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  • Newsnight
  • 2 Nov 07, 10:29 AM

Today’s output editor is Robert Morgan – here are his early thoughts about how to fill tonight’s half hour....

Good morning,

I'm genuinely open to any new ideas today. There are a few strong contenders for stories.

De Menezes case
The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has rejected calls for the Metropolitan Police chief, Sir Ian Blair, to resign. He said mistakes would be made in anti-terrorist operations. Mr Livingstone said yesterday's verdict - that the police had failed to protect the public in the operation which led to the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005 - was a ''disaster''. He said armed officers pursuing a suspected suicide bomber couldn't afford to start thinking they might be "hauled off to court". What approach do you think we should be taking on this story today?

Northern Rock
Figures from the Bank of England show that it has lent Northern Rock almost twenty-three billion pounds in emergency funding since the global credit crunch. The figure equates to about seven-hundred-and-thirty pounds for every UK taxpayer. Is it now time to nationalise the bank or just put it out of its misery?

The United States on Friday promised "effective" action against Kurdish rebels launching attacks on Turkey from northern Iraq, but urged Ankara to refrain from military action that might destabilise the area. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, visiting Turkey amid growing anti-US sentiment, called the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) a "common enemy". But she did not spell out what steps Washington was contemplating. On Monday President Bush will meet Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. Should we be doing this story today? How would we do it?

AIDS activists are warning that an increasing number of simultaneous infections with HIV and tuberculosis has created a deadly co-epidemic that is spreading across sub-Saharan Africa. Researchers say half of all new TB cases are now infected with HIV, and health care systems in the region are struggling to cope. In the Western Cape, a child is a hundred times more likely to contract TB than in the developed world. A shocking new development.

It's worth watching the markets and the Mexican floods.

And are there any other stories you think we should be covering? A lighter story to add to the mix would be fun.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 10:38 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Adrian Adams wrote:

How about exploring the wider ramifications if Turkey did invade Iraq. Who else would be drawn in?

  • 2.
  • At 10:45 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Charles Jackson wrote:

How about the Hollywood Writers strike?
It could have far reaching effects on the British public's viewing habits. If you do, please give my regards to Torin Douglas

Charles Jackson

  • 3.
  • At 10:48 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Daniella Dangoor wrote:

An item on the PKK would be good, in particular the attitude of the Kurdish devolved {?} government in Northern Iraq towards the problem. So a little potted history and an interview with an Iraqi Kurdish representative.

Also TB in South Africa. It seems to me the reviled Thabo Mbeki wasn't wrong in wanting to use medical funds to buy generic drugs to deal with TB rather than the more expensive ones to deal with HIV.


Given the recent interview with JK Rowling - wherein she mentioned that with great wealth comes greater social responsibility, and a government minister criticising a footballer's (perversely) high earnings and another footballer's payslip finding its way onto the internet, is there scope for a piece on wealth and social responsibility?

At what levels of earnings do and should people feel great social responsibility? How does this manifest itself - in talk and action? And how does such talk relate - if at all - to views regarding redistribution of wealth and fiscal policy?

Answers on a postcard?

  • 5.
  • At 10:51 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Marcus Young wrote:

Northern Rock should be covered. Compare it with Black Wednesday when £27bn of reserves was spent propping up the pound; though the ultimate loss was only £3.4bn.

Now, without much fuss, £23bn has been spent and along with the promise to savers the exposure is near £40bn. What chance is there of ever getting this money back? What will the final cost to the UK tax payer be of propping up a private company? What role has the Government played in all this?

"What approach do you think we should be taking on this story today?"

Sorry, you're the producer - I'm a computer programmer. Let's all stick to what we do best.

You decide how to tackle the story, I'll watch it, and we'll take it from there.

I'm afraid this whole "you decide what you want us to tell you tonight" thing might have gone a bit far. What next? Blank pages in the Times so I can fill them in myself?

Asking us for feedback after the event is one thing, asking for input before the event is a bit different.

  • 7.
  • At 10:51 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • KHarley wrote:

Re: De Menezes
How about taking the perspective Sam O'Neill takes in his Commentry in The Times today (pg9).
Yes what happened was dreadful and there are many things the Met should learn from the way the situation was 'handled'. HOWEVER let's not forget how all Londoners were feeling on that day, the 7/7 bombings still dominating the news, fear using public transport, feeling under attack but not sure from where or whom...another round of attempted attacks the day before. These suicide attacks in London were unprecedented. Horrifying and terrifying. We rely on the MET police to help protect us every day, and they do, with a number of foiled attacks which rarely get coverage. And the daily work they do to prevent and deter further attack. Plus what the MET do when these attacks happen - the sights they see and how we can take for granted they will turn up and help. MET officers are also human and should be treated as such.

  • 8.
  • At 10:54 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Barbara Cox wrote:

Certainly worth giving a moment to the writers' strike if you have time, the point being that it couldn't happen here as we no longer have a closed shop in UK TV, hence our writers are 'divided and ruled'and their representative organisations are virtually toothless.

Much more important though, the PKK story - I have a horrible feeling this situation could explode with widespread repercussions - am I right? What is going on behind the scenes? What would be the reality of 'destabilising the region?' Are we getting ourselves into another US-led mess?

  • 9.
  • At 10:54 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Michal wrote:

In the days when Poland was Communist, the leader, Edward Gierek, would finish his long orations with "Comrades, please help!" Has Newsnight reached the state of pre-Solidarity Poland? Is Party Secretary Paxman about to be dethroned by an engineer scaling the walls of Broadcasting House? And will the BBC declare martial law? In short - your story should be about why Newsnight has become so terrified of making editorial decisions that it is calling on help from the comrades.

  • 10.
  • At 10:54 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Royston wrote:

De Menezes case:
Sir Ian Blair should do the decent thing...and resign.
The case highlighted the significant failings in management which Blair handled appalling.
The armed officers did their duty but, and as is often the case, they are brave lions led by donkeys.

  • 11.
  • At 10:55 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • oulwan wrote:

I think the de Menezes case and Ian Blair's position need looking at. Yes, everyone was tense, yes, we know what would have been said if Jean Charles had been a bomber etc etc, but HE WAS WRONGLY IDENTIFIED, AND there were a series of COCK-UPS all down the line. I heard a TV viewer say this morning (STILL!), "he should have stopped when he was challenged".

We *know* he wasn't challenged, and what's more he was allowed to get on a bus. And at the end, why so many hollow-nosed bullets?? Wouldn't bullet No.5 have been going into an already pulped head?

People were out of control. Whether it's the famous 'red mist', or fear, or a badly planned operation, SOMEONE should resign or be sacked! I'm not entirely sure it's Blair, but how can anyone feel confident on the streets with armed officers behaving like this??

I have two sons roughly the age of Jean Charles. And I was so shocked over this case that I still feel slightly nauseated by it, although he's a complete stranger to me. It's a heart-breaking story, a heartbreak for his family, something they will suffer for the rest of their lives. And not a single Met officer will be held accountable??

  • 12.
  • At 10:58 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Simon McGrath wrote:

The Story on the co-epidemic in Sub Saharan Africa will be a golden opportunity to once again remind the world that unless there is heightened awareness of this devastating plague, followed by united global action, then that region will be catastophically decimated with equally catastrophic consequences for us all. I urge you to give this "top billing"

  • 13.
  • At 10:58 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Martin wrote:

I appreciate getting your 'trailer' email each afternoon letting me know what is being covered in the programme. I often can't stay awake until 10.30pm (I have two small children) so it's a good way of getting a brief digest of the most relevant news stories of the day.

This new morning email asking 'us' what should be in programme is an annoyance though. For heaven's sake you're all big boys and girls now - make a decision yourself and leave us busy working folk alone!!! I can't do your job for you too! DELETE button here I come.

You can take inclusion and consultation too far you know.....

