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Monday, 10 November, 2008

Ian Lacey | 17:20 UK time, Monday, 10 November 2008

Tax cuts
On tonight's Newsnight, Jeremy will be kicking off with the thorny issue of tax cuts. As the three political parties compete to hint at the best stimulus package for our floundering economy, Gordon Brown gives his annual keynote speech to the City of London at the Mansion House, where our big editorial guns also lie in wait for him. We ask exactly what he and the other political leaders can actually offer and, more worryingly, can it work.

Barack Obama gets his first look inside the Oval Office tonight as President Bush gives him and his wife the guided tour. While Michelle measures up the curtains and the kids fight for the best bedroom, what will the incoming and outgoing Presidents find to talk about? As the transition team get busy listing all the Bush legislation that's due for the chop the day after inauguration, David Grossman has the Obama hitlist, including such items as the stem cell research funding ban, and decisions on offshore oil drilling.

Missing bomb
An extraordinary story from the Cold War when an American B52 carrying 4 Atom bombs crashed into the Greenland ice sheet 40 years ago. Fortunately none of them went off. Unfortunately, one of them is still missing, now thought to be at the bottom of the Ocean possibly leaking plutonium. The BBC's security correspondent Gordon Corera investigates what befell those who undertook the secret clean-up.

Miriam Makeba
And a rare and beautiful piece of footage of the late Miriam Makeba at the height of her powers, taking Europe by storm in concert back in 1966. Not to be missed.


  • Comment number 1.

    tax cuts do not change the amount of money in the economy only who spends it.

    wealth creation through employment in industries with growth potential is both the short term and long term future.

    the govt could quickly introduce a bill to provide the conditions for a feed in tariff that has proven to create hundred of thousands of jobs and generate billions in income. yet they have always chosen to block it and so keep the uk one of the few western countries not to have a feed in tariff. Why is that?

    is it because germany's feed in tariff already provides more energy than the whole of uk nuclear?

    isn't it time the govt put the nation first for a change and democratised energy and redistributed wealth from the foreign energy multinationals to all sectors of the economy through a feed in tariff?

    there is no economic case against it. given where we are in the greatest financial situation of western civilisation why do they dither and dally? Isn't that self indulgent?

  • Comment number 2.

    Awooga, awooga, Obama overload abandon ship!

  • Comment number 3.


    That was Blair's equivalent to: "And I say unto you". Blair saw a 'new dawn' in HIS visionary eye - as does Obama. I see only messianic zeal. Obama's victory speech is peppered with pulpit-prose - as were Tony's utterances. We have been here before - and it hurt. The promised CHANGE might just be that the darkest hour now comes AFTER THE DAWN.

  • Comment number 4.


    I can't help speculating that the current unrest in the Congo is being funded and fermented by members of the Mining Cartel. I suspect that the mining cartel will do anything within its power to put a stick into the spokes of the wheel of China's development programme.

    Newsnight has already run " Corporate Nazi " propaganda against China gaining its own cost price independent supply of raw materials, perhaps it should now investigate the possible truth behind the current " civil war ". Mining shares in general seem to have done pretty well since the current unrest in Congo escalated recently, up again today ?

  • Comment number 5.

    What sort of dress code will Gordon Brown follow tonight?

  • Comment number 6.

    He went to his first address in a lounge suit as some sort of protest I suppose.
    I am interested in what he considers appro

  • Comment number 7.

    Forgive me I am new to this.
    Are you asking me to explain?

  • Comment number 8.

    the economy is in a nosedive and we are offered tax cuts...what's going on?

  • Comment number 9.

    Would anyone vote for a party that pledged to increase taxes? Of course not! :p

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm glad that you will be celebrating the life and work of Miriam Makeba. A wonderfully funny woman with an amazing voice .......

    I heard her live on two occasions: at The North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague in
    1990 when a South African colleague -
    the late Professor Charles Cooper of
    ISS and IDS - was also in the crowd
    to comment that 'some people have
    walked a very long way to get to this
    concert!'; and again just a few years
    back in Glasgow (her only concert in
    Scotland) where she was still at the
    height of her powers -in her seventies!
    - and where her campaign messages
    included that night some of the stats
    on cervical cancer deaths in South Africa.

