Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Friday, 28 September, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 28 Sep 07, 05:35 PM

From tonight's presenter, Emily Maitlis:

gbnn_203.jpgHow snap is snap?

It takes a certain talent - as Gordon Brown might say - to be in the right place at the right time.

Something the Secretary of state for Culture, James Purnell, is discovering to his peril today. But more on that later in the programme...

Timing will certainly be crucial to the call of an election. And tonight we'll be doing pretty much what we imagine Mr Brown will be doing this weekend. Consolidating the myriad polls, mountains of advice, and conflicting external factors to tell him on what date he should go to the country if he goes for a snap election.

We'll speak to a panel who know all about giving political advice - and ask them just how much is left to chance in these decisions.


What would it take to complete a full scale revolution in Burma? How close are the protestors to their end game?

The thing that tipped the 1988 revolt into a revolution was a split within the army and a general strike by Burma's working class. So how does a country - where trade unions are banned - mastermind a revolution?

Paul Mason has been speaking to some of those working - in exile - to exact change in their homeland, and asks whether a shift within the military could occur this time.

And we hear from Pascal Khoo Thwe - one of those politicised by the Burma uprising in 1988. His book - From the Land of Green Ghosts - puts the human face on the atrocities perpetrated by the generals who took over the country. Tonight, he tells us his story.

Thursday, 27 September, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 27 Sep 07, 05:35 PM


Reports today from Burma suggest things have taken a turn for the worse. We'll examine what - realistically -- the outside world can do to help end the bloodshed. Diplomatic Editor, Mark Urban will bring us the latest.


Will he, won't he? Well, would you give up your job to help Labour next week? Some activists are being asked to do so. Does that add up to an election in November? Political Editor Michael Crick will read the tea leaves.


We've a follow up to our report on the conditions for some young workers in the pizza chain. The Chief Executive will respond to the new allegations and we hope to be joined by a Government minister responsible for the rights of workers.


She's the first female cellist to record Elgar's concerto since Jacqueline du Pre made it her trademark in 1965, but she's having to struggle with unsought comparisons to a tragic legend. Our Culture Correspondent, Madeleine Holt talks to her about the du Pre comparison, Elgar, plus sex and sales.

Wednesday, 26 September, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 26 Sep 07, 06:51 PM


Watching ten thousand protesters march past the Embassy in Rangoon, the British Ambassador described today's demonstrations to us as "quite exceptional". He says despite nuns and monks having been beaten they will keep coming back onto the streets. Mark Canning also tells us of his 500 mile trip to meet the government. On the day the military junta began its crackdown we'll be hearing first hand accounts from inside Burma.

Following the Foreign Secretary David Miliband's interview with us yesterday on the extent of British investment in Burma, we have had further responses from the Foreign Office and the Burma Campaign which you can see posted on our website. Our Business Correspondent Paul Mason will attempt to clarify the position and to uncover the extent of British investment and trade with Burma.


We have an extraordinary film from video journalist Vaughan Smith. If you want to know what life is like for soldiers in Afghanistan this is the nearest you'll get to it.


And Michael Crick has been wandering around the Labour Party conference armed with his election calendar. He's been looking at November 1st and 8th as possible dates for a General Election. And he's been talking to psephologists and a former cabinet minister about what could be going through the Prime Minister's mind.

Do join Jeremy who's safely back in the studio, at 10:30pm tonight.

British investment in Burma

  • Newsnight
  • 26 Sep 07, 04:11 PM

Last night, during our coverage of the unfolding situation in Burma, we reported claims that the government has not stopped British companies trading with the Burmese regime and that Britain is the second biggest foreign investor in that country.

miliband_203nn.jpgDuring the interview that followed, the Foreign Secretary David Miliband rejected these claims, and said that as far as he knew there were no major companies still investing there. But he promised to clarify the situation and post it on the website.

You can see the Foreign Office statement, and a response from the Burma Campaign UK, by clicking here.

Tell us what you think...

Iraq: right or wrong?

  • Newsnight
  • 25 Sep 07, 06:53 PM

Tonight on Newsnight, as Jeremy mentioned in his e-mail, we'll bring you a special Newsnight debate from the fringe of the Labour conference.

soldierdark_203.jpgIraq may have barely merited a mention in Gordon Brown's speech yesterday, but there's no doubt that it's still a hugely controversial issue within the Party.

We asked two people - the Labour MP Mike Gapes and Oliver Kamm to make the case for the invasion, and two others - the Labour MP Bob Marshall-Andrews and comedian Mark Steel - to make the case against, and asked delegates to put their points.

We want to know what you think. Tell us here.

Tuesday, 25 September, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 25 Sep 07, 03:32 PM

From tonight's presenter, Jeremy Paxman:

dmili_203.jpgWhere to begin in attempting to describe to you the unalloyed joy that is the Newsnight team's lot in covering party conferences?

Imagine an underground car park. Now fill it with temporary desks and chairs, laptops, televisions and phones. Then cover the desks in a delightful collection of old newspapers, plastic bags and filthy fast food containers. Scent the air with the aroma of many overheated people and a lot of decaying food.

You begin to conjure up the BBC office.

Now add the dilemma facing the staff. These events ceased to have much political significance years ago. When they made party policy they mattered. Now they're just a very expensive series of rallies.

So, welcome to my world.

The most remarkable thing, of all, however, is what seems to have happened to the delegates. I believe that embalmers remove the blood from corpses before they fill them with preserving fluid.

