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Monday 13 December 2010

Verity Murphy | 12:18 UK time, Monday, 13 December 2010

Here is some more detail on what we are planning for tonight:

English councils are bracing themselves for big cuts in central funding over the next two years when Communities Secretary Eric Pickles addresses the Commons and publishes the government's Localism Bill later today. We will report on that.

Also tonight, with protests taking place in colleges across England over government plans to axe the education maintenance allowance next year, we ask whether poor students are better off under the EMA or new funding models, and, despite all the claims and counter claims, how well will children from low incomes perform under the Coalition?

And we have been to Luton to speak to former associates of Stockholm suicide bomber Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly.

Plus rap and grime aficionado Stephen Smith has been talking to one of the biggest stars of 2010 - Tinie Tempah. You can watch a sneak preview of that interview here, and of course the full interview will be on tonight's programme at 10.30pm.


  • Comment number 1.

  • Comment number 2.

    Once the EMA cuts start to bite then it will not just be the students on the march but most of us feeling the pich, why do we accept that this coalition government do not have a mandate to do these savage cuts but use the situation to get away with murder, they are ideological cuts based on years of hatred of anything that does not represent Bullingdon club interests, we are in the midst of a coup d' etat and the sooner lightweights like Milliband calls it the better......

  • Comment number 3.


    Hey Bro! Are you suggesting British PMs can be fools and/or knaves?

    It's the same all over. Obama is in the club. He says not to look at 9/11. (Do we go blind?) But then he's a lawyer - what use is truth?

    "1388 verified architectural and engineering professionals and 10476 other supporters have signed the petition demanding of Congress a truly independent investigation."

    Why isn't Newsnight asking us to list books we want to BURN? Edgy - topical - I should say so!

    I'll burn the NIST REPORT on the 9/11 con.

    We are into second-order tangled-web weaving - weaving tangles into hyper-tangles such that disinformation is fact and Dave has a Wellbeing Concern (WC) factor of 10.

    It's all beyond weeping, isn't it.

  • Comment number 4.


    I go into a pet shop (that that has been certificated by the appropriate authority) and form a bond with an adorable guinea-pig, subsequently buying it with a cheque, SIGNED IN THE PRESENCE OF THE SHOP OWNER.
    The next day I go to another pet shop to buy guinea-pig food and am captivated by beautiful rabbit (called Dave) against which, my previous purchase is rather dull. Am I allowed to say that the cheque I signed for the guinea pig is no longer valid, as 'I have gone into coalition with a rabbit'?

    Rider for advance students: If I stop the cheque - is it fraud? If I sell the guinea-pig, though not paid for, does that qualify me to be deputy PM?

    Obfuscation gains marks - blatant falsehoods count double.


  • Comment number 5.


    I now wish to UTTERLY DESTROY the NIST report, but without significant involvement of fire. I propose to use highly sophisticated demolition techniques and materials. I demand the right to do this, no matter how many readers of this blog align with my first intent. I like this idea better. Can I do this - YES I CAN. (That's the Obama Protocol!)

  • Comment number 6.

    #2 Sorry Stevie I'm afraid I have to disagree with you, I do not approve of children being paid to stay at school. I'm sure this money is just spent on drink and entertain in most cases. If children want to have a good time and not study, why don't they just go and find a job, and earn the money to pay for pleasures in life.

    When my children were studying they either got a job or went without, at the time we were very hard up, they hardly got a holiday etc. and everything was a struggle, so I know about being careful with money.

    But it was one of the barmy ideas labour brought in, it told children they needn't work, that the state would generously provide, and so led them on to benefits in an easy step. If there hadn't been such a shortage of jobs here for various reasons, these young people would have a part time job in a café, or shop, etc. it was just introduced to cover the appalling unemployment here, and massage the figures.

    Perhaps it's a different matter for older students who might have partners and children, they do need support, but to a young person this is just fun money.

    I wish there was more statistics on what is a "poor" person, what's the wage etc. I expect the minimum wage is far too low, and kept so by mass immigration, it should be at least £7ph, in my humble opinion.

  • Comment number 7.

    Don't know if I'm allowed to post this...

    but an interesting exercise!

  • Comment number 8.

    EMA is not a handout - it's a vital source of money for kids and their low-income families who would literally not be able to afford the bus/train to get to college without it.

    And in many colleges it provides a method to ensure proper attendence - be in lectures, do your coursework and behave, then you get EMA, or it is stopped if you don't play the game.

