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Thursday 28 May 2009

ADMIN USE ONLY | 16:25 UK time, Thursday, 28 May 2009

Here's a taster of what's coming up on the programme.

From the web team:

Julie Kirkbride and Margaret Moran have announced they will stand down as MPs at the next election.

Pressure had been mounting on both since details of their expenses claims were revealed in the Daily Telegraph.

In announcing her decision, Ms Kirkbride said she "must take into account the effects on my family" of the row.

Mrs Moran also said that the "understandable anger in the media and amongst the public... has had a bruising effect upon my friends, my family and my health".

So, were they hounded out by a media hungry for blood, or was the frenzy of press interest a justifiable response to public concern? Tonight we will be debating this with both politicians and journalists.

Also, BAE systems - Britain's global arms dealer - was still struggling at this month's annual meeting to rebrand itself as an "ethical" arms company.

Meanwhile, more than two years after the British government pulled the rug on its biggest fraud investigation, BAE may have returned the favour, helping to get the government off the hook with the international anti-corruption agency.

BAE has stopped a billion pounds insurance contract which tied the government to its alleged bribery and corruption in Saudi Arabia. The move, which Newsnight can reveal for the first time, has astonished BAE's critics, who smell a rat.

Plus, the cuckoo - known for its springtime song - has joined a "red list" of the UK's most threatened bird species. We will be asking why.

Join Jeremy Paxman at 10.30pm on BBC Two.


  • Comment number 1.

    So, were they hounded out by a media hungry for blood, or was the frenzy of press interest a justifiable response to public concern?

    Let's see...

    Two emails I got from Aunty earlier in complement...

    Labour MP Moran to step down
    Labour MP Margaret Moran is to step down from her Luton South constituency at the next election.

    MP Kirkbride 'set to stand down'
    Conservative MP Julie Kirkbride is considering standing down as an MP at the next election, the BBC understands.

    I suppose you could argue that at least in the former the party was headlined.

    But I was just trying to get my head around a 'special' (and with quotes on top, so you know it has to be dodgy) email that is based on an 'understanding' that a person is 'considering' standing down.

    The first is fact. The second sure as heck wasn't anything I'd called worthy of cluttering up my in-box with until confirmed.

    In fact, I'd say it came pretty close to being the frenzy of a certain press out and hungry for blood.

    Sloppy at best. At worst...?

    Tonight we will be debating this with both politicians and journalists.

    Any slim hope it won't be Messrs. Livingstone, Benn, Maguire, White or Polly and Yasmin for a change?

    You know. For, er, 'balance'.

  • Comment number 2.

    was still struggling at this month's annual meeting to rebrand itself as an "ethical" arms company.

    Well, you have to give full marks for trying.

    What next? A government trying struggling to rebrand itself as, well anything else than what it currently is, as it surely can't hurt now?

  • Comment number 3.

    Plus, the cuckoo has joined a "red list" of the UK's most threatened bird species. We will be asking why.

    Wild guess. The ones being invited on to 'help' 'answer' will be those who have vested interest via funding to support distractions from a bunch of folk with a vested interest in concreting over the entire country... to affordably buy off... er... house all those grateful voters.

    And hence might not be one reason considered. Time to fly in Mrs. Sting... pronto!

  • Comment number 4.

    Ms Moran has taken the defensive route of ignoring all and sundry and, worse still, treating the Electorate as if they were not sufficiently knowledgeable stroke educated stroke concerned enough to have stroke warrant a valid opinion on her actions and her media focused bluster!

    Topping this for being Totally out of touch with the people that gave me this job by a long way is Ms Kirkbride whom initially lets her Husband stand in front of the ( blank loaded ) firing squad - alone - and then when, quite rightly, caught in the searchlight on the barbed-wire is morally criminal enough to attempt to excuse her behaviour on the foundation of being a working Mother!

    There are plenty of working Parents out amongst the Electorate that would welcome a salary of 64k ( Sorry, 128k plus) two homes, two lots of expenses claims, Media & Public appearance fees, an Au Pair and a live-in relative (subsidised apparently by the State) to assist in looking after her child.

    I would like to suggest that most of the Great British Public would be more willing to treat these MPs - in fact all MPs - with a little more respect were they actually more in touch with the real world and did not treat the Great British Public with such aloof and arrogant contempt.

    The Westminster Defense carries no more validity than the Nuremberg Defense

    Hopefully in tonights programme Sir JP will get a few answers and commitments from the Rent-a-quotes et al?

