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Thursday 23 February 2012

Verity Murphy | 18:10 UK time, Thursday, 23 February 2012

David Cameron has said that he is sick of what he calls "snobbish attitudes" towards money-makers, arguing that business is the best way to "smash poverty" and warning against increasingly dangerous rhetoric that suggests wealth creation is anti-social and has no moral worth.

Tonight, David Grossman reports on whether the prime minister has a point and we debate in the studio with leading business figures - Waitrose Managing Director and Business in the Community Chairman Mark Price, Wates Construction CEO Paul Dreschler, President of Chocolate at Mars UK Fiona Dawson, and Greggs CEO Ken McKeikan.

We look at the on-going workfare row and at the news that entrepreneur Emma Harrison has stepped down as the government's "family champion" amid a police probe into irregularities at her company A4e.

As part of its work, A4e handles millions of pounds worth of government contracts for welfare-to-work schemes

And Mark Urban has been to visit Mansour Dhao Ibrahim, one of Muammar Gaddafi's most trusted security aides who was in the vehicle with the Libyan leader when he made his ill-fated attempt to flee the city of Sirte on 20 October 2011.

They discuss Gaddafi's last days in the besieged city, the desperate doomed attempt to get out, the moment of capture and how he has himself been treated since he was detained.


  • Comment number 1.


    I am beginning to sense a trend in our demon-driven deluded PMs. They are no judge of people; hence they TAKE TO THEIR SIDE as trusted aides, some of the most unsavoury individuals you might wish (not) to meet.

    Nuff sed


  • Comment number 2.

    Well, one way to 'smash poverty' is to not tax people who are living in poverty but that is a statement of the bleeding obvious.

    So why tax families who earn less than the official poverty level threshold (around £15K or so)?

    It is anti-business to lump some 5% onto business rates, especially when the rates are calculated with no consideration of their 'ability to pay', which should be the first rule of tax.

    Moral worth and the UK Government are uneasy bedfellows.

  • Comment number 3.

    I see the President of Chocolate at Mars UK Fiona Dawson, is on NN tonight.

    Once upon an time, I worked very near the Mars factory, which is on an industrial estate in Slough (mercifully Ricky Gervais of 'mong' infamy was nowhere in sight) and upon exiting the building, one could take a deep breath and enjoy the secondary effects of the Mars bar aroma.

    Thank goodness the friendly German bombs missed the Mars factory in Slough.

  • Comment number 4.


    For a man who is kinda fond of Christianity, he seems to have absorbed EVEN LESS of it than I have. Parable of the Mote and Beam Dave? For the avoidance of doubt: I assert Dave has behaved DISGRACEFULLY in the run-up to the 2010 election (Liar Flyer and false-face NHS poster) then topped it off in the AV referendum, wherein a level of vilification was aimed at Nice Nick, that one would expect to accompany mud wrestling. But then - perhaps Dave IS mud wrestling . . . He brings is own mud.

    Lowering myself to Dave's level, I am moved to respond: "You wha’? Only one snob round 'ere mate - and arrogant wiv it."


  • Comment number 5.

    I think that business can cope with "snobbish attitudes", that is the least of its problems.

    What it cannot handle is crazy Govern-mental decisions.

    For example, overnight reducing the subsidy (feed-in tariff) for solar power by 50% and, thus at a stroke, crippling a very promising industry.

  • Comment number 6.


    4: big, fat, potato, and 'no prizes'.

    It makes me sick. Anyone want to join me in a group-vomit against arrogance?

  • Comment number 7.

    Tony Blair had to suffer the embarassment of Reuben 'Miss Attitude' Singh and now David Cameron has Emma Harrison (A4e).

    I have noticed in business that there is a certain type of businessperson who works assiduously to cultivate and exploit a surprising naviety in politicians in power.

    What these business people are working towards is access to taxpayers money via the politicians and sometimes they are very successful at getting that access, and heigh-ho, the taps are turned on.

    The bottom line, of course, is if the money turns out to have been utterly wasted, then there is no comeback whatsoever on the politicians who have signed off the deals.

    The notorious PFI deals come to mind as very bad examples, which in a rational world would have taken Gordon Brown and Ed Balls for every penny they've got.

    But what happens in practice is that the biggest-mug-of-all-time, the English PAYE taxpayer foots the bill.

  • Comment number 8.


    And so it goes.

    Nuff sed

  • Comment number 9.


    Westminster is where naive juveniles go to believe in themselves. I query your use of 'surprising'. (:o) Westminster politics, being a game, cares not that most MPs have no acumen for the putative 'job in hand'. I keep asking for a NewsyNighty guru to cover the failure train of initiatives under the last 5 PMs. If they do: nuff sed.

  • Comment number 10.

