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Wednesday 28 October 2009

Sarah McDermott | 14:49 UK time, Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Tonight we'll be asking why the Ministry of Defence put financial savings before safety following the publication of a devastating, independent report into the fatal 2006 Nimrod crash. Fourteen crewmen died when the aircraft blew up after air-to-air refuelling over Kandahar when leaking fuel made contact with a hot air pipe. Charles Haddon-Cave QC, the author of the report, said that the government had failed to meet its obligations to British servicemen in a "systematic breach of the military covenant." We hope to speak to the Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth.

We have an exclusive film from Liz MacKean about the threat of dissident Irish Republicanism. She has seen confidential files which reveal that dissident activity against the police in Northern Ireland is on the rise. We'll be speaking to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Shaun Woodward and Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly.
Read more on that story here.

Our Political Editor Michael Crick will be gauging reaction amongst MPs to the news that they will face wide-ranging cuts to their second homes allowances and other expenses. The independent inquiry led by Sir Christopher Kelly into MPs expenses will publish its findings next week. So what tactics might MPs who are unhappy about Sir Christopher's proposed changes employ to try to dilute them?

And is television comedy becoming boring because of tighter rules and regulations on what entertainers can say - what is and what is not an acceptable joke in 2009?

It's Jeremy presenting tonight - join him at 10.30pm on BBC Two.


  • Comment number 1.


    The service engineers presumably knew of the design-fault based risk to Nimrods? Not a good idea to stick ones neck out in the forces?

  • Comment number 2.

    Nimrod XV 230...

    A classic case of what could happen when the people at the top willingly blind themselves and take no notice of the opinion of the people at the bottom.

    The World Health Organisation has identified five factors that shorten life span. Have they forgotten the most lethal of all ...


    Political Correctness.

    Why on earth limit the discussion to comedy? Is it not negatively affecting every single aspect of our way of life?

    Or is it just another Agenda?

    Kelly ...

    The bucket of whitewash has been wheeled out of the storeroom and the sop begins ....

    It’s been routine at Westminster for decades. Leak or reveal parts of the enquiry or report early so that the defence is given time to prepare it’s case and practice contrition. The media then pounces, speculates, postulates and vindicates. The GBP - or at least those wanting to grind axes - moan, groan, whine and indulge in orgies of self anointed backslapping.

    Then the full report comes out.

    Action Stations......

    The HMP’s put the hours of - time consuming and expensive - grooming and rehearsal to good use and feign hari kiri where necessary, required or ordered. The media stops justifying the excessive reporting hours and in the process the obituary columns appear better written. The GBP having ‘heard’ it all before develop laconicism, cynicism, lethargy or inertia, perhaps in combination, perhaps not. The detail gets ignored, the belligerent gain, the cowardly remain silent and the masses lose.

    Such is the way of both houses.

    Already the covert and, surprisingly, overt bleating has started. Rules are referenced, honesty endorsed and integrity brandished. The orangutans aka hangers on, grasp for eternal - well paid - life. The guilty practice ventriloquism not choosing to step into the limelight for fear of the - sadly - nonexistent lynch mob. The Leaders mislead and the conscience-less become dumb.

    And finally ...... The committees nullify, rectify, modify and then justify.

    So ........

    If a month after the full report we all sat down and loudly, and proudly, played Isaac Hayes biggest UK hit single could we justifiably say .....

    We’ve been shafted?

  • Comment number 3.

    you can bet your last dollar that it wouldn't have gone down if Royalty were on board.....even the corgis

  • Comment number 4.

    Remind me.

    Did not HMS Sheffield not go up like a Roman Candle because of 'cost cutting' that if as claimed - - suggests more in areas of poor fire training than my recalled structural defensive integrity deficiencies, but doubtless scored all bean-counter persons responsible a nice promotion.

    And, if indeed complicit, what happened to them when it all came out? Probably knighted and gold-pensioned off by now.

  • Comment number 5.

    Politicians and the Public.

    So, far reaching reform (cut backs) will be made to packages of benefits made to MP’s. There is little doubt that some mp’s have cheated, others milked the system, more still operated selective memory.


    Who should be waking up to reality? The MP or perhaps the British public?
    Should we expect perfection?
    Should the ‘one guilty all guilty’ approach beloved of school teachers (the lazy option?) be put to bed for good?
    What sort of people do we want running our country? Before we complain about what we have, perhaps we need to assess what we need!
    Where will we find them?
    How should we recompense them? Does the phrase “if you pay peanuts (subjective ) , you’ll get monkeys” ring a bell?
    If a large number of standing MP’s leave parliament/the political arena, how would a largely raw, untested, inexperienced house of commons manage?

    There is an old song ‘There are more questions than answers’.
    Over to you......................