Well, something similar seems to have happened here. All passion has vanished. There are things called “debates” happening. But they lack that critical factor in discussion, which is a difference of opinion. Mostly what happens is that someone gets the nod from the chair, goes to the microphone and makes an appeal to the leadership or the party. Then they sit down and someone else has a go. Then the bigwig responsible - or sometimes a group of bigwigs - takes the microphone for a much longer period.

This morning we had David Miliband on foreign policy. Actually, although he delivered his first Foreign Secretary's speech to conference as if he was the school swot being asked to talk at Speech Day, he had some rather interesting things to say.

The most charged event of the last 10 years of Labour foreign policy has been the Iraq War. The hundreds of thousands of dead there aren't - of course - being debated in Bournemouth. So we've just staged our own Iraq debate, which you can see on tonight's show.

Miliband was interesting because he was trying to lay out what he called the “Second Wave of New Labour Foreign Policy”. I'll be asking tonight whether this amounts to anything more than forgetting the First Wave.

Now, back to the fug.

Monday, 24 September, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 24 Sep 07, 04:28 PM

brownsmile203.jpg"I will not let you down," says Gordon Brown as he promises to build a "Britain of aspiration" in his first speech to the Labour conference as Prime Minister. But can he really "unlock the talents" of the British people and provide public services "personal to all"? Jeremy is at Labour's conference in Bournemouth and will be interviewing Cabinet Minister Jack Straw.

Plus, what do the voters think of the new Prime Minister and his Tory rival David Cameron? Frank Luntz speaks to a focus group of floating voters who are… err… less than flattering.

And the game that's sweeping the conference - Guess Gordon's Election Date.
I won't let you down, says Brown

Guest speakers are often welcomed within the hallowed walls of America's Ivy league colleges. Occasionally, they even have quite controversial things to say. But some cause more of a stir than others. Tonight, Iran's president will be welcomed at a question and answer session at Columbia University in New York.

Students will be able to ask Mahmoud Amadinejad about his government's policies, his Holocaust denial, and his alleged development of nuclear weapons. It promises to be quite a good watch, and we'll bring you the highlights, Match of the Day style, of Iran's answer to The Special One.
Burmese military threatens monks

It's been a huge show of dissent against a government not known for it's tolerance of dissent. Up to a hundred thousand protesters have marched through the streets of Rangoon - the sixth day of marches, sparked by economic worries over the government's rise in fuel prices.

The demonstrations in Burma have grown in size and confidence by the day. In fact few can understand why the ruling junta hasn't cracked down on them before now. Today, the first shot across the bows as the country's religious leader warned the many marching monks not to take their protests further, invoking images of the violence that occurred during the last crackdown. So will the protestors take heed? Or has the peace movement gathered enough momentum to carry on regardless?
Anger at Iran leader's NY speech

Friday, 21 September, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 21 Sep 07, 05:12 PM

Richard Dannatt
General Sir Richard DannattDo we actually appreciate the work our soldiers are doing in Iraq? Never one to fear the outspoken word, the head of the army, General Sir Richard Dannatt has voiced his concern about the growing gulf between serving soldiers and the rest of the population. His worry is that men and women returning from war find the public increasingly dismissive or indifferent. Or just don’t understand the cause for which they've been offering their lives.

Newsnight has looked extensively at the covenant between soldier and public in recent weeks (watch here). But this is the first time a top military leader has explicitly shown his fear of this dislocation. And implicitly, perhaps, criticism of the mission itself?
Army chief's concern over public
Watch more Newsnight Iraq reports

Back in Business
If Gordon Brown ne Prudence was worried the past week of Northern Rockiness would have cost him his reputation as the Iron Chancellor, his mind may be put at rest after the results of this poll. Newsnight has found Labour comfortably ahead of the other parties when voters are asked whom they would trust to best run the economy. The ICM poll indicated a high level of confidence among the public about the economic climate, and surprisingly perhaps, even their own financial prospects. So armed with this knowledge and a possible spring in his step, is Gordon more likely to announce a snap election next week? We'll discuss the political fallout from Northern Rock and the Labour conference ahead.
BBC News party conference coverage

Lack of Respect?
Is the Respect party - built upon a coalition of anti-war feeling, fronted by Big Brother inmate and MP for Bethnal Green and Bow George Galloway - on the point of collapse? Michael Crick has the story.

George ClooneyRosie Boycott, John O'Farrell and Sarfraz Manzoor join Martha for this week's look at film, art and tv.

Up for debate and dsicussion this week: Michael Clayton - George Clooney stars in a corporate law thriller; Billie Piper returns to the small screen as a high-class prostitute with a notorious blog in ITV2 drama Secret Diary of a Call Girl; a major retrospective of the work of German painter Georg Baselitz at the Royal Academy; and Ken Loach's film It's a Free World - a story of the exploitation of the thousands of immigrants who come to Britain each year seeking work.
Read more about all the items featured this week, on the Newsnight Review website.

Thursday, 20 September, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 20 Sep 07, 05:03 PM

Shouting fire in a crowded cinema
KingThis is how John McFall MP described the effect of the governor of the Bank of England's intervention as lender of last resort to Northern Rock last week.

Mervyn King, was being grilled by MPs at the Treasury Select Committee over his handling of the banking crisis in recent weeks. The Governor forthrightly defended his actions but worryingly stated that current legislation prevented him from taking the action he felt necessary - covertly supporting Northern Rock.