  • 14.
  • At 10:58 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • David Symes wrote:

Sir Ian Blair:

Perhaps you could find the televised statment made by Sir Ian after the Birmingham Police used a Taser to arrest one of the suspected terrorists (he was scathing about this being the wrong tactic) and said that they should instead have shot to kill to avoid any suspect device exploding as this was the policy. At the time I thought "well he would say that wouldnot he" as it contrasted sharply with the earlier mistake over the de Menezes shooting.

Now compare that with Sir Ian's statement yesterday outside court where he claimed credit for the arrest of the same suspected terrorists!

Disingenuous or what!

  • 15.
  • At 10:59 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Michal wrote:

In the days when Poland was Communist, the leader, Edward Gierek, would finish his long orations with "Comrades, please help!" Has Newsnight reached the state of pre-Solidarity Poland? Is Party Secretary Paxman about to be dethroned by an engineer scaling the walls of Broadcasting House? And will the BBC declare martial law? In short - your story should be about why Newsnight has become so terrified of making editorial decisions that it is calling on help from the comrades.

Firstly please condemn the PKK as a terrorist organization, not a Kurdish Rebel fighters....

Millions of ethnic Kurds live in Turkey with harmony for centuries. They are not minorities, they are part of the Republic of Turkey.

Time to unite not to glorify terror!

  • 17.
  • At 11:01 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Brian edmonds wrote:

The taxpayers not the Metropolitan Police pays the fine for Sir Ian Blair’s failure and thus sustain the punishment for his failure as Head of the Met.

With insufficient armed police to fight terrorism the Met under his leadership has failed to either secure or provide the resources required to meet the terrorist threat.

For this and his failure to protect the 52 forgotten victims of a horrific death on the underground, he should leave and pay the price with a reduced pension.

  • 18.
  • At 11:01 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Leandra wrote:

What I would dearly like to see is a segment called REALITY CORNER!!! Perhaps you should give Rory Bremner a slot?

The shambles that is Northern Rock is symptomatic of something deeply wrong with the system that we all rely on in the Western world - the USA, Europe, the UK, and on and on. Those involved in this cavalier approach to lending against nothing but smoke and mirrors - and not just NR, but starting in Wall Street, and rolling out across the Western world - should be thoroughly ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES!! on moral grounds as well as those of professional competence - i.e. the lack thereof on both counts, and frankly I don't know which is worse. How on earth have we arrived at a state of affairs where we can no longer trust the people and the system which supports the whole delusionary Alice-in-Wonderland edifice we think we have all built? I am not talking "criminality" here - that's too simple - I am talking about the desirability of a system and a lifestyle based on the Hard Rock of REALITY, and not on the Northern Rock of Fantasy - i.e. the QUALITY and the STANDARDS involved. What the Americans, a young nation, STILL have to learn - and also the New Brits, now standing shoulder to shoulder with them - is that "just because we can doesn't necessarily mean we should" - and that subtle difference (based on qualities and standards) is where the whole story is at -- and a lack of understanding of which will prove to be the downfall of the west (Osama Bin Laden must be chuckling in his cave.

  • 19.
  • At 11:01 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Alex Mitchell wrote:

I can't think of a 'light' topic but I'd appreciate it if you could investigate why the police are keeping records of minor offences that were committed decades ago and then using them to blight some poor law-abiding soul's life today. Only 4 forces were named. How many others are doing the same thing and just how far back do their records go?



  • 20.
  • At 11:02 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Vincent Bateman wrote:

How about the eduction stats out this morning?

Authors Peter Tymms and Christine Merrell said: "Five hundred million pounds was spent on the National Literacy Strategy with almost no impact on reading levels."

"These policies have cost many hundreds of millions of pounds but they have generally not had a sound research base and have not been systematically evaluated."

In a world economy where skills of our people are the only long term differentiator, we seem not to have found a way to consistently raise the levels of those skills.

The complacent response from Lord Adonis is hardly appropriate but entirely expected.

A segment having him explain himself would be enlightening, possibly entertaining but unlikely to produce any change in direction, unfortunately.

  • 21.
  • At 11:02 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Paul lander wrote:

The Turkey story is of particular interest to me in that it is about a conflict that has similarities to Northern Ireland and the involvement by the US is looking like it is very important in achieving a deal to ensure peace.
The one angle I don't see is the under-current of hatred by all Turks and millions of Kurds living in Turkey to the attacks; they have been going on for many years and with so many innocent lives lost - Turks and tourists.
Also, Sir Ian Blair is under immense pressure. Certainly he has become less agreeable to conduct interviews since the de Menezes media shambles but what about the organisation? The recent report by Ronnie Flanagan showed that officers are too risk-averse. De menezes will do nothing to make that better, in fact, it could get dramatically worse as incident commanders refuse to give authority for firearms deployment for fear of errors. The result could then be even greater danger to the public. Had Cressida Dick been found personally liable by the IPCC or later, it is not just her career that was on the line, criminal charges are considered and potential imprisonment resulting from a split second mistake made in good faith. No other profession is held this accountable.
Perhaps one angle would be to focus on the motivations of those who try to compare this incident with Brazilian Police shootings. Such comparison can only be made if you look at the accountability that one shooting brings in London where so many in Brazil in very different circumstances does not get a headline.
(Declaration of interest: I am the Managing Editor of Police Professional)

  • 22.
  • At 11:03 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • jane marple wrote:

Look at the markets. After the credit troubles, all the money has been piling on the stock exchanges, specially in the US, even though all the news point to a coming recession. When the market eventually comes down, (and the time could be very soon), where is the money going to go to?

  • 23.
  • At 11:03 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Mev Brown wrote:

Drugs have been in the media a lot recently. Take a Look at these articles in the Scotsman to blow a couple of holes in current policy and make the politicians look really stupid!

Argument for state-funded methadone simply doesn't add up:

War on drugs has failed - we need a zero-tolerance approach:

A lot of people think we already have a zero tolerance approach - if only they knew the truth!!


Mev Brown

  • 24.
  • At 11:04 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Winsor Lewis wrote:

You might like to do a balanced view of the Northern Rock affair. This is a LOAN which will be repaid. The alternative is for NR to foreclose on a host of householders and gain cash to maintain Liquidity. What on earth does it matter that the amount is 730 GBP per UK individual. The loan will be repaid and there is no cost to anyone! NR provides the opportunity for many to buy a home and while their cashflow system has come under pressure, it seems like you are cresating a story otu of virtually nothing.

  • 25.
  • At 11:04 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Fiona wrote:

I would like to see an investigation into the reading schemes used by primary schools.

I taught my three children to read using Ladybird Peter and Jane books from charity shops. My sister was told her son was dyslexic (this is after enduring the nightmare that is 'The Oxford Reading Tree' at school. I gave her my Peter and Jane books and my nephew was reading within a week - I was not surprised. These books use the Key Words approach and once a child can read the main 'key words' in the English Language, the ones that are used most, then he or she is well on the way to reading fluently.

Oxford Reading Tree is muddled, the pictures are awful cartoon-like pictures, you cannot even tell which characters are boys and which are girls. Some of the story lines are reasonably good though.

Given that this is the scheme most Primary schools use and given that literacy levels are still below what is considered acceptable, should someone publish an up-to-date 'key words' type of scheme based on the Peter and Jane books which clearly work so well. The books must have lovely pictures and look appealing.

  • 26.
  • At 11:07 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • johnhodder wrote:

For once I agree with the London Mayor - people need to expereince the 'terror of the moment' that are faced by our Police in making these instant decisions instead of making them in the comfort of the court or their office - theory is one thing - practice is another. These situations will never be 'perfect' and we shouldn't expect then to be -the Police have the very difficut job of protecting the Public whilst putting their own lives at risk - if Mendes had been a Bomber what then? and remember the circumstances of the day in which the Police were operating - the 'grey suits' of our world never have to get their 'hands dirty' and experience the 'real world'.

