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From Jeremy Paxman

Sarah McDermott | 17:49 UK time, Tuesday, 6 October 2009


Greetings from the railways sheds which once housed the Manchester end of the St Pancras railway line. The city has an unfortunate history when it comes to politicians and railways. When William Huskisson attended the opening of the Manchester/Liverpool railway in 1830, he was so keen to have a quick word with the Duke of Wellington that he stepped on to the track, failing to notice Stephenson's Rocket was coming down the line. That was the end of his political ambitions.

No-one has yet been similarly mangled here this week, although Ken Clarke - the closest thing the Conservative Party has to a human version of the Rocket - did have a try at flattening Peter Mandelson this afternoon.

The Tory conference still has two more days of what are comically called 'debates' to run. It's hard to know what name to give the succession of speeches resounding around the old railway sheds here. But debate is definitely not le mot juste. The closest we've got to dissent was Boris Johnson's appearance here yesterday, and if you were watching last night you'll know he's not exactly what you'd call a faint heart when it comes to cheerleading for David Cameron.

A teenage girl strongly resembling Violet Elizabeth Bott did get her three minutes of preternaturally grown-up rhetoric this morning, reminiscent of the young William Hague after gender reassignment. For the rest, there has hardly been single word of dissent in the hall on any subject, even on issues which we know split the party from top to toe, like Europe. It is politics reduced to a choice of various flavours of chocolate. No, scrub that, it's all the same flavour of chocolate.

The thing finishes on Thursday, when the stage is torn down, because there's hardly any time to put up the set for the next convention here, which is an enormous display of beauty products, apparently. Too delicious to imagine what might happen if the two events overlapped.

The speech of the day was George Osborne on the economy. He walked on to the stage all furrowed brow and portentousness, desperate to live down the Boy George jibe. It didn't lighten up (although it did have one good joke: "What does it say about Gordon Brown that he got into a trial of strength with Alistair Darling. And lost.")

It was one of the cleverest political speeches many of us have seen, eschewing the usual facile promises, and full of doom and gloom about the mess we're in. The party has evidently decided that everyone appreciates the sickness in the public finances, and is willing to take the medicine necessary to begin a cure: pay freezes, public sector pension cuts and an end to various benefits. He also came up with a slogan which may just work: "We're all in this together", which he repeated time and again.

We can now see clearly what the Tories plan to do to try to bring about the first change of government since Blair swept to power 12 years ago, and on tonight's show we're going first to anatomise it, and then to ask whether it can work.

Our chief guest is the shadow home secretary Chris Grayling, whose meteoric rise to the top of the party testifies to the way he's regarded. Then we'll have a number of others, including Danny Finkelstein, often tipped to run the Downing Street Policy Unit if Cameron ever gets the tenancy.

Searing analysis from Crick and Grossman, it goes without saying, of course.

Oh, and Gavin gets to go to find out who's won the Man Booker Prize.

10.30pm on BBC Two. What would you rather be doing?


  • Comment number 1.

    I think what you are missing on the show is having Survivor's "The Eye of the Tiger.." playing in the run up to the Paxo v BoJo showdown...

    The 1984-esque view as Bozza's fizzog takes over the screen with the 'vote for Big Brother' was rather terrifying to behold..

    Although I cannot help but think it would have been even better if you had used Cornell Belcher's 'chavs view of cameron' as a lead-up to the verbal fisticuffs...

  • Comment number 2.

    By the way, easy with hindsight I know, but you could have used the riposte "Chickenfeed.." when BoJo asked about the size of your, ahem, 'package'..

  • Comment number 3.

    From mimpromptu

    I'm now in a musical place
    With passers-by showing their face

  • Comment number 4.

    There is nowhere to discuss current affairs.
    In a democracy this is a serious breach of free speech.
    I am also concerned at censorship by moderators who use the excuse "no link to a current news story".
    This is also a breach of human rights and free speech.
    I am astonished by this BBC attitude, it is infantile and reprehensible.
    The messageboard website used to contain "parliament" and "current affairs". It is now totally dumbed down.

  • Comment number 5.

    .we are all in this together'

    except the millionaire landowners who get 4 billion a year for merely owning land
    or the bankers who should be taxed at 70% till the debt they need to survive is paid off, nor public service broadcasters, nor energy companies who seem to be able to charge what they like,etc

    i think any examination of 'we' will prove instructive as to who is 'really in it'?

  • Comment number 6.

    new reserve currency.

    although officially dismissed the markets and the new gold price might be paving the way for it? guess what we have another commodity bubble.

  • Comment number 7.

    bookhimdano (#5) "i think any examination of 'we' will prove instructive as to who is 'really in it'?"


    Did one of the FOCUS group consultees last night say that he thought we needed a Black leader and that he thought it was signifcant that Obama's middle name was Saddam?