  • Comment number 5.

    Getting found out is a painful experience. More so when one has been party to such an "honourable", puffed up group of people. The institution became more important then the exercise. Lost touch with the crowd.
    Early this morning, on BBC radio, heard something about a reporter that came involved with a wounded child. The Honourable People were party to this. I feel guilt; do they.

  • Comment number 6.

    Has my comment been rejected ?

  • Comment number 7.

    has my comments been rejected ?

  • Comment number 8.

    Has my comments been rejected ?

  • Comment number 9.


    With most of the country now going cuckoo, small wonder the real thing has given up. It's bedlam.

  • Comment number 10.

    Whatever else happens with the expenses saga, I do think it's time to recognise that some of these "offences" are far worse than others, and deal with the MP or hound them out of office accordingly.

    Anyone who works for an employer knows that there is a disciplinary process, and whilst some things are deemed gross misconduct and merit instant dismissal, most do not in the first instance. I hear a lot in the media about "we wouldn't get away with that in our jobs", and in many cases that's quite right. But equally, in our jobs, we'd be entitled to a fair hearing and a proportionate punishment fitting the "offence".

    I'm not saying things haven't got to change - they certainly have, big time. But equally, it's not fair to treat all these cases as if they are identical. Otherwise, we are going to end up discouraging good and honourable people from standing for election, both nationally and locally.

  • Comment number 11.


    A bird today, us tomorrow. That's what you get when you don't plan to avoid extinction.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 12.

    given the poetry link doesn't work. i'll post it here.

    thinking about what kind of art 'saves the soul and heals the state' i'm reminded of the 'The Brylcreem Boys' by Peter Durrant first shown on BBC-1 in November 1979 [not the modern film of the same name]

    This was a TV play about a World War II bomber crew . The plot centered on an RAF ground crew who had committed some offence in 1942 and as a punishment he was made to mount guard all night on an East Anglian airfield in the depths of winter. It was bitter cold and sleeping in his frozen sentry box he got frostbite as a result - a 'mild' case - and was sent to recuperate in the only nearby hospital - which was a small 'cottage hospital' used for aircrew who had mentally cracked under the strain of endless bombing raids.

    He is deeply offended to be put in with a ward of 'nutters'. who were all manic, catatonic or wildly deranged. But he was forced to stay as this was the only available facility. He deeply resents being lumped in with the 'Lack of Moral Fibre' cases but his complaints are ignored.

    On his first night in the ward, a full moon is rising and he is astonished to see the catatonic bomber pilot, who has never moved or spoken, rise from his bed and position his chair in the centre of the ward - in the moonlight. For the first time this pilot speaks . . ."Its a bombers moon chaps - time to go" . The other 'mad' crew members, one by one rise from their beds like ghosts and position their chairs along the ward centre - recreating a Lancaster bomber in outline. Much against his will, the frostbite victim is dragged into their nightmare and literally forced to take the radio operators position in their imaginary bomber.

    He plays along in a mixture of fear and tittering at their obvious insanity. But as the pilot goes through the crew checks and says 'Start outer port engine' - the nightmare starts to become a reality. All of the sounds and sights of a real bomber come to life and he finds himself transported to a bomber over Nuremburg, shaken by flak explosions and thousands of bomb concussions - in a terrifying recreation of this crew's last mission. They are repeatedly hit by flak - which starts fires in two engines. Finally they are raked by the cannon shells of an invisible night fighter and the plane is reduced to a bloody slaughterhouse. The mid-upper-gunner is disembowelled and dies in agony. Other crew members are seriously wounded and they all endure a horrific journey home lasting five hours as the pilot nurses the stricken bomber home on two engines.

    Just as dawn breaks the protagonist comes to his senses back in the ward, on his chair with the weeping, traumatised crew around him. He helps the sister carry them all back to their beds, where they resume their normal catatonia or madness. He finally understands what they have been through and what 'lack of moral fibre actually means'.

    i remember watching it and by the end you do feel like you have been on a mission. yet you haven't been anywhere. That was poetry.

    i just watched it again and it puts all the modern mps behaviour etc in its place.

  • Comment number 13.

    barrie (#9) "With most of the country now going cuckoo, small wonder the real thing has given up. It's bedlam."

    Is it just an apathetic revolution?

