Talk about Newsnight

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Wednesday, 10 October, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 10 Oct 07, 06:59 PM

newpoliticslogo203credit.jpgWelcome to "the New Politics"

"For 10 years you have plotted and schemed to have this job, and for what? No conviction, just calculation. No vision, just a vacuum." Cameron on Brown.

"He said he wanted an end to the Punch and Judy show!" Brown on Cameron.

The Prime Minister promised us a "new politics," is this it and what do you think of it? The fortunes of the parties may have changed but has politics?

Talking of new, we've just launched our new Big Fat Newsnight Politics Page. Take a look and let us know what you think.

Jail a Politician?
Would the "new politics" gain a welcome boost if politicians could be prosecuted for telling lies? Film maker Richard Symons drafts just such a bill and puts it to senior Ministers and MPs. You can watch it now on our new politics page.

Undercover Mosque
You may remember the Channel 4 Undercover Mosque documentary which showed some inflammatory comments from local Imams. It was controversially referred to OFCOM by the West Midlands police, who claimed that the quotes "were a complete distortion." Peter Marshall has got hold of the transcript which suggests otherwise. Off the record, police sources have given him some fascinating comments. Was the local force trying to appease local radicals? Or genuinely thought the documentary biased and unfair?

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 08:51 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • steve wrote:

Sir, Did I feel sorry for Brown after his mauling in the Commons? Er, no. The sullen ranks behind him said it all. No intervention is the postal dispute...not me guv. An apology for the disaster in Iraq? Not me, guv. The election that wasn't? Not me, guv. What an unholy mess and all blame at Brown's door. What possessed this man to go along with the nut idea of an election that only served to help his enemies? Why, on this one occasion could he not listen to his grass root support instead of the Milliband cabal of hyenas scratching around in the dirt of 'please let me be leader next' To give a dead and buried Cameron the breath of life...and hope is madness enough but to risk the future of the Labour party is madness. This man is a lame duck. Sincerely, Steve


The “Westminster Game” is played by a group who find its playing agreeable; guard its privileges jealously and take care only to allow in those who will toe its twisted line. The different parties all conform to its overarching ethos; sparring within its rules and occasionally swapping seats. Compared to industry and academe, politicians do not rise to be learned specialists in any one field. When in government, they head any department at the whim of the prime Minister. John Reid held seven top posts in seven years. There is constant reference to “The Westminster Bubble” and rightly so. It floats a little way of the ground that we ordinary folk must walk, suspended by a self-belief that inflates salaries, puffs up individual buffoons and expand the bizarre performance of “Mr Speaker Martin” beyond mortal ken.
This troubled country - economically fit but emotionally stressed - is a direct product of the Westminster Game, played for too long. The Westminster Players see a bright future, measured in world status, war and trade; I see increasing unhappiness, consumption, debt and aggravation at home. The measure of governance is not how tall a country stands on the world stage but the simple contentment of its people.

  • 3.
  • At 10:50 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • Jonathan Haggis wrote:

After seeing prime ministers question time today, I thought it was nothing but a gathering of school children shouting "Fight, Fight, Fight"

If politicians want the young persons vote (like myself) I believe they should stop acting like children, and become people to look up to and trust with the running of the country. At the moment, I would not vote for either conservative nor labour. I was not a fan of Tony Blair, but I think he would have handled the current situation better.

  • 4.
  • At 10:54 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • nonaur biznes wrote:

It seems that the light is about to go out; the twerp who wants to become prime minister it seems to show off to his 'buddies'that he can mix it with the big boys has lost the plot and is intent on dragging a whole nation with him in his senseless quest, it seems, to impress the stupid media who apparently lost a bob or two at the bookies,and care nothing for the 'unfortunate peasants' who make up their fickle audience and 'need' them. It is getting very close to a situation where the establishment(fourth estate and all) are no different from al-qaeda

  • 5.
  • At 10:56 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • TJ wrote:

Jailing politicianing can already be done for telling certain lies. For example, selling out the country and lying us into a war for the gain not of Britain, but of a foreign power under English Law is Treason, lying us into a war that results in murder on the Tube is incitement to murder and inciting war against the Crown, another act of Treason under the Law, of course these criminal offences are not going to be investigated by a Police force more intent on covering up crimes like the murder of Dr. David Kelly or engaging in criminal acts such as the unlawful killing of Jean Charles de Menezes. Make no mistake, the government and the Police and the entire Judical system have chosen, en masse, to become criminals, they will take your liberty and your life without a seconds thought, we, the people of Britain have a new enemy, and it comes from within.

  • 6.
  • At 10:56 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • Chris, Malaga wrote:

It's all very well Roy Hattersley admonishing Cameron over his verbal assault on Brown. If he were to cast his mind back, he would surely agree that the previous incumbent at No.10 was an expert at "Ya-Boo" politics, infact I think he invented it.

  • 7.
  • At 11:12 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • Puzzled wrote:

A new politics would accept that improved services carry a cost of one sort or another. There have recently been demands for more support for farmers in view of f & m and bluetongue, more provision of flood barriers and more support for flood victims, more compensation for servicemen and their families, the list goes on and on while simultaneously there are demands for lower taxes of all kinds. If we buy more of anything else we expect to pay more for it. In the US apparently more goes into a largely private healthcare system which does not cover all the population and has more expensive bureaucracy. Perhaps I've got this all wrong but hammering away about elections that didn't happen now nor when John Major took over, I think, explains nothing but the media obsession with constant buzz. Leave that to the bees.

  • 8.
  • At 11:12 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • vikingar wrote:

….. hhhhmmmm

Nice bit of NN follow-up ref undercover mosque (dispatches)

What do the west midlands police & 'right on' groups think they are playing at.

In the UK 'moderate Islam' unfortunately has proven itself not to equal 'moderate British Society'.

Same words, wholly different meaning.


If New Labour drive through radical sexual orientation laws ……

… wonder if these same groups will be as consistent & extend a similar interpretative tolerance.

… or do they expect PC Plod (judge nowadays by stats & dammed stats) to resist the temptation to arrest & charge.

So by 2008 in the UK:

… at liberty to preach hate ref the 'infidel'

…. gagged media ref lying foreign mullahs

… jailed for saying 'Hello Ducky'


  • 9.
  • At 11:23 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • N Crewes wrote:

How great.
A Misrepresentation of the Peoples Act.
Oh how I love that idea (mentioned in the Newsnight Programme this evening).
'Ministers do not lie' says Jack Straw.
Cough, cough.

Under this Act, you commit a criminal offence if you are found to lie or issue a misleading statement.
All the MP's agreed with the idea (although most didn't believe that MP's lied) not one was willing to sign up to it.
How strange, if MP's don't lie-what would they have to lose?
Surely that speaks volumes.
I must admit I saw the funny side, it really would be too depressing to know that we can do nothing to stop the very representatives we elected from saying and doing whatever they liked.

  • 10.
  • At 11:33 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • Tom Berney wrote:

All this shows is how divorced political posturing is from real life.

The notion that the major political issue facing the British people is how much tax a tiny minority should pay on an unearned million quid inheritance is absurd.

Similarly the contradictions in complaining about Stamp Duty and tax levels and reduced NHS spending etc while simultaneously demanding that the government should immediately build flood barriers on every river - and presumably damns around every house - in order that insurance companies don't have to actually repay some of the premiums they have been amassing is just plain daft. Where do these people think the extra billions are going to come from?

Sure Brown's lot messed up over the possible election but what significant proposals have emerged from Cameron to suggest that he has anything at ALL to offer the country? All we have seen is irrelevant opportunism from n both sides.

  • 11.
  • At 11:46 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • Fed-up O'Flannel wrote:

On September 24th I wrote to you requesting you stop going on and on about a possible election. You are still doing it. Tonight discussing why the possible election you were going on about has not been called. Nothing could be more boring. Please get a life. There is a postal dispute going on out there you know. The government is intent on ruining one of our greatest public services and Newsnight doesn't think it worth a mention.