    We don't get EMA as we earn too much, but we give my son the same as he would get in EMA, so I'm not a beneficiary of EMA. Quite a number of kids who will lose EMA are going to drop out of college as they can't exist without working otherwise.

    Lads who were going to become mechanics, plumbers or electricians are now chucking it in to work in McDonalds shovelling fries or cleaning toilets for min. wage.

    Of course the ConDems will continue to hand out £100M+ in tax breaks to the families of rich children in private education....

    Private affluence - public squalor - dual standards - hypocracy - prejudice and shortsighted - but did we really expect anything else?

  • Comment number 9.

    #8 Some comments Mr Bunning
    EMA is not a handout - it's a vital source of money for kids and their low-income families Thus indicating that the minimum wage is far too low, if people cannot afford to keep their kids in education. So we end up as taxpayers, subsidising the employer.

    afford the bus/train to get to college without it. Another answer to this would be if possible for all children to attend local schools and colleges, I know not always possible, but all the running around doesn't help any child. They need time to study and rest, sadly lacking in many children these days.

    But is the EMA ever forfeited, probably only rarely.

    Yes I can see that it would be a great shame for children to drop out of school because of lack of money, but as it has only been paid in very recent times, has it increased school attendance, and if so is it just for the money. My siblings did do apprenticeships, on extremely low money and years of study in their own time, and a little day release, they still managed to qualify without being paid by the government. We were worse off than, more than anyone is now.

    I quite agree handing out the subsidy to rich kids is completely unacceptable, how they can be called "charities" is beyond me, I wonder if they will abolish it, but I won't hold my breath.

    This country needs some serious balancing up, wages are far too low for ordinary workers, they should not have to be subsidised by taxpayers, they should be able to earn a decent wage. Labour are as much to blame as the tories for not helping the working man. But all the time the governments only concern themselves with "global" economics and the bottom dollar for work, nothing will improve.

    EMA is yet another payout by the taxpayer to subsidise big business.

  • Comment number 10.


    There aren't the apprenticeships there anymore and in a rural area, there is no "local" school/college - and since bus and train services were privatised, the cost is HUGE to get to a town to study.

    Which brings me to your proposal to force employers to pay proper wages - no problem with that - I entirely agree, but as they compare their wage costs here with making things in China, all you'd do is to drive even more jobs overseas - unless you are prepared to impose import controls on foreign goods - which would mean more state intervention and probably require the government to intervene directly in the employment market to create jobs.

    I think it will come to that in a couple of years anyway...

    ...meanwhile many of the the teenagers of poor families are going to pour their lives down the drain and leave us with another low skill, low employment prospect generation, just as the Tories did in the 1980s.

    EMA seems quite a bargaincompared to rhe alternatives.

  • Comment number 11.

    ..Oleg Gordievsky a double agent for MI6 in the Seventies and Eighties – said Russian-born Ekaterina Zatuliveter ‘caused more damage than all other KGB agents put together’.

    ‘She was the strongest and most useful KGB agent for the last 30 years,’ he added.

    given the days of the bottle of whiskey and the revolver are no longer with us why has the liberal MP not resigned?

  • Comment number 12.

  • Comment number 13.

    so is the uk [state funded] education system more dangerous a training camp than pakistan?

    ..Stockholm bomber: family blame Britain for radicalisation

    A close friend said the family had been shocked by his transformation from an ordinary teenager to a religious fanatic after he left for Britain.

    There is no doubt that Taimur changed when he went to Britain,” said the friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “He would drink beer with his friends and go nightclubs. He didn’t care about politics or religion. He even had an Israeli girlfriend. He had many girlfriends, he enjoyed life.

    His parents were even a little worried that he was having too much fun. But then he went to England to study in 2001 and everything changed.

    When he came back he had grown a beard and he was very serious. He talked about Afghanistan and religion and did not want to hang out with his friends.....

  • Comment number 14.

    What a truly horrible sight - enough to turn your stomach, watching Putin singing Blueberry Hill to that bunch of A list Hollywood celebrities all pretending to find him so entertaining when everyone knows the Russian government must have paid them all a fortune to fly over to St Petersberg and be there for him. This truly sums up the world as we find it today - corruption and lies and greed and hypocrisy. These are the celebrities that go on those phone lines to get money for disaster victims etc but think nothing of making money out of this kind of charade. Scary world and scary world leaders.

  • Comment number 15.

    Eric pickles hasn't aged well. Clearly Eric never bothers with the Commons gym.

    Islamist bomber:
    I refer you to a quote from an old Tory MP:

    (Unsuitable comment removed by me, pre-empting the usual censorship on these pages)

    If your curious, it had a river in the quote ..and a Roman fella, and some foaming blood.