    Watching a bald cuckoo ejecting eggs out of another bird's nest on TV today, I say good riddance to the cuckoo, the Trot of the avian world! ;-)

  • Comment number 14.

    had letter from Gordon today. it began 'I know that people are angry about MPs expenses' then goes on about for a bit about labour and says tories will cut services etc and asks you to vote for them. Also had a labour politician knock on the door. I said 'you're brave'. he said it hadn't been too bad. not as bad as it might have been but expects a low turnout.

  • Comment number 15.

    go1 at 24 wed:
    "The public would probably pay for "sanctomonious utterences" rather than have far right (your left) fanatics producing their vile analysis. By far right I mean people who can say they revere Hitler and not laugh"

    Can't recall i ever said i revered Hitler..and am quite sure of that on account Adolf Hitler was a evil dictator who shattered Europe (funded by the Jewish banking houses and corporations!)

    I will converse more when you start shaving.

  • Comment number 16.

    Why on earth did you use the usual computerised twaddle for background music to your piece on cuckoos tonight, when you could have used the sublime On hearing the first cuckoo by Delius?

  • Comment number 17.

    Did I detect a hint of hypocracy in Jeremy Paxman's introduction for the segment on the decision to stand down at the next general election by MP's in the news
    Blaming their troubles on the "media",by which it was clear that he meant the 'printed media',he somehow failed to mention the relish with which news and political reporters, for example Messrs Crick and Robinson, for the BBC,ITV and Channel 4 news have "gleefully put their boots in" whilst the MP's in question are reeling from mob handed attacks. In my experience most if not all of my former business associates used to take "full" advantage of having a company expenses account and no doubt many reporters do the same. It is hard for any 'player' in whatever field of endeavour to accommodate a change in the rules midway through the 'game'

  • Comment number 18.

    Sometimes Britain really does seem like a moral cesspit ..... BAE Systems jumped into bed with British Council long ago and nobody
    in Westminster seemed to bat an eyelid at linking arms sales to a
    teddybear exchange between India& Humberside involving schoolkids!

    Still: there was a real breath of fresh air on Newsnight Scotland
    tonight when radical social worker Bob Holman and John Haldane the
    moral philosopher from St Andrews debated with Gordon Brewer. Hope
    you post that exchange on the website to help raise the bar again?

  • Comment number 19.


    Oh dear, another believer is fixing the Holy Land. The only achievable two-state reality is Barack and Tony: the two of them sharing in a state of denial. First we had the 'Road Map' and now we are going to see the 'Claptrap-Map'. Some idiot will be saying he believes in 'Britain at the heart of Europe' next!

  • Comment number 20.

    :o) Yet another corker from Jeremy "questions for Cash" (referring to the MP Cash)! Throughly excellent debate with Dan Finkelstein/Kelvin MacKenzie/Susan Kramer & Jeremy, but the creme de la creme was Jeremy's telephone interview with Cash. EXCELLENT!

  • Comment number 21.

    Whoa! In the pleb corner, we have Kelvin McKenzie and 'politicians are a steaming pile of horse £&$%' and in the highfalutin corner we have Daniel Finkelstein and the belief most MPs are unfairly maligned. Who to believe? Kill 'em all vs. lah-di-dah. Just who should I believe?

    Do our 'betters' really deserve the benefit of the doubt or am I falling for their cunning plan? Is it all the fault of the media and should I hang my head in shame for baying for blood?

    Hang on [sniff, sniff], this smells familiar. Is that Baldrick they're taking advice from? Isn't Baldrick usually found near a steaming pile of horse £&$%?

    I think we have our answer.

  • Comment number 22.


    Bottom line:

    When we had the means of production in state hands, there was an infrastructure (nation) to socially run. MPs could indeed oversee what their departments (Civil Servants) were doing in the post office, air, rail, coal, iron, steel, education, health, DHSS etc, ensuring that the people had a say in delivery to the people. With nearly all of that having now gone or actively being sold off into private hands, what are these politicians to do except theatrically play witches and wizards in a land of Oz?

    Time to wake up folks.

  • Comment number 23.


    And elsewhere, recruitment.

    There are settlements and there are settlements. This one isn't going to be settled easily.

  • Comment number 24.


    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 25.

    When Larry Robinson speaks about the situation in Pakistan, he has three years of stay as ex-US Counsellor to Islamabad which contributed to his understanding of the people and their problems.

    What strengths do MJ Gohel bring to help Newsnight viewers understand the
    Swat crisis better? Has he visited those areas? Does he know the tribal composition of the terrain to tell one tribe from the other? Does he know
    Pashtu in which some of broadcast about their motives and inspiration?
    If answers to most of these questions is in negative, then inviting armchair commentators like him make viewers wonder if some newsnight producers remain seduced by superficiality?