    How to beat poverty. Don't give shipbuilding contracts to South Korea, when we are capable of building them and would create jobs wealth, tax etc. Any news on this from the bbc apart from the red button.

  • Comment number 11.

    barriesingleton @ 9

    Ok barrie, maybe it is not 'surprising', in the sense that as these politicians have no real responsibility for the financial decisions they make on our behalf.

    That is, if they could be personally bankrupted by what might turn out to be bad decisions that they have signed off, then maybe they would behave more responsibly in this respect.

    Somebody once said that politicians love spending other peoples money and that is very true under the current system as there is no incentive to do otherwise.

  • Comment number 12.

    What David Cameron needs to understand is that it ill becomes businesses which make shed loads of money to begrudge people a living wage, to demand cuts in welfare benefits, government handouts to take on unemployed people and a reduction/suspension of the minimum wage purely so that they can make even bigger profits.

    It's not that people have snobbish attitudes to these business people - it's that we see so many of them as purely greed orientated - they conceal their true objectives of even bigger salaries, bonuses and share deals for them personally, which is then delivered by arguing that lower taxes & wages encourages them to expand, create new jobs and benefit the economy, whilst in reality they spend their time finding ways to offshore jobs to China, employ smaller Uk workforces, work them harder and pay them less.

    The reason why we have an unemployed underclass living on benefits and burgeoning east european migrant labourforce is that real wage levels have been so eroded by these so-called entrepreneurs that wages are so far below the benefit levels that its simply not worth working for poverty wages.

    Having driven organised labour out of the economy, in most sectors real wages are falling whilst company profits have gone up - and managers/directors' incomes have run wildly above the general income level.

    Greed - pure and simple - and the Tories are the apologists for it.

  • Comment number 13.


    Westminster 'managed' the Allowances disgrace, with usual Machiavellian deftness.
    Defence of the Citadel is one of the things they do well - government, it isn't. Any fool could see that a) it was SYMPTOMATIC b) it was the iceberg tip c) IT WAS MANAGED (in no time, media ONLY referred to 'expenses' WHICH THEY WERE NOT).

    The depth, breadth and 'inclusion' of corruption in our culture is absolute. But a handy iceberg tip is all that gets inspected. Just ponder Newscorp. Further, the massively defended Westminster Citadel has a range of devices to choke off any enquiry that might 'uncover the core'.

    Westminster is a Tyranny, I am not the first to say that; investigation always falls short of exposing that truth. (Keiser points it up, but "who's Keiser?") Our PMs have more in common with 'regime leaders' than with benefactors. If this nation is stressed, mayhem will clearly ensue; it is an aspect of multiculture. That is when the covert despot, claiming 'democracy under rule of law', becomes the overt despot who knows 'what has to be done' to the people, for the people - BY HIS PEOPLE.

    As the Head would say: "This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you." Sadly, Dave sounds more like a Headmaster every day. But we all know who yells (screams) and turns black and blue – even if they don’t die . . .

  • Comment number 14.

    Possibly sic relevant to tonight’s programme:

    (Overheard conversation ….. edited to protect the innocent!)

    “How’s your jobs thingy going?”

    “Good! I got a certificate today!”

    “Excellent! What’s it for?”

    “First Aid”

    “That’ll help with your job hunting.”

    “I don’t think so, I’ve never done any First Aid training!”

    “So why did you get a certificate?

    “Don’t ask me!”

    What’s that statement we keep hearing?

    Oh yes!

    “ …… will only receive payment for results.”

  • Comment number 15.

    UK Growth - Why are Wates Construction and Waitrose debating UK growth?
    Both of these are reliant on the UK population and neither are growing/bring money in to the UK economy.
    I think its very poor that the people are giving their opinion on the UK economy live on BBC 2, neither actually grow the UK economy. They turnover money within the UK. They are bothe 'services' businesses. Britain need to produce, Britain needs to manufacture, Britain needs to export. Britain does not need to judge the strength of its economy on 'Services Business'. We need to bring cash in, not juggle figures

  • Comment number 16.

    Its incredibly rich to watch Newsnight and hear Kirsty Walk - a journalist - negatively questioning some mainstream business leaders about morality in their profession.

  • Comment number 17.

    but dont those business leader depend upon the general wealth of the uk economy? They are business leaders. They may be very good business leaders. Neither bring money into the UK economy. Both 'business leaders' depend on other businesses to grow the UK economy.
    Construction businesses do not grow the economy. They create jobs, create taxes, create spending. But it is money that was in the UK already. Waitrose benefits from what Wates construction do...more jobs, more spending.
    That is not growth.
    Wates Constructione money may even come from government debt/international bonds.
    It is not UK growth! Its the false economy the UK has been built on for years.

