Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Thursday, 31 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 31 May 07, 06:25 PM

Presented by Jeremy Paxman.


This weekend David Cameron called Tory MPs who disagreed with his policy not to have more grammar schools "inverse class warriors".

But today a senior Tory MP has said it could be possible to build more grammar schools in some areas. That's a u-turn! shouted Labour.

The Tories say it's existing policy - so who's right?

The Conservative's answer to grammar schools and aiding social mobility are city academies.

But we have evidence tonight that some academies are selecting by the back door and risk "increasing social segregation".


President Bush has unveiled his strategy on climate change ahead of next week's G8 summit. Tony Blair says "it's a big step forward".

We'll be assessing just how big it really is.


We have a powerful film from Alastair Leithead on the often forgotten story of civilian casualties in Afghanistan.


It's four weeks since Madeleine went missing in Portugal. Her parents have cooperated heavily with the media to keep her in the public eye in the hope of finding her.

But some are beginning to feel uncomfortable about the campaign and the coverage it's been getting. Has the media been right in giving the story such prominence?

We've had an incredible response on our website to the question. You can join the debate here.

The McCanns' plight

  • Newsnight
  • 31 May 07, 01:18 PM

mccanns_203.jpgIt's been four weeks since Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal.

Her parents have cooperated heavily with the media to keep her in the public eye in the hope of finding her. Yesterday Gerry and Kate McCann met the Pope. Later this week they will travel to Madrid.

Everyone will sympathise with the McCanns’ plight. But some are beginning to feel uneasy about their campaign and the coverage it is getting. Is the media right to continue to give their story such prominence? And is the intervention of figures like Gordon Brown, David Beckham and the Pope appropriate?

Wednesday, 30 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 30 May 07, 04:45 PM

From tonight's presenter, Gavin Esler.

Kidnapped in Iraq

Our diplomatic editor Mark Urban, recently returned from Iraq, pieces together the who, what, when and how of yesterday's kidnapping of five British nationals in Baghdad.

If the kidnappers really are taking orders from a Shia militia, what do they want? And will they get it?

The leader and his deputy

Gordon Brown will be speaking tonight on the hustings for the leadership of the Labour Party - even though he does not face any challenge.

But the Conservatives today have released some information on the donors behind the Brown campaign.

We'll be having a look at that and also following up last night's Newsnight debate between the candidates for the deputy leadership.

It sparked off a renewed debate today between the candidates and their supporters.

Sierra Leone

Tony Blair's farewell tour of Africa takes him today to Sierra Leone where he is being greeted as a hero for helping end the country's catastrophic civil war.

Newsnight has commissioned a personal report from the Sierra Leone film maker Sorious Samura who says he personally would shake Tony Blair's hand to say thank you.

But he believes Britain must do even more otherwise the country could risk slipping back into chaos.

Lives of Others

If you've seen the recent film Lives of Others - about the former East German secret police, the Stasi - you'll know that all across Eastern Europe people are still trying to come to terms with their recent communist past.

In Poland the files on those who collaborated with the secret police are being made public - but in a way which some think is tearing the country apart.

Should the past remain a secret? Tim Whewell has a moving report from Poland on a great national dilemma.

Tuesday, 29 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 29 May 07, 05:02 PM

candidates_203.jpgIn Tuesday’s programme, Jeremy Paxman will cross examine the six candidates for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party in a Newsnight special.

Hilary Benn, Hazel Blears, Jon Cruddas, Peter Hain, Harriet Harman and Alan Johnson will take part in the first televised hustings of the contest.

Share your views of the candidates and the debate here. We go out live at 10.30pm on BBC TWO. Don’t miss it.

Has flying been unfairly demonised?

  • Justin Rowlatt -
  • 25 May 07, 07:14 PM

Let me come clean: I love flying and I have done ever since I was a boy.

justinflying1.jpgIndeed, I still remember the day a friend of mine brought an impossibly exotic treasure into our primary school classroom. It was one of those plastic packets of miniature “travel essentials” from some now defunct airline – Pan American or BOAC.

I can’t remember exactly what it contained – nylon socks, an eye-shade and a perfumed face wipe in a foil wrap perhaps. That wasn’t the point. What made my friend’s little plastic package so fabulous was that it was proof that my friend had actually flown in a plane.

justinflying2.jpgIt was three years before I flew for the first time – a family holiday to Morocco when I was about 10. Of course I’ve flown hundreds of times since then – most recently on my Mission to Mumbai – but I still enjoy every flight.

My problem is that a year of carbon-counting as Ethical Man brought home just what an environmental disaster flying is – my family’s one trip to the Canaries last year created as much carbon as a year of driving our car.

That’s why I’ve posed my deliberately provocative question. I want to know if it is possible to fly with a clear conscience.

So here’s the good news: when you look at the numbers, modern jet aeroplanes are actually a very efficient form of transport.

Indeed, the jet engine is one of the most effective ways to convert the energy from fuel into thrust. The best jets are 37 per cent efficient. By contrast it seems modern petrol engines are around 25 per cent efficient while a finely tuned diesel will achieve, at best, 32 per cent efficiency.

justinflying3.jpgHow does that translate into actual fuel consumption? Take a look at some figures: my old car - a two litre petrol Saab 9-5 estate - uses 8.6 litres per 100km. The most efficient cars do better than that. The Toyota Prius, for example, is much more frugal. It uses 4.3 l/100km.

So what about aircraft? The average jet plane now uses around 4.8 l/100 km per passenger – just a little worse than a Prius with no passengers. But the manufacturers say that modern jets are much more efficient.

Airbus claims it makes the most efficient aeroplane currently flying, the A380. It says this behemoth uses just 2.9 l/ 100km per passenger. (Here’s the dull bit: that’s the fuel consumption when you assume a three class configuration operating at capacity with 525 passengers).