    She will be missed - but the voice will be immortal ......

  • Comment number 11.


    leftieoddbod "the economy is in a nosedive and we are offered tax cuts...what's going on?"

    Maybe they think it will make us believe that they're good at managing the economy?

    Looking further behind the smoke and mirrors of the never ending collective-guilt/fear machine, whilst Germany hasn't hit population replacement level since 1933 according to Coleman, look a East Europe for further evidence of this dark economic strategy. Does this give anyone else here just a little pause for thought?

    ...........Of course not, no more than the question as to 'who's running Obama?' Or 'why are 'bright' European women so biologically unfit (aka having few babies)?

  • Comment number 12.

    What a coincidence, there we were discussing on Newsnights 7th November blog about cleaning up the world's oceans and lost nukes turns up on tonight's programme.

    Neil Robertson, please could you visit our option at below. Could you advise with your writing skills.

    Also anybody else.


    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 13.

    "While Michelle measures up the curtains." Did I read that right? Oh yes, of course - I forgot: she's just a woman. What else would be troubling her pretty little head as she enters the White House?

  • Comment number 14.


    Brown at the Guildhall said: " . . . concerted and FAIRLY distributed, international response . . ." There's the NEW WORD again. What sort of ninny adviser came up with 'fair' as the new word? And what sort of ninny is Brown to keep trotting it out? When Jesus beheld the 5 loves and 2 fishes,
    did he bang on about fair distribution? When you are doing a GLOBAL MIRACLE, Gordon, just keep it concise!

    We don't need another ninny.

    As the Obama couple and the Bush couple went into the White House, Obama 'out ushered' Dubya ON HIS OWN DOORSTEP.
    This is a man who, clearly, believes in his seniority - as of right. Omnipotence cannot be far behind.

    I fear we might have found a 'hero'.

  • Comment number 15.

    Honestly the colour of Obama's underpants warrants an hours worth of Newsnight surely?

  • Comment number 16.

    betsygrey (#13) ""While Michelle measures up the curtains." Did I read that right? Oh yes, of course - I forgot: she's just a woman. What else would be troubling her pretty little head as she enters the White House?"

    Would it be appropriate for her to do much else, especially at this stage? Would it have been appropriate for Bill to have done much more if Hillary had been president elect rather than Barack? The only thing that went against Jacquie Kennedy back in the 60s was that she went a bit too far on the decor. In those days, women knew a) how to be wives and b) how to be supportive/serve as role models rather than competitors.

    Today they pay a high price for their folly indulged narcissism.

  • Comment number 17.

    There was also a B52 crash in Spain in 1966: four hydrogen bombs involved -
    one of which landed in the sea ...........

    And closer to home, nobody remembers
    what was dumped in Beaufort's Dyke on
    the Ayrshire coast ........

    Scary how irresponsible the defence
    Establishment used to be (?)

  • Comment number 18.

    During the lost nuke piece I could not help wondering if it was the sequel to Dr.Strangelove, one of my top films. "yahoo"!
    King Celtic Lion it just shows that some Newsnight bloggers are ahead of the game.

    As for tax decreases by whatever party I cannot see people spending it in the shops etc. Business will still lay off people and use the "saving" to pay off debts/bills as will the general public or even "trouser" it by any means available.

    The Labour policy can't lose. It will either save them at the next election, if it works, (and it is a BIG IF), or leave the massive debt for the incoming Tory Government to clear up. As I have written before it will give them at least two terms of blaming the previous Government of why they cannot deliver on whatever promises they made. As some "wag" last week said from America on Newsnight, perhaps the Republicans lost the election for the Democrats to clear up the mess.

    This is what you get when we have all been living on credit on money that just does not exist except in some bank or City ledger.

    I do not see anyone yet coming up with a solution but miracles may still happen.
    Perhaps some "know-all" on this website has the answer. I certainly haven't and I suspect nobody else does either, despite my shelf being full of books which was predicting this mess and offering solutions.

    Certainly Cameron manged to waffle his way through his question and answer session today. If only we take his advice then everything will be fine!!!??? Now why don't I believe that? I distinctly saw his nose grow.

