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Friday 8 May 2009

Sarah McDermott | 15:35 UK time, Friday, 8 May 2009

Ever since they lost a Freedom of Information battle to block the publication of details of their expenses claims, MPs knew this day would come. What they didn't know was that it would come so soon. Tonight, we ask how damaging the expenses revelations will be for the government and parliament. And we'll look at who is next in the firing line.

Also Stephen Sackur reports from ground zero in eastern Congo's zone of conflict - the frontline for the world's biggest, most expensive UN military mission. Watch a clip here.

And Newsnight Review looks at Irish literature this week with Colm Toibin's new novel Brooklyn and Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.

Martha and the panel will also be reviewing the new Star Trek film - and you can enjoy a guided tour round the home of Tony Alleyne - a Star Trek fan who boldly went where no interior designer had gone before - transforming his Leicestershire flat into a Star Trek spaceship.


  • Comment number 1.


    I have long posted in terms of WESTMINSTER and its ETHOS being the surreal world in which party games are played and to which the political mind is drawn; there to be honed in awfulness.

    Now Harriet Harman has made clear that the money-fiddling culture is a product of no one party; the implication being WESTMINSTER itself engenders, nurtures and fructifies this malaise.

    BRING ON THE BULLDOZER OF INTEGRITY - preferably driven by the fragrant Saint Joanna.

  • Comment number 2.

    "...we'll look at who is next in the firing line".

    Translation: We'll largely gloss over what we know about Labour MPs and instead we'll speculate about the Tories.

  • Comment number 3.

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

  • Comment number 4.

    Waiting for Godot? Come on Newsnight - we are all waiting for Gordo's cleaner to dish more dirt ...

    'He was also very messy, even by student standards. Mr Wills, who shared a flat with him for a while, said: "He was oblivious to his domestic surroundings. But it was at least better than his first flat. When I visited that a few years earlier, I vowed never to go back. There should have been a bio-hazard sign on it. It was a slum."'

  • Comment number 5.


    Mandelson's escape of smug laughter, when interviewed about his part in the 'Great Take' discloses more than any enquiry ever could. Either The Prince is now grown so LARGE all else is petty; or, perhaps, everything in British life is now so petty, EVEN little Peter appears great by comparison.

    I notice the fools are now prepared to quantify the knaves (any advance on 30%?) but have not yet realised connivance is - well - CONNIVANCE.

  • Comment number 6.

    This is much worse, as is this and this is galling too.

  • Comment number 7.

  • Comment number 8.

    The others will get their turn. Deservedly so. But, I rather suspect, with those they have associated garnering more than their fair share as the speed dials of various researchers bring out a cabal of 'objective' usual suspect commentators to switch from today's stalwart brother and sisterhood defence to tomorrow's withering 'us' vs. 'them' attack mode.

    However, for today it is interesting, if not edifying or indeed encouraging (for those who feel they are qualified to lead) that this sorry crew seem to feel the origins of a fact seems to somehow negate it still being one.

    600+ parliamentary wrongs do not make a right. Oh, and to any apologists (and you are damned by your complicit efforts)... too little... waaaaay too late.

    Such excuses as I have witnessed so far seem more designed to merely ensure the noose is tight when the trapdoor falls.

    Whist abusing publicly-funded airtime to allow the narrative to be enhanced to delay the inevitably of this day remains truly... unique.

  • Comment number 9.

    #6 You forgot to mention the recently nationalised RBS Chairman's second-home ......... I wonder if we taxpayers also pay for his cleaner?!

  • Comment number 10.

  • Comment number 11.

    they are all scurrying into their burrows, the list is soon to hit the mat and they are all preparing their excuses, Hazel Blears has done nothing out of the ordinary, it is all within the rules, which begs the question which MP thought this one up, it must ahve been an MP as it did so much to protect them...only it hasn't, The FOI means they have to come clean, all of them. Hazel Blears may have made 45 grand out of property appreciating but her constituency is in a working class area of Salford and she doesn't come over as a sleaze merchant, she just took advantage of the 'rules' like they all did. What I am waiting for are the disclosures from the Tory front bench stuffed with multimillionairres and whether they could be arsed trying to claim exe's for a run down cottage in the Cotswolds in their wife's sisters name, that should be interesting. I mean why should the taxpayer pay for these exhorbitant living expenses? They get paid a pretty good salary so why should'nt any expenses incurred come out of that gross overall figure? There would be plenty left over but they inhabit a world very different from you and me the trouble is I want them to live a little more in our world and less in theirs.