As far as I can tell the latest jumbos are similarly efficient – it is hard to be certain because the manufacturers do not publish comparable figures – but Boeing’s 747-8 uses 3.7 l/100kms per passenger when operating at 70 per cent of capacity. (Assuming it is configured to hold 470 passengers in three classes).

So if jet engines are more efficient than car engines why do they get such a bad rap?

One reason is pretty obvious - we use planes to travel extremely long distances. I covered 14,000 kilometres on my trip to Mumbai and that weekend in Jamaica racked up just over 15,000 kms. Each trip covered pretty much the same distance as the average British car driver travels in a year.

The other big problem is that planes release their pollutants high up in the atmosphere where they have an even stronger greenhouse effect. The process is known as radiative forcing. What radiative forcing means is that aircraft emissions are reckoned to be almost twice as damaging as emissions at ground level.

So, combine the distance you fly with the effect of radiative forcing you can see why environmentally conscious people get so worried by our appetite for air travel. You can do as I did - get rid of your car, switch to energy efficient bulbs, eat locally grown food - but take one holiday flight and you will wipe out all your careful carbon cuts.

So here’s the important question: is there anything that can make flying less environmentally damaging? The received wisdom is that there is no simple fix but I’m not so sure. Here are some thoughts – please tell me what you think.

My friend Omar - who featured in our original flying film – speculates that turboprop planes – a kind of hybrid between a propeller and a jet plane could be as much as a third more efficient on short journeys.

That huge saving isn’t because turboprops are inherently more efficient than jets. The reason is that much of the fuel used by jets on short journeys is to get them to the high altitudes where they are most efficient. Turboprops fly at lower altitudes which saves fuel and also reduces radiative forcing.

What I want to know is this: if Omar is right why don’t more airlines use turboprops?

And Omar reckons turboprops would be less efficient than jets on long-haul flights. But there is some good news here too. The aeroplane manufacturers say they are doing their very best to improve fuel efficiency. They say today’s aircraft are 70 per cent more efficient than those of 40 years ago and that more efficient planes are in development.

Boeing boasts that its new 787 will better the fuel efficiency of even the A380. It claims that fuel consumption (assuming a two class configuration and 90 per cent occupancy) could be as low as 2.4 litres per 100 km.

There are other ways to cut emissions. IATA, the International Air Transport Association, estimates that improving air traffic control could cut emissions by as much as 12 per cent. It claims that by straightening out air lanes it has already cut millions of tonnes of CO2.

And I’ve got a last suggestion that would massively increase aircraft efficiency in a stroke. It would be straightforward and cheap to implement and doesn’t rely on some untested new technology.

What is my innovation? Just get rid of first and business class.

Think about it. If you packed the A380 with economy seats it could hold 853 passengers. A back of the envelope calculation suggests this “economy” Airbus (operating at capacity) would use 1.9 litres per passenger per 100km. That’s pretty much half the fuel consumption of most current aircraft.

Of course flying in such an aircraft would still be a carbon intensive activity but considerably less so than current planes. That’s because the effect of radiative forcing means each tonne of carbon you don’t emit is the environmental equivalent of saving two tonnes.

In fact – here’s a thought – now that I’m not Ethical Man maybe that’s what I should do. An economy-only eco-airline, the green alternative!

What’s the telephone number of Airbus again?

Newsnight Review in Cannes, 25 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 25 May 07, 06:25 PM

From Kirsty Wark.

Newsnight Review decamped to the Cannes Film Festival and tonight John Harris, Mark Kermode, Julie Myerson and I will have our distilled thoughts on the films we’ve seen.

I can tell from the panel’s body language when we emerge blinking into the light from screenings that there’s going to be some major disagreements on the show.

The deal on Newsnight Review is that the guests are not allowed to confer on films before the show – it’s been tough because we’ve all had such strong reactions to what we’ve seen. I know that because John, Mark and Julie can talk to me individually and I keep schtum about their views.

scorsese203.jpgIt has been such an extraordinary festival and before I tell you what we’ve all seen, we’ve also bagged the only British interview with Martin Scorsese, who has just launched the World Cinema Foundation here in Cannes to save neglected, damaged and "orphan" films from all over the world.

Scorsese has put together a committee of some of the best directors including Wong Kar Wai, Walter Salles and Bernard Tavernier and their aim is to encourage old archives to come forth with material for a new and eager audience.

Scorsese talked about films leading to a better cultural understanding between nations and it struck me that his outfit is a bit like a United Nations of cinema.

But where are these films going to be shown? The multiplexes? Are they going to put a Kenyan or a French film from the 1960s on their screens? But it’s not just neglected films – what about Scorsese’s own films? It’s such a pity that my kids will never see Taxi Driver or Raging Bull on anything but a DVD. Wouldn’t it be great if a multiplex had a Scorsese day or a Wim Wenders day or a Kurosawa day? Fat chance.

He also talks to me of his upcoming documentary on the Rolling Stones, his new project with Mick Jagger, and sex on screen.

Among the films we’ve seen, Persepolis – up for the Palme D’Or – falls into the category of aiding cultural understanding with great wit and warmth.

Iranian director Marjane Satrapi has turned her autobiographical graphic novel into a feature length cartoon about growing up during the Islamic Revolution with her co-director Vincent Paronnaud.

Also in the running is Quentin Tarantino’s homage to 70s Grindhouse films – Deathproof - originally designed as a companion piece to Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror.

Deathproof is a slasher movie with Kurt Russell as the psycho Stuntman Mike – out to murder a posse of beautiful women. It has all the hallmarks of the B-movies of the seventies which Tarantino fed on when he was growing up - seemingly random jump cuts, refocusing, scratches, rough joins all perfectly composed by Tarantino.

