Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Tuesday, 31st July, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 31 Jul 07, 04:36 PM

Presented by Jeremy Paxman

It's long been an open secret in the NHS that you don't want to get sick on August 1st - the day when thousands of junior doctors traditionally start new jobs. This year we've been promised even more chaos than usual, thanks to a controversial reform which has had junior doctors marching on the streets and newspapers predicting mayhem on the wards.

With hours to go before D-day, it looks like the predictions could have been overdone. But that may have been the problem with this story from day one. Our economics editor, Stephanie Flanders, has been finding the truth behind the Great Junior Doctor Fiasco of 2007.

We hope to be bringing together a junior doctors leader and a Government minister live.

The British Army's 38 year operation in Northern Ireland comes to an end at midnight. Its support role for the police there has been the longest continuous campaign in army history, involving more than 300,000 personnel. Mark Urban will be examining the impact on both soldiers and civilians on the ground

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has addressed the United Nations in New York. He said the wording had been agreed on a UN resolution for the deployment of a new peacekeeping force in the Sudanese region of Darfur. Mr Brown described the problems there as the greatest humanitarian disaster facing the world. Political Correspondent, David Grossman will have the latest.

Viewers’ comments about Jeremy's interview with Sir Richard Eyre on director Ingmar Bergman's life made us think twice today on hearing that film legend Michelangelo Antonioni had died. We've sent our Culture Correspondent, Steve Smith out to answer the question is art house cinema really worth the effort? We'll also be debating this live with cinema enthusiasts who hold very different views.

You can read more about the debate by clicking here

Monday, 30 July, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 30 Jul 07, 04:29 PM

Presented by Jeremy Paxman

In Camp David today there wasn't a pair of "ball crushingly tight" corduroys in sight.
David Grossman was at the press conference to decode the tone and language between Gordon Brown and President Bush and assess the state of the Anglo-American relationship.
We shall have a distinguished panel to discuss the substance of their meeting.

Why are we locking up more people on life sentences for relatively minor crimes when we're facing a prison overcrowding crisis? We examine the phenomena of so-called indeterminate sentences. The idea is that offenders can only be released once they've completed rehabilitation courses to prove they are no longer a danger to society - but what happens if the courses aren't available? We'll be asking the Prisons Minister if the system is working.

Cinematic legend Ingmar Bergman has died at his home in Sweden. Culture Correspondent Stephen Smith looks back on his life.

‘Everyone wants a piece of Tony’

  • Richard Colebourn
  • 30 Jul 07, 11:01 AM

Tony Blair meets Israeli PM Shimon PeresJERUSALEM AND NABLUS: The headline is from the weekend edition of the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz. At the end of Blair’s first week in the region as envoy for the Middle East Quartet, Israelis and Palestinians are now left contemplating the gap between hype and hope.

Blair said he felt a “sense of possibility”. But the grounds for optimism were left unexplained. Israel’s politicians were positive, adopting a strategy they openly describe as “hug him close”. Israel’s press is enjoying the publicity. “An international rock star is now dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,” claims Haaretz. Palestinian reaction was more muted.

“This isn’t about Tony Blair, this is about us,” the new Palestinian Prime Minister, Salaam Fayad, told the BBC. And, at least according to Blair’s job description, he’s right.

The remit provided by the Middle East Quartet - made up of the EU, the United States, the UN and Russia - limits Blair’s role to Palestinian economic development, good governance and the raising of international aid. This isn’t about summits and peace negotiations, it’s about getting the Palestinians to a position where a viable state becomes plausible.

Khaled, a falafel seller in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus, isn’t convinced about Blair’s commitment. “He’s a loser,” he told me. “He did nothing to help the Palestinians when he was Prime Minister, when he had power. Why do you think he can help now?”

Ashraf Misre from Nablus would like a piece of Tony’s time. He often struggles to reach his different businesses because of restrictions on movement imposed by the Israelis. They say checkpoints are necessary for security. But for Ashraf and his wife Nisreen, the unpredictability involved in travelling short distances is a basic impediment to building his business.

What Israelis and Palestinians seem unclear about is whether Blair will stick to his limited mandate. Will he get stuck into the problems faced by entrepreneurs like Ashraf or will he end up involved in mediation between Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas?

Unlike in Northern Ireland, Blair may find his freedom of movement curtailed. There are many players on this stage. Briefings by the American government have been clear: they will take the lead on major diplomatic negotiations.

Friday, 27 July, 2007

  • Gavin Esler
  • 27 Jul 07, 04:57 PM

Domino's pizzaDomino's Pizza
It's been called one of the worst cases of worker exploitation. The Transport and General Workers Union claims Hungarian migrants employed at Domino's Pizza franchises in Derby have taken home virtually no pay for months because of illegal deductions from their wages. Tonight we put these allegations to Domino's Pizza live on the programme.

