Talk about Newsnight

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Tuesday, 15 January, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 15 Jan 08, 06:43 PM

Good evening,

As I write we're working on what could be a big terror-related story for tonight's programme. Watch tonight and see the results.

doctor203x100.jpgIn 2004 GPs voted on a new contract. One of the provisions was the opportunity to opt out of providing "Out of Hours" care. Ninety per cent of doctors voted to take up this new option, which meant that NHS Primary Care Trusts now had the task of filling doctors' surgeries at nights and weekends. Who is doing that work? More and more of the shifts are being filled with doctors from throughout the European Union, especially Poland. Some are even commuting from the continent to work in Britain at weekends - they can earn in one shift what they would take home in a month in Poland. But could all the travelling make these doctors too tired to treat patients? And who is responsible for them? Rachel Wright made the trip with one Polish doctor to find out.

Northern Rock shareholders have largely voted to reject plans that could have limited management powers to find a rescue deal for the business. Northern Rock said shareholders had defeated all but one of the resolutions proposed at its extraordinary meeting. The bank's chairman said the resolution passed would not be a "material restriction" to a rescue deal. The resolutions were put forward by two major shareholders, hedge funds SRM Global and RAB Capital. "Whilst we are pleased that all but one of the resolutions proposed by SRM and RAB Capital were not carried, we recognise that a material number of shareholders did vote in favour of these resolutions," said Bryan Sanderson, Northern Rock's chairman. Economics Editor, Stephanie Flanders will tell us where this now leaves Northern Rock.

Newsnight report leads to a ban on Uzbek cotton
Tesco has banned "all cotton sourced from Uzbekistan for its clothing range, homeware and corporate purchases" after a Newsnight investigation exposed the use of child labour. In October Simon Ostrovsky's report revealed how many of the UK's top High Street stores were selling clothes made with Uzbek cotton. His investigation of cotton production in Uzbekistan found that the use of children to harvest the crop was widespread and systematic. Tesco said the Newsnight report had "exposed the continued use of state-sponsored child labour in Uzbek cotton fields" and has now announced a complete ban on the use of Uzbek cotton. The retail giant is telling suppliers that "the use of organised and forced child labour is completely unacceptable and leads us to conclude that whilst these practices persist in Uzbekistan we cannot support the use of cotton from Uzbekistan in our textiles". Watch Simon's report on tonight's programme.

Read the reactions of the High Street stores..

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 07:28 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Bob Goodall wrote:

Hi Newsnight

Huge response to last night traffic lights story, question for you how do you collate the information sent to you in these blogs?

my idea, half joking, stop all road repairs, let nature take the roads back, trees will sprout in time and we can get used to not using them or using ie horse transport,

serious question to Defra, have they taken proactive measures such as opening the sluice gates to lower river levels, or did they do this when they received the long range weather reports?

best wishes

  • 2.
  • At 08:18 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Nick Thornsby wrote:

This terror story sounds interesting- newsnight at its best!

  • 3.
  • At 10:50 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Mark Webb wrote:

A very convenient story just after the acquittal of Derek Pasquill for breaching the Official Secrets Act who told us that Tony Blair ignored the intelligence services' warnings that invading Iraq would foment terrorist sympathisers.

The "al-Qaeda in Britain" group's aims (if such a group really exists) are for the ending of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and nothing to do with "our way of life" or "hating our freedom".

She's correct when she identifies British foreign policy as a major source of extremism. The question remains: "will the policy makers listen"?

  • 4.
  • At 11:00 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Quevoni wrote:

Dear Newsnight,

When did the royal charter, and all those license payers, give the BBC permission to act as an activist polemical media-pressure group.

That's about cotton.

Re: the UK branch of Al-quaida, a website, really, just really.!!!

Damian or Day today......

Even the northern rock one I bet will miss some pertinent details.

The only real story seems to be the easter-european doctors, a real story that should enter the mainstream debate, but that's not your first priority in the face os "terrorism!"