In the competition, by contrast, Julian Schnabel’s film, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Le Scaphandre et Le Papillon – is an exercise in restraint, beauty, wit and honesty.

It’s based on the autobiographical novel by the former chief editor of French Elle who suffered a massive stroke when he was 43. It left him totally paralysed but alert, able to use only one eye to communicate.

And so Jean-Dominique Bauby, this once fast-living, charismatic seducer told his story by the blink of an eye and Julian Schnabel has in his film made the audience Jean-Do’s confidante locked in from the world around him.

It’s a privilege to see films here in Cannes. So few complain about queuing in 30 degrees for up to an hour to secure a seat at a screening. Once in a cool dark cinema you are taken to some strange places. One such place is the Scottish highlands as imagined in Harmony Korine’s film Mr Lonely. The cast are all impersonators living in a commune. Samantha Morton is Marilyn Monroe and Anita Pallenberg is the Queen. The Mr Lonely of the title is Michael Jackson played by Diego Luna. But Korine also pursues a parallel seemingly unconnected story about flying nuns in South America, a phenomenon which is regarded as a miracle by their local priest, played by Werner Herzog. Mr Lonely is in competition for Un Certain Regard.

Not in competition at all is Michael Winterbottom’s A Mighty Heart. And in fact there are no British films up for the Palme D’Or at all this year. The film is based on the book of the same name by Mariane Pearl about her husband Daniel’s abduction and murder in Pakistan in January 2002.

Pearl, the Asia Bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal, was pursuing a lead on the failed shoe bomber Richard Reid when he was kidnapped by jihadists – among the first of many journalists captured post 9/11 during the war on terror. Dan Futterman plays Daniel Pearl and Mariane Pearl is played by Angelina Jolie.

We’ll also be discussing Gus Van Sant’s skater boy nightmare Paranoid Park. It’s based on Blake Nelson’s novel about teenage disaffection in Portland, Oregon and it’s classic Van Sant territory.

Death also stalks Bela Tarr’s film of the Georges Simenon novel The Man from London. It’s a mesmeric black and white film about mortality, sin and punishment and the often unrealisable longing for happiness.

The Coen brothers are also in the running for the Palme D’Or with their adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel No Country for Old Men, set on the frontier between Texas and Mexico, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem.

Our Newsnight Review guests have also been to see Control, Anton Corbijn’s film about the death of the Joy Division’s frontman, Ian Curtis, which also features Michael Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People.

So it is going to be a packed programme. John, Mark and Julie will also reveal which film they loved the most and the one that they loathed.

We’re broadcasting from the UK Film Council's beachside pavilion and as it’s outside we’ve been watching the forecast as intently as we’ve been watching the films. There is a threat of thunder and lightning but if it doesn’t materialise we hope they’ll be plenty of sparks on the programme anyway.

Join us to find out.

Watch the latest available edition of Newsnight Review by clicking here.

Friday, 25 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 25 May 07, 05:56 PM

Presented by Gavin Esler.


A clear majority of British people have told a BBC opinion poll that they agree with the Trade and Industry minister Margaret Hodge on her controversial comments about immigration.

She said "British citizens should always get priority for social housing ahead of immigrant families".

Her Labour colleague the Education Secretary Alan Johnson accused Ms Hodge of using the language "of the BNP".

Newsnight's Paul Mason has been hearing the views from the heartland of England - Nottinghamshire - about immigration, and we'll debate the issue with the Labour MP Keith Vaz and the leader of the BNP, Nick Griffin.

Identity Theft

At one time thieves targeted jewels or cash as the most lucrative form of crime, but nowadays information can prove just as attractive.

Data theft is a growing criminal problem and one which is of increasing concern to the regulators.

But very little is known about how stolen data is used.

Martin Shankleman recently uncovered such a scam, and set out to see what happened next.

We've also been asking about your experiences of identity theft. Have you been a victim? Do you think those who hold your details do enough to stop this kind of theft happening? Join the debate here.

Newsnight Deputy Leadership Debate

And we are also looking for your help with a special programme Jeremy Paxman is hosting on Tuesday.

He will cross examine the six candidates for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party in a Newsnight special.

We’re giving you the whole bank holiday weekend to think about the questions you’d like Jeremy to put to them.

Post your thoughts here and we’ll arm him with the best ones on Tuesday night.

Plus, Kirsty Wark is in Cannes for Newsnight Review, where she has an interview with film director Martin Scorsese. Click here for more.

Deputy Leadership hopefuls on Newsnight

  • Newsnight
  • 25 May 07, 03:58 PM

On Tuesday night (29th May) Jeremy Paxman will cross examine the six candidates for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party in a Newsnight special.

Hilary Benn, Hazel Blears, Jon Cruddas, Peter Hain, Harriet Harman and Alan Johnson will take part in the first televised hustings of the contest.

What questions would you like Jeremy to put to them? Post your thoughts below and we’ll arm Paxman with the best for the programme.

Have you had problems with identity theft?

  • Newsnight
  • 25 May 07, 01:44 PM

Credit cardsTonight on Newsnight we have a report about the wholesale misuse of a database of personal details, but we want to hear about what has happened to you.

Have you been a victim of identity theft?

Do you think those who hold your details do enough to stop this kind of theft happening? And what experience of the police have you had if you've reported an identity theft?

Join the debate below.

Thursday, 24 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 24 May 07, 05:01 PM

Tony BlairHow Green is Blair?
We've an exclusive interview with the prime minister on the environment. Our environment analyst, Roger Harrabin will be asking the Tony Blair about his record on climate change and the political controversy over the government's new strategy for getting rid of waste.

Gordon Brown swept into Number 11, Downing Street ten years ago promising to bring stability to the housing market. In his 1997 budget speech Mr Brown said, "I will not allow house prices to get out of control". Ten years on and they have spiralled leaving tens of thousands of people unable to get onto the first rung of the property ladder.