  • Comment number 16.

    actually the uk has a long tradition of creating religious extremists who go abroad and do violent things that stretches back to those who left the uk in the Mayflower?

  • Comment number 17.


    Today, a friend who is under notice from a major, global public-works company, who are shedding staff like dandruff, found herself in conversation with a visitor who told the same story of his employer.


    I predict shanty towns - and inter shanty-town wars. Or will it be internment camps for all and sundry, as already built in America?

    Whatever. There's another song for Putin.

    Don't weep - it limits vigilance.

  • Comment number 18.


    We slaughtered Johnnie Indigene, and he never got a mention in Obama's inauguration address. (Just how ironic is that?) You sometimes have to wonder if God is not an old bloke with a stick (and a penchant for violence) BUT A STAND-UP COMEDIAN.

    At least we can die laughing.

  • Comment number 19.

    managed to catch Thursdays edition of Newsnight. First of all, absolutely excellent reports by Paul Mason and David Grossman, and the work of the whole NN team that night. I think you captured the essence of what the demonstrations were about, and why they are about, and the *genuine concerns* that many millions of normal British feel - even surely the Scots, who must be worried that the UK is going to deny a large section of its population access to higher education just because they are poor. As well as the changes to course funding, which will severely hamper the continued study and development of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

    whereas the Scottish have decided not only to continue to fund its young to go to Higher Education, but also maintaining the Social, Physical Sciences,
    AND Humanities budgets.

    and they have decided to pay for it by increasing the higher rate of income tax by a couple of pence, so i hear.

    but then, the Scottish have traditionally known a good investment when they see it.

    secondly, what complete propagandic idjit put those sequences in of the street-hoods? They *clearly* were not going to go to university, they were just in the street for the dancing and the party. And getting to talk 'tough' - like a retarded gangster - to a TV CAMERA!!! There was no way that clip should have been added to the report, and especially not highlighted from the beginning of the show! Listen to the rest of Paul's report, it is Paul talking to level-headed, calm young English young people who are terribly worried about the future for this Country, and also their own life chances.

    It is the voice of parents, who are seeing their children's chances ruined, education denied beyond a certain point, the University syllabus reduced only to technical subjects denying citizens the social knowledge of their culture, and prevented from going at all, unless they want a mountain of debt even before they face a recession *caused by the economic decisions of this Govt* that will take a MILLION jobs and more from the employment market, just as they are leaving their courses. Massive unemployment, plus a huge personal debt.

    it was *these people*, these normal citizens, young, parents, old, who have grouped and marched to Parliament Square, the 'tiananmen square' of London, the place where citizens can see their elected representatives, the symbolic centre of British Democracy. It was these people who were kettled, treated worse than animals with no access to water, or private sanitation for at least 6 hours in the freezing cold by the police - presumably upon the orders of the Home Secretary herself.

    the vast majority of this march was peaceful - until the police prevented the general Public from exercising the ancient right to demonstrate in front of Parliament itself, the last resort if the deaf inside will listen no other way. It seems the new batch think that out-of-sight, out-of-mind is good enough for the Public's right of access to the Democratic process.

    that there were some there only for a fight - well, as per usual, there was overloaded testosterone on both sides, and, as per usual, the ones who are armoured and armed feel a bit more liberated from the consequences of violence. Thankfully, they should also be the ones with discipline, and self-control. If that fails, not only the officers should be investigated, but also the chain of command all the way to the top. Occasional accidents CAN happen - but this policy of kettling has been shown repeatedly, even within NewsNight reports, to cause the very violence it is alleged to limit, and its continued use can ONLY come from the Home Office. Its continued use will quite possibly lead to scenes reminiscent of the Poll Tax civil-rebellion, eventually.

    btw, a point willetts was being all smirky over. Contrary to what he implied, student debt CAN be sold as an asset by the Govt *at any time* to private banks - removing any restrictions upon the terms, and interest they can charge. You see, "...conditions have changed, things are worse than we thought, the recession is taking longer, we have to cut even deeper".

    Student debt would become yet another way of funnelling **never ending** streams of interest payments from us to the banks. When would they be able to afford a mortgage? And trst me, Willetts wouldn't even get asked to resign his post, in fact he'd probably get a retirement position on the board of a bank or two, i shouldn't be surprised. After all, it is *exactly* what happened under the last Tory Govt with their cuts and privatisation schemes.

