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Tuesday 1 September 2009

Sarah McDermott | 14:25 UK time, Tuesday, 1 September 2009

News of tonight's programme brought to you by the Newsnight web team:

Beslan is preparing to mark the fifth anniversary of the school siege tragedy in which more than 1000 hostages were taken. Three hundred and thirty four people, including 186 children, died. Chechen militants took control of the school in North Ossetia for three days before Russian forces stormed the building. Ewa Ewart, who directed the documentary Children of Beslan in the months immediately after the attack, has returned to Beslan for Newsnight. Tonight we'll be showing her powerful film which reveals how the children have struggled to make sense of the attacks and how they are still traumatised by the events of five years ago. Read more about that story here.

Documents relating to the release of the Lockerbie bomber are due to be published by the UK and Scottish governments. Was Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi used as a pawn in UK/Libyan discussions?

Plus, is Keynes still relevant today? Recent arguments about the deficit and public spending in the UK suggests that the question is central to our understanding of the recession. Tonight we'll be joined in the studio by author and professor of political economy, Robert Skidelsky, who advocates that adopting reforms based on the British economist John Maynard Keynes' explanation for the cause of the Great Depression should be central to our strategy for economic recovery. And our Economics Editor Paul Mason will be explaining why there has been a resurgence in Keynesian thought in the current economic climate.

Do join Jeremy for all that and more at 10.30pm on BBC Two.


  • Comment number 1.

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

  • Comment number 2.


    How 'indicative' the letters from Straw Man et al, going back years, all saying unequivocally: "Magrahi's release is solely the concern of Scotland."

    Was it not the great Sir Humphrey who said that if government denied something three times, it was proved true? By the same token, I suggest more than tree assertions of clean hands, should have those with ears to hear reaching for the Swarfega.

  • Comment number 3.


    Can we assume Gastric Miliband will be in Moscow getting a, high profile, quid-pro-quo handshake from Putin 'by return'? And perhaps a few gas vouchers . . .
    But all that footprint - I think Limited Ed will be wide-eyed about that.

  • Comment number 4.

  • Comment number 5.


    I could not find a chuckle Lizzie. That mix of yacht, humbug, hypocrisy, humbug, claptrap, humbug and - humbug, was OUR PRIME MINISTER for about a decade.
    That tells ALL about Britain, her voters (note I use 'voters' not electorate) and Westminster politics.
    How deluded can one man be? We need to inspect this phenomenon; discover how he became the weirdo he is and HOW WE GET WEIRDOES AS PRIME MINISTERS - which we do, with predictable continuity.

    That Blair rose to be Prime Minister is FAR MORE SERIOUS than fiddled expenses. If he had stayed in power (with Alastair Campbell by his side - shudder) just what might have been enacted in these isles? Be retrospectively very afraid; then realise Brown wants to out-Blair Blair . . .

    But who shall Newsnight put on this enquiry? Scientific Susan? Crickey Crick? The country is going mad - and you DON'T EVEN HAVE A PSYCHOLOGICAL REPORTER Newsnight.

  • Comment number 6.

    With the legacy he has left Blair will never be off-topic.

    'Blair credited his Catholic wife, Cherie, for his eventual formal conversion from Anglicanism shortly after leaving Downing Street in 2007'

    Or in order to make a few private visits to the confessional, and thus get absolution from the consequencies of his sins?

    He once stated that he 'doesn't do God'; just having a bet each way?

    'Blair, who runs his own faith foundation, said his frequent visits to China had allowed him to see how government and people of all faiths – including Catholics – were edging their way towards accommodating both modernisation and a sustainable, low carbon environment in ways that Westerners would recognise'

    Most Westerners recognise that the best way is having only children that they can support, whilst others 'of faith' are populating the world to an unsustainable level, thus edging the world to extinction.

    Still making sound-bites are we Tony?

  • Comment number 7.

    Straw's letter of 19 December 2007 to Scottish Ministers makes very clear linkage of his mind-change on the Prisoner Transfer Agreement
    to wider matters of Britain's national interest. Scottish Ministers
    immediately smell a rat and demand clarification. The correspondence
    released completely vindicates them but leaves Jack Straw compromised.

    Straw should now resign.

    NB The Scottish Justice Minister rejected the application for release under this Prisoner Transfer Agreement. And quite right too. Release
    on the completely separate grounds of compassion was also very brave
    and in my view the right decision.

  • Comment number 8.

    Tobin or not Tobin, that is the question.