  • 27.
  • At 11:08 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Michael Stead wrote:

I'm unaware Westminster City Council propose ending Soup Runs. Surely a step in the wrong direction?

Otherwise de Menezes decision, Northern Rock and Turkey/PKK topics spot on. Nationalisation of Northen Rock interesting concept

  • 28.
  • At 11:08 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • T.A, Isabella wrote:

1. Why didn't the Bank of England, the U.S. Federal Reserve, etc., do something about the sub-prime loans their banks were making before the crash? They knew about it, and Greenspan has so admitted.

2. Why were the central banks' loans made to the banks and not the sub-prime mortgagees? These could then pay their mortgages off.

3. Why aren't the banks, and the people who run them prosecuted for neglecting their fiduciary duty to both depositors and borrowers?

4. Why aren't the people who run the banks required to make restitution for their crimes down to the tools of their trade, i.e., a pen and pencil, just as the defaulters will be?

5. What does a future LIBOR rate have to do with money lent today?

6. How many people know what LIBOR is? Is HIBOR next?

  • 29.
  • At 11:09 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Katherine wrote:

BBC has missed a great story about police abuse of process and mismanagement (both local constabularies and NCS/CEOPS) and the House of Lords have been given misleading testimony.

The story is complex and worthy of your attention.

Innocent victims of credit card fraud have been prosecuted; families have been destroyed, politicians have whipped up media hysteria, CEOPS has withheld evidence from defence teams; defence witnesses have been harassed and threatened with arrest. CEOPS and certain local constabularies are hoping that they can brush this under the table.

See the two-part report "Personal Internet Security" by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee. (

From Part I
7.65. Nevertheless, Bill Hughes’ suggestion of a expert adviser to assist the courts in assessing IT-based evidence is attractive. A case in point is the weight placed by the courts upon the illegal use of credit cards online. As we have previously noted, the introduction of “chip and pin” has led to a rapid increase in online card-not-present fraud. We have also seen Team Cymru’s research, showing huge volumes of stolen credit card details being bought and sold online. In the context of data security breach notification we have also noted that one retailer alone, TK Maxx, has since 2005 lost the details of some 45 million cards to hackers. Potentially any one of these cards, belonging to innocent individuals, could be used online for illegal purposes— in transactions relating to terrorism, or to purchase child abuse images.

7.66. This issue led to an exchange of letters between the Committee and, on the one hand, Jim Gamble, Chief Executive of CEOP, and, on the other hand, Duncan Campbell, an investigative journalist, regarding the conduct of Operation Ore, the investigation of over 7,000 individuals in this country whose credit card details were found on a database held by an American company, Landslide Inc, which until it was closed down in 1999 offered access to a number of child abuse websites. When Jim Gamble gave evidence on 10 January, he was asked whether the prevalence of credit card fraud raised any problems in the conduct of such investigations. His response was as follows: “We never prosecute someone simply on the basis of their credit card being used. You are going to look at all of the circumstantial evidence which when taken together provides overwhelming evidence” (Q 221).

7.67. The Committee then received a letter from Duncan Campbell, who has
appeared as a defence expert witness in a number of Operation Ore cases,
PERSONAL INTERNET SECURITY 77 flatly contradicting Mr Gamble’s statement. The letters that followed, from both Mr Campbell and Mr Gamble, are printed as evidence with this Report (see PART II pp 77-81, 363-365).

7.68. This exchange of correspondence strayed far beyond the remit of this inquiry, and we have no wish to comment on the wider issues raised. However, Mr Gamble did confirm that the Crown Prosecution Service had developed a “response for occasions where no images were found”, making use of the common law offence of incitement. He further noted that in such cases “the evidential connection between the personal details provided, the identity of the user and a direct link to a site offering child abuse images is
clearly key”. Such issues were assessed “on a case by case basis” (p 78).

7.69. Thus such cases of alleged “incitement” (of which, according to Mr Gamble, there had been 161, with just ten outstanding, though Mr Campbell claimed there were still 2,000 outstanding) rely heavily on evidence of electronic transactions between a suspected individual and a site offering child abuse images online. It is clear us that in assessing such evidence the weight placed upon online credit card transactions will be fundamental. It is essential therefore that judges, prosecutors and magistrates (who decide on applications for search warrants) are able to make intelligent and informed assessments of such evidence.

  • 30.
  • At 11:09 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

How about an item on Washoe. Washoe, a chimpanzee, died on Tuesday aged 42 years. She supposedly learned American Sign Language and had a vocabulary of 250 words. More info can be found through Google News.

How about a short piece on Google's answer to the Microsoft/Facebook alliance with their launch of the OpenSocial platform?

  • 32.
  • At 11:18 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • csharp wrote:

Bored? Need some fun but fed up with tatoos? Apparently branding [like they do to slaves] is the the next craze. Your local tatoo palour should be able to show it.

  • 33.
  • At 11:18 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Nathan Eakins wrote:

I can't believe after yesterday you want my input, here goes:

De Menezes, revenge killing.

Northern Rock, how much?

PKK, Gas them.

Didn't they develop a vaccine for HIV?

Light news story:

Tori Amos is Jesus Christ, her autobiography Piece by Piece is 'the bible' for musicians and, as she moved from Time Warner AOL to Sony.

Questions raised:

Is Sony the new Time?

Should Bible Colleges be replaced by Piece by Piece Colleges?

Source God.

  • 34.
  • At 11:19 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • John Hale wrote:

NOT a story about Australia's next Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, with his finger in his ear and mouth, thanks.

The most important question that we (the British public) need answering in deciding whether Sir Ian Blair should resign - Is there another person who is as trained, experienced, ready and equally able to immediately fill that job.

It is of course tragic that the mistaken identity led to an innocent man's death; it would build on that tragedy if we sacked the top security man without being absolutely certain that we were not thereby making us all more vulnerable.

Nobody should forget that the real responsibility for the death was the 7 Bombers and any others whose stupid ideology has no respect for innocent victims.

  • 36.
  • At 11:24 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Richard Nolan-Neylan wrote:

Stop acting like we are some sort of year 7 journalism project.

  • 37.
  • At 11:27 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • christopher hollis wrote:

regarding the poor chap who was shot whilst minding his own business on the London Tube.
I think we should all realise that the whole matter will be taken care of by Masonic Placemen and Police Federation Members who (it has been said) threatened to hand their weapons in and refuse armed duties, if this matter went further.

Perhaps oneday Newsnight might like to investigate these matters further. If they dare!.

  • 38.
  • At 11:28 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Peter Hughes wrote:

I watched your piece on 'immigration', and was unhappy that your focus was so superficial. There are much bigger issues that underlie this, such as what we require of a modern state/country, what is required/expected by international law, and why the news media always focus on 'immigration' rather than examine issues such as identity. I wrote about all of this in my e-mail yesterday. I would be happy to help you work out a brief for such a piece.

  • 39.
  • At 11:30 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • David wrote:

Lots of public figures are suggesting that the answer to the de Menezes case is for Sir Ian Blair to resign. Why would this help? He is a fallible human being, who will be replaced by a less experienced fallible human being. Scapegoating is an easy way to avoid fixing a difficult problem.

How about examining the tradition of "honourable" resignations and witch hunts, and comparing it to alternative systems that encourage blame-free reporting of mistakes? The latter policy seems to work well for airline pilots.

We're returning to the story that has dominated the news this week - immigration. Rather than number crunching, we just want to hear the experiences of immigrants living in Britain, told in their own words. I'm about to head off to Ealing. Are you Polish, Somali or Afghan and living in London? Have you recently arrived from Iraq? If you've a story to tell, let me know on the blog or come along to Ealing Broadway. I'll be the one with the camera! Neil. (Newsnight Producer)

  • 41.
  • At 11:39 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Martin Tapsell wrote:

Hello, I recall a report about people on American death row being stuck there while the Supreme Court rules if lethal injections are humane enough. Just to point out that although we regretably have no death penalty, Brits have stumbled on a humane killer. They sit in a car and connect up the exhaust and slip away from carbon monoxide poisoning. So the Yanks need a car and a hosepipe and they have a cheap way to solve the problem. Might be a better use for gas guzzlers than driving them! Regards, Martin Tapsell

  • 42.
  • At 11:40 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Evniki, London wrote:

£23 billion for the rescue of a bank that was clearly mismanaged! What message does this give to the society?It is provocative and defiant for all the taxpayers. I would like to see more coverage and in depth analysis of the parameters of the Nothern Rock phenomenon by BBC's economic analysts.