  • Comment number 19.


    It was said that Barack Obama was to HAVE TALKS WITH DUBYA while Michelle would measure for curtains. Well - I am in no doubt which is the most rewarding and which the most demeaning.
    Every time I hear: 'so-and-so has gone to have talks with Dubya', my usually consummate imagination freezes; I get neither image nor sound. Of course, Gordon is no picnic: I imagine the usual tractor output figures interspersed, often, with the word FAIR. But Dubya - putting impromptu words together? Nope - you got me . . . I'll take the curtain job. Here Michelle - let me hold that ladder; I understand you do law too?

  • Comment number 20.



    You are a complete anorak. I spotted the 'out ushering'. I didn't know there was a word for it. Nice observation.

    How sad it all comes down to silly games though.

    Brown and other world leaders are making a massive mistake on this economic nonsense.

    Why is the media not presenting the alternative view. The only thing we get is different politicians presenting their own version of how to do the wrong thing.

    We need another option.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 21.

    #18 Bill

    Can't say Strangelove is my favourite film. Though thinking about it over the last few minutes it may have been influential.

    I must have seen it the first time it was on TV, I would have been probably 6/7/8. I remember it frightened me. I also remember the B52 crash Neil wrote about

    I think it may have played a part in me spending all my time on ecology etc. Heavy influence from Jacques Cousteau etc.

    I'll take the risk of being branded the 'know-all' and have a go at offering and implementing a solution. It's as an ecologist though. (and engineer).

    Requires a couple of billion and a crack project team to get it initiated. Anyone interested in 'our option' can easily search us out. All comments welcome.

    'Celtic Lion'

  • Comment number 22.

    re #14 - Hero

    This thought (and others relevant) already had a brief nod after one recent Newsnight.

    If you go on youtube and search for this phrase "thackray bull" then the video to watch is 'Jake Thackray - The Bull'; here's a brief extract from this rabelaisian work:

    The hero arrives, we hoist him shoulder-high.
    He's good and wise and strong, he's brave, he's . . . shy.
    And how we have to plead with him, how bashfully he climbs
    Up the steps to the microphone - two at a time.

  • Comment number 23.

    Excellent cricket debate by Jeremy & Co. On the day that India actually won the cricket 2-0 against Australia(!) in their biggest defeat since 1988-9, did anyone really think that football would ever be a hit in India? It's hardly a hit in the US/Australia/large chunks of the world. Regardless of how much money is invested into the sport in any of these countries, it simply isn't going to arouse public interest.
    No wonder football is in trouble :p

  • Comment number 24.

    Gordons gonna save us all... and the world too. A very Lofty task he has given himself although i myself think he has more chance finding 4 lost nukes in Greenland than he has of saving the worlds economy. Gordon and others around him have been making it up as they go....but try and give the impression they know what they are doing. The Queen asked recently 'why didn't anyone see this coming'... she should have asked me as i saw it coming years ago. Maybe i should be the queens advisor. The first thing i would advise her on would be to dispatch wholesale her govt to the Tower as they are a bunch of talentless suits ..'orf with their heads'...can she still do that?... I like to think she still has that option, i'd stand in line all night for that ticket "front row please"..

    Banks bailed out by already heavily in debt tax payers, a massive future long debt...great! and the announcement that tax cuts are on the what! Someone needs to join up some dots on this as all i can see is soup kitchens on the horizon.

    Germaine Greer has a lot to answer for:

    women want to work but the minute they
    are impregnated the boss is left to find cover whilst paying towards maternity leave .. this arrangement also includes the tax payer. Now theres a tax cut i'd like to see. A single income house-hold with women measuring curtains and raising children and house prices would fall to a natural level and the country would not be so heavily in debt. Yes! feminists are partly to blame for our economic woes and its a theory i am working on in book should be up there with Smiths 'Wealth of nations' in all good book shops very shortly titled 'women of child bearing age not wanted here' with a forward by Jadedjean: $44.99 and worth every penny.

