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Eddie Mair | 17:55 UK time, Monday, 15 February 2010


After every PM, at 1800, the production team gathers in a glass box to talk about what worked and what didn't. You're encouraged to contribute your thoughts here. Tonight's editor Marilyn Rust will read your comment and may well add one of her own.


  • 1. At 6:05pm on 15 Feb 2010, Sindy wrote:

    The idea of schools being allowed to claim the sort of independence described on PM tonight is disingenuous. This school depends on employing lots of NQTs to keep their wage bill down and reduce class sizes. Can all schools do this? Obviously not. Other proposals sound very like the early days of GM schools (another bonkers idea from the Tories) - which were given extra funds taken from local authority schools. Given the parlous state of the nation's finances, we need prudent and fair funding of all schools, not this kind of daft economic illiteracy.

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  • 2. At 6:20pm on 15 Feb 2010, Ellis P Otter wrote:

    Somebody this morning ine AM GB suggested that we need to look at what education is for. What is it for?

    It used to be to provide workers for the growing economy (in my day - Grammars for the the accountants and doctors, Techs for manufacturing and Private for the ruling elite).

    Of course it didn't work and has been the subject of manipulation and political engineering since chalk was first applied to slate.

    If you are of the school that believes education is here to assist every child to achieve their full potential, I'd suggest we follow the progress of the (perfectly nice sounding) family from Stroud. I'd suggest that they really have been given the chance to achieve theirs!

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  • 3. At 6:26pm on 15 Feb 2010, Sindy wrote:

    Quiet here, isn't it, Mr/Mrs/Ms Otter?

    (It was me by the way - suggesting in depth review of education.)

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  • 4. At 6:39pm on 15 Feb 2010, Looternite wrote:

    #2.Ellis P Otter
    You forgot the majority went to underfunded Secondary Modern schools because it was neccessary for factory/cannon fodder to do the crappy jobs.

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  • 5. At 6:42pm on 15 Feb 2010, Looternite wrote:

    As usual tory policies on education will lead inevitably to Post Code lotteries where those most in need of the best education will not have access.

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  • 6. At 6:49pm on 15 Feb 2010, Looternite wrote:

    Why is it that every time the Tories/BBC talk up the Swedish system and I speak to my contact in Stockholm and I say how much the BBC or Tories praise their system, he always says, "did they say how much we pay for it." Then "If you in Britain want to pay the level of taxes (direct or indirect) that the Swedes pay you will get the same quality" thats what he always says.

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  • 7. At 7:08pm on 15 Feb 2010, Ellis P Otter wrote:

    4 - Looternite, you are so right and how negligent of me. It was with the guys from the Secondary Modern we used to have our lunchtime fights with.

    3 - Sid, you can call me Ellis P Otter esq if you're gender sensitive. People get confused over my RL name sometimes too!

    PM Box definitely seems to have fallen out of favour recently.

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  • 8. At 7:19pm on 15 Feb 2010, Mike Coulten wrote:

    Eddie asked about "why didnt we do this before"

    The answer is because "we" were waiting for our NATO allies to put up. 7 years waiting and now the US have come along to do it themselves (with a handful of European troops so the news can pretend its a joint op).

    What else is different now? Well the utter failure of the Afghan police is also fixed, the US and UK are now doing the training. Germany was responsible for training the AFP up until 2005, then the EU thereafter. Needless to say they talked but did nothing useful preferring to retire to barracks when it got dark and police business began. As a direct result the Afghan police failed and are cited as the key reason Afghans have little faith in govt.

    Since recognising the pitiful performance of Europeans (excluding the UK of course) is unacceptable to refined Radio 4 minds instead we can blame the damnned Yanquis for the imperfect way they do our duty for us.

    All very civilised. Not.

    Like Iraqs oil and what actually happened to it, some realities must be suppressed by the BBC. (this is a nice way of saying that they deliberately and intentionally mislead you the listener/viewer to promote and defend their personal, IMHO crippled, political view)

    On another topic, I threw things at the Radio as you misled about the UK bank bailout and where were today. Sure the shares will take until 2015 maybe to sell, we have a lot of them. You wallowed in the doom of that half of the report. But the other bit of the report you didn't mention was that the mark to market value of the govts stakes in the banks is a mere 40 million below what the govt spent to acquire it.