In effect he is saying the current system does not work. So why, some are asking, has it taken him so long to realise this?
Bank chief defends role in crisis

Liberal Democrats
Michael Crick has been watching Menzies Campbell's speech down in Brighton. The audience seemed happy but behind the scenes has it silenced the whisperings of discontent about his leadership?
I'm not too old, says Sir Menzies

Voting on climate change
When US Pollster Frank Luntz asked our focus group of "sceptics" and "believers" what climate change meant to them he couldn't shut them up.

We asked him to find out how important environmental policies are to a group of British voters. If the strength of the response from them is anything to go by, politicians still have a lot of work to do to convince people that their actions would make any difference.
Climate change: in-depth

Sue Lloyd Roberts' exclusive film for Newsnight last week provided first hand evidence for many of just how serious the humanitarian crisis is in Zimababwe at the moment. Now Gordon Brown has reacted in an article today.

He has said that he will not attend the forthcoming EU-Africa Summit in Portugal if Robert Mugabe goes but the Portuguese government doesn't agree. It says he should be invited because other African leaders want him to attend.

How is Zimbabwe reacting to the Prime Minister's intervention? We will be talking to the Zimbabwean ambassador to the UN live on the programme.
Brown threatening Mugabe boycott

Naming the dog
And, we've had a huge response to our "name the dog" competition. The results are here.

Give a dog a bad name

  • Peter Barron
  • 20 Sep 07, 04:14 PM

AwoogaThanks to everyone who took part in our competition to name Newsnight's imaginary dog.

It's been a cautionary lesson in the dangers of inviting the viewer into the pet-naming process. A few of you came up with droll suggestions - I liked "Mervyn. Chasing his tail", "Warkies" and "Did you threaten to overrule him? maybe Diddy for short" - but I'm sorry to say the early leader didn't show a great deal of imagination on your part.

Last night it seemed certain the winner would be "Paxo", and frankly I thought we might have to overrule you. But then, like the Today programme before us, we fell victim to what was clearly a write-in campaign aimed at distorting the outcome of the vote.

From nowhere the name "Awooga" appeared and quickly gathered steam. By our deadline of 3pm today "Paxo" or variations thereof had 54 votes and "Awooga" had stormed up on the rails to...exactly the same number - 54. What to do?

In the current climate of budgetary restraint we thought it wouldn't be appropriate to have two imaginary dogs, so we've given ourselves the casting vote. On the grounds that "Awooga" was a pure-bred, if coordinated, suggestion whereas "Paxo" came in several mongrel variations, we hereby name the Newsnight dog "Awooga".

Having checked our urban slang dictionary we don't think it's a rude word, but perhaps you, the viewer, know better?

Do politicians have the answers to climate change?

  • Newsnight
  • 20 Sep 07, 03:57 PM

EarthTonight on Newsnight we have convened a focus group to look at how politicians from the leading parties perform on environmental issues.

US pollster, Frank Luntz asked a group of sceptics and believers how important policies on the environment were to them. We'd like to know what you think.

Are you willing to pay more in green taxes? Will environmental policies influence the way you vote in a general election?

Naming cats and dogs

  • Newsnight
  • 19 Sep 07, 08:51 PM

Socks the catThe Media Guardian is reporting that a former Blue Peter editor has been suspended from the BBC over allegations of another case of viewer deception following a public vote to name the programme's cat.

It's believed the name which came out as favourite among Blue Peter viewers was deemed inappropriate so the feline friend was named Socks instead by the programme. (Visit Socks' website.)

Newsnight doesn't have any pets (unless you count the mouse Jeremy claims lives in his office) but maybe we should. Maybe we'll get a dog. Only thing is we'll need a name for the pooch - any suggestions?

No prizes, just a bit of fun...


Wednesday, 19 September, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 19 Sep 07, 05:48 PM

spence203.jpgThe Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire says she can't cope with the increased costs of having thousands of new immigrants in her region. She says some new immigrants "have different standards" than the locals, and blames them for an increase in drink driving among other offences. Richard Watson has been to Cambridgeshire to find out more.

We'll speak to the Home Office Minister Liam Byrne, Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesman Nick Clegg and Andrew Green from Migrationwatch about the pressures of immigration on our public services.
Police chief fears migrant impact

Money men
Who are the "masters of the Universe" who run the City and Wall Street and ...err…. what is it they actually do?
Global credit crunch

Martin Amis is starting a new job as a Professor of Creative Writing at Manchester University - why is he doing this and what is the future for the novel anyway?

Blue Peter
All the above and the lastest scandal to hit Blue Peter - this time the cat's to blame.

Tuesday, 18 September, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 18 Sep 07, 02:22 PM

From tonight's presenter Gavin Esler

nrock.100gif.gifNorthern Wreck
The latest on Northern Rock - the Chancellor's offer to compensate every existing investor for every penny seems to be the right medicine to calm the turmoil - at least for now. But why did he take so long to administer it? We'll be speaking to the Chairman of the Financial Services Authority, Sir Callum McCarthy.

And on the day the US Federal reserve will pronounce on interest rates, we’ll be asking what is the outlook for the wider economy?

The Syrian Mystery
We know two things. We know that Israel bombed Syria. And we know that no-one in Israel or Syria will officially tell us why. We'll try to unravel the mystery.

We'll be speaking to a senior Syrian diplomat and former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton. The Israeli Government don't seem to be keen to speak at the moment.

Carbon labels
Have you ever thought about the impact of a packet of crisps on the world? Walkers Crisps have put a label on their packets telling consumers how much carbon dioxide has been emitted making their product. It's part of a scheme by the Carbon Trust to get manufacturers to reduce their carbon emissions and get consumers thinking about carbon in products - which account for over half of the UK's carbon footprint. But will a label be enough to tackle climate change and what does 75g of carbon dioxide (the amount emitted from each packet of crisps) actually mean to consumers? Paul Mason reports.