  • Comment number 6.


    how much swearing and insults is there in

    dad's army
    yes minister
    the good life
    vicar of dibley
    If the press is to be believed
    the need for aggression is purely in the producers heads. The need for speed maybe more than a saying in some of the meedja?

    the news quiz has degenerated into socialist ranting.

  • Comment number 7.

    @ #6 - Ah Bookhimdano - they don't make them like they used to!

    I didn't find Jimmy Carr's recent joke about amputees in the Armed Forces funny at all. Just disgusting.

  • Comment number 8.

    Well I hope Kirsty gets well soon - your a brave women but New York then two NN's in a row with the lurgy, really someone needs to get you to take a rest. Sounds patronising but its true. Think of all those who could catch it.

  • Comment number 9.

    From above artticle: "... the Ministry of Defence put financial savings before safety!!"

    This can be said for ALL UK armed forces branches during the last 12-years under Labour, and in particular, the Royal Navy and its Air Arm...

    What is needed??


    The most productive objective for concerned persons to pursue regarding the UK's disastrous, botched warship construction programmes is an impartial capability assessment of:

    1) the planned aircraft carriers- as they are intended to be when commissioned; and

    2)the Type-45 Destroyers as they are intended to be when commissioned; and

    3)the Astute attack subs as they are intended to be when commissioned...

    The criteria to set any 'RN warships' capabilities' assessment' against should be exactly the same threats and potential threat mission-scenarios as US Navy warships are fitted out to be able to counter and succeed at...

    As to who or what organization could objectively, competently and reliably carry out a capabilities assessment of RN warships??..
    Why not look overseas to the US's Newport News (part of Northrop-Grumman) or to someone like Mr. Ronald O'Rourke, specialist in (US) Naval Affairs, (US) Congressional Research Service??

    For over 1.5 decades Mr. O'Rourke has regularly carried out similar tasks for the United States' military...

    A couple of O'Rourke's recent submissions to US Congressional bodies focus on the US's Burke class Destroyer and perceived needs to upgrade this warship's already considerable capabilities further:


    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    2) "(US) Navy (Burke class) DDG-51 and (next-generation) DDG-1000 Destroyer Programs: Background and Issues for Congress", September 17-2009:

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    Another couple have to do with the rise of China's military capabilities and responses warranted in terms of US Navy/warship capabilities-

    3) "China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress", July 17-2009:

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    4) "China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities— Background and Issues for Congress", May 29-2007:

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    From page # 64 (page heading- CRS-60):

    "Anti-Air Warfare (AAW)-

    "(US Navy) Surface Ship AAW Upgrades.

    "Are current Navy plans for upgrading surface ship anti-air warfare (AAW) capabilities adequate?...

    "...The PLA's (China's Navy) acquisition of advanced and highly capable (Anti Ship Cruise Missiles) ASCMs such as the SS-N-27 Sizzler and the SS-N-22 Sunburn raises the question of whether current plans for modernizing Navy surface ship AAW capabilities are adequate....

    "The (US) Government Accountability Office (GAO) in previous years has expressed concerns regarding the Navy’s ability to counter ASCMs...

    "Potential areas for modernization include, among other things, the following:

    - "ship radars, such as the SPY-1 radar on Aegis ships or the radars now planned for the (Burke successor class) DDG-1000 destroyer and CG(X) cruiser;

    - "(Anti Air Warfare) AAW-related computer networking capabilities, such as the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) and the Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) system;

    - "air defense missiles such as the Standard Missile, the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM), and the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM);

    - "close-in weapon systems, such as the Phalanx radar-directed (machine) gun;

    - "potential directed-energy weapons, such as solid state or free-electron lasers;

    - "decoys, such as the U.S.-Australian Nulka active electronic decoy; and

    - "aerial targets for AAW (Anti Air Warfare) tests and exercises, particularly targets for emulating supersonic ASCMs...."

    Mr. O'Rourke is said to have a good grip of what the existing and prudently to-be-expected future threats are for the US and allied nations' navies...

    And Mr O'Rourke is often reported to have a competent understanding of naval architecture, weapons systems and emerging technologies...

    Types of skills that would be indispensable:

    1) evaluating the UK's current disastrous surface-warship build programmes; and

    2) perhaps also identifying optimal Royal Navy capabilities standards measured against known and to-be-expected types of threats and duties going forward 15-20 years generally; and

    3) delineating, publicly, what types of hardware and warship acquisitions are required to meet such RN capabilities standards....

    Functions the UK's 'National Audit Office' (NAO) and Parliamentary committees appear unwilling to or incapable of carrying out...

    Terms of reference for any impartial-person or company charged with carrying out a capabilities assessment of the RN/its Type-45 Destroyers; Aircraft Carriers and the Astute SSN's should include at the minimum:

    1) how should these warships/submarines be fitted out to enable them to meet and beat known and to-be-expected types of threats during their 30-year + service lives??? and

    2) what corollary UK Armed Forces services and support systems are needed to enable these warships/submarines to function as effectively as possible??