  • Comment number 8.

    Excellent post Sir J, as been your coverage of this week’s comedy show! Definitely the headline act has been BJ Blondie! (Excellent interview by the way.)

    Two things perhaps deserve some airtime.

    The number of times that Ossie Osborne Two highlights his closeness to Cameron .. symbiotic, conjoined twins or Q I know what you did last summer unQ.

    Also ...

    The row of conference automata on the dais ...... Does that make them a bunch of daisies perhaps? ....... read the sound-bite, give the headline and attempt to log in to the short term memory of the electorate and get - ? canned almost - applause. But when these daisies are interviewed one to one by competent journos somehow the policy seems to slide down the plug-hole!

    Incidentally .... Very pleasing to see the series by the american pollster assessing the public - Finally the public being asked what they think - but it would suggest that Mr Klegg ought not to put a bet on getting elected to No 10.

  • Comment number 9.


    What kind of party-mentality sees fit to have a Tobacco Baron trumpeting their caring credentials, where the little people are concerned? BAT have sent more little people to a slow, illness-racked death, than Dave will ever have pounds in his bank account.

    Mad enough that bombs-n-fags Thatcher is flaunted as a Tory icon, and Ken-the-Hobbit (furry feet) was their HEALTH MINISTER, without putting him up as a Care Bear. I have seen Ken publicly dismiss tobacco addiction as a matter of choice. Once again we find politics drawing to itself - and elevating - a very unsavoury class of character. But the voters notice nothing. There's democracy at work for you.

  • Comment number 10.


    Well - since you ask Jeremy - I would rather be watching a news and current affairs program in a restrained (son et lumiere free) studio; high on gravitas and low on overpaid prancing-ninny smartarse presenters, that realises it is the underlying nature of political figures that ultimately decides what happens to this country and its people, not (if I may say so) 'here today and gone tomorrow' policies.


  • Comment number 11.

    Can you let us see the full Paxman interview of Boris Johnson? The media is full of rumour and speculation but I'd like to make my own mind up, as would many other viewers I suspect. If the interview was too short to put in the show it doesn't stop it being put on the web. If there is nothing to be scared of let the public be the judge. Paxman once did a (admittedly terrible) programme called 'You decide'. Well let us!

  • Comment number 12.

    Tonight Paxo wore...

    a pink shirt
    a red tie
    red socks!

    ...and in the Tory conference centre!

    enuff said!

  • Comment number 13.

    barrie (#10) Well said.

    Is it even worth saying that what we saw and heard at the Conservative Conference today was just theatre? is it worth asking what Britain's going to produce now that banks and hedge funds are leaving London as inhospitable? Dare one ask what all the jobs are going to be which the Conservatives are going to stimulate through their incentives and performance target for quangos?

    Nothing worth discussing is ever discussed for long, and if sometimes tries, everyone's moved swiftly on...

  • Comment number 14.

    Jeremy on top form again tonight - my favourite interviews being the discussion with Danny Finkelstein & Dr.Irwin Stelzer plus Ann McElvoy. Excellent interview with Grayling too :o)

    Also loved Michael's Prime Cuts/Sacred Cow section - especially when Ken Clarke refused to take part :p

    @#7 JJ - yes the guy did think Obama's middle name was Saddam. I still wonder where they select the FOCUS group from...

  • Comment number 15.

    @#12 - actually his shirt was red and white striped, not pink. What's wrong with what he was wearing? I thought it looked very smart (and I like his red socks too).

  • Comment number 16.

    MIDDLE NAMES (#14)

    So how many people know Brown's middle name 76? How many know what caused him to eschew his first given name? Might knowing this, help to see into the character of man who has a chewed finger on the nuclear button? Could it be important to know the character and motivation of individuals who reach high office? Might this be a worthwhle pursuit of Newsnight?

    In passing, I see Paxman's middle name is Dickson. He's not going to change to that in a hurry is he!

  • Comment number 17.

    Mistress76uk "@#7 JJ - yes the guy did think Obama's middle name was Saddam. I still wonder where they select the FOCUS group from..."

    Me too..

    If it's a random, representative, sample of a British 'Regional Development Agency' (NUT), it doesn't bode well does it? And if it's a representative sample of Newsnight viewers......:-(

  • Comment number 18.

    from mimpromptu

    The poem was finished at the Royal Festival Hall
    All stitched and perfected ready to go
    To the place where knowledge is stored for the nation
    It looks like the stitchers will need a vacation.

    An enormous effort on a voluntary basis
    Was put into the project with Judith at the helm.
    The Poetry Society serves as oasis
    To many a poet by words overwhelmed.

    Rebecca and Alan, Sarah, Anne and Holy,
    Rachel, Louise, Meghan, Brigit, Heli
    Were some of the people who gave all it took
    For others to admire, read, recite and look.

