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Prospects Tuesday, 13 May

  • Newsnight
  • 13 May 08, 10:50 AM

Today's programme producer is Dan Kelly - here's his morning e-mail to the production team...

Good Morning everybody.

Some strong stories today. Tomorrow the government unveils a draft Queen's speech, what will this amount to, and is this the beginning of Brown's fight back?
There could also be a compensation package on 10p announced this afternoon - what will the PLP and voters make of it? If the economy is the single biggest reason for the government's current problems - more bad news on that front today.
CPI Inflation has jumped to 3% from 2.5% in March - Paul Mason is on the case. Which interviews would you like to see on politics and the economy?

Talking of prices, we have a film and discussion planned on cheap clothes and tough labour conditions in the developing world, off the back of BBC 3's "Blood, Sweat and Tears" programme, in which six young British shoppers were sent to work in some Indian textile factories. We have two of the volunteers in the studio but what other guests could we have - especially British retail figures?

The death toll in China continues to rise - how can we move the story on in a distinctive way?

We also have an exclusive peek into the MOD's UFO files, and speak to some crop circle hoaxers.

Dan

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Re labour conditions - how about Belinda Earl, ceo of Jaeger - she was on the TUCs Vulnerable Workers Commission. Or someone from ASDA - CEO Andy Bond or Dr Chris Brown - "Head of Ethical and Sustainable Sourcing" (!)

    CPI story - brings us back to public sector pay cap. Mark Serwotka or Christine Blower perhaps?

  • Comment number 2.

    UFO files ??? Aarrgghh....

  • Comment number 3.

    Yet again last nightI felt sympathy for M Crick having to read the latest bio's coming from the blairs levy and prescott, all in the line of duty. I thought torture was illegal in this country, Give the man a bonus or some leave he deserves it.

  • Comment number 4.

    SMOKE AND MIRRORS

    There is a poignant, yet un-remarked, dual connection between Burma and Britain, it is callous, aloof, omnipotent leadership . . . . and cigarettes.
    Concurrent with the lack of concern shown by Burma’s Junta for inevitable sickness and death on the scale of 100.000 or more, loudly deplored by high-minded Britain,
    our leaders continue a lucrative rearguard action, guarding tobacco revenue for as long as possible, by piecemeal measures instead of serious action.
    The British death toll, over the life of New Labour, from smoking, will far exceed that of the Irrawaddy Delta horror. YET THEY KNEW THE TRUTH when they came to power.

    Up until 2003, Burma was home to a cigarette factory owned by British American Tobacco, among whose beneficiaries snuggled Margaret Thatcher and Kenneth Clarke (ex health secretary) pillars of Britishness. Cynically (how often they use that term against us!) Britain put pressure on B A T to pull out.

    It is estimated that Britain has watched 6.3 million of HER OWN PEOPLE die, over 50 years, from smoking-related disease, while benefiting from tax on that evil addiction. Oh Sadam! How small-beer was Halabja in the ‘poison your people’ stakes?

    It is time for our righteous Brown, Miliband, Alexander et al, to look in the mirror that is Burma, and attend to their own iniquitous, insidious, unforgivable killing (I have not even mentioned alcohol) before lambasting the easy target of Burma.

    How we scorn the terrible Than Shwe, in Burmah Hell, flamboyantly handing out aid on TV! How we FAIL to scorn the terrible Kenneth Clarke and all the Britishness he embodies, while dispensing wisdom with aplomb on TV, from his addiction-lined Tobacco Heaven.

  • Comment number 5.

    Re 3.
    How true dAllan169, in addition to the fact that the poor feller has to routinely comment on a collapsing, corrupt and incompetent political structure,and attendent set of personalities. Can you imagine trying to hang on to your breakfast, while regarding "Lord" Levy while he flogs his book, having just had to skim it? Then presumably, so as not to drop any clangers, he must sit through all the media that mugs like us watch. Top man.

  • Comment number 6.

    SMOKE AND MIRRORS (redacted)

    There is a poignant, yet un-remarked, dual connection between Burma and Britain, it is callous, aloof, omnipotent leadership . . . . and cigarettes.
    Concurrent with the lack of concern shown by Burma’s Junta for inevitable sickness and death on the scale of 100.000 or more, loudly deplored by high-minded Britain,
    our leaders continue a lucrative rearguard action, guarding tobacco revenue for as long as possible, by piecemeal measures instead of serious action.
    The British death toll, over the life of New Labour, from smoking, will far exceed that of the Irrawaddy Delta horror. YET THEY KNEW THE TRUTH when they came to power.

    Up until 2003, Burma was home to a cigarette factory owned by British American Tobacco, among whose beneficiaries snuggled Margaret Thatcher and Kenneth Clarke (ex health secretary) pillars of Britishness. Cynically (how often they use that term against us!) Britain put pressure on B A T to pull out.

    It is estimated that Britain has watched 6.3 million of HER OWN PEOPLE die, over 50 years, from smoking-related disease, while benefiting from tax on that evil addiction. Oh Sadam! How small-beer was Halabja in the ‘poison your people’ stakes?