Gordon's New Politics: G. Brown said long ago that he intended to take input from all over the political spectrum. And that is exactly what he has done - taken some stuff from the right of the spectrum and put it into his big tent, along with all the other stuff from the right of the spectrum he already has in there. So why act so surprised?

Hoping for a better programme tomorrow.

  • 12.
  • At 11:46 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • Bill Bradbury wrote:

Today's spat in Parliament has nothing to do with how we, the electorate, are coping with our own problems. Honesty and lying were two interesting items on Newsnight, which, needs a more considered "blog" than boring people on this topic, with the reasons why politicians, if not lie, the quote "are economical with the truth" says it all.
As a Labour Cllr. I shudder when I see all politicians "duck and weave" when trying to answer a straight question. However, to be fair, some of these questions are loaded for impact and the next day's headline, so one can understand why politicians become circumspect.

Therefore, as I am regarded as a bit of a rebel but fully support Labour's policies my answers to the following are:-
Was the Iraq visit an attempt to upstage the Tory conference? yes.
Was the election called off because of the state of the polls? yes.
Did we pinch Tory and Lib/Dem Policies? yes.
So, what's the problem apart from the spat from Tories that "we thought of it first". If it is a "good" idea, it's a Good idea no matter how it is implemented and who said it first.

However, alternative answers to the above would also be correct for I know Labour needed to visit the troops, would be looking at dates for an election and were discussing inheritance tax and Green issues.

Such hysterical outbursts from Cameron does his cause no good except to score cheap points and does nothing to further the voters' expectations apart from having a good "belly laugh" at Brown's expense.

  • 13.
  • At 11:55 PM on 10 Oct 2007,
  • ed corbett wrote:

Listening to Roy Hattersly on newsnight tonight I had the feeling that he has had a Lobotomy.His comments about Gordon Brown's display in the Commons showed a very selective memory.Or is it "old age"
One might also pose the question why can you not call an MP a liar when it is patently obvious.The whole Treasury team are guilty of this failing.

Brilliant Jeremy yet again tonight (32/10) - especially with the "old politicians" (ha ha ha :-)) aka Howard,Hattersly & Kennedy. Very interesting to see how many errors Al Gore's film had too. Also liked Richard Symon's film on prosecuting lying politicans.

Also wanted to add - I LOVE the Big Fat Politics page!

  • 16.
  • At 12:21 AM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • David Coussens wrote:

Please can we have fewer hysterical Islam stories. Unless there is a substantial event involving Muslims in the world, the BBC is under no obligation to fill the gaps in between these events with ever more ridiculous "stories" and scandals involving the bearded ones.
Not as many people are convinced by this occasional apocaplypse as the BBC may suppose, nor does everyone believe the greatest threat to the UK comes from a small bunch of unemployed Pakistanis. How about the next story on Newsnight addressing the figures published in the (shock!) Daily Mail showing that historically speaking, the threat of dying or being injured in a terrorist attack in Britain has actually gone down and has been going down for years as has the number of incidents classed as "terrorist" worldwide.
I'd hate to think Newsnight was pushing an agenda here.

  • 17.
  • At 12:25 AM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Richard Beckett wrote:

Jail a politician? sign me up! I really enjoyed seeing the great and the good squirm at the very idea - so much so I watched it again online. Can't wait to watch the full programme tommorrow

  • 18.
  • At 01:00 AM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Silkstone wrote:

Nothing, but nothing, can have a higher, more vital or more urgent priority for the Nation right now than the prevention of Brown's fanatical obsession to ratify the so-called European Reform Treaty later this month.

Any M.P's who consider themselves to be worthy of the title, should be rupturing their brains to find ways of bringing Westminster to an unscheduled halt before next week's PMQ's.