    The above linked-to documents are somewhat long- but any MP and prospective MP purporting to have the nation's best interests as number one priority if elected ought to be familiar with them....

    This, rather than relying on drivel such as the UK's National Audit Office warship programme evaluation reports:

    The NAO's recent slavishly incompetent 'evaluation' of the Type-45 Destroyer programme' is breathtaking in its incompleteness and 'promotional-advertisement format': structured almost as if to whitewash the Type-45's many, enormous and highly dangerous build deficiencies and flaws:

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    The report's writers' apparent almost total ignorance- or deliberate ignoring- of naval warfighting realities and the capability needs of developed world countries' surface combatants today is brought into stark contrast when one compares this report with one of Mr O'Rourke's to do with:

    - the US Navy's future needs and capabilities; or

    - the Burke class Destroyer and its potential successor, the DDX-1000 and these two extremely capable warships' capabilities/shortfalls...

    Type-45's are, in effect 'virtually empty of weapons and defensive systems' warships upon commissioning- due to Labour's absurdly short-sighted cost-cutting and apparent design-interference during the Type-45's build processes...

    But this seems not important enough to mention in the NAO report...

    As do the huge vulnerabilities posed to the RN's planned new aircraft carriers by Type-45's (among other things):

    1) being fitted with a tenth rate sonar;

    2) inability to stock and launch torpedoes from-ship;

    3) not being fitted with any sub-surface threat offensive weapons;

    4) not being fitted with any surface threat offensive weapons- such as 'Harpoon' missiles;

    5) inability to stock and launch land-attack munitions, such as 'Tomahawk' and/or 'Storm Shadow' cruise missiles from-ship;

    6) not being fitted with any 'inner layer' airborne threat defensive weapons upon commissioning, and instead, maybe, being fitted somewhere in the future with 25-year old 'inner layer' defensive weapons that have been cannibalized from retired RN warships- as they become available...

    (Technologically current) Inner layer defensive weapons are used by developed-economy nations' navies' warships as a back-up for situations when the warship's outer layer defensive weapons(missiles) miss an incoming airborne threat, or when the warship runs out of outer layer defensive weapons...

    Running out of outer layer defensive weapons system missiles is something that is likely to be a common occurance for Type-45's due to their dangerously puny capabilities to stock outer layer defensive missiles....

    7)not being fitted with a safely sufficient capacity to stock 'outer layer' airborne threat defensive missiles-

    Type-45's maximum capacity is only 48 missiles compared to more than 360 for comparable class Destroyers of other developed world countries' navies (US, Japan, S.Korea)

    8) not being fitted with appropriate amounts of technologically current* hull and deck armour (some reports say armour for the Type-45's was deleted from the build procesess entirely)

    (* upwards of 1/3 of a metre of Kevlar and similar products);

    9) not being fitted with hardware and electronics required for embarking the designers' intended EH-101 'large' multi-mission helicopter;

    10) not being fitted with the hardware, communications suites and electronics required for night helicopter launches/landings;

    11) not being fitted with the Type-45's designers' intended 'Extended Range Guided Munition' (ERGM)type Deck Gun.

    ERGM's have pin point accuracy ranges in excess of 100 miles, and are needed for Naval Gun Fire Support of inland expeditionary troops....

    Instead, Type-45's are being fitted with an obsolescent model cast-off, cannibalized from retired RN warships; and

    12) not being fitted with the sensors and equipment required for 'Cooperative engagement Capability' (CEC)thereby eliminating Type-45's designers' intended capability to jointly- with other Royal Navy/allied countries' warships, aircraft, land-based and other assets- engage threats/targets:

    CEC is a sensor data distribution and plot fusion system that provides a huge enhancement to the situational awareness of naval forces/squadrons and their ability to protect themselves against the 'widely acknowledged within the MoD' significant threats posed by technologically current military aircraft and anti-ship missiles... such as the SS-N-27 "sizzler" and its clones....

    Without CEC, the UK's Type-45 Destroyers will- similar to the planned new aircraft carriers- which also won't be fitted with CEC upon commissioning- be severely handicapped when faced with any sort of conflict (one off or ongoing) situation involving adversaries with even moderately up-to-date weaponry...

    The fact that only 6 Type-45's are planned to be built- as opposed to the 12 identified 7-years ago as urgently needed for service in the first 3-decades of this century- is glossed over in the NAO Type-45 report with inexcuseable vagaries referring to a successor vessel with anti-air capabilities due 'sometime in the late part of next decade'....

    Nowhere in the NAO's report is the existent and highly severe threat to ALL RN surface vessels posed by modern anti-ship cruise missiles such as the Russian SS-N-27 "sizzler" mentioned...

