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No Raila, No Peace - where next for Kenya

  • Paul Mason
  • 2 Jan 08, 07:25 PM

Corrupt government, rigged election, violence - some of it ethnically motivated: Kenya's crisis has thrown up stereotypical images of an African conflict. But the country's present agony is the product of a fast developing economy, and massive aspirations to democracy, which have been dashed...

President Kibaki came to power in 2002 promising democratic change; investment flowed in, the middle class grew rapidly: but corruption was slow to disappear. Raila Odinga left the government in 2005 and formed the Orange Democratic Movement, harnessing the power of NGOs and grassroots organisations in a voter registration campaign. Until days before the election, Odinga was ahead in the polls; and he was ahead as the votes were counted...

Continue reading "No Raila, No Peace - where next for Kenya"

Wednesday, 2 January, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 2 Jan 08, 03:59 PM

In tonight's programme: Democracy in 2008.

In Pakistan people are being killed in the run-up to February's elections.
riots203x100.jpgIn Kenya they are being killed in the aftermath of December's elections. In the United States, beginning tomorrow in Iowa, the world's most powerful democracy will begin to choose its new leader - a leader who will follow George W Bush, whose attempts to export democracy to Iraq have caused him such trouble.

Tonight we'll hear from Kenya and the United States and will debate what the year ahead might hold for democracy worldwide with an all-star cast list of guests.

Confessions of a Newsnight insider

  • Newsnight
  • 2 Jan 08, 01:10 PM

A great theme, by George

The thunderous drum roll at the beginning of the Newsnight theme tune is a call to arms. Or rather, a call to ears and eyeballs - yours.

george_fenton.jpgIt demands your attention, and - together with an arresting headline - provides some dramatic punctuation that makes it clear this isn’t a continuation of the Graham Norton Show.

The music was written by George Fenton, a man whose distinguished musical range spans movies like Gandhi, The Madness of King George and Groundhog Day.

He also had a bit part years ago in Emmerdale Farm. (Where did it all go wrong?!)

Lime groove

The original version of the Newsnight theme was recorded at Lime Grove’s television music studio, a few roads away from us in London’s verdant Shepherd’s Bush. It was remixed in the mid-90s to, erm, sex it up a bit: turning the electric guitar up to 11, giving it more stereo oomph for the coming digital age.

(Rock’n’roll mythology has it that our esteemed Editor, Peter, played guitar on a further remix last year.)
The French horns carry the tune in an innovative musical line-up that few composers outside of the Beach Boys’ in-house genius Brian Wilson would get away with. (Wilson combines a French horn with a harmonica in the intro to God Only Knows.)

In a quirky twist of television fate, the music studio where the Newsnight theme was remixed is now home to CBeebies and CBBC, the BBC’s offerings for younger viewers. But Newsnight’s youthful connections don’t stop there.

Studio swap

The studio that Newsnight comes from nightly was once home to kids’ weekend jollities such as Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, Saturday Superstore and Going Live. Imagine it: our Emily purveying serious journalism only inches away from where Keith Chegwin used to giggle his guts off!

emily203x300.jpgSometimes when I traipse the long corridor back from the studio to the office after Newsnight has finished, I fancy I can hear the ghostly pleas of Noel Edmonds demanding a chance to break free of Swap Shop and present a grown-ups’ quiz show featuring an inaudible banker.

Or maybe it’s Fenton’s masterpiece still ringing in my ears.

The tension of the timpani roll at the beginning and the brooding Newsnight theme that follows imply a world in turmoil. But the musical resolution with the horns riding high at the end says, it might be a dark world out there but Emily’s done her level best to help you make sense of it.

Don’t have nightmares...

Prospects for Wednesday, 2 January

  • Newsnight
  • 2 Jan 08, 11:31 AM

Simon Enright is today's programme producer - here is his early email to the team.

Happy New Year everyone and welcome back.

We'd planned at looking at the World's challenges in 2008 and have lined up a series of international figures to talk about it. Looks like we have a Democracy Special now.

kenya203x100.jpgPaul Mason will do a lead piece on Kenya. We've already invited the Foreign Secretary on but who are the other key interviews that we should try for…

Mark Urban will then tee-up our in tray for the World's International Ministers. Clearly Pakistan a major early focus. We've lined up…

Laurence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, Sidney Blumenthal senior advisor to Hilary Clinton, Akbar Ahmed, Prof of International relations and Bronwen Maddox, Foreign Commentator for the Times. But we need a strong African voice who can speak wider than just on Kenya to put in that mix.

Finally we've got another Culpeper film from Matt Frei - and we can talk US elections with David Grossman in Iowa.

Is there anything else we should do? Is there a playout of dramatic pictures for the programme? And what about those extra guests and take on the key stories?

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