They should then present Brown with an ultimatum that unless he agrees to hold a referendum forthwith, the House will consider his actions to be tantamount to High Treason and will arrange for him to be brought to account on that basis.

He knows only too well that his red-herrings about red-lines are a risible con, yet still he persists with presenting this as a justifiable and 'logical' argument. The answer to the question WHY does he continue to do so is obvious; he is hell-bent on fulfilling the goal he has shared with Blair for more than a decade, which is to bring about a supranational European frighteningly simple as that!

Surprisingly Cameron & Co never bother to ask him where he thinks the Red Lines of the Nation are drawn: the answer being - right at the beginning of the Treaty document.

The Nation knows a great deal about the potentially devastating consequences of 'Aquis Communautaire' even if politicians don't!

  • 19.
  • At 07:31 AM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Bill Bradbury wrote:

Silkstone, The Euro referendum and Red Lines will be the next media/Tory attack on Brown as sure as night follows day. (next week's PM Question time?)
Brown could spike that by adopting the Lib/Dem suggestion we should have a Referendum on Europe, in or out, to stop this argument once and for all.

Probably be accused of "pinching" another policy. He can't win!

  • 20.
  • At 08:31 AM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Trefor Jones wrote:

With regard to your whimsical article on politicians and lying. Jeremy Paxman's grilling of the Friends of the Earth's spokesman for almost the first time on a mainstream programme ( The low brow 10 o'clock news had jumped the gun)illuminated the perfidy of these groups in peddling alarm and enhancing their coffers.In reality, green issues, duping a gullible public ( and body politic) and manipulating the media,has more to do with raising taxes than any plastic concern for the planet. The one fact hat emerges is whatever the cause of present climatic modification ( mostly natural in my view)nobody can do anything at all about it.Lying,don't make me laugh!!

  • 21.
  • At 09:00 AM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Linda Kirby wrote:

If we cannot believe our MP's and the government what chance have we trying to teach our children truth and honesty?

If lies are provably told, then the minister should have to stand down and loose his job.

We want honest truthful people to represent the people of Great Britain not liars.

  • 22.
  • At 09:25 AM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Jason Selby wrote:

I was very interested in Richard Symons film, the reason most of them stated that it will never work is because most politicians lie and therefore most would go to prison.We should have a younger elected government that is more in tune with the rest of the world.

  • 23.
  • At 09:27 AM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • John Baxendale wrote:

Well, let's all agree that the politicians have not so far proved very good at doing 'new politics' - though to be fair, Cameron's shouting and finger-pointing was largely to blame yesterday, and Brown hardly got a word in. But it's no good Jeremy & co sneering at the politicians when equally unproductive forms of combat are acted out every evening in the Newsnight studio. When are Jeremy & co going to take a shot at doing the 'new politics'? OK, people enjoy seeing politicians roughed up, but is compulsively roughing them up making any contribution to the democratic process or to public understanding of the issues? Why not, once in a while, let a politician answer the question instead of boorishly interrupting after about three words? I feel more and more (and this applies to Humphreys too) that BBC journo-stars see interviews as a form of single combat between the interviewer and the politician, in which the interviewer wins if he can stop his opponent from playing his best game. But this isn't a game, it's about who runs the country. A case in point was Paxman's interview with the guy from Friends of the Earth last night. He wasn't allowed to complete a single sentence, so as a result I have no idea what he wanted to say about the Gore movie. What exactly is the point of that? And again, the Hattersley-Howard- Kennedy discussion. What exactly was Paxman there for? Aren't these three perfectly capable of talking to each other without his barbed interventions? Never mind the new politics - let's have a new journalism.

What if it was illegal for Politicians to Lie?

At last, someone in the mainstream media is beginning to ask the right questions. But it will not be sufficient merely to get those same politicians to pass new laws. We need technical measures, such as those described on my website.

  • 25.
  • At 12:09 PM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Rob de Villiers wrote:

Re: this absurd notion of a law against MPs lying.