Citizens' juries

  • Newsnight
  • 18 Sep 07, 12:54 PM

gb18_9.gifGordon Brown has launched his vision of 'New Politics' to broaden consultation in goverment decisions. Security, climate change, global competition, the NHS and schools could be opened up for public debate.

Which subjects do you think should be discussed and is a public forum the best way to do this? How effective do you think these forums will be in reality?

Let us know your thoughts by filling in the form below. You can also view other comments here or watch some video blogs by clicking here.

Monday, 17 September, 2007

  • Gavin Esler
  • 17 Sep 07, 04:59 PM

Northern Rock
Northern RockPoliticians are calling for investors in Northern Rock not to panic. But a lot of investors are simply not listening, and have taken to high streets up and down the country to withdraw their money. Paul Mason has been in the queue with them. He's also been finding out the latest on any potential takeover bid.

Meanwhile our economics editor Stephanie Flanders has been trying to find out if anything could have been done to prevent the crisis, and who if anyone is responsible. As the Federal Reserve considers whether to cut interest rates tomorrow - we'll be comparing the Bank of England's approach - and asking if their strategy to deal with the financial crisis was the right one.

Lib Dems
In the last of our series of interviews with the party leaders, Sir Menzies Campbell is in the spotlight. He's cross examined by Stephanie and our political correspondent David Grossman - and says he has no intention of stepping down as leader, and would be happy to invite Charles Kennedy to the front bench if he so wished. Watch a preview here.

Friday, 14 September, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 14 Sep 07, 05:24 PM


Northern Rock
nr203.jpgThe UK's fifth largest mortgage lender, Northern Rock, has urged customers not to panic as a result of the announcement that it's to receive emergency funding from the Bank of England. The price of Northern Rock's shares have plunged - queues of people have formed outside many of the bank's branches; some have withdrawn their savings.

Our Business Correspondent, Paul Mason will examine how and why this has happened. He'll see what the implications are for Northern Rock. And he'll ask could other banks and building societies follow?

We'll be getting reaction to events today from the Chief Executive of Northern Rock.

Bad money
Our Economics Editor, Stephanie Flanders is just back from the US where she's been investigating the roots of this credit crunch problem.

We hope to be debating the fate of Northern Rock and what can be done to resolve the credit crunch with a City regulator and senior politician live.

The Newsnight interview with Sir Menzies Campbell in which he's quizzed on his leadership and policies will now be aired on Monday.

Newsnight Review

yuma203100.jpgJoining Kirsty for Newsnight Review tonight are Germaine Greer, Ekow Eshun and Ian Hislop.

They'll discuss 3:10 to Yuma, the remake of the classic Western based on Elmore Leonard's short story, starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale and directed by James Mangold, who gave us Walk The Line.

And Elmore Leonard's latest novel, Up in Honey's Room, is also on the agenda, along with the Chinese terracotta army exhibition at the British Museum library and TV drama Stuart: A Life Backwards.

Read more about tonight's Newsnight Review here

Credit crunch

  • Newsnight
  • 14 Sep 07, 12:53 PM

Northern RockCustomers of Northern Rock are being urged to stay calm after the news that it has agreed emergency funding from the Bank of England. Northern Rock has had difficulties raising money to finance its lending, because of the squeeze in the money markets. Despite reassurances from the government and Northern Rock bosses, some people are still queuing outside branches to withdraw their savings.

Newsnight will be covering the story and its implications in detail tonight.

Do you have concerns and questions we can put to the experts on the programme tonight? Let us know.

Thursday, 13 September, 2007

  • Emily Maitlis
  • 13 Sep 07, 05:58 PM

A very big tent
Gordon Brown and Lady ThatcherIt was, quite simply, one of those moments where you stop whatever you're doing to stare at the telly: retrieving your jaw, temporarily, from the edge of the desk.

Earlier today a car drew up outside the Prime Minister's residence. From it emerged a former tenant of 10 Downing Street: one Lady Thatcher, dressed in the most formidable pink. Gordon Brown then extended a warm welcome and a protracted greeting ahead of their private chat. So what was this Presbyterian Socialist doing in a sustained photo op with the living embodiment of Conservatism?

Is this the ultimate Big Tent gesture by Gordon Brown? Is there the glint of mischief in the Baroness's eye? And what was David Cameron making of all this behind the scenes?
Brown welcomes Thatcher to No 10

The unseen Zimbabwe
Inflation is at 8000%, food and water is scarce, electricity is erratic and government intimidation is widespread. The description of Zimbabwe is familiar, but the picture is one we very rarely get to see. BBC News has been banned from reporting from the country but our correspondent Sue Lloyd-Roberts got in, undercover, to make this remarkable film. She asks one question - brutal in its simplicity: how do those living there survive?
Inside Mugabe's Zimbabwe

It's taken twenty drafts so far - the White House has revealed - to write the President's 15 minute address on Iraq. It may well take another 20 - instability being what it is in that part of the world.

Today, an influential Sunni leader - and American ally - was killed in a bomb attack there. In one way, the timing works in George Bush's favour. He's pleading patience with the American people, as he attempts to pacify with the announcement of a partial troop withdrawal by the middle of next year. We'll cross to Washington for the latest analysis from Mark Urban.
Bush 'to announce Iraq troop cut'

Formula One
It's got the intrigue of a Willy Wonka factory heist but at stake, not chocolate recipes, but the secrets of the heady world of Formula One. The World Motor Sport Council is hearing evidence against the McLaren team over allegations they spied on their main rival, Ferrari. If McLaren is found guilty of exploiting sensitive technical information it could be fined, or even expelled from this year's championship.

