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Newsnight & Newsnight Review: Friday, 27 March, 2009

Sarah McDermott | 17:44 UK time, Friday, 27 March 2009

Here's Kirsty with news of what's in store later this evening...

Hello viewers

"A comprehensive new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan" was President Obama's stated aim today in the face of what he described as an increasingly perilous situation. The goal he said is to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat" Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Much of the speech was focussed on Pakistan, and the carrot was there as well as the stick, $1.5bn in direct support to the Pakistani people each year for five years. So, will this pave the way for more US military action within Pakistan's elastic border with Afghanistan? And is the deployment of a further 17,000 US troops to take the fight to the Taliban, and a further 4000 troops to train Afghan security forces really an acceleration of the exit strategy? Mark Urban gives us his assessment.

And on the eve of the start of the planned protests leading up to the G20 we discuss the anger that is driving the protests. Anger against the bankers, the politicians, and globalisation. And more broadly, are more of us just mad as hell. And, if so, what is fuelling this emotion? How destructive is it and what will dissipate these feelings?

We hope to be speaking to Daniel Hannan, the Conservative MEP who let rip in a sustained verbal attack on Gordon Brown in Strasbourg this week, a huge YouTube hit, and one of the people taking part in tomorrow's protest.

If you're angry tell us what about here.

And then on Review, Rosie Boycott, Sarfraz Manzoor and Andrew Roberts consider two books which might help you manage or "channel" your anger.

Ayn Rand's classic 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged is selling like hotcakes. In the book a number of "capitalist commandos" forsake American society in which the government is pursuing increasingly interventionist policies, to firefight economic meltdown. And in The Storm, Vince Cable analyses the present crisis (which he predicted) and gives his pro interventionist solutions.

I wonder which you would pick?

Still on the theme of economic crisis, there is a new adaption of Gogol's The Overcoat by the physical theatre company Gecko. A lowly clerk is angry and frustrated about the preferment and consequent prosperity of his colleagues, and lusts after an overcoat to impress a colleague after whom he lusts even more.

And anger is just one of the many complex emotions which dominated Brian Clough's 44 day hell as manager at Leeds United FC, and imagined in a novel The Damned United by David Peace (he of the Red Riding trilogy). Now Peter Morgan has teamed up with Michael Sheen for the third time (Blair, Frost) with a loose adaption of the book as the starting point of an exploration of the triangle that dominated those days (Clough, his deputy Peter Taylor and Don Revie). Director Tom Hooper weaves in wonderful archive in a very restrained way, and Michael Sheen finds the essence of one of the most famous faces in football. He tells me he has never felt such pressure to get a character right! The former footballer Pat Nevin joins the panel to give us his verdict on The Damned United.

Do join us for all this later tonight.


  • Comment number 1.

    Protests won't necessarily change anything - these people need a good kicking in the wallet. Jericoa's comment yesterday gives a hint of how to go about this.

  • Comment number 2.

    speech got over 1.2 m hits?

    the govt was asleep at the wheel. if they want more debt to cripple the country further for a generation ie over many parliaments then they should have an electoral mandate to do it? which is why we need an election?

  • Comment number 3.

    Dear BBC

    It's MICHAEL sheen not Martin Sheen.

    6/10 Must pay more attention in class.

  • Comment number 4.

    On your front page - *Martin* Sheen as Brian Clough! Heh!

  • Comment number 5.


    Yes I much agree with Jericoa. Its very difficult to live without a bank account you have to rely on others and humble yourself but its possible.

    Anger is old hat now, just have to vote the criminals who did this to us the hell out.

    Flicking through the channels this week I visited a parallel universe with a parallel Kirsty. Crikey I didn't stay long, hope its a short lived universe.

  • Comment number 6.


    You are right. Anyone who is angry should hit these guys where it hurts.

    Love the email and the blog too!

  • Comment number 7.


    Think it can be endearing when some presenters make those kind of mistakes. I remember being informed that "Manchester had ran out of sound" - Surreal with out intent.
    For me it can make them more, well, tasty.