    Minister willets would no doubt assure us, however. We CAN trust them. Or him anyway. Or something. I dunno, did he remind you of movies where people are brainwashed by a hypnotist? Did me. He'd be good as a police negotiator with hostage-takers, but not at all sure his skills are best suited for a Govt Minister who has a population who are needing honest, straight answers, that explain why THE PUBLIC should pay more, and lose more, than the corporations, the banks and the wealthy, who got the UK into this mess with their incredible greed.

    - well done to those MPs who stood from both governing parties and stood alongside the people to protest, who voted against their whip because their constituents wanted them to - and because they have a shred of morality left. Come next Election time, i suspect that vote will be remembered, for both sides of the Division.

    - well done Kirsty, for showing to your viewers the 1984 mindset in your interview with Cable. Did we really hear from him that he actually was *against* his party on tuition fees in Opposition - in other words he was *FOR tuition fees*, and had been concerned from the beginning how to sell the idea to the other LibDems!!!

    ...yet anyone remember a very different Vince Cable, who tried to get support for a Graduate Tax - or even in increase in Income Tax to pay for Higher Education, because student fees were iniquitous? Not so long ago.

    i wonder which is the Vince Cable he would prefer to be?

    - those 3 young students at the table - thank god for the young woman, that's all i can say! Its all very well being edgy, and getting minorities involved - but PLEASE make sure they can actually put a clear and coherent case? But she put it absolutely perfectly!

    - willets kept rabbiting on about "improving services" in his replies to every one, and every question (no matter what the question was!) - so somehow 30% or more cuts will bring "improved service", where students can spend more time with their lecturers after these cuts, lecturers will be more relaxed and chatty after these cuts, there will be more books after these cuts, more course choices after these cuts, it will always be sunny after these cuts, and students will be invulnerable to hangovers... why ARE you waving that watch in front of my nose??

    then the choice of Starkey: just goes to show that high intelligence, and a high degree of knowledge, even a good sense of humour, does not necessarily wisdom make. The man should have been sitting on willett's side of the table, to make it clear where he stood, instead of making it appear he was opposed to the Govts plans by the seating. "Full Privatisation". Dear God!!

    and the man should learn some good debating manners, that American woman was making far better points than any that came out of him that night. As did the young man on his other flank. And they did not resort to bullying and petulance, nor infantile elitism. Or perhaps he mean it as a joke?

    so, in summary: by the behaviour of willetts, and how he described and behaved, the country is supposed to accept;

    that 30% or more cuts will result in a better service,
    that ending ANY state investment in the Humanities will give greater choice and protect our cultural heritage,
    that the worries of millions of families are because of "media scaremongering" and "terrorist anarchist groups", instead of an honest appraisal of this Govt so far, and how it has behaved, and what its goals will lead to,
    and that this is all a 'storm-in-a-teacup', and can we all go back to sleep now please.

    Of course, it is quite unlikely that any of the current Cabinet's children would be put off from going to university after these changes, is it not?

  • Comment number 20.

    sorry for the essay. But this is actually quite an important issue, and i was irritated by the way willetts was just treating it as a minor blip of little importance, possibly even beneficial.

    but we are talking about the re-imposition of a class barrier over Higher Education, the ending of the Academic ability to scrutinise Society and the Govt in a formal way - AND a continued curtailment of the ancient right to protest.

    its a pity not many of our politicians have the courage of those demonstrating their rights, not even of the police who do their bidding. To stand up for what is right, to stand up for freedom and Free Speech, - even when more powerful nations are leaning on you to conform - that is what makes Statesmen out of politicians. I admired David Cameron when he spoke to the Northern Irish, and apologised for previous UK Govt actions. That took bravery. When the next election comes, i suspect voters will be *very* tactical - and they will be voting for individuals who they admire, not so much Party lines.


  • Comment number 21.

    #20 A point MH, the IFS seems to think the poorest students will be better off under the new scheme, it will be the middle classes that are hardest hit, as usual they'll pay.

    They say 23% of the poorest will not pay, and around 50% will never pay back their loan, as they will not work all their lives or not earn enough. Of course it is all conjecture, anything could happen, a new government perhaps. But perhaps it might thin out the rubbish courses a lot of students take these days, we need nurses, doctors, engineers, etc not waffle courses.

    And "students" are not always what they appear to be

    Mr Bunning made a very good point, if the government are getting rid of the EMA and increasing student fees, why not abolish the tax advantage private schools are given, it would make the playing field a little more level.

  • Comment number 22.


    Anyone for some High Irony?

    This morning, the Today Programme had an item on Assange followed by one on cheap-tempting-available food, and fat people.