    The reality is that it will likely cost the UK taxpayer NOTHING or indeed turn a handsome profit. Like Iraqi oil and German police training this will be another truth too rich to tell the public who pay their wages.

    The BBC news "service"? It isnt a service. Its a cancer. Read the FT and New York Times instead, Eddie obviously doesnt

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  • 9. At 7:24pm on 15 Feb 2010, Looternite wrote:

    8. Mike Coulten
    You forgot to mention that the "Today" programme takes so many of its lead stories from the Daily Mail. This then sets the agenda for the rest of the BBC news rooms.

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  • 10. At 7:33pm on 15 Feb 2010, Mike Coulten wrote:

    9. Really? Name one. (btw, is Eddie John "I have the" Hump's secret love child?)

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  • 11. At 7:47pm on 15 Feb 2010, alanparker wrote:

    Perhaps I need a bit of clarifying regarding education, as I'm still not in the Labour mindset yet...

    School takes the initiative and builds desperately needed sports facilities funded by private membership fees. Children get to use the facilities, and there's enough cash left over to have a good teacher to pupil ratio.

    The children seemed well disciplined and standards are high.

    And this is a bad thing how?

    I completely understand why Lambeth "library scam" Council would hate the idea - after all, they're seeing the Labour dream of lowest-common-denominator-for-all education slipping out of their grasp. Little Johnny (sorry, Iqbal) doesn't need the nanny state it seems.

    But I really am genuinely surprised to see some of the comments on here - I hear the shrill shrieks of socialist outrage, but I don't see a lot of valid criticism.

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  • 12. At 7:52pm on 15 Feb 2010, Lady_Sue wrote:

    Not only did I not win the lottery of £52 squillion, I didn't get a PM newsletter.

    Is my life effectively over?

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  • 13. At 8:25pm on 15 Feb 2010, Cossackgirl wrote:

    12.LS Courage, mon ami! (dear mods: that means "my friend")

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  • 14. At 04:54am on 16 Feb 2010, Lady_Sue wrote:

    Cossackgirl, merci. (Dear mods: that means "thankyou").

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  • 15. At 06:00am on 16 Feb 2010, eddiemair wrote:

    Lady Sue (12), there did seem to be a problem with it. It's a shame. There was a question in it...and the answer was 59.

    Mike (8), Can I recommend the BBC iPlayer to you? It allows you to listen back to items after broadcast. Awfully good. It would clear up at least some of the confusion you have, specifically about me saying: "why didnt we do this before". My guess is that the iPlayer will probably have me saying something along the lines of: "If this is the right approach, why hasn't it been done in this way before?" . Not sure why there was so much we in your comment (sp?) ;o)

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  • 16. At 09:18am on 16 Feb 2010, Mike Coulten wrote:

    Thanks Eddie, I will surely listen again. I am often wrong and thank people who put me right as I feel this increases my understanding. So thank you, assuming you are correct!! More later in the next Glass Box, maybe with "quotes".

    Now, what about the rest of my comment?

    Do you think the BBC has done is duty and informed people about what has happened to Iraq's oil? Do you know yourself? why not tell the listeners? This has been a key issue in the emancipation of Iraq and is often cited as a reason for believing the USA is a colonial power fighting resource wars. Yet I know of no one, I mean NO ONE, who realises the massive event that has just taken place in a country that our soldiers fought to defend as it did this. Surely a report is long long overdue? Which companies, which countries won what oil contracts and what does this mean for Iraqi people's future wealth and the oil company profits?

    Why not report it?

    Do you claim people already know? If so then please point me to the Listen Again so that I may refer my friends and colleagues to it. The media is virtually (Business Week, NYT, a bit in the FT, thats it!!) silent. Why?

    Do you claim extremists everywhere do not believe in Iraqi oil theft? Because they do, if you listen to them. Without this "rationale" for US actions I propose extremists are left looking at a clumsy attempt at emancipation in which case I propose a lot less people will decide to be terrorists. "You messed up trying to help us" is less powerful than "you invade our lands to enslave us and steal from us"

    What is it about Iraq oil and oil in general that seems to render people unable to face or acknowledge reality? (maybe its the fumes?)