  • Comment number 8.

    martin sheen would have done a better job...

  • Comment number 9.


    I suddenly noticed the Kermiticity of Obama's delivery today, and all my ducks snapped into line. That indefatigable optimism in the face of Muppet Chaos, has all the joi de cockup of Kermit the Frog.

    Yes he can. But then Tony could too. What is it about these super heroes that makes them think that history is bunk and wild men with tribalism in their blood (literally!) will buy into American 'freedom' and Macdonald's Apple Pie, at the drop of a bomb?

    Just how much of Afghanistan has to be seeded with DU dust, peppered with unexploded bomblets, littered with dud shells, planted with mines and laved with the American way before yet another visionary leader loses that 'Horizon Gaze' and looks down at his feet of clay?

  • Comment number 10.

    The situation in Afghanistan has more history of conflict than almost the rest of the world put together. Remember the 'Great Game', played between Russia and Britain for most of the nineteenth century. The participants changed at the end of the twentieth century, when it was played between Russia and the US. Indeed it arguably led to the end of the USSR. Having so far lasted for two centuries, with the major powers throwing in all their resources, it seems unlikely that anyone will solve it in a few months!

    Moreover, it is not a war between the West (or even the US) and Al Quaeda, or the Taliban. If anything it is, in one sense at least, a war of liberation being fought by the Pushtun; as it has been for most of those two centuries.

    I do not see any easy solution, but I do think that fighting the wrong war against the wrong enemy is not the best place to start!

  • Comment number 11.


    Who started this bizarre performance, outside courts, that the police now give?
    Is it their job to interpret a judgement, to the media at large, in Manichean terms? What value does it serve, to further vilify some pathetic anger-filled, truncated 'life', using unedifying vernacular?

    While a police oficer is posturing, they are not performing as intended. Paradoxically, it is, clearly, part of 'angry Britain' that the dead lads family were decrying. We really are culturally confused.

  • Comment number 12.

    I'd like to point out that Pat Nevin was also an Everton player. Enough with the London bias BBC!!

  • Comment number 13.

    On Afghanistan I wonder whether the funding of the Talibs and al Qaeda is well enough understood to be able to "strangle" them.

    Drugs is one route but farmers would have to be compensated.

    I assume the rest comes from Pakistan as even though its cheap to be a guerilla they need logistics - food, transport, jump off bases etc.

    Also I am still not clear whether it is just Karzai that is the focus of US concern or the warlords who are apparently a gift to the Talibs as they are corrupt.

  • Comment number 14.

    #11 barriesingleton

    "Is it their job to interpret a judgement, to the media at large, in Manichean term".

    I think there is a lot of public interest in how the police see an investigation. Only they can comment sometimes - a cold blooded murderer here and misguided drunken fool there. Big difference and the judge can only talk about the facts of the case - not other cases I believe.

    But the really important thing is that the BNP can't be in the police due to their policies and I was heartened to hear the Association of Black Police Officers applaud the recent sacking of an officer.

    "What value does it serve, to further vilify some pathetic anger-filled, truncated 'life', using unedifying vernacular? "

    Not sure they vilify anybody beyond describing the previous ...

    But in the case of the Baby P batterer it does, in my view throw light on the fact that as he was an illiterate and a Nazi-lover he was probably part victim and part monster.

    You would need to be severely intellectually constrained to become a far right fellow traveller although in this case the Nazi aspect was a symptom.

    The trouble with race "realists" is they don't like "unedifying vernacular" but do like Nuremburg rallies.

    But there aren't enough to fill even quite a small field so thats sad isn't it.

  • Comment number 15.

    "Bitter and twisted are just two words that ... describe Brian Clough"

    Really Kirsty? Can't say I've ever heard them used to describe him.

    How about a couple to start you off on how to describe tonight's Review?

    "Crass" and "underinformed" spring rather easily to mind.

    Bring back Morley, Paulin and Myerson, even the latter might have had some more intelligent and informed opinion on any of the subjects under discussion tonight than the three stooges you had in the studio in what was one of the worst, least enjoyable episodes I have ever seen. Half an hour or so of my life that I might have been better off spending out walking the dog.