    O'Rourke's reports go to great lengths to speak to the SS-N-27 problem (also known as 'threat D') and similar issues in addition to recommending possible remedial steps that could be/ought to be taken and at what cost financially...

    The UK's 'disaster waiting to happen' warship build-programmes urgently need to be objectively and thoroughly evaluated in terms of the capabilities of the resulting warships in all three main warfare spheres:
    IE- sub-surface, surface and airborne....

    Similarly, the Royal Navy's existing and future needed capabilities- over the coming 2-decades- also need to be subjected to a comprehensive, objective evaluation process...

    These evaluation processes- or at least their resulting report(s)- ought to be as open and publicly accessible as reasonably feasible... and preferably ought to be expeditedly carried out BEFORE THE NEXT GENERAL ELECTION!!!

    This, so as to prompt commitments- or expose lack of them- from prospective and running for re-election MP's...

    Roderick V. Louis,
    Vancouver, BC, Canada

  • Comment number 10.

    A fascinating and superbly written report by Haddon-Cave with many many lessons for the way large organisations are run these days and staff are expected to give only good news and not voice their real concerns.
    Sadly, the report does show the expression "Death by powerpoint" is only too true in this case - look at the report's comment "lulled into a sense of false security by the comforting PowerPoint presentations given by BAE Systems" and the section headed "The dangers of Powerpoint"

  • Comment number 11.


    PART 2:


    During the late 1990's- while under Labour govt oversight- the Royal Navy's 2 aircraft carriers- HMS Illustrious and HMS Ark Royal- had their obsolescent 'outer layer' 'Sea Dart' anti airborne threat system removed.

    Contradicting standard protocols, no replacement for Sea Dart was fitted to these two most-integral-to-the-RN's-capabilities-and roles-throughout-the-world warships... Warships that then had and still have today a highly inadequate, aged 'inner layer' anti airborne threat system- 'Goalkeeper'- that, by itself, is not known to be effective at countering modern airborne anti-ship threats such as the supersonic sea skimming (Russian) SS-N-27 'Sizzler' anti-ship missile and its clones...

    Despite the resulting severe risks to Illustrious and Ark Royal and their service personnel, removing Sea Dart- and the weapons officers/technicians responsible for its operation- from Illustrious and Ark Royal doubtless saved the MoD considerable funds... which could reasonably be assumed went directly or indirectly towards the Afghanistan conflict...

    Between 2002-2008, RN Frigates- that did not have 'outer layer' anti airborne threat defence systems- had their 'Phalanx' 'inner layer' anti airborne threat defence systems removed and sent to Basra, southern Iraq to provide protection against home-made rockets, artillery and mortars for British troops deployed there....

    This left front line Frigates that were already egregiously vulnerable- due to their not having outer layer defences- effectively defenceless to up-to-date airborne threats...

    Adding to the damage caused by this 'rob peter to pay paul' armed forces funding policy, during this period, Royal Navy ship-board personnel were sent to Iraq to support the Army in operating these 'land based' Phalanx systems...

    This, instead of the Labour govt approving funding to buy new 'land-based' Phalanx systems for use in Iraq, and training Army personnel to operate them:

    For the better part of 1/2 a decade: 2003-2009, the Royal Navy's 2 operational aircraft carriers- HMS Illustrious and HMS Ark Royal- had their entire supply of fixed-wing aircraft (Harriers) plus their pilots and maintenance personnel 'hijacked' and sent to British bases in Landlocked Afghanistan...

    This has so severely damaged the Royal Navy, that it has lost the ability to operate an Air Arm:

    "Back on board: regenerating UK carrier strike capability", 04 September-2009:

    "... there is no disguising that the extended commitment of (Royal Navy Harriers) to the Afghanistan theatre has over the same period significantly curtailed the availability of the UK's ground attack Harrier force - particularly its maritime-oriented Naval Strike Wing (NSW) - to exercise in the carrier-borne strike role...."

    "... As a result, HMS Illustrious, currently the UK's high readiness strike carrier (CVS), has frequently found its hangar and flight deck empty of fixed-wing aircraft over the past three years...."

    "... This is not good news at a time when the RN is attempting to practice and hone the strike potential of its existing carriers in the run up to the introduction of the two new 65,000-ton Queen Elizabeth class vessels from the middle of the next decade...."

    "... The impact of this lack of sea time has been keenly felt in (Royal Navy air wings) and on board Illustrious."

    "... Pilots have not been able to maintain (skills) in the art of operating from the cramped and moving flight deck of (an aircraft carrier)..."

    "...Meanwhile, the lack of fixed-wing aircraft on board Illustrious has led to a skill fade in both flight deck crews and the ship's air management organization..."

    "... Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff (Carrier Strike), Navy Command Headquarters, Captain Jock Alexander: '... it is a fact that given the tempo of operations in Afghanistan, a lot of Harrier pilots have seen little or nothing of a carrier in four years.

