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Newsnight & Newsnight Review: Friday, 24 April, 2009

ADMIN USE ONLY | 17:58 UK time, Friday, 24 April 2009

Here's Kirsty with what's on tonight's programme:

The latest official figures suggest the recession is biting harder than anyone expected. The economy shrank by 1.9% in the first three months of this year - that's even worse than the previous quarter. This undermines Chancellor Alistair Darling's forecasts in the Budget that the economy would have declined by 3.5% by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the government has been facing mounting criticism over the Budget with opposition parties accusing the chancellor of failing to spell out the true extent of cuts in public spending.

But what are the prime candidates for the chop? Sure Start? Aircraft carriers? The cap on university fees? Crossrail? The winter fuel allowance? Will Alistair Darling cut a swathe through projects or make a thousand tiny - or not so tiny - cuts?

Is this now officially the Age of Make Do and Mend? Or the Age of Austerity mark II? David Kynaston, the social historian, wrote The Age of Austerity, an analysis of post-war behaviour, how people made the most of very little.

Tonight he, along with Kirstie Allsopp, who has a new show about living on the cheap will be discussing with a leading psychologist how behaviour is changing in reaction to the harsh economic climate.

What chance of a truce in Sri Lanka? Indian envoys have today been attempting to persuade Sri Lanka's president, Mahinda Rajapaska. The UN Security Council, the US and others have been demanding that Sri Lanka stop the offensive against the Tamil Tiger rebels, as thousands of refugees still await transport away from the battlezone. According to a UN document seen by the Reuters agency nearly 6,500 civilians have been killed and 14,000 wounded in fighting since the end of January. Both sides accuse the other of firing on civilians. We'll be speaking to Catherine Bragg, Assistant Secretary-General at the UN.

And then on Review we concentrate for the most part on the rich variety of new film, TV, music, drama and literature about Afghanistan with my guests Michael Gove, Julie Myerson, Johann Hari and Saira Shah. The Great Game is the London Tricycle Theatre's Festival of drama, talks, music, and film about the country's turbulent cultural and political history, including 16 new plays by writers including Abi Morgan, David Greig and David Edgar. Director Nicholas Kent's aim is to spark a debate about the West's involvement in Afghanistan - we hope to have that debate tonight!

Afghan Star is an amazing documentary about a TV talent show of the same name, along the lines of Pop Idol, which has captivated Afghanis. Eleven million people voted in the final, and the contestants - particularly the women - risked their lives to take part in defiance of the Taleban, who issued death threats.

Books based in Afghanistan, such as The Kite Runner, and The Bookseller of Kabul, have proved remarkably popular. Perhaps that's why Born Under A Million Shadows attracted a whopping advance for first-time author Andrea Busfield, who fell in love with the country when based there as a reporter. Her semi-autobiographical story is about a young boy in Kabul who befriends an English woman and her Western colleagues.

And then we are back on home turf with a new low budget urban thriller Shifty about a crack cocaine dealer of the same name, and his friend who returns after an absence of four years and walks into drugs battle. It's the first feature from the writer/director Eran Creevy, and was made in just 18 days with a budget of £100,000 as part of the BBC's Microwave scheme. A film for the credit crunch!

I hope you'll be watching, Kirsty


Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    "...the harsh economic climate" - Well 1st why do we tell our grannies to work till thy drop and then pay 6 Billion a year to the likes of the Spanish and French via the EU Grant for their young fit teachers to lie on a beach for 13 weeks a year. Why was the EU grant not in your list of possible cuts ? - Come on Kirsty Stop being such an agenda setter.

  • Comment number 2.

    "...the harsh economic climate" - Well 2nd – can you tell me what we have actually run out of apart from numbers ? What is happening is we have a financial system designed in pre-machine age 15th Century Venice that only survives on asset booms of one sort or another. Frankly it’s not fit for purpose. There are far better ways to fix this – using things like NEFS – Net Export Financial Simulation.

  • Comment number 3.

    Why is the BBC virtually ignoring the storm in the USA about torture used by the Bush/Cheney regime? And why is Newsnight ignoring it altogether? One quarter million signatures have gone to the White House so far, demanding an independent investigation.

    According to the recently released bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee report, the previous administration’s Office of Legal Counsel "distorted the meaning and intent of anti-torture laws" and "rationalized the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody."

    But you think US demands in relation to Sri Lanka are more important??

    Or is it because the UK is implicitly involved by accepting "intelligence" from torture, so you're singing dumb?

  • Comment number 4.

    Get Labour to be brave and call a general election and we will be able to find out from each of the parties what their plans are ?

    They might even be able to effect, for the better, the legacy we are currently set to leave for our children ?

  • Comment number 5.

    The NHS should be run by professionals instead of management who are hugely expensive and counter productive. True, there will be some re-training of management required which will be a cost, but less costly than the present bureaucracy

  • Comment number 6.


    the govt seems to let in those who should be kept out and keep out those who should be let in. I lived in a town where they were based and they were respectful and polite. anyone who rows on the oars should get a fair drink from the bottle.

  • Comment number 7.

    Surestart can go, £3 billion a year on a service that has no clear idea what it should be doing, and has had zero effect over the last ten years.

    Tax credit: Scrap it and up the threshold at which we start paying tax and child benefit, you'd save billions.

    Quangos have grown exponentially, including things like regional govts in England and regional planning committees. Take an axe to the quangos.

  • Comment number 8.

    I am 50 years old and the 'Penny has just dropped' never,ever again will I vote for a 'mainstream' candidate in an election.
    I think the last 18 months will change politics for ever (ok, I hope it will)

  • Comment number 9.

    Over the past 15 years our Foundation has been advising government that they require a ‘totally independent’ national advisory body to determine value-for-money for the nation. This is far more prevalent today with the immense financial problems that we now all face and where it will not be until 2032 according to leading economists that Britain will stabilise its national debt again. This is not another ‘quango’ set up by the establishment, but a national resource for the people, saving vast amounts of waste and tens of billions of taxpayer’s funds annually. In this respect government quangos listen too much to the rich and powerful and where decisions are biased towards this vast lobby group. As a recent example, the NHS waste on Tamiflu et al which Vietnamese doctors told the world two-years ago that it was ‘useless’ to combat ‘Bird-Flu’. Now, US doctors have stated the same and cited this fact in USA Today some two weeks ago. But, our government has invested up to £500 million in this useless drug that will now secretly be dispatched to the waste incinerators of Britain (thus causing even energy to be spent to remove it and literally burn £½ billion up in smoke of Britain’s hard earned cash). This wasted national wealth list over the years is unfortunately for the taxpayer endless, and where a supranational ‘independent’ watchdog body is the only way forward. In this respect a vital necessity. Otherwise government will continue to spend recklessly and throw away literally hundreds of billions of pounds needlessly over the coming years. Indeed, conversely, we now need these precious funds provided by the taxpayer for the good of the people and the country; for our very existence in the long-term depends upon using them wisely. Massive change has to come quickly and to stop all this terrible waste !

    Dr David Hill
    World Innovation Foundation
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 10.

    Apart from the waste that this government seems to mire itself in why do we need to buy 2 aircraft carriers for the royal nay at a cost of £4billion, we are not a super power any more what are we hoping to do with them

  • Comment number 11.

    Cut the following:
    1. EU membership [saving ~ %4 GDP and > 20billion annually]
    2. Reduce Public sector pay by 20% for all highly paid civil servants, 5% for front line workers.
    3. Reassess gilt edged public sector final salary pensions, make the pensions funded and comparable to private sector deals (3.5% non-contributory and going toward a personal fund). Unfunded public sector pensions need to be a thing of the past.
    4. Constitutional reform. Reduce government. We don't need all of these layers; e.g. local councils, regional government, national government, and central government (Westminster) as well as Brussels.
    5. Sack all public sector "non-job" workers (e.g. racial awareness officers). We don't need to employ people in the public sector just to give people something (unproductive) to do - it sucks wealth from the economy.
    6. Simplify the tax system and introduce a flat tax, sack the bureaucrats that would then be otherwise twiddling their thumbs.

  • Comment number 12.

