Talk about Newsnight

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Wednesday, 22 November, 2006

  • Newsnight
  • 22 Nov 06, 05:03 PM

gemayel_203100.jpgLebanon mourns Pierre Gemayel – we report from his home village and speak with his father. Plus, Margaret Beckett has spoken of a security handover in Iraq; Peter Marshall reports on the Dutch elections; the Tories are encouraged to listen to commentators like Polly Toynbee; and Stephen King discusses his latest work.

Comment on Wednesday’s programme here.

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  • 1.
  • At 10:36 PM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Gerard Killoran wrote:

Paxman decalred Gemayel to be 'another victim of Syria'.

I hope Paxman has evidence.

Recently the country that has killed more Lebanese than any other of its neighbours - is Israel.

Cui bono?

  • 2.
  • At 11:08 PM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Paul Tyler wrote:

Stephen King's dislike of snobbery towards his line of work reminded me of an English text I was given to discuss in school. It was an extraxt from 'The Running Man', a short story by Richard Bachman, King's pseudonym. As a fan, I bought all the Bachman novels when King's pseudonym was revealed two years later, and asked my English teacher if Bachman was still one of the authors used in class. I was assured that he no longer was!

  • 3.
  • At 11:38 PM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Lesley Boatwright wrote:

Newsnight Review dealt with Stephen King's latest book some weeks ago - as I recall, nobody liked it very much. Why two bites at the cherry?

  • 4.
  • At 11:39 PM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Gordon wrote:

How can Newsnight have a serious debate about poverty without even mentioning the disabled who are expected to live on a lower income than OAP's. Perhaps this is because the disabled are looked upon by this and the previous Tory government like the Jews in Nazi Germany. Passing laws on anti-discrimination are purely window dressing or a pointless waste of money like disabled access to buses. There no chance of the disabled getting jobs when there are over including east Europeans 1.5 million unemployed fit and able people in the market so the " work makes you free " argument is fundamentally flawed. Perhaps Tony Blair would prefer it if he could slowly starve the disabled to death just to get the poverty figures down to meet any theoretical target.

  • 5.
  • At 05:16 AM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • hani wrote:

well everybody going on about Syria behind the killing.
I would also check out Isreal as They Too have a Track record of all this Covert killings.
Interms of Lebanon Isreal Has History
I refer you ALL to 1970s (no Not 80s). Isreal dealings with the Christians factions the rest You can Look it Up etc.

Mr Paxman was asking why bring back UK troops in May .Whats the matter with him has he Lost his Touch is coz May Elections No other reason
but if they are able pull out by then is another question but The Goverment pushing for MAY in order help its Party in the elections.


  • 6.
  • At 05:42 AM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • hani wrote:

How come Nobody try Interview etc with P Hewitt over her Strange remarks in the Health select committee about etc etc etc .
that Includes ALL BBC (only way I knew was on Daily politics but since the committee still going on at time they could not interviews etc).

Dutch Elections

The Netherlands is right next door to Britain. So while assassination in Lebanon and Stephen King may interest some people more, I live in that country.

Looking at the Dutch press this morning (Thursday 23rd November 2006), I detect a fragmentation of the Dutch voting scene. The two winners are the CDA (conservative) and the SP (socialist non-Labour). This latter party won ground on its promises about health care. So there is polarisation right from the start. Also the get-rid-of-Islam, ultra-right party of Geert Wilders has made gains. There is going to be a red-blue-and-anyone-else coalition.

The Netherlands was already being run by an interim government for several months. In fact, you often get the impression that the Netherlands survives without politics, so irrelevant does politics seem to everyday life.

But it was nice that Newsnight had some reportage from that country. Though Peter Marshall's pronunciation of a few simple Dutch words was very much a matter of making it up as he went along.

  • 8.
  • At 10:09 AM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • Flyingbolt wrote:

Polly Toynbee the Tories' new guru! Poor old vikingar must be spinning violently on his pointed helmet.

It's a shame Ms Toynbee wasn't able to share Jeremy Paxman's obvious amusement at this latest Conservative bivouac on the long trek back from Thatcherite contempt for sociality to a more traditional paternalism.

  • 9.
  • At 11:22 AM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • Brian Kelly wrote:

Better we" hug a Hoodie" than "cuddle-up" to Polly Toynbee ,an arch Labourite...surely a step to far for Conservatism.