Where would this leave the remarkable victories of Lewis Hamilton and the surge of patriotic interest he's inspired in the sport? And how damaging has this whole episode been for the Formula One brand?
McLaren hit with constuctors' ban

Newsnight Special: Sir Menzies Campbell

  • Newsnight
  • 13 Sep 07, 02:04 PM

Sir Menzies CampbellSir Menzies Campbell and the Liberal Democrats have had a tough few months since Gordon Brown took over as Prime Minister.

Next week, in a Newsnight special, Sir Menzies Campbell will be quizzed by our correspondents 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 try and include some of your questions in the programme.

Why Newsnight's interview with former HT member is essential viewing

  • Richard Watson
  • 13 Sep 07, 11:52 AM

Maajid NawazFor anyone interested in radical Islam in Britain, our recent film airing the views of a former member of Hizb-ut Tahrir’s leadership is essential viewing. Maajid Nawaz – who was recently tipped to lead the organisation - explained in detail why he has resigned after 12 years – and why he wants other members to follow him.

When last year a more junior supporter of Hizb-ut Tahrir told us how Hizb-ut Tahrir had taught him to hate British society, the leadership angrily denied the charge. But on Tuesday's Newsnight Maajid Nawaz admitted that he taught new members that “they should revile being British”.

watchmaajidnarwaz.jpgHe explained: “We polarized the relationships between the Muslims and the non-Muslims…there are many things that I propagated to young people that I’m now, I regret thoroughly. That includes telling them that they’re not British but they’re Muslim first.”

Hizb-ut Tahrir’s stated aim is to create an Islamic super-state ruled by Shariah law. Publicly it stresses this will be achieved “without resorting to violence” and “following an exclusively political method.”

But this image was shattered in our interview when Maajid Nawaz confirmed that the organisation secretly believes that killing millions of innocent people to expand the Caliphate would be justified.

“They are prepared to, once they’ve established the State, to fight other countries and to kill people in the pursuit of unifying this state into one state. And what I’d like to emphasize is that such a policy is not agreed upon within Islamic theology.”

Mr Nawaz referred to a book which is highly respected by Hizb-ut Tahrir. “According to Hizb ut-Tahrir’s literature, according to a book written by their second global leader, it’s a state that they are prepared to kill millions of people to expand.”

He warned: “they’ve laid down the foundations for a theory that can then be used by jihadists and developed upon by jihadists, and that’s where there’s a danger.”

Hizb-ut Tahrir declined to be interviewed for last night’s programme. They issued a statement which did not address their former colleague’s concerns but said: “Opinion poll after opinion poll indicate that the Muslim world today rejects colonialism - whether manifested through occupation or western backed dictators - and is firmly behind Islamic political parties like Hizb ut-Tahrir, who call for the Caliphate - a ruling system that reflects Islam's political and moral standards. The increasing propaganda against the Caliphate is a last ditch attempt by Western governments to prop up these ailing dictators. We are happy to say that such attempts will inevitably fail.”

Wednesday, 12 September, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 12 Sep 07, 05:53 PM

Gerry and Kate McCannMcCann Investigation
We're planning to lead the programme tonight with an exclusive interview secured by our Science Editor Susan Watts about the DNA evidence in the case of Madeleine McCann.

And Madeleine Holt is in the Algarve talking to the Portuguese media about the criticism they've faced about lurid headlines and unattributable sources. Some of what they've reported weeks ago was officially denied but has turned out to be the case. So have they been vindicated?
McCanns consider own tests on car

Just days after the county was declared Foot and Mouth free, another outbreak has been confirmed in Surrey, and there are suggestions that a pig farm in Norfolk may also be affected. We'll have the latest.
New foot-and-mouth case confirmed

Quality of life
The Conservatives' Quality of Life report is out tomorrow, over 500 pages of ex-tree. Newsnight's seen a copy, and we'll be assessing whether the welter of policy proposals, from taxing parking in the workplace to creating a Public Diet Institute will really have a postive impact on our quality of life. We hope to speak to one of the report's authors later.
Tory group urges 'green rebate'

Iraq troops
We've heard nothing from the two men credited with "authoring" the US Iraq surge strategy since General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker began their assessment of its effectiveness to US congress on Monday. We'll have the first interview with one of them tonight.
Bush 'to announce Iraq troop cut'

Led Zep
And, believe it or not, the debate that's been raging in certain parts of our newsroom today: were Led Zeppelin a heavy metal or a blues band? It hasn't come entirely out of the ether - the band's promoters have announced today that they are getting back together for a special gig at the O2 centre. Peter Marshall will put the question to bed tonight, with the help of a rather impressive tribute band.
Led Zeppelin confirm reunion gig

Not measuring up...

  • Newsnight
  • 12 Sep 07, 04:01 PM

By Jackie Long, BBC Newsnight

Jackie Long and her formulaLet me put it this way - there's a reason Stephanie Flanders is Economics Editor round here.

As the producer approached me yesterday with my task for the day I said to him: "Please, anything but the weights and measures story." The look on his face told me it was too late.

Now I'm not entirely useless at maths. Seven years as a Saturday girl in a bread shop means I can price up two large twists, a dozen doughnuts and a sausage roll in a jiffy. But algebra, fractions and... er... conversion formulae... rather stretch my talents.

