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The Glass Box for Tuesday

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Eddie Mair | 16:47 UK time, Tuesday, 18 December 2007

In the PM office we meet every night after the programme in this Glass Box:


We talk about the content of the programme and try to give an honest assessment of what worked and what didn't...the things we missed and the places where our ambitions were not met. THIS virtual glass box you are looking at is where you are invited - indeed encouraged - to be honest about our hour. Members of the production team will read it, and the editor should comment too. Click on The Glass Box link on the right of the page to read previous entries.


  1. At 05:09 PM on 18 Dec 2007, madmary wrote:

    Great question to Clegg about Fairytale of New York. Fancy he's never heard it. It's practically a Christmas institution. And one of my favourite Christmas songs!


  2. At 05:12 PM on 18 Dec 2007, Declan wrote:

    Please Eddie, please say "faggot" and "slut". That's all I want for Christmas.

  3. At 05:23 PM on 18 Dec 2007, Eileen O'Brien wrote:

    I don't believe that Nick Clegg is not familiar with Fairytale of New York - I think he was avoiding the question because he is unable to think on his feet - or because he hadn't decided if his members would be 'liberal' on this issue or not - doesn't bode well.

  4. At 05:36 PM on 18 Dec 2007, David Miles wrote:

    I think that if a party is found to have recieved donations illegally not only should they pay the money back bur should pay an equal ammount to the other parties on a pro rata basis of the number of votes cast at the last election. NOT the number of MP's.

  5. At 05:53 PM on 18 Dec 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    David Miles, I like your thinking!

  6. At 05:53 PM on 18 Dec 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Maybe Clegg is like me and really hasn't ever noticed this song, doesn't know what the lyrics are, and (blasphemy though this may be) really doesn't care about it all that much.

    Come on, mac, you must have some incredibly long and tedious economic-lite theory about this. Maybe you can drag in a personal attack on a female froger as well, or somehow make it all Eddie's fault for not having asked the 'right' question...

  7. At 06:00 PM on 18 Dec 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Madmary (1):

    I think Nick Clegg is extremely fortunate in never having heard that Pogues song. I simply cannot for the life of me figure out why people like listening to The Pogues' lead singer - he carries a tune marginally worse than I do - and for ISIHAC fans, my tunefulness is no better than Jeremy Hardy on a bad day.

    I'd like to see Fairytale of New York banned not for the words, but just for his "singing".

  8. At 06:02 PM on 18 Dec 2007, John Hind wrote:

    Thanks for the information that cherries annoy Greens and lobsters irritate Communists. That's my menu sorted for the next few days!

    We also heard about the leftist faction, the "soft Stalinists". Sounds as oxymoronic as "moderate Nazi" to me!

  9. At 06:24 PM on 18 Dec 2007, scarlet wrote:

    I'm sorry, but did I really hear Nick Clegg say he's never heard Fairytale of New York?? What planet has he been living on for the past couple of decades?

  10. At 06:52 PM on 18 Dec 2007, Richard Weatherill wrote:

    The government's commitment to use taxpayers money, to uderwrite any losses suffered by banks dealing with Northern Rock, as well as proping up Northern Rock itself, seems to have had little adverse comment.

    What has happened to the free market?

    It is amazing how concerned politicians of all colours are, when middle England's savings are at risk.

    Contrast this with the response from the government last Christmas, when people who had their savings in the hamper company that went bust and they lost all their money. The amounts involved were piddling compared to the sums given to Northern Rock.

    A classless society! don't make me laugh.

    Richard Weatherill

    Garforth Leeds.

  11. At 07:00 PM on 18 Dec 2007, Bella wrote:

    I'm a fan, and generally appreciate Eddie's style. But I felt he slipped a cog this evening while questioning Nick Clegg. I accept that his assertion about Mr Clegg's views on identity cards was entirely sound: that this does amount to a political leader saying he would break the law in certain circumstances. But part of a free society is the option to take a stand against laws which one considers to be wrong. I felt that Eddie was just chasing a soundbite that could be used against Mr Clegg - a clip of him saying it's OK to break the law. Not quite a "have you stopped beating your wife" question, but tending that way. Not again, please, Eddie - if the soundbite is king, please be a republican.

  12. At 07:03 PM on 18 Dec 2007, Santa Claus wrote:

    Scarlet (9)

    The same one as me it appears

  13. At 07:08 PM on 18 Dec 2007, Gordon Brown/David Cameron Alliance wrote:

    David Miles @ 4

    What a foolish suggestion!

    Are you trying to destroy us..?!

  14. At 07:26 PM on 18 Dec 2007, Sid Cumberland wrote:

    I'd guess that Nick Clegg is probably like me* - he'll have heard of it, but probably hasn't listened to it.


    (For what it's worth, I wouldn't have banned it - banning is usually a way of boosting sales.)

    *He's also a member of the Lib Dems, by the way.