  • 43.
  • At 11:41 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Charli Langford wrote:

Jean Charles de Menezes is an important story. The question I ask is "Is shoot to kill a sensible response?". I don't think it is for three reasons.

1) It doesn't work. You will fail to id lots of bombers, you can shoot inaccurately so you don't stop them detonating the bomb. Stats from where there are enough suicide bombers to do reliable stats suggest that very few get stopped.

2) It generates too many false positives - JC de M being just one. It also allows concealment of reasons for killing - "I thought he was a suicide bomber" when the person was inconvenient to have around.

3) If shoot-to-kill did work, the bombers would change their tactics. Three options - Bombs with reverse switches, so releasing the pressure causes detonation; time-triggers; an accomplice with a radio switch at the other end of the platform. All three of these changes would increase the likelihood of the bomb going off and also increase the likelihood of there being more people nearby at the time.

  • 44.
  • At 11:42 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • H Roth wrote:

I still think it would be a good idea to pursue the ridiculously high jackpots in the National Lottery. Just watch the BBC Lottery show on Saturday eves. and see how elated contestants are when they win a mere measly £40,ooo .

Look no further than the mass exodus from the Labour party to the Lib Dems.

By mass exodus, I mean Polly Toynbee, see her article in today's Guardian at,,2203971,00.html and comments thereon.

The Labour party is clearly no longer liberal. Some little known current affairs programme has recently made a dent in the party's claims to be democratic. And the voting system is unfair.

Looking around for a liberal democratic party in the UK which advocates a fairer voting system, she seems finally to have found one.

Barcode (7)

This email is primarily addressed to the programme team, so we are asking them what approach we should be taking. What's new is that we are now sharing this information with everyone as an experiment. It seems that loads of viewers are keen to let us know what they'd like to see, but it's not obligatory!

  • 47.
  • At 11:46 AM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

Blair should fall on his sword. That's what honourable chief officers do when a "corporate failure" is identified on their watch.

And that would be best for the country.

  • 48.
  • At 12:01 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

5. At 10:51 AM on 02 Nov 2007, Shane Wexford wrote:


I'm inclined to agree with post number 5 by Shane Wexford, on Earnings and Social Responsibility.

Before you explore the issues maybe you could start the piece with a picture of children dying from poverty Vs. a footballer standing next to his necessary 4X4.



  • 49.
  • At 12:03 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • James Colson wrote:

I would like to support Response No 24, above, and add that if Sir Ian Blair has to resign as being the head of the organisation, then so should all the line management and officers down to the team that chased Jean Charles into the tube train. Then we shall all feel much safer, knowing that the police, when next faced with such a situation, will go into a huddle and conduct a safety assessment before they approach the suicide bomber they believe to be in front of them. Of course, they will have decided that it is far too dangerous to get near him, and will keep a safe distance.

Ok, the man may blow himself up, and he will end up as dead as Jean Charles was, but it won't be the fault of the police. And all those other victims around him will no doubt say that the police did a fine job, and cannot be blamed. Those that are still alive, of course.

My feelings are for the police who approached the suspect, knowing that if they did not act quickly, they themselves would be spattered in bits all over the underground train. It was a bad situation brought about by murderous activists, who ultimately are really to blame for Jean Charles' death. Sad though his death was, let's be thankful no other deaths were caused that day by from the bombers.

  • 50.
  • At 12:08 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • James Colson wrote:

Apology - in my post just sent I quoted "Response No 42". That should have been "No 37". Hope you can make the amendment before posting my contribution.

I'd like to know more about the Hollywood Writers strike too and also the "Supermouse" story in the Independent too. I think its a great idea following up the immigration story from last night, and actually focussing on the experiences of recent East European/new arrivals. What would nationalisation of Northern Rock actually mean? From it states that "After the nationalisation of banks in India, the branches of the public sector banks rose to approximately 800% in deposits and advances took a huge jump by 11,000%." I'd certainly like to know a lot more about that!

  • 52.
  • At 12:31 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • ann senior wrote:

Is here such a thing aas a Friday feeling? Do more people take time off on a Friday, purely for the feelgood factor. I notice Jeremy always takes Friday off.

  • 53.
  • At 12:37 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Craig Randall wrote:

An innocent man was mis-identified and pursued to his death by the police force in London, yet no-one has accepted any responsibility, not has an appropriate apology been made. A trial was held which declared the police guilty of endangering the public, yet the leader of the police and the Mayor declare that court finding to be a disaster, and accept no culpability for this death. As a former intelligence action-officer with an armed unit, I found it appaling that the shooter fired his weapon seven times. Good training and practice dictate that two are all that is needed if a shooter is proficient. I suggest that, if only because the shooter appeared to be wildly out of control launching far more shots than needed, he endangered the public, and the training he received MUST be perceived as faulty to the extreme. For this, the MAyor and the police need to accept responsibility. I do not feel the pointy end of the spear ought to be prosecuted any more than soldiers in war should be prosecuted for killing in battle, but he should be removed from the shooting responsibility until he is properly trained and restrained. The court has spoken. Perhaps the Mayor and the Police Commissioner should both resign, becaue their inability to distinguish such faulty workmanship and training leaves them unqualified to lead a force protecting the public.

  • 54.
  • At 12:38 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Sue Smith wrote:

Leave the "lighter stories" to the less renowned programmes.

What next Paxo & Maitliss giggling on a sofa while they have a cosy chat with politicians or interview "celebs"?

Newsnight with its serious and mostly measured approach is one of the few safe havens from dumbed down TV. Please keep it that way

Oil price: is the geo-political story I want to see covered - maybe every night for a week...
i) there was an interesting story in the Guardian earlier this week about the Edmonton/Calgary oil boom towns -
lots of human interest there;
ii) but there is a London city traders angle because they make money on the slightest fluctuation of price
iii) and then there are the refining issues - all those refineries based in the gulf ready to be swept away by hurricanes
iv) and how come BP doesn't make any profit with the price going up?
v) and finally where can I buy thermal underwear as I can't afford to heat my house this winter.

  • 56.
  • At 12:47 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Peta Hunt wrote:

The De Menezes Case
Why are we actually supposed to be "proud" that we now have police officers that will kill a member of the public without questioning their orders ?
At the Nuremberg trials after WW2 the defence "I was just obeying orders" was not accepted and many people were hanged who relied on that defence.
Once again many people are left wondering why they fought 2 world wars when Ideals are only "Ideals" when it is convenient.
The two people that killed Jean Charles De Menezes should be tried in a court of law and then we MAY get to the truth of this tragic matter.

  • 57.
  • At 12:52 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Nick Stroud wrote:

Jean Charles de Menezes

I have just followed the BBC's reconstruction of the JCDM's final journey -- it's technically very clever, but it is chilling to see how ready 'the system' was to kill him from the outset, and to see everything moving towards that tragic climax.

I don't have time to read about the court case, but I seem to recall at the time of the shooting that the police tried to justify their actions by saying that JCDM ran away from them, but the BBC's reconstruction shows no sign of that. Did they say that? Should that knee-jerk excuse-making be investigated?

'Ralph' says he was proud of his firearms officers for running after a suspected suicide bomber when "everyone else was running out". Who was running out? From the BBC's reconstruction it looked as though everyone were just on a normal tube journey until the firearms officers crashed in. It also sounds as though there was something of the Arnie about them -- be-weaponed and invincible, they certainly don't sound very brave. 'Ivor' was much more heroic.