How utterly appaling that not one of supposedly British parlimentarians interviewed understands the British Constitution. Harman, Straw and all the rest simply swallowed the notion that the people are soveriegn. Utter rubbish. The people do not rule. We are not a "peoples democratic republic" a-la Gaza, we are a Constitutional Monarchy and a Representative Democarcy not a mob-ruled demos - and that means that the Queen in Parliment rules, not the mob. Of course this system which
has evolved from hard experiece over a thousand years and has served us pretty well is now being piecemeal but rapidly dismantled and we are selling out our sovereignty in favour of rule from abroad by an unaccountable Brussels bureaucracy.

  • 26.
  • At 12:15 PM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • csharp wrote:


Isn't the premise if democracy is good then what democracy does is good which makes Iraq etc good? because regime change, in bringing democracy, is bringing 'good'?

I know this idea might rattle the teacups but as we are fair minded people i look forward to viewing the WhyDictatorship and WhyKhalifah films. Then having viewed all three we can make a choice of which is closer to Justice, Freedom and Compassion. Or do we fear our system will not be the closest system to these? Of course not. Our system will shine out the best as clear as the summer sun.

Dear C Sharp.

The Why Democracy? season is intended to explore the whole range of views about democracy - as you'll have seen, it includes everything from President Musharraf explaining his reasons for dictatorship to Alex Gibney's searing analysis of the state of US democracy with regard to the War on Terror. It's not intended to unthinkingly glorify democracy - it's asking people to 'think about it' - hence the text card at the end of every film.

If you'd like to join the debate, I suggest you look at the global website for the season:

Greg Sanderson,
Season Executive

  • 28.
  • At 04:02 PM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Bill Bradbury wrote:

John Baxendale, one of the best comments I have read for ages, points I have been raising in other forums and with the BBC for years.

"Blog" it again and again and again etc. As with X factor and other so- called TV Judges/panels, and Jeremy, Humphries et al, it's the cult of personality and image at the expense of politicians and some unfortunates who like to make a spectacle of themselves, apart from the latter being cheap entertainment.

The other issue, mainly worse on the "Today" programme, is the "alloted time" for each topic when debates/interviews start to get interesting they are curtailed rudely as the "sport" is coming up. Virtually it's "push off, bored with that, next item-hurry along please!"

Having now watched this, I wish politicians of all hues (and a few media types, though JP was a noble exception in referring to 'us', I believe, as 'they', which I presume to be a separate breed of human to those who haunt studios) would resist from telling me what I think when I haven't been asked. Nor, to the best of my knowledge, has the rest of the country in any meaningful way.

It makes it very hard to stay objective on what IS happening and gets DONE, and resist reacting and seeking the exact opposite just as payback for the presumption.

Which brings me to the world being consumed in a ball of fire by next Tuesday. Or... not.

The eco-blogosphere is humming a bit on this.

And I really can't for the life of me figure how it has come to this. The piece (as noted) is pretty much ancient history anyway, and AG has a new version (with solutions) coming, and there are two others I am aware of (Leonardo diCaprio's and another whose name escapes me) which are also more proactive available. So what the government was/is doing punting it out anyway escapes me.

Where I do get annoyed in this is with those who keep handing climate optimists easy ways to cast doubts. I am seeing it in every post out there. While the other stuff, the actual for real worrying stuff, gets ignored in the noise.

And in the spirit of 'two wrongs..', I could give a stuff that ' opponents [how is it so clear cut as all pro vs all no?] have come under similar criticisms over their own claims on the hotly contested issue', as I read by way of a comeback in the paper. It's always extremes.

So we get a guy up against JP, whose job it is to seek weaknesses in argument and tear them apart, and I am left with ' 'bits' of it were... um... wrong, but not wrong'? Do what? On this basis what else could get the green ('scuse pun) light to be aired at school, so long as it comes with a teacher's disclaimer training manual. I know how that is going to go down having run it by my own kids; 'Er, dad, what are you on about???'. I want them educated in more than box-ticking.