  • Comment number 25.

    if labour is so worried about employment creation why do they keep blocking a feed in tariff which is proven to create hundreds of thousands of jobs?

    their only 'method' is more debt. Who is advising them?

    labour come across as meddle caused by muddle. which is why we are here in the first place?

  • Comment number 26.

    #18+21 Bill

    Should rephrase. The reality is you have to acknowledge you don't 'know-all'.

    This is where a project team is essential.

    The important part about a know-all strategy is knowing there are always 'unknown unknowns'.

    It is better to admit you don't know and find the answer rather than take a political approach and make something up.

    Celtic Lion Option

  • Comment number 27.

    thecookieducker (#24) "$44.99 and worth every penny" - you wait, hiddenhands will find a way of hiking the price to an unaffordable $495.95. Germaine Greer just rode the wave. It was more likely this lot along with hundreds of thousands of narcissistic 'useful idiots' doing social sciences and media studies etc.

    The independent has an article today about the UK public having 200 billion in unsecured borrowing which includes personal loans, credit cards, overdrafts and store cards, a fifth of all borrowing they say. Whilst I'd like to see that figure broken down better (i.e. how much of that debt incurs interest and other penalties indicating borrowers are really living beyond their means) I think this pseudo-leveller has came at another unaccceptablly high price - namely a phenomenal increase is denial, magical thinking and irresponsible, impulsive behaviour.

    As I see it, austerity and recession (if not depression) is just the message that too many for too long have been living in hypomanic/narcissistic la-la land, and that's not just predatory lending, it's been bad breding.

    So there is an answer to all this, but it's one which seriously hurts and women will hate/resist the solution most as they've been the greatest 'beneficiaries' i.e. the worst offenders.

  • Comment number 28.


    MANY thanks JJ, for the link (#27 this lot).
    That filled in a hole in my world-view.
    So the lunatics have not only got control of the political wing of the asylum but they also run the cultural wing. OK - so what else? I suppose a good case can be made for Military leaders being nutters of some stripe? After all, they preside over a destructive, dehumanising, degrading demolition service, and can always find a rationale to support it! show - Biz? Gambling? BANKING??
    I think I might be looking over your shoulder JJ. No wonder you are peed off!

    You see AN ANSWER? I presume you mean a potential answer. I guess enactment might take 'a little longer'.

  • Comment number 29.


    The reality is that those in positions to do anything about the so called credit bubble (this used to be called usury in the old days) were well aware of the problems over five years ago, they just didn't do anything about it other than ask the banks to self-regulate more..or else. The banks clearly knew that given all the legislation was designed to deregulate, such threats were essentially idle.

    Not only are neither banks nor stores charities, they actually feed on impulsive, gullible, illiterate and innumerate people, so all the 'problems' aired about demographic trends aren't problems to them at all, they're blessings. The dumber the population gets, the more immigration there is etc, the better the business....

    Maybe a more appropriate title would have been RABID DOG EAT DOG, where one class of dog is internationalist, caring about the nationals only to the extent that it keeps them alive/in work so they continue to profit from them.

  • Comment number 30.

    The whole issue on what should be done reminds me that the slogan should be " a lender and a borrower be".

    I await the cake and circuses next.

    I read somewhere that in the rules of Monopoly in answering the question of what happens if the bank runs out of money the answer is that you use blank pieces of paper until the bank becomes solvent again. (no I am not making it up!)

    So Brown and Cameron are Monopoly players.
    The two will probably "Go to jail".

  • Comment number 31.

    Could you post the Miriam Makeba item on the website for the benefit of AOL users
    in Scotland who had to opt-out for last night's 'Newsnight Scotland' but aren't
    able to access the i-Player? Thank you.

  • Comment number 32.


    Jaded jean: The link (29 A DOGS LIFE) seems to lead to the transcript of a Monty Python sketch. General Krulak? You are 'avin' a larf. Some relation of Rosa Kleb?
    It appears the Shumer Box might be suitable for housing a Shroedinger Cat.

    My probability function just collapsed . . .

  • Comment number 33.

    #32 Barrie

    Out the Bag

    When Brown and Cameron can discuss the application of Schrodinger's work to the current situation, then I might consider if they have any valid points.

    Until then.............

    Celtic Lion
    Our Option

  • Comment number 34.