    I do not have a dog.

  • Comment number 16.

    I know it will be on the site somewhere, for a while, but I think it worth preserving an important discussion...

    Two very different ends of the scale, but calm and articulate in their views. I was impressed... and encouraged.

    Not so sure about the representative of the profession that sees all things in terms of 'there must be someone to blame'.

    To me, that is not the same as holding people to account and, as again well articulated by Mr. Hannan, a lot of frustration comes from 'our' electorate feeling powerless to influence anything... in a democracy with a vote!

    From quangos to lobbyists to backroom deals to EU telling UK what to do or face a fine to my MP's whip telling him how to vote, it's a very lost plot.

    And one smugly overseen by the dead tree press and the old boy broadcasting network.

    No wonder 'we' turn to the internet. For all the good even that does.

  • Comment number 17.

    THE HANNAN WAY (#16)

    Your cool appraisal should put you in line for the Hannan Prize Junkk. I might do well to follow your lead and 'put aside my childish things' of metaphor and poetic licence (but I doubt I shall).

    However, your final sentence re-affirms our damnation. The faults in governance are well illustrated on this blog and possible causes also, but if Damien Hannan cannot be heard - with all his mastery of subject and language, functioning at the black heart of it, we can be pretty sure that 'they' are not hearing him.

    The Jury Team echoes many of the tenets I have expressed, but still appear to be making the fundamental error of: "If you build it they will come". Sir Paul is INVITING applications; by inference he will get wannabes; I maintain we need to seek out the worthy DON'TWANNABES among us, and cajole them into standing. I assert that the ultimate test, in this hour of great need, is that good people feel moved (against a natural desire to stay out of it) TO DO SOMETHING, when called upon.

    For success, it is vital to SPOIL PARTY GAMES. I have set myself the task of bringing to the local (un)consciousness, the undemocratic structures of party politics (as you have touched on). In that endeavour, Hannan is clearly an asset, although by election time, he will be forgotten unless he chooses to take a higher profile lead. (I have emailed him to that effect. We need a hero.)

    Well, that's got my blood pressure down until the next glimpse of Brown, Straw, Hoon, Blears, McNulty, Miliband D etc etc etc on my TV screen.

    Thanks again Junkk.

  • Comment number 18.

    did the guy at the UN not understand what kirsty in full glasge mode was saying? i didn't understand what she was asking him when he asked her to repeat it.

    before unleashing her on people for whom english is a second language maybe give her a can of this?

    or we'll end up with more of this?

  • Comment number 19.

    #17 barriesingelton

    "I might do well to follow your lead and 'put aside my childish things' of metaphor and poetic licence (but I doubt I shall)."

    Right idea (childish things) but you race "realists" could do with examining your "case" against the Jews!

    Stalin expelled Trotskyites and Anarchists because he wasn't shooting people that day.

    Some were Jews and therefore all Jews are Trotskyites and Anarchists.

    But additionally nearly everybody else in the world who "...paints Hitler darkly for party political reasons ..." is an anarchist and a Trotskyite.

    So you people apparently are on a kind of charm offensive to spread your views amongst people that are generally similar to the people that Hitler would have had shot without blinking.

    Very logical. Profound intellects.

    That is sarcasm.

    Other childish things you could do with dumping....

    Your views on climate change. If you accumulated all of the scientists years of research into climate change it would total in the region of ten thousand years easily.

    You have stated that you have done " a bit of R&D" and therefore your view is that people like that could be wrong.

    People can be wrong and scientists are people. But when you have that volume of research and 99% of the scientists in the field agree climate change is happening due to human impacts it is as close to certainty as science gets.

    It is just another example of the totally flawed thinking that you people come up with.

    People of your ilk are laying claim to national pride but then when such as Jaded_jean discuss the war you will often have the slip into another mode - "... when YOU ... bombed Dresden".

    Its that sort of thing that gives people a really warm feeling about you.

    As for your "Damien Hannan cannot be heard" - I NEVER said that his views should not be on the programme - although it was flawed populism it does catch the mood of the country.

