Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Friday, 31 August, 2007

  • Kirsty Wark
  • 31 Aug 07, 03:48 PM

Food productionCombine harvester

Hello viewers - I hope you've eaten well tonight - some fish perhaps, lasagne, vegetables and rice? Imagine the prospect of producing more food in the next 50 years, than during the past 10,000 years. Apocalyptic? Yes, but not a fantasy.

Scientists meeting in Iceland this weekend are warning that to keep up with the growth in population we might need this much foodstuff. But where is the fertile land to grow crops and rear animals? And are we going to achieve the food levels and quality we need by massive agribusinesses, or by local production?

This is all up for discussion at the UN-sponsored forum in Iceland and we will create some of the debate here on Newsnight tonight. Do tell us what you think.

Are Gordon Brown's defences against a EU reform referendum being chipped away from within as well as without? Following last week's decision by the RMT and the GMB to push for a motion on a referendum at the TUC conference, Keith Vaz, the former Europe Minister delivered his own call for a referendum today and it seems the foreign Secretary David Miliband has refused to rule out a referendum.

Michael Crick our political editor reports on the chances of a poll, and whether the pressure to hold one may have an impact on the timing of the general election.

Kung Fu
And then we have a colourful film from the Shaolin temple in China, home to hundreds of warrior monks who practise kung fu every day.

Following the resurgence of the Shaolin Bhuddist monks after the repression of the Cultural Revolution Shaolin is now big business with a million tourists a year, a kung fu reality show, and thousands of young Chinese coming to learn kung fu every year.

Thursday, 30 August, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 30 Aug 07, 06:10 PM

Nawaz SharifPakistan
London has been the scene this week for serious power-brokering over the future direction of Pakistan.

Today at the Dorchester Hotel, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif confirmed that he will return to Pakistan to challenge President Musharraf. President Musharraf, who ousted Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister eight years ago in a bloodless coup has threatened to arrest Sharif if he enters Pakistan. Meanwhile Benazir Bhutto has said she's close to securing a deal with President Musharraf in which he will agree to step down from the army and stand as a civilian candidate in the election.

So is Nawaz Sharif really the best hope Pakistan has for a return to democracy and an end to the political unrest which has been shaking the country in the last few months? We have an interview with Mr Sharif.

A & E
We have often heard complaints from hospital staff about how the plethora of targets distort clinical priorities. What we hear more rarely is concrete examples of what this means for patients.

Now a junior doctor has written a book about life working in a busy Accident and Emergency ward. Writing under a pseudonym to protect his anonymity, Dr Nick Edwards argues that although additional resources and targets on waiting times have led to improvements for some, the pressure to achieve those targets can mean medical staff fiddle the figures to ensure patients get the treatment they need. We'll be putting his criticisms to the government's Emergency Health Tzar.

Faking it
A hot topic at the moment is how broadcasters can restore trust in television. Something we've all been discussing here is when does artifice become deception? Now, in an attempt to re-build viewers' trust, Channel Five News has decided to ban "noddies" and "staged questions".

Tonight we'll attempt to show how TV news pieces are put together using these techniques and ask whether this is a bold move towards transparency or an unnecessary over-reaction. Let us know what you think here.

Diana and the Express
It's difficult not to be aware that tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of Princess Diana's death.

Over those ten years one newspaper in particular has assiduously followed every twist and turn in the story of what happened in that tunnel in Paris - the Daily Express. Why is this? Is it just a cheap lead for the Express or has the paper been giving its readers what they want?

Faking it

  • Newsnight
  • 30 Aug 07, 02:31 PM

videocameraA hot topic at the moment is how broadcasters can restore trust in television. Something we've all been discussing here is when does artifice become deception?

Now, in an attempt to re-build viewers' trust, Channel Five News has decided to ban "noddies" and "staged questions".

Tonight on Newsnight we'll attempt to show how TV news pieces are put together using these techniques and ask whether this is a bold move towards transparency or an unnecessary over-reaction. Are "noddies" (shots of the interviewer placed over an edit point), "staged questions" (recorded after the interviewee has left because there is only one camera) and walking set-up shots to introduce an interviewee an acceptable part of the way television programmes are made, or do they distort the truth?

Let us know what you think.

Wednesday, 29 August, 2007

  • Gavin Esler
  • 29 Aug 07, 05:05 PM

David Cameron and the Newsnight panelWe've a special edition of Newsnight tonight in which we talk to the man who - if there really is going to be a General Election this autumn - could be British Prime Minister in a matter of weeks. David Cameron has had a bad summer. Gordon Brown - now ahead in the opinion polls - says the wheels have come off the Cameron bicycle.

I'll be joined by the Newsnight political, economic and diplomatic editors - and we'll be asking Mr Cameron questions based on the many received on this website.

Will he really raise taxes on aircraft passengers? What does he make of the widening gap between rich and poor? He says he wants to reward marriage - does that mean people who have children out of wedlock should think about tying the knot?

Click here to watch the programme now - and leave your comments below.

Tuesday, 28 August, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 28 Aug 07, 05:45 PM

We'll lead tonight with Iraq and the calls from both sides of the Atlantic for the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to resign. The French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner apologised for asking Mr Maliki to go. American politicians think Mr Maliki has failed to unite his country. But how far is this blaming the Iraqis for a catastrophe imposed on the country by ... well ... us?

Dick Cheney is - famously - the most powerful Vice President in US history. But is he now one of the most isolated? With the resignation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General and following Donald Rumsfeld's departure from the Pentagon plus the strategist Karl Rove leaving the White House, how important is Mr Cheney these days?

A year after a serial killer murdered five prostitutes in Ipswich Newsnight has gone back to the city's red light district to see whether a new strategy by the police to crack down on kerb crawlers and offer more support to sex workers is proving a success. If it works, there's a possibility other police forces might use similar methods.

All that plus Denis Healey at 90.

Also, a quick word about tomorrow's special Newsnight programme - an interview with the Conservative party leader David Cameron. He wants to be Prime Minister - but does he have the right stuff to lead our country, after a dismal summer of internal party rows and poor opinion poll ratings? Let us know what you would like us to ask Mr Cameron by contributing to the debate on the Newsnight website.