    Hopefully Paul's piece on Keynes will allow an opportunity to discuss Turner's remarkable comments last week. Not many people (especially the media) seem to realise quite how his suggestions for a Tobin tax actually cuts to the core of the economic crisis. Taxing spurious financial transactions is the real STIMULUS our economy needs; one where it squeezes the City in the only part of its anatomy with any sense organs:

    Let's hope that Newsnight doesn't continue to sweep this under the carpet.

  • Comment number 9.

    #5 and 6 Yes I was being sardonic! ; ) I can never believe the gall of the man, talking about materialism and lack of family life etc. HE started a lot of it!!! : (

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm just happy Jeremy's back on air tonight :o)

  • Comment number 11.

    This is surely the 'smoking gun' left by Jack Straw? Note too that in his subsequent letter to Scotland's First Minister who queries this the BRITISH Minister (Labour) says to the SCOTTISH First Minister (SNP): " I
    note you disagree with my decision". Labour MSPs should remember that in tomorrow's debate at Holyrood ....

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    Important as well to remember that BRITISH Labour Ministers have form: discusses some of the other cases where the 'British national interest' in trade with Arab oil producers coincides with allegations
    of political interference in legal matters .........

  • Comment number 12.

    I hope incidentally that the first half hour of Newsnight will be given over to the Lockerbie discussion. Perhaps it hasn't registered in London but there is a Holyrood debate on this tomorrow. It would be a shame if
    we up here lost a Government because Monday was a Bank Holiday and there
    was no Newsnight ..... and no proper media scrutiny of Jack Straw's role!

    The Skidelski film can wait till after the Scottish 'Newsnight' opt-out
    as can your film on Beslan .......

  • Comment number 13.

    You could draw parallels too with other cases where legal officers in the corridors of power in Whitehall smell oil and change their minds?

    Saudi Arabia? British Aerospace? Iraq?

  • Comment number 14.

    "Chechen militants?" How about calling them what they really are - Islamic terrorists. Oh wait, those words seem to have been banned by the beeb.

  • Comment number 15.

    Scotland has of course got its own oil - so can afford to be principled as well as compassionate in such matters .......

  • Comment number 16.

    Have just watched Alex Salmond on C4 News. They had apparently tried to get Straw and Miliband - but both were apparently 'unavailable'. Brown
    remains silent too ..... Hopefully Newsnight will have more success ...
    Failing which Jeremy could always interview an empty chair ...........?

  • Comment number 17.

    2 more Scottish soldiers killed in Helmand - from Dundee and Inverness:

  • Comment number 18.

    #15 Neil

    "Scotland has of course got its own oil" - as well as all the UK's nukes.

    Interesting, got an email last week asking for me to forward some of my work to the First Minister Alex Salmond. This was the final part of the submission to justify Africa and climate change as the 2005 G8 agenda. It was written the week before Christmas 2002 so I gave it a festive theme.

    "So what is the perception of the rest of the world to a situation where millions are waiting to die and nearby resources are being brought together to kill more. It just adds to global hatred, tension and escalation and detracts from the crucial fundamental central challenge that we must address, a sustainable future for all people and life on this planet.

    It all comes down to people are dying we can do something about it, so we should. The true message of Christmas is forgiveness, peace on earth and goodwill to ALL. War and killing play no part of the Christian faith, listen to the sermon on the mount. Neither do they play any part of Sustainable Development."

    When Mr McGrahi was released there was all that condemnation and the criticism of the Saltire. I agreed with the release and was proud the flag was flown in Tripoli.

    I am pleased Nelson Mandela and others now agree as well.

  • Comment number 19.

    The Scottish sacrifice in this silly war has been immense and the sooner we have the Scottish justice minister making a comment about the utter futility of this sad campaigne the better as I detect that the Alex Salmon grasp of reality is far more focused than that of Westminster. In London it is all 'don't upset the Yanks' whereas in Scotland the attitude seems to be 'how can we piss them off' Go for it Scots, you have nothing to lose but your oil and you have enough of that to see you through.....

  • Comment number 20.

    #15 neilrobertson, "Scotland has of course got its own oil - so can afford to be principled as well as compassionate in such matters.."

    Relevant point; that's why I have previously suggested that the return of the man, adjudged to be guilty, fits both compassionate and commercial grounds, satisfying the doctrine of utilitarianism - the greatest good for the greatest number of people. No actual harm, other than some further grief for the victims' relatives results, and a deal (in oil)is done that may save us going on bended knee to OPEC countries that continue to support terrorists or have a worse Human Rights record.

    #13 In the case of British Aerospace, the 'greater good - or in Britain's best interests' as claimed, may also meet this criteria, assuming that (i) the British (European?) weapons supplied are more likely, if at all, to be used against our foes (ii) they would otherwise be supplied by US, and (iii) we have to accept that we can not/should not keep trying to change cultures that are alien to our faulty system of democracy. Neither should we keep importing such cultures.

