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Prospects for Thursday, 24 January

  • Newsnight
  • 24 Jan 08, 10:15 AM

Hi All,

Simon Enright is today's programme producer..

Time was when Gordon Brown seemed to be so assured with dealing with events. Has that sure touch deserted him? This government does have a majority but it seems to struggle to get its way… We have a U-Turn on Capital Gains Tax today, Jacqui Smith trying where other Home Secs have failed with counter terrorism legislation and even Harriet Harman trying to persuade MPs to forgo their full pay rise. Where has this government's authority gone? I'm sure Michael Crick will investigate.

It is one of the world's biggest ever frauds - £3.5 billion lost by a rogue trader working for Societe Generale. To put it in perspective the French bank also had to write off bad debts due to sub-prime lending and that was only £1.5 billion. After Nick Leeson hadn't the banking industry put a stop to this kind of activity?

We also have a film from Brian Barron about the attempt to bring to justice various people accused of Nazi War Crimes. "The race against the grim reaper" as it is described by one commentator.

Finally there's a story about GPs making money out of the patients that ring in. It's called revenue-sharing. Is it time we challenged them?

But do we have space for all that when there are lots of other good stories around…

- Stuart has been knocked off his bike - he's fine but shaken - nevertheless he phoned in to suggest putting Council Tax on trial. (He is a devoted producer)
- Is there more to pursue on Ken Livingstone?
- China's economy has grown by more than 11%. Should we reflect that?

All ideas welcome..


Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 02:05 PM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • James wrote:

So what was up with Newsnight last night?

A long piece on economic growth no longer mattering, with only a weak defence of what was clearly portrayed as yesterday’s idea. Lots of air time to the New Economics Foundation (you have to look at their web site to get an idea of just how utopian they are). Let’s be clear: a low growth economy is one where innovation is largely absent, where opportunity is denied to all, and particularly to the poor, and where envy is the key driving attitude of a wide portion of the populace. It is not enough to say that people are no happier today than in past despite the fact they are richer. What makes people happy is progress (which they interpret rightly as economic growth). Look at economies where there is no growth (particularly rich ones) and you will find widespread dissatisfaction.

If your plea was for the environment, you choose a strange way to go about it, with seeming no realisation that centrally planned for the social good societies failed for decades to deliver growth, and coincidently delivered the worst environmental results this plant has ever seen. (Aral Sea anyone?) To even hint that we need to return to low growth is utterly irresponsible.

The good news for the New Economics foundation is that Gordon Brown is planning just the sort of slow down they are recommending. It will be called recession, and we shall see how happy people are about it.

As to your piece on Anthony Blunt, saying how his support for Stalin was really a minor transgression, and has to be seen against his talents as an art historian. I love the Courtauld, but one wonders if his crimes would have been trivialised had he been a Nazi spy?

  • 2.
  • At 02:11 PM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • Tony Walsh. wrote:

The Chinese economy story is interetsing in light of last night's report on ideas of zero economic growth. I seem to remember the foreunners of the Green Party, the Ecology Party, having zero growth as party policy some thirty years ago. is the idea really all that new?


Tony Walsh.


A couple of days back I offered a question for your “MPC”. It was: “in absolute terms, what does money represent”. It was not asked, but I have a strong suspicion the answer is “absolutely nothing”. I am of the view that the money “lost” by Societe Generale was only notionally there to start with, and is now notionally somewhere else. The modern emperor finances his “new clothes” with a sub-prime loan, the value of which is based on confidence in Scotch Mist bonds. I spend – therefore I am.

  • 4.
  • At 05:52 PM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • Adrienne wrote:


Along with looking into the clinical (i.e. therapeutic) efficacy of stains+ and similar drugs (see below, US$18 billion market just in the USA):,8599,1703827,00.html

why not have Susan take a much closer, critical (i.e. scientific) look at the clinical efficacy of anti-depressants (monitored by NICE) rather than just their safety (MHRA). There are many good people that she could interview.

Efficacy should be assessed in terms of what's known as 'effect size', not statistical significance alone (which is one of the snake-oils of science and accounts for many policy ills in education and criminal justice).

Is Newsnight 'brave' enough to take on such an issue given the track record of the pharmaceutical company lawyers? There was a big Select Committee investigation into the Influence of The Pharmaceutical Industry a couple of years ago remember?

Not that the efficacy of CBT and other 'treatments' are any better mind. Are people (and the markets) really up to hearing the de-spinned truth, or will that just 'depress' them and lose ratings and market points?

Also, please consider inviting Lord Nigel Lawson back to tell us what he and the Lords really think about ANTHROPOGENIC climate change vs the creative writing masquerading as science by the IPCC/Stern lot. Ask him how this began under Thatcher (who at one time worked for his first wife's family business as a food chemist) when there was a push to persuade the public that nuclear was the way to go in the wake of the 70s 'oil crisis' (when the west was punished by OPEC for supporting Israel) and before there was the Chernobyl event.) Going nuclear was also very useful for putting pressure on fossil fuel miners who were in her view (and the markets) all a bit too enamoured with evil ideas of the 'Stalinist' welfare state etc ;-).

And of course, given today's announcement, you could bravely ask Peter Hain (and some of the rest of his band of PC 'persons') to comment upon some of their donors and their common ties....


Adrienne refers to the two climate change camps. A fair point. But behind climate is cosmology, where there are also two camps. It is becoming apparent that this planet is electrically connected to space,RNWE:2006-15,RNWE:en&q=sprites+upper+atmosphere
and that the universe is a mass of electric currents. While old science measures only the parameters it is prepared to acknowledge ('twas ever thus) proper understanding of our climate will elude them. The world is wishing for ever more electricity.
Be careful what you wish for - you might just get it. The juice is out there.

  • 6.
  • At 11:38 PM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • adrian compagnone wrote:

who on earth chooses the panelists for this often great program ? The fellow from Blur whose name escapes is a complete waste of time having very little sensible to say !!
come on BBC lets get people with real opinions on the seats.

adrian compagnone

  • 7.
  • At 11:51 PM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • adrian compagnone wrote:

who on earth chooses the panelists for this often great program ? The fellow from Blur whose name escapes is a complete waste of time having very little sensible to say !!
come on BBC lets get people with real opinions on the seats.

adrian compagnone

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