The James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture

  • Jeremy Paxman
  • 24 Aug 07, 07:30 PM

Never mind the scandals: what’s it all for?

paxo203.jpgOh dear. What a terrible trade we work in. Blue Peter is bent. Five is a faker. Richard and Judy’s competitions give a glorious new meaning to their slogan ‘You say, we pay.’ (They did, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds.) Big Brother gets castigated for being an exploitative freak show. (Sorry, what’s the story there, then?) The ITV press office misrepresents a documentary. Channel Four’s Born Survivor Bear Grylls turns out to need Room Service. Even Children in Need, and Comic Relief, turn out to be guilty of something worse than insufferable smugness. The Prime Minister is mad at us. Even the Queen is cross. And that great Alpha Male, Gordon Ramsay can’t even catch his own fucking fish.

Continue reading "The James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture"

Friday, 24 August, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 24 Aug 07, 04:30 PM

pool203.jpgThe main event in television today is happening in Edinburgh, where the annual TV festival gets underway.
The big topic up for discussion there is standards and what's become of them.

Back in London we'll be doing our bit to reverse this supposed decline.

Our main topic is, once again, the fatal shooting of 11 year old Rhys Jones. Merseyside police have issued a direct appeal for the killer, thought to be a child himself, to give himself up. They also need more information from eyewitnesses.

It is a particular feature of this type of crime that police encounter a wall of silence from the communities that hold the answers. That was the case when 15 year old Billy Cox became the 3rd school child to be shot dead in South London early this year. Today we return to the estate in North Clapham where he died to see what if anything has changed.

Then to Afghanistan where British soldiers are facing daily dangers. It makes news that three more have died, all presumed victims of so-called friendly fire, all the more tragic. It's reported the three, all from the 1st Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment, were killed by an American bomb. Two of their colleagues were injured. We’ll hear the latest.

It makes another battle that's going on, up in Edinburgh, sound quite trivial by comparison, but Jeremy Paxman's lecture to the annual television festival tonight is bound to generate big headlines. Following weeks of debate about trust and standards, he's calling for the rescue of what he says is the "very soul of the medium."

We'll also report from another festival, this one, surprisingly, in North Iraq. It's the first arts festival in that country in recent years and we'll be showing you the highlights.

David Cameron - a Newsnight Special

  • Newsnight
  • 24 Aug 07, 01:06 PM

davidc.jpgDavid Cameron has had a rough few months since Gordon Brown took over as Prime Minister. First there was the Grammar school row: then "David Cameron's Conservatives" failed to make much progress in the Ealing Southall by-election; a stumble on his attack over the Government's running of the NHS; a trip to Rwanda while his constituency was flooded. BUT perhaps most worrying for David Cameron is that, for the first time since becoming leader of his party, he's behind in the polls.

On Wednesday, in a Newsnight special, David Cameron will be quizzed by our Editors about his leadership and what he proposes for Britain. We want to know what you would like us to ask. Let us know here and we'll hope to include some of your questions in the programme.

Thursday, 23 August, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 23 Aug 07, 05:56 PM

Anarchy in the UK?

From tonight's presenter, Emily Maitlis:

rhysjones_nn_203.jpgWhy has the killing of 11 year-old Rhys Jones shocked the entire country? It sounds like a stupid question, but it merits a moment's thought. Is it because he was shot? Is it because he was so young? Or is it because we think it's now symptomatic of the direction in which this country's going? Early this week David Cameron referred to Anarchy in the UK. He hardly coined the phrase. The song title - by the Sex Pistols - was released over 30 years ago. So have things actually got worse, or does every generation think it's on the verge of anarchy?

Two days ago, the story of a sausage hit the headlines. Indeed, the sausage in question hit an elderly man walking past the window of a young-ish boy. The case was brought before the crown prosecution service which was itself confused. Should they try the boy for antisocial behaviour or spend their time and our money elsewhere? Even the media were puzzled. Do we call it Just William? Or Just Stupid? One news bulletin asked.

But perhaps the question is more central than we realise. Does the kind of crime that ends in the shooting of an 11 year-old boy start with the lobbing of a sausage? And if we crack down on one sausage thrower early with parental or court discipline, do we cut down on life-ruining antisocial crime later? They called this zero tolerance in New York and it seemed to work there under Rudy Giuliani. But would it work here? Just one of the questions we'll be considering tonight as we dedicate the entire programme to the issues surrounding the death of Rhys Jones in Liverpool.

Our panel of five - including experts in the field of gun crime, youth work, violent gangs - as well as the Home Secretary herself - will be helping us to analyse why this problem now seems so endemic to Britain, and whether we actually have the root causes right. Today Gordon Brown promised new laws and tougher enforcement. But this country has not been short on initiatives - be they ASBOs or Parenting Orders - which in many cases simply fail to do the job.

Indeed the government itself showed how little sway it had earlier this week: unable to deport a convicted criminal - the killer of headmaster Philip Lawrence - because the European legislation proved too robust to allow it to have its way. So are the institutions which are there to protect - courts, immigration services, police - left impotent by dogged legislation?

This evening, the big questions are tackled head on: What causes violent crime? And how do we stop it.

Join us tonight, and let us know your thoughts below.

Wednesday, 22 August, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 22 Aug 07, 05:26 PM

From tonight's presenter Kirsty Wark:

The EU Constitution is back on the agenda today with the news that three trades unions are throwing their weight behind the campaign for a referendum on the draft treaty. The GMB and RMT are considering using the TUC conference as a platform to press for the vote which was promised on the Constitution in the Labour Party's 2005 election manifesto. The government insists that there is no need for a referendum on the basis that the latest watered down proposals don't amount to a constitution, and don't cede sovereign powers to Europe. But can the Labour Government withstand the political pressure to hold a vote? Sadly Gordon Brown and Angela Merkel are otherwise engaged at a football match but we'll have some pretty high powered substitutes - politicians, thinkers and trades unionists.

Is Russia using Soviet era methods of repression to deal with critics of Vladimir Putin? Larisa Arap - a member of Gary Kasparov's opposition United Civil Front - has been released after being forcibly hospitalised in a psychiatric clinic near her home city of Murmansk. Her case was taken up by human rights campaigners and activists who claim her detention was revenge for exposing the alleged abuse of children at that same psychiatric hospital. Newsnight has secured an interview today with Larisa and we'll also be joined by former political prisoner Vladimir Bukovsky who tells us he knows of other similar cases.

Others have likened America's involvement in Iraq to its role in Vietnam in the 1970s. Now George Bush himself has made the link. In an interesting speech in Kansas, he uses the example of Vietnam as an argument against early withdrawal of troops from Iraq saying in both cases a US withdrawal is harmful to American credibility with its critics. We'll have reaction to the speech from Washington.

