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Friday 12th September 2008

Len Freeman | 18:39 UK time, Friday, 12 September 2008

Here's Kirsty with more details of tonight's programme.

Gordon Brown

Tonight - Is Gordon Brown's time in Downing Street now running out? For the first time a member of the government has called for a challenge to Gordon Brown's leadership.

Junior whip Siobhain McDonagh says he should face a contest. Newsnight has learned at least one backbencher has also called for nomination papers.

So is this the start of a concerted move to replace the Prime Minister, and if so is the smart money on David Miliband? I'll be speaking live to Siobhain McDonagh and we have convened our panel of political insiders to assess this political moment.


More details have been agreed at talks about forming a power-sharing government in Zimbabwe. Under the plan, Robert Mugabe would remain president and head of the armed forces.

The detail will be revealed and the deal signed on Monday - tonight we'll we analysing what it might contain and whether there is any chance the MDC leader will have full executive powers. We'll be speaking live to Zimbabwe's Ambassador to the United Nations.

Newsnight Review follows at 11pm


  • Comment number 1.

    Siobhain McDonagh was a whip so she will know what other MPs are saying off the cameras ..... that is perhaps why this is
    a major story. That Downing Street is running very scared is surely shown by
    the tenor of their reaction to what was
    (according to McDonagh) a request for
    nomination forms to be sent out as is
    usual prior to a Party Conference. To
    fire any elected representative for a
    private letter to a party secretary on
    such a fundamental issue of the party
    democracy is surely pure Stalinism. I
    gather too that Brown told the Press
    she had been fired before she knew!

    I hope this is the beginnng of the end.
    And that we the electorate - who are
    not part of this elected dictatorship -
    also get a chance to vote very soon.
    Gordon has no mandate. He must go.

  • Comment number 2.

    One more snout in the trough. How on earth can anyone deal with such a megalomaniac as Mugabe? If anyone gives aid/money to Zimbabwe(Mugabe) needs their head examined.

  • Comment number 3.

    Who shot and killed the BBC 1 News polar bear and is the BBC2 Newsnight bear OK?

    Safely transferred to a Newsnight witness
    protection programme I hope - and dying
    his/her hair brown as we speak .............

    Maybe life is not so simple for polar bears in the media spotlight after all?

  • Comment number 4.

  • Comment number 5.


    So Labour will replace one extreme product of party politics and the party ethos (dogma and subservience) - with another. What are the attributes of a party politician who reaches the top? In simple terms Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Such people have fixed views, start wars, pursue doomed policies and represent no one but themselves. Miliband D is not another J Gordon Brown, but he his out of the same funnel-end. Only time will tell the precise nature of this particular drip, once power has been won.

  • Comment number 6.


    "So is this the start of a concerted move
    to replace the Prime Minister, and if so is the smart money on David Miliband?"

    Note this is one of 'those' questions which just serves to just give one of 'those' ideas even more publicity. Who is it really being put to Newsnight? Will it be put to that colluding 'gang of three' panel once more for yet more tribal endorsement?

    Why would 'the smart money' be on David Miliband? One might as well ask why the party funding saga has gone so quiet recently. Why has that matter coincided with 'the credit crunch? Might it be because 'the credit crunch' was largely the creation of the very sorts of people who used to be so keen to fund Mr Brown's predeccesor?

    One should indeed ask why 'Stalinist' Brown is now under so such pressure. Could it be because his power (funding) now has to come from traditional Old Labour coffers (the TUC) and that that doesn't bode well for those who have been responsible for the types of predatopry behaviour which eventuated in 'the credit crunch'?

    People should not be frightened of viliying predatory, exploitative, behaviour, for that's what it is.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hmm.. Not sure what has happened to the political panel. It feels like the new Labour member has destroyed the dynamic. I always enjoyed listening to them as, unlike many other three party debates, they generally listened to each other and were not driven by blind loyalty to disagree with anything negative said against the party. It always seemed a lively, informative and good humoured debate but despite the best efforts of the other panelists that just didn't happen this evening. I hope that a reasonable replacement can be found to restore this enjoyable slot to it's former glory!

  • Comment number 8.

    Hey Kirsty......I was hoping the Newsnight Team would manage to re-interview Jack Straw after he recently reassured everyone there will not be any disaffection within the Labour Party. Hmm...I wonder if Ms Mcdonagh was listening?


  • Comment number 9.

    I do not think a so called neutral programme presenter should be offering her suggestions for the repair of the GB situation. Kirsty Wark is a disgrace.

  • Comment number 10.

    OH YEAH?

    Kirsty may be a disgrace, but she is the only one I know who can say that word without sounding a single consonant! There should, surely, be an award for such prowess - and another for the producer who does nothing.

  • Comment number 11.

    I don't really want to leap into the partisan debate itself but I did think the style of the Siobhain McDonagh didn't quite work. It felt that Kirsty was being very aggressive but unlike the average politician Siobhain McDonagh wasn't really trying to dodge the question - she was trying to say what she really thought but Kirsty didn't really manage to tease anything else out. It may of course have been she was just being very clever and sneaking out of the difficult questions in a less transparent way than your average government minister. I was struck by the "but of course your not whip any more!" comment from Kirsty which I couldn't helping thinking would have been witty from Jeremy but came across as a telling off! Of course it could just have been me.

  • Comment number 12.