    "'... The same goes for the air engineers...'"

    "... '(today) there is a need for the (Harrier pilots/support personnel/engineers) to understand and appreciate how the ship works...'"...

    Whatever party forms govt next and whoever is Minister of Defence or responsible for armed services funding and strategies/policies- they will be faced with a stark choice of:

    1) allowing the continued severe degradation of the UK's military capabilities- in particular the Royal Navy; or

    2) fixing today's disastrous, highly dangerous situation by reversing Labour's willfully-blind-to-consequences defence-expenditure policies 1998-2009...

    Roderick V. Louis,
    Vancouver, BC, Canada

  • Comment number 12.


    Dear Mr R Louis

    If you have some thing to say, then please could you provide a bit more detail?

    BTW - Are you sure you are from Vancouver and not Newfoundland?

  • Comment number 13.

    #10 Jim_Barron

    I agree, PowerPoint engineering, by managers who should know better, is now a big problem.

    BTW, what colour do you reckon Haddon-Cave dye's his hair with?

  • Comment number 14.

    Those of us who worked on Nimrod servicing when it was the responsibility of the Royal Air Force knew this was coming 20 years ago when major servicing of the Nimrod was handed to civilian contractors. In its entire existence the Nimrod Major Servicing Unit at Kinloss had NEVER lost an aircraft following a major service. The very FIRST aircraft to complete a major service carried out by a civilian contractor ditched in the Moray Firth during a post-service test flight as a result of multiple engine failures. The writing was on the wall 20 years ago. Having also worked in civilian aviation and been shocked at the lack of commitment to safety, I am convinced that the "profits for the shareholders" approach has no place in satisfying the military covenant. The whole ethos in RAF engineering when I served on Nimrods in the 1980s was quality and airworthiness - regardless of what nods and winks are made towards safety, the ultimate goal for private companies is profit and that is entirely incompatible with maximum safety and airworthiness.

  • Comment number 15.


    We have come such a long way from the days when MPs (termed 'honourable') felt required to fall on their metaphorical swords when events, on a par with the Nimrod explosion, occurred.

    It is at such times, the debt for time enjoyed as an unwarranted 'somebody' is called in, and a 'futile gesture' is the order of the day. The honourable resignation, maintains an invisible boundary between sustainability and the slippery slope.

    Somehow I doubt Bob has any appreciation of such nicety.

  • Comment number 16.

    Thoroughly outstanding interview by Jeremy with Bob Ainsworth on the tragic deaths of 14 people in the preventable Nimrod crash. Perhaps there may be a resignation, who knows, however, will it lead to proper safety checks in future, or will safety remain haphazard?

    Loved the discussion on comedy by Jeremy on where the boundaries lie in terms of language and subject area. As pointed out, tastes shift with time...


  • Comment number 17.

    barrie #15

    Bit harsh on simple Bob when he was not the man in charge at the time of said crash, can't remember whether it was Des Browne or Blair's best Corporate Nazi leaning puppet " now retiring from politics member for Barrow " as incumbent.

  • Comment number 18.


    I could not help but be struck by the parallels in commercial caring as applied to aircraft, and human, maintenance. There is always a point at which 'cost-benefit' clicks in, where 'benefit' is as accrued to owners or share-holders.

    But in a country where honour is dead (see #15) it comes as no surprise that care is breathing its last.

  • Comment number 19.

    Why is it that immediately before something very important in the NI peace process is about to happen, the BBC feels it necessary to run a piece outlining the fragility of the security in place, quoting both named & unnamed securocrats in the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) as credible sources of evidence? The momentous occurrence I refer to is the transfer of policing & justice powers from the NIO to the NI assembly. Now lets consider the factions that may oppose such a move. One group being those same securocrats who may find themselves out of a job or worse again answerable to politicians whose aspirations they have fought against their entire careers. I am in no way professing that a fully rational & peaceful society now exists in NI, most would recognise we are probably a generation away from that, but it's worth questioning both the motives of the reporter & the sources quoted for such a pointless piece of journalism.

  • Comment number 20.

    I met someone who had to do some sort of ground scan for the RAF to make sure there were no wartime bombs in the ground before they dug a trench. He told me that once he had declared the area clear he was made to stand by the excavation so if he had made a mistake he would suffer the consequences along with those working there.

    I think it would be a good idea to apply a similar principle to these sub contractors who work on RAF planes. The RAF should be able to summon anyone from the sub contractors firm at zero notice, from director to technician and make them fly on the plane they have maintained thereby suffering the consequences of any bodgery or shortcuts taken. Same treatment to be applied to the politicians and MOD civil servants. Let them share the risks their cost cutting and short cuts impose upon our servicemen.

  • Comment number 21.

    'Neutered' Comedy

    The guests missed the distinction between 'offense' and 'harm'.