And are children getting smarter? Stephanie Flanders has being trying to find out why children seem to perform better in IQ type tests than they used to. Are these children superbrains or were their grandparents just thick? Is it to do with better nutrition, smaller families, or do video and computer games mean that children are better at solving abstract problems?

Tuesday, 21st August, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 21 Aug 07, 04:29 PM

cameron203.jpgPoliticians and the NHS

Politicians love to do battle over the NHS so is David Cameron right about hospital closures or is he wrong? Are a whole load about to close or not? The Conservatives have their list of the 29 at risk and David Cameron has been touring the country to offer them support BUT today a member of his shadow team apologised to his local hospital saying that it was wrong that it was on the list. Since then many Trusts and hospitals on the list have also denied they are under threat. The truth? We'll be trying to find out and testing both Labour and the Conservatives' claims.


Here's a statistic the government wont like. 1.2 million 16-24 year olds are NEETs. In other words more than a million young people in the UK are " Not in Employment, Education or Training. " Jackie Long has been to Walsall to meet and hear from a number of people in this position. Should they be forced into national service? Forced to do community work? We'll be debating radical solutions to the problem

Amnesty Vs the Catholic church

This weekend in Mexico Amnesty International adopted a new aim to work to "support the decriminalisation of abortion" where a woman's health or human rights are in danger. As a result the Catholic church has asked followers to resign from Amnesty. The Bishop of East Anglia has done so after being a member for 31 years. He joins us on the programme to debate with Amnesty his decision.

A GameShow Education

It's India's newest reality TV show and over the weekend Arvind Aradhya won. The prize? A British education - a place on an engineering course at Warwick University to be precise. We'll be asking him whether he's ready for British student life.

Monday, 20th August, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 20 Aug 07, 05:29 PM

basra1203pg.jpg"The British have realised this is not a war they should be fighting, or one they can win."

"There is now a clear recognition that the objectives of their mission cannot be achieved"

The first quote is from the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, from an interview in today's Independent newspaper, and the second is contained in a letter from the Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell to the Prime Minister calling for the British forces to leave Iraq. Meanwhile British forces in Basra are vulnerable to increasing rocket attacks from insurgent s in the desert on their encampment, apparently as many as ten a week. Tonight we'll be assessing whether the British military has "lost" Basra, and, if we have, are we staying there because of transatlantic pressure?

The tents and the banners are coming down and the campfires are cold. Was the week long protest - fest at Heathrow over global warming and airport expansion a damp squib? Is there climate change fatigue - the leading article in the new edition of Ecologist magazine seems to suggest there is. But is that because companies and local authorities have responded to pressure and adopted climate friendlier policies? Is there a lack of leadership from politicians, who once told us that global warming was the biggest threat facing the planet? Or is it because the pollution threat from China and India is so grave, it seems futile for individuals to make tough lifestyle choices which have a miniscule impact.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson is in London to launch Equanomics, an organisation dedicated to the promotion of black leaders in business politics and industry. He was the founder of Operation Push in the states in the early eighties which became the Rainbow Push coalition, and I'll be asking him why he thinks Britain seems resistant to black power.

From Elton John to Roman Abramovitch - owning a football club is a prestigious and expensive business, and not for the faint-hearted, but the new proprietor of Manchester City is perhaps the most controversial yet. The former Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra is spending millions on the club, but back home in Thailand, the country he fled after being ousted in a military coup, he's being prosecuted for corruption, and human rights groups say his record on human rights alone should bar him from owning a football club. We have a profile of a man who is, at least, popular in parts of Manchester.

Friday, 17th August, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 17 Aug 07, 05:28 PM

Tonight’s programme is presented by Jeremy Paxman.

toriestax2_203.jpgThe former Conservative cabinet minister, John Redwood, has outlined how Britain's tax laws should change if the Tories return to power. As well as abolishing inheritance tax and raising the threshold at which workers pay higher-rate income tax, Mr Redwood wants business costs to be cut by a fifth. Political Editor Michael Crick will be finding out if the Conservative leadership are prepared to go for these policies. So will tax become the new battleground at the next election? We hope to be discussing this issue live with a senior Conservative and Labour politician.
Axe inheritance tax, Tories urge

Shares have been recovering on both sides of the Atlantic after the US Federal Reserve cut its discount rates to banks. Our Economics Editor Stephanie Flanders gives us her analysis.
US rate cut boosts global markets

The death toll from four suicide truck bomb attacks near Kirkuk in northern Iraq could be set to rise to 500, according to local officials. We speak to the US Army brigade commander on the ground in Mosul about the recovery operation he's leading and ask him if the surge is really working.
Iraq bomb death toll reaches 344

Are we seeing the slow death of magazines? Britain's best known titles from lads' magazines to women's weeklies are losing their readers in a big way. We discuss their future with two senior magazine editors.

Thursday, 16 August, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 16 Aug 07, 05:28 PM

Tonight's programme is presented by Jeremy Paxman.

marketsdown_203.jpgIt's been another day of turmoil on the markets with the FTSE reacting to big falls on the Asian stock markets overnight and trading below 6,000 for the first time since October last year. So could this loss of faith in the global financial system bring us closer to a recession, or can a little fear amongst traders actually be a good thing? We'll discuss what all the uncertainty means for you.
Heavy losses sweep world markets

We have a special report on the fight for compensation in the Ivory Coast over allegations that a waste dumping scandal left 100,000 people injured, and 16 dead. The company being sued is vigorously defending the case but the victims are determined that Trafigura must pay. We'll be talking to the founder of Trafigura live on the programme.

Our Political Editor Michael Crick will have the latest on the Conservative Party's plans to open up some clear blue water on tax with Labour.

First the commercial airlines, now private jets. Our Business Correspondent Paul Mason has spent the day with the anti-flying protestors as they continue their battle to make us all care about the impact air travel has on the planet.
"Troublemakers" claim at protest

Today is also the anniversary of the 1819 massacre at Peterloo, when the British military killed 11 and injured hundreds taking part in a pro-democracy demonstration in Manchester. It had a huge influence on giving ordinary people the vote. How has the politics of demonstration changed in the ensuing two centuries, and do the ancestors of today's demonstrators deserve a more fitting memorial to their sacrifice?
Call for Peterloo statue memorial

Wednesday, 15 August, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 15 Aug 07, 05:50 PM

From tonight's presenter Kirsty Wark:

Iraq devastation
We begin tonight with what seems to be the worst attack in Iraq since the invasion.

