reading the wrong paper. Serendipity indeed!


    J McC

  • Comment number 17.

    Embryo manipulation.

  • Comment number 18.

    I see I'm not alone in gleaning bits of news from Geoff Atkinson's blinding Rory Bremner programme. How little fearless stuff we get on the networks, if you take out Bremner and 'News For you'? How s***e is 'our' news media? 'Drive' on R5 Live is my nomination for 'trivialising-its-news brief' lifetime achievement award. eg. today striving might and main not to deal with the bus-load of 'young people' arrested with weapons on their way to school, but carrying interviews with a golfer who fell in the water after taking his shot, with someone who found he'd lost the last piece of his jigsaw, and with Michael Rosen who wanted to correct the impression that he doesn't like Harry Potter. Breathtaking.Best from Cranky Jon.

  • Comment number 19.

    Embryo Manipulation - - - In comparison with the need to tackle the progressive oceanic acidification and the ensuing species depletion, the manifestations of embryo manipulation is likely to subside into a side issue.

  • Comment number 20.


    Now that we are in excess of 6.5 billion, each addition is of miniscule value. Only the deluded (like our Tony) have any idea why they are here; and the unconceived have never felt deprived. To be a sibling saviour is to rise above this base-level of pointlessness. And when you grow up, you can join the army and provide more bits. It’s not rocket science and brain surgery …oh … well … yes … it probably is.

  • Comment number 21.

    Hey Joseph,
    You must be dead posh to have a local cafe that provides the Telegraph and the Guardian. Us rough northern lads only have a tatty copy of the Star which gets trousered by Fat Bob when he calls through for his full English. Best from Grumpy.

  • Comment number 22.

    psst ........ comment #10 is about crofting!
    The producer must have a second home?!

    And/or doesn't want to work the land to keep his wee hoose in the Hielands......? 'The Future of Crofting'

    NB this is a very radical report - why not get Charles Kennedy MP who is a crofter to go to Scotland to interview Martin Shucksmith
    ......... and then adjourn to Harrods to talk
    to some of the landowners over a hamper!

  • Comment number 23.

    but the first part of comment #10 was in response to the question from #5 about the velvet divorce between the Czech Republic (which drove that) and Slovakia:

    Scottish journalist Neal Ascherson who covered the Prague Spring in 1968 and
    whose book on Scotland 'Stone Voices'
    is worth returning to again and again
    wrote an article in last week's Herald
    speculating on some of the comparisons between the Czech/Slovak divorce and post-Brown scenarios in Britain. Interesting ......

    Mohammed Fayad has also given an interview on BBC Scotland's Sunday
    morning programme 'Shereen' - in
    which he indicated that if Scotland
    became independent he is with us!

  • Comment number 24.

    In comment #22 I should of course have written 'Mark' Shucksmith not 'Martin' ....

    Professor Mark Shucksmith is based at Newcastle University and previously at
    Aberdeen University. Here is the link to
    his committee's final report on 'The Future of Crofting' prepared for the Scottish Government and released last week:


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