    It is time for our righteous Brown, Miliband, Alexander et al, to look in the mirror that is Burma, and attend to their own iniquitous, insidious, unforgivable connivance (I have not even mentioned alcohol) before lambasting the easy target of Burma.

  • Comment number 7.

    In his speech, the Chancellor said his "proposal for this year will not only help those on low incomes who lost out, but also does more to help all basic rate taxpaying families at a time when oil and food prices have been rising in every part of the world".

    All basic rate taxpayers are receiving the same amount of £120. Low earners are receiving it to compensate for their loss as a result of the removal of the 10p tax band. The others are being compensated for oil and food increases.

    Does the Chancellor think that those on low incomes are not affected by the oil and food increases?

  • Comment number 8.

    DOES THE CHANCELLOR THINK

    Nice point 55scotsman. No, I dont reckon he does. I watched him being interviewed earlier on (another channel) and as he was pinned, repeatedly, like a butterfly to a card, his expression remained that infuriating neutral. I have previously pointed out on this blog the way that the party system pre-selects its own, before we get a sniff at a vote, and the current bunch of dissemblers wonderfully underwrite the efficiency of the party machine in that respect. Unfortunately, it seems machines like machines.

  • Comment number 9.

    It struck me that the lady from the BRC thinks that only a few British consumers are concerned about ethics.
    Perhaps the BRC should show some footage of the documentary and then ask shoppers on Oxford Street whether they would pay 50p more for a £10 item of clothing in order to avoid child slavery and so on. She might be surprised, but most people probably would.
    While the food industry has managed to produce countless labels indicating calories, sugar, fat, and so on, to thousands of products that are sourced on a more real-time basis, why can the clothing (and toy) industry not do something similar? The lead times are longer, as there is usually a seasonal element to buying, which implies that buyers have every opportunity to get this right.
    Why can't a major retailer see the positive publicity that would inevitably result from a (Starbucks-style) campaign to benefit those who actually produce the products that we take for granted?
    Even if it costs a little bit more, they might find that the British consumer hasn't completely swapped their morals for pennies.

  • Comment number 10.

    DOES PAXO THINK?

    Regarding the 10p caper: Paxo said no one tried to insult anyone's intelligence! Then we had the clockwork Darling interview, wherein Mr D kept using 'sort out' to mean 'put right' thus insulting all our intelligences. Paxo should have told him you sort out an untidy sock draw but you PUT RIGHT a cockup.

  • Comment number 11.

    PAPER WRAP FLINT

    ‘Vital . . . we show we are on people’s side.’ What next? Government is your friend? The leader feels your pain? All animals are equal?

  • Comment number 12.

    Re: Darling - I thought he got off lightly considering, though I thought he looked pretty shaken through the interview (and rightly so)

    re: Labour Conditions - surely these appaling labour conditions have been in the public domain for years so people MUST know why their clothes are so cheap - they just choose to ignore the facts.

    Additionally - In my area a good chunck of the economy was based on textile factories, and these were closed down years ago by the major retailers (with Marks and Spencers as one of the prime movers in those days) specifically TO move out to the cheap labour markets.

    Everyone from boardroom to shop floor is complicit in this issue 0 it has been raised so many times.

  • Comment number 13.

    Outstanding Jeremy tonight, particularly with Alistair Darling, and referring to Gordon Brown : "isn't it further evidence that he's really not fit for the job of prime minister?" Excellent debate on the cheap clothes/labour conditions from BBC3's programme - how does anyone know if clothes are made using child labour? It's only after Newsnight's recent expose of children being forced to pick cotton in Uzbekistan for major retailers did the public become aware of it! Perhaps the law proposed by Jeremy that "perhaps the authorities here could prosecute the retailers who sold clothes made in unacceptable conditions," would be an effective way of eradicating the problem.
    Brilliant :-)

  • Comment number 14.

    UFO files -well, remember that those released are the ones that the government actualy want the public to see. Anything earth shatteringly contentious will be well and truly kept under lock and key. Catch 22 so the truth is out there, but not so we can read it.
    As for the genial old buffer who hoaxed crop circles, I'm confused. If he and his buddy are behind them, how can they be in two places at once, why are they still doing them every year if they've already blown their own cover, and how do you produce fractal diagrams in a field that can only be viewed from above?
    This was a feature that insults our intelligence. Who do you guys think you are? GMTV?

  • Comment number 15.

    If cheap supermarket clothing is 'unethical', why is it legally available for sale in this country? Hence JP and Mistress76Uk's prosecution notion would have teeth.
    If 'ethics' are simply a matter of labour conditions (which I don't think they are, as the actual definition seems a tad loose), would this not fall under the ethical foreign policies this government espouses?
    If so, there should be rules, so those of us without the time (or the single track mindset to pursue pet issues and decide it is the only one there is - or a production company with yet another reality snapshot concept in the name of green flying (air miles is so last week) a bunch of whinging teens (selected how?) out to have their notions changed over a short period before getting back to 'normality' (and TV 'fame') as the media machine turns to the next 'issue'. Will every £2 T-shirt now come with a return flight to Mumbai?) can be confident that our consumer choices in this country are all they could and should be.
    If that carries an extra cost to us here, that we are happy to sustain, so be it. Fair wages for all, and a Tata in every driveway.
    And it can be a matter for our elected representatives to control, with oversight by media and activist groups to highlight, with the people's mandate.
    Anything in excess of what the country decides upon can of course be voted upon with wallets and personal choice... 'every time one goes into a shop' (how often do the two teen fashionista 'typical shoppers' do this still?) to buy clothes.