After the week of some of the worst flooding since records began in Britain there is a new appreciation of what some of the poorest people in the world face. We don't normally report the flooding in many of the world's countries but tonight we have reports from three other countries where flooding is devastating people's lives. And the causes are surprisingly similar to the ones you'll find in Britain - Victorian drains, building developments in the wrong place and cities built round the meeting points of big rivers.

Russian Youth
And while the coming week will see mass celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of scouting in Russia more than 10,000 will gather for a very different youth movement. It's a pro-Kremlin youth group, called Nashi or “our-own.” We've been finding out what the Nashi phenomenon means for Russia and potentially for its relations with the West.

SimpsonsHardeep Singh Kohli is joined by Rowan Pelling, Sue Perkins, Bidisha and Ian McMillan to discuss: The Simpsons Movie; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; Glyndebourne Festival Opera's Macbeth; and the film The Hoax. Read more about all those on the Newsnight Review website and add your thoughts below.

Thursday, 26 July, 2007

  • Gavin Esler
  • 26 Jul 07, 04:54 PM

It's the end of the parliamentary term and we've sent David Grossman out to see if he can come across any mad ferrets. Is there really a serious move by some people to oust David Cameron? More importantly, how well are Brown and Cameron squaring up?

We'll have a leading member of the Shadow Cabinet on the programme. And the Political Editors of The Spectator and the New Statesman will also join us live.

We'll have the latest from - unfortunately - one of Britain's new lake districts.

Tour de Farce
More allegations of doping, more supposed scandals, it must be the Tour de France. We'll discuss is it now time to scrap the race or have a drugs amnesty? What do you think? Leave us your comments below and we'll feed them into tonight's debate.

The next big thing...
Imagine if you could download pictures YouTube style from your ordinary TV. well, yiou can. But in which cutting edge place? Silicon Valley? Nope. Click here to watch Paul Mason's film right now to find out - and send us your own films here.

The Battle for Islam : A Newsnight Special

  • Newsnight
  • 25 Jul 07, 01:03 PM

MosqueTonight on Newsnight we're devoting the whole programme to exploring the struggle within Islam. Has the lack of any over-arching religious figure led to a schism between Sunni and Shia; to the rise of political Islam; and, ultimately, to an increase in the number of extremists willing to kill in the name of their religion?

Is there a crisis intrinsic to the Muslim faith? And, if so, does Islam need its own Reformation?

Or is the crisis a response to Western governments' attempts to influence, or even control, Muslim-majority nations? Should the USA be promoting, or trying to impose, democracy? And when democracy produces results that Western nations may consider "unsavoury" - what should their response be?

Gavin will be joined by guests including the former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the leading Islamic scholar Reza Aslan, and from Lebanon by the radical cleric Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed who is banned from returning to the UK.

Let us know what you think.

Tuesday, 24 July, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 24 Jul 07, 03:44 PM

From tonight's presenter Emily Maitlis


The news machine tends to embrace floods for as long as the waters stay high, the power stays off, the pictures are dramatic and the streets are wet. But what happens when things appear to return to normal?

Today, the sun is out in parts of the country and the levels are beginning to recede. But for the thousands still stranded, homeless, and without supplies, it will be a long haul to dry land. We revisit the parts of Hull that suffered so badly last month and ask the government what future lessons will be learned from all this.


If you're a monkey and you have electrodes inserted in your brain, you may well take issue with the government describing the procedure as “moderate”. Indeed, you don't have to be a monkey.

A campaign group called the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection is taking the government to court to argue the fate of lab animals and has accused it of failing in its duty to keep suffering to a minimum.

Is there enough evidence of the benefits to human health to justify this type of experimentation? We'll be debating that in the studio later with a surgeon who tests on animals and then uses the results to cure people.


Hundreds of local Iraqi translators risk their lives for the British military and the Foreign Office in places where our troops are stationed. They work - often in fear - and too often for little in return. What should this country be offering them? Tonight, David Loyn brings us their story.

Pay Gap

It sounds like a cracked record. It is, in fact, a cracked record: Women fly our planes, fight in our armed forces, run our hospitals, run our country, fill our television screens etc etc etc. Yet the pay gap between them and their male counterparts won't go away. Why not?

Monday, 23 July, 2007

  • Emily Maitlis
  • 23 Jul 07, 04:58 PM

Flood signFloods
I am writing this in the dark. Because of a pan BBC systems failure. Indeed I am actually writing it by hand, at present, because of a pan BBC systems failure. Curiously, though, this plays into what feels like a return to biblical times. Floods, thousands displaced, water supplies and electricity supplies cut and the threat of worse to come. And this is Tewkesbury, not Bangalore.