    The case of the war on Iraq for oil is clearly a non-runner, being for the greatest grief for all concerned.

    The alternative of keeping Magrahi in jail would gamble on whether his appeal would be completed before he died; his premature death in mid-trial would have been badly regarded by most people.

  • Comment number 21.

    #10 from mimpromptu
    So am I!, Mistress76uk

  • Comment number 22.

    #78 from previous page
    I'm ungroundable, whatever deranged jj believes. I don't think he knows what he wants any more, even less does he realise what he's doing.
    I've also posted the ditty to the Polish people and Mr Tusk in particular. I have a feeling it has made some reverberations together with a few other things I've been getting up to. However, I'm not expecting any particular recognition for it, just happy to have contributed to a more truthful, dignified and sensible way of approaching the future. But it must be said that, as with most things in life, one does not act completely in isolation and in many ways this has been a shared contribution of people who still have their heads still fitting their necks and shoulders.

  • Comment number 23.


    Newsnight! This is the story of most significance. I have now read the full transcript of the Blair speech at Rimini (linked by Ecolizzie) and it demonstrates that both it, and the man himself, are totally spherical.

    The flights of fancy, non-sequiturs, hubris, delusion and naivete were ultimately eclipsed by the utterly crass assertion: "FAITH AND REASON ARE IN ALLIANCE, NOT OPPOSITION". I don't think even Archie of Cant would dare climb aboard that one! I won't list all the other Blairing idiocies - if you have a strong constitution, read it for yourself.

    Just as we can see the world in a grain of sand, the ills of mankind are succinctly expressed in the groin of Blair; the deluded Messiah who can never have enough money, power and adulation, who wants to lead us all to his un-thought-out Promised Land. THIS as I posted above, is the root of our pain. It is bad enough that few become mature stable adults, to parent the next generation effectively. But that the most aberrant rise to high office SHOULD MERIT INTENSE SCRUTINY. We MUST understand 'generic Blair' and the CAUSES of Blair. Your move Newsnight.

  • Comment number 24.

    "It just adds to global hatred, tension and escalation and detracts from the crucial fundamental central challenge that we must address, a sustainable future for all people and life on this planet".

    Amen to that, but doesn't your work on sustainability of the planet take account of the responsibility that the geometric increase in human population has for all manner of ills - ecological, political, inter- and intra-country strife over land, water and resources?

    Surely this is one of the greatest of the fundamental challenges to which you refer, yet we have continual lectures on carbon footprints without a mention of the exponential icrease in the number of feet.

    Whether one believes in evolution or creationism, it has to be acknowledged that the human species is the only one that defies natural selection, survival of the fittest for purpose, culling of the weak,etc.

    The Earth is clearly not a designer planet, but one on which every species is subject to natural laws of evolution and change. By going against natural laws, homosaps are going to destroy the planet unless we start to focus, and reach agreement on, the need for, and means of, human population control. It is more humane to focus on limiting the birth of children that cannot be supported in their environment, than constantly demand more transport of money, goods and services to areas that take no government responsibility for family planning within their resources, and are thus responsible for infant mortality and human suffering.

  • Comment number 25.

    Happy Birthday!

  • Comment number 26.

  • Comment number 27.

    Looks like a good programme tonight. Here's my two-pence worth, in an effort to further highlight how and why we're still collectively making a mess of it all. Can we help it?

  • Comment number 28.

    Much as the topics chosen tonight for the programme are fascinating in themselves, I am speechless that the editor did not see fit to commission a film to recognise the momentous events that began in Danzig/Gdansk 70 years ago. This is even more disgraceful when you consider that out of the millions spent by the BBC on our behalf none of tonight's tv schedules (save a few moments on the news) saw fit to choose this as a subject. Holby City, East Enders and the One Show are clearly considered more important for the people to know about.

    The controllers of today would do well to view the amazing BBC series "The Great War" that the BBC commissioned in the 1960s. They would hang their heads in shame at their own shortcomings in comparison to that tour de force.

    I despair of these supposedly well-informed people who spend our money.

  • Comment number 29.

    Just listening to Jeremy Paxman interviewing Alex Salmond just makes me think that perhaps its not that bad an idea for the old guard to make way for new faces. Paxman has become increasingly frustrating. He has lost the skills for constructing interviewing. He comes to the studio with more soundbites than a US presidential candidate. He seems more keen on browbeating the interviewee to submission than in getting out something useful.

    Why on earth does he gets stuck on a pointless question which offers no real insight into the thinking of the interviewee?

  • Comment number 30.


