BBC BLOGS - Newsnight: From the web team
« Previous | Main | Next »

Wednesday, 10 December, 2008

Sarah McDermott | 17:21 UK time, Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Here's what's coming up in tonight's Newsnight:

"When death is hidden and private people don't confront their fears about it."
The words of Mary, the wife of Craig Ewert whose assisted suicide is shown on television tonight, the first time such a death has been shown. The broadcast has created intense argument, as have attempts by campaigners to change the 1961 Suicide Act which makes it a crime to assist those who want to kill themselves. The programme is broadcast after the parents of talented rugby player Daniel James were told they would not face charges for taking their paralysed son to a clinic in Switzerland to end his life. Today the Prime Minister said the law against assisting suicide should remain in place. Tonight we will ask whether it is time to change the law.

Riot police are again on the streets of Athens. Today's action is a pre-planned general strike but follows five days of unrest triggered by the shooting of a teenager by police. Reports talk of the hopelessness of Greek youth who blame the government for focusing on rescuing the economy rather than wider society. So are we seeing the first credit crunch riots?

Tonight we return to Leicester to revisit our four teenagers who are among 80,000 young people facing Christmas in care. Phil has moved home and is with new foster parents while Jareth is facing his last Christmas in the care system. You can watch Liz Mackean's first film and watch clips about all the teenagers in the series here.

It has been reported that UK troops will leave Iraq next spring. Andrew North looks back to the last time British troops occupied Iraq in the years after World War I and finds remarkable parallels.

Join us tonight.


  • Comment number 1.

    "Today the Prime Minister said the law against assisting suicide should remain in place. "

    He is a Christian. That might have influenced his view. Should M.P.'s be required to set aside their own beliefs in forming opinions?

    Why should I, an atheist, have to accept laws influenced by religious beliefs when such laws relate to private and personal matters, such as suicide?

    If suicide is legal, why not assisting (subject to checks the "assistance" is not a cover for murder)?

    PC, Political Christianity has much to answer for.

  • Comment number 2.

    The Australia Channel showed the suicide film recently. No fuss, no hysteria, no strident debate beforehand.

    Why do you lot react so dramatically to things like this? If the viewer doesn't want to watch it, they don't. That's not hard is it?

    You lot are your own worst enemy.

    It's a well made doco. and it shows it just how it was.

    Is it Christianity that causes reactions to this sort of business? Thankfully there's none of that crap here in Thailand.

  • Comment number 3.

    UN Rapporteur Richard Falk has just released one of the most damning statements to date on Israel's continuing starvation siege of Gaza.

    It's a key call for action, amplifying other recent UN and international condemnations of Israel's “apartheid” policies.

    Newsnight has had much to say on Western calls for Mugabe's removal and the situation in Zimbabwe. Yet, we hear next to nothing of these major criticisms of Israel and its brutal treatment of Palestinians in Gaza – and, of course, the West Bank.

    The siege of Gaza is a humanitarian emergency and an international scandal. As Falk urgently puts it: “Silence is not an option.”

    Will you be covering this story any time soon?

    John Hilley

  • Comment number 4.


    I have lost count of the times my TV has shown 'Shock and Awe' lighting up the Baghdad sky (but not the inside of some dim skulls apparently). Now there is threat that it might show a family making public a very private moment BECAUSE OF THE BIZARRE MIND-SET IN THE UK about the right of any competent person to die - JUST WHEN THEY CHOOSE.

    Under the rubble of Baghdad, countless lives ebbed away in pain and misery; and Tony/Gordon 'saw that it was good'. Today, I saw Gordon, piously, declare himself against assisted dying, but did he not assist Tony in the deaths of those Iraqis?

    I despair of the inability of politicians to think in an adult, rational manner. My MP shares the simplistic view of Brown, presumably from an ill thought-through religious stance.

    Personally, I have already (@ 71) armed myself with the necessary info to go before I become a treasured possession of the caring classes (albeit well-meaning) and 'going' is a common topic of conversation with several of my very agreeable friends.

    Any politician reading this, who thinks ANY life is precious: visit me - I'll explain your mistake VIVIDLY.

  • Comment number 5.


    There is a poignant parallel between the Jews' right to what we call Palestine - gifted by their god - and our LACK of any right, over the life that animates us (according to some worthies) because they reckon our lives belong to THEIR god.