What evidence did they have for thinking JCDM was on a bombing mission? Have the UK's suicide bombers not all been carrying bulky bags? What was JCDM carrying?

I agree with others who comment that Ian Blair might be best-placed to improve police standards, but he should be stripped of his knighthood.

If we let the police behave like this -- almost like wild-west cowboys -- have the terrorists not won? Have they managed to panic us into sacrificing some key aspects of the "British way of life"?

  • 58.
  • At 12:52 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Brenda shrier wrote:

Good morning. Just a quick question i live in Oklahoma USA and the state has just passed an immigration law that is not very nice to illegal immigrants i was wondering how a law that was just passed would effect immigrants to England ?

  • 59.
  • At 12:56 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • anne niven wrote:

if you do run the northern rock story you should look at tim congdon's spin on things - that we could reduce public sector borrowing considerably if the roll overs go on; this is because the boe prints money (ie pays no intrest on it) and charges 6% - nice!

  • 60.
  • At 01:03 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • brian sheriff wrote:

re :- the northernrock & the 23 billion

it might make an interesting feature to show what can be bought with 23 billion

Is the UK's stance on space exploration fundamentally flawed? And are we too late to do anything about it?

  • 62.
  • At 01:10 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Harriet Hamster Hampstead wrote:

Okay here's the deal

Large studio set Paxo in the chair Crick to the right of him, and the studio guests :
Ian Blair and Ali Dezai
Bling Ming
Micky Grade
Ed Balls
Liam Byrne and his mobile

To discuss the happiest moments of their week ??

  • 63.
  • At 01:44 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • csck wrote:

I'd like to see a programme put together by the people who are paid to do so; enough of this populist rubbish.

  • 64.
  • At 01:46 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Adrian Cox wrote:

Let's return to the matter of the decimating of the funding of BBC news programmes. Turkeys discussing what will happen to them at Christmas, with such impartiality and sangfroid, is surely a ratings-boosting performance worthy of many a repeat showing.

  • 65.
  • At 02:11 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Stephen Hodges wrote:

with reference to the story about lending to Northern Rock, there is an interesting story in the FT today arguing that far from this costing GBP 730 per person as you say, we are all going to be better off - Northern Rock is solvent so we will get paid and the Bank of England loan is earning a nice rate of return

  • 66.
  • At 02:22 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Peter P wrote:

Regarding the Jean Charles de Menezes case there appears to be no discussion and explanation on why the police had to use deadly force (point blank no less – execution style) as oppose to simply removing Jean Charles from the tube carriage through non-violent means. This is especially worrisome, because he was not armed, nor carried any suspicious items on him, and he was not threatening to the surveillance officers. Simply being an armed police officer is not a license to kill. Police officers should not be allowed to fire their weapons in an offensive manner, but rather only to return gunfire in a situation where a suspect fires first.

  • 67.
  • At 02:40 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

The life or death story is obviously De Menezes - a tragedy by whatever measure but culpability will run - and run.
I must say that I was impressed by Blair's initial openness with regard to the London bombings but that took a marked about-turn as the events we are now aware of unfolded. It doesn't however take much imagination to envisage a scenario where this could have happened while more bombings were taking place - what would the public be told then?

Northern Rock: this is not about propping-up private business with public funds, it is about society as we know it - The Market (upon which we all now seemingly depend) collapsed, leaving an apparently sound busines model unable to continue. Why else would first-world central banks be feeding the money markets - the likes of Merryl Lynch and Citibank have not exactly been immune?
The ironies are:
- NR's mortgage book has reasonably good (or at least KNOWN!) quality assets - not securitised loans bought for a fantastic yield round the back of a second-hand car lot!
- NR's troubles really only started when the government became involved; people nowadays take action contrary to whatever official information they receive.
- a deposit with NR is allegedly about the most secure investment around.

Who can you trust these days? At least you have more choice than ever before; none of them will accept responsibility.

  • 68.
  • At 02:46 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Bob Goodall wrote:

Dear Newsnight

• Can I suggest that the next step in the exciting innovation is to have a second section listing which ideas you have used from viewers and when,

• Nothing complicated, just bullet points with dates, which might help to keep this innovation focused and results driven,

Idea ……………from…………used (date)

X, Y and Z

re Northern Rock
Perhaps its time to send them my cv

best wishes

  • 69.
  • At 02:55 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Dr.A.Fernandes-Vidal wrote:

The Meneses case.
Does anybody really believe that it was necessary to shoot a man after he has been pushed to his seat, as shown as sketches on television, by a police officer who continued to stay a few inches away from him?
It looks, to me, as a pure exercise by the armed police to show how much they can get away with, through the support of the powers that be.
And, even if it was necessary (which I still do not believe), why seven (7) shots in his head? To me, it was an excessive shooting and rather more like an execution.
Should Ian Blair resign? I think he shouldn’t be allowed!
I believe he, and all the officers involved in such a miserable show of police work, ought to be sacked without the right to a pension.

  • 70.
  • At 03:04 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • John Russell wrote:

Re: Jean Claude de Menezes

That the police believed, in the hours following the 7 July bombings, that a suspect (albeit the wrong one) was another suicide bomber falls reasonably into the realm of "tragic mistake" and might thus be understandable.

That the Met would then begin a campaign of disinformation - that JCDM had been wearing a bulky coat, that he had fled from the officers, that he had jumped the barriers - is inexcusable, and all the current justifications being spouted by the Met today fail to explain why they felt it necessary to lie at the time. Even now they are accusing him of "acting aggressively". My question is: are the police still blaming the victim?

The Jean Charles de Menezes case is a huge story and does need some more analysis in my opinion. But while much of the focus has been on the speculation on whether or not Sir Ian Blair should resign because of the "catastrophic series of errors", there has been less focus on on the smear campaign the Met directed at Mr de Menezes. These smears included an accusation of rape (for which he was cleared with little publicity), the highlighting of the fact that he had over stayed his visa (with the suggestion of a forged stamp in his passport), the traces of cocaine found in his urine. Then there are the false assertions that we heard in the trial: the manipulated photograph, the allegations that he acted in an "aggressive and threatening manner" when challenged and was "up for it". these are also reasons why Sir Ian Blair might want to consider his position.

Finally, I'd like to see a little focus on the officers who pulled the trigger(s). They shot an unarmed man dressed in a light jacket (not a bulky coat) 7 times in the head at point blank range with dum-dum bullets while he was being held down. Is this really proper police practice? These officers are back on the streets and retired superintendent Phil Manns, a former commander of the firearms unit, has described the pair as "incredibly mature, well-adjusted, competent, professional officers". Do they really seem that seem that well-adjusted? I thought there was confusion as to who gave the order to kill (if it came at all), I also thought "I was just following orders" was no-longer a valid excuse when the orders (if there were any) are plainly wrong.

  • 72.
  • At 03:50 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Jacqueline Cowie wrote:

Would like to see an in-depth item about literacy in primary schools - in particular, why it is that 25% of 11 year olds cannot read fluently. More importantly, what can be done about it, after the reported 'failure' of the Literacy hour in schools + poor SATs results. Reading experts, authors and experienced teachers to be part of the discussion -but NO government officials.

  • 73.
  • At 03:52 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • J. Birch wrote:

Northern Rock.

The amount of public money that has gone into saving this private back is obscene. Why did the Government offer to cover their exposed backside? Are they, being a North country bank, New labour subscribers?

There seems more in this than meets the eye.

  • 74.
  • At 04:06 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Lilly Evans wrote:

- PKK and Prof John Gray from LSE in the studio - he can comment with link to his new book.

- fun story (but so British - last minute dash and possibly pipped to the post): Andy Murray's progress in the tennis

Bob (69) - I'm worried that might get a bit bureacratic as this works really well to spark our thoughts and suggest angles on stories we are considereing anyway, but so far we've been prompted to do the Cancer story, various lines on immigration stats and questions about Menezes, Northern Rock concerns and - the website - to mark World Vegan day.