    What did J M Keynes (Director 1937-194) have in common with:

    Arthur Balfour
    Arthur Neville Chamberlain (British prime minister between 1937 & 1940)
    Ronald Fisher (and other founders of inferential statistics)

  • Comment number 31.

    What a return for Jeremy with Alex Salmond! Everytime he interviews Salmond it always becomes a classic - and tonight was no exception :o)

  • Comment number 32.

    I gave up after 20 minutes or so of the dreary, repetitive film on Beslan. It's not really what Newsnight is for is it? You can see reams of this sort of material on half baked cable channels. Why is it being shown on a flagship news programme on the BBC?

  • Comment number 33.

    Erratum (#30) 1937-1944

    For those who don't know this, 1937-1940 was a rather important time leading to WWII, as was 1937-1944.

    And the press is now reporting on the OECD report....if it's not down to single parent families per se, what is it? Dysgenesis?

  • Comment number 34.

    Thank you for the piece on the Chechen children, which I found very moving.

  • Comment number 35.

    @ #29, we were watching the same interview, weren't we? Did you fail to notice how Salmond kept avoiding answering any questions?

    Jeremy is outstanding and is an integral part of Newsnight. His interviewing skills are excellent, and politicians still fear him!(Note, Gordon B still hasn't been interviewed by him :p)

  • Comment number 36.

    to gangofone & CulturalGoods from mimpromptu
    I've read a few opinions on a couple of Polish websites following the commerations of the outbreak of World War II and on the whole the agreement is that definite progress has been made toward improving Polish/Russian dialogue and, in fact, toward the possibility of the truth behind the Katyn massacre being eventually revealed. It is good to see that Mr Putin has, at least partially, recognised a real need for it in order to move forward for the betterment of the wellbeing of both countries as well as on a larger scale. The Russians, unfortunately, are still trying to justify Stalin's approach to the war. I am not sure why it is so. Didn't he murder millions of his own people? How can anyone with any sense and humanity justify murderous dictators like Stalin and Lenin is beyond my comprehension. However, I feel that Mr Putin is moving in the right direction after all those absurd stories flying around about Poland making pacts with Hitler, etc. The Russian Premier even thanked the Poles for looking after the graves of thousands of Russian soldiers burried in Poland!
    Although I dedicated my ditty to Poland and the UK it was also intentioned for all those who are prepared to consider peaceful solutions to old and bitter conflicts via dialogue and inevitably admission of bitter truths.
    In their history most countries would have committed a violation against another or other countries and so I feel that the only solution would be to start this sort of process of reconciliation. I learned this morning, for instance, that Turkey and Armenia are planning to do just that re: the well known Armenian genocide of 1915.
    I'm not quite sure why I'm bothering about talking about these things as my favourite activities are twirling on ice and ditty writing but if anybody is interested in my opinions, they are here to be read and contemplated.

  • Comment number 37.


    It is all part of the decline of a failing culture, 76. Jeremy is 'not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy'.

    Are there any classes is 'man judgement' at your local college? Quality interviewing of hostile interviewees is like a martial art: you defeat your opponent with his own energy, not by histrionics, hectoring and 'highbrows'.

  • Comment number 38.

    #28 from mimpromptu
    I couldn't agree with you more. The international commeration of World War II is by far the most important event this week. Instead we get the story of Beslan children which could have been shown by the BBC as a documentary in its own right.
    There have been very unhealthy things happening at Newsnight for a long time now. I think it may be something to do with outside forces interfering with the programme which, in my view, puts the BBC into disrepute.

  • Comment number 39.

    from mimpromptu before bedtime
    As you may have gathered by now, I seem to have access to the world leaders and politicians as a whole. Something tells me that the general public is also paying attention.
    Good night to the deserving.
    mim, as Mr Singleton calls me sometimes.
    I don't think he realises to the end what is going on at Newsnight but then again each to their own opinion or impression.

  • Comment number 40.

    from mimpromptu again
    for the last time, I promise
    If any 'men' out there think they can downbeat me with some patronising crap and treat me as some girly toy, they've got another thing coming. Shame is the least painful dish on offer though I'd like to add I'm not into guns or bombs.

  • Comment number 41.

    'What a return for Jeremy with Alex Salmond! Everytime he interviews Salmond it always becomes a classic - and tonight was no exception :o)'
    writes #31 Mistress76UK

    Scotland didn't see this interview folks ..... all we got was the dreary film about Beslan which had no news content at all that I could see ....

    Is London Newsnight still on holiday?

  • Comment number 42.