    Who’s the poem’s author and what is its title?
    Methinks it’s too big to be worn as mantle.
    All’s to be revealed on Wednesday the 7th
    By journos, TV and their cameramen.


  • Comment number 19.


    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    Since you Tories are in my home City and milling around alot, take a break and visit the excellent gallary, not a stones throw away from the conference...and make sure you donate. Riff-raff, the uncultured and Jurnos are not permitted to enter...but they may make an exception for Paxo.

  • Comment number 20.

  • Comment number 21.

    from mimpromptu
    For some reason, Streetphotobeing, I have recently been developing a taste for spoofs and following the discussion about Jeremy's choice of colours for the Tuesday programme I've come up with a ditty based on Robert Burns' famous 'Red Rose', purely for fun.
    Oh, my Love is like a blue, blue moon
    That wittily fills my spoon
    Oh, my Love’s like rhythm & rhyme
    That aids me twirl in tune!

    And fare thee well, my only Love,
    And fare thee well a while!
    And I will twirl again, my Love,
    For you to glee and smile.

    It looks like the weather will be much better in Birmingham than down here in London so I hope you'll be able to enjoy it. Every lovely day counts before fierce winter sets in.

  • Comment number 22.

    @#16, Barrie, it's only because of you I learnt that Gordon Brown's first real name is James. I haven't really come across many people who use their middle name(s) as their first name, unless they have a rather distinct first name which is difficult to pronounce, so they use their middle name instead. Hardly the case with the name "James."

    Perhaps it's about time we had Psychologists on Newsnight (as they regularly do on Fox News) to give the public an insight into politician's body language and just analyse them in general.

  • Comment number 23.


    Mistress76uk (#22) "Perhaps it's about time we had Psychologists on Newsnight"

    Only if Newsnight is more discerning in who they have on than they are when they pick a) other 'experts' and b) samples of the public!

    Sadly, it is my observation that most psychologists aren't very good on behaviour these days. It is my conjecture that they're drawn to psychology in an effort to compensate for this deficit, but, given that the intensional idioms of propositional attitude (the psychological verbs) are hopelessly inadequate for explaining anything (for strictly logical/linguistic reasons) at all, in most cases, this is a case of the blind leading the blind! ;-)

    If the above is the case, and this is the case, what is the significance of 80% of those studying psychology at A level and beyond, as well as 80% of the profession itself, being female? Females on average tend to be better at verbal behaviours than spatial behaviours....especially at the upper tail of te distribution. See Maths vs English SATs.

  • Comment number 24.


    The discussion last night got closer to being credible. Irwin Stelzer brought a bit of gravitas to the discussion, keeping his excitable News International confederate Danny Finkelstein in check ;-).

  • Comment number 25.

    from mimpromptu
    Before I push off to help spread the stitched up poem, here's another ditty of this morning:
    ‘Bypassing the wicket’, asked a chap of a cricket.
    ‘Why are they so wicked?, a child once asked of me,
    ‘Just wait to be an adult, then I’ll let you see.
    What adult to adult to each other do
    And how they like playing in winnie the pooh.
    For now, however, have a lovely time
    While I continue sipping tasty wine’.

  • Comment number 26.


    One rule for the settlements/colonies, another for the homeland?

    What's the word for that?

    NB it can be spun. ;-)

  • Comment number 27.

    ahhh but where were you JP... You missed a message from Above.Typically Manchester greeted Osborn's gloom with sodden sky's, sodden streets (the Tories had not brought their green wellies,) and sodden people, on one of the City's great wet Mondays. Gloom indeed but do the voters want that?

  • Comment number 28.

    JJ #26

    One rule for the settlers/immigrants, another for the natives.

    Whats the word for that?

  • Comment number 29.

    "NO DOGS NO BLACKS NO IRISH" (That's a historical reference Blogdog) #26

    Would it be 'RACISISM' JJ? And would the irony be the Semite link?

    Did I win anything?

  • Comment number 30.


    NewFazer (#28) If and when 'the lone bomber' resurfaces, instead of rhetoric about Spitfires etc, let him grapple with the facts I say:

    "Lenin was sent into Russia by the Germans in the same way that you might send a phial containing a culture of typhoid or of cholera to be poured into the water supply of a great city, and it worked with amazing accuracy. No sooner did Lenin arrive than he began beckoning a finger here and a finger there to obscure persons in sheltered retreats in New York, in Glasgow, in Berne, and other countries, and he gathered together the leading spirits of a formidable sect, the most formidable sect in the world, of which he was the high priest and chief. With these spirits around him he set to work with demoniacal ability to tear to pieces every institution on which the Russian State and nation depended. Russia was laid low. Russia had to be laid low. She was laid low to the dust."

    Hansard 1919.