So tonight, there are no prizes for guessing our focus. The Met office warned of floods in no uncertain terms. Yet this country has failed to cope - why? Have we been spending money on the wrong things? Can this government realistically go ahead with building plans which include housing on flood plains?

Changing Weather
And of course the wider issue: Be you a sceptic or a card-carrying member of the climate change argument this amount of rain makes the issue slightly tricky to ignore. We'll be asking whether this is ever more proof of our world getting wilder or just another twist in a complex weather cycle which shouldn’t be over interpreted.

David Cameron's in Rwanda whilst there are these problems at home. And he's getting a fair amount of stick for it. Not least because there are murmurings within his own party that it may be time to change his style - or should we say policies - and stop isolating the right wing of the party. And after a poor showing in the by-elections last week when the Tories came third in each seat, those murmurings may gain a stronger foothold. Is he in trouble? Political Editor, Michael Crick's on the case.

A staggering two and a half million children in Britain are overweight or obese. Newsnight's been following the progress of a group of families on a nine week programme. Is it working? In the second of her films, Jackie Long goes back to find out. Watch the film now here and the first film here.

Friday, 20 July, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 20 Jul 07, 04:25 PM

By tonight’s presenter, Emily Maitlis.

Cash for Honours

levy_nn_203.jpg“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the police for their hard work, diligence and decency.”

The words of the Labour Party General Secretary Peter Watt. Others aren't feeling quite so warm spirited about an inquiry that went on for 16 months, cost a million pounds, threatened to bring down a government, and ultimately yielded no charges. Last night the BBC broke the story that no-one would be prosecuted in the Cash for Honours investigation. Today, with the confirmation, came many, many questions. Was it, as some claim, a political stunt by the SNP? Why did police drag it out for so long if evidence was so scant? Was the decision by the CPS not to prosecute the right one? And where does this leave party funding, and indeed party reputations going forward? We've got a panel of those involved together and the discussion promises to be pretty heated.
Blair 'pleased' at honours ruling


It will be hard to think of the MP for Sedgefield as being anyone other than Tony Blair. But as from today, there is a new one. Phil Wilson won the by-election pretty comfortably for Labour, which also won in Southall and Ealing. So will two early successes for Gordon Brown give him the confidence to face the polls early for a General Election? We'll be discussing the implications of these results tonight with our hot political panel of familiar faces.
Tories shrug off by-election blow

Thursday, 19 July, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 19 Jul 07, 04:58 PM

By tonight’s presenter, Emily Maitlis:

No Rushn
russian_fm_203.jpgWe waited. We waited. And we waited. When the response from Russia finally came, it looked rather like the one we'd expected from day one. Putin has expelled four UK diplomats from Russia: An exact tit-for-tat retaliation for the expulsions Britain announced on Monday. So will this escalate the diplomatic tensions between Britain and Russia? And what exactly do they mean by threatening to withdraw support from the “war on terror”?

One theory suggests Russia was checking out the international reaction to Britain's moves before it responded. With a certain irony, today will mark Tony Blair's first day in the job as Middle East Envoy. One of his bosses, so to speak, in The Quartet will be Putin, no less. We’ll be examining the way foreign policy is shifting under a Brown government as Foreign Secretary David Miliband launches what he's calling a “new diplomacy”.
Russia expels four UK diplomats

It's a funny old thing, cannabis. One day politicians can't deny their drug taking adamantly enough. The next, they're all leaping on the bandwagon of admission in a “me too” spirit. Jacqui Smith, our Home Secretary, admitted she smoked it at university. Now the Chancellor Alistair Darling - once labelled the most boring man in politics - has forced us to let our minds run wild imagining him, spliff tightly rolled, little finger lightly lifted, taking a good ole drag.
So tonight we're asking, does anyone really care any more? Would you admit past demeanours if you were now in a job of substance? Which euphemism would you employ to come clean? We'll talk to Tim Yeo from the Conservatives who refreshingly admitted he took it and enjoyed it.
Top ministers admit cannabis use

We'll have the latest from Michael Crick at the hotly-contested Ealing Southall by-election, and from the count in Sedgefield - both are key tests for all three main parties.
By-election voters head to polls

Cage fighting
And... fear not. We are onto the fastest growing sport - allegedly - in the world. It involves two men and a cage. And it looks fairly brutal. One practitioner we talk to is a preacher. Maybe the prayers come in handy. And in the spirit of Newsnight, our Culture Correspondent Steve Smith widens the niche market to ask Steven Berkoff why he's so attracted to the pastime of punching another's lights out. He claims Ian McKellan, Michael Gambon and other stalwarts of the stage are limbering up to join him. He's joking. We think.