    I almost added: 'perhaps James Murdoch had a point?' - but then thought better of it .....! Mustn't upset Kirsty - and Ken McDonald and Gordon
    Brewer did a reasonable job with Lockerbie locally ... But the network
    coverage of this by the Beeb has not been very balanced in my view ...
    Nick Robinson is not Andrew Marr (who is also away till next Sunday???)

    But tomorrow is I suppose another day ..... And yes: curious Newsnight didn't mention the War ....... Is Sky expensive? We can't get Freeview
    in Dundee .... still ... you know .... bloody BBC .....

  • Comment number 43.

    Why not spice up the first half of Newsnight by bringing back The Test Card?

  • Comment number 44.

    #41 Neil

    I got Gordon Brewer on Lockerbie. I thought it was hilarious. The young labour lad. I thought Brewer might have well have said "who do you think you are coming on my programme and lying".

  • Comment number 45.

    Or the cricket?

  • Comment number 46.

    And where is Gordon Brown?

  • Comment number 47.

    #42 Neil

    No Freeview in Dundee? Wow. Thought of you when I took this, was looking for you. From Kilpurny. Your on the left somewhere.

  • Comment number 48.


    Don't know if you read this. The author was asked to do an assessment of the Scottish government's economic development strategy. The author knew the global economy was about to crash so put a cryptic warning in the last paragraph.

    3 days after it was published the global economy crashed.

  • Comment number 49.


    Do you know Ian Miller SNP leader of Perth and Kinross Council?

  • Comment number 50.

    What London Snoozenight doesn't seem to have realised yet is that for the last week and a bit Labour MSPs have been queuing up to kick the
    SNP while London Labour keeps quiet ... to the extent of considering
    motions of confidence in the Holyrood debate later today in a cynical
    attempt to bring down the minority government in Scotland over this ..
    and today it all blew up in their faces ..... The only Labour MSP who
    has not tried to play cheap party politics with this issue is Malcolm

  • Comment number 51.

    Thanks for #48. Hope the Newsnight budget will stretch to sending Paul Mason at some stage to Japan to find out what the Democrats are doing?
    Surely that was the biggest story of the week so far ................?

  • Comment number 52.

    Mind you: the Beslon tragedy was dreadful .... every bit as bad as the Lockerbie outrage (whoever perpetrated it) - and I had forgotten some
    of the details ......... these very bright prematurely grown-up young
    people also spoke very clear Russian .... good language practice ....
    and had I not stayed in specially to watch Lockerbie coverage tonight
    on Newsnight I would have been watching Chekhov in Dundee ..........!
    directed by a Russian ........ and we will no doubt get Freeview and
    Sky along with the fastest broadband in Britain soon when Dundee joins
    Bournemouth as the UK's second 'Fibre City' with fibre-optic cables
    being run cheaply through our sewers ......

  • Comment number 53.

    from mimpromptu re: #38
    I speak above about some outside forces interfering with Newsnight. Well, I know who they are. Unfortunately, the reason they have been allowed to carry on with their perfidious, ridiculous and damaging behaviour is, I'm sure, resort to very unpleasant tactics like blackmail for example. Even quite a few people in authority seem to have given in to them and are now scared to admit to having been duped by those despicable individuals.
    The best solution out of this seemingly impossible situation would be to simply remove those individuals out of the circuit and start afresh or, in fact, some heads that are still holding on to their positions will have to start rolling. Mind you, I'm not talking of the use of such drastic removal equipment as guillotines or swords! No, in this respect most modern societies have moved forward in how they deal with unwarranted and undesirable forces which are detrimental to the wellbeing of their citizens.
    You may ask why I'm taking the risk of taking people like JJ head on. Well, somebody has to. Voila!

  • Comment number 54.

    from mimpromptu re: jj and co
    To the brave

    Another day, another struggle
    To make the creepers stop tails to waggle.
    Stupid to boot, pathetic on top,
    Can’t wait to see their heads roll and drop.

    Little their brains, mean are their souls,
    They’ve come a cropper against some Poles!
    Poles and the brave from other nations
    Can’t wait to see their reputations

    Dealt with all the appropriate means
    For the courageous to see their wins.

  • Comment number 55.


    So how come these poor kids beg on the streets of europe, and we all turn a blind eye and don't help them, after all we need all these new workers don't we?! Europe is definitely sinking into the mire.

  • Comment number 56.

    mimpromptu (#36) "Didn't he murder millions of his own people? How can anyone with any sense and humanity justify murderous dictators like Stalin and Lenin is beyond my comprehension."

    To comprehend this you have to seriously consider to possibiility that Stalin didn't "murder millions of his own people" instead of believing your assumptions/premises - but some of us won't have our premises ever questioned, and some of us never question our own premises.

    So why do educable people all question their premises?

