Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

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.

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