Also, more information reference the "condecendingly" Patricia Hewitt being questioned by the Commons committee...I caught the part where she announced /conceded that some are more worthier of NHS services than others!!What rubbish.&.Nothing to do with the other questioner... questioning her!.

  • 10.
  • At 02:58 PM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:


A jammed package program of stories from all areas - a firm 7/10

8/10 - Jeremy Paxman - Presenter
8/10 - Tim Whewell - Correspondent
8/10 - Peter Marshall - Correspondent
7/10 - Martha Carney - Political Editor
7/10 - Mark Lawson - Journalist
7/10 - Michael Gapes - Labour MP - Chair Foreign Select Committee [1a]
7/10 - Amine Gemayel - (father of assinated MP) - Interviewee [1b]
7/10 - Ghassan Tueni - (father of slain Gebran Tueni) - Interviewee [1c]
7/10 - Polly Toynbee - Guardian Journalist - Interviewee [1d]
7/10 - Michiel Van Hulten - (Chair Dutch Labour Party) - Interviewee [1d]
7/10 - Stephen King - writer [1e]
7/10 - Greg Clark - Tory Conservative MP (Communities Spokesman) - Interviewee [1f]
6/10 - Naima Azough - (Dutch Muslim - Green MP) - Interviewee [1g]
6/10 - Jihad Al Aki - Syrian Social Nationalist Party (a Christian politician) - Interviewee [1h]
6/10 - Jim Murphy - Labour MP - Minster Work & Pensons [1i]



Correspondent 'Tim Whewell' Lebanon package, really interesting, reporting emphasising heavily on 'allies' & 'plots' & 'intrigues' etc

Good interviews with former Lebanese President Amine Gemayel (remarkably calm) & Ghassan Tueni father of Gebran Tueni assassinated politician and the former editor and publisher of the mass circulation An-Nahar daily newspaper in Beruit, Lebanon. [2]

Pro Syrians state they are admirers of Hezbollah ' as they have given us back our freedom, dignity & true independence'

Arguments about using the revulsion to finish the uncompleted revolution last year 'cedar revolution' the removal of Syrian influences, pro Syrian president & senior officer in Lebanon's army who patrol south & do not challenged Hezbollah, & also dealing with Hezbollah itself.


People mentioned distinct tones in Iraqi President to get 'control back' (though doubts aired by British Military). Either way more likely to be a redeployment within Iraq rather than withdrawal from Iraq. But felt announcement


Interesting opening words, in Amsterdam you rarely ever see ……

After several visits myself on business (staying at The Victoria Hotel & others) you also rarely see in Amsterdam …….The Indigenous Dutch.

I remember Amsterdam like Dublin, has moved from a predominately populated by its indigenous population, the next its transformed into some international jamboree, like the arrivals lounge at Heathrow. Is this transformation a more a consequence of intentional economic & social policies/forces or a result of loose/undefined policy coupled with porous borders, & the targeting of such societies by foreign nationals.

Half the population of the capital is now migrant (according to the package) though this ref states something different : Dutch 80.8% German 2.4% Indonesian (Indo-European, Indo-Dutch, Moluccan) 2.4% Turks 2.2% Surinamese 2.0% Moroccan 1.9% Indian 1.5% Antillean and Aruban 0.8%. Regardless, the nature of the city I once knew, has most definitely changed (more resembling London in many ways, with its cultural melting pot) - [3a]

Correspondent Peter Marshall, said immigration & Muslim issues in the election was the 'Dog That Did not Bite' feeling that Dutch did not want to speak about it but wanted to deal with it their way.

Ref the burqa, its been estimated that between 20-100 women cover up nationality (out of estimated Muslim population of 270,000+) but a specific law brought in to tackle what has been viewed as negative connotation/statement about Dutch society [3b]

Michiel Van Hulten (Chair Dutch Labour Party) argued for policies that are tough on immigrants but more resources for integration (education etc). But tough in the sense of tackling immigrant conservative views on intolerances towards women, gay & other religions. That others like Pim Purten party having served its purposes has been wiped out with votes going to other parties, as its been argued that main parties have reached consensus on immigration & integration.

