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Newsnight & Newsnight Review: Friday, 3 April, 2009

  • Sarah McDermott
  • Fri 3 Apr 09, 04:37 PM

Here's Kirsty with what's on in this evening's programmes:
Tonight on Newsnight: top of the agenda at the Nato summit (celebrating its 60th anniversary) is Afghanistan and how European leaders will respond to President Obama's decision to commit more troops to the country. Gordon Brown has just offered to send more British troops to Afghanistan to help with security before the presidential election in August.  
But should Britain be sending more troops to support an Afghan President who has reportedly signed off a law passed by his parliament which would legalise rape in marriage and bar women from seeking work, education or medical treatment without their husband's agreement? Nato Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has suggested that European countries may be deterred from contributing more as a result. Mr Scheffer told the BBC: "How can I defend this, and how can the British defend this, when our boys and girls are dying there in defence of universal values, and here is a law that fundamentally violates human rights?" 
We'll discuss this and Nato's wider role on the programme tonight. 
Edinburgh is the setting for the RBS shareholders meeting today. The UKIF, the major shareholder on behalf of the public, has already made it clear it has voted against the pension payout for the former Chief Executive Sir Fred Goodwin. He apparently is considering whether to give some of it back, but the present Chairman Sir Philip Hampton has called for an end to the "public flogging" of the beleaguered bank, echoing the sentiment of Peter Mandelson earlier in the week. So is it time to love not loathe bankers? 
And then on Review we discuss two new dramas about The Troubles, the lasting impact of Picasso's Guernica as the tapestry version is displayed in London, and the culture of protest, with our guests Kevin Toolis, Janine Di Giovanni, Tristram Hunt and John Bew.

Fifty Dead Men Walking is a new film loosely based on the autobiography of former British agent and IRA man Martin McGartland who is in hiding until this day, while Five Minutes of Heaven is a TV drama starring James Nesbitt and Liam Neeson about a real life UVF killing. It imagines a fictional reconciliation between the killer and his victim's younger brother, 34 years after the event. We will review both films and debate the value of drama in reflecting the motivations and impact of The Troubles through a long line of films from Cal to Hunger.
Versions of Picasso's Guernica appeared on walls in Belfast during The Troubles amongst all the guerrilla art. Now the tapestry version of the painting is the centrepiece of a new exhibition in London's Whitechapel Art Gallery, more than sixty years after the original hung there for a fortnight to raise money for and awareness of the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War. The tapestry was commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller and normally hangs in the UN, where it was covered up during Colin Powell's speech in 2003 making the case for war in Iraq. In the newly revamped Whitechapel the tapestry presides over a UN style debating table, free to anyone who wishes to hire the room for discussion, and the first debate was about the role of art in protest. We will be discussing the exhibition and, after a week of G20 demonstrations, will reflect on the culture of protest from the Tolpuddle martyrs to climate change.
I hope we can entertain you and stimulate discussion round your own debating table... wherever and whatever that may be!


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