    And of course

    Elsewhere Lloyd-George said that Britain complemented Germany's boomerang above with the equally self-destructive creation of Zionism by Balfour, which was meant to wreck havoc in the Ottoman Empire, Britain's WWI enemy at the time.

    In fact, later in January 1920, the notable author of the first piece above was to write to his colleague H Fisher (as well as the famous, readily available on the web, article in the Herald on Zionism and Bolshevism):

    "I am afraid the facts established only too clearly the predominance of Jews in the Bolshevik is my firm belief that the Jews in this country would be well to admit the facts more openly than they do and to rally to the support of those forces in Russia which give some prospect of setting up a strong and impartial government.'

    Papers, CHAR 2/110/3

    Can you believe what some evil-dooers say? It's outrageous that people are allowed to go around telling the truth with impunity these days! ;-)

    [#1] Why do they sing that at Labour Party Conferences?

  • Comment number 31.


    I just got off a train at King's Cross.
    Was the King annointed or simply quite cross?

    I missed one station while composing this ditty
    Wasting a few minutes. Oh, what a pity.

    The poem is now spread and snapshots are taken
    Of the people who in it have so much partaken.


  • Comment number 32.

    from mimpromptu

    By the way, it's 'In my craft or sullen art' by Dylan Thomas'

  • Comment number 33.

    the cuts mindset

    typical negative tories. the people not being squeezed are the top nor that 'industry' that needs the debt to survive?

  • Comment number 34.

    “I have neither the learning nor the experience to know whether the doomsayers are right about the human causes of climate change. But I am willing to acknowledge that people who know a lot more than I do may be right when they claim that it is the consequence of our own behaviour. I assume that this is why the BBC's coverage of the issue abandoned the pretence of impartiality long ago.” Jeremy Paxman

    The recent proof by Stephen McIntyre that the entire evidence for fast rising warming has been proven to be based on 12 tree rings, chosen fraudulently from many others that didn't show it, has been censored on the BBC. Bearing in mind that it is nonetheless prove I would like to ask Mr Paxman if he still believes there is a possibility that the line the BBC have "given up the pretence of impartiality" to push "may" be true.

  • Comment number 35.

    Was my originally posted link busted or was it censored?

    Max keiser and his view on the US dollor; its about to sink and will lose its place as the worlds leading currency.

  • Comment number 36.

    Readers of this blog may have noticed that some posters persistently make assertions which are at odds with reality, even after they have been corrected, or at least, presented with material which would make most reasonable people pause for thought and question their initial assumptions. Sometimes this recalcitrance is just carelessness or human error, but sometimes, it's got to be classed as something else. How does one decide when someone is lying vs. when they're persistently, i.e incorrigibly, mistaken?

  • Comment number 37.

    Jeremy pressing the shadow Home Secretary and later the FT guy on exactly what the Conservatives propose in the way of bank bashing appreciated by me. As also the discussion with Finkelstein, Reeves and Stelzer - good humoured and largely hands off but Irwin Stelzer (who I fancy has intrestingly mellowed over the past year as he says he thinks GB has) is quite a hesitant speaker, typical academic, and needs a bit of help now and then rather then hindrance. He was up against Joseph Stiglitz a few months back and was clearly frustrated then and on this occasion being jumped on by JP following Irwin's witty remark about Fidel Castro speeches really not helpful nor necessary.

    Quite dense discussions here I thought and very far from 'dumbed down' my view. I found myself rewinding the netcast a few time to take it all in so a bit of R&R from Michael Crick indeed welcome.

    Look forward to JP v honestly a how much hairy shirted GB is he really.

    Perhaps a little on the British fascination with anne robinson soft SM thing and particularly the champagne set version of it forged in the changing rooms of Eton that being thoroughly shafted up the back-side certainly painful alright okay no one's denying that but still basically good clean fun together looked at from the right perspective squarely between the legs and we all have to go through it from time to time as a toff right of passage and especially when we all get a bit too bumptious for our own good like bank managers and TV presenters for that matter?

    (JP - the photo at the top of the page looking like you're 20 years old ... well you're not and thank heavens it does show)

  • Comment number 38.

    # 22 - use of middle names. In my experience, it is common for people to use middle names where their first name is the same as another family member (particularly a parent - although I understand Gordon Brown's father is not named James). This is the case with my wife and an uncle. Does this reveal anything?

  • Comment number 39.

    neilninepercent (#34) "The recent proof by Stephen McIntyre that the entire evidence for fast rising warming has been proven to be based on 12 tree rings, chosen fraudulently from many others that didn't show it, has been censored on the BBC"

    They did't censor your link. It would be fairer to say the BBC has not given it as much coverage though. It does cover a lot of trivia.