  • Comment number 26.

    the mysterious fees office

    is the reason the press are not investigating the fees office staff and their spectacular advice lest mps use them as a get out jail free card? once the mps have been cooked then the fees office can be put in the oven?

    kelvin likes the mob? is this the same kelvin who said he hid when diana died because of fear of the mob?

    Arms on the Run

    last time i looked it was not illegal to bribe foreign nationals either in the uk or abroad. for a long time and until recently it was only illegal to bribe uk nationals in the uk. so like the MP's others can say they were 'acting within the rules at the time'.

    while some may look in horror at those rules in many parts of the world it is IMPOSSIBLE to operate without what we would call 'bribery'.

    the usa investigation just looks like a competitor having fun messing with their commercial rivals?

    Farming subsidy

    so despite 4 billion a year subsidy to landowners to be 'park rangers' species are in decline? what are they spending the money on? does it help that when some people go shooting it is witnessed protected species mysteriously fall out the air?

  • Comment number 27.

    "until recently it was only illegal to bribe uk nationals in the uk."

    During the torture furore, our leaders used the phrase: "Britain neither practices nor condones torture" (or similar). The tense is PRESENT.

    Until recently, there is little doubt we were up to our contemptuous sneer in torture; we played a willing part in the PAST.

  • Comment number 28.

    On arbitrary targeting of MPs I think there are two ways of looking at it.

    I think Sheena MacDonald used the analogy of the dog and the lamp post as the relationship between the media and the politicians - except its unclear who is the dog and who the lamp post.

    I expect that like Madison, I think it was Madison, we need the media to be the "watch dogs" of democracy. If we don't have the right information we can't make the right decisions.

    At the moment I would have said the media are being watch dogs. But I can think of those, like Toynbee and Whittam Smith who have voiced a more patrician opinion that sounded a lot like they would form a judgement about what they printed.

    The Telegraph, and perhaps Cameron (scorching out any corruption before he is in government) have found a festering wound. The rest of the media would have had to go along. Even Toynbee.

    But before we decide that the media are out of control perhaps we should consider whether they have been, generally, looking the other way for some time.

    Thats why we need transparency in our systems so that we don't have to rely on the goodwill of individuals - though we should appreciate whistle blowers.

  • Comment number 29.

    #22 Jaded_Jean
    "Time to wake up folks."

    People probably woke up to the fact that BNP activists rant on here, and are too cowardly to declare their allegiance, years ago.

    Will people swap Hitler for Churchill, democracy for tyranny, multiculturalism for race "realism", tolerance for hate - do people want to be some sort of historical throwback to the period of the Haw Haw and the Blackshirts?

    No they won't.

    They are wide awake and they reject you utterly.

    Ha ha!

  • Comment number 30.

    I realise its painful for Baby Peters father but much attention has validly been paid to the failures that allowed the batterer and rapist boyfriend to get access to baby Peter - system failures.

    No attention seems to have been given to how the batterer became the monster he is.

    For instance was he just an evil psychopath? Was he a vulnerable illiterate who was vulnerable to the hateful ideas of the far right - apparently he was a strong admirer of Hitler, so was he indoctrinated? I believe he came from a children's home - if so is this an exceptional case of what goes wrong when the care system fails or is it typical?

  • Comment number 31.

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

  • Comment number 32.

    #14 bookhimdano

    On the low turnout that would favour the hideous BNP - those vile twisted liars put a leaflet through my door with a Spitfire on it whilst they revere Hitler.

    They want race "realist" policies, eugenics,a planned economy - basically Hitlerite policies.

    But I guess that there won't be too much impact on turnout on the day and that even on a low turnout most are too sensible to vote BNP.

  • Comment number 33.

    #19 barriesingleton

    More humour and mirth from the tub thumping far right - "Obarmy", ho ho ho - not!

    "Barmy" may be used to describe those that promote race "realist" policies and agendas.

    A first time visitor to the page should pick up on attitudes to race and in particular Jews - and of course Hitler.

    Evil may be a better word.

    To most people in the world Obama has inherited an absolute pile of problems but has the intellectual capacity to resolve them and if he brings peace via a much needed two state solution, Israel and Palestine, then that will be one of the greatest ever Presidents of the US.

  • Comment number 34.

    "No attention seems to have been given to how the batterer became the monster he is."