Not bad in three days

  • 76.
  • At 04:45 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Yogi Bear wrote:

Reporting the recent restrictions on Lufthansa and the German government's reaction (and the EU's), it would be interesting to review afresh Putin's foreign policy. It would seem Russia's intent can no longer be given the benefit of the doubt - so how is it being responded to by the countries likely to be affected?

  • 77.
  • At 04:51 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • wappaho wrote:

considering the criticisms - this is a mighty popular blog - it's too easy to call this soft editing. it is right that we advance democracy in line with available technology

i'd like to hear more from the immigration judge in a green pin-stripe suit who was on sky press review today. he had some very interesting new info about menezes' lifestyle over here and what in fact he was adding to our country

i'd also like to hear a deconstruction of the term 'we' as in 'we definitely benefit from immigration'. is it time to consider that perhaps we have an entire culture in this country that is not part of the 'we' that benefits from immigration or many other aspects of the so-called wealth of this country

indeed brazil would be a valuable as well as topical comparison to make - it is a middle income country with a gini coefficient that renders millions destitute

  • 78.
  • At 05:24 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Jill Jeffs wrote:

I do not think the police are at fault over shooting Menezes, he was NOT innocent. He was an overstayer with an ollegal passport, and was carrying drugs which is why he stood and attempted to leave the train when he realised security were there. If he had raised his hands and been arrested he would not be dead. In most other countries e.g. U S A, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, there would be no blame attached to police who are trying to protect law abiding citizens. Why do Brits tear themelves apart?

  • 79.
  • At 05:35 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • John Coombes wrote:

De Menezes case

It is too important an issue to be ignored, as the implications of this case and the possible use of Sir Ian Blair as a scapegoat would mean that terrorism has won an important victory in dividing this country and undermining our way of life.
Ken Livingstone is absolutely right in defining the last 24 hours as a disaster.
The "no rules" environment created by terrorism means that the police in particular are constantly between a rock and a hard place in playing by the rules whilst the terrorists have none.
Whilst I also empathise with the family and the immense tragedy of this case they are continuing to seek what they define as justice but I feel is moving ever forward towards revenge.
Given all of this we must support our authorities and show a united front - mistakes are bound to happen in this uneven playing field and we must be wise enough to accept this and place the blame where it truly lays, which is at the feet of the terrorist.

  • 80.
  • At 05:38 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Stan wrote:

Why not interview the Sky sports reporter Jeff Stelling and the Mayor of Middlesborough Ray Mallon, re: Middlesborough and the Channel 4 report on the town.

  • 81.
  • At 05:42 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Matthew Coldrick wrote:

Dear Robert Morgan,
I sent the following e-mail to Newsnight quite recently:

It seems to me that there are Ancient Greek structures in the Modern world. I would like to see an intelligent debate on Newsnight discussing whether or not political terms such as 'modernisation', 'progressivism', etc., in the way that they are used today, conceals a better understanding of the world that we all inhabit.
I posted the following in a Guardian newspaper blogg quite recently, which got an interesting response:
Take the Ancient Greek myth of Oedipus:
If (tradional) Government is Laius, Business is Jocasta, Liberation of the Self (the cult of individualism, free market ideology, etc.) is Oedipus, United States Incorporated (market democracy,---NOT rational citizen democray) is Eteocles and (today's) Terrorism is Polyneices then you've got a real Tragedy;---the 'American complex' I call it.
Just as Oedipus killed his father (committed patricide), answered the riddle of 'the Sphinx' (the Throttler), thus saved Thebes, then married his mother (committed incest),---so Liberation of the Self removed Government interference, answered the 1970s' economic Throttler (i.e. the economic crises) then married his own mother Business to satisfy all his desires in the so-called free market.
The marriage between Liberation of the Self (i.e. the cult of individualism) with his own mother Business (The Matrix) would produce two incestuous sons. They are, one, United States Incorporated (i.e. market democracy with plenty of CEOs and plenty of slogans such as Fox News's 'we report, you decide' nonsence ) and, two, (today's) Terrorism. Today's Terrorism being greatly exaggerated to restrain the American people through watering their fears regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (the kind of weapons that were not found in Iraq, etc.), while watering their infinite desires in the free market with Products of Mass Consumption.
This above American family is a family whose closeness can only turn inwards against itself. The members are either too close (Liberation of the Self and Business) or too distant (Liberation of the Self and Government). Indeed the brothers, United States Incorporated and Terrorism, become simultaneously too close and too distant.---Therefore, this is an Ancient structure of opposites that fuse into one another.---American and British politicans who talk about 'modernization' and 'progress' are, in fact, concealing America's (and Britain's) real TRAGEDY.
---America and Britain now need a real, full and inspirational Renaissance if they are to offer any real meaning in this world.
Regarding 'human concern' ['Civilisation ends with a shutdown of human concern...,George Monbiot, The Guardian, 30th Oct.], Aristotle in his Poetics wrote about 'PITY', together with Fear, in connection with the above kind of Tragedy.---It is obvious today that--by our politicians--the emotions of 'Compassion' (i.e. Pity) in Compassionate Conservatism and 'Terror' (i.e. Fear) in The War on Terror are being irrationally 'watered' and NOT being aligned with a tragic structure of events.
I look forward to your reply.

Yours faithfully,
London, UK.

  • 82.
  • At 05:58 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • John Wood wrote:

Mr Livingstone said yesterday's verdict - that the police had failed to protect the public in the operation which led to the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005 - was a ''disaster''. He said armed officers pursuing a suspected suicide bomber couldn't afford to start thinking they might be "hauled off to court". What approach do you think we should be taking on this story today?

Quite what does he see as a 'disaster'? The verdict following on from a full and open inquiry or the way in which the man met his death? Much has been made of the decisions taken. The operation was little different to what was going on for 35+ years and no one on the mainland even looked at any 'disaster'

How about getting a middle rank soldier - say captain or major - to evaluate the 'disaster'. Please though - not Bonking Bob pr Tiny Tim Collins.

REf: POST 64

Csck put a finger on it. Anything we come up with is free. Another saving.

  • 84.
  • At 06:19 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Anna wrote:

Re Jean Charles - the horror of what happened has obscured the other side of the this catastrophe. If he had been a suicide bomber, as the police believed, why on earth did they trail him for half and hour onto two buses and that fateful tube, putting the public at considerable risk? Surely the command of this disastrous operation should be held responsible, and never put in charge again. And if Blair is unable to identify those persons, then he should go himself.


Hey – here’s one. When the dodgy Euro-Dossier (treaty) was translated into English (from French?) why was “competences” - a word not found in a large, modern English dictionary – used to mean “powers” in the sense: “Britain transferring powers to Europe”? What was the French word that became “competences”?

  • 86.
  • At 07:05 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • dave rowe wrote:

I wonder if Robert Morgan (or Carol; or Dan...) could pop round and quickly mow a lawn for me? And perhaps bring back a few groceries from the local supermarket? No cash in it, I'm afraid...

So you're "opening up the Newsnight running order to the people who watch"? You'd like to know what I want to see in tonight's programme?

I watch Newsnight to find out, in a little more depth, what's going on out there. If I have to find out elsewhere and then tell you so as you can then tell me... Why don't you just put the programme together as professionally as you're able, and maybe ask for a bit of feedback after the event?

Aren't we perhaps trying a little too hard to be whatever it is you're trying to be?!

  • 87.
  • At 07:54 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Simone Waudby wrote:

How about discussing the pros and cons of letterboxes being at the gate instead of at the door? Or even at the end of the road, with everyone else's letterboxes?

Would the postman's lot be an easier one? Would neighbours have an excuse to say "Good morning" or "Hello"?

I'm sorry that you have had some unhelpful comments. Perhaps those emailers should note that your suggestion was probably not directed to them, but to people who wanted to make a contribution.