    How hard would it be to make Britain great again? terry (at) CustomisedSport (dot) com

  • Comment number 18.


    Growth is not what Nature does - Nature maintains stasis. Cancer is an attempt at unconstrained growth . . . Only perverse humans could conceive of growth as a sound strategy. Indeed, in recent times we have seen one VERY PERVERSE example of a growth fanatic.

    Unless and until wisdom rules, and stasis becomes man's goal, we shall serially stumble and fall, globally. Of course, perverse politicians on a short term grab, have neither the will nor wisdom to espouse a viable paradigm for the greater good.


  • Comment number 19.

    Barrie! I'm really surprised you haven't mentioned this shindig!

    Perhaps he'd been drinking all that cheap booze available at the 19 bars in Westminster! ; )

  • Comment number 20.

    "rhetoric that suggests wealth creation is anti-social and has no moral worth."

    Dave doesn't understand the difference between "wealth creation" and "rent extraction". The finance sector from which he hails and which finances his party are rent extractors.

    Stephen Colbert's satirical ad on Mitt Romney had a serious and valid message:

  • Comment number 21.


    Hi Liz. Joyce has an 'interesting' hinterland. He also speaks very fast. But no doubt industrial solvent was the 'release agent'. Do you think Westminster will be moved to debate setting an example to the nation, by going dry? It would be analogous to smoking: users would be seen 'getting a fix', at a statutory distance from The Palace of Westminster. Mote and Beam again - again.

    In passing: It is well documented that 'solvent drinking' underlies a high proportion of violence. But it is rarely reported in cases of obscene violence - as the recent case. I wonder if there is ONE brewery or pub holding 'product insurance'. (Insurance against harm arising from product use.) What might the premiums be? Why are brewery, government, pub, retailer, never sued? I understand a risk warning on bottles, is 'still being considered'.

    Nuff sed

  • Comment number 22.


    Arrogance is the Cameron definer. He has no need of understanding. The whole Conservative apparatus of manipulation and control is at his service, and the Westminster Citadel is his protection - impregnable by all the forces of decency.

    We can only hope he wrecks himself on the submerged rocks of hubris, as he waves to apparent admirers, unaware they are drowning not waving.

  • Comment number 23.

    I watched Newsnight on 23rd Feb and heard the full comments of the CEO of Greggs. Whilst he had concern on the sanctions that could be imposed on "dropouts" he was fully supportive of the benefits from the scheme. The BBC business webpage this morning only highlights on his concerns thus giving a biased view of members of your staff. Surely you should be reporting fully and not giving the impression of controversy that you would expect from many newspapers.

  • Comment number 24.


    don't worry. you get used to it. These days i watch NN to find out what i am supposed to think rather than get a balanced view and allowed to make up my own mind.

    As for prizes given wednesday web page is missing how rubbish must the competition be to win meedja prizes these days? BBC is more a property c ompany and executive lifestyle quango these days. that is where the money seems to go?

  • Comment number 25.


    NewsyNighty is simply taking its cue from Westminster: a bunch of amateurs exercising their (edgy) foibles at our expense, and to our loss (zero gravitas).

    We have a corrupt culture, and are misled by a corrupt regime. In short: we are RIPE FOR INVASION UNDER UN MANDATE.

    Nuff sed

  • Comment number 26.


    Brutal tyrants can be both overt, and covert.

    Nuff sed

  • Comment number 27.

    Stating the obvious but Isn't the most rewarding part of experiencing work getting a wage packet at the end of the week? Without this experience it isn't a true representation of what work is all about at it's core. Is it?

  • Comment number 28.

    I used to go to work with mi dad as a school kid in the summer holidays before the religious health and safety sect took over. He built roads for yer 4X4's. It was a great experience to be among the real blokes and muck in where I could. I got home knackered at the end of the day. However, the best part was at the end of the week when all the blokes would have a whip round, put it into a proper pay packet and me ending up with ten bob in mi back pocket. True recognition. I was one of the blokes. I wouldn't have done without this. And I could drop out anytime. without anybody bothering.

  • Comment number 29.

    23 & 24
    The one-sided reporting permeates every area of reporting. We are encouraged to sympathise with and support UKUncut, Occupy, the Dale Farm travellers, the burners and looters of Athens and the armed Syrian 'protesters'. I am opposed to the assumption of moral righteousness ascribed to the aims of some of these groups. Whoever decided that they should all enjoy parity of worthiness probably didn't realise that some people might draw the conclusion that they are all equally unworthy.

  • Comment number 30.


    Thats because the BBC are the spokesmouth for the Labour party and anybody else from the left..including the half dozen Guardian readership..oh and those leftwing comedians the BBC can't get enough of...such as Marcus Brickhead whose material mostly consists of slagging off the Daily Mail, a newspaper of some quality I may add.