So - do we need a housing crash? Is some kind of soft landing possible? How many more new houses do we need - and where will they be built? Join the debate here.

There have been few Union Jacks flying over the Croisette: in fact the 60th Cannes film festival has been a pretty British film-free zone, apart from two notable exceptions.

Both of them focus on British rock icons - one a biopic, about the lead singer of Joy Division, Ian Curtis, who committed suicide in 1980, and the other, a documentary on the lead singer of the Clash, Joe Strummer, who died aged 50 in 2002. Razia Iqbal reports for Newsnight from Cannes.

Do we need a housing market crash?

  • Newsnight
  • 24 May 07, 01:44 PM

estate203.jpgIn his 1997 budget speech Gordon Brown said, "I will not allow house prices to get out of control". Ten years on and they have spiralled leaving thousands of people unable get onto the first rung of the property ladder.

So do we now need a crash in the housing market to level the playing field once more? Are crazy house prices creating a new generation of renters unable to buy? Send us your experiences - have you been priced out of the market? Or have you done well out of the boom and long may it continue?

Let us know below and we'll discuss the issues and put some of your points to the government and a select panel on tonight's Newsnight.

Wednesday, 23 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 23 May 07, 04:52 PM

From Gavin Esler, Newsnight presenter.

General Laurent NkundaThe Congo
We have a powerful film from Fergal Keane about the failure of the UN in the Congo. The peacekeeping mission has been powerless to act while a warlord has committed gross human rights abuses and forced tens of thousands of Congolese to leave their homes. We track down the warlord and speak to the UN about their inability to intervene.

We now have the latest energy white paper. This one argues the case for nuclear power. Does the government really intend to "consult" over the next five months or has it already made up its mind? Michael Crick is on the case, and I'll speaking to the Minister in charge.

The fast food chain McDonalds has struggled hard to change its image. No longer as secretive as it once was, McDonalds UK has launched a campaign to change the Oxford English Dictionary definition of the word "McJob".

"An unstimulating low-paid job with few prospects, especially one created by the expansion of the service sector".

Newsnight has been granted access to McDonalds to talk to staff about how they view their work - and what they think of the "McJob" label, and I've been talking to the company boss in the UK, Steve Easterbrook. You can see the full length interview here, and join the "McJob" debate here.

“Gis a McJob”

  • Newsnight
  • 23 May 07, 02:10 PM

"An unstimulating low-paid job with few prospects, especially one created by the expansion of the service sector".

That's how the Oxford English dictionary defines "McJob". McDonalds disagrees, and they have organised a petition to change the definition. MPs have joined in too today. Some have signed an early day motion saying that "McJob" is a derogatory term damaging to the people who work for the company.

Are they right? Have you worked in McDonalds - what is your experience? Or have you worked in another service sector and think McDonalds is a trailblazer as a good employer. Is this all part of a PR makeover for McDonalds? It started with healthy food and now it's about rebranding themselves as an exemplary employer. Let us know what you think.

You can watch Gavin Esler's interview with the CEO of McDonalds UK Steve Easterbrook in full here.

Tuesday, 22 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 22 May 07, 06:02 PM

Jeremy Paxman presents Tuesday's programme - read all about it, then leave your comments below...


Andrei Lugovoi should be charged and stand trial in Britain for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko by poisoning, according to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, has told the Russian Ambassador that she expects Russia's "full co-operation". This seems unlikely. Russia says it cannot agree to the extradition.

So what will this do to the already strained diplomatic relations between the UK and Russia?

Susan Watts, one of the first reporters to link the Polonium trail to Andrei Lugovoi, has been looking at the evidence.

And Mark Urban will be exploring the diplomatic implications.


The head of the judiciary, Lord Phillips, has struck out against the newly created Ministry of Justice, calling it a "serious constitutional problem".

Lord Phillips told the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee that negotiations between the judges and the government to put in constitutional safeguards had not resulted in agreement.

Are the judges now set on an unavoidable collision course with the government? Michael Crick is on the case.


With less than two weeks to go until they were due to be made compulsory for anyone selling a home, the government has announced that Home Information Packs will be delayed until August, and then only phased in.

Why has the government been so slow to react to the problems?


In a temporary reincarnation, Newsnight's one-time Ethical Man, Justin Rowlatt, travels (somewhat unethically by plane) to India - the fourth biggest producer of greenhouse gases on earth.

Can he persuade middle class families enjoying new found wealth there to consider giving up their recently acquired cars and reduce their CO2 emissions?

Should Indians drive cars?

  • Justin Rowlatt -
  • 22 May 07, 05:11 PM

Now that my year of living ethically has come to an end I am free to explore the question that has haunted me throughout the last year.

justin_rickshaw.jpgThe question was raised wherever I went and whatever I did and it went to the very heart of the Ethical Man project.

What people wanted to know was whether my ethical efforts really counted for anything when India and China are building new coal-fired power stations every single week.

That’s why a few weeks ago Sara, the Ethical Man producer, and I boarded a plane to Mumbai. I’m hoping that our decision to fly won’t incur the torrent of criticism that followed my trip to Jamaica last year. The question is whether our report is worth the carbon cost.

What we set out to explore was what Indians made of the whole idea of “ethical living”. We wanted to see if we could create an Indian Ethical Man.

justin_shirt.jpgWithin days of arriving in India I got a pretty good indication of Indian attitudes. I opened the Times of India over breakfast to find that the Indian parliament had scheduled May the 8th for its first ever debate on India’s role in global warming.

That seemed a clear sign that Indian politicians are recognising that there is a problem but any optimism this might have inspired was quelled by a restatement by the country’s environment minister of the Indian government’s official position - global warming is not the responsibility of developing countries like India.