    THE McDONAGH FILE (ref. #11)

    The lady took a degree in politics. She entered Parliament and has not left in spite of its laddishness and chicanery. She has always voted with Labour on EVERY issue.
    That tells you a great deal about the character of Siobhain McDonagh.
    Party politicians are loyal to the leader, even as they bring him down. It is a matter of honour. Ms McDonagh is a party politician through and through. That is what she was being on Newsnight - candour entirely secondary.

  • Comment number 13.

    Having a ex Mrs Whippy on was near pointless, I can't remember if she even criticized Labours policies or Mr G.Brown ?

    I suspect this is a political game to get extra TV coverage for Labours party conference next week !

    I would like to see on your program Ian Davidson MP(Glasgow South West), why ?
    Because in the EU (Lisbon) Treaty referendum debate he showed more than a ounce of honesty in his speech, I think his views on Labour's current situation would be more truth than spin,story or narrative.

  • Comment number 14.


    sjonesbones (#7) You miss the consensus politics of three spin-doctors all spinning the same Kabbalahist formula (with token differences to keep up the appearance of independence), covertly shaping audience opinion in the direction which they all basically agreed upon?


  • Comment number 15.

    It has started. weekend will tell us if this thing has legs or is it another false dawn to rid the Labour arty of its cuckoo infiltrators, whether it will turn left and consider a freezing ensioner or swell an already overflowing cash cow and get John Huttons smile. It may get off its knees and become the bees and eeze, try to salvage its catastrofic membershi other words we can look in the mirror again

  • Comment number 16.


    Whilst some of the characters in this trail may be a little too controversial for some, after last night's discussion of Brown by the restructured 'panel', it might interest some regulars to have a look into the nature of this talk of a 'Convincing New Narrative' from the likes of ex-Conservative Patrica Hewitt. Look closely at the alleged concerns which MI5 had in the distant past because of her 'communist' sympathies, but consider very carefully the context, as the IMG was not the sort of 'left-of-centre' communism which Old Labour (with its 'Socialism in One Country' leanings) ever cherished. One just has to think back to the battles in the 1980s with Militant entryists who, along with the Conservatives in earlier times, did their best to undermine Old Labour's Clause IV 'national socialism' to bring us what we ave endured since 1997 as Neocon New Labour. Does anyone wonder where those anti-statists went? Are they not now 'kings' and have they not generated rafts of 'transitional demands' like 'education, education, education' and Equalities legislation whilst further privatising or 'Third Sectoring' the Public Sector (welfare state)?

    Sadly, over the years, the more senior people in the professions who might have twarted some of this essentially anti-state (free-market) entryism (especially those working in the media) have been placated by perks, usually by seizing the opportunity to moonlight/work privately.

    Even more sadly, voices like Roy (Mason) Hattersley and John Mcfall (who astutely stood up to the Panel's flannel last night) are getting rarer and rarer these days.

  • Comment number 17.

    I thought Kirsty Wark was excellent last night - one of the liveliest exchanges on
    Newsnight for a long time and she really
    teased out some real killer points from
    Siobhan McDonagh I thought ..............

    And the discussion of Franics Bacon in The Review was also very high quality ............
    as was the passing reference to "rap and responsary psalms" from Rachel Campbell
    -Johnson. I'll have to go and look that up!!

  • Comment number 18.

    Hello JadedJean. Interesting thoughts but I don't agree entirely with you. I suppose that on reflection the old trio did have, on occasion, an almost bland uniformity however often I found the differences were there but being expressed less aggressively. I felt this often led to a more thoughtful debate than the more common one-on-one interview. It certainly used to make me think! To me the strength was the distance, albeit slight, from "coal face" politics and an element of reflection which was lost completely last night. Perhaps the old lot needed shaking up but this looked more like a mess in a blender.

  • Comment number 19.

  • Comment number 20.


    Thanks for 19 JJ. How revealing, and how illustrative of the need to scrutinize person and personality.

    When a guy who slips from power, sets about becoming a becoming a psychiatrist, some serious, involutary suddering is appropriate.

  • Comment number 21.


    Barrie (#20) A psychotherapist (US trained/qualified?) not a psychiatrist (the latter are always MDs who then specialise, sometimes, oddly, in psychotherapy). It used to be the case here in the UK, that even a Clinical Psychologist would have to have a good BPS recognised first degree in Psychology and then go on to do at least a 2 year postgraduate degree to qualify as a Clinical Psychologist (note this is not a masters in psychotherapy). Personal experience of trauma is not a sine qua non here, any more than it is in oncology, although invariably, trauma is a wakeup call that something we're doing is seriously wrong). Psychotherapists, alas, need do none of that training, which is why there's controversy about both its clinical efficiacy and its regulation in the NHS as I've remarked upon before.

    Psychotherapy and spin are far from being strange bedfellows as Adam Curtis pointed out not long ago (part one is worth meditating upon given the role which Lehman Bros played in the events which we are having to deal with currently).

    To the best of my knowledge (narcissistic) people rarely change, they merely find alternative opportunities for self-expression (some less harmful than others), and whilst some well meaning people tell us (cf. the Cardinal Newman blog) that miracles happen, science tells us that if one believes that one's prone to believe anything, and that, I suggest is precisely what our panel of spin doctors count on.

  • Comment number 22.


    A follow-up to (#21) One should, perhaps, be just a little wary of 'psychotherapists' without a first degree in psychology, especially if their postgraduate degree is from the USA. To practice as a professional psychologist in the USA usually requires a licence and an appropriate doctorate (here most psyhcologists used to b eployed by the government in one department or another). To practice as a 'psychotherapist' here sadly requires next to nothing, any more than 'Angel Reading' does.


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