    You're right to keep pointing out that there are large numbers of able researchers who have very grave dounts about anthropogenic global warming, but then there's an awful lot of science which refutes so much of current folk-lore these days, nd that's taboo too, especially where it impacts on economics and the politics of equality. Given that Public Relations is so central to all our politics these days, are you surprised? The media is not in public ownership, and the BBC is under pressure to compete..

    As I watch Newsnight, I like to think that what the presenters say and don't say is carefuly scripted or nuanced, and that that's about all we can really expect.

    Thanks for the link by the way.

  • Comment number 40.


    The naming of a child, with the same first given-name as a parent, is surely of interest in terms of the implications? No prospective parent could be in any doubt of the confusions arising in later life - could they? So what was 'bought' at that price? And how might such a parental mentality impinge, generally, on a child? How might a child, developing its own identity, react to the matters above?

    And all this quite apart from the James Gordon Brown syndrome - or so it would seem . . .

  • Comment number 41.


    There was a Guardian article on this on Sunday 4th October. Bear in mind the way that London (a 'Regioal Development Agency' or NUT) is going demographically as 99.x% of its growth over the next 30 years is predicted to be in BME groups. There are mean group differences in productivity and offending behaviour as a function of educability and socialization.

  • Comment number 42.

    from mimpromptu
    As it is the National Poetry Day tomorrow I thought I'd post all my ditties I might be coming up with this week. In future I might become a little bit more restrained:

    Oh, my Love, with what phrases shall I thee describe
    So it doesn’t sound like some claptrap tripe?

    Thoust are not a honey, nor are thoust a bunny.
    Thoust are far too whammy to be called a honey.

  • Comment number 43.


    National Poetry Day is cancelled. It is to be replaced by the MULTICULTURAL RANDOM WORDAGE BREAKAGE AND LINAGE SLAM. I will not be entering.

    NOTE: This message may bear little direct resemblance to previously accepted forms of truth (but might be a poem).

  • Comment number 44.

    from mimpromptu re: #21 & #42
    We have a deal with Streetphotobeing that he serve as my muse for the purpose of my rhythm & rhyme /poetic?/ verses. Streetphotobeing has a partner but has agreed for me to 'use' him for the purpose of myself having a male point of reference. While mixing with people today and while cycling around my ears caught a few times the word 'honey' and that's why I come up with the second ditty, while the first one - well, the Blue Moon has been around for a long time now.

  • Comment number 45.


  • Comment number 46.

    mimpromptu (#42) Have you thought of asking others what they think of your quite what it's cracked up to be in this area.

    Anyone else have any views on this?

  • Comment number 47.



    The facts are:

    1) surface ships of all countries' navy's are, without modern-technology defences, extremely vulnerable to current anti-ship airborne weapons...;

    2) potent, easy to transport and hide, anti-ship weapons such as the SS-N-27 class of missiles can- in addtion to being launchable from aircraft hundreds of miles from target warship(s), also be launched from shore, surface vessels and submarines and have been widely marketed during the last decade....;

    3) Royal Navy 'picket vessels' such as the brand-new Type-45 Destroyers, that have 'some capabilities' to defend against SS-N-27 type anti-ship missiles, can not defend themselves from sub surface threats- due to their Labour-dictated weapons system build-deficiencies(motivated by Labour's grievously irresponsible cost-cutting strategies);

    4) Due to this, and Type-45's absurdly puny abilities to stock anti-ship missiles (again, a result of Labour's defence-budget short-sightedness), Type-45's would not be in a position to defend any aircraft carriers in their battle group.... for very long... if up against a moderately smart, and medium technology-equipped foe...

    5) The speed at which up to date airborne anti-ship weapons travel- and close on targets when in 'terminal mode'- obviates any possible argument that might have existed, pre-1970, for aircraft carriers to not possess their own airborne threat defences...

    6) In the 21st century, all 1st world nations with carrier forces- except the UK- recognize the above and are providing their aircraft carriers with both outer layer and inner layer anti airborne threat defences...

    7) Failure by the UK to do this as well- for its existing and any new carriers that may be provided to the Royal Navy- is inviting disaster- and ridicule worldwide....

    In the near future, the RN and other UK armed forces branches don't just require reasonable increases in annualized funding- they also need objectively-set, responsible capability benchmarks to aim at (and updated at a minimum every 2-years)... both of which have not been provided and/or facilitated by the Labour govt during the last 12-years!!

    Today, in addition to its new Type-45 Destroyers being equipped- at commissioning- with the weapons and defensive systems required so that they can legitimately function as 'multi-mission/multi-role' Destroyers- the RN urgently requires the expedited construction of at least 12- 14 of these warships- not 6 as Labour has begrudgingly agreed to....