    It seems to me, the time has come for these gods to speak up, or for their supporters to shut up. Let any gods who must, start talking out of fancy boxes on poles or from mountain tops; even the TV, IN LANGUAGE WE CAN FOLLOW (not hard if you are omni-everything) or leave us the better placed, to make sensible decisions for ourselves.

    I'll get me lightning bolt.

  • Comment number 6.


    This is not quite 'care' but it is related, and it shows that pointing out flaws in how New Labour has approached risk assessment/management doesn't have much impact.

    nevertheless, like many others, even this this inveterate, indefatigable campaigner seems to have the cart before the horse focusing on 'speech and language' problems (low verbal intelligence). This tends to come with other genetic dispositions and therapy never has been, and never will be the answer. Whilst closer observation, supervision/management may be theoretically, but to be ruthlessly honest about this, who can be bothered? It's too unrewarding i.e punitive - as many in Social Services alone will now volunterer to tell their high and mighty self-elected public lynchmobs so eagerly exploited by Ministers.

  • Comment number 7.

    # 4 Hear Hear

    but flash/splash with a dash or rash with your cash {not mine)gordon has only 45 mins to save the world, pmq's today.
    same as tony's balony.

    gb saving the banking system lol he caused it, if you cant c that get a pair of specs or a brain transplant.
    It only took ten years, cant wait for the next ten

    tings can only get better

  • Comment number 8.

    Newsnight. My post from Monday

    4. At 7:47pm on 08 Dec 2008, KingCelticLion wrote:
    forgo materialism?

    Is that the same as also rejecting undirected consumerism. Isn't this against everything the Government has told us to do? We might then have a future, and not crash the planet's ecological systems, but where would we be then?


    Just a subtle hint the Greek story wasn't going to go away in a hurry. Thanks for covering it. I will watch even if it clashes with Family Guy, or the shocked expression of Gordon 'Oh You're here' Brewer (Scottish Newsnight joke only).


    Thanks again for bringing up that small matter of the Iraq hypocrisy. Saves me doing it.

    Celtic Lion

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 9.

    consumer protection.

    If I buy a can of beans which I find to be, not fit for purpose or incompetant I can get a refund or the item replaced, why not with ones wasted tax money.

    A service man/woman who loses an I.D. card will lose a months wages, same if said man or woman has a Neil Diamond ( N.D. neg discharge) thats a lot of dosh for said person living on beans on toast without the beans, Dont You Think. Huge rewards in the public/private sector for incompetance must fill the service personel with great warmth, well they dont have a hill of beans to warm them up do they.

  • Comment number 10.


    'Jam tomorrow' is the stock-in-trade of the politician (along with: "THEY don't HAVE any jam; na na na-na nah").

    dAllan169 makes a good point; one that Newsnight might well deploy. Perhaps resigning is too much to ask, and tar-and-feather is almost as dangerous as smoking, but jam and cornflakes? Newsnight should ask the promissory politician if they will pledge delivery against a public 'jam and cornflaking' on failure.

    In passing: if you see a replay of poor Gordon being laughed at, watch Harriet Hardman's face - it is a mask. There is much going on in that head that Gordon wots not.

  • Comment number 11.

    #5 Barrie

    You should not expect to understand the words of gods, because

    "GOD moves in a mysterious way,
    His wonders to perform;
    He plants his footsteps in the sea,
    And rides upon the tsunami."

    (With no apologies to Cowper.)

    And people still believe it.

  • Comment number 12.


    It's my contention that, while we still beat the 'proverbial' out of each other with our war machines, and believe in a range of dogma/gods, the human race cannot regard itself as more than The Ape Confused By Language. And when you watch Brown or Sarkosi or Berlusconi et al, the apparent quintessence of our societies, confirmation is at hand.

    JJ says it is all down to genetic decline, but it seems to me we might buy ourselves some respite, before becoming the 'grey goo of IQ', by OPTIMISING the maturity of the highest number. I sincerely believe this might (just) be achieved. But it would need a complete revolution (overturning) of the current 'education for stupidity' that underlies incompetence and undermines competence.

    If they manage to patch up Mammon, we may live to rue the day. Complete collapse might have overthrown the old order without the usual bloody chaos. Ho hum.

  • Comment number 13.