    I just hope the decision-making process is better informed than some on such as biofuels or food miles, which have worked so well on the liberal guilt ethics of Middle England, but perhaps not so well on the ground elsewhere.

    As with food labelling, I am intrigued as to what form this consumer information suggested will take to be of any use: 'Made in a sweat shop by 5 year olds' seems unlikely, so what form is proposed?

    ps: Caroline Flint - Gaffe... my a**e. Too much to hope it was deliberate. Or are we really being run by people this thick? Buy the silly b...abe a folder. Next time it could be a matter of national security.

  • Comment number 16.

    Is Newsnight angling for a nomination at this year's British Comedy Awards? I am of course talking about last night's report on crop circles, in particular Doug 'n' Dave. If the surviving member of the duo is responsible for most of the circles then perhaps he and your gullible reporter can replicate one of the more complex patterns of recent years. They will have to do this within a few hours in summer darkness using just a plank of wood and a bit of string. All the corn swirls must not have broken stems, and the pattern must have a high degree of mathematical accuracy and extend over hundreds of meters. Oh, and by the way, the molecular properties of the corn stems must be changed. Good luck!

  • Comment number 17.

    Mistress76Uk I am sure is Paxo he posts as soon as he gets home

  • Comment number 18.

    'midnightPantsman wrote:
    Mistress76Uk I am sure is Paxo he posts as soon as he gets home'

    Might explain the near instant replies on the really big issues...

    At 09:54 am on 02 May 2008, PeterBarron wrote:Mistress76Uk (9) Yes, we'll get the Bury poem up shortly Peter

    Surprisingly, I don't believe the answer was ever forthcoming, mind.

  • Comment number 19.

    It is a tragedy that not one person involved in the making of or commenting on the excellent documentary series about slave labour in the textile and clothing industry in India, even knew that our own ancestors in this country suffered exactly the same torture - worse indeed - during our Industrial Revolution. A tragedy is an event with a terrible outcome - and this is why tragedy is the right word here. We have forgotten our own history, and our own flesh and blood. in 1832 little girls were toiling 18 hours a day in our cotton mills - William Cobbett gave a furious speech in Parliament as MP for Oldham about this. Chimney sweeps went on long after they were banned by law; in the late 19th century Barnardo was rescuing crowds of children who earned a living scooping up dog faeces from the streets and selling it (for fuel I think).

    The erasure of our past by our own supercilious, arrogant and greedy education system is an utter tragedy in the true sense of the word - and an even worse tragedy is that not one equivalent play to the great Greek tragedies records this erasure, still less the facts erased.

  • Comment number 20.

    Dear Midnightpantsman,
    I am NOT Jeremy at all!

  • Comment number 21.

    Yet again last nightI felt sympathy for M Crick having to read the latest bio's coming from the blairs levy and prescott, all in the line of duty.

    Just imagine the feelings of the deranged people that exchange money for these books ...at least Crick didn't have to buy them the licence fee payer did
    ;-)

  • Comment number 22.

    I suspect the clothing companies must have recently started to use cheap labour in their design departments too, because this year's 2008 fashion clothes are so ugly. It's like they are trying to make girls look as ugly as possible on purpose, by combining the worst bits of the 1980's and 1950's fashion. I don't know what the designers are thinking. This must be what happens with lo-cost disposable fashion. The designers don't even bother making aesthetically pleasing clothes anymore, maybe they just don't have enough time with the fast turn arounds required now.

    If clothes were more expensive and durable, like they were in 2005, I'm sure the designers would start to take more pride in their work and design feel-good clothes that make women look pretty again.

    Ugly clothes are just so depressing, I'm not surprised that there is an economic downturn / low confidence this year when all you see is girls in awful badly designed ugly clothes everywhere. With the recent news that City Traders confidence levels are affected by testosterone levels, I'm sure that women in ugly looking clothes reduces their testosterone levels and hence bad for the economy. So let's get back to the much more aesthetically pleasing clothes of 2005 - the economy needs it!

  • Comment number 23.

    Thats some pretty harsh comments FashionGoneBad. Whilst i agree that there is no excuse for bargain fashion to be ugly, I highly doubt whether it has a significant effect on the overall economic outlook of the country.

    I run a cheap clothes blog and in my opinion the quality of clothes in 2009 from retailers such as Peacocks (http://www.peacocks.co.uk%29, Primark and New Look is a vast improvement on the major chains offerings of previous years. I also don't quite understand what was so great about the 2005 vintage -why were clothes so much better then?

    The fact of the matter is that as people are squeezed more and more on household costs, then these fast fashion retailers are here to stay - we have to learn to live with them.

 

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