    Dea Gordon and Dave

    .......may as well get me coat too.

    Celtic Lion
    Our Option

  • Comment number 35.


    Life-forms endure by reducing other stuff to faecal matter, for personal advantage. Leadership, Banking, War, Religion, Farming, Science and Industry, seem to be of similar ilk. Not surprising I suppose . . .

    PS Gordon and Darling are too busy wondering how they can slap a stealth tax on the cave-wall shadows to read your post.

  • Comment number 36.

    #35 Barrie

    Life is a Mirror. The Image and Object are Opposite

    "Life-forms endure by reducing other stuff to faecal matter, for personal advantage. Leadership, Banking, War, Religion, Farming, Science and Industry, seem to be of similar ilk. Not surprising I suppose . . ."

    I would say not quite. Look at a forest with all the trees and animals and plants. Built from nothing more than sunlight air and water.

    From the most simple compounds to complexity and beauty. The quest of life.

    We chop down the forests to make coffee tables and garden furniture. The profits go to the shareholders, then the money is lost in a crash. The coffee table ends up in the skip because Gordon wants us to buy another one.

    Life creates the 'stuff' in the first place. The ape confused not so much by language, as purpose, takes it apart, then loses it.

    Celtic Lion
    Our Option

  • Comment number 37.

    My personal views-

    What is debt ?

    How about having a whole program just to workout what the term "debt" should be defined as ?

    My personal view is simple, anything you have to pay interest on is debt.So what is PFI if it is not debt ?

    How much debt ?

    Yesterdays ITV evening News had a interesting statistic , they claimed that £4,000 was being added to our national debt every 1 second.
    Now I did some maths -
    60 seconds * 60 minutes * 24 hours * 365 days * £4,000 and that equals £126 billion of Government debt over the next year alone.
    To put that £126 billion into context , our yearly spend on our Armed forces is £30 odd billion.
    So now the Government is saying it wants to borrow yet more on top of this new £126 billion debt , who's going to pay for this ?

    It looks a mess to me , but who am I , only the poor tax payer that will have to pay it back !

  • Comment number 38.


    Steve. You must not ask fundamental questions. Next you'll be asking 'what is money'. Then you might question democracy, the right to life and why J Gordon Brown is regarded as capable or Barack Obama as a good communicator.
    Asking fundamental questions only leads to loss of confidence, and in a 'Can Do' world, confidence is what Bob the Builder learns at his marshall arts class. Keep the faith.

  • Comment number 39.


    barrie (#28) Large numbers of these types still work and walk amongst us - the type who think that when they speak they're telling 'the truth' simply because they really believe that what they're saying sounds right, i.e. has 'credibility'. They are not anchored in the real world but one of internal coherence, it's truly frightening.

    Barrie (#32) Banking isn't the only area which has profited through deregulation and commercial anarchism. As I've linked before, have a look at the 2005 Health Committee's Fourth Report on The Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry. What was said in 181 and 299 is indicative of just how damaging 'deregulation' has been (these three were particulary frank - how many placebos are there out there, passed by the MHRA because they're safe because they're clinically close to ineffective). I could cite (and I have over the past year or so) many examples of this, for want of a better term, 'corruption', in Health, Education programmes and in Criminal Justice programmes/initiatives which along with the effect on financial services together strongly suggests to me that there's rather a lot wrong with our culture (for reasons which I've now given ad nauseam perhaps).

    Government? What Government?

  • Comment number 40.

    #37 Steve

    Listen to your Uncle Barrie. Stop asking fundamental questions.

    If you keep asking the why and the whats, people might have to answer them.

    Where would we be then?

    Dam. See what happens.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 41.

    BIG PHARMA PLOUGH DEEP FURROW (Old unspecified-distant-land proverb)

    Ho JJ! You are cooking with non-specific-low-molecular-weight-combustible here!

    In my capacity as Mother Nature's apologist, I felt I should put in a plug for bacteriophages. They are specific, and subtle and can't be accused of placebo effect after millions of years in the evolving!
    The trouble is, not a lot of people know that.

    Needless to say, Big Pharma will see them in general use 'over my dead body'. Doh!


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