    And how about what is different in Afghanistan this time? What did I say that wasn't correct? What did I say that has been reported by you? Why the disconnect? Why can we never hold Europeans to account as we do Americans?

    Everything nowadays is a battle for hearts and minds (that's free people for you!!) so, given the above, whose side are you on and why? Its apparent that by the bias (at least of omission) noted above that you are not neutral in any sense whatsoever. Or are you? Come on Eddie, now you have broken the ice, lets hear it.

    Why am I wrong? Educate me! (please ;-) )

    p.s. Adam Curtis. Do you feel he is talking to you? Why not? Nightmares are powerful and hysterical paranoia "sells" does it not?

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  • 17. At 09:35am on 16 Feb 2010, Sindy wrote:

    "Why am I wrong?"

    Well, acknowledging that you are is a start! Once you've done that, you can only move up.

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  • 18. At 09:38am on 16 Feb 2010, Alan_N wrote:

    Mike - Why? Because it isn't a story.

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  • 19. At 09:57am on 16 Feb 2010, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Mike, the contracts for Iraqi oil production have been reported by the BBC.




    To give just three examples.

    Do you claim extremists everywhere do not believe in Iraqi oil theft? Because they do, if you listen to them. Without this "rationale" for US actions I propose extremists are left looking at a clumsy attempt at emancipation in which case I propose a lot less people will decide to be terrorists. Are you seriously saying that the extremists will suddenly think "Oh, Eddie Mair said on PM that things aren't so, therefore I'll believe it"? I know Eddie can be persuasive, but there are limits. I doubt that they listen to PM either ;-)

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  • 20. At 09:58am on 16 Feb 2010, regalWanda wrote:

    I have always supported the Albert Einstein quote "Schools need not preach political doctrine to defend democracy. If they shape men capable of critical thought and trained in social attitudes, that is all that is necessary."

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  • 21. At 10:06am on 16 Feb 2010, Sindy wrote:

    Another Einstein gem: "Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school."

    What do we want of our schools? Education? Schooling? Training?

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  • 22. At 10:10am on 16 Feb 2010, Alan_N wrote:

    21 - Crowd control.

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  • 23. At 1:23pm on 16 Feb 2010, Mike Coulten wrote:

    Hi Eddie,

    Well iPlayer is good. At 14:24 minutes into Mondays programme you asked Clare (?) Lockheart of the Institute of State Effectiveness....

    "If this is the right approach, why hasn't it been done this way before."

    as you said.

    But what is the difference in the answer I gave?

    This approach could not have been done before because, as I pointed out and as you continue to fail to report:

    1. NATO allies, bar the UK and a few others, failed to provide combat troops so there were not enough to do this approach

    2. There were no Afghan police suitably trained to provide law and order after the seize. Uk forces have been seizing effectively for years but then had to withdraw because of the above

    so the current strategy was not available.

    what is the big difference to how I quoted you then? I said you said

    "why didnt we do this before"

    what you actually said was

    "why hasn't it been done this way before."

    why dance on a pin Eddie? why not just report all the facts instead?

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  • 24. At 1:28pm on 16 Feb 2010, Sindy wrote:

    Good grief.

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  • 25. At 1:29pm on 16 Feb 2010, Big Sister wrote:

    Pin dancing, the new Blog craze ;o)

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  • 26. At 1:52pm on 16 Feb 2010, Mike Coulten wrote:

    24. sid, expand.......?

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  • 27. At 1:54pm on 16 Feb 2010, annasee wrote:

    I'm just wondering, when listeners write on here saying "I threw things at the radio" or similar, does Eddie ever read their comments or emails and throw things at his computer? It would be fair and in the interest of balance, after all.

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  • 28. At 10:00pm on 16 Feb 2010, Gnome Chomsky wrote:

    With reference to assisted death after Ray Gosling's revelations, am I the only one who listened to the religious speaker saying that he was fed up with hearing celebrity stories and wanted to hear from some ordinary people, then cited a story by the Bishop of Durham? I was driving at the time - perhaps I missed the irony?

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  • 29. At 2:22pm on 17 Feb 2010, Mike Coulten wrote:

    27. I think that would be fair enough. Neither of us would be causing any harm after all, unlike say a spun news agenda.

    When will the BBC report who got what Iraqi oil and what terms?