    I decried the view that the items that were on Newsnight were unworthy.

  • Comment number 20.

    #19 Good grief he's off again. Hey Go1! Have a read of
    this and this and this and this and certainly this. Then engage brain before opening mouth.

  • Comment number 21.

    thegangofone (#19) "Stalin expelled Trotskyites and Anarchists because he wasn't shooting people that day."

    Some folk are getting a sense of just how he felt.

    Look up Democratic-Centralism.

  • Comment number 22.

    thegangofone (#19) "... but you race "realists" could do with examining your "case" against the Jews!"

    Through practising endogamy (inbreeding essentially) over a very long period, Jews, like some other groups, have a higher frequency (prevalence) of some genetically based disorders. It is therefore perfectly reasonable to hypothesize that some behaviours are more commonly expressed in this group than in others. This is currectly being investigated by a number of research groups. I don't see why that should be described as a case 'against' Jews.

    You have an unfortunate habit of distorting what others write, in fact, you appear to be prone to distortion generally.

    You should look into epidemiology and behavioural genetics, including recent research into group differences in intelligence and other phenotypes, as you appear to be very confused.

  • Comment number 23.

    Obama is on his way out of Aghanistan, thank goodness; pressurising Pakistan to sort out its own mess whilst taking some of the sting out of that process by applying some dollar plasters is smart.

    We may have to supply some more troops to Afghanistan in the short term, but our role and that of NATO is coming to an end because of the lead provided by the US.

    We're going to need more of US leadership as the weeks and months go by; whatever happened to real leadership in UK politics? Did Blair and/or the media slaughter leadership on the high altar of the press release?

    Look at the Government and Opposition front benches? Where are the true leaders?

  • Comment number 24.


    Britons have clearly decided that Blair sold this country down the river, in pursuit of his own interests; not a great CV for a world statesman. Yet Obama clasped Blair to his bosom in the full media spotlight - a deliberate display. This is the act of either a fool or a knave. There is no third way.

    Where - indeed - are the true leaders?

  • Comment number 25.


    barrie (#24) "..Yet Obama clasped Blair to his bosom in the full media spotlight - a deliberate display.....
    Where - indeed - are the true leaders?"

    'He who pays the piper.....'

    As I've asked several times now:

    a) who provided New Labour's funds?

    b) Who ran Obama's campaign?

    In the old days of Old Labour and the Old Conservatives, few doubted who called the tunes. Now, even when the suspects are paraded on TV (and some even arrested), nobody talks of it as that would be a 'conspiracy theory'. The problem is, as Michael Meacher said, "sometimes conspiracies do happen".

    Today, people feel guilty about stating the obvious because of a very long term, and systematic, 'collective guilt campaign' designed to secure the free-market against the state, along with affirmative_action_get_out_of_jail_free_cards for a select few who 'network' most obviously.

    Basic rationality now demands that one looks to population base-rates and to observed frequencies. Where observed and expected frequencies are different from chance, strict equality is not operating.

    So.... why the trepidation?

  • Comment number 26.

    #25 Jaded_Jean

    I saw the "BNP Wives" on Sky.

    I disapprove of the programme as they looked just stupid and why give them publicity.

    Not only did they not show the sheep in the BNP field (only a bouncy castle with 5 bemused children) but they did not really reveal the vile race "realist" aspects of their ideology.

    Anyway you are not a Nazi or the BNP ("why the trepidation") but you are clearly on a totally different planet and you are way off any base rate or frequency that might describe normal rational human beings. Your comments on the Labour Party are not backed up by facts because you don't use them. Normally I would say I despise them but under these circumstances I can say I almost love them in comparison to the BNP.

    I could not stop laughing at the lady who clearly could not understood why she had been dumped. For a while I thought it was a kind of metaphor for the far right - but there never was a relationship between the far right and the public.

    I don't know..... Hitlers niece "donated" so much to Hitler's digestive system only to see 5 kids on a bouncy castle in the UK. Was it all worth it she might wonder.