Yet India is a world-class polluter. It has already overtaken Japan to become the fourth biggest producer of greenhouse gases on earth. In 2000 India was responsible for 1.89 billion tonnes of CO2 (5.6 per cent of the world total) – just a few million tonnes behind the Russian Federation - 1.91 billion tonnes (5.7%).

(For more on these figures see the World Resources Institute’s Climate Analysis Indicators Tool CAIT)

Of course India isn’t yet the carbon catastrophe that is the Chinese or American economy. In 2000 China produced a whopping 4.96 billion tonnes of CO2 (14.7 per cent of the world total). But even China’s carbon count was dwarfed by the 6.87 billion tonnes of CO2 America spewed out. That’s a fifth (20.3%) of the world total.

justin_crew.jpgNevertheless Indian emissions show every sign of continuing their rapid growth. India has over a billion people and its population is booming. By 2050 it is expected to have overtaken China to become the most populous nation on earth with 1.6 billion people to China’s 1.4 billion (see Population Reference Bureau).

By comparison to India, Britain’s emissions – 0.66 billion tonnes (1.95% world total) - seem relatively modest.

Indeed, you only need to do some simple maths to see why the growth of the Indian economy could have such a consequence for global warming. Even relatively small increases in the incomes of Indians could lead to huge increases in carbon emissions.

For example, imagine every Indian bought a car or took a return short haul flight or even just used a tumble dryer 90 times a year. That would be enough to increase their carbon footprint by a tonne of CO2 and would add (obviously) a billion tonnes to the national total – almost twice Britain’s current total emissions.

So does that mean that India should curb its population’s carbon consumption?

The Indian Government’s policy of blaming global warming on the West is based on the fact that, over the years, India has emitted significantly less greenhouse gasses than the leading developed countries.

Between 1950 and 2000 India emitted 17.58 billion tonnes of greenhouse gasses. That makes it the 13th biggest polluter over the period with 1.58% of all world emissions. Britain has emitted almost twice that – 29.73 billion tonnes putting it in 8th place with 2.67% of global emissions.

Once again America dominates the table. Between 1950 and 2000 it emitted a staggering 186.70 billion tonnes of carbon – 10 times the emissions of India – 16.77 per cent of world emissions.

But take a look at the emissions per person and you can see why even the Indian branch of Greenpeace argues that the primary responsibility for tackling global warming lies with the West.

Between 1950 and 2000 each American produced 642.0 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Each Briton toted up 499.1 tonnes. Over the same period the average Indian was responsible for just 16.5 tonnes. That is one of the lowest figures for any country on earth - 164th out of 185 countries - and is less than the average American is responsible for in a single year.

That is why – after a week in India – I found it easy to understand the Indian Government’s position. It is also why I found it hard to begrudge Indians – in particular the two families we filmed with - some of the luxuries like cars and holidays abroad we in the West have been enjoying for years.

We are told the world needs to reduce carbon emissions worldwide if we are to avoid catastrophic global warming. If India is going to increase its emissions that means someone somewhere will need to make some carbon cuts.

The question is who.

Monday, 21 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 21 May 07, 06:04 PM

From Simon Enright, programme producer.

johnson203100.jpgMedical Morale
Why is it that doctors are paid more than ever and work fewer hours but according to James Johnson who's just been forced to resign as boss of the BMA, morale has never been lower? We'll try and answer that question - and work out whether it matters if doctors are unhappy as long as the NHS is in rude health. Please do join the debate which has already begun here.

Lebanon Clashes
There's been a a second day of bloody internal fighting in Lebanon as the army shell a Palestinian refugee camp in the North of the country. Our diplomatic editor Mark Urban will explain just why the clash is so important to the future of the Lebanese government and to the wider clashes across the middle east.

Racism in Psychiatry?
Black British men are up to eighteen times more likely to be diagnosed with a mental health issue than those that are white. Is this institutional racism? Not according to the latest evidence from the Institute of Psychiatry and they argue that calling it racism is getting in the way of treating Black Afro-Caribbean patients. We explain on the programme. Read one patient's views and experiences here.

Cutty Sark and the Stars
"We will put her back together" - the words of Dr Eric Kentley consultant to the Cutty Sark project after he'd seen the damage from this morning's fire. Tonight we'll ask why we hold the Cutty Sark in such high regard. And Our Science Editor Susan Watts has an exclusive preview of the new exhibit at the maritime museum - can the new planetarium rebuild Britain's interest in the stars.

Jeremy Paxman presents tonight's programme - leave us your thoughts below or join the medical morale debate here.

Medical morale

  • Newsnight
  • 21 May 07, 12:58 PM

doc203.jpgDoctors are better paid and work fewer hours than ever before - but according to James Johnson who has just resigned as the chair of the British Medical Association - morale has never been lower. Why? That's a question we'll try and answer tonight.

Can these two things be true: those working in the health service have never been unhappier; the NHS is in the best shape it has ever been? Back in January we asked doctors for their career experiences and got a huge response. Now we want to hear your opinion whether you work in the NHS or have had experience of using it as a patient. Join the debate below.

Friday, 18 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 18 May 07, 05:37 PM

Pakistan President Pervez MusharrafThe Edgware dissident
Newsnight understands that one man, living in Edgware, may be masterminding a political campaign which could keep Pakistan's President Musharraf in power. Altaf Hussain is the leader of the Muttahida Quami Movement - MQM. He directs his flock via phone - when he talks thousands gather round in Pakistan to listen to him on loudspeaker.

But his critics - amongst them cricket legend turned opposition politician Imran Khan - say he shouldn't even be here. He accuses the British Government of giving sanctuary to a man whose party he alleges was linked to recent violence in Pakistan. Tonight we'll look at the Edgware operation, and speak to Imran Khan in Islamabad.