    I mean, before it became fact Auntie speculated daily on the topic. Its a shocker!!

    28. Yes, he was somewhat aloof, indeed elitist. First time I have heard Eddie interrupted just as he was about to interrupt! Never heard him back off so quick! Still, despite his mild pomposity, I thought the point about being in control of your life was well made. Might affect your view on assisted suicide if that's what you are used to and are immune from peer pressure. For sure assisted suicide does open up possible motivations for mal intent. I am unsure how to balance this against an extended painful death, although on Today it was claimed these are a myth. Well, it wasn't a myth for my father sadly

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  • 30. At 2:34pm on 17 Feb 2010, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Mike, I refer you to my post (19) on this thread: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/pm/2010/02/pm_glass_box_53.shtml

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  • 31. At 5:26pm on 17 Feb 2010, davmcn wrote:

    BS 25, I prefer discussing the color of the feathers on a pigeon's neck.

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  • 32. At 3:35pm on 18 Feb 2010, Mike Coulten wrote:

    30. Fearless Fred

    Sure, the business section has in dribs and drabs reported. Are you seriously saying this is the correction to 7 years of reporting across all BBC opinion and news shows of conspiracy theories about how the USA or "big oil" was going to rip off Iraqis with Production Sharing Contracts on odious terms? R4 Today ran a number of lead items on this, the worst of which IMHO was the unopposed item given over to the Platform campaign group.

    Are you seriously saying that most people here, in Iraq and around the world dont still think "it was all about oil" in some nebulous sense that when probed they cannot explain at all? (truth being they believe the oil is being taken for the economic advantage of the USA or "big oil")

    Are you seriously saying that the UK's home grown radicals don't begin their journey to extremism from this received wisdom of victimhood that the oil theft narrative supplies? We grow more extremists here in the UK, even in 2 million quid Marylebone flats, than anywhere else don't we. Doctors, teachers, educated people. And I think that is because it is a shorter journey from our distorted media narrative to extremism.

    The wiki page summarises the contracts to reveal the picture. Why do you not want people to know this?

    Shares by region in the increased production are:
    Region : Production Share mb/d : % of total
    Iraq : 1.462 : 25%
    Asia : 1.9 : 20%
    UK : 1.81 : 19%
    US : 1.462 : 16%
    Russia : 1.064 : 11%
    Europe (excl UK) : 0.865 : 9%

    Total gross income before costs under all these contracts for the oil companies and all the contracts awarded, per annum, will be 4.34 bn US. Profits after operating costs will be substantially lower.

    The Iraq war was projected to cost the US 200 billion US and has actually cost over 1,000 billion

    Now try and tell me who claim "it was all about oil" have any idea of this reality? Its becasue you hide it, or maybe you are not aware of it either?

    Go on, email me for the spreadsheet. You can check it and report it then?! I mean, the UK seems to have done too well so you could "work with that" I expect?

    Your reply is like saying that after running though the O2 arena shouting fire for weeks its OK because you put a poster up, in small font, saying no fire in the national portrait gallery a month later!!

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  • 33. At 3:39pm on 18 Feb 2010, Sindy wrote:

    Good grief, again.

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  • 34. At 3:55pm on 18 Feb 2010, Sindy wrote:

    Mike - before you ask me to expand again ... may I just say that if you are gullible enough to fall for conspiracy theories, you will regularly be surprised.

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  • 35. At 5:14pm on 18 Feb 2010, Mike Coulten wrote:

    34. I am not gullible enough, but many have been. Go on, ask your friends and acquaintances if Iraq was about oil, then ask them to explain what they mean.

    And no, you haven't expanded. You have evaded by claiming a footnote in the business section is a balance to 7 years of headlines. It isnt.

    If you can show me that people understand who got what and on what terms then do it. You cannot because, until I just put together the wiki table in "Economy of Iraq" NO SUCH SUMMARY HAS BEEN PUBLISHED ANYWHERE. I have looked.


    Many people died in the name of this cretinous oily lie. Surely the truth should be reported. Iraq have the biggest share, then Asians, then the UK and US, then Russia then Eurp. Total gross revenue per annum paid to oil comps at peak output will be less than 4 bn US.