    The item on Assange was ear-catchingly shaped, tricked out with BBC 'transfats', and garnished with Producer's Delight. Sickly, to the mature palette.

    It is all too apparent that the UK mind is now hooked on media-fast-food, and the flabby minds sit well with flabby bodies in Westminster.

    BBC! Time for self-inspection. You seem to believe you may moderate those who post here. Diversion of some of that high-mindedness to your own errors, would pay dividends among the flabby-minded whom you currently ill-serve.

  • Comment number 23.


    Can they still go bankrupt and leave all debt behind? I know it has drawbacks, but watch out for ads analogous to the accident claim ones, offering to get round student debt. Government never gets this sort of stuff right.

    For the paranoid mind (our 'culture' drives ever greater numbers mad, with time) what is it like to have a debt accruing interest, even if ones pay level has not triggered repayment? It must feel like a psychological cancer. It's enough to drive one to comfort-eating.

  • Comment number 24.


    if one is going to pay fees why not go to India or Africa and learn to be a doctor for half the cost? that is where they come from anyway?

    this is all about having policies congruous with hayekist view that the market has all wisdom and is some efficient distributor of resources with full knowledge guided by the wisdom of 'money'.

    its the same philosophy behind the credit crunch. now they are applying it to nation states [like they did in russia] with no doubt the same result [complete generational disaster]. we have the riots already. The drum is beating out the 'march of the oligarchs'.

  • Comment number 25.


    And still we live 'within the lie', which will make it all the harder when the sky falls. On Daily Politics, Reid simply put the Iraq war 'ON ONE SIDE' and went on to extol Tony and New Labour. He also chucked a few stones at Ed - professing not to understand why he (Ed) would say the age of New labour is over.

    Are we REALLY to believe that Reid has not noticed Tony prancing expensively round the world, like a Starlet Pimpernel, frantically looking for ever-higher profile? New Labour was simply an INTERMEDIATE platform for the desperate Blair ego, on its way to elevated oblivion.
    In Blair, WE GOT OURSELVES ANOTHER ONE, but Reid either cannot, or will not, see. A true product of the Westminster Malaise.

    Westminster governance is still staffed by Blairs and Reids and their deluded, driven ilk. In affluent days, the good times rolled easily, but TODAY WE NEED COMPETENCE AND ASTUTE MANAGEMENT and then some.

    Back to the weeping.

  • Comment number 26.

  • Comment number 27.

    Stat/tab always said this didn't work and was a waste of money, looks as though he's proved right.

  • Comment number 28.


    What if they hand the kids over to that guy who taught on TV in a highly unorthodox way? Might we see progress?

    School has to be endured, and learning achieved in spite of its institutionalising constraint. For kids whose whole life is a negative experience, it is no place to learn.

    Might there be something to learn from the 'whisperer' approach? Apes are animals, after all.

  • Comment number 29.

    lizzy: whilst some courses may indeed seem frivolous, that might well be a result of previous Tory/NuLabour 'marketisations' - such courses are cheap for unis to provide.

    as for the repayment plan, and the "poorest paying least" - since when are Govts and banks to be trusted not to change the conditions later on? As the NN showed, originally fees were "top-up" - now, for all humanities, and many social science, the State no longer gives ANY support for the student to "top-up" - the students are paying the whole cost.

    i don't remember them saying THAT when the fees came in.

    "Thin edge of the wedge, Minister, thin edge of the wedge".

    once these proposals are in place, they can be changed, modified, adjusted, tweaked - and if anyone thinks someone as clearly dishonest as willetts gives two hoots for the poor, they need to do some serious Reality grounding.

    these proposals are WRONG, from beginning to end.

  • Comment number 30.

    when I left school I was offered fifteen jobs....all of them crap, in fifties Britain you grabbed what you could but some things never changed, the truly rich never had to worry, like todays offspring of rich parentage will not have to worry, they will not have to march and risk the police baton and possible brain damage, be photographed, risk a criminal record and after that because of your 'militancy' risk losing a place. The same attitudes were prevalent then as they are now onlyin fifty years I actually thought we may have progressed but I was so wrong, to take thirty quid a week off the most deprived in our society means we are not civilised in fact fifty years ago we were MORE civilised as we didn't know any different, we were all kept in our place and Tories were elected in working class areas with whopping mad was that, we could be going back there so inept is the opposition....

  • Comment number 31.

    barriesingleton (28) "What if they hand the kids over to that guy who taught on TV in a highly unorthodox way? Might we see progress? "
    You are missing ecolizzy's point.



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