As I write the number of dead in the suicide bombings yesterday in Northern Iraq is reported to have risen to over 250, and there are hundreds of wounded - many with horrific injuries.

The bombers, using fuel tankers and three cars, attacked members of the Yazidi religious sect, a small group of predominantly ethnic Kurds who live in isolated communities and whose religion blends Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The US military said it was too early to say who was responsible for the attack but the scale and apparently coordinated nature of the bombings were hallmarks of Sunni Islamist al Qaeda. The US military commander General David Petraeus is to deliver a progress report on the US "surge" next month and tonight we'll be asking whether the surge itself could have contributed to the violence in a hitherto "quieter" area, and why the Yazidi people may have been attacked now.
Frantic hunt in Iraq bomb rubble

The legacy of partition
Sixty years ago today post colonial India was born, partitioned by the departing British Raj, and amidst today's celebrations are painful memories of the rioting and mass migration that followed. Throughout the tumultuous years that have followed, India has been a democratic secular state and has transformed from a country of extensive poverty to an economic powerhouse. But religious and cultural tensions remain, and not only for Indians in India, but also for Indians, Pakistanis, and Sikhs in the UK. We'll be debating the legacy of partition for second generation British Asians.
India marks independence day

South Africa’s legal storm
The Truth and Reconciliation commission in South Africa left unfinished business, and the country is divided over a groundbreaking legal case. A former minister in South Africa's apartheid regime is to stand trial for the attempted murder 18 years ago of a prominent anti-apartheid clergyman. We'll be reporting from South Africa on the case, which is causing a storm 13 years after the end of white minority rule.

The Political Brain
The book that many politicians will be secreting in their beach bags this summer is a fascinating new exploration of why people vote the way they do by the American professor of psychology and psychiatry, Drew Westen.

His theory - borne out by research into American elections - is that emotion is more important that reason for the voters - and that the politician who can "connect" on an emotional level is more likely to win than the politician who can reel off statistics, policies and promises.

So how does he rate Gordon Brown and David Cameron? I'll be asking both Drew Westen and Rick Nye, the director of the political analysts, Populus. The book is a great read!
The Political Brain - read an excerpt

The pages of spin

  • Michael Crick
  • 14 Aug 07, 06:55 PM

campbell_nn203.jpgI owe an apology – of sorts – to Alastair Campbell. When his diaries came out last month, nobody had much time to read them. On the Monday of publication I managed about 200 pages (out of more than 750), and confined myself to reading about the early years of the Blair government. On Newsnight that night I expressed disappointment. There was nothing very new in the book, I said, and many of the stories sounded quite familiar, I said.

I’ve now read the remaining 550 pages, and done so rather more slowly and carefully than I did the first chunk. I want to modify my verdict. Although it’s true that there are no great bombshells, the diaries are a valuable addition to the growing history of the Blair years. They paint a fascinating, detailed picture of life at the heart of government – the tensions, bickering, and the relentless pressure. I was particularly surprised by Blair’s doubts at so many important moments, and his basic insecurity, so that he would be phoning Campbell every few minutes for reassurance. I can’t wait for the full versions to be published.

Campbell’s friendships are interesting, too. He was in regular contact with the former right-wing Conservative and fellow diarist Alan Clark, and also got on well with several other Tories - Nicholas Soames, David Davis and Michael Heseltine. But as a Manchester United fan, and biographer of Alex Ferguson, I was especially interested in Campbell’s close contacts with the United manager. Ferguson fed Campbell and Blair lots of advice in the run-up to the 1997 election, telling them that Labour was so well ahead in the polls that they should play it safe - as if they were winning a match 2-0 with only a few minutes to go. Let your opponents take all the risks, Ferguson advised, and open themselves up to giving away more goals.

Given the Labour spin doctor’s close friendship with Ferguson, I’ve always been curious as to why Campbell allowed both men to make essentially the same mistake. Ferguson told the world he would retire as United manager in 2002, but that announcement causing him nothing but grief, and he eventually changed his mind of course with only a few months to go (and is still in power at Old Trafford). Then in the autumn of 2004 Tony Blair famously announced a rough timetable for his departure as Prime Minister. Over the next three years that announcement also caused Blair huge trouble. Like Sir Alex, he deeply regretted it.

The lesson to any man of power: time your departure to come as a complete surprise.

Tuesday, 14 August, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 14 Aug 07, 05:40 PM

From tonight's presenter, Kirsty Wark

salmond_nn203.jpgNorth of the border

We begin tonight with the First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond's plans for a referendum on independence.

In their election manifesto the nationalists promised a white paper on a referendum within 100 days of an SNP administration. But the opposition parties have ganged up on the minority administration to oppose any referendum, and without the support of a substantial grouping (and so a majority) it’s hard to see how a referendum could become a reality.

Alex Salmond has called for a "national conversation" and the White Paper encompasses not only the independence option but what's been nicknamed the "devolution max" position under which the Scottish Parliament could have a range of new powers including, for example, fiscal powers, energy policy, or broadcasting.

At the same time the three opposition parties will now jointly review the devolution settlement opening the way to the accrual of further powers.

So it is a potentially dynamic situation which poses a number of questions for the Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Will there be constructive engagement? Tonight I'll be interviewing Alex Salmond. Then, to discuss Scotland’s next step, I’ll be talking to Lord Forsyth, the Conservative former Secretary of State for Scotland, who urges the Conservatives to back the referendum in order to shoot Alex Salmond's fox for once and for all. I’ll also be speaking to Lord Steel of the Liberal Democrats - he was the first Presiding Officer of the Parliament - and the Labour MSP and former Scottish Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson.
SNP outlines independence plans

Pakistan’s anniversary

Pakistan celebrates 60 years since partition. We'll be hearing live from Islamabad and from author and former BBC correspondent Mark Tully – he has made a film for Newsnight to coincide with India's anniversary of independence tomorrow. He'll be looking at how the country has changed, whether it is as tolerant as it likes to think it is and whether the caste system is such a prominent feature of Indian society today as it was 60 years ago. He'll also be assessing how diverse a culture exists in this democracy, whether America's influence is too pervasive and if religious tolerance is actually on the wane.
Pakistan marks 60th anniversary

Lord Biffen remembered

"A great parliamentarian and respected Leader of the House of Commons." That was the Prime Minister's tribute to the former Conservative Minister John Biffen who died early today. Lord Biffen was in Mrs Thatcher's Cabinet first as Chief Secretary to the Treasury but famously fell out with her whereupon he was described as a "semi-detached" member of the Cabinet. Lord Heseltine said that description referred to his ability to see both sides of the argument and that he was a very cerebral politician with a fine mind.
Thatcher leads tributes to Biffin

Find Tony's lost discs

  • Newsnight
  • 14 Aug 07, 03:29 PM

By Steve Smith

beach_203.jpgMany of you have been getting in touch to say how much Tony “Mr Manchester” Wilson will be missed.

