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Wednesday 6 April 2011

Verity Murphy | 15:21 UK time, Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Here is what is coming up on tonight's programme:

Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted that the government will not take risks with the NHS in England, but also said sticking with the status quo was not an option.

Mr Cameron was speaking at the launch of a new push to convince critics that the reforms are right, where he was joined by his deputy Nick Clegg and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

Tonight we have a one-to-one interview with Mr Lansley on the issue.

Also, on the day that tax and benefit changes affecting millions of people have come into force, Paul Mason will have a report on the squeeze being felt by people suffering a combination of stagnant incomes and rising living costs.

And we will have a discussion on how British people cope with austerity nowadays - whether the old way of keep calm and carry on still holds true or not with Will Self, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Polly Toynbee.

Plus, it is almost one year ago Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria were killed, along with a number of other senior Polish political, military and cultural figures, when their plane crashed as it prepared to land in western Russia.

Tonight we have an outstanding film on that disaster - how it happened, the subsequent investigation, the impact on Poland and on its relations with Russia.

In the film we hear from high-level politicians including Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland's main opposition Law and Justice Party and twin brother of President Lech Kaczynski who was killed, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the chief investigators.

We also hear from some of the relatives of those killed and track their progress as they try to come to terms with their loss.


  • Comment number 1.

    ".........Will Self, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Polly Toynbee......"

    What an ludicrous trio. You frequently invite people onto your programme to rant on, with your tacit approval, about Cameron and Osborne's opinions being irrelevant because they know nothing about poverty. The hackneyed egomaniac rentaquotes Self, Rees-Mogg and Toynbee know nothing about austerity and are never likely to. Giving these notorious self-publicists the opportunity to air their well-known views yet again suggests you don't take the subject very seriously.

  • Comment number 2.

    There is a distinctly dishonest statement being ‘offered’ - repeatedly - in defence of AV on the airwaves and in the press .....


    ‘AV will force ‘honourable’ MP’s to work harder to ‘represent their constituents.’

    Surely it is - at the minimum - misleading to say that they will have to “work harder” for that implies that these honourable bods already work hard?

    Maybe they do!

    But not for ‘their’ constituents!

    And .... Oh yes!

    I’ve come to the conclusion that I may be in the situation whereby I have little option but to end it all!

    I’ve been asking myself ....

    How low can a civilised sic human being sink?

    When does one know that they’ve truly reached the absolute bottom, the nadir, the ‘pits’ of human intellect?

    How can anyone deal with such a catastrophic and absolute downfall of ‘self’?

    Are such ‘thoughts’ reaching into the ‘Pit of endless depravity’ or irredeemable corruption?

    Is there no longer any belief in hope?

    Is there no longer any possibility for salvation?

    Why you may - most likely not - ask ? ....

    The events of the last few days have forced upon me only one inevitable conclusion ....

    Namely ....

    I agree!

    Deity Conmoron was right ....

    ....about the best joke he knows’!

    But wait ......

    There is a way out of this dark turbulent tempest of imposed depression ......

    Simple really ......

    Just laugh at the joke!

    Or should one really laugh at it's subject?

  • Comment number 3.

    I have to stick up for Pol, she was the first journalist way back when to identify the plight of working (or not) class men in the new femino-ethno-pseudo-liberal-postmodern society we call The Big Broken British Society. Wilf clearly wants to be put out of his misery; he likes himself less than we do! :o)

  • Comment number 4.

    Please put this to Mr Lansley: the word "modernise" was beloved and brought into disrepute by Tony Blair. It sounds good to some people, but in fact means nothing substantive.

    The electric chair was undoubtedly "modern" compared with the guillotine. That does not mean that it was either more efficient or more humane. Similarly, the workhouse was more "modern" than the Poor Law relief system, but it was undoubtedly worse for the poor.

    In Tony Blair's case, the word "modernise" often meant letting corporate sponsors of the Labour Party profit from the running of public services. So let us expunge this meaningless and dishonest word from our vocabulary.