Perhaps that's why, in some ways, I was a good person to report the story. One of the areas we were looking into was how using both imperial and metric measurements side by side has left some of us rather confused.

Well confused I can do. I went out onto the streets of Chiswick, a sort of poor woman's Esther Rantzen, and gently (I hope) quizzed the public. My favourite answer from one lovely "mature" lady simply: "I'm eighty one love!"

Anyway, my complete undoing was an attempt at the end of the piece, to helpfully give out a list of conversion formulae, including how to change distances given in miles to distances in kilometres.

To convert miles to kilometres, I helpfully explained, "multiply your miles by 1.069".

It was, rather UNhelpfully, wrong. The real formula is 1 mile = 1.609 km.

So, I'm sorry. Genuinely, It's always poor to get things wrong. And particularly things that can be easily checked.

If only I could say: "I'm 43 love" and leave it at that. But that doesn't quite work does it - much like some of my conversion formulae.

Tuesday, 11 September, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 11 Sep 07, 04:40 PM

maajid_100.gifMaajid Nawaz, one of the most senior members of the radical Islamist party Hizb-ut-Tahrir talks exclusively to Newsnight tonight. Nawaz reveals how Hizb-ut-Tahrir advocate the killing of millions of people to unite and expand an Islamic super-state and why he resigned from the party.

For 12 years Maajid Nawaz was inside Hizb-ut-Tahrir, not only propagating their views in Britain, but exporting them to Pakistan and Denmark. He was imprisoned in Egypt for four years for being a member of the party. Up until May this year he was on their leadership committee.

We hope to be getting Hizb-ut-Tahrir to respond to his allegations on the programme tonight.

US presidential contenders Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama are among the senators cross examining America’s top commander in Iraq, General Petraeus, about the surge strategy today. Will we get a fresh insight into the possible US troop exit strategy post-Bush? Mark Urban will be in Washington as this story unfolds. And we're expecting an interview with a leading Republican senator.

Al-Qaeda has released a new video praising the September 11th attacks. The tape features a still image of Osama Bin Laden - who can be heard praising one of the 19 men who hijacked planes and flew them into targets across the eastern United States. But is this the real Bin Laden? Richard Watson analyses the latest statement.

We'll have the latest on the Madeleine McCann case.

And a European threat to pints and miles will finally be lifted today. Jackie Long has been quizzing people on the streets and finds them confused about our use of both imperial and metric measures.

Monday, 10 September, 2007

  • Gavin Esler
  • 10 Sep 07, 06:01 PM

Is the surge working?
General David PetraeusThe top US commander in Iraq General David Petraeus and Ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker are beginning to answer that question today, at a committee hearing of US politicians. Seventy percent of Iraqis seem to think security has got worse in the area covered by the surge, according to a poll commissioned by the BBC. But the Ambassador and the General are reported to have come to a different conclusion. The US Democrats hoped that the Petraeus Crocker report might help them. But will it - in fact - provide President Bush with some much needed political cover to "stay the course?" Mark Urban's in Washington and we'll be talking to a Democratic and Republican congressman.

Refugee crisis
One effect of the Iraq war that is seldom reported is the influx of refugees into neighbouring countries. Syria, according to the UNHCR, sees 2,000 Iraqis cross the border every day. It's thought 1.5m in all have fled there since the invasion. But Newsnight understands that the Syrian government has had enough, and is on the verge of shutting the border, and setting up refugee camps. Our Baghdad correspondent Andrew North has been to Syria to see how the country has coped

Union discontent
It was his first address to the TUC as Labour leader, and Gordon Brown got a rather lukewarm reception. He stressed that a tight public sector pay settlement is necessary to cool the economy. Meawhile another union - the PCS - is to be balloted on possible strike action. Does a ratcheting up of the rhetoric actually suit both sides? David Grossman is there.

Sharif sent home
Nawaz Sharif, who returned to his native country early this morning in a bid to take on General Musharraf in forthcoming elections, spent a matter of minutes on Pakistani soil today before being arrested on money-laundering charges and dispatched to Saudi Arabia. Could this decisive move backfire on the General? We'll be speaking to the Pakistani Information Minister.

Mr Sharif spoke to Newsnight a short time ago about his decision to return to Pakistan - watch it here.

Reporting the defining story of our age

  • Richard Watson
  • 10 Sep 07, 01:41 PM

Richard Watson Judging by the numerous comments on my piece last week on extremist material in public libraries, there's nothing like a debate about political Islam to stir the emotions.

I really like getting feedback from you, even if some comments are pretty disparaging - usually from those who believe we obsess about these matters. But I make no apology for that. The terror threat - more specifically the Islamist terror threat - is the defining story of our age.

Oscar Wilde had it about right when he said not being talked about is the worst fate a writer can face. Newsnight likes to be at the centre of the debate so please continue to tell us your views and suggest stories for us to cover.

So with all this in mind, we've created a special web page which pulls together a lot of our work on terrorism, radicalism and related subjects. We hope you find it a useful resource.

Friday, 7 September, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 7 Sep 07, 06:00 PM

Kate McCannSearch for Madeleine
A McCann family spokeswoman has said that the Portuguese police suspect the mother of missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann is involved in her death. Justine McGuinness said officers suggested that traces of Madeleine's blood were in the McCanns' car, which was hired 25 days after she vanished. Kate McCann was formally named as a suspect in the case earlier today, while her husband Gerry has arrived at a police station for further questioning a few minutes ago.