We were fortunate enough to record the last substantial interview with the former Factory Records boss before his untimely death. The producers of Desert Island Discs were set to invite Wilson on the programme. The music mogul, telly motormouth and inspiration for the film 24 Hour Party People would have been a great guest, but regrettably it was not to be.

Tony Wilson told us that he would have included Idiot Wind by Bob Dylan in his selection, and Lazyitis by the Happy Mondays. He wanted Atmosphere by Joy Division played at his funeral, he said. But he didn't complete the list of favourite songs while we were with him.

Newsnight Editor Peter Barron wonders what other discs Tony Wilson would have picked to complete the eight that every castaway is allowed to take to the fabled island...

Monday, 13 August, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 13 Aug 07, 07:27 PM

Rove to go
President Bush is waving farewell to the man who, arguably more than any other propelled him into the White House not once but twice. The departure of Karl Rove, Bush's Chief political adviser to spend more time with his family leaves just Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice from the original praetorian guard. The end of the Administration is in sight and it could be that Karl Rove sees little more for a man of a hawklike disposition to do. Rove's fingerprints are on every big Bush decision, in domestic as well as foreign policy, and on much more we didn't witness. His role behind the scenes in political manoeuvres has been described as The Mark of Rove and as an article in the New Yorker once put it, Democrats use "Rove" as shorthand for the Bush administration,as in " Is Rove going to invade Syria?" such was his power. Standing on The White House lawn today with Presdient Bush he said he would remain a fierce and committted advocate on the outside. Tonight we'll offer up two very different views of Karl Rove . We'll be talking to a leading Republican politician and Democratic strategist, Sidney Blumenthal.

Which is the greatest threat, terror or climate change? BAA is accusing the protestors mounting a week of action at Heathrow over the airports expanision plans, of being irresponsible and unlawful. Mark Bullock , the managing director of BAA said, " With the current terrorism threat, keeping Heathrow safe and secure is a very serious business." But at the Camp for Climate Action where the protestors are expecting 1500 people to congregate over the week, a spokeswoman Sophie Stevens said the police were " flexing their muscles." The Met say all officers are being briefed to use their powers "robustly." Tonight we'll be debating protest in a free society, and whether the recent terror attacks - including the one at glasgow airport change the rules.

"A tax cut by any other name," is how John Redwood head of one of David Cameron's policy review groups described Conservative plans to cut £14 billion in red tape and regulation for UK businesses per year. But will easing regulation such as data protection laws, scrapping Home Information Packs, relaxing rules on hours and health and safety regimes be better or worse for business, and would it put a Conservative government on a collision course wih Europe and open up a damaging split again. Speaking to the Financial Times, the Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said a Conservative government would " pick a fight" with Brussels to achieve cuts in red tape. John Redwood, one of the most senior politicians on the right of David Cameron's Conservative party will be live in the studio.

Tomorrow promises to be a wild wet and windy day with the threat of more floods in England and Wales, and flash floods to boot. Can our sewers and drainage systems cope? Luckily for Newsnight our Culture correspondent Steve Smith knows all about underground Britain - not the counterculture but diabolical drains, and he's even written a book on the subject. He has been investigating the best and worst of our subterranean structures. He'll be sharing it with us tonight.

Guess Gordon's Election Date

  • Newsnight
  • 13 Aug 07, 10:14 AM

Gordon's Election Date CalenderGordon Brown's refusal to rule out a snap election means the guessing game will continue - until his conference speech at least. And while the poll dance goes on, so all the parties must pretend they're ready and up for the campaign fight whenever it starts.

Newsnight is offering to help the Prime Minister make up his mind. We'll be taking our giant calendar (see right) to the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth and inviting MPs, activists and pundits to play Guess Gordon's Election Date.

And you can play online too. Simply tell us which day you think Gordon should go to the country - and, assuming you didn't just pick randomly, how you came to your conclusion.

The first possible date for a general election would be October 18. The latest would be mid-June 2010 - that's if the Prime Minister delays asking permission from the Queen until exactly five years after the last national vote. We've only put Thursdays on our calendar - every post-war vote has been on a Thursday - but there's no law against other days.

Friday, 10 August, 2007

  • Kirsty Wark
  • 10 Aug 07, 06:06 PM

British soldiers in BasraGagging order?
The Ministry of Defence has updated its guidelines which some say effectively "gags" soldiers and others in the armed forces. Tonight we'll be asking if this is a reasonable restriction or not.

The latest guidelines specifically say soldiers cannot blog, email or post photographs or videos which relate to defence matters without specific permission. We know a lot about the problems they've faced in Iraq and Afghanistan through the anonymous postings of British and US soldiers - and I imagine the MOD doesn't like it.

The clarification follows the row over the selling of interviews by two of the Royal Navy personnel held captive in Iran, and the report into media communications that followed. But with two more British soldiers killed yesterday and casualties mounting - will there be online mutiny in the ranks? Join the debate here.

Market turmoil
Why did the European Central Bank have to pour jacuzzis of cash into the financial markets to ease a sudden liquidity squeeze? Our Economics Editor, Stephanie Flanders will make it all crystal clear and explain what the "credit crunch" is all about.

The Political Brain
And people engage their emotions more than their powers of reason when they decide who to vote for, according to a fascinating new book - The Political Brain - about the science and practice of persuasion in US politics which will be in many politicians' beach bag.

Drew Weston is a professor of psychology and psychiatry who has examined 50 years of American politics - the campaigns that worked and those which didn't. He discovered that a politician can have a perfectly sound raft of policies and facts and figures to back them up - but if there's no emotional connection between he or she and the voter - they are toast.