    Over the past 15 years our Foundation has been advising government that they require a ‘totally independent’ national advisory body to determine value-for-money for the nation. This is far more prevalent today with the immense financial problems that we now all face and where it will not be until 2032 according to leading economists that Britain will stabilise its national debt again. This is not another ‘quango’ set up by the establishment, but a national resource for the people, saving vast amounts of waste and tens of billions of taxpayer’s funds annually. In this respect government quangos listen too much to the rich and powerful and where decisions are biased towards this vast lobby group. As a recent example, the NHS waste on Tamiflu et al which Vietnamese doctors told the world two-years ago that it was ‘useless’ to combat ‘Bird-Flu’. Now, US doctors have stated the same and cited this fact in USA Today some two weeks ago. But, our government has invested up to £500 million in this useless drug that will now secretly be dispatched to the waste incinerators of Britain (thus causing even energy to be spent to remove it and literally burn £½ billion up in smoke of Britain’s hard earned cash). This wasted national wealth list over the years is unfortunately for the taxpayer endless, and where a supranational ‘independent’ watchdog body is the only way forward. In this respect a vital necessity. Otherwise government will continue to spend recklessly and throw away literally hundreds of billions of pounds needlessly over the coming years. Indeed, conversely, we now need these precious funds provided by the taxpayer for the good of the people and the country; for our very existence in the long-term depends upon using them wisely. Massive change has to come quickly and to stop all this terrible waste !

    Dr David Hill
    World Innovation Foundation Charity

  • Comment number 13.

    I think the government should cut:

    NHS IT system 30bn - the IT industry doesn't think it'll work and so far that seems to be true as it slips and costs more.
    New Trident 20 bn - we don't need it and it'll send out a great message on nuclear proliferation.
    ID cards 5.6bn - we don't need them and no one bar the government seems that keen.
    War in Iraq and Afgahn about 1bn
    Remove the consultants 1bn
    Military research for 2 years 5.2 bn we can do without it for a few years
    Email and web storage of everything database 12 bn. Can't see the need to store every single website everyone in the UK visits nor who sends who email.

    I make that about 70bn without having to cut anything that'll make any difference to day to day life. I think that cutting more in the armed forces and in whithall civil servants is also high on the list.

    The final thing I'd like cut is the MP's salaries and allowances. They don't need all that money. If they get £135,000 a year that should suffice for everything then need.

  • Comment number 14.

    We could all save billions by putting an end to the public sector goldplated pensions which are unsustainable. Private industry the people who earn the money to pay for all this cannot afford them, so why should public servants get them

  • Comment number 15.

    Public sector pensions must be fully funded by the public servants themselves. Gordon Brown trashed my own private pension and expects me to pay 25% of my council tax to make up the deficit for PS workers. This isn't just unfair, it's downright theft.

  • Comment number 16.

    To help balance the government's books, savings can and should be made by:-
    1. Make all public sector workers, including civil servants, contribute fully to their own pensions.
    2. Close down all quangos.
    3. Immediately cancel all 'non jobs' in the public sector, including all departments that are not of direct and immediate benefit to the British people.
    4. Immediately stop all immigration that does not cater for professional shortages, such as doctors and nurses.
    5. Cancel Trident and uneconomic grants for wind farms.
    6. Exit from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    7. Stop all payments and grants to foreign governments until Britain is out of the red again.
    8. Make sure that those out of work long-term only receive financial aid for food, warmth and Council Tax.
    9. Make redundant or redeploy the vast armies of non-medical bureaucrats who are not needed, and who are swallowing up the money paid to the NHS. This should be exclusively used for medical staff and medical equipment, as in other European countries.
    10. Stop all payments to unwanted immigrants, and send them home.

  • Comment number 17.

    Proposed cuts in public spending, as requested by Kirsty Wark.

    Defence spending must be cut, especially TRIDENT.

    Identity cards are unlikely to serve the purpose claimed for them, and this policy should not be implemented.

    prescription charges should be reintroduced, as much medicine is wasted, and people should take a more proactive role in looking after their health.

    public sector pensions should not be afforded so much protection. the pensions of wealth creators in the private sector are subject to risks, especially since the Prime Minister (then Chancellor) raided them about 10 years ago.

    It is not necessary to target that 50% of school leavers go to university, particularly when so many choose so-called "soft subjects". tuition fees should be graded, e.g. maths, physics, IT, engineering, medicine etc should have low fees, whilst students should have to pay for more exotic choices.

  • Comment number 18.

    The government should scrap its unnecessary and dangerous Chinese ID Card / NIR scheme, thus saving at least £5 billion. Of course, it will not do this; New Labour has long had an agenda of removing our civil liberties.

    Tony Blair had already awarded contracts for the ID scheme before parliament voted on the bill, and Gordon Brown has an authoritarian obsession with imposing more intrusion and control on us. His ministers, especially Jack Straw and Jacqui Smith, who could show sense by opposing him in this, are themselves too besotted by power to remember they are supposed to be the servants of the people, not the masters.

  • Comment number 19.

    How to save Government spending? The most obvious way is to scrap the Trident replacement and the work being undertaken on “refurbishing” nuclear warheads at Aldermaston. In the cold war there may have been some justification for a deterrent but how could it possibly deter any of the non-state bodies, such as Al Qaeda, that threaten us today? After that, how about the Eurofighter, a plane designed for outmanoeuvring Russian fast jets in a war over Europe – irrelevant to any possible military requirement in the 21st century.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think it is about time a new party is born in the UK that thinks about the country and it people rather than lining their own pockets. Central Government and Local Government are just as much to blame for the current economic meltdown as the Financial institutions which we have conveniently been pointed to.

    We elect people into parliment who we think will help us and they abuse the system by taking billions from the hardworking Tax payers to pay for their pensions and their nice houses whilst us hardworking people struggle to have their own pension and keep a roof over our heads.

    I am astounded that political parties have been milking our society for so long without the Great British public standing up and saying that its is wrong.

    Gordon Brown should look long and hard at his own party, what it stands for and why they were voted in. I would cut about 60% of the pointless spend on Publi services and their pointless departments.

  • Comment number 21.

    Here are some items to cut which you probably won't publish:

    1. abolish bureaucracies such as regional development agencies

    2. £12 billion a year to the European Union which waste it on things like the Galileo sat nav system which simply duplicates the American one, subsidies for agricultural products which end up getting dumped on third world markets thus ruining their producers

    3. free translation services for foreigners who come to the UK - after all Britons don't get help in non-English speaking countries

    4. cut the BBC licence fee - the BBC does too much

    5. index-linked publc sector pensions

    6. PFI schemes which are more costly than conventional finance

  • Comment number 22.

    Where should the financial fat be cut from public expenditure? How about starting with the shareholders which this government seems to insist on gifting with services which are then run for profit rather than quality of service? The NHS is littered with private companies; cleaning firms, private nursing homes or private hospital telecommunication companies to name but a few. Time and again we see profit being made at the expense of the service. The supposed benefits of this are through the pension schemes which then buy shares in these companies on our behalf. Yet surely if these services were public this would still benefit a large number of people; and more cost effectively!
    The continual addition of complexity to our tax system is another way in which the government creates a very difficult problem purely so people can find employment solving it. Are they trying to expand a service industry purely to drive down unemployment figures? Surely a country can't survive on an economy who's growth is driven by this sort of madcap scheme!! RIP British Manufacturing....

  • Comment number 23.

    I have to say I was moved to post a comment on this blog after watching the first part of newsnight this evening - a programme I have not caught for a while. I thought the point of news was to inform. I am obviously wrong.Instead I see a man at the barbers. He is being shaved. To show us that perhaps the public sector budget may be shaved, or even cut. Then I see Kisrty Wark attempting to force a new labour politician, who is not presently a member of the government, to say where cuts will be made. He is not the chancellor, the environment minister,or the paymaster general, but yet he is questioned as if he still holds the levers of power within new labour. The insinuation is that he represents the government, and is to be blamed for cuts. He is then asked where he would make cuts. He cannot, because he is not a member of the government. Admirably, he does not play the game. Kirtsy Wark then turns to camera and invites us the viewers, to suggest where we would make the cuts.
    Cuts are peoples' livelihoods. If the public sector has to be restructured becuase economic circumstances are so straightened then a case has to be made of where and when, by experts. A blog is different from a opinion poll or invited text vote. However, I still get the feeling I might as well watch Sky News.

  • Comment number 24.

    Real zero-based budgeting is required, and build up from a blank sheet of paper what is really required. People should be required to justify all spending in their ministries, so that 'pet projects' don't just roll on from year-to-year.

    A huge amount of money goes into rail subsidies, and the sums are not un-adjacent to the profit the rail companies make. That is a 'feature' of privatisation, but in the era a 'bombed-out' war economy and austerity budgets, surely those subsidies could be expropriated by government ??

  • Comment number 25.

    1. Reduce the number of MPs by 40%
    2. All employed people to retire at 65. Those who retire earlier e.g.police, M.Ps should spend their last 10 years doing the paperwork so the younger, fitter members can be doing the active up front work.
    3. Get rid of Quangos, and regional assemblies
    4. more drastic- close down the Scottish Assembley, and the Welsh and N.I
    5. cap Council tax spent on advertising and glossy reports and other un necessary waste
    6. Ban offshore accounts

  • Comment number 26.