    Taking offense is different to the pang of physical pain. As words cannot ever harm you and 'offense' is subjective, comedians and everyone else should be free to say what they like. Surely, this is the point the nation's comedians should be using as a weapon against the censors. Ask for proof of the harm you have inflicted, before you alter your speech.

    Naturally, a programme may be pretty weak, if the writers resort to ever more expletives to engender laughs, but it doesn't, therefore, follow that expletives should be abandoned because they've out-grown their usefulness. Why should everything be cyclical?

    Whether spoken in jest or with malice, words are just words - they disappear into the ether once spoken.

    You know, I'm willing to bet a not-inconsiderable sum of money that not a single viewer of last week's Question Time spontaneously become racist because of what was said. Millions were offended, but millions weren't harmed.

  • Comment number 22.

    People seem to get more offended by the spoken word than used to be the case. But at the same time, I find that one cannot rely on the spoken word as being genuine anymore; more often these days the spoken word is used to persuade through deception. I think it's called sales - a very offensive business especially when it arrives in the home via the telephone, and you know immediately that the person on the other end has been picked for their 'tenacity' and 'doesn't easily take no for an answer', just like the job ad said. Their feigned offense at all civil attempts to decline their wares is finally shown for the shallow ploy it is when, eventually realising this call will not 'generate' a sale, the caller summarily puts the phone down without so much as a bye your leave!

  • Comment number 23.

    It is a shame that those intent on 'taking' offense at almost every opportunity appear unable much of the time to make a personal choice to put it back again and get on with something more meaningful.

  • Comment number 24.

    Nimrod Report

    Will heads rolling and swords being fallen on make any difference to the future of MoD priorities? Or is the 'baying for blood' that inevitably follows genuine mistakes, accidents, errors of judgement or negligence, especially those resulting in personal injury or death, just a way of making the victims, their families and the general public feel that 'justice' has been done.

    It begs the broader question of the very nature of 'crime and punishment and what we seek to achieve by hurting one who hurt us.

    Nothing can bring back those lost or lessen the pain for those left behind. But perhaps the best chances for a succesful change of culture, a change of mindset, lie with investing those deemed to have had the greatest responsibility for the original situation, with the mandate to correct the wrongs. After all, it is likely that deep down that carry the greatest sense of guilt and responsibility.

  • Comment number 25.


    Why does my nickname on my posts appear as 'you' on screen when they are shown as my sign in identity on preview?

  • Comment number 26.

    ..Why does my nickname on my posts appear as 'you' on screen..

    yes its stupid.

    it probably makes perfect sense after a few white lines...?

  • Comment number 27.


    I remember a fairly recent report to the effect that a painful verbal attack is remembered, by the recipient's brain, in precisely the same way as a physical hurt is(as implied through language).

    Whether using extreme swear-words in the hearing of a devout ingenue causes 'pain' I have no idea. Someone should put a DI into a scanner and inflict edgy stand-up on them.

    The old 'sticks and stones' chant, is clearly whistling in the dark, unless - perhaps - it mediates against the strength of any memory trace laid down in the brain.

  • Comment number 28.


    Biblical and effective! I seem to remember this being raised when the ferry sank (with the bow-doors open)- it was mooted company directors should be on the ferry.

  • Comment number 29.


    You are only 'you' to you, we see 'brightyangthing' (excellent name).
    A few months back the blog/forum went off-line to effect this 'edgy' improvement. One among us is still struggling with identity as a consequence! Think of is as someone employed who might otherwise be otherwise.

  • Comment number 30.

    Thank you BS #29
    I appear to appear as I appear to be even unto myself now, in all my bright shiny delusional glory!
    Genius is vastly over rated I find. I studiously avoid it
    Having found my way on here after many weeks of hovering close to the edge, and since the powers that be at Newsnight/BBC has been mentioned, can I ask opinion on the seemingly inane switches between Regional News (BBC1) - Newsnight (BBC2) and the purple rage inducing sudden plug pulling from London to Scotland.
    I mean WHY??????????? They don't cut to regions mid way through the 1 oclock or 6 oclock news. Why newsnight?
    Last night we even had a repeat of the NN top topic, albeit from a slightly different angle with different guests for 10 minutes on NNS.
    I usually need to lie down in a darkened room (for about 6 hours) afterwards to restore equilibrium.

  • Comment number 31.


    i have been writing for years that the constant 'bad luck' at the MOD isn't bad luck but sabotage. No one has this much bad luck.

    As for the market fundamentalist belief that the market is the best organiser of resources how many examples do we need to demonstrate its not true but merely a 'belief'. even now the govt still pursue this market fundamentalist belief system. why? the only people peddling this belief are those who seek to profit by it?

    There is more good in not believing it and acting accordingly?

    British Rule

    isn't it the case if the northern irish people vote for union thye could have it? so violence is merely anti democractic self indulgence? People livin' the dream of violent men?

    maybe northern ireland needs the govt's afghan solution to peace. after all the policy is working so well.