  • 88.
  • At 08:08 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Adrienne wrote:

I'd expect literacy and numeracy to have got worse since the 1950s not to just failed to have improved.

Corrective programmes are presented as the magical corrective to the downside of high levels of lower-skilled (lower IQ) immigration and the dysgenic skew in the birth rate towards the lower half of the ability distribution, but how can they be?

Today's news on SATs and literacy programmes (the adult ones failed too) is not new, but it is important, not that I expect many will learn the real lessons from it that they should sadly, as those lessons would require an abandonment of Marxist political correctness.

Too few people today grasp the properties of the Gaussian (normal) distribution. I reckon this can be attributed to a) general dumbing down and b) more feminization of education in that more females tend to not do maths and science beyond compulsory schooling (see A level and university subject choices) and proportionately more females go into higher education than males, and far more than ever used to 40 years ago, which, as I've said elsewhere, paradoxically lies at the root of many of our present social problems and goes unrecognised for all the wrong (politically correct) reasons.

Why does about 15-20% of the school and adult population not reach the 'expected' levels in English and maths? Answer: Because 16% of the population has an IQ below 85 and that's the way the Bell Curve crumbles in a nutshell. More boys will fail to reach the expected literacy targets than girls and more girls will fail to reach the expected maths targets if this was done objectively, as there is an empirical sex difference in aptitudes and interests in these subjects, although the QCA/NAA erodes this through DIF when constructing the tests. Somehow I doubt things will get any better just because they are to be made more 'independent' of government given all this talk of compliance with the FCHR and the hawks in the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. The percentage 'failing' will, I predict, continue to get larger as time goes by through dysgenic fertility and immigration and so these bodies will have to continue dumbing down the curriculum and tests to disguise this. So long as we keep assuming there are no sex or ethnic differences, that everyone is the same in terms of abilities and aptitudes, and punish anyone who says otherwise, we will continue to make a mess of all of this.

Lysenkoist 'enrichment' programmes have NEVER been shown to work, so why has New Labour been squandering so much public money on them? May it be because if they do, and they adjust the pass rates, they will impress naive parents? This will never work in practice if cognitive ability is largely genetic/inherited. Rates of behaviours are selected and shaped by current and past environments (which select genes), but these behaviours are not created de novo through teaching. Dramatic changes to a nation's gene pool in the short-term must have both immediate and long-term social and economic consequences which can not be easily fixed through short-term (or even long-term) environmental (pedagogic) interventions, especially now that any reversal is rendered illegal through EU Reform Treaty legislation.

Surprised? Not as surprised as many experienced behaviour scientists are at the ignorance/chicanery of modern politicians on both sides of the Atlantic viz Every Child Matters and No Child Left Behind targets.

Finally, forgive me for being cynical, but with 60,000 e-mail subscribers, you are bound to get some viewers asking for topical items in your runnnig order that you have already planned. This experiment does, I am sad to say, have something about 'Socks' fiasco about it.

Question: Given that you don't publish all submitted ocmments, how would you prove otherwise to your viewers?


Thanks - as ever - Adrienne

". . . they're not list'ning still
perhaps they never will."

  • 90.
  • At 11:58 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • abi bilesanmi wrote:

There is absolutely no doubt that the positions of Sir Ian as well as Cressida Dick are untenable. The catalogue of basic errors is simply unacceptable. Their officers were conducting surveillance on the wrong flat and on the wrong person! The policeman that was keeping watch was not there at the crucial time. If that was the case on what basis did they focus on Jean Charles (other than the fact that he was dark skinned with dark hair) The prevailing circumstances dictated that he was stopped where he would pose the least (not the greatest) threat to public security and that was surely before he got in the tube station. What was most unacceptable was the story by a 'witness' broadcast on BBC Radio5 live that he was wearing a puffer jacket (in July) jumped over the ticket barrier ran down the escalator on to a train. All lies corroborated by Sir Ian in his announcement immediately after the shooting. The Met never once refuted this story. There lies Sir Ian's culpability. It appears to me that firearms officers conducted a public execution of Jean Charles to show Londoners that they had a grip on the situation. Absolutely disgraceful. If the Met top brass put half the effort they are now expending to save their boss into the operation, Jean Charles would be alive today. Today there was a lot of talk on BBC 5 Live about Jean Charles' immigration status (he was an illegal immigrant so he obviously deserved to be shot), let me remind you of Harry Stanley who was shot in Hackney over a decade ago. He was supposed to have had a shotgun and behaving in a threatening manner. It was a lie he came out of the pub with a table leg! Then like now nobody was found guilty for his murder.

  • 91.
  • At 01:59 AM on 03 Nov 2007,
  • Ian - Herts wrote:

How about Highlighting How the banks attempts to stop card fraud has failed - what do they plan to do about it
Recent example is where a large number of people have had there cards cloned in and around letchworth garden city and had money taken from there bank accounts from places like australia, Poland,& Romania

  • 92.
  • At 02:00 AM on 03 Nov 2007,
  • June Gibson wrote:

I am disappointed with media response about young peoples' lack of reading skills. There's been shock/horror news reports but nobody investigates the reasons why or makes suggestions re doing something about it. Why is it that all we posters (comprising a great variety of age-groups, one presumes) can read and some we hear about cannot? Perhaps in our childhood days we good readers received a lot of pre-school help and encouragement at home.

Instead of the cartoons shown on morning childrens' TV nowadays, could not entertaining "reading ABC" courses be devised for tots, so that they started school with some reading ability?

Those lobbying for a "back to basics" phonetic system forget that before that particular method was used, there was a more conventional approach which served the masses. Throughout the early part of the 20th century, the majority of working-class children had at a young age learned to read and write perfectly well. One post mentioned the Ladybird books. I too learned with the help of those. It is all in the grounding at 5/6 years. I wonder if there is too much easy work with glue and brown paper for infants nowadays, when they should be acquiring reading skills.

Also, wouldn't the money spent so lavishly on interpreters, for every language under the sun, be better spent on reading in English for all infants?

I should like to see a debate between educationalists and authors about this subject.

  • 93.
  • At 06:52 AM on 03 Nov 2007,
  • wappaho wrote:

one of the reasons kids are failing in school is the changeover from rote learning to 'discovery learning' (i.e. worksheets) - we repeated the times tables every morning in primary and consequently my brain is programmed to instantly recall most multplications up to 12

but an even greater influence (stretched resources not withstanding) is the move towards greater use of documentation - project work - and the culture of talking like idiots to intelligent children(working to-geth-er)

many children in this country - call them chavs if you like - do not respond to hierarchy and authorithy and are essentially part of an oral (story telling) culture.

until we value the genetic differences between the 'intellectual' brain (good for meetings but not necessarily creative problem solving) and the 'coordinated' brain (motor skills, dexterity, environmental intelligence) there will be a residue of children failing in the 'intellectual' system

britain's attitude to non-intellectuals is appalling and we should remember that many so-called chavs are skilled people - but they are not hierarchical and this country currently rewards obedience more than it does intelligence, hence the influx of passive migrants to replace all these stroppy tradesmen

  • 94.
  • At 12:30 PM on 04 Nov 2007,
  • Harriet Hamster Hampstead wrote:

Newsnight Experiment

I think whe you consider the huge amount of money the BBC invests in

Away Days
Focus groups

Peter Barron is at least trying and I see Radio 4 are doing the same next week on PM

so you see poster 88 as Brian Potter in Phoenix nights would say
"Garlic bread it's the future"

  • 95.
  • At 08:28 AM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Adrienne wrote:

Some examples of not too happy bunnies' commenting on the general public's, and alarmingly, even some of the scientific community's (mis)understanding of the distribution of cognitive ability/alleles/QTLs, and how gene barriers MUST operate to make populations differ in the frequency/probability of expression of cognitive behaviours just as it does other classes of behaviour:

At the root of this muddle is the problem that the language of probability and statistics (like any other specialist scientific language) does easily not translate back into that of ordinary language (something one can view along with Wittgenstein perhaps, as 'the tyranny of language'). But this, and the fact that natural language is a hopeless medium for pursuit of truth in general should come as no surprise given that it's the poverty of natural language(s) which leads to the creation and refinement of specialist scientific languages in the first place.