Wednesday, 18 July, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 18 Jul 07, 04:52 PM

By tonight's presenter, Gavin Esler:

bbc_nn_203.jpgThe BBC has promised a very significant and far-reaching plan of action to tackle "totally unacceptable" incidents of editorial failure. I'll be interviewing the director general of the BBC Mark Thompson on what he can do to restore trust in the organisation, and we'll be discussing Ofcom's finding of a "systemic failure" throughout the TV industry.
BBC to suspend phone competitions

Political Islam
We've an authored film from a former member of the extremist Islamist group Hizb ut Tahrir.

Brown is not Blair
Another attempt to distance himself from the Blair years today from Gordon Brown - opening up the possibility of re-classifying cannabis as a harder drug than at present. Is this part of a clear strategy by the new PM to repudiate bits of his predecessor's legacy without overtly saying so? Is it a good idea? Will it work?
Cannabis laws set to be reviewed

Tuesday, 17 July, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 17 Jul 07, 04:10 PM

By tonight's presenter, Gavin Esler:

soviet_203.jpgWhat next? We hope to hear from one of the key players in the diplomatic stand off - but in true Cold War style, I can't tell you who it is unless you have security clearance. All will be revealed at 10.30pm (if our guest turns up).
Russia warns UK over expulsions

Several reports out today claim that inequality now is much worse than 20 or 30 years ago. One tool that the government hoped would tackle the opportunity gap - SureStart - also came in for criticism. MPs said it was failing to target those who most need it. So what is the government doing to tackle the problem?
Wealth gap 'widest in 40 years'

Ealing Southall by-election
It's turning into one of the most colourful by-elections of recent times. Party defections, compromising photographs and some interesting accusations in those election leaflets. Of course we had to send Michael Crick to Ealing Southall to find out what is going on.
In full: Ealing Southall candidates

Organ Donations
Instead of signing up for organ donor cards - "opting in" - should the state presume we agree to be organ donors unless we opt out? The Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson said so today. But doesn't that presume that the state somehow owns our bodies? We'll debate on the programme, but you can tell us what you think by clicking here.
Everyone 'should donate organs'

Is it time to opt out of apathy?

  • Newsnight
  • 17 Jul 07, 02:59 PM

England's chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, has called for a system that assumes everyone is a potential organ donor - unless they expressly request not to be.

Surveys have indicated that as many as 70% of people want their organs donated after death, but only 20% of the population are on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

So, is creating a system where you have to "opt out" of organ donation the best way to tackle the problem of donor shortage?

And is this kind of "soft paternalism" the best way to make an apathetic nation engage with the issues affecting our lives? What else might we be automatically enrolled into?

We’ll be discussing this story on the programme tonight.

Monday, 16 July, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 16 Jul 07, 05:07 PM

By Gavin Esler

Back to the Future?
andrei.gifDoes this remind you of something? Of the period between 1945 and 1989 perhaps? The government is expelling four Russian diplomats in the continuing row over Russia's failure to extradite Andrei Lugovoi - the man British police want for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. Mr Litvinenko was poisoned with Polonium 210 in November. We'll be assessing the implications for relations with Russia.

Mayor Boris?
No, it's not another Russian, just Boris Johnson who is hoping to become Conservative party candidate for the job of Mayor of London, saying (among other things) that he wants to put a smile on the face of the capital. Are we in for a new wave of personality politics? Perhaps Jade Goody should enter the fray? We'll discuss Boris's Bid - but let us know which Celebrities and which Political Job you think perfectly match up by clicking here.

Rather like the Biblical parable of the talents, the idea of giving schoolchildren ten pounds and seeing what creative ideas they come up with to increase their money, sounds like a good story. We think so. Inventive lot, British children. Tune in to find out how they made money.

Why are we so rubbish about rubbish?
How much of your household rubbish do you recycle? Across Britain, it's a mere 20% - making us the second worst recyclers in Europe. A committee of MPs described the government's recycling policy as "too timid" today. We've been to Austria - where 68% of household waste is recycled, and there are bold plans virtually to eliminate landfill sites.

Boris for Mayor?

  • Newsnight
  • 16 Jul 07, 02:51 PM

So...Boris Johnson has confirmed that he'll enter the race to be Tory candidate for Mayor of London. He's just held a rather shambolic photocall outside London's City Hall. Mobbed by photographers and reporters, he had next-to-nothing actually to say.

The Boris story has got us wondering whether direct elections - such as the one to be Mayor of London - promote more personality-driven politics. Is that good or bad?

Let us know what you think.

You can also view other comments on Have Your Say's website

Friday, 13 July, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 13 Jul 07, 06:17 PM

From tonight's presenter, Kirsty Wark.