    Here's the thing to consider. Why might governments which are ideologically opposed to Governments of other states, not discourage rumours that the latter states murder millions of their own people?

    What evidence do you have that Stalin murdered millions of his own people? What evidence do you have that Hitler murdered millions of Jewish people?

    Unless one is prepard to critically question the information one believes/receives, one is likely to believe anything, especially if it appears to be backed by authority. Alas, argument from authority alone is just an instance of the ad hominem. One example, widely used on TV. is advertsing/selling beauty products which allegedly do wonderful things.... according to celebrities, and/or 8/10 women.

  • Comment number 57.

    from mimpromptu to gangofone and the Chairman of the BBC, Sir Michael Lyons
    You see, gangofone, what I suspect has happened is that jj thinks of himself as both Stalin and Lenin, not mention other men with moustaches, and that is why he is so hysterically trying to defend them or use them, or their images, to promote himself. To me it smacks of a well known psychiatric condition, know what I mean?
    Indeed, I don't have any specific proof that jj may have contributed to any deaths but he's certainly been allowed to tease many out of their wits, or close to it, otherwise said - to wind people up, until now at least. Something tells me it is not going to last for much longer.

  • Comment number 58.

    from mimpromptu
    by the way, I've sent off an e-mail to Sir Michael Lyons which goes as follows:
    FAO: Sir Michael Lyons, the Chairman of the BBC
    Dear Sir
    I would like to express my concern about the content and quality of Newsnight. To this effect, I (as well as some other viewers) have been blogging on their website and I wonder whether you'd be prepared to have a look at those and see whether anything can be done to restore Newsnight to a proper journalistic programme rather than letting it to carry on as a private 'boys' playground.
    I'd be most obliged for your attention to this matter. I sign on as mimpromptu.
    Kind regards
    Monika Magdalena Burbo
    P.S. If you would like to find out a bit more about what I'm about, please feel free to browse through my flickr account under the same name.

  • Comment number 59.


    I have (belatedly) realised that the representation of the 'rationally challenged', among the posters above, is probably close to the proportion found among the 'English-ready' computer-literate population.

    This is a commendable achievment in balance of opinion. Bravo BBC!

  • Comment number 60.


    CulturalGoods (#28) "Much as the topics chosen tonight for the programme are fascinating in themselves, I am speechless that the editor did not see fit to commission a film to recognise the momentous events that began in Danzig/Gdansk 70 years ago."

    I suspect the fear is that such coverage might encourage 'revisionism' elsewhere. Instead we were dished up more material to assuage a perceived need for emoting and wailing. Anyone hazard a guess where that market may primarily be? If one assumes that all people (and all groups) are equal (and neglects the empirical evidence - which shows up in Key Stage SATs too, even though the QCA/NAA tried to contruct the tests to be gender neutral - see also PISA results internationally, it is a unversal), one actually creates a bias in one's productions.

    Simon_987 (#32) "I gave up after 20 minutes or so of the dreary, repetitive film on Beslan. It's not really what Newsnight is for is it? You can see reams of this sort of material on half baked cable channels. Why is it being shown on a flagship news programme on the BBC?"

    Pretty much my response to the first part of the programme (and the rest in fact).

    Impromptu (various). This, as a matter of fact, is an example of what's called 'paranoid ideation'.

    Surely it doesn't take much for impartial observers to see how such behaviour, writ large in Poland and its environs in the 1920s and 30s, could easily have snowballed into florid stories of mass persecution and calls for vengeance?

    One should always ask:- 'How empirically reliable are my assumptions aka premsies'. If the answer is that is that reliability is low, one should limit the scope of one's inferences (if make inferences at all). This requires behavioural inhibition - i.e. suspension of judgement, even of belief. Much of life is like this, and it's something we should see practiced more on Newsnight itself, which, still, as I understand it, has a remit to educate, does it not?

    Sharing one's unreliable thoughts/beliefs (or those of others in the studio) is not coextensive with sharing 'truth', but fantasy. When dubious authority is put behind this, it becomes black propaganda. As barrie, and others, keep ponting out, we appear to be drowning in this these days. The BBC should stop competing with News International perhaps?

  • Comment number 61.

    from mimpromptu to the Newsnight Team
    I hope it is not too late for me to make a suggestion for one of your items on today's programme.
    How about something about the massacre of Katyn via the prism of the distribution problems of Mr Andrzej Wajda's film of the same name against the background of yesterday's commemorations of the 70th Anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.
    The screenings of 'Katyn' have had a rather bumpy ride so far and are still forbidden in Russia. Sylvio Berlusconi came out yesterday with a strong defence of the need for the truth about the massacre to be known and has made specific efforts for it to be finally shown in Italy. I'm sure that you as journalists can easily find out more details about the issue.
    I'm intending to watch the programme tonight whatever you do but hope that its content and quality will have dramatically improved.