    Get a grip, BBC. Kirsty Wark looked like a cross between a Balinese waitress and an old tart. And BBC dumped Anna Ford!

  • Comment number 27.

    If savings are necessary, this is an opportune time to make those employed by government and local authorities work under the same constraints as those who pay them.
    Civil servants and local goverment employees must be given the same pension provisions as are available in the private sector.
    Council tax payers should not be asked to fund generous pension pots.
    The salaries of council chief execs and senior officers should be set as a proportion of ministerial salaries, say 70%.
    MPs should not be paid an attendance allowance - which other sector pays employees an additional sum to come into the office?
    MPs should not receive expenses other than those allowed to ordinary taxpayers by the Inland Revenue.
    The number of MPs should be reduced by 30 - 50%

  • Comment number 28.

    As far as cuts are concerned the obvious elephant in the room is (mostly) unfunded public sector, gold-plated, index-linked, riskfree pensions.

    The PSBR quietly excludes the £1,000,000 million to £1,200,000,000 (yes, that is £1.0-1.2 trillion) of these unfunded pension liabilities though the government is very gradually beginning to recognise the correct quantum of these liabilities. (ref. Prof Neil Record of Cambridge University's website).

    The inclusion of these very real, but hard to understand for the general public, liabilities more or less doubles the PSBR.

    The 'baby' elephant in the room that should not be overlooked is the £300 billion of liabilities represented by the PFI (public finance initiatives). This mammoth sum is also excluded from the PSBR thanks to questionable government accounting practice.

    The public sector unions will bleat that their members get paid less than the private sector. However, it is now clearly recognised that all but the top decile of public sector occupations are paid better than the private sector - before the gold-plated pension benefit.

    The pension benefit adds from 37% of cost onto the salary of a male teacher right up to 85% of cost onto the salary of a female police officer.

    Not many people are yet aware or beginning to discuss the above statistics which are all available from the public domain/web.


  • Comment number 29.

    Geoffrey Robinson's patronising appearance was a disgrace.
    Cut out tax credits and get back to the old system of personal and child allowances.
    Carry out the supposed "bonfire of the quangos" promised years ago.
    Abandon the ID Card scheme.
    Scale back the target of 50% university attendance.
    Scale back employment of consultants.Freeze public-sector pay.
    Sack the many spin doctors amassed by labour.

  • Comment number 30.

    Kirstie Allsopp et al have encouraged lavish spending on houses,her idea of austerity comes from a background of what many would see as luxury. Her lessons on austerity ring hollow.

  • Comment number 31.


    Part 1 - Newsnight: What was that 'psychologist' talking about? Why was Kirsty Allsop talking about picking stuff up off the side of the road and joining sewing clubs?

    Part 2- Newsnight Review: Oh dear.

    Hat's off to Kirsty Walk for raising the issue of Western ethnocentricity i.e. this self-centred urge to impose 'our anarchistic, Liberal-Democratic values' (heaven forbid - Iran etc considers this Satanism) upon Afghanistan. But that was followed by paroxysms of anarchistic/adolescent delight from the guests as Afghanistanis were encouraged to shock via unacceptable behaviours at risk of death!

    Now, where have we seen that anarchism before, and where did it lead (see part 1 above!)........

    Intensional opacity = cognitive modularity, i.e. left-hand doesn't know what the right is doing, e.g. Oedipus, his mother Jocasta, and very mixed desires. Tragic. Another way of talking about the self-indulgent confusion induced by irrational, 'feminized' language.

    Groan....this is why I don't usually watch Newsnight Review.

  • Comment number 32.

    Cut the £6 Billion to the EU/EC. Easy!

    Britain never voted for this cabal of penpushers. The people never gave their democratic consent to be ruled by Euro-fat cats, gave them noi authority to make 85% of our laws, no mandate to tell us what to do.

    Cut this £6 Billion we cannot afford to an Empire we do not endorse.

  • Comment number 33.

    what are the prime candidates for the chop?
    The obvious candidate for me is not to replace Trident Nuclear submarines, whose life span can be extended anyway. Better still consider scrabbing it!
    You cannot fight terrorism with nuclear weapons!
    I would also like to know how much subsidies are paied annually to BNFL and how much does it cost us to get rid of the nuclear waste. Scrap the plans for nuclear plants and invest in renewable energy. All the skills and know how from the nuclear industry can be directed towards developing renewable technologies

  • Comment number 34.

    God this is sooo xxxxxing irresponsible

    You are educated people who went through the '79 recession.
    Why are you asking this quesion

    Hellooo - please engage your memory and your intelligence.

    Are you listening ? Here goes.

    if you do, you make things far worse.

    You have to know SOME basic economics. The problem in a recession is a shortage of demand.
    Every player in the economy _EXCEPT_ the government, is not in a position to correct this. The government however CAN continue to spend - and must do so.

    Despite the absurdly unimaginative, narrow agenda that the Labour Party has been following - its failure to use it's term to ready us for the low-energy economy that we need ASAP. Despite the failure to notice the obviously impending housing crisis, despite the mis-deployment of Trillions (!) to prop up bank balance sheets, rather than directly providing finance to end-users. Nevertheless, they still know more about how the economy actually works than the unpatriotic scoundrels Cameron & Osborne, whose every utterance comes from opportunism, who in reality have NO understanding of the economy, but whose every instinct is to make sure that no class but the one they identify with should be allowed to get away with more than the minimum
    That is why - since they apparently didn't learn from the 80's, we mustn't vote in a Tory government.
    And it is also why - to return to the point - you should not be floating the question of "What Should We Cut". You know better.
    If you want a question it should be - and you've been told this endlessly - "How will we know when the time comes to turn from spending to support demand, to hoovering the money out of the economy to prevent inflation"

  • Comment number 35.

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

  • Comment number 36.

    tomm174 (#34) "Despite the absurdly unimaginative, narrow agenda that the Labour Party has been following.."

    But this is Not_The_Old_Labour_Party. This is New Labour. This is more or less Militant made-over if you look closely, which is why they are like Keith Joseph's Tories. These are anarchists like the original Bolsheviks. These are members of the Socialist International. They don't believe in Socialism in One Country - in fact, they go to war againt those sorts of regimes (e.g. Iraq) and go about breaking up the Welfare State by stealth (PPP/PFI and poor staffing) at home.....

  • Comment number 37.

    You can delete my contact details to comply with your 'House Rules' in comment posted above at 35, but I assure you that I wrote the article so there should be no copyright problem.

  • Comment number 38.


    Wow you know alot about economics don't you? So while consumers cut spending, and business cuts spending, the Govt (according to you) should INCREASE spending!

    When you have a recession do you patio your drive and splash out on a new flatscreen TV... using your credit card?

    When you've "added 1 million new jobs in our strong economy" as Brown claims, and 965,000 are public sector pen pushers, do you cut the fat, or support people doing nothing jobs?

    Browns public sector is so obese (over 50% of GDP) he cannot balance the books and needs to loan £140bn this year and £170bn next year to support his gluttony. Do you support the private sector being screwed for decades (2032 to balance the budget!!!) or do you think its about time Browns fat lady started to sing?

    Next you propose "supporting demand". That's called fanning the flames of a consumer bubble. Brown spent a decade fanning the flames of consumer bubbles (mortgages, credit, loans) and sat on his lapdog FSA regulator to not say a word. Then the bubbles all went 'pop'. Guess where the £200bn in bank bailouts went? Let me help, bailing out those inflated assets, thats why while pushing for "transparency" he hid his dirty dealings at Northern Rock etc in 'National secrecy' Laws.

    Fanning the flames of consumer demand is stupid economics. "Stimulis" doesn't work, it fuels false bubbles and the money is sourced from debt, digging bigger black holes to dig yourself out of. Namely 'stimulis' is no such thing. It just makes you MORE bankrupt for LONGER with MORE DEBT.


  • Comment number 39.