We hope to have a big story on Labour party fundraising. It will surprise you. Watch this space.

conrad_black_203.jpgConrad Black - once a powerful tycoon - is facing the prospect of a lengthy prison sentence, for fraud and obstructing justice. A jury in Chicago found him guilty on four of the13 counts against him. Lord Black controlled a media empire - including the Daily Telegraph - through Hollinger International, a company based in Chicago. He was convicted of defrauding the other shareholders in this company by taking millions of dollars in fees which he wasn't entitled to. He was also convicted of obstructing justice by removing boxes of documents from his office. He's said he'll appeal against the verdicts. We'll be speaking to his friend Andrew Neil and his biographer, Tom Bower.

Is Boris Johnson going to run as the Conservative Party mayoral candidate? Our Political Editor Michael Crick is on the case.

And then on Newsnight Review we continue the political theme with a review of Alastair Campbell's diaries of The Blair Years. Michael Portillo, Andrew Gilligan, Michael White and John Harris deliver their verdicts after some close reading (!) and that will be preceded by an interview with Tony Blair's former Communications Chief AKA the ultimate spin doctor about what he left out, about his temper and obsessiveness, Iraq and Dr David Kelly, Bill Clinton, oh and Princess Diana. I hope you'll be watching.

Click here for more

Thursday, 12 July, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 12 Jul 07, 05:17 PM

By Gavin Esler

The Queen and the BBC

How could the BBC make such a mistake? We'll try to find out. Especially since it comes after the BBC was fined £50,000 by OFCOM for misleading viewers of Blue Peter over a phone-in competition.


I've been thumbing through the "Initial Benchmark Assessment Report" to the US Congress on Iraq. Some progress - a mixed bag. What will be the political implications when - as we reported on Tuesday - some prominent Republicans are already uneasy?


We're live at Wembley for a big Labour fundraising rally. How much difficulty are all the parties in when it comes to raising cash?


One of the most important yet under-covered stories is the future of this pivotal country right between Europe and the Middle East. Elections coming up; unease in the army; Turkish troops massing on the Iraq border. We've a special report.

Wednesday, 11 July, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 11 Jul 07, 05:18 PM

Tonight's programme is presented by Emily Maitlis.

housing_nn_203.jpgGORDON'S GRAND DESIGNS
It was demolition followed by the promise of construction. In just 10 minutes, the Prime Minister Gordon Brown got rid of centuries of tradition, by announcing a whole raft of Queen's speech legislation without, indeed, the Queen. Michael Crick will be looking at Gordon's "blueprint", and why he's decided to announce it now.

The Prime Minister's main focus - first and foremost - was on housing. He pledged to build three million new houses by 2020 and said the government would release 550 publicly-owned, brownfield sites for housing development. Few dispute the difficulties many face getting on the property ladder when supply is so squeezed. But the big question - which we will tackle head on tonight with the three main parties - is where, exactly, will they build and will it be enough?

No less controversial was Gordon Brown's implicit suggestion that the super-casino programme needed a rethink, possibly even a u-turn. He raised concerns about whether super-casinos are the best way to regenerate badly deprived areas. Paul Mason delves into the mystery of the missing casinos.

A sparsely populated bit of Russia - in the far far east of the country - is seeing an influx of neighbouring Chinese. For China, this part of Russia is an empty land of opportunity rich in minerals and trading possibilities. But is its destiny Asian? And how, exactly, how do the Russians feel about the presence of so many Chinese traders? A fascinating film from the award winning Rupert Wingfield-Hayes.

Tuesday, 10 July, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 10 Jul 07, 06:13 PM

Tonight's presenter is Gavin Esler.

Could a US troop withdrawal from Iraq be announced sooner rather than later? With his popularity ratings falling and his own Senators threatening revolt, President Bush is under mounting pressure to announce a change of tack. Our Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban will be assessing how the US strategy is changing and we're hoping to speak to one of the leading Republican rebels in the US Senate.

Is it now all about the family? As the Conservatives demand the tax and benefits system loses its "anti-marriage bias", Labour claim the Tory plans will discriminate against lone and unmarried parents. Our political correspondent David Grossman will look at what could become one of the key battlegrounds of the next election.

People in New York are being encouraged to give up bottled water to help save the environment. City officials have launched an advertising campaign encouraging people to drink tap water - which they say cuts down on waste and saves on transport. What about us in Britain? We’ll look at the environmental cost of bottled water and the cultural embarrassment in restaurants of asking for tap water. We'll also speak to the drinks manufacturers live to see what they're doing to reduce their carbon footprint.

Do you ask for tap water in restaurants? Click here to join this debate.

These are difficult days for Britain's biggest arms dealer, BAE Systems. No sooner has the British government called off a Serious Fraud Office investigation into their arms sales to Saudi Arabia than the Americans have stepped in with their own inquiry. Meanwhile, British fraud investigators are still looking into BAE's deals in six other countries, including billions of pounds in sales to South Africa. Peter Marshall has been investigating the South African deal - and how it's brought rancour and suspicion to the new democracy.