  • Comment number 62.

    Meanwhile back in the real world: Scottish Parliament is debating the Lockerbie decision .... live on Holyrood TV ..... as Newsnight sleeps:

  • Comment number 63.

    I like the way the BBC interview a "Keynsian" economist (supporting government policy of printing & spending - Keyns himself was les singleminded) & for balance, have their editor explaining how wonderful this government policy is.

    Nobody from a school of economists with a better record of success saying that printing money doesn't actually create any wealth it merely allows government to spend it, inefficiently.

  • Comment number 64.

    #60 jaded_jean

    "I suspect the fear is that such coverage might encourage 'revisionism' elsewhere."

    Your comment was in relation to the Danzig/Gdansk commencement of World War II as the Nazis invaded Poland.

    So revisionism.

    You are the Jaded_Jean of National Socialist ilk who posts on this page most days; reveres Hitler; "agnostic" on the Holocaust; Hitler was a peace lover; race "realist" and so on.

    I would hope that your stated intent to "change the agenda of Newsnight" is as incompetent as your "explications" of your ideological stance, as retarded as your grasp of science and as ineffective as your denials that there was a Holocaust - while you cling to your fig leaf of "agnosticism".

    I think most would say you are not a revisionist just a very bad liar.

  • Comment number 65.


    Having been driven from these shores, as a naked emperor, Blair now roams the world in naked effrontery. The infinite scope of his delusion and the worldwide acceptance of this consummate illusion, is a marker for the age. What magnificent sport Shakespeare might have made of this bizarre parody of a life. But while Blair postures and preaches, the world sleeps in the pews. Apparently he attends to Middle Eastern peace and monitors and mediates the binding of the carbon-foot in China - while balancing Interfaith rapprochement, and Catholic Supremacy, on the head of a single pin.

    Verily, we have not seen his like, no - not in Reality.

    And as the world turns on us, in its agony, and money once more divides and multiplies like the deadly pathogen it is, the mad doctrine of Faitho-Mammonic Catholic bliss, is promulgated by yet another false prophet with a profit motive. AND STILL IT IS NOT NEWS.

    Full transcript:

  • Comment number 66.

    FONE A FRIEND (#64)

    I can't let that go Gango. I am in no doubt that, should Jaded Jean stoop to lying on this forum, the quality of lie would be of the highest. Your accusation of BAD lying is a calumny that must not go unchallenged. (Also I'm a bit bored right now.)

  • Comment number 67.

    #61 mimpromptu

    "Sylvio Berlusconi came out yesterday with a strong defence of the need for the truth about the massacre " (Katyn)

    I would keep an eye on Berlusconi as his political pals are fascists and you may not have read previous posts on this site from Jaded_Jean relating to that posters "agnosticism" on the Holocaust.

    Berlusconi has said ambiguous things about Mussolini.

    The "agnostics" (deniers) on the Holocaust say the Germans locked up the Jews as an "internal political and economic threat" and that disease killed many and that those that were killed violently were killed by the Russians.

    Evidence against is the Nuremburg trials and successive Nazi war crimes trials, the lack of efficient Nazi documentation to correspond to the scale of such deaths and measures to protect the guards and general population, witness testimony and of course the fact that the Russians did not control all of the camps and there is zip in the way of evidence that the Russians did any such thing. Stalin did shoot people all of the time but there is no reason to believe this Nazi apologist fairy tale.

    The most ridiculous thing is Jaded_Jean will say the Holocaust was invented as a way to put people off the "statists". But Jaded_Jean proclaims "agnosticism". Meanwhile Jaded_Jean says Nazis and Stalinists are "statists". So in effect the argument is the Holocaust was allegedly made up to put people off "statists" (Nazis) but was in fact done by Stalinists ("statists").

    There may be a current coordinated Europe wide strategy to try and popularize the Nazis by creating a vacuous counter argument that would last long enough for them to try and reach power.

    Bear in mind that if you can remember the Litvinenko saga one under reported aspect was the fact that some suspected that Lugavoi smuggled the Polonium to Litvinenko and he was to take the material to Scaramella in Italy.

    Scaramella is, or was, in jail and he was hired to "prove" the KGB were smuggling nuclear material to Italy. One of Berlusconi's associates was heard complaining that they did not want the evidence provided on Berlusconis political enemies - they wanted real "dirt".

    I worry sometimes that in this country there are those like Ecclestone with money who thought Hitler "got things done" and have pots of money combined with far right would be bombers who get light sentences because we see them as incompetent, eccentric cranks. They seem plentiful and are never associated with a far right party. Is it a bomb and ballot box approach?