    Not quite the thousand year reich?

  • Comment number 27.

    thegangofone (#26)

    "I saw the "BNP Wives" on Sky.

    Who owns SKY? Who appears on Newsnight and comments on the markets in this context and what is his economic affiliations/agenda?

    "I disapprove of the programme as they looked just stupid and why give them publicity.

    Perhaps to vilify the political idea of nationalism and statism? Here's an exercise for you. Try to eeconcile what you saw on SKY with what you know about that BNP list which was leaked to the press.

    Think about reprentativenesss and propaganda.

    Do you understand what I, and others have been explaining to you over the months?

    I suspect the BNP will not go far politically in the UK overall, but they may get protest votes in areas where the indigenous population feels excluded.

    Just to be clear, I think that should the BNP advocate unrealistic, unjust, illegal race policies, they will destroy any political credibility they have with the UK electorate.

    The issues I have been raising are far more complex than you appear to appreciate.

  • Comment number 28.

    'The Home Secretary's husband has said sorry for embarrassing his wife after two adult films were viewed at their home, then claimed for on expenses.'

    Does this trivial incident indicate the risks of storing information on a secure database as would be the case for ID cards?

  • Comment number 29.

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

  • Comment number 30.

    My Personal Views -

    Dunfermline Building Society

    1) Is it true that any state aid for this building society would have been blocked by the EU ?

    2) If it is to be broken up and sold off , is it not time to change the law so mortgage holders have first right to buy their mortgage debt back at fire sale prices (maybe as cheap as 70% of the loan book value ) ?
    This would enable the lowly mortgage holder to wipe out up to 30% of their mortgage debt , thus reducing or totally wiping out any negative equity they are currently suffering from ?

    Global Financial Regulator

    I heard a week or two ago , that President Obama had been told not to concede any Sovereignty to the Europeans demands for a global financial regulator ?

    So Mr Brown is only left the option of giving our financial regulation system to the EU to control, can he spin that as a vindication of his original stated aims ?
    Or will it be seen as another sell out of our Sovereignty (democratic accountability) by a EU fanatic that has no democratic mandate to do it ?

    Or is their a third way to spin this and try and save face ?

  • Comment number 31.


    Is all this really just a means to strategically surround Iran in defence of (a somewhat paranoid/beligerent/expansionist) Israel?

    Was the pursuit of 'terrorists', 'WMDs' and regime change in these areas really just an excuse to reduce the threat to Israel and put some US troops near Iran's borders? Who is the 'we' who are threatened by 'terrorists'?

    Is it time to expose a subterfuge? Especially given what the Masters of The Universe have been up to?

  • Comment number 32.

    #31; in answer;

    No; no; don't know; don't know; don't know.

    Thanks for that, Genie. Rhetorical questions are always so edifying.

  • Comment number 33.

    kashibeyaz (#32) "in answer;

    No; no; don't know; don't know; don't know."

    Can you tell us how you arrived at those answers?

  • Comment number 34.

    An idea for Newsnight is what will happen to British Universities who are over dependent on foreign students.

    Some have 30% of their students from China alone.

    As Paul Mason has said China has dropped to 2% growth - that we would kill for - but there is unemployment and probably fear.

    My point is that do we need regulation to make sure we don't have dependency relationships that could potentially take down a university, and our higher education system, in a sudden and very severe downturn.

    How are applications doing for 2009-10 and are the finances going to cope.

    I doubt that the reserves would cover it and the government might have to step in - and then we have even higher taxes in the future.

    Perhaps though these genuinely very intelligent people do have all the bases covered.

  • Comment number 35.

    #31 Jaded_jean

    Yet more flawed analysis from the not-the-BNP-news.

    I think the US is quite worried about missiles being launched at it - and dirty bombs being used (as are the UK as was in the news). Perhaps the news of 9/11 did not penetrate to that Derbyshire field but it was quite a big event in the real world.

    Your problems with the Israel relate in your own words to the fact that Stalin ejected Trotskyites and anarchists. In your words it "wasn't because they were going to the synagogue". Thats actually quite solid for you.