    Is the government aim to improve the experience of the health service to end users. or is it to cut costs? If there is to be more "outsourcing", which means part-privatisation, this can only cut costs by giving some people a financial incentive to make others, often low paid, do more for less.

    So far as I can see it, Mr Lansley is relying too much on the advice of people who regard the NHS as a business opportunity. Look at what has happened with outsourced cleaning over recent decades - it's hardly a model to be proud of. Look at the huge excessive costs of the Tory/Labour favourite, the PFI scheme - ditto.

    The public does not want "modernisation" and huge restructuring. This has been the curse of the public sector for two decades. Let the National Audit Office supervise the costs, and encourage innovation and small improvements coming from the bottom. It won't be headline grabbing but it will yield results.

    And one final thing: if he really thinks that privatising the National Blood service will encourage donors, he really is out of touch with reality. Whoever thought of that idea should be sacked and given a one way ticket to the planet Zog!

  • Comment number 5.

    One final comment - put this to Mr Lansley too please. On the ground that "Caesar's wife should be above suspicion", all corporate donors to political parties should be automatically disbarred from publicly funded contracts.

    That should clean up the system a bit and restore some trust!

  • Comment number 6.

    the hayekist propaganda is that the state has no knowledge and only the market does. the credit crunch and banking bailout should have cured people of that false belief but clearly it hasn't. The government speak about nhs [choice, value for money etc] is the same old 1980 hayekist rot all over again. Last time all it did was deliver monopolies. To repeat the same things and expect a different outcome is madness [Einstein].

    Where did Cameron get his take on history? are we now the new germans who must pay reparations and even have memorials to past 'crimes' as reminders in city centres? So given the source of the [evil] imperialism is the monarchy as the first step to reform should it not be removed from the highest position in the land and its language and mannerism erased from public life and replaced with a national oath that relates to the rights and laws of all the people followed by a written constitution?

  • Comment number 7.


    I am too idle to list - you know my stance - bravo all over the place.

    The 'human nature' catastrophe, in which Britain may well lead the world, is not a currency in the Hollowed (sic) Halls of Westminster. While the cipher-ninnies play their inconsequential games, 'fixing' third-order ills of Mammon, root causes (such as the Causes of Blair) will go un-addressed.

    Britain COULD be fixed. If we must strut the world, let it be as the nation that fixed itself.


  • Comment number 8.

    #4 "And one final thing: if he really thinks that privatising the National Blood service will encourage donors, he really is out of touch with reality. Whoever thought of that idea should be sacked and given a one way ticket to the planet Zog!"

    By the cringe SC surely they are not thinking of doing that???!!! : ( That way disease will lay, look at the USA drug addicts and down and outs donate their blood so they can get the next fix, are we headed in that direction? Surely donating blood is done from altruism not profit, I don't believe it! Madness!

  • Comment number 9.

    This is a very significant day for gold and silver. If Blythe cant hammer it down, its going to fly and The Morgue silver shorts are in some trouble.

  • Comment number 10.


    A politician claptraps - we cringe. Why do they not realise - or is it they don't care?

    Paxman or Robinson derides - we cringe. Why has the BBC espoused this style?

    Ross and Brand - we cringe. What has happened to the minds of their worshippers?

    A Big Society Facilitator opens the flip-chart - we cringe.

    An uber-Feminist shrieks at the word 'lady' - we cringe.

    Neil Nunes goes for the burn (a jaunty style) -WE CRINGE.

    We are in the Age of Cringe - going forward.

  • Comment number 11.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    The silver and gold vigilantes have been banging on about how to hold on to your wealth and deal with the financial situation for years. THE way to deal with the banks and captured politicians is to remove your money from banks en mass buy silver or gold at spot price and demand new banking free from FRB and derivatives which is theft and destruction capitalism .

  • Comment number 12.


    'All that is required for Evil to triumph, is for dud men to go guessing.'

  • Comment number 13.


    They cut the discussion for some reason, but I can report the film used just about every hackneyed ploy in the book. It was more like excerpts from a Bond movie, than documentary.

  • Comment number 14.