We'll have the latest in the extraordinary twists and turns in the investigation. And we hope to be speaking to a McCann family member and a Portuguese journalist about the case.

Foot and Mouth
A report into the the recent foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Surrey has found it was probably caused by leaking drains, heavy rain and vehicle movement at a laboratory in Pirbright. The Environment Secretary Hillary Benn said there was no excuse for the outbreak. We'll be interviewing him on the programme tonight.

Newsnight Review
Keira KnightleyAnd on Newsnight Review, Tom Paulin, John Harris and Julie Myerson join Kirsty to discuss Joe Wright's big screen adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel Atonement, starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy.

Plus, Michael Ondaatje's new novel Divisadero, PJ Harvey's new album White Chalk and the Klaxons perform on the programme, fresh from stunning the music industry by winning the Mercury Award for their album Myths of the Near Future.

Read more about what's on Newnight Review and leave your comments below.

Thursday, 6 September, 2007

  • Gavin Esler
  • 6 Sep 07, 05:57 PM

I've just returned from interviewing General Sir Mike Jackson for what promises to be a fascinating special programme tonight on the state of the army. (Read an extract from his autobiography here.)

Broken Army?

British soldiers in KabulThe man who took over from Sir Mike as Chief of Defence Staff last year, General Sir Richard Dannatt, suggested the army was reaching breaking point. We're devoting all of tonight's programme to find out whether he's right - and to find out why, as our exclusive poll reveals, more than two thirds of us would be unhappy for our son or daughter to join the army.

The Defence Minister Lord Drayson will join me in the studio, alongside retired soldiers, and the mother of Ben Parkinson, who was severely injured in Afghanistan. And we'll be hearing a selection of viewers thoughts and questions posted on the Newsnight website.

We would like to thank the Imperial War Museum North for their assistance in the production of elements of the programme.

Soldier - General Sir Mike Jackson

  • Newsnight
  • 6 Sep 07, 01:03 PM

General Sir Mike Jackson's autobiography Soldier details key events during his 45 years of service in the British Army. From early cadet days, through service in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles, to commanding troops in Kosovo and overseeing deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, the book examines the changing face of British soldiering and warfare.

Since standing down as Chief of Staff in 2006, he has been outspoken on many issues surrounding the military, most recently criticising US post-Iraq invasion plans.

The following extract is from the opening chapter of the book, Schoolboy.

From Chapter 1 - Schoolboy

I am a soldier. I have held every rank in the British Army from officer cadet to four-star general. I am now retired, but my almost forty-five years of service ensure that I remain a soldier at heart. My father was a soldier, my elder son has been a soldier and my younger son is thinking about becoming a soldier. My father-in-law, my brothers-in-law and my son-in-law have all been soldiers – so the Army is something of a family tradition. But my father didn’t push me in that direction, and what I have said to my sons is that it is your life, and therefore your call, and you must decide what you want to do with it. I am pleased that both of them have decided to follow the path I took, but I would have been entirely content had they chosen otherwise.

Continue reading "Soldier - General Sir Mike Jackson"

Wednesday, 5 September, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 5 Sep 07, 06:16 PM

Reading a bookExtremist library books
Are public libraries inadvertently helping political Islamists in their recruitment drive? We reveal how extremist Islamic literature - including works by men convicted of incitement to murder - are freely available in public libraries in Tower Hamlets and how the collection is, in the words of the man who carried out the research "warped" towards extreme Islam. One former Islamist tells us these kinds of books are "dangerous". So are these libraries failing their local community?

Terror arrests
Possibly more devastating than Madrid or London - That is the verdict of the German officials on arresting three terror suspects earlier today who are accused of plotting to blow up Frankfurt Airport and and American military base in the country. Those arrested appear to have spent time at a Pakistani terror training camp. We'll have the latest details.

A leaky pipe
A report into the Foot and Mouth outbreak earlier in the summer is expected to find that the virus was carried through faulty pipes which leaked during the floods. But who is to blame?

What hope for Darfur?
We travel to the region with the UN Secretary General as he visits a refugee camp in Darfur and assesses the humanitarian crisis. He's also meeting the Sudanese President to discuss the deployment of the UN/AU peacekeeping force. But how effective can the force be when the Sudanese government are calling the shots. Meanwhile factional fighting between several different rebel groups is making the situation even more difficult to resolve.

We talk to the author of a new book called 'Wikinomics' who says we've barely begun to see how the internet will effect the way we live and work. Social networking is passe and will be replaced by collaboration in which individuals will be given the opportunity to become the professionals - leading to greater innovation and changing the way business and scientific problems can be solved. Is this a cheap way for businesses to carry out research or are we entering a new era in which the power of the consumer is on a more equal footing with big business? Read an extract and leave your thoughts here.

Army Special
And a quick reminder about our special programme on Thursday about the state of the army. We'll have the first interview with General Sir Mike Jackson in advance of the launch of his autobiography next week. And you can submit your own thoughts in writing on the website, or create a video message and send us a link by clicking here.

Wikinomics - Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams

  • Newsnight
  • 5 Sep 07, 04:37 PM

WikinomicsWikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams looks at how companies are beginning to use mass collaboration of knowledge to gain success.

Citing many examples of successful and surprising projects, the authors explain how big businesses could harness external expertise by engaging directly with and rewarding participation from their customers, users and a wide pool of informed contributors - a method of epitomised by the online encyclopaedia 'Wikipedia', where entries are written and edited by users. 'Crowdsourcing' rather than 'outsourcing' as they put it.