    Thats almost up there with your profound "we all came out of Africa but some got left behind". You actually believe apparently you are a high grade intellectual!

    You are also somebody who refuses to affirm or deny the Holocaust - but you have previously produced "statistics" on Jewish survival rates from the 30's. What a cunning subterfuge - nobody suspects your beliefs.

    Anyway I have noticed that you get upset when I mention Hitlers "drinking sessions" with his niece and the anecdotal evidence that Himmler may have been 1/16 Jewish genes and would therefore have had to hand himself in to the camps.

    Millions of murdered people don't bother you at all and thats what people will have noticed.

    I vote Lib Dem but apparently to you I am "an anarchist and a Trotskyite" because I "paint Hitler as darkly as possible".

  • Comment number 36.

    17. At 10:32am on 28 Mar 2009, barriesingleton
    Thanks again Junkk.


    Speaking of which, and everything is relative, I have to say this programme thread is a tad more welcoming than others.

    I think some political correspondents are having to draft in O/T (that's overtime, on over the top... mind you) moderators to either nip things in buds, or take the call from 'above' that what they let through was actually 'off topic', broke the rules, etc.

    Bless 'em.

    Nick Cohen in the Observer is worth reading. Actually, the comments to his piece are worth even more.

    Until I am consigned, possibly, to blogivion I am as ever...

  • Comment number 37.

    What do Rahm Emanuel and Nicolas Sarkozy have in common apart from stature? Why is France now with the program in Afghanistan and NATO?

  • Comment number 38.

    thegangofone (#35) "Perhaps the news of 9/11 did not penetrate to that Derbyshire field but it was quite a big event in the real world."

    It depends on how one looks at it don't you think?

  • Comment number 39.

    On Pakistan is it possible to get an idea of Obama's "what if" contingency planning?

    I think he has his policies just about right with targeting cleaning up the ISI etc. and "smart" targeting in Pakistan.

    But if we hit a point where the militants really start to turn Pakistan into a failed state then I assume they have to contemplate some kind of military action - if only to make sure nuclear material and weapons are taken out of the equation.

    If they don't I assume India is going to have some very tough decisions and China would not exactly be thrilled to have a nuclear exchange close to its cities.

    The Russians are in the fray as they presumably have intelligence networks in the region (probably more Afghanistan and India then Pakistan) so they have chips they may want to play with regard to missile defence.

    If Afghanistan is a "cannot lose" situation would Obama consider conscription?

    What about the relationship with the warlords to stem corruption.

    If you have that CIA chief on again I wonder what he will say about the ISI and any reliance that had been previously placed on strategy derived from them.

    Did MI5 not see the ISI as a "partner". Perhaps true overall but perhaps a flawed relationship.

    Can it be cleaned up?

  • Comment number 40.

    Go1 #35

    You are also somebody who refuses to affirm or deny the Holocaust - but you have previously produced "statistics" on Jewish survival rates from the 30's.

    You are misrepresenting again. The figures JJ quotes are totals for world Jewry (taken from the Jewish Library) in 1930 and again for the present day. Take teh first figure and fac tor in TFR and teh second figure is about right. The m,eaning being that it does not seem that 6 million went missing during the intervening years. How else do you explain these simple figures?

    I'll direct you again to this but I doubt you'll bother.

  • Comment number 41.

    thegangofone (#39) "if we hit a point where the militants really start to turn Pakistan into a failed state.."

    Pakistan has tripled to 150m in the same time that the UK increased by about 10m. Why? According to the evidence, it has a mean IQ in the 80s which means that a very large number of people there have the cognitive ability of children.

    Not too long ago, Pakistan had a military dictatorship, which, despite what you say here, tends to emerge, I suggest, when a country has high differential fertility/dysgenesis and seeks a little stability to cope with disease, crime, family/tribal conflicts and all the other consequences.

    Do you think our inner city schools should abandon regulations so that kids can be free to 'choose' what they do? Is that what you think 'liberal-democracy' is all about? Being free to be a narcissistic, petulent infant again?


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