Interviewee, Paul Scheffer (author the land of arrival) argues a lack of open debate has caused conflict, other European nations are living with open conflict but not open debate, the Netherlands is a 'laboratory' in respect of dealing with immigration & integration policies. [4a] [4b] [4c]

Paul Scheffer argues that mass immigration causes conflict, creating difficulties by a failure in adaptation.

Naima Azough (Dutch Green MP) [5a] argues that the debate has polarised Holland it’s a very bad debate against Dutch traditional values. Put people in camps, Muslims & non Muslims, white & black. Thought this a typical over simplification by those deliberately wishing to ignore the very real problems of a foreign national & integration/assimilation. But that is why liberal left & left forces are being bypassed. Naima Azough has been critics for having two passports (Dutch & Moroccan) raising an interesting question [5b]

Q. any British MP's who hold more than one national passport?


Found the Mark Lawson & Steven King interview very enlightening (esp about using his life as story subject matter) always feel Lawson has done his homework. Would argue that given the Pavlov-esque expectation of a Newsnight audience, we are long conditioned for such artistic exchanges on a Friday. It was like expecting 'Eastenders' on a Monday evening & getting instead ' Songs of Praise' (whereas its suited for its early Sunday evening slot).


Greg Clark (Conservative Communities Spokesman) certainly demonstrates they are thinking 'outside the box'. To do so requires re-evaluation of 'scared cows' i.e. Churchill or Thatcher (no pun intended).

Paxman rightly asked Q. what is going on in politics? in respect of the willingness of all sides to adopt each others policy garb - truly pick & mix

It was said that Churchill talked about creating a 'safety net'. I would argue that for far too many it has become a hammock.

The Welfare State (its endless widening of scope, rule & criteria changes) is nothing more than a burgeoning bureaucratic black hole. It’s a financial system & people (claimants) will understandably play the game. Having had to rely on State aid at times in my life, glad its their, but our current manifestation of this State Arbiter is not fit for purpose. There are better means of delivery to those effected.

As it currently wobbles, the Welfare State is nothing more that an costly inefficient edifice to the liberal left & left political desires & aspirations above the pragmatic real world realities of need & delivery. Its only matched in size & incompetence by Social Services, the other legacy of 'soft & wet' social policy, where liberal left / left ideology is valued more & placed above that of reason.

Polly Toynbee (understandably rather please with herself given accolades) argued that 'Greg' was offering an apology for Conservatives policy between 80-90's (fine, is she will acknowledge the abysmal negative effects of 'right on' policies on society from 60's to now).

Personally, can appreciate good analysis from any source. But the endemic myopic zeal of 'Tomboy' in pursuit of other agendas, colours/contaminants her commentary. In effect, the Conservatives can learn from the behaviours of a shark, but should not wish to join it for an intimate swim without protection & access to a damm good shower afterwards..

Enjoy her writing, but left with the distinct impression that Tomboy notion of 'social justice' is obtaining a fair trade organic latte served by someone wearing a burqa, unable to speak English, paying for it in euros to a non US chain coffee shop, as she munches her way through another croissant from Ludgate Circus towards Farringdon, ignoring disadvantaged Brits sleeping rough under the bridge (its their fault) acknowledging 'industrious' illegals queuing for illegal work (its not their fault) who may then later wash her car, clean her offices, do the garden ….. or serve her beverages.

"Sleeping With An Enemy" is one thing, but getting them to dictate an aspect of manifesto is completely another. For the Conservatives to do this would be them playing the role of 'naïve bored suburban housewife' to Poly Toynbee 'Papa Lazarou' - a submissive betrayal & equivalence of ….. "you’re my wife now".

It’s a good topic of conversation for those 'elites & cliques' & those with vested interest, but outside of that audience who is listening & who cares? - other than when such discussions then lead to policy which then effect us all, non Guardian or not.


Fingers crossed for Lebanon, it could go either way. Hezbollah, Syria & Iran have a lot to answer for & may have to be accountable rather sooner than they expected.

Ref immigration & integration, we in the UK have a lot to learn from the Dutch experience. If the most reputed 'tolerant' society in Europe (often touted by those with liberal / left agendas as a social model in all areas) is having serious difficulties with its foreign nationals, then UK more than justified in its approach to overhaul cultural relations between indigenous population & its separatist communities & the extremist/radicalism therein (the best way to tackle Islamic domestic terrorism).

Ref the Welfare State, Greg Clark is right, its not about the amount of money spent but the amount of difference you actually make.