He demonstrates Clinton's appeal, but why Democrats then voted for Bush and not Kerry. So what would that analysis reveal here? Does Gordon Brown offer reason, whereas David Cameron's appeal might be emotional - who connects best with the voters? Does Gordon Brown engender the emotion of relief among Labour supporters? Do we make our political judgements in a different way from our American cousins? We'll be speaking to Drew Weston, and with him Rick Nye from Populus.

And Drew Westen's book is the latest addition to the Newsnight Book Club. Read an excerpt and leave your thoughts and reviews here.

The Political Brain by Drew Westen

  • Newsnight
  • 10 Aug 07, 05:19 PM

The Political Brain by Drew WestenIn The Political Brain Drew Westen, professor of psychology and psychiatry at Emory University, examines the role of emotion in determining national politics. Westen looks at how politicians capture the hearts and minds of the electorate and suggests ways in which they might better appeal to voters' brains.

Read the excerpt from the book below, watch the report and interview with Drew Westen on Newsnight, Wednesday 15 August and let us know your thoughts. And don't forget there's plenty of other titles in the Newsnight Book Club.

Continue reading "The Political Brain by Drew Westen"

MoD blog ban

  • Newsnight
  • 10 Aug 07, 03:14 PM

SoldiersThe MoD has issued new guidelines to personnel in the army, RAF, and navy. They state soldiers can no longer blog, post on bulletin boards, or release video, stills or images.

The government says the new restrictions have been put in place following the controversy over the MoD allowing two navy personnel, captured in Iran, to be paid for their stories.

But through these blogs and video posts (see the Army rumour service board and Live Leak video site - watch Newsnight's recent report about Live Leak) we have learnt of inadequate equipment in theatre, and poor accommodation, as well as unique testimony of soldiers' lives in Afghanistan and Iraq.

So have these restrictions been put in place to quell criticism? Are they legal? Are there good security considerations for the ban? And why, when blogs and video posts have been used by soldiers since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, are the MoD suddenly gagging their personnel?

Let us know what you think.

Thursday, 9 August, 2007

  • Kirsty Wark
  • 9 Aug 07, 06:15 PM

Cattle graze on a farm close to Pirbright in SurreyFoot and mouth
We begin tonight with an extraordinary discovery made by the Newsnight team investigating the foot and mouth outbreak. The disease may have been contained by culling, and the ban on cattle movement relaxed, but the Pirbright site could still be vulnerable to another outbreak, and will be so until radical action is taken. We'll explain all tonight and are hoping to put our findings to a government minister.

Krishna Maharaj
The 68-year-old British businessman Krishna Maharaj spent 15 years on death row in Florida, and has been in prison there for more than twenty - convicted of a double murder he insits he did not commit. Jack Straw believes him, so too does Harriet Harman, Peter Hain, the former Attorney Generals Lord Goldsmith and Lord Lyall, London Mayor Ken Livingstone, the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Dholakia and 300 politicians on both sides of the House who are calling for a retrial. Most importantly, having spent months investigating the case, the Foreign Office says it believes there is "prima facie evidence of a miscarriage of justice." Today Krishna Maharaj, armed with six alibi witnesses, begins his final appeal for clemency. Newsnight's Tim Samuels, who has visited Mr Maharaj in jail many times over the years, interviews him about his last chance for freedom. Read Tim's report here.

What is going on in Pakistan? General Musharraf threatens to declare a state of emergency then backs away. Was it a smokescreen for domestic problems and an attempt to delay elections and the introduction of civilian rule? Was it also an excuse for staying at home rather than attending a jirga hosted by President Karzai to talk about dealing with Taliban and Al Qaeda violence, one consequence of which is the deaths of British and US soldiers in Afghanistan? Today President Bush told the Pakistani leader he expected him to take swift action to crack. Our Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban gives us his take on what is probably the most critical region in the world today.

Role models
As a government report points the finger at rap artists for providing bad role models for black kids, we'll be dissecting who exactly produces rap, who listens to it, and what effect it really has.

Who owns the Arctic sea bed? Canada scoffed at the legal significance of Russia's planting of a flag on the oil rich bottom of the Arctic - only to spring into action a week later, attempting to complete an undersea map. The US Geological Survey estimates 25% of the world's undiscovered oil and gas lies in the Arctic. So who does it belong to? We hope we'll be able to tell you tonight.

Illegal candidate

  • Michael Crick
  • 9 Aug 07, 03:50 PM

Tony Lit and David CameronA viewer, Dan Bindman, has written to say that the Conservative candidate in the Ealing by-election, Tony Lit, wasn’t even qualified to stand - at least not under Conservative Party rules.

As everyone knows, Mr Lit only joined the party a few days before he was unveiled as the Tory candidate in Ealing. Dan points out that under the party rules, a candidate must have belonged to the party for at least three months before he can stand for a Parliamentary election.

It’s all set out in the following document which one can download from the Conservative Party website here.

"Do I need to be a member of the Conservative party to be a candidate?" it asks in one of a series of questions and answers. The response: "We require everyone to be a paid-up member of the party of at least 3 months."
Mr Lit made much in his election literature about how he’d been personally asked by David Cameron to stand as the candidate.

Perhaps if the Tory leader had obeyed his party rules, and let the local association in Ealing pick their contender (in line with his commitment to devolving power), he would have faced a lot less grief.

Wednesday, 8 August, 2007

  • Kirsty Wark
  • 8 Aug 07, 05:50 PM

British troops in BasraIraq
Tonight we open with an exclusive investigation by our Diplomatic Editor into Iranian involvement in, and leadership of, attacks on British and US forces in Iraq. Mark Urban has high level intelligence pointing to the use of bombs designed with Iranian technology - one of which killed a British soldier. Add to that accusations that large numbers of Iraqi insurgents have been trained in Iran and one question for tonight is whether these actions are sanctioned by the Iranian government.
This comes as The Washington Post reports a senior US Intelligence figure as saying British forces have been beaten in Basra - where the Iranians are said to be active in fuelling the increasing violence. I'll be asking John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the UN and the Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, how the West should be dealing with Iran .

Foot and mouth
Tests have been carried out on all the drains at the Pirbright site, encompassing both the Institute of Animal Health and the Merial Laboratory, in an effort to discover the source of the outbreak of Foot and Mouth, and they are being sent to the government tonight. In developments today, the Chief Vet confirmed she is ordering the culling of cattle on an adjacent farm in Surrey - though it appears to be a precautionary measure rather than the response to any sign of the disease. She also announced a relaxation on of the ban on the movement of livestock in England and Wales, following the relaxation in Scotland. We'll bring you the latest on the tests.