Best regards,


  • 5.
  • At 11:13 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Tom wrote:

You get the impression that the BBC has an organised bias agenda against GPs. Otherwise how could one watch the program involving the Polish Doctor, agree that a Doctor should not work while tired, but use that as an excuse to demand UK GPs to have 24 hours responsibility for their patients?
If any conclusion could be drawn from the program at all, it is that the push to extend the hours GPs work with patients could be detrimental to patient care. But the BBC thinks Polish Doctors get tired but not UK Doctors.

  • 6.
  • At 11:23 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Jeff wrote:

The discussion on web sites
were enlightened by Sajjan Gohal
whose Arabic knowledge credentials
and understanding of Arabic expression remain unconvincing and unclear. Thus instead of analyzing contents from a specific site under discussion we get a broad brush overview of what such sites imply.

  • 7.
  • At 11:38 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • neil robertson wrote:

One way to deal with the issue of the hours worked by the commuting
doctors is through tightening up
the EU European Working Directive
rules as they apply to the NHS in
Britain. Unfortunately, however, it
has been the policy of governments
in Britain to try to dilute these
rules which as I remember have an
opt-out in respect of doctors? It's
not surely beyond the wit of man to
now stipulate that this is tweaked
to take account of double-shifts in
more than one EU member state as well as time taken travelling to
work. The relevant UK Minister at
DWP is Peter Hain MP who claims to
understand this problem intimately
but may be too preoccupied to act?

Absolutely brilliant Jeremy tonight (50/10!I was in stiches when Jeremy said it's “Quite something when incompetence is awarded as a merit!”(refering to Peter Hain). Ha ha ha ;-)
On the issue of the Al-Qaeda network formed in the UK, I agree with Baroness Neville-Jones, that it should be taken seriously. Excellent interview with Dr. Colin-Thome too - as he explained, that patient care was not compromised and neither were standards when employing a Polish doctor as an out of hours weekender, and as he also pointed out, the system of local co-operatives where surrounding GP practices have covered other areas has been going on for many years, and GPs would work 9am-5:30pm, seeing 40 or more patients, as well as house calls, and then being on-call from 5:30pm until 9am the next day. Working all those hours wasn't even a concern - yet now it miraculously is for Polish doctors. Pathetic! Finally - a huge congratulations to Newsnight for bringing us the truth about child labour being used for cotton in Uzbekistan. I'm glad action has been taken by Tesco and M&S and others, hopefully will follow suit. :-)

  • 9.
  • At 02:06 AM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • TNfromChelmsford wrote:

So BBC is trying to play its part in bringing down the NHS.
Well the Labour came up with the idea that the nurses can replace doctors and now we have thousands of nurse practitioners all over the country trying to prove that they are worth every penny of the billions of pounds spent on them. Later the health ministry thought that why can't they allow the pharmacist to start seeing patients and here we have pharmacists who are trying to be doctors.
I am quite unsure why the government has still not abolished the medical school system in the UK. In future one should be able to diagnose themselves through the internet and then prescribe for themselves the most appropriate medication hence it will eliminate the issue of litigation etc, and then the trained pharmacist will dispense them the chosen drug and off they go.
Really we must get rid of our GPs by giving them an early retirement. If at any stage we regret and find out that we do need a GP then Poland is not far away anyway.

  • 10.
  • At 03:16 AM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Quevoni wrote:


Re: Northern Rock.

What's annoyed me about this story is that no one in
the mainstream media has tried to explain the complexities (or simplicities) to the un-knowing public, and with the help of certain politicians they've lazily tried to characterise it as one of greed, incompetence, malfeasance, etc (and inevitability).

Newsnight has been at it's best when it does the road less travelled; we get a lot more light and

It's my view, that if even at this late stage, tonight's programme presented the case of either brown (by creating the structure/responsibility division) or mervyn king failing in their duty as lender of last resort (without punitive interest rates), this wouldn't be happening.

Do you remember when Huntington Life Sciences lost access to banking facilities due to the intimidation by animal-rights activists and gutless clearing banks, the BOE did its job then by acting as banker of last resort; just the same as when massive historical levels of
cash was injected post sept' 11th 2001 to maintain liquidity and tell the markets that no matter how 'tight'/panicked they wanted to become, the money was just waiting [ergo no point in panicking].