Oh, yes, atheist icon Winny Toynbee. I'd forgotten about her. Isn't it odd that Cameron is embracing (politically) a figure from the Guardian? If all distinction between right and left, establishment and plebs is finally lost, will Britain have achieved equality, I wonder?

Maybe Cameron's blinded by her forebears who were aristocrats and academics, according to the Wikipedia. Does Britain need any more élite journos, or can a few non-privileged people shin up the greasy pole of the establishment on occasion?

That Greg Clark seemed a bit of a stuffed shirt, for that matter.

Newsnight 10/10
Jeremy Paxman 11/10

  • 13.
  • At 09:15 PM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

Ref my #10

There was a interesting Guardian article on 21st Nov 2006 about Holland, mentioning Dutch Green MP Naima Azough called "The Dutch have reached a new level of authoritarianism" [1]

Personally I find its rhetoric as predictable as its inappropriate ... "what is becoming a Europe-wide campaign to a new level of authoritarianism".

What yardstick are they using?


Post War, the liberal left & left has actively engaged in campaigns (ongoing) to secure more & more rights (irrespective of consequence or impact). Engaged in both spreading the tentacles of the state & simultaneously extending individual rights to the point of actual anarchy. Whereas previous social convention would have prevented/constrained negative root behaviours (anti social, community separatism, radicalisation/extremism .. leading to terrorism) today's notion of expression nears on anarchy at times.

For the left, those 'social conventions' were an anathema to their cause & needed to be eradicated (class system, establishment, have & have not, exclusive 'nuclear' family)- as they see it.

Nether the less, today its Anarchy in reality, as certain people behave in any they want (regardless of negative/illegal connotations) & Anarchy in sense the society & state have been virtually paralysed & unable to respond & manage these anarchic onslaughts. But that is a direct consequence of the majority in the liberal left & left to justify change & achieve change whilst attaining their desire for abashment of western society & its history (other than the bits they like) which is tantamount to a revisionist 'year zero' policy on western history & future development.

The most entertaining bit is The Guardian's ludicrous attempts to undermine the notion of calls for change based on the 'lack of public support' & trying to use the numbers game.

Ahh herrmmm …. in the UK, the liberal left & left do not amount to a majority, just an active & vocal distinct minority, self seeded & worm like buried into certain establishment & professions (political, media, ngo, agencies etc). Yet post war, without widespread or open agreement with the public or bothering to secure its mandate, they have pushed through significant changes to British Society. Some positive, much negative, poorly thought out & incompetently executed.


What we are seeing & experiencing now is The United Kingdom embarking on a journey to reclaim a working notion of Civil Order, a 'Renaissance of Rights'.

In its rather tentative stages, too address:

1. Increasing anti social behaviours, across all communities.

2. Increasing separatism, radicalisation, extremism (leading to terrorism) within certain communities.

British customs, shared norms & values, once taken very largely for granted by the majority are under assault & under very real tangible threat.

However, this demise is not inevitable, it’s the direct consequence of changes pursued then imposed onto British Society, its wholly reversible.

The shift in debate & the change towards Rights, is an acknowledgement by mainstream parties, state institutions, agencies & groups, that unless they intervene & 'stop the rot' & the consequences of 'right on' & 'PC' agenda, that extremists (of all types) will step into the void & make fractious mischief.

The reality & hard truth is that a centre to centre right, capitalist based society can afford to sustain & support & finance social change & justice, whilst at the same time indulging/tolerating minority fringe & radicals groups (political, single issue, religious based).

The same cannot be said of the left or these minority fringe groups. They having neither the experience, temperament of tolerance for all, or the ability to orchestrate the necessary mechanism within society to sustain it. Can be effective on singly issues, useless at the helm dealing with multiple issues.

Lesson? - the liberal left & left have been 'left' behind on the most pressing issues facing the UK. To be re-admitted, they have to demonstrate sincere willingness to listen to alternative voices if not change outright, if you like the reverse equivalent of 'Greg Clark' listening to 'Polly Toynbee'.

btw - I have read & bought The Guardian for 20+ years & value its output, but the passing of some great journalists from its ranks have left it rather overly unbalanced. Anything that consistently pulls to the left, will inevitably go around in circles.




  • 14.
  • At 04:14 AM on 25 Nov 2006,



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