    The government (and the other parties) will keep repeating what seems to be a quasi-religious mantra about "schools and hospitals"; what nonsense. Education is provided by teachers and health by doctors, Money is being spent on buildings which are hardly efficient or conducive to use, my local health centre has a lot of wasted space/volume and the local hospital is worse; the former has no adequate car parking which would only reqire a bit of tarmac, but a massive entrance hall; the latter has a lot of car parking - at a cost to the user - and an even bigger area of entrance hall and corridor space, so much so that when I asked a stethoscoped denizen where was the department which I was to visit, he did not know. I appreciate that if these ridiculous edifices had not been built then it would have had an effect on the building trade, but I feel that the balance is wrong. A new "Academy"is being built, at some expence, I think that Plato founded the Academy, he was not produced by it, so much as I hope that a new Plato comes out from here, the building - produced at a cost - will not guarantee it. When my GP was too busy to see me I saw a nurse, and was very happy with the consultation, but it is "doctoring" on the cheap, teaching assistants are teachers on the cheap, CPOs are Police Officers on the cheap and it is not working. Money should be spent wisely and directed to the right places. With any cuts someone will be worse off for a time, but provision could be made for that. Perhaps we should all remember the aphorism (I cannot remember who coined it) "Fashion is crap: that is why it keeps changing ever six months". Do we need the latest electronic gadget? Is it vital to phone everyone to tell them that we are on the train? And is it helpful to include a picture? What is wrong with the old 19inch telrvision? Do we need a wall mounted flat screen to watch the same rubbish American repeats? And all these artefacts are produced abroad, living with what we have is not austerity, we can afford to live with what we have. How much do we spend on immigrants? They claim that the are suffering perscution in their own countries but I imagine that the majority of inhabitants of the prisons here would make the same claim. If someone is here illegally, send them back; yes, that would cost money initially, but it would stop others from seeing us as the easy touch which we are. I had dealings with an asylum seeker who had applied to come here and being granted permission, I was surprised to learn that an interpreter would be provided - whatever language she spoke, and no doubt, at whatever expence. She was treated in the same way as illegal immigrants (and the local MP was as much use as a lead parachute when I asked for help, but in fairness, she was probably working on her parliamentary allowances at the time). The so-called refugees know the benefit system here, and there are plenty of lawyers in receipt of legal aid fees who will guide them through the intricacies. Many come from moslem countries: why do they not go to Saudi Arabia, the heartland of Mohamedanism? You know the answer, England is better, more generous and more tolerant. Can someone tell me about bonuses? When I was working the accountant I employed told me that if I could not sue my employer for money, then I did not have to pay tax (the circumstances were complicated). One cannot object to the payment of bonuses, but if an institution can underpay someone and then give a guaranteed bonus which is tax free, then this is an abuse. Anything which I have said could only have small effects, but would be cumulative; as our Celtic governers might reflect "many a mickle macks a muckle" (their abuse of the Snglish language, not mine).

  • Comment number 40.


    I am truly puzzled. On that video, do we see the real J Gordon Brown. Do I remember someone called him autistic? Clearly he has no handle on human social norms. He can neither apply them (real or simulated) nor appreciate that WE see a buffoon. As he comes closer to the collapse of his dream of greatness, in pursuit of which, he snatched the brimful poisoned chalice from straight-kind-of-guy Tony, his desperation leads him to ever-greater heights of idiocy. It is hardly likely that these oddities do not have others for company in that uncomprehending (numb?) skull. What if Mandelson whispers in his ear that all great PMs need a war? Britain is caught up in a B-movie about a luckless leader whose fair share was stolen by his predecessor. In his current state of mind, Barmy Brown could do ANYTHING, to try to be a winner and out-Blair Tony. He is a disturbed little boy, made a fool of by his best friend, and desperate to be great. Shakespeare should have written it.

    Weep Britain.

  • Comment number 41.

    BLESS! (moderation warning)

    I see I am a new member! That'll be the bright light explained then . . .

  • Comment number 42.

    1. Put an immediate end to the imbalance between public and private sector pensions. Public sector pensions are robbing the rest of us blind.

    2. Put an end to the policy of hiring only those consultants who have experience working for the 'big four' and prior experience working with government. You will never fix your problems by hiring those who think exactly like you. You are in urgent need of fresh ideas, innovation, and total automation, and these certainly won't come from the fat four who are milking you by the minute.

    3. Stop converting our tax money into foreign aid. I've been hearing about people starving in Africa since I was a small child in the sixties and all of our billions have not changed this situation one bit. Corrupt foreign leaders are simply getting richer on all of our donations while our own elderly in the U.K. are struggling to keep warm in the winter or being abused in third rate care homes. Check out your own figures on child poverty in the U.K. and then ask yourself who authorised you to send our money abroad?

    4. Send all illegal immigrants home (remember what the word 'illegal' means?! Stop rewarding crime) and cap immigration to allow only for those with key necessary skills. We can no longer afford to expand our education systems, our prisons, our health care systems, our transportation infrastructure, and we absolutely need to abolish the planned increase in housing that is ruining what little green space we have left for our children - all in the name of building to accommodate further immigration. This is not about work that the British people won't do. It is about companies who reduce salaries until the British people can't afford to do the work and then use this as the excuse for bringing in foreign workers. It is simply about greed and we've all seen where that gets us!

    5. Cancel the Trident replacement and stop pretending that we can still afford to be a major military power. Cancel plans for nuclear power stations and coal-fired power stations and tell people the truth. We don't need to fund sources of energy that will create toxic waste landfill sites for generations to come. We need to make extreme cuts in consumption, buy locally or go without, reduce our dependancy on cars, give companies tax incentives for every employee that they allow to work from home or for providng group transportation for employees, stop the endless expansion of flights to and from the U.K. and don't even consider another runway at Heathrow. We simply can't afford to maintain this infrastructure any longer.

    6. Don't even think of replacing the apalling second home allowance with an equally apalling daily rate for politicians who manage to show up for work. This is our money and should be used to help all those losing their homes rather than feeding your fat cats with future real estate income. What kind of example do you think you are setting here? It is no wonder we are in this state.

  • Comment number 43.

    To: Tomm174 re: #34

    There are differing views on whether to spend or save your way out of a recession but that isn't what we are talking about here. We are talking about what specifically to cut when those cuts start. There is no question that they will happen. The timing is the only unknown here.

  • Comment number 44.

    Speaking of efficiency... I can't believe how long your moderation process takes. Don't you have a program that does this automatically?

    Of course not. You are also funded by taxpayers so you can afford to be as inefficient as this ridiculous government.

  • Comment number 45.

    50% tax is vital part of getting out the crunch? Do they not know how stupid that comes across? Gordon seems to be fighting a class war than an economic one? The basic problem for Labour is not that the Tories are good but that Labour have failed big time in demonstrating to the public they have the skills of guardianship or any desire to get them.


    I remember being attacked on the blog for saying dealing with fear is key and that few talked about it. So its a good sign people are.

  • Comment number 46.

    Cut MP' Heads Off, Think of Money and Lives we would Save.

    The Irish Giant/Man Mountain Paul O Connell Captain Of The Lions Glad 2 See there are still some Brains out There

  • Comment number 47.

    Sum Great Posts here again. Westsurry You get my Vote. Barrie Post 40 Nail Head Again.

  • Comment number 48.

    #37 Political Anorexia

    So why was #12 World Innovation allowed name and contact. Are some more moderated than other?

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 49.

    The Unmoderate Mod Is Bonkers,(apples 2 Dizzy) I thought post 46 was just fine. How much Money and Lives have been Wasted by our wonderfull MP's. They are A Filthy Waste.

  • Comment number 50.


    I have it on good authority that the Blogdog is a 'FIDO' (Finely Intuitive Doggie Operative). When a post arrives in his scrutiny bowl, he sniffs at it and then pushes big red buttons with his nose to seal its fate - or promote its appearance. Being a BBC Blogdog, lack of training and a deep wish to be 'edgy' intrudes, FIDO then chews your post - regardless.

    PS FIDO's cousin, is a much more tractable fellow. You can find him in the bottom left corner of the search wndow, in Word. Perhaps Newsnight might train him up for the position?

  • Comment number 51.

    Id like to see far more on health issues on NN I'm very Economics challenged so anything that helps me understand Mr Mason would also be appreciated.

  • Comment number 52.

    Why has this shabby government desecrated our good name and sense of fairness by refusing all Gurkhas the right to live in this country. Of all those wanting to come to this country have they not above all earned that right. In the name of common decency we should support those richly deserving people, rather than the mass uncontrolled migration of immigrants that this pathetic government is unable to control. I am absolutly ashamed of this labour government and its grubby little ministers, we need an election now to return this country to its proper place.

  • Comment number 53.

    gavsy72 (23) I dont think its Newsnight's fault: the chancellors (existing and shadow) wont talk about the debt. They loose popularity the moment they say 'cuts'. Tis imbecilic and costs us all hugely.

    Big hugs for the effort Newsnight just made to stimulate debate on paying off our debt – given that neither zomby nor virtual chancellors are talking much. Good stuff. Now although Kirsty came over all cutsie when she asked us to contribute, because of course its a huge task, the initiative could be the thin end of a crowbar. Dont be defeated by how unwieldy it seems or mobbish the initial replies will be. You have the chance to build something quite powerful and timely. It may be easier than you think.