  • Comment number 12.

    It seems fairly well established that our in theory independently-minded political representatives pretty much do and/or say what they are told these days.

    And those actions or words seem governed by systems of research and response based on surveys and polls and focus groups.

    So we have a Parliament of clones controlled by robots.

    I just saw Liam Fox on the BBC waffling on the various 'system is wrong', 'rules were not broken' mantras, instead of having a personal opinion and making clear he knows right from wrong, and that collective mea culpas do not erase individual accountability, so it's pretty cross-party. No idea where the Lib Dems are in all this. I guess they get their day in the sun tomorrow.

    And I could also care less about apologies. Still, after trotting out a few for all the value they have, it's nice to see a green Mr. Cameron advocating reuse. Before leaping in his Prius this morning, he must have used President Obama's genius rallying cry 'Change' about twenty times. Of course, saying it doesn't mean it happens, or it ends up with anything better. But then, that is not the point these days , is it?

    These are clear factual abuses, that for anyone else would lead to immediate legal process. Yet those geniuses at Labour see merit in telling their colleagues that they have done nothing wrong. Read the public mood doods!

    And the solution I am now hearing about? Using vast amounts more of taxpayers money to bring in a commission or something to oversee the thing. Which, on past evidence, seems to be shorthand for public-funded cover-up. And already there seems to be mention that 'trivia' such as the damning details won't be in there in the new system.

    My only concern is that if and when there are some resignations/sackings this will in fact be seen to clear the slate, which in essence it will.

    That means the guilty will be allowed to quietly get away with their abuses. And those who step into their shoes will be unjustly punished for their predecessors' actions.

  • Comment number 13.

    JunkkMale (#12) "My only concern is that if and when there are some resignations/sackings this will in fact be seen to clear the slate, which in essence it will.

    That means the guilty will be allowed to quietly get away with their abuses. And those who step into their shoes will be unjustly punished for their predecessors' actions."

    As I keep trying to oint out (from a number of different perspectives), the root problem is that at least two generations hsve been lulled into fearing government per se, and until they see how this has been engineered through irrational fear, they will continue to either a) not vote in their collective best interest by voting for one of the three liberal-democratic parties, or b) simply not vote at all.

    The longer this interia continues, the worse it will continue to get.

  • Comment number 14.


    "I will have the opportunity to honour the memory of the six million Jewish victims of the Shoah," the German-born pope said, using the Hebrew term for the Holocaust, "and to pray that humanity will never again witness a crime of such magnitude."

    Reuters May 11 2009

    But that statement could mean anything. It could, for example, be taken to mean that he has sympathy for six million European Jews who were misled/deceived and ended up behind the Iron Curtain.

    As always in this sorry matter, people are left to fill in the intensional gaps created by the non truth functionality of Natural Language, and as with religion and politics which traffic in this language, argue and fight over what's true when it's logically impossible. It will be of interest to note what he says when he gets to the museum/shrine which actually counts survivors as those Jewish people who were in any German occupied area, but who did not die.

  • Comment number 15.


    Addendum (#14) Sure enough, BBC NEWS24 had Katya Adler outside the museum basically misreporting what the Pope actually said in his speech upon arival in Israel. Before anyone makes out that it all 'means the same', the reality is that it does not. 'Said that' is one of those pesky intensional idioms of propositional attitude which a) resists existential quantification in and b) substitutivity of identicals salva vertiate, as any person well versed in modern philosophy of language will know. If one reports what someone said, one has to report what was said verbatim, or else one risks fabricating. Given the other coverage of the Pope's history in Hitler Youth and the Williamson issue, one can fill in the rest given the controversial Two State issue and much else besides given the recent economic problems stemming from NYC.

    To remove any uncertainty, anti-semitism per se is indeed unethical and should be discouraged, as a blanket criticism of Jewish people simply because they are Jewish. Alas, there are those amongst them (and even those who are not Jewish) who hide their egregious behaviour behind such charges precisely in order to avoid criticism of their behaviours. This is remarkably akin to using civilians as human shields.

  • Comment number 16.

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


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