    #11 13th Man

    William Cowper (1731–1800)

    God Moves in Mysterious Ways

    God moves in a mysterious way,
    His wonders to perform;
    He plants his footsteps in the sea,
    And rides upon the storm.

    The Tsunami was not an unavoidable disaster. The venture capital for the use of the Millennium Dome as a global environmental management centre, was based on how much I could reduce the liabilities of re and insurance companies with respect to costs related to climate change and other associated situations. A global environmental monitoring and alert system.

    The money could only be raised on what (confidence limits) could be predicted to happen.

    Nevertheless there was capacity in the system to use it as a Tsunami system also. It was not possible to set up a Tsunami system alone, but it could have been incorporated because the communication infrastructure was already in place.

    In 2001 the UK Government had infact the proposal for a Tsunami warning system, at no cost. Which of course they rejected with the rest of the proposal.

    After the 2004 Tsunami the official inquest said there could not be a system. This was not true, there was a system which the Government rejected that answered all the reasons the 'expert witness' gave as why there could not be one.

    I contacted the representatives of the victims families and in depth explained the situation. They gave me permission to go to the media to bring out the truth of the situation.

    BBC News know there was a realistic Tsunami early warning system which the Government rejected. Even though potentially (200,000?) died unnecessarily.

    (Outside of 45 minutes of initiation of the pressure wave)

    The SE Asia Tsunami occurred 3 years after the UK Government rejected a no cost to anyone early warning system.

    Why do you think the media inc the BBC will not cover such as story even though all the documented evidence exists.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    13th man

    My post from Paul mason blog An Economic Krakatoa. Tsunsmis are a consequence of being able to feed millions of people. The risk could have been reduced. The Government wanted a supercasino instead.

    27. At 11:10am on 16 Oct 2008, U13626224 wrote:

    Just a quickie on global ecological systems. Krakatoa and the Boxing Day Tsunami are part of the SE Asia tectonic plate system.

    The largest feature is the Indian plate pushing up into the Asian one. This produces the Himalayas. This are very high and rainwater and snowfall on them end up in the rivers of India and Bangladesh.

    These support high levels of human population and food production. Orthogenesis: mountain forming is also a part of the control of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Remember when you eat your Basmati rice, Krakatoa is part of the process which put it on your plate.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 16.

    KingCelticLion (#13) As an exercise, go through your post and critically question why the UK (or even USA) government might not have been interested.

    Furthermore (and this is directed to others too), instead of criticising this government for not doing more, ask how they could do more give that in current (anarchsitic) Liberal-Democracies, the obligation/mandate is to legislate to limit state interference in the markets. After all, that's where most of our recent GDP growth came from. Who benefits from that?

    This is why recent economic events are so problematic for current 'Liberal-Democractic' politicians and why the likes of the BNP were such concern in the recent Employment Bill's passage through the two Houses.

  • Comment number 17.

    I have not watched tonight's "Newsnight" (and haven't watched many, to be honest, in the past few months), but I wondered if any one who still has the mental strength to bear "Newsnight" could tell me if the jounalist covering the 'Greece' story, granted us the privilege of hearing what the shot Greek teenager was accused of doing.

    Were the viewers allowed to know?

  • Comment number 18.

    #16 JJ

    That's the problem. The finance would have come from the private sector. On the competition criteria it should have won.

    I refer back to your post/link on investigative journalism. £350 billion loss the the UK economy so far, hence this financial mess we are in.

    2007 flooding that was known about and could have been prevented. How many unnecessary deaths etc?

    Policy being made up without reference to proper independent research?

    The Government didn't have to do anything. Somehow or someone held back the 'invisible hand of the market'.

    Why? Why didn't the BBC give it the same coverage as other shortlisted projects. Where was the balanced reporting, in the public interest?

    Any of these things one would have thought the media would consider in the public interest to investigate.

    Journalists are interested but consider it too big a story, out of there remit to cover.

    Surely it should be the media and journalists trying to answer the questions.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 19.

    The trouble is, Barrie, that there might be lots and lots of god-voices purporting to come from on high, but they would actually be produced by bigoted men hiding down here with microphones.

  • Comment number 20.

    Why don't the idiotic Henrys who run Newsnight

    1. spell 'programme' in the English way?

    2. get that night's edition on iPlayer?

    ps. and let's see better English from the bloggers

  • Comment number 21.

