Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Monday, 26 November, 2007

  • Gavin Esler
  • 26 Nov 07, 05:25 PM

UPDATE: All change to tonight's programme with the news that Labour's General Secretary has resigned. Peter Watt admitted he had known that a major donor to the party had paid his money through intermediaries - but not that this might have been illegal. Our political editor Michael Crick asks if the buck stops here or could others yet be dragged into this latest donor scandal. And what happened to Gordon Brown's promise to restore trust in our politicians?

Today's Quote for the Day: "You talk about it in our system and people think you are a nutter" - Tony Blair on religion and politics.

Northern Rock
Northern RockIf Tony Blair is right - that the British do not do God and politics - we certainly do Mammon and politics. Virgin is the preferred bidder for Northern Rock. Why - you may wonder - in an open capitalist system, is anyone the preferred bidder? And why - you may equally wonder - are people criticising Virgin for getting a bargain? (Prompting the thought: if Britain's most notorious bank is such a bargain, sunshine, why don't YOU buy it?) All will be clear by 10.30 tonight.
Virgin's Rock bid 'to be blocked'

Oxford Union
As I write this protests are expected at the Freedom of Speech debate at the Oxford Union tonight because the Union has chosen to invite the BNP's Nick Griffin and the historian (and ex jailbird) David Irving. As George Orwell once remarked (more or less), does it take an intellectual to do something quite so stupid? Or do Mr Griffin and Mr Irving have something important to add to our debate about liberty?
The limits to freedom of speech

Annapolis, Maryland, is not only the place America's top sailors for the future are trained, it is also home (to my certain knowledge) of the best crab cakes I've ever eaten. And - though this may be a less lasting claim to fame - it is playing host to a Middle East Peace Conference. Beyond the photo opportunities, can a weakened American President convince a weak Palestinian leader and a weak Israeli prime minister to make peace?
Bush optimistic of Mid-East peace

Well, well, welfare reform...

  • David Grossman
  • 26 Nov 07, 04:51 PM

brownsleeve203.jpgToday's announcement about welfare reform took me a bit by surprise, but not because of the content. (The Conservatives say the government has just re-announced the same old stuff in order to try and regain the initiative).

No, I was surprised that there was any announcement at all.

Before I put out my film on welfare reform in Wisconsin (watch it here, read the blog here), I checked with the press office at the Department for Work and Pensions whether the government had any plans to announce anything new in the near future.

I was told that nothing was in the pipeline. Just to make sure the press officer said he'd check with his boss and call me back.

An hour later he did call back - and told me that I shouldn't expect any announcements until the New Year...

Monday's prospects

  • Newsnight
  • 26 Nov 07, 11:12 AM

Dan Kelly is today's programme editor - here is his early email to the production team. What do you think we should cover?

Good Morning.

Northern Rock
Sir Richard BransonPlenty around today. Northern Rock has chosen the Virgin Group as its preferred buyer. Virgin's offer - which has been backed by the Treasury - includes an immediate repayment of £11bn of the £25bn the bank owes the Bank of England. Private Equity businessmen have already expressed "shock" at what they regard as a very generous deal for Branson. So how fair is this deal for the taxpayer?

Gordon Brown has just given a speech outlining his plans to "intensify compulsion in the benefits system." New briefings are promised on welfare reform today. Is this just a reannouncement of existing policy to grab a quick headline, or something more interesting?

Labour donor
How could a jobbing builder and secretary in Newcastle contribute nearly £400,000 to Labour Party funds? Because it was "given" to them by a publicity shy property developer, that's how. This was clearly an unusual practice and potentially against the law, but is it even more serious than that? Did anybody in the Labour Party know about this unusual arrangement?

Middle East peace
The Annapolis conference begins tomorrow, there are talks at the White House today. Peter Marshall is there for us.

Oxford debate
There's a freedom of speech debate at the Oxford Union tonight. David Irving and Nick Griffin have been invited. Large protests are expected before the meeting. There's clearly a discussion that can be had over this, but rather than the usual suspects do you have some original suggestions for guests?

Other ideas, treatments, guests, other stories?

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