  15. At 10:13 PM on 18 Dec 2007, Deepthought wrote:

    It's a tough call.

    Supporting an industry (cherries in Chjle) - but it may as well be their wine - vs carbon footprint in transporting it to the UK.

    Problem is that this situation started before "carbon footprint" was a term of abuse.

    Mind you, supporting an industry (cherries in Kent) is hard enough.

    Mac may rant on, but occasionally he has a point. Try reading Robert Harris "Enigma" - not for the plot, but the humdrum details of daily life in England in 1940's - this is beyond what is sustainable then, let alone now.

  16. At 10:44 PM on 18 Dec 2007, Deepthought wrote:

    Richard W (10),

    I would suggest it's NE England's savings being protected. For this government did nothing when Middle England's pensions (aka Equitable Life) went belly-up. Northern Rock may have a branch in Kingston-upon-Thames, but that is a southern outpost.

    I am between Nationalisation, and letting the bank go to the wall, to serve the shareholders right - especially their stopping previous rescue attempts at UK taxpayers expense.

  17. At 12:31 AM on 19 Dec 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Deepthought @ 15, in the later 1940s we might have done better if we hadn't been deeply in debt and paying back our allies for their kind help in winning the War, and so unable to afford to spend any money abroad that we didn't absolutely have to. (When did we finish paying the American war loan? Have we paid it off yet? I think there was something about it in the news recently...) During the war it was a slightly different set-up, but we did survive, and as far as I can make out rationing did a pretty good job of making sure members of the nation got a healthy diet -- better in fact than the one we all have now, nutritionally speaking. Anyhow, as Noel Coward gloriously put it, 'what's wrong with otter?' (Joke. They must be a protected species by now.)

    Seriously, yes we aren't self-supporting in food, though we could do a better job of it if we were a little more efficient; but do we really need to buy *bottled water* from thousands of miles away, for instance? Surely (jokes about floods aside) we do have quite a lot of water of our own to drink? And is it important to have rather flavourless asparagus all year round, rather than eating it when it is in season here? Strawberries, ditto? I am slightly unconvinced that it's a good idea to encourage crops in poor countries that really aren't a lot of use for the locals except as something to sell; might that ground be better used growing food for them rather than luxuries for us?

  18. At 12:42 AM on 19 Dec 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Re: SSC and fairytale.

    Stainless, are you being serious?


    It's so gritty and .........

  19. At 12:46 AM on 19 Dec 2007, jonnie wrote:

    ......... and beautiful:-


  20. At 12:54 AM on 19 Dec 2007, jonnie wrote:

    ......... and how lovely the Glass box now looks.

    The new floor - papers arranged in an orderly fashion, and the Christmas tree, to bring festive news into pre and post programme discussions.

    I recall in years gone by, it always fell on our lovely Amanda Lewis to decorate the tree. The images tonight have proved that she's not lost her female touch!

    I think we should all raise our glasses to the lovely Amanda, for decorating it so splendidly.

    A toast to Amanda then - Froggers :-)

  21. At 01:42 AM on 19 Dec 2007, jonnie wrote:

    malicious! 502'd!

    Happy Christmas,

    I think the blog - after a year must be a true example of where funding has gone dramatically wrong within the BBC?

    I have occasional luck, as does mac and others.

    What a hit and miss nightmare eh?

    Night night :-(

  22. At 08:47 AM on 19 Dec 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Jonnie (18):

    Yes, I am being serious. I've never heard the offending/offensive words because as soon as I hear that man's atonal droning I leap for the radio's off-switch hopefully before the end of the first line.

    Maybe I'm doing him a disservice. I've never heard any other Pogues songs so it's possible that on this one he's just doing an impression of a comedy drunk slurring tunelessly, but either way it's not something I want to listen to.

    Back on the subject of the Glass Box, I've finally realised why PM's been reporting the fatuous Diana Inquest all this time; it's so that we'd get to hear from the hilarious "holistic healer" woman.

    Just hearing that someone describes herself as such is worth putting up with all the other nonsense! Top quality lunacy, more please PM team!

  23. At 09:01 AM on 19 Dec 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Santa (12) and Scarlet (9)

    And me.

  24. At 09:45 AM on 19 Dec 2007, Nigel N wrote:

    Cannot understand why food is picked on for long-distance imports.

    Try applying the same rules for toys: they have been "out of season" in this country since the 1980s, and are not essential to our wellbeing.

    Actually, there is greater justification for importing cherries from South America than there is for toys from China; cherries cannot be produced in this country in winter without a massive carbon footprint, whereas toys could be produced without massive enviromental damage throughout the year.

  25. At 09:50 AM on 19 Dec 2007, Sid Cumberland wrote:

    Chris (17) - 100% with you on water and seasonal food. What we're doing now is bonkers.


  26. At 10:51 AM on 19 Dec 2007, Frances O wrote:

    Me too, about flying water from n thousand miles away. If you prefer bottled, at least make it UK stuff.