H2O snobbery

  • Newsnight
  • 10 Jul 07, 01:04 PM

New Yorkers are being urged to switch to tap water for fear of the effect that the bottled stuff is having on the environment.

Environmental campaigners say that four out of five plastic water bottles end up in landfill sites, and the distribution process sometimes sees water being shipped halfway around the world.

Britons, too, have gone mad for bottled water in recent years. But has this led to a general snobbery associated with H2O? Would you now feel too embarrassed to ask for tap water in a restaurant, for example, opting to pay for bottled instead? Or do you regularly fly in the face of convention and request the free stuff? Have you ever asked for tap water and been refused? And is it time we were offered the choice of "tap or bottled" rather than "still or sparkling"?

Watch the Newsnight report and interview with an industry spokesman here.

Monday, 9 July, 2007

  • Gavin Esler
  • 9 Jul 07, 05:37 PM

Muktar Said Ibrahim and Ramzi Mohammed21/ 7
There have been four guilty verdicts on the 21/7 bomb plotters. We have extensive coverage of the plot, why it failed, and what the case reveals about Britain's co-ordination of immigration, the police and intelligence.

The Diaries
Michael Crick will fillet out the Alastair Campbell diaries for what is new and interesting, and we'll hear a wide range of views, from those in a position to know, about what fresh light they shed on the Blair years.

A third of children in Britain are obese or overweight. Jackie Long has spent eight weeks with a group of kids and their families on a testing programme, designed to re-educate them about healthy eating. It's a powerful film and shows how obesity damages childrens' lives as well as their loved ones.

You can watch the first film in our Broken Society series - on the problems kids face in one London borough - here.

Parliamentary Long Service

  • Michael Crick
  • 9 Jul 07, 10:49 AM

The death of Lord (David Renton) in May meant that, by my reckoning, only three MPs from the famous 1945 election are still alive - all Labour. In the last few months we have lost both Renton and Douglas Dodds-Parker, as well as John Profumo (who was elected under Neville Chamberlain in 1940, but lost in 1945). Those remaining are Michael Foot, John Freeman, and Francis Noel-Baker (two of whom, Freeman and Noel-Baker, now live overseas).

Denis HealeyDavid Renton, who served as MP for Huntingdon from 1945 to 1979 (handing the seat over the John Major), and then in the Lords until his death, could also boast of being the longest continuous serving Parliamentarian of the last century to have served in both houses - a run of 62 years. So who now takes the title of longest-serving Parliamentarian to have served both houses? At a guess I would say it was Denis Healey, who first elected as an MP at a by-election in 1952, served in the Commons until 1992, and has sat in the Lords ever since. But please let me know if anyone can boast longer continuous service to both houses.

But perhaps the most astionishing record is held by the former Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington. He never sat in the Commons, but has sat in the Lords since 1940 - 67 years.

Friday, 6 July, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 6 Jul 07, 05:28 PM

Presented by Emily Maitlis.

Live Earth

liveearth_203.jpg“Would you,” one viewer asked “hold a hog roast to promote vegetarianism?” The analogy takes a moment. But it's there. Just.

Does the staging of an enormous carbon-spewing series of concerts across the globe really raise awareness of green issues? Perhaps, inadvertently, it does. Just as the hog roast - like the proverbial visit to the abattoir - really could convert you to the joys of a meat free life.

Tonight, we'll debate the point of Live Earth. We'll ask whether those involved really should practice what they preach. Or whether it's nice just to have a tree hugging sing-a-long anyway.


Gordon Brown made it clear this morning that he would be holidaying at home. No borrowed rock star villa in Barbados for him. Unfortunately, the man in charge of sanctioning the final touches to the Government of Talents is vacationing as we speak. Peter Gwynn-Jones is the man who can grant titles to the new peers. Without him nothing happens. And the Lords, as they say, are revolting.

Newsnight Review

diehard_203.jpgPresented by Martha Kearney.

Die Hard 4.0; FX's new forensic drama Dexter; photos from Fleet Street, at the National Portrait Gallery; and The Last Confession.

Click here for more details

Leave your comments for Newsnight and Newsnight Review below.

Time to go tie-less?

  • Jeremy Paxman
  • 6 Jul 07, 11:29 AM

Is it time for Newsnight men to stop wearing ties? It has always been an utterly useless part of the male wardrobe. But now, it seems to me, the only people who wear the things daily are male politicians, the male reporters who interview them - and dodgy estate agents.

Of course, there are things to be said in their favour. I was talking to a psychiatrist the other day. He was wearing a tie. I wasn’t. I asked him why he still trussed himself up. He said that there were lots of patients who expected doctors to have something round their necks. It made them think he knew what he was talking about.

Well, we all need help in that department.

Continue reading "Time to go tie-less?"