    Biting the pillow.

    something the public have been doing regarding mp's expenses.

    You're 'aving a laugh.

    is the role of a comic to insult or to entertain. if its not entertainment then what is it?

  • Comment number 32.

    maybe we need more 'pinter poems'

  • Comment number 33.


    Are you stting comfortably - then I'll begin. You are 'you' 'where you are'. For oh-so-annoyingly long, when the national news gives way to the regions, we don't go 'to the regions' but to 'where you are'. I was never young enough to be a flower, or a tree, in my early school days, but I was certainly vegetable matter by the time education (times one - pre-Blair) had finished with me.

    Nothing the flagship broadcaster now does, surprises me (though they surely know how to irritate.) Perhaps Big Pharma have a finger in all this. Those whom the gods wish to rob blind, they first drive to medication.

    Coincidentally, I too am 'hovering close to the edge' . . .

  • Comment number 34.

    Why do the far right "thinkers" always aggressively put forward their views that there is a "Jewish conspiracy" and racial differences and the Holocaust never happened and so on and then fail to back up their words with actions?

    If there is as described a Jewish hegemony then why don't these people put forward a case to the Equalities Commission as their rights have presumably been affected?

    If there is a basis for racial policies (as rebutted for instance by the scientists in Rageh Omahs Race and Intelligence on Channel 4) as some races are more intelligent than others then why have those scientists never gathered and put forward the "killer paper" that they can unite behind and prove their case?

    If there was no Holocaust then why have these people failed to turn up at a Nazi War crimes trial to prove that the Holocaust did not happen? Djemjanjuk could not have been a guard at a death camp if there were no death camps? Has Nuremburg been invalidated? I think not.

    The Nazis actually numbered gays amongst their number with Rohm being an example. He was executed not for his sexuality but because Hitler thought he was about to launch a coup and it was convenient to massacre the Nazi SA at that time. If Griffin thinks or thought that the victims of the Copeland (BNP member) bombing of a gay pub were "flaunting their perversion in front of the world's journalists, [and had] showed just why so many ordinary people find these creatures disgusting" why did he not indicate the basis for that view? Religion, science, ideology or playing to the prejudices of his core supporters?

    Can a lot be read into the BNP failure to define whether their current philosophy is National Socialist or democratic?

    Griffin would not explain his views on the Holocaust as there is no basis for his views that would survive scrutiny it could be argued.

    Griffin said nothing of any Jewish conspiracy and of their being an "internal political and economic threat".

    So the big question is do these people actually know that they are promoting lies and rubbish or is National Socialism, as say Bertrand Russell suggested, no more than a replacement aristocracy?

    Primeval power lusts propel those frustrated and insecure with regard to their existing social position into amoral adoption of ideology to justify the sating of their individual power lusts. Intellect is submerged beneath their emotional drives and the codes of the adopted ideology.

    Of course I reject those like Von Brunn (American Friend of the BNP) awaiting trial, I believe, in the US for murdering a security guard at a Holocaust memorial and previously convicted for trying to kidnap a Fed Member to prove the Jewish Conspiracy existed who use ludicrous violence when cool reasoned argument would have sufficed.

    Perhaps though that says everything.

  • Comment number 35.

    The most worrying thing about Liz MacKeans report to me is that it suggests that we may be being far too complacent about the general security of the country.

    The Real IRA/Continuity IRA cannot really "win" if the Nationalist community is not behind them and they have no external support. But if the Unionists allow themselves to be provoked then perhaps new axis emerge.

    Should the SNP win the 2010 referendum - or even get to the level where a future win is likely - are there those in Scotland who may move towards violence and could Scotland and Northern Ireland interact? Probably not.

    Obviously al Qaeda will remain a threat for some time.

    Then of course there is the far right who have managed to grow without ever consistently saying anything on any subject.

    Most of the bombers have been muppets who were more of a threat to themselves like Lewington recently. But there have been a number of them and so that threat could ignite in the future.

    The Newsnight report the other week showed the English Defence League with masked members (mostly adolescents in fairness) and revealed their strategy to provoke violence but not to take part. A strategy of tension as the Italian far right may say.

    But if these groups do become active at the same time and interact then life becomes very difficult.

    Sentences for far right bombers have always been surprisingly lenient and I hope that trend becomes a thing of the past. A bomber is a bomber.

  • Comment number 36.

    Which edge would that be? I'm not really into U2!

    As my confused state (#30)may indicate, a Londoner, now residing North of the border - if started on regional variations and national programming I'll need to up my medication. Especially with regard to weather forecasting. Why there is ever any value to a national broadcaster giving you a sweeping two sentence summary for the whole of this island of ours, beats me. 'Bout as much use as an ashtray on the back of a motorbike as they say up here. Sometimes, I feel duty bound to share the local 'chips',liberally doused in vinegar, with the long suffering natives.