    17. At 11:18pm on 10 Dec 2008, Strugglingtostaycalm
    Were the viewers allowed to know?

    There was once what we should know, and now there's what we need to be made to believe.

    That can often be effected by leaving things out as much as by what gets chosen to be included.

    Hence, as evidenced by Jon Humphry's spluttered response to Philip Green's challenge recently, when scared witless by the notion of competing in the real world, the job seems not to be report objectively any more, it is to 'interpret events'.


  • Comment number 22.

    No. 17 Strugglingtostaycalm

    What is also mysterious about the reporting of this story are the constant references to 'protesters' . The young men, and they are almost all young men, would be better described as 'rioters' or 'hooligans'. Describing them as 'protesters' implies that they have a legitimate cause that meets the approval of the BBC.

  • Comment number 23.

    Over recent years I have seen the kids (finally) leave home and had the luxury of a little more time to myself. In that time I have re-examined long held beliefs and have now (with a little help from my friends) discarded some 'received wisdom' in favour of what now appears to be more likely the case. In doing so I have developed some 'political' views which I haven't previously had time for, being too distracted with providing for a family.

    Now when asked if I have a position on a policy, instead of repeating the conventional view, I air my hard won findings. People tend to ask the same questions time after time but seem surprised that I give a pretty consistent answer time after time and it's not the one they were hoping for. This is giving me the reputation for being a little single minded, obsessed even and the subject will shift swiftly to what we are having for pudding. Maybe I don't get invited next time.

    It's like that here. Contributers have researched a problem and have unearthed evidence to support their view. If the evidence is well founded, how can the answer change? People get accused of having only one tool in the box. But if the truth does not change, what else is there?

    In general there is much good sense to be found here. I am amazed at the patience, tenacity and downright stamina of some who continue to stand witness to the same evidence in the face of the inquisition of those bent on preserving the myth of convention. But how do we get that good sense out into the public arena? For those whose interests are well served by repressing such thinking the blog works effectively. We get as het up as we like and propound our theories (as far as blogdog will allow) and go off feeling better. However, we haven't spread the word at all, it remains safely contained within the blog.

    My despair and frustration spring from hearing so many expound such wisdom, and knowing it will have zero effect upon the state of the nation. How do we get our point across? The powers that be have the stranglehold, trying to alert the nation to the danger facing it appears a lost cause. Storming the Bastile must have been a doddle.

    Barrie re The Ape Confused by Language, this this must be especially for you.

  • Comment number 24.

    IT IS THE MEN - ISN'T IT! (#19)

    We do war, religious oppression, rape, intolerance and general discontented restlessness.

    If women had any real get-up-and-go, they would take over the world and apply relevant modern technology (probably male-devised) to remove the need for men.

    If nothing else - the Amazon trees would regenerate!

    I'll get me death warrant.

  • Comment number 25.

    why do we have to know what the young protester was 'doing' ? He was shot in the chest by a police marksman for protesting about his governments policy. What is wrong with that? Sadly, the Greek authorities are shooting first, very much like another European country who shoot innocent Brazilians on trains.

  • Comment number 26.

    1.the wrong programme has been linked to real player version. looks like last week's.

    2.still silence on gas retail prices even though the isle of man has slashed gas prices between 10-25%. most energy watchers say the companies should be able to cut prices now. so why don't they?

    in energy tribune we read

    ...Ofgem, the U.K. energy regulator, uses the Herfindahl-Hirschman Indices to gauge competition in the marketplace. An H.H.I. rating of less than 1,000 is considered competitive, with anything over 1,800 a highly concentrated market. According to Ofgem, the U.K.’s power market has an H.H.I. rating of 3,137 and the gas market has a rating of 3,356....

    in other words they don't have to.

    and still no feed in tariff building localised capacity.

    instead the govt focusses on one way grid big ticket windpower projects that costs a fortune just to install the new power lines to the offshore sites miles from anywhere. they then cite that as a reason why its not cost effective.

    in the same way as the govt has bungled the economy they are bungling renewables. its the same failed mindset from the same people.

    meanwhile the whole of europe is pressing ahead with feed in tariff localised capacity on factory roofs etc as that has proved the most cost effective and efficient method.

    so why is the govt 'out of step' with everyone else on a feed in tariff producing localised energy and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs?