    Meanwhile the police apparently target Plane Stupid who seem completely non-violent, have legitimate public support and so on. They may be a bit immature with green custard and so on but versus the far right its a no contest.

  • Comment number 68.

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

  • Comment number 69.

    neilrobertson (#62) "Meanwhile back in the real world: Scottish Parliament is debating the Lockerbie decision .... live on Holyrood TV ..... as Newsnight sleeps"

    What is 'real-world' about such a debate? Either the Minister for Justice has the power to make such decisions or he does not. He does have the power, and he made a decision, the man was released, and he's now in Libya. Nothing else is relevant. This is how representative democracy works. All this talk/debate is irrelevant, i.e not 'real-world'.

  • Comment number 70.

    thegangofone (#64) You need to look at what's going on in the world (rather than what's going on 'in your head') to understand what I post.

  • Comment number 71.

    The other day I was surprised to read the UK University applications went up as I thought the financial crisis would have an impact.

    I had voiced concern that many Universities were too dependent on foreign students and that applications may drop.

    Perhaps that has not been the case? Have foreign/domestic ratios changed?

    Perhaps not as China, for instance, seems to have breezed through and hopefully there are no remaining "ripple" effects to change the situation.

  • Comment number 72.

    'A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, told AP news agency a suicide bomber had targeted Mr Laghmani.

    The attack came after the UN released a report saying opium cultivation had dropped significantly in Afghanistan.

    The UN Office on Drugs and Crime said poppy cultivation had dropped by 22% in a year and opium production by 10%. '

    Given the number of soldiers getting killed and the status of Mr Laghmani - Afghanistan's deputy chief of intelligence - I am assuming the Taliban/al Qaeda have somebody in Afghan intelligence or an ISI attachee.

    The other obvious thought is I hope we don't over share the same radio technology with the Afghans? Could the Talibs be listening in to the radio chatter of our patrols and just sit and wait?

    We are supposed to be the code crackers supreme.

  • Comment number 73.

  • Comment number 74.


    I was asked a few days ago if I was a 'moralist' whatever that is, but people can read whatever they like into my motivations,

    agree with #65 but disagree with associating the actions of TB with the Church,

    The story about Beslan was very moving, and shows huge courage in the children trying to move on,

    It makses me ask when and how will our country atone for the invasion of Iraq and killing of so many of its people, including children whoses lives were ended before they really began?

    it is a war crime whether this country recognises it or not, regarding Bliar, something seems to have happened to him, there seemed to be a marked change in him at one point in his life. wonder what that was?

  • Comment number 75.


    More propaganda on BBC today. Winton's Train. Any opportunity to emote and appeal for sympathy for the persecuted finds its way onto the news these days, but look critically at the wider socio-economic and political function which this serves. Just how 'without sin' are people who are prone to seek asylum? Just how much do they, or their saviours. look into the consequences of their actions? Have a look at the reports of what the British Foreign Office said about 'pogroms' in the Pale of Settlement in the late C19th which led to the mass migration to Britain and the USA for a much better life, where the same tactic was and still is, used over and over and over again.

  • Comment number 76.

    "Blair, something seems to have happened to him,"

    Near the end of his Rimini speech, a few days ago, Blair came out with this:

    "Faith and Reason are in alliance, not opposition.
    They support each other; embrace each other; strengthen each other. They are not in a struggle for supremacy. Together they are supreme."

    My reading of this (in the light of years of decoding a tormented Tony) is that his childhood left him conflicted between his mother's Catholicism, and the anarchy of needs and wants not met.

    No one with a mature, competent mind, could utter - let alone think meaning is carried - in those words. What we are witnessing in Tony is his confused, needy self, trying to soothe a deep pain in ways that can never work. It was this same quest that caused him to keep Campbell by his side to be angry and nihilistic by proxy, while Tony stayed purer than pure, whiter than white. This is what Westminster politics yields AND WILL ALWAYS YIELD in the way of 'leadership'

    What a prospect.

  • Comment number 77.

    from the text:
    Tonight we'll be joined in the studio by author and professor of political economy, Robert Skidelsky, who advocates that adopting reforms based on the British economist John Maynard Keynes' explanation for the cause of the Great Depression should be central to our strategy for economic recovery.

    Wondering why not written as:
    ...John Maynard Keynes's explanation

    Pls have two links re comments/mistakes, one re facts and another for grammar and spelling b/c I'm sure most don't want to read this but I didn't notice where else to write.

    Apologies to those more concerned about the economy -- certainly we all are -- but that serious post would take longer.........


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