    Additionally, the RN needs- at the minimum- either:

    1) its 2 operational aircraft carriers' weapons and defensive systems updated to 21st century standards- starting immediately!!;


    2) the immediate lend-lease of 2 or 3 up-to-date, fully equipped-with aircraft/weaponry/etc replacement carriers from the US...

    These ships' serving in the RN at least until the UK commissions- with a full compliment of fixed-wing and other aircraft- UK-built aircraft carriers*...

    (* designed with 21st century military-capabilities as a first priority, instead of cost effectiveness and 'make-work-project' political objectives dominating design decisions...)

    Roderick V. Louis,
    Vancouver, BC, Canada

  • Comment number 48.

    #5 bookhindano "We are all in this together...I think any examination of 'we' will prove instructive as to who is 'really in it'?"

    But there is no doubt about what it that we are in; simply rearrange the letters of 'this'!
    Dante indicated that at the lower level of hell there was a constant murmering sound, which turned out to be all the poor souls standing up to their chins in it cautiously mouthing the words "Don't make waves!, Don't make waves!"

    All the conferences have done is to pass more loose motions.

  • Comment number 49.

    For those who have still not woken up to it yet, the majority of people appear to have been consumers of a multi-faceted scam - which has been run over a very long period at their expense.

  • Comment number 50.

    10. At 9:53pm on 06 Oct 2009, barriesingleton

    Wot 'e sed. With a an additional request for a side order less of opinion to enhance narratives, interpret events and/or 'reflecting', rather subjectively, on what 'some' seem to imagine is 'fair'.

    22. At 06:56am on 07 Oct 2009, Mistress76uk
    Perhaps it's about time we had Psychologists on Newsnight (as they regularly do on Fox News) to give the public an insight into politician's body language and just analyse them in general.

    I'd prefer not (see above). The odds of getting a qualified person without agenda to push in their own subtle, professionally-gilded ways, or just that bit easier to get to the studio at the press of a producer chum's iPhone fast dial, is remote.

    They could get in one from each 'side' I guess, for a Newsnight twofer, but then it might sink in to all involved that two folk having diametrically opposite interpretations based on qualifications and 'science' might not reflect well on their professions' actual value.

    Good for heat, perhaps not so great for illumination. Hence I expect one on screen within days. Sadly.

  • Comment number 51.

    #41 JJ having read your link, that is exactly what worries me. I cannot understand how we are going to keep functioning with the amount of people the left want moved into Britain. How long before we sign the Schengen Agreement? We keep being told by the Calais mayor that we ought, I don't know why she carries such weight, surely the immigrants in France are their problem not ours. Why do they loiter in camps around the coast, I've rarely seen any foreign person on the streets here, so I suppose I've answered my own question.

    But I'd really like to know what the open door enthusiasts think would happen to this country with the hoards that would arrive!

  • Comment number 52.


    Beautifully composed IDG2. I have paused the rocking and am weeping with laughter - for now. I meant to hail Bookhim's "really in it" and now you have reorganised 'this', with a bit of Dante thrown in! Between you, you might just cheer me up.

  • Comment number 53.


    PART 2:

    Any political party governing a country that historically has had and presently purports to have a blue water navy- but neglects to make sure that, at the bare minimum, the country's front line warships' defences and weapons systems are updated regularly to the extent that they are capable of dealing with known threats- is inviting disaster....

    The fact is that, after 12-years of Labour, ALL in-service (commissioned) Royal Navy warships- and especially its 2 aircraft carriers- Ark Royal and Illustrious- are sitting ducks to recently developed supersonic anti-ship missiles, such as the Russian 'Sizzler' SS-N-27...

    Other than the upgraded US Navy Aegis/ESSM/Standard Missile system, only the UK/France/Italy joint PAAMS/Aster system is thought to be able to counter this type of missile... but neither of these systems have been fitted to any of the Royal Navy's in-service Aircraft Carriers, Frigates or Destroyers.

    Due to astonishingly irresponsible cost-cutting in 2004/2005 both Ark Royal and Lusty had their outer layer 'Sea Dart' anti airborne threat defence systems removed (due to obsolescence) BUT SEA DART WAS NOT REPLACED WITH AN UP-TO-DATE ANTI AIRBORNE THREAT SYSTEM, SUCH AS AEGIS/ESSM/STANDARD MISSILE OR PAAMS/ASTER!!!

    The same process was inflicted upon all of the the RN's remaining Type-42 Destroyers 3-years later...

    Any country that purports to have a blue water navy- but neglects to make sure that at least its front line warships’ defenses and weapons systems are updated regularly to the extent that they are capable of dealing with known threats- is courting massive catastrophe...