    Polish air crash:
    It wasn't the Russians fault. The pilots were under pressure to perform and get the VIP passengers to their destination. Any diversion would've been unwelcome news for the Polish President and for the other passengers. The pilots were fully aware of the demanding Polish President, he already had form for this. No conspiracy. Just an accident, an accident brought on by bad weather, a demanding President and pilots under pressure.
    Lessons learnt:
    regardless who is on board, safely should never be compromised by a demanding passenger list pulling faces due to a possible diversion. Flying decisions should only be made by air traffic controllers and pilots.. and nobody else... not even from short people who find themselves in high political office without a pilot licence but who think they can out-rank pilots when they are up in the air.

    Sit down, belt-up and shut up.

  • Comment number 15.

    Paul's pieces on the UK economy and the Portugal bailout request were insightful.

    I plead guilty to banging on about the contradiction that deep rapid spending cuts equals a bigger deficit not a smaller one and that the UK is repeating the massive mistakes that the disgraced Irish government did in driving their economy over a cliff last year - why is it that Paul Mason's analysis is the ONLY one on British TV that I ever see that provides an objective analysis of the situation?

    I questioned the Office for Budgtary Responsibility's rosy forecasts last year - but now their most recent report says:

    "The key economic developments since our November 2010 Outlook have been
    an unexpected fall in UK GDP in the final quarter of 2010, a rise in world oil
    prices, and higher-than-expected UK inflation. The labour market has performed
    much as expected, with unemployment rising after registering significant falls in
    the middle of last year."

    Now that Black Wednesday has arrived and the P45s start to fall like rain in the public sector in the UK and the crisis in EuroLand has locked the Portuguese, Irish and Greek people into a spiral of falling living standards, IMHO to go on forecasting growth in the UK economy which is also facing sharply falling real living standards through stagnant or falling incomes and sharp inflation in food, energy and taxation seems to me to defy all logic.

    Alarm bells are ringing loudly on the high street and consumer confidence is falling fast. The UK economy is critically vulnerable on three fronts:

    1. consumption accounts for a massive share of employment, so a sharp fall in spending on the high street will be magnified in job loses, falling tax take and rising welfare costs, as Paul so clearly explained.

    2. Exports are now critical in rebalancing the economy - if Spain provides the "S" on to the "PIIGS" then the crisis in the Euroland economy will deepen, as Paul also highlighted in the piece on Portugal - which in turn will impact the UK economy, as this is our biggest export market.

    3. Our financial position is unsustainable - the BoE MPC can't raise rates, whilst our currency depreciation against the Euro where rates are rising causes our imports to be more expensive, so further stoking inflation in the UK, which in turn will choke off more demand.

    The Chancellor's policy was set in stone through the coalition agreement a year ago. Since then we have had massively important developments in the EuroLand crisis, the destabilisation of the middle east oil producers and oil price rise, the earthquake in Japan sharply impacting trade and the UK economy is flatlining at the best.

    Across the Atlantic the US political machine is now gridlocked and Obama's ability to go on running huge deficits to stimulate their economy has been blocked by the Republican control of the House and even the Chinese economy's trade deficit has shrunk.

    Surely we must all see that to lash the wheel and continue on the same course into the teeth of the oncoming storm is simply suicidal for our economy? It tells me that this is not a question of economic pragmatism, it's a politically motivated decision to achieve ideological objectives.

    Why does anyone think that the massively recessionary pressures that are building within and without the UK economy won't precipitate a rapid collapse in employment, tax income and the same sort of crisis that we saw in Eire?

    George Osborne seems to be claiming to be able to defy gravity and he is able to get away with it by hiding behind the smokescreen of the OBR, but as we saw from Jeremy's interview with the OBR's Mr Choate last week this is wearing pretty thin, as Choate's repeated "we don't know" answers left Jeremy hardly able to believe his ears.

    Those on the centre/right of British politics should be getting seriously worried about where the libertarians are taking them. From the revolt over NHS reforms to the unrealistic Defence Review, or the impending trainwreck of student fees to the 500,000 protest over spending cuts, the "Hayek Jesuits" are now locked in a high stakes game and are betting everything on pulling of an economic miracle, but at incredibly long odds.