Undercover mosque
In the latest episode in the TV "fakery" saga - the editing of a Channel Four programme Undercover Mosque has led to a formal complaint to Ofcom by West Midlands Police. The commissioning editor of the series Kevin Sutcliffe defended the programme saying he believed 'the comments made in this film speak for themselves - several speakers were clearly shown making abhorrent and extreme comments." However Abu Usamah, one of the preachers featured in the programme, said "to try and demonise the efforts of these people by taking their comments out of context was shocking." Who is right? Tonight we hope to bring together a leading member of the mosque in question with Kevin Sutcliffe of Channel Four.

And could corn become the fuel of the future? Ethanol, the fuel made from corn, is being touted in the US as a domestic alternative to oil from the Middle East. We've been to Iowa, to find out how American corn farmers are becoming an increasingly important lobby in the presidential race.

Eat, shoot and leave - should evolution run its course?

  • Newsnight
  • 8 Aug 07, 12:57 PM

Giant pandaA team of scientists has concluded that a freshwater dolphin found only in China's Yangtze river is now "likely to be extinct". If confirmed, it would be the first extinction of a large vertebrate for over 50 years.

The scientists added that human activity - such as building dams - may have contributed to the dolphin's decline.

But is human activity just part of evolution? Shouldn't evolution be allowed to run its course?

And why do we strive to keep some species such as Giant Pandas alive - despite obvious evolutionary shortcomings - yet neglect others?

What do you think?

Tuesday, 7 August, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 7 Aug 07, 06:19 PM

From programme producer Kavita Puri.

A dead cow is moved into a lorry in SurreyFoot and Mouth
We are eagerly awaiting the Health and Safety Executive report into the source of the foot and mouth outbreak. Our team have found out some interesting developments which we'll reveal tonight. We shall also be reporting on the economic impact on the farming community.

In a volte face the British government has asked the US to release - from Guantanamo - prisoners with rights to reside in Britain. Who are these men - and how will they be supervised here? And is Gordon Brown sending mixed messages out on security?

Madeleine McCann
There's a whirlwind of speculation about Madeleine's disappearance, prompted by the reported comments from some police sources in the Portuguese press that they believe she may not have been kidnapped.

Zimbabwe cafe
And independent film-maker Eugene Ullman has a remarkable film from Harare. From the Book Cafe he reports on a group of artists who are able to express themselves and their art without fear of censorship. Read his article here.

Join Jeremy at 2230 on BBC Two and live on the website.

Iraqi interpreters - visa fight continues

  • Richard Colebourn
  • 7 Aug 07, 10:11 AM

Iraqi interpreters with US troopsDAMASCUS: The Sayidda Zeinab area of Damascus is now known to Syrians as ‘little Baghdad’. Above the traffic noise you can hear the shouts of bus drivers advertising services to and from Baghdad and Kirkuk. Stalls sell traditional Iraqi sweets that are unknown to the Syrians.

Outside the Fallujah Café, two teams warm up for a regular football game between Syrians and Iraqis. Some of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees now living here make up an enthusiastic crowd.

I met Jassim here earlier in the year when I interviewed him forNewsnight’s report about the death threats against Iraqi employees of the British and American governments. (Read my article here or watch the film here.) Until early this year, Jassim was working for the British military in Basra. He has continuously served alongside British soldiers since the start of the Iraqi conflict in 2003. But when a friend and fellow translator was kidnapped and decapitated, and Jassim received a death threat sent as a text message to his mobile phone, he knew he had to leave Iraq.

He arrived in Damascus clutching a stack of letters of recommendation from senior officers in a number of different British army regiments. They praise his hard work and bravery. But despite such commendations, he receives no support from his former employer. The British Embassy in Damascus refuses to let him in to even discuss his situation.

I wanted to find out whether things have improved since the media coverage.

“We’ve had no luck with visas,” he tells me. “They still won’t talk to us. We’re stuck here and we’re not allowed to work.”

The situation facing Jassim and his colleagues hasn’t received much attention in Britain – from the media or from politicians. By contrast, this is now a big issue in the United States.

The Washington Post has published a leaked memo written by the current US Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker. In it, he calls on the US State Department to grant immigrant visas to all Iraqis currently employed by the Americans.

“Unless they know that there is some hope of an [immigrant visa] in the future, many will continue to seek asylum, leaving our Mission lacking in one of our most valuable assets,” he writes.

Meanwhile, Senator Edward Kennedy has pushed legislation through Capitol Hill to deliver more visas for the translators. Lanny Davis, former Clinton White House Counsel and Newsnight regular, has set up a bipartisan campaign. And the New Yorker journalist George Packer is even writing a play about the plight of the translators he interviewed for his article, ‘The Betrayed’.

Iraqi interpreter works with Danish troopsThere is another development in this story. The Danish government will soon withdraw its 470 troops from Iraq. It recently emerged that, prompted by political pressure, they have secretly airlifted to Denmark the 200 Iraqi translators, and their families, who worked alongside them.

Gordon Brown has said that any recommendation on the future role of Britain’s troops in Iraq could be put to Parliament after the summer recess. Although Jassim has already left Iraq, he hopes for the sake of his colleagues left in Basra that the Ministry of Defence or the Foreign Office would consider copying the Danish evacuation.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
UPDATE - 8 Aug:
- - - - - - - - - - - -

The British government says it will review the cases of 91 Iraqi interpreters told their asylum claims will not be given special treatment. Defence Secretary Des Browne said the government took its "duty of care very seriously".

Monday, 6 August, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 6 Aug 07, 04:21 PM

From tonight's presenter Emily Maitlis

poster.gifFoot and Mouth
Is it possible that the agencies responsible for stopping the spread of Foot and Mouth have effectively been responsible for starting it? This curious irony may seem less of a curious irony if you're a farmer. Many of them just find it outrageous the country's facing the disease once again. We're about to learn the exact source of the virus.

Currently, the investigation is focusing on a private pharmaceutical company - Merial - which makes the vaccine for use in other countries - and the government-run Institute for Animal Health. There's even a suggestion flooding may have caused the outbreak. Inevitably, questions of whether to vaccinate cattle instead of cull them have now become more prescient. But even those who favour inoculation admit this outbreak is something of an “own goal”. We'll be discussing the impact this is likely to have on the way we handle the disease here longer term.