    Ideas on how to process the debate...

    1. I think the Government publishes its accounts in a little book (its not a best seller). Isn't it wrong how little most know about the disposition of public finances? You could vox pop that issue.

    You could get an editor to grab the governments book, analyse it, illustrate the acute dilemmas we'll face , the Sophie's choices, and take it to Hays or Cheltenham to see how entertained people can be.

    2. Some companies (I think Rentokil?) 'open' their accounting books to inform and unite employees and management around corporate objectives. Newsnight could grab a few such employees to see how open books work, and explore getting the nation similarly focused.

  • Comment number 54.

    Now is the time to rid the system of priviledge which has a high cost. The basis for all remuneration should be that of average national pay and an appreciation that for all pay above that level there is an equal amount below. Is the Prime Minister worth 8 times the average national pay, justify?
    1.No need for MPs expenses review - simply apply HMRC rules as applies to all. Only expenditure wholly for business of MP to be tax free. All other Perks were merely tax avoidance and should be treated accordingly.
    2.All final salary pensions should have an annual value. Then when the tax treatment of private pensions are altered a similar contribution can be collected from state employees. MPs self granted very generous pensions would have a very high value which would be caught by the provisions of the budget.
    3.Retirement age for all state employees to be 65 reducing pensions for all who retire early.
    4.The Statutory Sick Pay provisions to apply to all state employees. ie no pay for the first three days etc. This would drastically reduce the cost of sick Mondays and other occasional holidays. No time allowances for sick days which are then taken as a bonus fir not being sick.
    5.All benefits paid to EEC workers in this country to be as their home country. eg. Child benefit for a Polish worker with children at home to be as Polish provision.
    6.The majority of children living in poverty have been born into the situation in the last twelve years. This is partially due to Gordon Browns vision of help which only acts as an incentive for people on very low incomes. The social, education and health costs of such a policy cannot be carried by the hard working families.
    7.The cost of economic migrants is similarly unbearable and as expressed by the Mayor of Calais is burdening other nations which do not have the same concept of support for all.

  • Comment number 55.

    More on how to manage the PSBR debate.

    3. Remember Web 2.0 ? It was all about tools and strategies that allow viewers and customers themselves to create powerful online tools and models yarny yarny. But addressing the public finances squeals out for an online model. So Newnsight, be clever, simply host the process, getting us lot to design the model, ensuring it can absorb feedback directly (it'll need to respond to our take on developments, forecast adjustments, forecaster choices, absorb commentary and popularity indicators, etc). At its centre is the data from the Government book. A model should curb the nonsensical debates.

    Managing the feedback your side would be a wonderful job for an intern or a friendly software business, and a timely webwise update to Time Square's National Debt Clock. Might be a handy platform for a Peter Snow style whizzy graphics thing.

    Point is harvest viewer input into a structured device – afterall the story is gonna run for years.

  • Comment number 56.

    Nos37 "copyright problem"

    I started to see people posting in my *silly Sci Fi way* on other sites, then others seeing it and referring to earlier posts Ive made thinking its me. It was alarming more so due to the offensiveness of the posts. Guess I'll have to suffer a bout of normal blog behaviour from now on.

  • Comment number 57.

    The public sector uses expensive office space very wastefully.
    The cost of providing office workers a dedicated desk varies from £4K to £20K per person per year. These costs can be reduced by 30% by allowing some staff to work from home and elsewhere for some of the time - this is flexible working, which leglislation requires empolyers of parents to consider if asked.
    Universal hot desks (meaning any staff can use any desk), get the CEOs out of their plush offices and into open plan and challenge managerial intransigence that prevents flexible working.
    The potential savings are massive, staff output is proven to increase and commuting congestion and CO2 emmisions are significantly reduced.
    Private sector corporates have been doing this for years.....why? because it saves £ millions.
    All that's required is clear direction and firm leadership, both of which seem rare commodities in the public sector.

  • Comment number 58.

    Where do we start;
    Leave the EU - Saving c.£20+Bn per annum
    Abolish Regional development agencies saving c.£2.5Bn
    Abolish Regional assemblies, - saving c.£1.0Bn
    Abolish Devolution, Scotland, Wales, N. Ireland, - Saving c.£10Bn
    Stop immigration. Full stop. Saving £Billions, schooling, health, transport, benefits, language and religious translation
    Stop foreign use and abuse of NHS - Saving c.£1.0Bn
    Sack all non-essential public sector non-jobs (Racial awareness managers, Social cohesion advisor's etc etc etc )
    Protect British Industry and jobs from foreign incursion, EU working rules, movement, fishing UK waters.
    Slim Public sector down to an acceptable level - c. 50% of what it is.

    I could go on and on here, but until the British electorate stop voting for the three main parties this stupidity will go on, and Britain will be more and more impoverished and the left will condemn us all to a future ruled by Brussels, and these absurd evens will continue.

    In my view only by voting for the UK Independence Party can Britain get out of interfering foreign control and allow a NEW political generation to take over who have BRITAIN'S best interests at heart and not a desire to subsume and destroy this great country.
    Take all pro European politicians and charge them with Treason.

  • Comment number 59.


    POTENTIALLY great, perhaps. But now that almost every aspect of out culture is aberrant, perverse, nihilistic, degrading, narcissistic, hedonistic et al, greatness is, I suggest, elusive in our functioning.

    Britain is, effectively, a teenager from a broken home. And watching Brown's utterly aberrant performance on YouTube, points up the problem we face. He looked for all the world like a desperate wannabe on Britain's Got Talent yet he DID win the 'final'. In that one man, Britain's malaise is writ large. While the current ethos endures, we will not be great.

  • Comment number 60.

    1) Stop hirings of new public employees (turnover 5% a year), freeze on pay & benefits, allow firings of public employees for incompetence - Saves 5% of total budget £35 billion.

    2) End Health & Safety Executive & related agencies - perhaps a small part of their function can be subsumed in other depts. Suspend then repeal 90% of all such regulations. 200,000 inspectors gone saves £20 bn.

    3) Cut building regulators & planners by 90%+ ending almost all building restrictions outside national parks - similar to #2 saves £20 bn.

    4) Replace part of Atomic Energy Inspectorate that spends years determining whether French nuclear designs that have worked for decades there will work on this side of the Channel - this will allow building to start immediately. Cut all parts of nuclear regulation that aren't at even 1/4 as worthwhile, by cost benefit analysis, as regulations in other industries. Require all public enquiries on public projected to take no longer than a fortnight. Estimated saving £10 bn.

    5) Cut unnecessary quangos (eg Race Relations Commission costs £71 million). Also all the diversity inspectors. Est total £10 bn.

    6) Cut advertising by quangos (eg all those adverts and leaflets from the Carbon trust). Est total £10 billion

    7) End donations to fakecharities which then use the money to advertise & lobby for more government spending, regulation & bureaucracy (eg the millions given to ASH to lobby for the smoking ban). Est £10 bn

    8) Stop subsidising windmills & other "renewable" energy sources that real investors know isn't worth it. Estimated total £10 bn

    9) Don't pass this budget - the increased revenue from the 50pm tax rate will not surpass the costs of subsidising cars & "green" jobs. Net change zero.

    10) End the VAT cut. Saves £15 bn.

    11) Leave the EU. Direct saving approx £15 bn

    Total savings here = £155 billion without significantly impinging on anybody in productive work.

    The Taxpayer's alliance has also identified £100 bn of savings that could be made simply by getting rid of quangos. While there is a crossover with my proposals the combined saving would clearly be above £200 bn taking the country from moving towards bankruptcy to strongly solvent. Where investment would improve our economy we should do so. Since we would still cut borrowing it would clearly be possible to do so & we could achieve Chinese levels of growth & theoretically level equivalent to the faster growing Chinese provinces:

    A) Cut corporation tax to Ireland's 12.5% level. Cost £25 bn.

    B) Cut business rates by the same amount.

    C) Regulations cost, according to economists, 20 times as much from the economy as they cost government to enforce. Points 2,3 & 4 would thus improve the economy, over time by 20 x £50bn = £1 trillion.

    D) EU regulation costs, according to the "Enterprise" Commissioner, £70 bn - quitting improves the economy that much.

    E) Road, airport, tunnel & port building programme - est £15 billion pa

    F) Fully automated experimental rail & monorail programme - est £5 billion pa

    G) X-prize Foundation for space & high technology prizes - £5 bn pa.