GB tour
Yesterday a softer, humbler sounding Prime Minister elect said he wanted to win back trust for the Labour Party and listen to the country. So we take to the road for the GB tour to see what he really means and indeed what the country's saying.

We kick off in Basildon, a bell weather constituency which was Tory under Thatcher and Labour under Blair. What do they make of Gordon?

Good day for burying awkward news?
MPs have just passed a controversial bill to exempt themselves and peers from freedom of information laws. What does this mean in practice? It means all of us - voters, media, the public at large, will have a much harder time finding out the truth from them. Just how does this fit into Gordon Brown's new attempt to build trust?

We've almost forgotten how many years late it is but tomorrow the stadium will officially open. We have an interview with Michael Cunnah, the former CEO of Wembley who oversaw the building project. And we ask what the organizers of the Olympic Games should be learning from Wembley's mistakes.

Newsnight Review - 18 May 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 18 May 07, 05:21 PM

zodiac203.jpgThe panel discusses: Zodiac the San Francisco serial killer thriller based on a true story; Dave Egger's latest 'novel' What is the What; Antony Gormley's Blind Light Exhibition at the Hayward Gallery; and Rufus Wainwright's new album Release the Stars.

Read more about all those here and and let us know if you agree with the views of Kirsty Wark's guests Tony Parsons, Natalie Haynes, Denise Mina and Grayson Perry below.

Thursday, 17 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 17 May 07, 04:58 PM

From Emily Maitlis, Newsnight Presenter.

brownpmraceover203.jpgPrime Minister Elect
Just how many Prime Ministers does a country need at any one time? And who, exactly, is in charge as we speak? As Gordon Brown formally sees off his challengers to become Prime Minister Elect for the next six weeks, Tony Blair has started the long goodbye in Washington - a place where he often joked he was more warmly received than at home. So if a critical decision has to be made over the next 6 weeks, who does the cabinet listen to?

At Newsnight, we've risen to the challenge and appointed one political correspondent to each PM, each side of the pond. Gordon Brown says his conversation with the country is just beginning, but how will he cope with arguably the most controversial relationship of them all - his dealings with George Bush over Iraq? Michael Crick and David Grossman will give their assessments.

As I write, the troubles in Gaza are increasing. We've had a report of an Israeli air strike and Hamas has threatened to retaliate with suicide attacks. We'll give you the latest on the fighting there, as tensions between Hamas, Fatah and the Israelis heighten.

The Iraqi Government
And in our final film in this week's series of exclusive reports from inside Iraq, Mark Urban turns his attention to an assessment of the effectiveness of the Iraqi Government.

It is crucial to the viability of a future state without the coalition forces, but its record is distinctly patchy. Corruption is a serious problem, and it seems they've significantly underspent the money allocated to them to reconstruct their own country. So is the government is capable of delivering?

If you'd like to watch the other films in the series, they are available here.

Wednesday, 16 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 16 May 07, 04:23 PM

From Gavin Esler, Newsnight Presenter.

Prine HarryPrince Harry
Prince Harry is NOT going to serve in Iraq. Is this a victory for al-Qaeda and its threats? What kind of message does this send to our troops - spilling their blood is fine but not blue blood?

This week we've been focusing on Iraq. If you missed either Mark Urban's film - three days and nights with US infantry in Baghdad - or Tim Whewell and Maziar Bahari's documentary of life in one of the most dangerous parts of the capital - Sadr city - then click here. And you can visit our Iraq in-depth site here.

Grammar Schools
This is shaping up to be the first really serious internal policy row for David Cameron with his own party. It appears to be a conflict between the cherished Tory belief in meritocracy (in favour of bright children going to grammar schools) and the contrary view from Shadow Education Secretary David Willetts that "academic selection entrenches advantage, it does not spread it."

The Coronation
At the time of writing it could be that Gordon Brown will not face any challenger for the Labour leadership. We'll assess the impact of the coronation - if that's what it is - and have the result of a special Newsnight poll at the hustings for the race to be deputy leader.

A very special special relationship
David Grossman is in the United States assessing the extraordinary relationship between Blair and Bush - and trying to figure out where Gordon Brown might fit in with the Bush administration. (Personally, I doubt Mr Bush will ever yell out: "Yo! Brown.")

Tuesday, 15 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 15 May 07, 04:38 PM

From Gavin Esler, Newsnight Presenter.

dustystreet203.jpgIt is amazing how the plight of one little girl, in Portugal, captures the imagination of so many of us. It is our own nightmare as a parent.

Tonight we will reflect the latest in the search for Madeleine but we will also not forget the millions of people whose names we do not know who are suffering right now in Iraq, and in Africa.

Along with the latest from Praia da Luz, we have a truly extraordinary report from Sadr City, Iraq. It is so difficult to obtain any real access to what is happening on the streets of Baghdad, but tonight we have.

It's a stunning and brave piece of journalism, and along with Mark Urban's report last night, it paints a grim picture of the terrible conditions in Iraq.

Plus: I've just been talking to Bono and Bob Geldof about the shortcomings of the deal reached at Gleneagles almost two years ago to do something for the poorest people in the world.

The G8 - according to a report on progress towards meeting the goals agreed to at Gleneagles - is falling short. Bob and Bono praise Britain and Japan, but point the finger at Germany, Italy and France.

Bono frankly admits there may be a crisis about their own credibility in endorsing the G8 agreement since so many countries have not lived up to what they promised.

And we unveil the Order of the Brown Nose - our prize for the toadiest sycophant to Gordon Brown. Read Steve Smith's article here.

I'd like to thank everybody who has emailed me about my daughter Charlotte's report on her cancer on Newsnight last night. I will respond to each one individually when I get the chance but I've been very touched by the enormous response, especially from those people who have had similar experiences in their own lives or with their own families. Charlotte has been very moved by the response too and - as she said last night - her prognosis is now very good. She is much better. Thank you all.