    No one knows these things, no one has reported them.


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  • 36. At 5:16pm on 18 Feb 2010, The Intermittent Horse wrote:

    I much prefer Italian oil.

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  • 37. At 5:24pm on 18 Feb 2010, Crataegus Monogyna wrote:


    No matter who gets the oil, no matter where the profits go, it was about oil, about Saddam's intent to sell oil denominated in Euros, about making sure that the control of all that Iraqi oil did not remain in his hands, in short it was about changing the regime which controls such a large chunk of the oil "reserves".

    Your argument is trivial.

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  • 38. At 6:03pm on 18 Feb 2010, Mike Coulten wrote:

    37. Well the argument about selling oil in Euros is empty. Please tell us why Iraq selling oil in Euros would be reason to plan to spend 200 billion and actually spend 1 trillion to emancipate Iraq? Indeed, a large group of countries is planning to swap from dollar pricing for oil by 2018. Will the US be waging war against them? Why Iraq and not these countries? The argument is shallow nonsense

    The currency that oil is traded in is pretty irrelevant t the US $ anyway. FX markets are many times the size of oil markets and allow all transactions in oil to be converted instantly at tiny cost to whatever currency you wish. so it really doesnt matter.

    The thing that supports the dollar and gets signorage rights for the US is the holding of national central bank reserves as US dollars. These holdings dwarf the oil and commodities markets. That the world chooses the US dollar as its reserve currency is is not a result of oil being traded in dollars, the causality is THE OTHER WAY ROUND.

    The historical reason for dollars for oil prices is that the US $ is the global reserve currency, the US is the worlds largest consumer (and twice the size of the largest producer), the US created the futures markets for oil in the 1970's (as a response to the OPEC cartel) and the US has the worlds most transparent and legally safe places to trade.

    My argument is about what people believed, not your revisionist answer today. Its like talking to the crowd as the old ladies ashes glowed in the fire and asking "well she wasn't a witch was she" to be told "we never said she was, we said she looked like one and smelled bad"

    Leaving Saddam in power with vast oil wealth was of curse dangerous. Is that what you think? If so what was wrong with emancipating Iraqi's from this hideous dictator and setting them free? Was the fact that they might decide to make themselves rich from their oil reason not to liberate them?

    I can forgive mistakes, what I find sickening is a refusal to admit the very stories you have held dear and promoted for years when they are seen to be undeniably wrong. I think it is cowardly and shameful to pretend you "weren't there".

    Why not report who got what oil from Iraq on what terms and let people see the difference to what they think is true. The difference is vast, denying this disconnect is shameful IMHO.

    Report it. No one has. Why?

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  • 39. At 11:11pm on 18 Feb 2010, Big Sister wrote:

    There is a little bit of me that is sniggering at the moment, CM, as I do recall a certain blogger who had a particular agenda that s/he kept hammering to death on the blog ... Was it something to do with the Iraq War? ;o)

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  • 40. At 11:20pm on 18 Feb 2010, Crataegus Monogyna wrote:

    Nah! It was nearer to the root of it all - The suppurating sore at the heart of it.

    Still suppurating

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  • 41. At 11:25pm on 18 Feb 2010, Crataegus Monogyna wrote:

    Iraq was not a credible threat to any other nation, with one possible exception, and that the only local nuclear-armed entity.

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  • 42. At 08:56am on 19 Feb 2010, Big Sister wrote:

    CM: You know we share similar views on that matter - I was simply having a playful, friendly dig ;o). No offence whatsoever intended.

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  • 43. At 10:07am on 19 Feb 2010, Crataegus Monogyna wrote:

    And none taken!

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  • 44. At 12:44pm on 19 Feb 2010, davmcn wrote:

    CM 41, Any proof that Israel has nuclear weapons?

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  • 45. At 12:47pm on 19 Feb 2010, davmcn wrote:

    Or are they a bit like Iraqi WMD?

    No, no, not good enough. I want photos.

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  • 46. At 12:54pm on 19 Feb 2010, davmcn wrote:

    Or a large ka-boom!

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  • 47. At 1:46pm on 19 Feb 2010, Crataegus Monogyna wrote:

    Lack of proof didn't impede Shrub and his Poodle.

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