    Something that the French and Americans very plainly recognize:

    Both the US Navy’s Nimitz class supercarriers and France’s aircraft carriers (Charles De Gaulle) have been retro-fitted with both an inner layer, goalkeeper-like CIWS defensive system as well as an outer layer defensive missile system: PAAMS/ASTER or AEGIS/ESSW/STANDARD MISSILE …. not because these countries’ govt’s like to waste money on unnecessarily redundant armament systems for their warships, but because they recognize the enormous threat represented to their navy’s and their national interests by current anti-ship threats like the SS-N-27...

    1) -

    Note the text:

    "... Dec 12/08: Weapons upgrade.... Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Portsmouth, RI receives an $11.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-5422), exercising the FY 2009 NATO SEASPARROW (anti airborne threat missile system- RVL) Program Office’s FY 2009 options..."

    "... Under this order, the USS Theodore Roosevelt will receive 2 MK29 MOD 4 ESSM ORDALT Kits, and 4 Solid State Transmitter (SSTX) MK73 MOD 3 ORDALT Kits. ORDnance ALTeration kits allow ships to swap out their older RIM-7 Sea Sparrow air defense missile systems for the RIM-162 ESSM, which is designed to deal with modern anti-ship missiles...."

    "... This particular order also includes 2 more MK29 MOD 4 ESSM ORDALT Kits for use on LHD ships*..."

    (* the US Navy's 'medium-sized', 43,000-48,000 tonne aircraft carriers:


    4) - RVL)...."

    "... This modification is a follow-on effort, which was previously performed under contract N00024-02-C-5421. Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI and is expected to be complete by October 2010. The NATO SEASPARROW consortium... includes the United States and 12 other countries...."

    5) -

    Note under Armament:

    2 × Mk 29 ESSM launcher &
    2 × RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile

    6) -

    Note the text:

    "... Weapons

    "... The carrier will be armed with the Raytheon evolved Sea Sparrow missile (ESSM), which defends against high-speed, highly manoeuvrable anti-ship missiles. The close-in weapon system is the rolling airframe missile (RAM) from Raytheon and Ramsys GmbH...."

    7) -

    Note the text under Armament:

    "•Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile
    •Rolling Airframe Missile
    •CIWS ..."

    If the French can retrofit their aircraft carriers- Charles Degaulle- with new, cutting edge anti airborne threat missile systems- PAAMS/Aster 15 and 30 missiles- why can't the UK?

    The Ark Royal and Illustrious have been, in effect, out of service for most of the last 1/2 decade due to their fixed wing aircraft being stationed in Afghanistan...

    During this time, both ships could easily have been fitted with an Aegis/ESSM/Standard Missile or PAAMS/ASTER outer layer airborne threat defence system; crew trained; and protocols established....

    This was not done- it appears- out of deliberate Labour govt ignorance to the extreme risks presented to these ships, serving personnel and to the UK's international interests generally...

    How responsible is it to leave this situation for another 3/4 of a decade or more- until the planned new aircraft carriers are built, commissioned- and provided with aircraft?

    What if, during this period, some hostile country/group takes the view that the UK is so weak in naval military terms, that the hostile country/group would be likely to score a win easily- by hitting at the RN at its weakest points??

    After such an event, if 1/3 or 1/2 of the operational fleet is sunk- along with one or two carriers- the UK would have no retaliatory options and would be decades away from, if ever, regaining any sort of naval power capabilities...

    Even if 'only' 1 or 2 of the UK's carriers were sunk- what sort of retaliatory strategy- that required naval resources- could the UK prosecute against a foe equipped with up-to-date hardware?

    What happens to UK trade then?

    What happens to the UK's over 6-decade-old places on the world's most influential and powerful military, economic and political structures after such an event??

    What if the 2 planned new aircraft carriers are not built?

    And, even if they are built- the planned new carriers are currently planned to be as absurdly under armed (defence systems wise) as the Ark Royal and Illustrious: due to the Labour govt's forcing a 1/2 baked planning and building process of these vessels, both new carriers are not intended to be capable of being fitted with any outer layer defences!!

    If the presently underway, heavily botched Type-45 Destroyer build programme is anything to go by, their inner layer defence system will end up being CIWS's cannibalized from decommissioned Type-42 Destroyers or Type-22 or 23 Frigates.... useless against 21st century airborne anti-ship threats....

    So the new carriers, if built, will be just as vulnerable to SS-N-27 type threats as today's carriers- but the SS-N-27 and similar anti-ship weapons will have evolved and become even more difficult to counter...

    Why should the UK operate aircraft carriers- or any warships other than tiny coastal patrol boats- and especially, why task these vessels with 'world role' missions/tasks- if the UK is not going to ensure that they are kept sufficiently up to date, weapons and defensive systems wise, to perform capably against known-to-exist types of threats??

    Immediate govt actions to upgrade the Royal Navy's shrunken, dangerously handicapped capabilities are needed... not false-logic avoidance of reality...