Thursday, 5 July, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 5 Jul 07, 05:11 PM

Tonight's programme is presented by Jeremy Paxman.

The cost of borrowing is going up again. The Bank of England has raised the interest rate by a quarter of one per cent to five and three quarters percent. Why have interest rates gone up now and who or what is responsible? Our Economics Editor, Stephanie Flanders will give us the benefit of her analysis. We hope to be joined by senior politicians from all main parties to discuss the state of the UK economy and whether we can cope with a record £1.3 trillion level of personal debt.

The government has made clear that it's considering, "as a matter of urgency", extra funding for those areas hit by last week's floods. In Hull, thousands of people are struggling to cope with what has been described by the local authority as a “humanitarian disaster” after the city was deluged with two months of rain in just 12 hours. The local council says its resources have been overwhelmed and it's accused ministers of ignoring their plight. Our Science Editor Susan Watts is on the case. The Department of Environment says it’s responsible for sorting out the damage. But Susan is finding that it's difficult to pin down who out of the agencies and local authorities on the ground is really in charge. We hope to bring together the Leader of Hull City Council and a government minister to discuss what should be done.

Earlier this year on Newsnight we teamed up with our colleagues at BBC Look North in Yorkshire and started a project called Bradford United - with two groups of 15-year-olds reporting on life at two different schools in the city. At one school called Laisterdyke most pupils are Asian. At Hanson School most are white. This week, we got the two groups together for the first time to tell us about their experiences with a different community - and at a different school.

Click here to read about and watch the original report

It's 50 years this week since a very young Paul McCartney first met John Lennon and his band The Quarrymen. As Liverpool celebrates, Peter Marshall reports on a day that changed music for ever.

Wednesday, 4 July, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 4 Jul 07, 03:24 PM

johnston203.jpgAlan Johnston is free
After 114 days, the wait is over. We all woke up this morning to the fantastic news that our colleague Alan Johnston was released from captivity in the early hours of this morning. Alan himself has been extraordinary - composed, dignified and characteristically self-effacing - as he's talked today about both his ordeal and his first few hours of freedom. Tonight, we will bring you his story - in his words.

We will also look at what happened behind the scenes to secure his release. Hamas has clearly played a significant role in achieving this and have said that they would like "recognition" for what they've done. So what might this mean for future diplomatic relations with them?

Politics of terror
Last night on Newsnight we heard how a former member of Hizb ut Tahrir had been in close contact with one of those suspected of carrying out the attack on Glasgow Airport. Now today in his first Prime Minister's Questions Gordon Brown was asked why the controversial organisation Hizb ut Tahrir hasn't been banned. Gordon Brown said he would look at the evidence. Meanwhile John Reid, the former Home Secretary apparently decided Gordon Brown needed a little help and intervened to urge the Prime Minister to stick with his decision that, based on the evidence, the group shouldn't be banned. Newsnight's Richard Watson has been monitoring Hizb ut Tahrir's activities over several years and will be assessing the arguments for and against.

The moment both sides had been waiting for as Gordon Brown and David Cameron met at the Despatch Box for their first Prime Minister's Questions. So how did it go? Michael Crick will give his verdict.

You may remember that earlier this year, Humphrey Hawksley travelled to Ivory Coast where he met 12 year old Mark Yao Kwame - just one of twelve thousand children who have been sold as slaves to farm cocoa on plantations in West Africa. Watch the original film here.

His film on Mark's plight inspired a London primary school to write a play about Mark's story. Humphrey went to the school, met the children and watched the rehearsals. But the children wanted answers so tonight some of the cast will confront a representative from the chocolate industry in the Newsnight studio.

Tuesday, 3 July, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 3 Jul 07, 03:53 PM

From Gavin Esler

Terror Cells

police12.gifWe'll have the latest on the terrorist attacks in Glasgow and London. We're working on a number of stories on the terror plots and how some of the suspects may have been radicalised. Can't say any more for now but do watch the programme.


Today some sweeping proposals on constitutional change from Gordon Brown. Is this to make government fit for the 21st century or to address the West Lothian question a particular problem for a Scottish Prime Minister? We'll be asking Jack Straw what it is all about.

Pardon Me President Bush

Yesterday Scooter Libby had a let off. President Bush ensured that he did not go to jail. Remember Scooter was the Vice President's Chief of Staff convicted after the wife of Ambassador Wilson was outed as a CIA agent. Tonight we hear from that Ambassador - Joe Wilson - about why he is not happy with the President's actions.

Environment Agency

And The "Polluter Pays"… it's a guiding principle of today's environment laws. But has the Environment Agency - still reeling from criticism over its handling of the floods - also blown its chance to force one of the world's largest chemicals companies to pay for pollution dumped here in the UK - leaving the British tax payer to foot a multi million pound bill? Susan Watts has an exclusive report.