    H) Building a mass production system for turnkey operation nuclear power stations to be used in Britain & sold across the world - Est £30 bn pa - probably take about 4 years before it is in production but then immensely profitable.

    I) Assorted training & experimental investments & some minor guarantes to kickstart mass produced modular housing - £10 bn

    Total cost £115 bn

    I think if the BBC put this to any economist they will agree that this would work, even if some of them might doubt if it would be completely as effective as I suggest. I think if you put it to most politicians they will explain that it cannot be done - and that the reason is because it is unthinkable that is why.

  • Comment number 61.

    Tories (master anarchists) want Academies (aka PPP/PFI) to be extended to Primary Schools. Why? Becsuse the people borrowing tax-payers money from the tax-payer bailed out banks, can make a nice return on their investment! Note what is really going one here? The witless public get to pay for all of this...

    Both New Labour and Conservatives (and Lib-Demos if they could do it) flood the country with low-skilled immigrants who they can not, based on the SATs, raise attainment in (but whom they thought would make good high TFR consumers for sub-prime lending when they matured).

    New Labour may talk about SureStart, but it doesn't work does it? Not in the way they make out in terms of raising attainment. It may produce self-selecting samples from the population mind you ;-)....

    My take - don't take what New Labour, The Conservatives or the Lib-Dems at face value on any of this Lysenkoist nonsense. It all flies in the face of the evidience - hence the efforts to get rid of SATs (the evidence)?

  • Comment number 62.

    Here are some ideas and comments;

    1. Scrap two of our annual Bank Holidays, how about the two in May, until this crisis is over. This will help private sector companies and the govenment. Benefits should be directed to the unemployed so they know that those of us in work do care.

    2. Public sector final salary pensions. Like them or loath them these people entered into a contract. Can there employers renage on them without major disputes. I don't think so and that certainly won't help the economy. Don't scrap them, cap them. The first 25K will be final salary based, anything over that goes into a money purchase scheme. Private sector organisations should consider this before scrapping there own schemes.

    3. The public sector bosses should stop using overpaid, over rated consultants and special advisors. What are all the employees for?

    4. Stop tax avoidance. We own most of the UK banks now. How many of these banks have people working for them that advise the rich how not to pay tax. There must be a law against it. Put a few of these tax dodgers and there helpers in prison. I'm not joking. Get tough with them like they do in the states.

    5. Scrap the ID card idea.

    6. Do we need so many accountants and pen pushers in the NHS, if that is what it's still called, it's not what we've got. Standards and practice vary all over the country. Gid rid of the postcode lottery.

    7. Don't despair, we're not doomed. We've got 5 to 10 years of austerity while we pay for the overspending and borrowing all too many of us were guilty of. We knew it couldn't continue, terraced houses for 1/4 million quid. A period of common sense and living within our means should do us some good in the long run. Let's hope we all learn the lesson and in 30 years the country doesn't have to go through it all again.

  • Comment number 63.

    cuts in public spending:

    1. scrap trident replacement. it will save £90 billion, an unaffordable sum given out current economic plight. it is military otious [sum senior ex officers like General Ramsbothom claim it is is unnecessary]. the retention of such a deterrent post Cold War is a breach of the non proliferation treaty. its scrapping will also give a further boost to Obama's anti nuclear diplomacy with Russia, Iran & Nort Korea.

    2. scrap the naval projects for the 2 huge aircraft carriers & 6 high tech destroyers. mainly for the same reasons as above. even in the US projects for high tech destroyers are considered pork barrel politics as they are not required by the Pentagon. this will save £10 billion.

    3. reduce the number of eurofighters to 75 planes.

    4. aim to reduce the overall defense & intelligence budgetto 2% GDP like most normal european countries. as Vince Cable has said we currently run an unaffordable defense budget, far bigger than our european counterparts, & it is the great bloated Whitehall budget which must now be looked at seriously.

    5. scrap the NHS computer booking in scheme. save £20 billion. considered by most NHS professionals to be a complete waste of money.

    6. scrap the government's "gifts" of money to every child. they are not targeted, they are individally fairly meaningless sums of money. furthermore, unless you are a fairly small country sitting on an ocean of oil i am against the goernment giving out presents. government spending is for welfare & public services, not gifts. saves £half billion per year.

    7. scrap inefficient & expensive PPP financing of public services, & return to cost effective orthodox financiing [re research of Alison Pollack].

    8. revisit school rebuilding & refurbishing programme & prune. refurbish more, rebuild less, & where not necessary leave alone.

    9. look at the pay of public sector workers who have done spectacularly well in recent year, eg. medics & council CEOs, university vice chancellors, the quangocracy.

    10. close the tax loop holes of the rich - as pointed out by the Liberals. save £17 billion per year.

    11. seriously clamp down on tax avoidance rather than the purely cosemetic action agreed at the G20. save £100 billion per year. if there is trouble with these shyster states which encourage off shore tax evasion threaten them with punitive tarrifs from across the entire EU & get the US to come on board, & if need be impose them. squeeze them 'til the pips squeek.

    12. scrap ID cards. save £19 billion.

    13. reverse VAT cut & increase by 1% for next 10 years.

    14. end the use of ousourcing civil service work to consultants.

    15. end early retirement in the public sector.

    the cleaning up of this chaos must be done in such a manner as to do as little hurt to ordinary people as possible, hence our already exiguous welfare state itself must be protected. furthermore, the cuts must be achieved in a way which will not damage future prosperity; so while there will have to be pay restraint in the public sector for the foreseeable future, cuts in the public sector must be carried out in such a way that the country's infrastructure is not damaged & is in good shape for the upturn.

  • Comment number 64.


    NASUWT comments on Academies for Primnary Schools:

    "NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates added: "Having already announced academies will be the norm for secondary schools, this proposal for primary schools completes the Tories' blueprint for the dismantling of state education.

    "These plans are the naked marketisation of education and will place thousands of children and young people at the mercy of private, voluntary and independent providers." complete the picture:

    "Liberal Democrat schools spokesman David Laws said primaries should have greater freedom to innovate but that the Tory plan would apply to too few schools."

  • Comment number 65.

    I found it odd that Kirsty Wark was interviewing Kirstie Allsopp when they had close links through Kirsty's television company:

    "Kirsty Wark and Muriel Gray, the Scottish television presenters, will share in a £14m windfall after the sale of IWC, the TV company they co-founded along with their husbands, Alan Clements and Hamish Barbour.

    "The two couples formed IWC, which makes shows including Location, Location, Location, presented by Phil Spencer and Kirstie Allsopp, in May last year through the merger of production companies Wark Clements and Ideal World Productions. IWC was yesterday sold to RDF Media, the independent production company behind hit shows such as Wife Swap for Channel Four."

    Odd that Kirsty made comments about the housing market and Kirstie's philosophy. Kirsty was helping Kirstie make the awful programmes that contributed to the property bubble. Not a good idea to have Kirsty interview Kirstie, don't you think, if you can follow any of that?

  • Comment number 66.

    My personal views -

    "We used to think that you could spend your way out of a recession and increase employment by cutting taxes and boosting government spending. I tell you in all candour that that option no longer exists."

    James Callaghan 1976 Labour Conference

    Yes yes , but did any one tell Mr Brown this ?

    If anyone is interested in economic statistics the Government has a handy site for this.
  • Comment number 67.


    Sure start- research shows that middle class families use this and not the under-privedged- so it is giving support to those bettter off families who have the means to access other support, whereas the poorer parents have few resources at their disposal.

    Scrap the NHS NP-fit computer programme now- the cost of implementing this is annually rising in billions- scale it down.

    Stop the rise in School Academies- where is the research to show that children have better outcomes from attending private finance initiative academies- probably the reverse, smaller community schools often have better results.

    Scrap the expansion of the nuclear programme- it will take up sqillions to pay for the disposal of the toxic waste.

    Scale back Parliament- far too many bogus 'representatives' to fund, average attendance in Westminster is usually 30- except for Prime Minister's Question Time.Their claims for allowances and expences are truly breathtaking and set such a bad example to other so called 'Governing Bodies' such as local Councils who seek to emmulate the claming of 'expences'

    Abolish the expensive House of Lords its an expensive joke.

    Scrap the £250 child bond- is there any evidence that parents are adding to the Bond with their money- or does it just sit there in the Bank?

    Scrap Trident, but improve spending on peace keeping activities, and equipping our forces with the most modern and effective resources including first class housing- when you consider that MP's are claiming for two homes- we can't even accommodate our service personnel in decent housing- shameful

    Legislate to stop Pharmacuetical companies from profitting from overpriced medicines- they actually siphon billions from the NHS- selling drugs at hyper-inflated prices.