    Anyhow, congratulations newsnightly people for producing good works that warrents an award from your peers and other paid-up members. Its nice to win things and Leninists-Marxists should'nt be excluded from such joyous pat-on-the-back things..well done!
    I really mean that..well done!

  • Comment number 31.

    Other organised protesters who've received the BBC blessing of warm approval recently, accompanied by woolly reporting about who they are, are the Russian protesters who apparently would like to be governed by oligarchs and the Socialist Workers Party activist who confronted Andrew Landsley for the cameras.

  • Comment number 32.

    #20 Sasha Clarkson wrote:

    "Dave doesn't understand the difference between "wealth creation" and "rent extraction". The finance sector from which he hails and which finances his party are rent extractors."

    Oh, on the contrary, I think he knows exactly what the differrence is beacuse his job is to protect the "rent extractors".

    Do you remember this Monbiot piece not so long ago?

    Wealth Destroyers

  • Comment number 33.

    I think we should all go back to basics as some politician once espoused. However, you hit a bit of a stumbling block when you realise they're talking about the basic times when you could get yer missus certified cause she wouldn't let you have yer way with other women or because you thought she rattled on at yer all the time. (especially among the middle diddling and upper class), round about the time they shoving kids up chimneys. Charlie Dickens and all that undeserving Oliver Twisty type vagabonds.

  • Comment number 34.

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

  • Comment number 35.

    Mob of 200 youths pelt police with bricks and smash up shops 'in anger at on-going sex grooming tria

    I love the way the BBC report this story. The BBC blatently ignore the obvious slant to this story...why is that I wonder?

  • Comment number 36.

    Very noticeable that nearly all 'left wing' and 'right wing' MP's do not seem to have any basic understanding of the basic laws of supply & demand and which, most confusingly too many, has huge economic effects & costs with UK public services & not just with the private sector.
    Most Ministers seem incapable of understanding or explaining demand & supply 'sides' for most of the services in their dept.
    UK labour market 'demand & supply' - what matters is the overall effects of demand v supply although with local regional & national effects also.
    So with UK labour - GENERAL POSITION is - an oversupply of workers -particularly for lower skilled roles as caused by streaming tap UK immigration is an over-supply of workers - which benefits employers which is good in keeping costs down but has other disbenefits for most British workers:
    1. Less jobs with more workers available
    2. Less choice & opportunity
    3. Lower average pay
    4. Lower average family incomes
    5. Less job security, terms & conditions
    6. Less or mainly zero training on offer
    7. Many British youngsters probably never work or have a real job throughout their entire lives
    Most of this has come about from zero govt national planning & strategies for infrastructure, liabilities, population/demographics & very often from govt Ministers & particularly their Whitehall advisors not understanding basic supply and demand. Open tap immigration with unlimited supply of workers is damaging our UK economy as to side effects & costs.
    The reported kind of govt job supply side tinkering with job creation is what most govts experiment with to get headlines but politicians, civil servants, media need to understand that -
    Countries like China with state command economies function better than the UK economy because their political leaders are 'commies' they do understand the basic law of demand & supply and its inter-relationships between govt. policy, functions, planning, income, tax policy, birth rates etc.
    We need to hear more politicians talking about demand & supply and demand side solutions that directly impact the 'market'.
    Good example here is UK NHS - Lansley's supply side tinkering is now a ? disaster - What UK NHS needs most is reduced access and costs and demand from those who should be buying their own healthcare - buying this off the NHS would be a good idea also?

    Applies to all UK govt services - supply & demand management - Can be managed to some extent- that is the important aspect!
    Can we have some demand & supply discussion, policies, implementation please as UK unlikely to shake off its vicious economic national recession/slump/depression until this is achieved?

  • Comment number 37.

    Terribly one sided discussion. I think there should be more anti-capitalist's featuring in newsnight. What with so many people becoming radicalised atm, the anti-capitalist will represents a sizeable share of public opinion.

  • Comment number 38.


    said The 'Right Honourable' William Hague, in Tunis, about the Syrian barbarism. But how easily he might have been speaking of our Iraq debacle? Chilcot's report keeps going backward. Justice delayed is usually Justice adjusted.

    It makes me sick.

  • Comment number 39.

    '23. At 07:57 24th Feb 2012, johnrlaycock - Surely you should be reporting fully..'

    You'd think.

    But the unique way some conduct their business can also stray into areas of accuracy and impartiality with 'reporting'. I have a stout defence of a twitter/mobile headline edit from BBC complaints that says the truth wouldn't fit the character length, hence what was served was just fine.

    Hence... 'narrative news'. Especially if the 'story' doesn't suit or is ripe for 'enhancing' by a few who control knob twiddling, etc.


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