    I quite like 'Fairytale of New York'. I like Kirsty MacColl and being reminded of her talent. I like the Pogues, too, not for Shane McGowan's voice, but because I like some of the songs they've recorded.

    But I can't say I registered 'slut' or 'faggot' except in passing.

    Good lord, Andy Parfitt, there are far worse homophobic and sexist 'songs' around. Glad he retracted.

    But I can't worry too much if Nick Clegg hasn't heard 'Fairytale'. Maybe he has, but didn't register that that was the title. I didn't, at first; more interested in the music (apart from 2 words? hm). Not the most important thing in his life, I suppose.

    Hm. Lucky he hasn't got 502 to cope with, grumble, grumble

  27. At 11:55 AM on 19 Dec 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    On "Ecological footprints" and imported food (40% of what we eat), etc.:

    Britain (UK) is seventeenth most densely peopled country on Earth, and has an ecological footprint some ten times it's land area.

    England is the fourth most densely peopled country on Earth, and has an ecological footprint some TWENTY times its total land area.

    Neither of these situations is sustainable in any imaginable sense of the word.

    Optimum Population Trust for numbers
    and giggle ecological footprint for estimates (between 4.5 and 5.5 Ha percapita.)
    Land areas from CIA factbook.
    Calculations via ubuntu calculator.

    Enjoy a "Buy Nothing Christmas"

    And remember to put the sprouts on in good time.


    Remember, this morning there were 212,000 more living, breathing, hungry humans than there were yesterday.....Tomorrow another 212,000, a Tsunami's worth every day, and the useful soil resource shrinks daily....

    Season's Greetings!

  28. At 03:45 PM on 19 Dec 2007, Nigel N wrote:

    Ed (27) Your figures are more about stopping migration into the country and less about importing food. If you depopulated England to the average, you would also significantly reduce the footprint.

    The figures that you quote do not make the situation unsustainable, it is the global footprint which is important. I suspect that the same figures for Zimbabwe would indicate a country which is doing fine in terms of sustainability!

  29. At 06:00 PM on 19 Dec 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Nigel (28),

    "The figures that you quote do not make the situation unsustainable,"

    Do you imagine it's sustainable for a certain elite (us) to continue depending upon ten or twenty times our allotted portion of the Earth's resources?

    A funny kind of sustainability.! Could you please clarify the "global footprint" to which you refer.

    How about this?

    Is that "sustainable"?

    As to Zimbabwe, without aid, it would be worse.
    Zim: Footprint 0.9 Ha/capita;
    land: 38,667,000 Ha;
    pop: 12,311,143;
    = roughly 3 Ha/capita, so you're right on that count. Perhaps it's some of their hectares we're depending upon. ;-)
    and CIA factbook


  30. At 10:22 AM on 20 Dec 2007, Nigel N wrote:

    Ed, The problem is with using rankings and figures per nation. If the population of Britain is growing due to imigration from Poland (for example), then I see nothing wrong with some of Poland's land being used to support those immigrants.

    The footprint network site indicates that the population of Australia have an excellent eco lifestyle, and yet their individual footprint is considerably higher than that of the UK.

    Using the raw data would indicate that if 42 million emigrated from the UK, and a one-out/one-in immigration quota system introduced, then everything would be fine. That is clearly not the case.

    I accept that something must be done to use out the earth's resources more equitably, but I have not seen a viable solution. I have to say that I respect the position of the USA in the recent environment talks more than that of the UK. The UK talks and promises, but does nothing; whereas the USA appears to be doing a lot whilst promising little.

    The enviromentalists almost invariably talk about reducing the personal footprint, primarily by travel restrictions (we have come to Bali to tell you that you cannot). The other aspect that is rarely discussed is the Chinese option — population limitation by fathering or mothering one child only.

  31. At 11:04 AM on 20 Dec 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    "Using the raw data would indicate that if 42 million emigrated from the UK, and a one-out/one-in immigration quota system introduced, then everything would be fine. That is clearly not the case."

    Clearly? Why not? Mere assertion.

    "the USA appears to be doing a lot whilst promising little."

    Promising little, indeed, but 'doing a lot'??? Examples please.

    "(we have come to Bali to tell you that you cannot)."


    The other aspect that is rarely discussed is the Chinese option — population limitation by fathering or mothering one child only.

    One way or another, population SHALL be limited.

    Namaste -ed

  32. At 06:44 PM on 20 Dec 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    I'm still waiting to have it properly explained why it's ok to use more than one's fair share if one just gets someone else somewhere else to plant a tree or two. It always seems to me, in a simple sort of way, that a tree here or there doesn't justify a patio heater, as it were.

    We don't get back the metal used to make luxuries for use as something more useful (beating your urban-only SUVs into buckets?) so how can the luxuries really be justified?

    Stuff like that always ends up with me feeling dim but unconvinced.

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