    Finally stop the abuse of the non-doms- they are cocking a snoot at ordinary hard working tax payers- they exploit every loop hole that the Government allows to exsist- the Government could tackle this blatant evasion of tax evasion; the fact that they don't choose to leads me to believe that there must be some benefit to the Government by allowing this 'customn and practice' to exsist- wonder what it is?

    And as for how Kirsty Waknell looked- what is this News BeautyNight?

  • Comment number 68.

    Stevjw I simply do not believe that tax fiddling in this country costs £117 billion a year (your #10 & 11). With over 50% of the economy being government spending that leaves £700 billion for the entire productive economy so I cannot believe that 1/6th of it is money earned by the super rich let alone that it is the share (roughly 50% of their money) which should be paid in tax, let alone that it is the share of said money that they are fiddling.

    While some of your other ideas have merit you repeatedly confuse 1 off savings & annual savings. £90 bn, if that is the correct cost of Trident, sounds like a major step to the £180bn overspend Labour has managed but over 30 years it is only £3 bn a year - a substantial sum to be sure nut not much in these terms.

    We are going to have to be much more drastic. Labour MP Frank Field pointed out that it has never proven possible to take more than 37% of the economy in tax, so, over the long term, it is clearly impossible for government to spend over 50%. Personally I would like to see government spending under 20%, mainly through growing the economy but partly by being frugal, but no party will even think about going anywhere near that figure.

  • Comment number 69.

    I don't know how to save the economy but I know how to save the British from the pain of the recession:

    Get a load of peacock shirts made, small, medium and large - xx large for the fatties - and sell them to middle-aged women. The country would be falling apart but we'd be so transfixed by the visual spectacle of these peacock-print-top wearing ladies of a certain age distracting us from our woes. Yeah, I know this sounds like a crazy idea but its the kinda crazy idea that has got me where I am today. And historians would hail the 'Kirsty Wark Peacock-top' as the only true anaesthetic to the great 21st century 8yr recession.

  • Comment number 70.

    thecookieducker (#69) It worked on me! I sat through the otherwise awful Newsnight and Newsnight Review. I was transfixed by the top.

  • Comment number 71.

    Nos 69

    'Kirsty Wark Peacock-top'

    "transfixed by the visual spectacle" - please see previous blog posts.

    She is very switched on and visually well read, therefore there are reasons other than what might be described as bad taste - on this occasion Kirsty may have been considering Bee health who knows.

  • Comment number 72.

    BTW I think we need Susan Watts to investigate this new strain of swine flu, designated H1N1 and give us a detailed report.

  • Comment number 73.

    To save a huge amount of money, we need to cease demanding multiple CRB checks, one a year should be plenty. Why should one CRB check a year not be enough, and why should a CRB check to be a school governor not also cover being a golf coach. This is government jobs for the boys. I know people who have 5 checks each year.

  • Comment number 74.

    oldhaven (#73) Are your mates 'with the programme' then? ;-) Maybe if we handed out some of Kirty's tops to them it'd reduce the need for all those checks?

  • Comment number 75.

    There appears to be quite a lot of this sort of thing happening these days. Is it possibly something to do with cracks appearing in what's been surreptiously sustaining Liberal-Democracy?

  • Comment number 76.

    question for JadedJean (75.) - out of interest, what is your ideal system of government??

  • Comment number 77.

    Ah yes. JadedJean agrees with the neo-nazis and Holocaust deniers. That said, I have to say that I agree with JadedJean that locking them up or prosecuting them isn't the answer. The right way is to vigorously challenge their absurd "arguments" (please note the quote marks).

    Let's instead look at the authoritative comments of Grey J's judgment in Irving v Lipstadt:

    "13.98 I have already made findings that the evidence supports the following propositions: that the shooting of the Jews in the East was systematic and directed from Berlin with the knowledge and approval of Hitler; that there were gas chambers at several of the Operation Reinhard camps and that (as Irving during the trial admitted) hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed in them and that there were gas chambers at Auschwitz, where hundreds of thousands more Jews were gassed to death. It follows that it is my conclusion that Irving's denials of these propositions were contrary to the evidence."

    For the full judgment, see

  • Comment number 78.

    markieboyrulesok (#76) "question for JadedJean (75.) - out of interest, what is your ideal system of government??"

    Whilst I have no personal political agenda and whilst I do not think there is an ideal, I do think there were/are merits to the Old Labour program and to Democratic-Centralism in general (as implemented in Stalinist USSR and in the curent PRC - remember, in the early days, Stalin told the Grman communists that their future lay with Hitler). I also think elements of the National Socialist 25 point program in Germany in the 1930s had merit. But, and this is an important caveat, those who become party members have to be very carefully held to party principles and the law in order to keep it on course (see the Webb's book on Soviet communism for the true meaning of the term purge). I do not think that Liberal-Democracy works the way that most people naively think that it does (although some have been given a brie look at the ugly truth recently), nor do I think the evidence shows that people are equals in ability - those with abilities therefore have a duty to help and protect the interests of others (cf. the Welfare state). The promotion of equality and Human Rights today is egregious, as paradoxically, it serves subversive, anarchistic and ultimately exploitative purposes. Sadly, the merits to which I allude above, appear to be reviled by some, Jewish political/economic activists who historically have exerted a disproportionate influence on the economics and politics of the Liberal-Democracies above and beyond this groups genetic advantage in verbal intelligence.

  • Comment number 79.


    Out of the last four Prime Ministers, three are clearly defined.

    Blair is wandering the world, weighed down by riches and guilt, trying to ingratiate himself with the One True God, having, it seems, learned nothing of the faith he professes.

    Brown is on YouTube, behaving in a truly bizarre manner, thinking he is making a favourable impression, having no concept of the gulf between his needs and ours.

    Thatcher was starkly defined in 'Working for Margaret' (Archive on 4 - Sat 25th) as a surreal mix of incongruent parts - a mad scientist's cross between a Rotweiller and a partridge.

    All three 'leaders' - and more - were distilled from British 'democracy' and from the 'mother' of parliaments to that backside of near-absolute power: 10 Downing Street.

    Is it any wonder Britain is now so mired in the consequences of erroneous direction? When the heads of leaders are filled with childhood angst and wild compensatory constructs, managing the fortunes of a nation, and minding a nuclear button, are not their forte. Unless we can OVERTHROW the whole current matrix - from the lynch-pin of royal patronage, via bogus democracy, right down through destructive education and ruinous nurture, we are headed for a messy collapse.

  • Comment number 80.

    After the chancellor unveiled his budget, I am starting to think perhaps he and his master in No. 10 are actually secret undercover agents employed by Brussels. They purposely s*rew up the government’s finance, offer no help to small businesses, waste money on non effective stimulus measures to ensure the economy reaches no point of return, so that Britain will have no choice but join the Euro. If not, surely they can do better than this?

  • Comment number 81.

    markieboyrulesok (#77) "Let's instead look at the authoritative comments of Grey J's judgment in Irving v Lipstadt"

    As I have explained to you repeatedly elsewhere and at length, this was a civil libel trial, and the law courts do not decide on historical truth. This was a point made by Grey himself. You should not therefore appeal to Justice Grey as an authoritative source of historical matters of fact/truth.

    What you should do is focus on the anomalies, e.g. the demographics I have put to you. I have now answered your follow-ups on the 20th.

    I hope you find this helpful.

  • Comment number 82.

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

  • Comment number 83.

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

  • Comment number 84.

    Freedom Of Speech in the UK Giraffe Antelope Elefant


  • Comment number 85.

    to 81. JadedJean

    Dear JadedJean

    I respect your intellect. However, I do not respect your intellectual integrity.

    I have already quoted directly from the High Court judgment the key DETERMINATIONS OF FACT made by Grey J (and unanimously upheld by 3 Court of Appeal judges, who noted that, at para. 8 of their judgment, "The judgment of Gray J can only be admired for its comprehensiveness and style ...")

    I am surprised, given your apparent keenness on "evidence" rather than emotion, that you think a court is not able to make determinations of fact. Courts are there to decide points of law and points of fact germane to any case. The extensive quotes from the judgment make it quite plain that the judge was making findings of fact as to historical events. Would you like me, once more, to set them out so everyone can see and make their own judgment on that??

    I'm not, however, surprised that you would "wish" the judgment to go away as it comprehensively addresses and dismisses all of the entirely fatuous "arguments" raised by the Holocaust-deniers (as to which see my last post on last Monday's newsnight).

  • Comment number 86.

    To JadedJean (78):

    You say above that you "also think elements of the National Socialist 25 point program in Germany in the 1930s had merit."