Far from being sceptical about the power of mass collaboration - see Andrew Keen's The Cult of the Amateur, another Newsnight Book Club entry - Tapscott and Williams claim Wikinomics could provide the basis for huge economic and intellectual growth.

In line with their own thesis, the last chapter of the book will be written by readers and is already open for contributions here.

Watch Paul Mason's report on Wikinomics and an interview with Don Tapscott.

Read the book's introduction below, and leave your thoughts and comments at the end.

From the introduction
Throughout history corporations have organized themselves according to strict hierarchical lines of authority. Everyone was a subordinate to someone else—employees versus managers, marketers versus customers, producers versus supply chain subcontractors, companies versus the community. There was always someone or some company in charge, controlling things, at the “top” of the food chain. While hierarchies are not vanishing, profound changes in the nature of technology, demographics, and the global economy are giving rise to powerful new models of production based on community, collaboration, and self-organization rather than on hierarchy and control.

Continue reading "Wikinomics - Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams"

Tuesday, 4th September, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 4 Sep 07, 05:51 PM

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said he wants to encourage greater engagement in a new style of politics. Yet today he brushed off calls to go up against Conservative leader, David Cameron in a TV debate insisting there were "plenty of opportunities" for him to be questioned already. Questioned by our Poliitcal Correspondent David Grossman at the monthly press conference Mr Brown stressed he appeared weekly in the House of Commons at Prime Minister's Question Time and that he made regular statements to MPs. The Tories have accused Gordon Brown of "running away" from the debate.

We hope to be asking a senior member of the Cabinet why as a believer in a new style of politics Gordon Brown won't have a TV leaders debate.

He describes himself as a Muslim fundamentalist. And yet he agreed to spy on a group of young radical muslims accused of planning terrorist attacks. Eighteen young men were arrested in Canada last year and are due to stand trial in what will be the country's most high profile terrorist case. But it's the role of the informer which has caused most controversy - not least within the Muslim community with some accusing him of being a rat. That informer - Mubin Shaikh - has spoken to the BBC's Security Correspondent Gordon Corera about why he became an informer.

Leaders of Iraq's Sunni and Shia factions are to consider a series of principles on non-violence after talks involving Northern Ireland and South African politicians. The discussion were held at a secret location in Finland over the weekend. We will be bringing together a Sunni and Shia with Northern Ireland politician Jeffrey Donaldson who's been at the talks. We'll discuss whether Iraqis can learn from the lessons of previous conflicts.

The terminally-ill fundraiser Jane Tomlinson has died. The mum of three from Leeds lost her seven year battle with cancer. She'd raised one-and-three-quarter million pounds by completing marathons and other endurance events after being diagnosed with the disease. We'll be discussing what led her to great acts of altruism while she was so ill.

Time to cut the confusion?

  • Newsnight
  • 4 Sep 07, 01:38 PM

David Cameron's been warned not to abandon the Thatcher legacy by a former deputy Conservative leader.

ancramnn203.jpgMichael Ancram is calling for a return to what he calls “core Tory values” on tax and the family.

This broadside against the leadership can be seen as bad timing for the Conservatives – it comes on the day of another policy review and takes the shine off a positive opinion poll that suggests the party is just a percentage point behind Labour.

Are the policy reviews sending out conflicting messages? Are the Conservatives in danger of presenting confusing signals to the public?

Monday, 3 September, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 3 Sep 07, 05:46 PM

MoD picture of troops leaving Basra palaceBASRA
As British troops complete their pull out from Basra palace, Newsnight has some stark poll findings about voters' attitude to the army's mission in Iraq. We'll bring you full details on the programme, but the most arresting headline is that over half of those polled think victory is no longer possible.

We hope to put the detailed findings to a Defence Minister. And Mark Urban will be analysing the significance of the move to Basra airport.

Gordon Brown told us today he's going to reconvene a rare procedure known as the Speaker's Conference to find out why voter turnout is so low. Could it be because there's not enough difference between what the two main parties are offering? There seems to be even less difference today, with Gordon Brown strengthening his concept of a government of "national unity" by offering two Tory MPs and a Liberal Democrat advisory roles to help formulate government policy. Is he genuinely reaching out, or trying to neutralise his opponents?

Meanwhile the Tories have made a significant step into Labour territory, by promising to stick to the government's spending plans if elected. So - if you believe in tax cuts - who on earth do you vote for now?

We'll hear from the three main parties.


The doyen of Spanish cinema is over in Britain to see one of his most celebrated films - All About My Mother - adapted into a stage play at Kevin Spacey's Old Vic. Madeleine Holt went to meet him, and discovered that in his next cinematic project he feels ready to confront an episode of Spanish history he's spent his lifetime trying to deny...

Broken Army?

  • Newsnight
  • 3 Sep 07, 04:14 PM

armyhelmet203100.jpgOn Thursday Newsnight will be devoting the whole programme to an analysis of the state of the Army. We'll have the first broadcast interview with General Sir Mike Jackson in advance of the release of his controversial autobiography, Soldier. Mark Urban will explore whether the funding and operation commitments of the Army have led to a crisis, and whether radical changes to its functions and set-up are needed. And we'll be releasing some fascinating polling about the public's attitude to the army, and its work in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And we'll be joined by a Defence Minister, who will be answering questions from a panel which will include former serving soldiers. But we'd also like to hear from you. What is the burning issue you want the MoD to address, or the one big question you want answered?

Leave your comments and thoughts below or send your message as a video - you can upload it to a video sharing website, and send us the link. (Please read these guidelines before submitting.) We'll aim to show some of them on Thursday's programme.

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