And, as an aside, I was not aware that 'we' 'know' that climate change IS man-made. I am passionately committed to practical (a lot in that), effective (even more there) reduction and/or mitigation on an urgent basis, but just on a slightly different one that I, personally, 'believe', which is 'man' and our activities sure may not be helping much.

And if the MMCC absolute does get disproved (which in some other ways I pray it does, though my business plan might need changing a tad once the party starts) or even just further chipped away, it sets back the entreaties of the less dogmatic advocates. Cry wolf, anyone?

Like greenwashing ads, why push the claim to the point that it is shown to be hyped, or worse false, and undo all the other good the brand has been building? I know it can seem so urgent to some (me inc.) that any means necessary can be tempting to take to get the message out, but not if this is the result.

I can only speak personally to say I just want to know what 'we' know now - no more and no less, with all caveats - and to be guided as best I can be to do what is best for my kids' futures.

The only winners here are those who thrive under a cloud of controversy. And there are a lot of them on both 'sides' feeding off this as we speak.

Green cannot be viewed just in black and white.

  • 30.
  • At 04:29 PM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Ian Walker wrote:

Dear Sir,

The main news of the day was a good performance by the Conservatives, and a poor one by Labour at PMQ. So how does the oh-so-impartial BBC choose to sum up the event? Why, with a nice soundbite of an Labour ex-MP lambasting Cameron for resorting to personal attacks.

Really, BBC, you are becoming an embarassing parody of yourselves. From Breakfast to NewsNight, your news output is virtually a 24/7 party political broadcast for Labout. Sort it out!

  • 31.
  • At 06:44 PM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Cloe wrote:

What's this, Paxman's promoting a website?! What has the world come to...

RE Brownism - I was rather amused that it is apparently now time for "working out the intellectual framework". Maybe they've kept it secret all this years ready to spring a big surprise when we expect it least.

RE democratic contribution of journalists grilling politicians - the 'official' opinions of these guys are available from just about any other source on the internet. Analytical programmes like Newsnight at least try to scratch the surface. Don't think we need yet another outlet for our dear leaders and t'other folk to regurgitate their preachings.

PS good to see vikingar's back (on his favourite topic)

  • 32.
  • At 06:54 PM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Mr C M Millman wrote:

Prior to Blair and "blue labour" coming to power using most of the Conservative manifesto (nothing will change for three years) we witnessed a daily mauling of the Conservative party in the House, often in personal and derogatory terms.
Now Brown and his cronies complain, mild by comparison, of the Conservatives similar current tactics!
Having spent ten years saying everything is the conservatives fault maybe these words have come back to haunt them!
Perhaps Paxman and co can nail the myth that the last ten years have been a dream and that it is in deed the Labour party that are responsible for the events of our "dream"(fair play to you all you have tried of late)

  • 33.
  • At 11:01 AM on 12 Oct 2007,
  • Baz wrote:

Regarding the Al Gore errors piece - the Friends of the Earth spokesman mentioned the IPCC. On the 'About' page of the IPCC web site it states "The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation."

So hardly scientific and impartial if it takes as a given that climate change in human-induced. The IPPC can only ever produce reports that says that climate change is caused by humans because that is its role, its reason for existing. It is biased and political. So why doesn't Newsnight ever challenge people who quote the IPCC as a scientific and impartial source when it is clearly neither?

  • 34.
  • At 02:35 PM on 12 Oct 2007,
  • Phil wrote:

Perhaps the people who argue, with great pomposity, that politicians `shouldn`t lie`would like to explain how the following should have been answered.
`Mr Churchill is it true that we have broken the German codes?`
`Mr Attlee is it true that Britain is secretly building its own nuclear weapons?`
Mr Callaghan is it true that you are thinking of devaluing the pound?`
Mr Major is it true that you are having secret talks with the Provisional IRA?`
`Mr Blair is it true that the SAS are operating secretly in Iraq?`

  • 35.
  • At 02:44 PM on 12 Oct 2007,
  • Phil wrote:

Perhaps the people who argue, with great pomposity, that politicians `shouldn`t lie`would like to explain how the following should have been answered.
`Mr Churchill is it true that we have broken the German codes?`
`Mr Attlee is it true that Britain is secretly building its own nuclear weapons?`
Mr Callaghan is it true that you are thinking of devaluing the pound?`
Mr Major is it true that you are having secret talks with the Provisional IRA?`
`Mr Blair is it true that the SAS are operating secretly in Iraq?`

  • 36.
  • At 02:46 PM on 12 Oct 2007,
  • Phil wrote:

Perhaps the people who argue, with great pomposity, that politicians `shouldn`t lie`would like to explain how the following should have been answered.
`Mr Churchill is it true that we have broken the German codes?`
`Mr Attlee is it true that Britain is secretly building its own nuclear weapons?`
Mr Callaghan is it true that you are thinking of devaluing the pound?`
Mr Major is it true that you are having secret talks with the Provisional IRA?`
`Mr Blair is it true that the SAS are operating secretly in Iraq?`

Thank you for this. As one interested but who cannot face the prospect of wading through mammoth reports I can't complain so much if I rely on those who do if the information I get is 'selective'.

I have been convinced enough by what I have been served up to concede that there is the distinct possibility of Man-worsened Climate Change, and even if this ends up being proven in error there seems no great harm in a cautious approach to our race's activities from now on. In any case, moderation, cutting down/out pollution and prevention of waste are no bad things to practice simply in financial terms.

Semantically, do I read this as saying it's a given that climate change in human-induced? You obviously did. I could see it more as looking at 'whether', which seems valid.

That said, I have heard the BBC's main enviro spokespersons/experts (whose qualifications are?) refer to the 'fact' that climate change is caused by man. Is it?

Because then there is also such as this: "the risk is the public might misunderstand what campaigners are saying with what the scientists are actually finding out."


  • 38.
  • At 09:08 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Adrienne wrote:

How's this for spin? Note, millions have been appropriated to implement SEAL on the basis of this 'evidence'. I don't expect a law to prevent MPs 'lying' will ever become a reality, as MPs loyalty (like that of Civil Servants) when giving evidence to Parliamentary Committees is to their Minister first, so they're allowed to be economical with the truth. However, this, below, is somewhat different. It appears to show nothing but contempt for evidence based practice, ie. science. Instead, it uses the language of science to spin better.

"As a first step we are introducing what is known as the Social and emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) programme into secondary schools. As I’ve already seen for myself in primary schools, SEAL teaches young people social and emotional skills to allow them to resolve conflict calmly, manage anger and show respect for others."

This nonsense (it is *not* evidence based/driven) is now starting to appear in our *secondary* schools. Teachers will probably not be able to objectively appraise what's going on as Ed Balls and his spin doctors assert the opposite to what the data actually shows.

The same was done over "Cognitive Skills" in prisons and probation. This is now known to have not worked, has been acknowledged in Home Affairs Select Committees and is all on the record. But I bet those who sold it in the early 1990s are still doing very well out of this, even though the evidence shows they should all have been drummed out of their jobs for incompetence or fraud. I don't think this can be excused as just error. These people are culpable.

The following was posted to the Guardian CiF in July. All three posts at the end have since been deleted. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy will no doubt now be sold to schools as a panacea even though the rather shoddy SEAL research shows there was no significant effect apart from the girls liking talking about their feelings.

The sad reality is that there seems to be a 'liberal conspiracy' to use academic credentials to sell snake-oil for public funds. This is now well out of control as a consequence of professional deregulation in my view. Anyone who tries to stand up to this nonsense is highly likely to find themselves out of work, which just reinforces the probem alas.

Surely there has got to be something radically wrong with our culture if people are rewarded for telling lies, and punished for telling the truth?