    (Actually, it was adopted in 1920 (as you could have read from the link you helpfully provided).)

    Which elements of the programme did you have in mind?

    For example: Point 4 says:

    "Only a member of the race can be a citizen. A member of the race can only be one who is of German blood, without consideration of creed. Consequently no Jew can be a member of the race."

    Is that an element you support; i.e. that Jews should not be citizens of whichever countries they reside in?

    If so, do you agree that it would follow from that proposition that:

    * (per point 5): Jews could only live in those countries as "guests" and fall under the authority of legislation for foreigners.

    * (per point 6): Jews would be barred from determining any matters concerning administration and law, and any public office, since these could be filled only by "citizens".

    ... and if so, do you agree with those points??

    I'd also be interested in your views as to which other groups (ethnic, religious or otherwise), aside from Jews, would be excluded from your "race" (per point 23). For example, would that exclude Afro-Carribeans, Asians, Muslims, Catholics, descendants from the French Hugenots, descendants from the Normans, descendants from the Vikings?

    Anyone else I've missed off?

  • Comment number 87.

    markieboyrulesok (#85) "I am surprised, given your apparent keenness on "evidence" rather than emotion, that you think a court is not able to make determinations of fact. Courts are there to decide points of law and points of fact germane to any case."

    You should focus on that 'surprise' as it is usually a signal for an opportunity for behavioural change ('learning').

    First, note, lawyers are not scientists. The application of the rules of evidence have similarities (see Quine and Ullian's 'The Web of Belief' but appositely see Quine on 'Rhetoric' in Quiddities and in his piece in the little book containing advice to the next generation. ;-)

    The facts germane to this case bore on a libel case. Was it reasonable for the defendants to be persuaded by the documentary evidence? This, as I said is a subtle point which you appear to keep missing. 'Evidence' here was documentary evidence. You should think on this at length perhaps. The bible also contains documentary evidence. Is it true? Truth in science is not determined by documentary evidence. This is point which all too many people fail to understand. It makes them vulnerable to propaganda and spin.

    You are still missing the main point that I have made. Is that intentional?

  • Comment number 88.

    PS - For those of you who are interested in EVIDENCE (which JadedJean most certainly is not), I attach a link to all of the Defence documents in the Irving v Lipstadt case. Please note that David Irving vigorously challenged the integrity of these documents both in his written pleadings and his cross-examination of those who wrote the reports. This is precisely why the judge's analysis and conclusions on POINTS OF FACT (i.e. there was genocide of Jews by the Nazis in WW2, including inter alia via gassing of several hundred of thousands of Jews in Auschwitz) are of import to any debate on the existence and scope of the Holocust. Here are the links. Read the evidence, read Grey J's judgment, and then form your own conclusions.

    Collectively, these documents set out the following:

    * Evidence for the Implementation of the Final Solution: Electronic Edition, by Browning, Christopher R. (Professor Browning provides documentary evidence to trace how the decision to conduct the final solution was reached.)

    * Hitler's Role in the Persuection of the Jews by the Nazi Regime: Electronic Version, by Heinz Peter Longerich. (Professor Longerich traces Hitler's expressions of profound antisemitism beginning in the post World War I period and shows that Hitler was anything but, as Irving claims, the Jews' "best friend" in Germany.)

    * The Systematic Character of the National Socialist Policy for the Extermination of the Jews: Electronic Edition, by Heinz Peter Longerich (
    Professor Longerich documents why Irving's claims that Nazi policy of persecution was haphazard, and not genocidal are not supported by the evidence.)

    * [The Van Pelt Report]: Electronic Edition, by Robert Jan van Pelt (Van Pelt's report examines Irving's distortions about Auschwitz, its gas chambers and incineration facilities, as well as its role in the 'Final Solution of the Jewish Problem.')

  • Comment number 89.

    to JadedJean 87:

    1. You obviously don't understand irony.

    2. What IS your main point??

    3. The evidence presented in the Irving v Lipstadt case was NOT confined to documentary evidence. As anyone will see from the links I have just provided. Your assertion that it was so confined is entirely specious.

  • Comment number 90.

    markieboyrulesok (#86) "(Actually, it was adopted in 1920 (as you could have read from the link you helpfully provided).)"

    Do you have any evidence that I did not read it? The context of what I said made it quite clear that I was referring to the 1930s when the party took power. You are now resorting to ad hominems and distortions which is nefearious rhetoric.

    Any enclave (group) which sets itself apart, with its own courts, laws, rules etc, i.e. within another sovereign nation which has rules for its entire people, de facto risks coming into conflict with the larger exclave for legalistic and political reasons which should be obvious (Somalis have tried this in London). Toleration of such enclaves amounts to encouragement of a form of racist colonisation. This is what I understand to have been proscribed in Germany in the 1930s. The USSR tried to prscribe it too. Today, the French authorities still get very angry about minority groups proclaiming their ethnicity. They are firmly told that they are French!

    If you do not see the dangers inherent in such seperatism, you have missed an important fact of life. Many Jews appear to have a rather convenient scotoma here. I suspect this is a symptom of pathological narcissism (reinforced by 'documentary evidence' that they are 'Chosen Ones' - something which, in my view, is frankly infantile/adolescent/ridiculous and ultimately in nobody's long term best interests given population group sizes.

  • Comment number 91.

    markieboyrulesok (#89) "You obviously don't understand irony.

    You have just resorted to nefarious rhetoric rather than ratonal analysis, and you have done so, I suggest, because you have no rational response to what I have pointed out. That you keep asking what my main point is, is I suggest, just evidence of that convenient scotoma to which I referred in my last post. Diligent readers will see this in evidence wherever this and related matters are discussed. It is classic.

  • Comment number 92.

    to JadedJean (90).

    You haven't actually answered the questions I posed in 86. Please do so.

  • Comment number 93.

    to JadedJean (91):

    When you provide a convincing rebuttal to the extensive evidence (all accepted by a British judge in open court after lengthy proceedings) that I have referred to, then you can start credibly banging on about "rational analysis".

    PS: I suggest you get a spell-checker - it's taken you 3 gos to get "nefarious" right.

  • Comment number 94.

    to JadedJean (follow up PS on 90):

    Your clarification re "the 1930s when the party took power" is most illuminating.

    Are we then to take it that you approve of the Nazi anti-Jewish legislation of the 1930s (such as the Nuremberg laws), implementing points 4 et seq of the Programme, and that you would now support its implementation in the UK to Jews?

  • Comment number 95.

    Auntee Beeb When Aye Grow Up CAN I Bee A Morris Dancer.
    Thud sorry Mee Lud an nd, the possibility exsists.

  • Comment number 96.

    markieboyrulesok (#94) "Your clarification re "the 1930s when the party took power" is most illuminating."

    I'm very pleased to have been of help.

    Yet you remain predictably unilluminated with respect to much which matters.

    I therefore suggest that you retrace your steps and give more time to grasping what I have written rather than try to take on more of what I may think, as despite your best efforts to date, most of what you are now posting appears to be completely irrelevant.

    I also urge you, in the pursuit of further enlightment, to look closely at how the Right of Return operates whilst also taking on board that much which happened in Germany in the 1930s has a rather long history.

  • Comment number 97.

    markieboyrulesok (#93)

    "When you provide a convincing rebuttal to the extensive evidence (all accepted by a British judge in open court after lengthy proceedings) that I have referred to, then you can start credibly banging on about "rational analysis".

    Then you must remain dogmatically ignorant. Law courts and judges do not settle empirical matters of truth. That is the province of the empirical sciences.

    Rational discussion will remain incomprensible to you so long as you do not understand a) the nature of rationality and b) how empirical evidence relates to reality.

  • Comment number 98.

    erratum (#96) enlightenment ;-)

  • Comment number 99.

    JadedJean - Answers please to questions in 86 and 94.

  • Comment number 100.

    JadedJean - re 97:

    * Science is of course a useful tool. But scientists (no matter how able) only produce theses which stand until disproved. So a scientific theory is always subject to challenge. Hence science can no more lay claim than the law courts as to determination of empirical truth, since by definition a thesis is always subject to challenge.

    * You are the one solely reliant on dogma. You produce no hard evidence supporting your case, and yet you dismiss the very extensive evidence (to which I have provided links above) that has been rigorously scrutinised and put to proof in a court of law.

    * My questions relating to your support for the Nazi Party programme are based solely around your comment (per 78) that you "also think elements of the National Socialist 25 point program in Germany in the 1930s had merit". So, again, which elements do you support, and in particular do you support points 4 et seq. These questions are very straightforward. Why are you continually unable / unwilling to answer them?


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