Monday, 14 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 14 May 07, 05:06 PM

From Kirsty Wark, Newsnight Presenter.

nightvision203100.jpgTonight we have two extraordinary films on Newsnight. We devote much of the programme to the first of a series of reports from Mark Urban in Iraq, in which we see at first hand the US troop surge in action and gauge its impact.

Mark spent 72 hours embedded with US forces in Al Doura - a Sunni dominated area in the south of Baghdad.

He's given us a fascinating insight into the everyday dangers faced by Iraqis, and the pressures on US soldiers as they try bring security to the area, as they round up what seems like a never ending stream of insurgents, and at the same time try to win hearts and minds.

And today's confirmation by the US army that three of their soldiers have been kidnapped in Baghdad - seemingly by Al Qaeda - is just the latest indication of what they are up against.

Also tonight to mark the start of BBC cancer care week, Charlotte Esler, the fourteen year old daughter of my Newsnight colleague Gavin has made a film about her own cancer story.

Charlotte was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in November, and after treatment her cancer is now in remission.

She explains the impact it had on her and the family, and interviews another person who was diagnosed with lymphoma - Sir Menzies Campbell.

And Michael Crick will be with me for the latest on potential challengers to Gordon Brown, and the competition to become deputy leader.

And looking ahead to tomorrow, we'll be launching a key element of our coverage of the Prime Ministerial succession: The Order of the Brown Nose. Can you help us find a worthy winner?

Read Steve Smith's article here

Newsnight Review - Friday, 11 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 11 May 07, 06:00 PM

jindabyne203.jpgThe panel discuss:

The film Jindabyne; Don DeLillo's latest Falling Man; Vernon God Little at the Young Vic Theatre; and BBC Three's Gavin and Stacey.

Comment on the programme here and let us know if you agree with the views of Paul Morley, Germaine Greer, Lionel Shriver, Kwame Kwei-Armah

Click here for more details.

Friday, 11 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 11 May 07, 05:02 PM

From Kirsty Wark, Newsnight Presenter.

leadershipbrown203.jpgHow quickly the caravan moves on. Tony Blair may still be at Number Ten but he is yesterday's PM.

Today Gordon Brown travelled around a series of English marginal constituencies launching his leadership campaign .

His cry is "new ideas for a new time", and Michael Crick has been watching him all day on his slightly shambolic tour, divining what will both be the substance of his almost inevitable leadership, and how the style will differ from Tony Blair.

Gordon Brown has told Newsnight he wants a government of all the talents. Might there be a signal that he is planning a revolutionary move?

And how would Gordon Brown signal a change of direction while sticking to the New Labour path?

We look at his biggest challenges at home and abroad. The Chancellor says he wants to lead a government "humble enough to know its place"

But is the Chancellor himself humble enough? Newsnight's specially commissioned poll suggests not.

He is seen as more arrogant and less in touch with voters than Tony Blair and David Cameron, scoring 30% to the prime minister's 34% and David Cameron's 40% of the vote.

When the 1,001 people polled were asked whther he was trustworthy, less than a third replied yes for Gordon Brown, who is on 31%, compared with 38% for the Tory leader and 41% for the Liberal Democrat leader.

We hope to be joined by a leading member of the Brown campaign team. And we'll bring together our Newsnight political panel, Danny Finkelstein, Olly Grender and Peter Hyman to read the runes .

Thursday, 10 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 10 May 07, 04:32 PM

By Liz Gibbons, programme producer.

Tony Blair greets supporters at the Trimdon Labour Club in London"I may have been wrong - that's your call... I did what I thought was right for our country," Tony Blair said today.

Tonight, in an extended programme, Jeremy will be joined by guests including Alastair Campbell, Michael Howard, Charles Kennedy and David Hare for the definitive assessment of the Prime Minister's time in office.

With the help of Michael Crick in London, David Grossman in Sedgefield, and retrospectives by Martha Kearney - we'll assess what impact the Blair decade has made on Britain, and how he changed the face of politics. Will the Iraq war dominate his legacy, or will history judge that his reforms to public services have irreversibly changed this country?

Join Jeremy for what's certain to be a fascinating show and leave your comments below.

But if you can't wait you can watch Martha's films right now - Blair's legacy: Changing Britain and The world stage.

Wednesday, 9 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 9 May 07, 05:30 PM

By Carol Rubra, programme producer

justice203.jpgIn an attempt to make the Home Office "fit for purpose" it has been split into two separate ministries - one will focus on counter-terrorism and the other will manage the prison and justice system. Yet the architect of this makeover, John Reid, has announced he's leaving before the job is done. Will the Home Office ever be "fit for purpose"? In a special programme, we examine the key issues facing an incoming Home Secretary and new Prime Minister.

Will the newly restructured Home Office, with its greater focus on counter-terrorism, ensure that the mistakes made leading up to the 7 July bomb attacks never happen again? With four people arrested today in connection with the London bombings we have been in Beeston. The man who warned West Yorkshire police about Mohammed Sidique Khan two years before the attacks tells us that the police failed to respond to his warnings. Could they have intervened earlier and prevented the bombings?

Prisons and the judiciary
The challenges facing the newly formed Justice ministry are just as pressing. The prison population is rapidly approaching capacity and some senior judges have severe reservations about bringing prisons and courts into the same department. Today, Lord Falconer has unveiled his blueprint for his ministry - but will it work?

Can the asylum system ever give protection to those who need it while preventing the thousands who seek to abuse it from doing so? Paul Mason has the story of a Zimbabwean Trade Union activist whose two adult children applied for asylum in the UK. One was granted asylum, the other was refused. What does this say about the state of the asylum system?

And it's possibly been one of the most stage-managed departures in political history. David Grossman takes a look at some of the preparations which are under way ahead of Tony Blair's much trailed announcement of when he is stepping down as Prime Minister.