    What happens if they lose? This time it will be both the Tories and the LibDems who get the blame - and that will result in the electorate returning Labour with a huge majority and a mandate to follow the sort of old Labour agenda that John Smith would have delivered if he had lived and the Blair New Labour project had never happened.

    I'd see English politics gavitating towards something more like the Scottish model with a broad left consensus around the role of the State and the wholesale rejection of marketisation. UKIP would replace the LibDems as the third party and Clegg would lead his Orange Book cabal into the Tory Party whilst the left of the LibDems would join Labour.

    North of the border Alex Salmond's long game towards independence would receive a gift from David Cameron if the Uk economy does go the way of Eire, and the SNP would win the independence vote.

    This would all be catastrophic for the Conservatives - the end of the UK and they would be trapped in the same minority position as they are in Scotland for generations.

    Norman Tebbit has his finger on the pulse of the Tory shires and his instincts about them are uncannily correct. For Tebbit to decide to take on the NHS reforms in the way he has reveals the deep tensions in the Tory "broad church" and that behind closed doors even the rightwing of the Party is getting restive about the extent of the political risks the "Hayek Jesuits" are taking.

    This has only happened because the Coalition has provided the government with the LibDem lightning conductor that is allowing libertarian economics to be tested to destruction. In many ways this is the triumph for the first-past-the-post election system, which is finally forcing the British electorate to come down on one side of the fence or the other on free market economics or socialism.

    It's not long to the council elections and AV referendum in May. A heavy cull of LibDem councillors and a NO to AV will leave Clegg fatally wounded with his own party - if the UK nosedives into recession I simply can't see the backbench LibDems "going gently into that good night" - there will be those who will take Dylan Thomas' advice and begin to "rage, rage against the dying of the light."

    Will the Coalition be all over by Christmas?

    Definitely worth a tenner bet, I'd say.

  • Comment number 16.

    Now here's a surprise then...

    Who'd have thought it the british taking more antidepressants, with the governments we've had over the last ten years is it any surprise.

    Yes I would think financial pressure has been one of the causes, but I would think that the total upheavel of a once homogenous society has a lot to do with it as well. Not to mention the big fat bankers, politicians noses in the trough, lack of work for the indigenous, and now massive spending cuts, how are the brits going to survive.

  • Comment number 17.

    'HIGH STAKES GAME' (#15)

    As I have posted before: when I PLAY Snooker, I will attempt to pull off 'impossible' shots AS I HAVE NO NEED TO WIN THE GAME. Elevated politicians can PLAY (inexpertly) at management of Britain (aka politics) as they have no concept of destitution.

    Wisdom is gone, cleverness rules, and many of them are not even clever.

  • Comment number 18.

    As we are on a race to the bottom, why don't we just give up and open our borders to the entire world, bearing in mind this...

    We are heading towards a third world country, lets get it over with quickly, and live as they do in extreme poverty. Mind you there's every chance they'd all leave again pretty promptly.

  • Comment number 19.

    Perhaps Sir David Frost could boost viewing figures for Newsnight when Jeremy's not on?

  • Comment number 20.

  • Comment number 21.

    Paul repeating the mantra of austerity which is a far left narrative. Why is stopping spending beyond your income 'austerity'? Is that rational? Why keep repeating this left narrative for what is stopping overspending? Hysteria?

    Self is right about the use of the word fairness. Fairness is not the highest idea of the mind. It is a false belief that ends up in human sacrifice [such as people dying because it wouldn't be 'fair' to let them buy their own drugs].

    the poles were naive to have all those people on the one plane which suggests a theme of how decisions were made? Blaming the russians is the default position of those who cannot admit and learn from their own mistakes?

  • Comment number 22.

    David Frost was never 'funny' he rode on the backs of Cleese, Barker etc.,

  • Comment number 23.


    Averaged out - air is the safest travel (they say).

    I suspect if we look at extreme weather landings alone, air travel is close to Russian Roulette.

  • Comment number 24.

    the NN report on Poland was very good, what an unlucky country and what horrible neighbours....


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