The company has been accused by protesters, of “legal bullying”, since it won a partial injunction from the High Court banning some environmental campaigners from creating a camp outside the airport. Protesters are fighting the planned third runway at Heathrow which they say will do incalculable damage to people living in the developing world through climate change. BAA argues the camp will create a security risk at a time of heightened terror alert and heavy passenger flow. But is the airport authority using the cover of security to silence those who make life uncomfortable for it? We'll be debating with both sides tonight.

A breakout at an immigration centre, with convicts on the loose: if only this were a new story. Unfortunately it's not. Campsfield's problems began just six months after it opened, in 1993, when six detainees broke out after a rooftop protest. In 1997 a report warned the centre was unsafe. In 2003, another warning that it was not a place of safety. And tonight, as I write, 14 convicted criminals are still on the run. Why has so little improved despite the warnings? Does the heavy campaigning of some local residents to have it shut down completely have anything to do with it?

Peru's war zone workers
Peru may seem utterly remote from the war on terror. In fact it's linked in a way that appears to be quite shocking. Young Peruvian men are being recruited to help protect coalition staff and troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are attracted by the relatively generous salaries - but many pay a heavy price. We meet some of those who have sustained horrific injuries and who are now battling for compensation. How did the war on terror become so globalized? And why, despite international condemnation, are these men still being employed in these dangerous roles? Paul Mason and Fernando Lucena bring us their stories.

Friday, 3 August, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 3 Aug 07, 05:34 PM

From tonight's presenter, Kirsty Wark:

darfur1_203.jpgWe begin tonight with Sudan as the myriad Darfur rebel factions arrive in Tanzania for UN sponsored negotiations ahead of peace talks with the Sudanese government. After what was described by some in the media as Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy's diplomatic triumph of agreeing to send troops to Sudan, we examine the challenges facing the UN over its resolution on Darfur. Is there the international will to make it work?

Christian Aid has told Newsnight that the UN mandate is weak and the wording gives the Sudanese Government the chance to wriggle out of their commitments. They feel it could take over nine months to deploy the 26,000 peacekeeping troops and there isn't enough of a sense of urgency. Marry that to a seemingly reluctant support for the plan from Sudan's president who only last week accused Britain and the US of overplaying the problem in Darfur. I'll be interviewing the Sudanese Ambassador to the UN live.
Key Darfur rebel to boycott talks

The number of home repossessions in Britain has risen by an extraordinary 30% in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2006. Why is it happening now and is this an indicator of worse to come in the housing market?
Home repossessions "rise by 30%"

Then we turn to the big political story that's been rumbling and grumbling this week. Have crucial parts of the draft European Treaty been lost in translation or not? How different is this draft treaty - published now in English - from the old one, and do the changes justify the government decision to abandon its manifesto commitment on a referendum? Political Editor Michael Crick investigates and then the Europe Minister Jim Murphy goes head-to-head with his political shadow, Mark Francois, over the issue of a referendum.

Some may describe Newsnight's daily e-mail as a bit of a blog but it’s only an infinitesimal part of the vast blogging universe. It is especially populated in the US where it is now having a significant impact on politics. This weekend, starting today, each of the eight US democratic contenders will be at a big political blogging convention in Chicago. We delve into the world of political blogging with a leading political blogger here, Iain Dale.

Click here for details of Newsnight Review

Thursday, 2 August, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 2 Aug 07, 06:33 PM

From tonight's presenter Kirsty Wark:

The actor Chris Langham has been found guilty on 15 charges of downloading child porn. He first claimed his actions were to aid his research for a new comedy series, and then said he was abused as a child, and felt an empathy with the children in the images. What will be the impact of such a high profile conviction on others who download images of child abuse - if any? And how do we break through to the thousands of people who are in denial about the reasons for their shocking actions?
Actor convicted over child porn

There was yet more sadness today for the family of Jean Charles de Menezes with the extraordinary revelation that off-duty police officers at a cricket match knew of fears that an innocent man had been shot dead by police before the head of the Metropolitan Police was told. In fact, according to the Independent Police Complaints Commission report which was published today, the head of The Met, Sir Ian Blair, was almost totally uninformed of events following the death of Mr Menezes. Robin Denselow delves into the report.
Anti-terror police "misled" public

The Mississippi River in Minneapolis is a scene of devastation. It follows the collapse of a major bridge, a crucial artery, at evening rush hour which sent cars and people tumbling in an avalanche of concrete and steel. So far four people have died and dozens are still missing. But it could have been even worse had four of the eight lanes not been closed for repairs. We will be looking at the science of bridges and what structural engineers and architects need to consider to avoid these types of disasters.
Bid to recover Mississippi bodies

The major international focus on Iran has been to challenge its nuclear programme, but the greater pressure on President Ahmadinejad may be pressure from within the country over the economy. This huge oil producer has even been reduced to rationing petrol. As Britain and the US push for new sanctions against Iran could the economy be the undoing of the hardline president?

Wednesday, 1 August, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 1 Aug 07, 05:03 PM

Tonight's programme is presented by Jeremy Paxman.

From the programme producer Jasmin Buttar:

Sham Marriages
brides_152152.jpgTonight, in an undercover investigation, we reveal how the expansion of the European Union is providing new opportunities for those looking for a way to gain British residency. We show how Polish women - who now have the right to live and work here - are being approached and offered thousands of pounds to marry men who want to settle in the UK.

British Airways
“Any person who flew on a British airways flight between the UK and US paid more for their airline tickets as a result of this illegal cartel” - the damning verdict of the US Department of Justice today on a price-fixing deal between British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. We'll ask what impact this latest scandal will have on the world's favourite airline.
BA's price-fix fine reaches £270m

The Taleban's deadline for 21 South Korean hostages passed this morning. We'll have the latest and will ask why President Karzai agreed to the release of Taleban prisoners in return for the freedom of an Italian but refused to do the same in this case. Who is really pulling the strings in this drama? We'll speak to a former Taleban hostage.
Afghans warned of military action

Party Funding
Our Political Editor Michael Crick has spent his day digging around the accounts of the main political parties. Could they afford to run a campaign in the event of a snap election?

The Murdoch Empire Expands
Rupert Murdoch is on the verge of adding the Wall Street Journal to his media stable. What could it mean for one of America's most prestigious newspapers and what can we learn about the Murdoch effect from the fortunes of his past acquisitions?
Murdoch wins fight for Dow Jones

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