    Perhaps you've just been ignoring it? From the research, it's now understood that much of behaviour is genetic/heritable.

    Not a lot of people want to know that as it has unwelcome implications for the prospects of changining people and populations.

    Still, there you go.

  • Comment number 35.

    Go1 - generally.

    You don't get it do you? You, for reasons best know to yourself, just accept all the deception that is heaped upon you. You over react when others point out where you are wrong and start screaming and hurling abuse. Unlike your view, this blog isn't a hot bed of BNP voters, we are just ordinary people who have seen through the lies.

    Try it for yorself with this.

  • Comment number 36.


    thegangofone (#33) "To most people in the world Obama has inherited an absolute pile of problems but has the intellectual capacity to resolve them"

    What problems has he 'inherited'? What caused the problems? Was he not a US Senator? How will he resolve them? Is he a despot? Will he not have to deal with the problems of the ever dumber US population brough about via immigration and dysgenic fertility?

    What's happening here? Are these people racists? Take a look at California's changing demographics over the past few decades.

    If multiculturalism is so wonderful, why are Africa and Pakistan in such a mess? Why are different 'ethnic' groups so often seen on the news to be eager to kill each other (e.g. Sri Lanka, Iraq etc)? Why is Israel at odds with Palestine? Do they have the right to settle? Do we have settlements here and in the USA? Were tere settlements throughout Europe in the past? What happened as a consequence?

    Try telling it to deluded Jews and see what happens. Multiculturalism is OK where they decide to settle but it isn't OK for people to settle on their territory - why is that? Might there be a scotoma here? Might others have spotted this in the past and called it hypocricy? This goes with being narcissisic. The clue lies in calling one's own race 'The Chosen Ones' having being singled out by a supreme being whilst other groups comprise lesser beings. Do you see how and why such malignant narcissism might upset some people? Look at all the support groups whch are for this group only? Is that racism? Imagine gentile only groups...

    Seriously - look into this. It might surprise/enlighten you.

  • Comment number 37.

    #32 Go1

    'Planned economy' again. Yet still no explanation why you think this is evil.

    Look at the world without planning. Children starving and dying. Extinction and death of innocent species of animals and plants. Pollution of ecological life support system. A world without compassion or empathy or consideration for the 'other'.

    All to feed the machine of a system that acts randomly without regard to life. Only to produce something meaningless called increasing economic growth.

    A world without regard for a journey to the future. Only interested in consumption in the present.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 38.

    KingCelticLion (#24) Nice link (and series of posts).

  • Comment number 39.

    Celtic Lion #37

    Nicely put. You won't get a rational answer though. He never does. I have no idea who he is trying to impress with his behaviour, local Lib Dems maybe.

    #24 Good illustration, thanks.

  • Comment number 40.

    #34, JOJO

    "From the research, it's now understood that much of behaviour is genetic/heritable."

    I think you are just making excuses for yourself.

    You present a strong case for eugenics.

  • Comment number 41.

    TomNightingale #40

    Why is everyone so coy about the word 'eugenics'? Choosing a good marriage partner is only common sense is it not? Promoting responsible parenthood likewise. Or do we want the world depicted in 'Idiocracy'?

  • Comment number 42.

    TomNightingale (#40) "You present a strong case for eugenics."

    So did Galton, Pearson, Fisher, Huxley and many many others ;-).

    Few people appreciate just how corrupt the politics have been in recent decades. Generations have been decieved for essentially predatory, political/economic reasons.

  • Comment number 43.

    AND THERE'S MORE (#41)

    "Choosing a good marriage partner is only common sense is it not?"

    Further, choosing is, in itself, an act of prejudice and descrimination.

    How vile we all are.

  • Comment number 44.

    barrie (#43) "How vile we all are."

    Not all. Look closely at the Axis II, Cluster B DSM-IV classifications I have been repeatedly emphasizing. They just have disproportionately high salience and influence relative to their population base-rate perhaps? Like a very annoying pain/irritation.

  • Comment number 45.

    NewFazer (#35) Why do so many Americans in those videos sound so nuts? It's that Alex Jones chap isn't it? I looked up one of the hyped articles mentioned - FT.COM on global government. A big EU. ...Groan.... Would that mean Israel would have to stop its settlements on the West Bank, or would it mean they could settle where the *%$! they pleased? ;-)

    " 'I want to say in a crystal clear manner that the current Israeli government will not accept in any fashion that legal settlement activity be frozen,' said Transport Minister Yisrael Katz, a close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu." Sunday 31 May 2009


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