This is why Jim Watson dropped a clanger not long ago, (although one hopes it woke a few people up and prompted them to look a little further). It's tragic that far more politicians and others responsible for public administration do not better appreciate the implications of the above.

Andrew Marr's Sunday morning programme on 4th November illustrated two of the points made in this series of comments. The first, which covered 'racism' and immigration in the context of the politically incorrect endorsement of Enoch Powell by a Conservative MP, the best George Osborne could manage (apart from drawing attention to the demographic facts of the matter and their tacit implications for the economy) was to highlight that people have to be very careful in their use of language in this area.

The other perhaps, was that despite its efforts, the USA is progressively making matters worse for itself and the rest of the world in pursuing a foreign policy which just reinforces its foreign and domestic detractors' paranoia that it is unrepresentatively driven by hawkish Neoconservatives who hold Zionist sympathies above all others.

Islam is the fastest growing and most dispersed 'religion' on the planet. Those who believe they can win (or even productvely wage) a 'war on terror' should perhaps ponder that in terms of Realpolitik?

  • 96.
  • At 04:33 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • AB wrote:

Re London police (Menzies, immigrant communities) –

We the public have to be thankful for the number of terrorist activities that the Met Police has prevented over the last two years. I’m sure if the police was in control of the programme there would be such articles as No Terror Today as 8 Bombers Pre-Arrested!, 20 Atrocities Prevented Before Breakfast! 5,000 Terrorists Still on the Loose!

I think a programme on the London police would be useful – is it me but more and more I am fearful of living in London (not of “terrorists” (a meaningless word)) but of the police. It seems strange thing to write – I’m a white middle class male – but it is with a sinking heart I watch police adoption of aggression, helicopters swoops, arrests, posturing, questioning, use of the “Terrorist Act” in banal situations combined with increase power to detain on suspicions, control public speech, control public gatherings… Everyone seems to be a terrorist in their eyes. Should the police change? Is there a “culture of violence” in the police? (if you believe this is a necessary part of policing perhaps I shouldn’t have bothered).

But you say what if these tactics thwarted terror? What if? Meaningless. No doubt another “terrorist” act will occur again, sooner or later. A tragedy. And further police powers and aggression will follow. But the point is whether a culture of aggressive policing and politics is reductive to “terrorism” or additive to “terrorism”. Could one of your programmes answer this?

And perhaps a more positive programme on a range of communities in London in order to humanize them – what is life like? What are the highs and the lows? The good and the bad about coming to London? Is integration possible? The successes, the failures? How is the first generation Londoners coping? What intiatives are out there?

  • 97.
  • At 11:25 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Frank Becker wrote:

How could so many financial geniuses successfully fall for Pyramid Selling all over again - The Sub Prime crisis is yet again an example of "Pyramid Selling " Invented by a culture fed on greed and always doomed to failure in the end.

The same vultures who enriched themselves during the housing hyperinflation will now cash in by buying up property at Re Posses Prices. And who will ever have to pay.

How could so many supposedly educated business financial advisers and Bankers etc be sucked into the dishonest world that we have just witnessed and are about to have to pay for yet again.

Is there a case for criminal prosecution against those people.

  • 98.
  • At 11:40 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • heather wrote:

it would be interesting to have an depth look about how schools govern themselves. the reduced role of local authorities and lack of accountability of schools to anyone other than themselves. individual complaint procedures are not robust and many schools are failing not only those children with special needs,but all children.

  • 99.
  • At 12:22 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • john smedley wrote:

I would be genuinely interested to hear about the numbers of economic migrants, asylum seekers, successful applications for asylum and failed applications for asylum in a cross section of other EU countries. I would also be interested to hear about the financial `costs` involved. I would then like to see these figures compared to the situation within the UK. I suspect that a lot of other people would as well.

  • 100.
  • At 09:37 AM on 07 Nov 2007,
  • Michael Burleigh wrote:

There is a very interesting story in this morning's Telegraph about Ms Wark and her husband. Perhaps you could do something on the business of TV, or on the confidentiality of emails?

  • 101.
  • At 11:16 PM on 07 Nov 2007,
  • P. Moore wrote:

Re Immigration debate

I copied part of a definition from Wikpedia
'From the 19th century onwards, some social critics have accepted this contrast between the highest and lowest culture, but have stressed the refinement and of sophistication of high culture as corrupting and unnatural developments that obscure and distort people's essential nature'

I take that to mean that when culture, as defined, starting supposedly in Europe, and by extension, England, developed to a level, then perhaps slowed to the point of boredom. Then a genius or a group, thought that integration of many cultures on our soil was a 'grand experiment' that would improve the previous cuture that may have been stagnant, (in their view).
Unlike a laboratory experimant, where the instigators can absolve themselves of failure by trashing said experiment, what now for the Europeans/English, now that the forced social engeering has failed miserably.
How has 'our' culture changed for the better? The number of illegal immigrants, drugs, guns, terrorist acts cannot be viewed as an improvement to our culture? The increased numbers of so called 'refugees' who land on our soil, wearing their religion on their head, and corrupt our culture when the governments, clearly in over their heads, must resort to 'political correctness' which, really is taking the easy way out. Can you imagine the reverse? - landing on the soil of a so-called 'low culture' and demand your rights and religious freedoms? Strong leadership is dormant in the 'west', and I now bring to you a controversial example:

You know, rather than brand Idi Amin as a 'madman', or whatever name can be dreamt to create a good story, what do you think the real reasons were for booting a 'culture' not of there own, and clearly force upon them, - out of Uganda? Are they better for it as a 'culture'?

Now that the planet is in peril, do we not think that overpopulation is the great evil? And perhaps the 'social engineering' may have been better to have been started in
Asia, and maybe with the introduction of the birth control pill. So do the 'politically correct' figure to solve the overpopulation in Asia with forced integration inot other societies? Will the European 'culture' survive this 'experiment? I say it is too late.

  • 102.
  • At 11:47 AM on 08 Nov 2007,
  • Debbie Herring wrote:

Here's a story that needs some exploration, I think.

Yahoo & BT are using lazy and inefficient anti-spam measures which are causing serious email problems:

  • 103.
  • At 07:11 PM on 09 Nov 2007,
  • john maidment wrote:

How about doing a piece on Aspartame.
The most dangerous food additive ever,it causes holes in the brains of developing mamals as well as cancer and a whole list of other illnesses.

It was banned, but then Donald Rumsfelt bought the company which manufactures it and through a series of currupt practices got it unbanned.

You can check out the facts on the Ecologist website.

It urgently needs publicity as it is becoming ubiquitous.

  • 104.
  • At 07:32 PM on 09 Nov 2007,
  • wappaho wrote:

Gosh P. Moore! I'm sure I've had less strong posts declined - makes Aspartame seem terribly tame!

  • 105.
  • At 08:42 AM on 10 Nov 2007,
  • Melton Mark wrote:

Well, here's a thing. Politicians, against our wishes, import millions of foreign nationals. There is completely inadequate vetting, or reference to cultural fit. Now our police are ridiculed for shooting dead some Brazilian import? What was he doing here in the first place? What are any of these ethnic imports doing here? But they are sooo beneficial to our economy? Whose economy? Cetainly not mine. We - the indigenous British - did not ask for them, do not want them, and get squat out of their existence here. Get rid of 'em... all of 'em. Then we won't have any more police shootings, drive-bys, mad bombers, ethnic re-programming, religious dress codes, mosques in our parks, or any other 'good for our economy' tripe. So, how about a programme considering how quickly we can rid our society of the Great Invaders..?

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