    Having said that' I'd pay good money for nightly repeats of the The Great One's classic forecast summaries just for the entertainment value alone. 'It's April for Goodness sake, what do you expect! - Priceless.
    As for 'being a tree' it's never to late to sway in the breeze. Go on, try it. Its good for the soul. Just move away from the edge!!!

    Now to be topical, would it irritate or offend to announce that I've just received my post!

  • Comment number 37.

    UNACUSTOMED AS I AM TO . . . (#34)

    I find no science-studies in Rageh Omah's background. Perhaps that was why his program tailed off badly at the end. I won't get into detail - it will serve no purpose - suffice it to say, his methodology was journalistic and (just possibly) agenda-led. I am annoyed that he took MY enquiry into the subject no farther forward - and cost me my time.

    PS I wish he would put that damned 'Palin-Bag' down - and stop doing so much 'walking to camera'. It adds nothing to enquiry-with-gravitas.

  • Comment number 38.

    ...far too complacent about the general security of the country.
    Which country?
    ...are there those in Scotland who may move towards violence and could Scotland and Northern Ireland interact? Probably not.
    Those who had the 'pleasure' of being in Glasgow during an old firm derby may disagree.
    ... the English Defence League with masked members (mostly adolescents in fairness)
    Who get their values from where?

  • Comment number 39.

    From the NN Team
    ....We hope to speak to the Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth.

    All credit to BA for appearing, remaining calm, and being concilliatory. Doesn't change anything, doesn't fix anything and there will be those who see it as posturing or cynical manipulation, but can't have been a comfortable seat to sit in.

  • Comment number 40.


    As a regular 'Video Wall' peruser, when Newsnight is on (attention span, or lack of content?) I spotted the use of 'DAMMING' intended to be DAMNING. I think it was under a set of photos of MPs caught in the damning headlights, but possibly other's of the damned classes.

    Was it a test? Do I get a prize? Or is spelling (on New'ni') going the way of Kirsty's enunciation?

  • Comment number 41.

    There are those intellectual throwbacks to the tenets of thirties and forties National Socialism who see racial purity and eugenics as a way forward.

    Currently the BNP are becoming more popular though they have said they "are not a Nazi party" - but many suspect that they are given previous statements, personal histories and individual acts such as Griffins conviction for inciting racial hatred.

    Since the thirties science has not only shown that that basis for racial analysis is false - DNA analysis shows all of the races are in fact very closely related as they all derive from a very few individuals and there has been no evolutionary time or need for branching - it also has identified the human genome.

    Therefore misguided and irrational as the far right views are do they have policies not only for ensuring racial purity and strength through eugenics and sterilization and so on but through manipulation of the genome? Would that not be logically consistent with those views?

    Would manipulation of the human genome represent a danger to the world in medical, social and economic terms? Could it be that this is not currently being considered by those who reasonably reject the logic and science behind the rationale for any such policies but perhaps fail to see that social momentum can be illogically manipulated and lead to the kind of extreme horrors we saw in WWII?

    All of those floating voters who are flirting with the far right in protest should wake up and smell the coffee.

  • Comment number 42.

    Bit slow there #40. This was first spotted about 1 min 40 into the 10 oclock news.

    Spelling error or simply carp tryping??? For certain proof reading/editing was a bit lax and this wasn't a last minute news item.

    And it seems to be pick on Kirsty week. Her dress sense is being lambasted on PoV. However I do have to say that after twenty years north of the border, some accents and annunciations are no easier to grasp. Kirsty's being one of them I still struggle with. In danger of being sexist here but I find very few women's voices (presenters) resonate as clearly as the chaps do. Perhaps it's to do with the timbre. And younger presenters speak far too fast and run words together.

    According to 'me' I have reverted to 'you' again. I could say I am what IYAM. Confused? Yeah but no but, no but... Yeah! Whilst trying to consolidate multifarious identities I seem have fallen off the log (sorry edge) and into nomansland. I am not a number...........

  • Comment number 43.

    CLANG (#42)

    I confused 10 o/c News with Newsnight! I'll be thinking ALL BBC news output is just a bunch of juveniles having edgy fun next! What am I like.

    PS It took me an embarrassingly long time to spot: "EDGE OF REGION". think I am getting most of the other gems. (It was the Afwanistan 'g' that threw me.)

  • Comment number 44.


    ....I confused 10 o/c News with Newsnight!
    Not always as difficult as it should be. Could have been worse. Could have confused it with Breakfast NONEWS drivel. I've been driven to R4. I feel very grown * up/old. *delete as appropriate.

    I've thrown a lot of things in my time. Mostly wobblies, a pot or two and even the odd caber (mini). Don't think I've ever thrown an Afwanistan 'g'.

    Waiitng for tonight's missive. Any bets?


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