Jeremy presents Wednesday's programme - on which comments are welcome below...

Tuesday, 8 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 8 May 07, 05:08 PM

group_203.jpgLiz MacKean will be presenting from Stormont and Jeremy Paxman will be in London.


On what can be described as a truly historic day, power has been returned to the devolved Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont, ending five years of direct rule from Westminster.

The Democratic Unionist, Ian Paisley, has become first minister; his deputy is Martin McGuinness from Sinn Fein.

Liz MacKean has been following the day’s momentous events and will be asking the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein if they really can work together.

And who exactly were the winners and the losers from the 40 years of the Troubles? We'll be debating that with Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain and other senior figures.


Our Political Editor, Michael Crick, will have the latest on the Scottish elections voting fiasco, Gordon Brown's cabinet re-shuffle rumours and the Home Office shake-up tomorrow.


Residents in the Algarve have continued to help the police search for the missing British three-year-old, Madeleine McCann. We'll have the latest.


Now that Sarkozy is president-elect of France, what are the challenges ahead for him? Allan Little reports from Paris on the man described as the next Gallic Thatcher.

Friday, 4 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 4 May 07, 05:09 PM

From Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark:

Party supporters wait for results in AberdeenTonight's the night when, barring any more problems north of the border (and lets face it Scotland's natural disposition is to cause problems!), the political picture of Britain will finally become clear. On our special hour long edition of Newsnight we'll have the very latest results and analysis of how it all changes the way we'll be governed, and the impact the results will have on Gordon Brown's grand plans for leadership.

Michael Crick will be in the studio with me, along with senior key figures from each of the parties. The biggest upset of the night may yet be the scandal over the way the vote in Scotland was conducted - both the estimated 100,000 ballot papers spoiled by people confused about the voting system and the computer failure which has held up the vote and may have rejected ballot papers. An official Inquiry has just been announced.

Gavin will be live from Edinburgh where any one of the possible final results is going to cause fireworks, after Labour's worst result in half a century. The prospect of Prime Minister Brown and First Minister Salmond, is one which the former abhors and the latter relishes. In Wales, Labour may be forced into coalition.

In England, the results that affect the majority of the UK, the complexion of many councils has changed as Labour has lost one after another. Tony Blair says the results are a "springboard" for a Labour victory in the next general election, but could the Conservative’s showing at the local elections be enough to catapult Cameron towards Downing Street - or is this as good as it gets for him? And what about The Liberal Democrats - to continue the momentum analogies - is Menzies Campbell on the Big Dipper after last night's dramatic plunge in the polls?

We'll be asking whether the Iraq war was the main reason Labour took such a drubbing, and speaking to the man who wants to challenge Gordon Brown for Number 10, Michael Meacher.

Tonight's the night for reconvening our wise and witty panel - Danny Finkelstein, Peter Hyman, and Olly Grender - to give the whole thing a bit of a spin.

Review is resting but will be back with a bang next Friday.

Please leave your thoughts below...

Thursday, 3 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 3 May 07, 06:07 PM

Election leafletsIt's been called "Super" Thursday - with voting in England, Wales and Scotland - so tonight we devote the programme to an extended UK election special.

David Grossman is travelling from north Wales to the central belt of Scotland via the north west of England to gauge reaction from voters. Jeremy Vine will be outlining the results of a specially commissioned Newsnight opinion poll from his virtual reality studio. Gavin Esler is at Alex Salmond's count in Aberdeen. Will Mr Salmond be Scotland's new first minister?

One man who already holds that title for Northern Ireland is Ian Paisley - he'll be telling us just how he expects to get on with his Sinn Fein deputy first minister.

And it will all be hosted by Jeremy Paxman. He'll be quizzing the politicians from the BBC Election studio - or that is where he'll start the programme. He'll finish in another studio entirely. It's worth watching just to see if he makes it - or whether for the first time ever Jeremy "empty chairs" himself delayed in a BBC corridor. You really can't miss this one.

Comments, as ever, are welcome below.

Wednesday, 2 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 2 May 07, 07:01 PM

Plaid Cymru leader Ieaun Wyn JonesThe last day of campaigning across the country as we prepare for voting in English local, Scottish parliamentary and Welsh National Assembly elections. Paul Mason is out and about and we speak to the leader of Plaid Cymru.

Plus: Blair rules out bomb plot inquiry; Israel's PM told to resign; and the French cultural attache who's more enamoured of Britain.

Jeremy presents Wednesday's programme - your thoughts below please.

Washington's War by Gen Sir Michael Rose

  • Newsnight
  • 2 May 07, 04:58 PM

Washington's WarThere has been much criticism of the US-led coalition's post war strategy in Iraq. As the insurgency has grown and sectarian violence taken hold, US forces have increasingly had to adapt their tactics - most recently boosting troop numbers in the so-called "surge" strategy.

General Sir Michael Rose's book - the latest Newsnight Book Club entry - argues the insurgents' tactics have been seen before - ironically when George Washington's forces succeeded in defeating the British Army to win independence for the US in 1776. Having served with the SAS and commanded the UN Protection Force in Bosnia, his analysis raises profound questions about tactics and leadership in the campaign in Iraq.

Read an extract here and leave your reviews and comments below.

Tuesday, 1 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 1 May 07, 06:19 PM

blair1_203_100.jpgNewsnight's poll bodes badly for Brown - the majority of those asked favour a general election shortly after Tony Blair leaves Downing Street.

The pressure increases for a public inquiry into MI5's handling of intelligence prior to 7/7; Defence Secretary Des Browne speaks to Mark Urban about Iraq; and Steve Smith takes on the Chinese maths puzzle that's been such a hit online today.

Comment on Tuesday's programme here.

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