Monday, 2 July, 2007

  • Gavin Esler
  • 2 Jul 07, 04:33 PM

Police at Glasgow airportTerror
Foreign jihadists, not home grown terrorists? What difference does it make? We'll have the latest on the fast moving investigation into the terror attacks in London and Glasgow, and we'll also be assessing the motives behind the attacks. Is there really a link to British foreign policy? Or - given that a nightclub was the target of one of the London attacks, and a previous bomb plot targeted The Ministry of Sound - are these attacks primarily directed against the western way of life? We hope to be speaking to leading politicians and a former jihadist about what can be done.

Trouble for the Tories?
Are the Conservatives stuck in a rut? As the Gordon Brown / New Labour re-launch gives way to the current terrorist attacks, can the Tories get any political traction at all? Why are they stuck at less than 40% in the opinion polls? And is there anything David Cameron can do about it in the Shadow Cabinet re-shuffle tonight? Michael Crick is on the case.

When the boss of a UK company says "we're going to be the next billion dollar startup" there are inevitably weary groans from those who remember the dotcom boom and bust. But is this technology boom different? Paul Mason has been following the progress of Spinvox, a UK startup company, to find out what it's really like to raise and spend £30 million of other people's money.

Critical security

  • Newsnight
  • 2 Jul 07, 02:10 PM

The UK security level is currently at its highest - 'critical' - following the three attempted car bomb attacks over the last few days.

Counter-terrorism experts are working on the assumption that the failed attacks are connected - at least ideologically - to al-Qaeda and recent intelligence has suggested jihadists were planning an attack in Britain.

So how do we deal with the threat of jihadis in this country? What do you think?

Reshuffle thoughts...

  • Michael Crick
  • 2 Jul 07, 12:20 PM

CabinetPerhaps the biggest surprise in the Cabinet reshuffle was former Newsnight producer Shaun Woodward as Northern Ireland Secretary, though I can't help feeling it's no longer really a full Cabinet job. Peter Hain, after all, combined Northern Ireland with Wales, and that was before Stormont got going again this May, which presumably means there’s now a lot less to do. Still, Shaun Woodward has offered to do the job for free. Given that he only quite the Conservative Party less than eight years ago, the recent defection of Quentin Davies (watch his Newsnight appearance here) and the promise of further Tory recruits, perhaps Mr Woodward’s real role is as minister to encourage defections.

And Gordon Brown displayed a certain ruthlessness in not placing two of his closest allies round the cabinet table. Nick Brown has to make do with being Deputy Chief Whip, having held the job of Chief Whip a few years ago, though he’s now been made Minister for the North as well, and claims to be happy. And what has Stephen Timms, formerly Brown’s number two as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, done to deserve demotion? He’s now lost his Cabinet place to become minister of state at the ludicrously named Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

Then we had the rather underwhelming parade of “all the talents” – four people from outside politics who’ve agreed to become junior ministers: Sir Mark Malloch Brown, Sir Digby Jones, Sir Ara Darsi and Sir Alan West. They’ll all become lords, though it’s interesting that they’re all already knights of the realm, and both Malloch Brown and Darsi had agreed to join the Labour Party. Sir Alan West told me he hadn’t yet decided whether to join Labour (and given his Home Office security job he’s got more pressing things to consider right now), while Digby Jones insists (contrary to what I said on Newsnight on Thursday) that he won’t be joining Labour, despite Gordon Brown asking him to do so. Indeed, Sir Digby won’t even say if he’ll vote Labour in future, though once he becomes a lord, his ability to vote will be confined to non-Westminster elections.

The reshuffle of the lower ranks was extremely dull. Indeed, there are so few interesting changes and so few dramatic new names that one almost gets the impression that Gordon Brown was so diverted by the car bombs on Friday that he got fed up with the reshuffle and simply decided most people could carry on doing what they did before. There are a handful of appointments from the 2005 intake, such as Shahid Malik (the first Muslim minister), and the former Treasury civil servant Helen Goodman (a former girlfriend of Tory Education spokesman David Willetts), but the list is more notable for the unusual number of retreads – including Angela Eagle, Michael Wills and Joan Ruddock. And despite reducing the number of women in Cabinet from eight to five, Gordon Brown’s government now contains 38 women in all, which must be an all-time record.

Denis LawInteresting to see a Manchester United fan, Gerry Sutcliffe, has been made Minister for Sport (though he also supports Bradford City). I hope he realises it’s a bit of an end-of-the-line job – how many sports ministers since the post was created in 1964 have ever gone on to anything higher? None, so far as I can remember. But perhaps Mr Sutcliffe can now do something about securing an honour for one of United’s all-time greats, Denis Law, who was also recently voted the greatest Scotland player of all time. In a world where even the most mediocre of footballers seems to get an honour these days, Denis hasn’t even had an MBE.

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