"Learning To Place Nice"
Comment Is Free
Comment No. 687127
July 9 9:55 GBR

"Readers will, of course, have followed up the links in the author's article. They will have looked up the evaluation of the primary SEAL pilot which justifies this increased expenditure.

At the DfES website we read on page 91 of the (largely postal questionnaire based evaluation of perceptions):

"There were gender differences in responses to the questionnaire (see Table 6.7). In relation to Self-esteem and Motivation there were statistically significant differences both prior to and after the SEAL programme. In both cases the girls had higher scores than the boys. For both boys and girls there were small increases in scores following the introduction of the SEAL programme. In relation to Emotions and Awareness of them in Self and Others the girls also had statistically significant higher scores pre and post the SEAL programme. The scores for the girls increased as a result of the SEAL programme while that for the boys decreased. A similar pattern was evident in relation to Social Skills and Relationships.

Girls showed a slight improvement as a result of the SEAL programme while the scores for the boys remained the same."

Then skip to ch. 8 which looks at attandance and impact on Key Stage 1 and 2.

Reading (p.131):

"For the pilot as a whole there was no statistically significant change in reading attainment" Writing (p.132):

"Across the programme as a whole the change was positive (mean pre pilot 81.93, mean post pilot 82.16) but not statistically significant."

Mathematics (p.133):

"There were no statistically significant differences in the levels of change (see Table 8.5) or across the programme as a whole (mean pre pilot 91.17, mean post pilot 91.69)."

Needs to be read more closely, but the authors say:

"AT KS2 schools involved in the school improvement strand appeared to make significantly greater
improvements than CPD-only schools and non-pilot primary schools. This may have been because of their lower levels of performance at the start of the programme."

This is the research on the primary SEAL.

Secondary has still to be done:

Like nearly all of this research from the DfES, the devil is in the detail, and one has to look critically at a) the methods b) the results and c) most critically at the spin put on the outcome by

Who could possibly criticise aid to help children from dysfunctional families or oppressed BME groups better manage their feelings, be better motivated etc? Well, that is the job of the Pubic Accounts Committee and all responsible citizens/researchers! Note the role of the "Third Sector" (charity status) in all of this. Look for the books, DVDs etc or courses, seminars etc at their websites. Do these all come for free? Do those working for these 'charities' give their time and advice pro bono? How many of these people are making sideways moves from the public sector (which has a very poor track record of delivery when it comes to these high PR panaceas) into the gentler domain of PR entrepreneurship? Are their contracts evidence/performance based, if so, how closely are their services monitored and in terms of which reliable performance indicators? If this is not done, are we not encouraging corruption? Here are a couple of earlier eye openers just to illustrate where some of these ideas come from, how it all really works, and sadly, how despite
considerable dissent over the years from those able to critically evaluate the research, dissenters
have been marginalised, their concerns ignored and the just criticism airbrushed.

For many it gets even worse.

See Q277 onwards and see what is happening to probation today now that the Offender Management Act has become law.

  • 39.
  • At 10:32 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Adrienne wrote:

"Learning To Place Nice" should have been "Learning to Play Nice"

As others have remarked even in major Comment Is Free articles:

comments which are contrary to the Guardian Talk Policy (which is inscrutable to put it kindly), tend to mysteriously disappear, leaving a pattern of comments which whilst sometime scritical, tend to suit some (again inscrutable) editorial agenda.

I guess that's one way to manage free speech.

  • 40.
  • At 07:20 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Vicentina wrote:

To: Readers!

Why are there so many crimes, deaths,
violents, problems & conflicts now?

I think people should stop calling other groups names, e.g. Extremists,
terorists, gays, nazists & muslim!
It creates anger, agression, hatred
& discrimination in the world! All these groups, if treated right, their
ways of life will change to a better one. They need respect, kindness
and unconditional love. They need
positive attitudes toward their daily
lives! Give them Freedom, peace & hope, if we are really need to make this world a better place to live in, without the fear of bomb, murder, confrontation & threat! We all need
Freedom, Freedom! Thanks & give it a try!
Children should not see violent films.


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