  • Comment number 27.

    leftieoddbod #25

    I have some sympathy for what you say having attended the Grosvenor Square jamboree when I was in leftie hippie mode all those years ago. But I think it reasonable to ask what he was doing as it might turn out he was lobbing a Molotov cocktail at police lines, or worse, and had been told not to by an armed policeman. (If I ever find myself confronted by an armed policeman I will do exactly what he says, be daft not to.) The rights and wrongs of the fatal shot are another matter although it does seem somewhat draconian on the surface and there are indications that the policeman said it was a ricochet where ballistics show it was not. And that is not good at all.

  • Comment number 28.

    why oil got to 147 dollars a barrel story.

    remember everyone was telling us the high price wasn't speculation but the real price of a shrinking commodity?

    if it wasn't clear enough it was 90% speculation and the price crash is due to forced liquidation by funds financing redemptions from their funds.

    ....This gentleman explained that a New York investment banker had told him point-blank that near the end of 2007 the investment banks were getting their clocks cleaned so brutally by the sub-prime crash, that they desperately needed to shore up their balance sheets. Hungry investors wanted results.

    So, they doubled-down on commodities trading, especially oil futures. Why? Because, hitherto, fluctuations of more than two percent in securities raised eyebrows; whereas daily gyrations of five, seven, even 10 percent in commodities would scarcely cause an eyelash to bat. A bidding war on that pinch of oil supply ensued, as ever-avaricious hedge fund managers sought to capitalize on the oil scare. Up and up and up went the price, fueled by analyst firms telling us that $200 per barrel was right around the corner. (Who pays those analyst firms, anyway? Oh, right, investment banks!).....

    there is a big story here how hedge funds to get out trouble themselves blew up the world economy. No wonder Obama wants to close down uk tax havens which are in analogy no different from the no rules somali pirate bases.

    Oh and ex traders are supposed to be the brains behind the somali pirates?

  • Comment number 29.

    My Personal Views -


    As I believe in the Liberty of the individual I have no problem with people wanting to turn themselves off, if they are of sound mind. As with all rights the State has to prove a case why someone rights should be withheld from them, not the other way around.
    I have known a few people who have turned themselves off over the years, all the ways they did it had a large negative impact on their loved ones, so it's a lot better if it was done with medical help and their loved ones have a chance of talking about it with them before.
    Persecuting people who help is perverse !


    I remember watching some documentary about the end of WW2 and Greece has always had a problem with Communists.


    Well at lest now the Iraqi Government can ask for help when their neighbours start threatening them.
    They are looking stronger in dealing with their internal issues, I just hope the Government keeps asking it's people for a mandate to rule !

    From our point of view , hopefully we wont see Iraqi Security Services and there make do torture houses popping up in west London any more, threatening the relatives of Kurdish dissidents who had been given asylum here.

    Germany Speaks Out

    I could not agree more with them !
    Running up an even bigger debt for our younger generation to pay off is immoral.
    Where's your moral compass Mr Brown ?
    We all should live within our means, in good times and bad !


    So much for Gordon ?

    Maybe if the Government had listened to the Conservatives policy on introducing US style Chapter 11 laws into the UK, Woolworth would not have been thrown to the asset strippers (creditors) so quickly !
    Maybe they could have restructured and saved many of the jobs , who knows ?

  • Comment number 30.

    Barrie (24), I wasn't actually using the word 'men' to mean 'human males'. I am old enough to remember when it just meant 'people' (as opposed to 'gods' or 'other species'). I wasn't doing an anti-male post, but an anti-gods one. Must watch my words more carefully.

    However, if the cap fits ...

  • Comment number 31.

    barrie (#24) "If women had any real get-up-and-go, they would take over the world.."


    What world do you post from barrie?

  • Comment number 32.

    Of course the Corporate Nazi's will never allow anyone the basic human right to end one's own life ( or be helped to do it ). Assisted suicide would foil their corporate plan to battery farm as many virtual vegetables as possible whilst supplying them with expensive not proven to be effective drugs. Think of the lost revenue if intelligent people were allowed to chose whether to continue life as a virtual prisoner in their own body, or severe pain with no actual quality of life whatsoever.

  • Comment number 33.

    brossen99 (#32) "Assisted suicide would foil their corporate plan to battery farm as many virtual vegetables as possible whilst supplying them with expensive not proven to be effective drugs."



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.