    Roderick V. Louis,
    Vancouver, BC, Canada

  • Comment number 54.


    ecolizzy (#51) I don't think they're very caring, thoughtful, people alas. I prefer to take that line than believe that they are malevolent. They are like thoughtless, reckless, magical thinking children, quick to speak but thoughtless. But what can one do with thoughtless children these days?

    Speaking of which, the Shadow Education Secretary says he'll sack Head Teachers of 'failing' schools if the Conservatives get in. What's a 'failing school'? Is it a school with an itake of pupils which fail to learn? Why is that the school's fault rather han the genes of the kids? Note the tacit Marxism/Lysenkoism? It's really quite subtle, pernicious, and endemic...

    In the Conservatives' case, no doubt it's just a route to privatising all education..., i.e yet more anarchism/state-busting :-(

  • Comment number 55.

    Jean #39 I am pleased that, on this occasion I wasn't censored & indeed tha you censor rather les than most BBC sites. I am not grateful for that however because free speech is not something we should have to be grateful for & my post #34 was polite & factual giving no justification for censorship.

    I don't really understand your point that because the BBC is under pressure to compete it has to lie to promote the global warming scare story. All polls show that despite years of trying to stir up hysteria the public continually put the War on Fire, last on any list of issues.

    The only people to whom pushing this lie is popular are the politicians & civil servants using it to increase their power. If the BBC put competing with independent media ahead of pushing their master's agenda, as, for example US talk radio notoriously/freely does it would be reporting the ways in which the alarmist case has, repeatedly, been proven not only wrong but fraudulent.

  • Comment number 56.

    neilninepercent (#55) I was in part drawing attention to the point that the statement you cited in #34 had lots of caveats, i.e. it was 'nuanced':

    “I have neither the learning nor the experience to know whether the doomsayers are right about the human causes of climate change. But I am willing to acknowledge that people who know a lot more than I do may be right when they claim that it is the consequence of our own behaviour. I assume that this is why the BBC's coverage of the issue abandoned the pretence of impartiality long ago.” Jeremy Paxman

    You can see, just from BBC blogs, how some people will complain if their favoured view is not presented as de rigueur - in fact, they'll go as far as demanding that alternative views be removed as they're offensive.

    Whatever happened to Bird Flu? ;-)

  • Comment number 57.

    # BarrieSingleton - this is perhaps going way off tangent, but I have to confess that one of my sons has my father's name (which is also my brother's name). In this case, we do not revert to the use of middle names. When they are all in the same room, we are imaginative enough to use adjectives. We don't follow the US convention of using Snr and Jnr (as in Saddam Snr, Saddam Jnr and Saddam Jnr II) but use Big, Little and Baby (by the time my son is older, my father will likely be dead, Little will become Big and Baby will beacome Little). What does this say about my family (other than we lack imagination)? What effects may it have on my father, brother and son? Your thoughts are welcome.

    It sheds no light on GB syndrome but if my son becomes prime minister at some future date, I will let you know.

  • Comment number 58.


    I WAS only asking the question. clearly I have possibilities in the back of my mind, but you are far closer to the phenomenon (in a somewhat complicated manifestation!) so perhaps better placed than I to tease out any lurking truth. (:o)

    Best to return to JB - neutral ground - and ponder his eschewal. To my observation (and hearsay ear) he is a man with many demons. I seem to recall one of his sons is James, which might or might not be germane. The first unknown is: was he called gordon from day one? I have no idea.

    In passing, I can tell the story of a couple who gave the first name 'Joshua' to their boy. By the time he could talk, he was calling himself 'This Little Chap' because his father just could not bring himself to use the name. I have no idea where that gets us.

    If your son becomes Prime Minister, I shall be pleased to come back from the dead and congratulate you both. I only hope he will be non-party, after a coup with the slogan: SPOIL PARTY GAMES.

    Genuine regards.

  • Comment number 59.

    # 58 - on JB, many people give a child a family christian name because of the love and/or respect which they have for the family member and becuase that family member will serve as a good role model. I wonder if JB is named James after a family member and, if so, which one?

    I enjoyed the "Little Chap" story. Here is a another true story. I have a colleague who has a relative who in turn named their daughter "Sahara". A great uncle of the child on hearing this remarked that it was a rather fancy name and that he would simply call her Sandy.

  • Comment number 60.

    It is really rather late to contribute to this blog, which I guess few people will now read, but I'm going to anyway. My father chose my first name and my mother chose my second name, and there was simply no question - I have always been known by my second name. Except on aeroplane passenger lists, where my father's choice comes into its own.

  • Comment number 61.

    I found Jeremy Paxman's last night report on the fall of the Berlin Wall "disgusting". All the people he invited to talk were meant to agree with undisputable "facts" about what happened before 1989 and in November 1989, no disagreement: freedom and capitalism have won and that's what people at the time wanted! Here's a supressed eyewitness account.


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