This is a story of the Bank of England's failure, and not only for the effects of that on Northern Rock, but the whole economy -if the big clearing banks knew that while they gradually cleared up their balance sheets, the BOE would continue to support general lending without punitive interest rates, do you think they'd all have, with almost zero-tolerance, have yanked almost all non-AAA lending.

There's going to be a whole lot of decent potentially great growing businesses up and down this country that are going to fail in this climate, just like Northern Rock is being directed to, due to a lack of capital access.

Simple people talk about debt, £60bn, equal to 2x the defence budget, £2k each citizen, but that's a mere fraction of the trade done on the LSE on a bad day; not to mention liability versus actually lent.
And originally, Robert peston (+ tabloids) hyped the story based on NR having had the foresight to expect that some of the markets it used would be likely to tighten, and so prudently, pre-emptively asked for permission that IF the capital (capital it uses to lend/to customers, that provide profit) were needed, would it be available.

Northern Rock simply ran into the same problem that the country faced with the oil blockades, but did anyone blame the oil companies, or tesco's, et al at the time, NR simply ran a damn tight ship, highly

"Hedge-funds, cold, vultures", in normal circumstances I might agree, but in this case they're the oddest of people, [RAB capital partners and SRM Global] they actually believe an existing business with £100bn in assets, 100's of branches, last year a 20%-ish market-share, and employing lots of people, can actually continue as an independent business, if only everyone didn't give up, expect failure and have written nationalisation as unstoppable.
The "sharks" or "vultures" in this case, might actually be branson, olivant, vincent cable and anyone else that rather than see the govt./boe providing cheap short-term lending, would be happy to see such a businesses failure.

I know that If tonights programme spoke with optimism, sentimentality of the jobs, and underlying good business (a victim of current very short-term circumstance) and put the onus on boe/brown, failure (admin./nationalisation) isn't an inevitability.

Before the end of the year, the financial markets will start to see the end of the tunnel, the clouds clearing, results will have been kitchen sinked before the 1st half is out, china, russia and india are going at full-speed.

The "funny" thing is that I'm not a stake-holder in anyway in Northern Rock, I just seem to have a thing for detail and fairness in the face of not hearing them much over the long life of a story!

Best Wishes,


It would be good to get a reply to this from Newsnight.

  • 11.
  • At 12:05 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Stan wrote:

Why can't doctors work a shift system like thousands of other workers? There is no need for them to work more than an 9 hour shift with break times.
Get a 3 shift continental shift system organised.
Or is that beneath their dignity?

Since when has it been possible to buy a pure, REAL ....... cotton clothing (i.e. that which grows from cotton seeds) in Tesco or any cheap shop for less than £5 ???

Wake up everyone!! All the cheap clothing sold to the masses is made from by products of BLACK OIL - it's ALL SYNTHETIC. You want anything that's made from REAL cotton, you pay a lot of money for it!

Nothing that we're sold is REAL - down to the food and drink we consume. How can it be when MONEY and PRICE is what determines everything.

  • 13.
  • At 03:22 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Tom wrote:

I would like to answer STAN who questions why Doctors don't work 9-hour shifts. In fact most Doctors in hospitals do work shifts that is how A&Es are kept open 24/7. If the question was about GPs working 9-hour shifts then there is a problem. First of all most illnessness are not emergencies. There is A&E for true emergencies. GPs' job is mostly to treat illnesses before they become emergencies so this can be done day time.
Secondly, most GPs work in small groups with the average of about 3 Doctors in a group. Just how can we expect them to work 24/7? If you want to see your GP 24/7 I am sorry but it is not possible.
Besides, working 9-hour shifts for a week is more than the hours allowed under the European Working Hours Directive anyway, but a typical GP works for 10.5 hours a day.
I think there are a lot of expectations from Doctors which are not possible to satisfy and I wish the media and BBC would take a neutral approach rather than blaming GPs for society's woes.

  • 14.
  • At 02:51 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Austin Williams wrote:

Let me get this straight:

You have an item that is effectively going to get a Polish doctor sacked for working (shock horror!) long hours. Following on from your scandalous campaign last year to get translation services removed from immigrant workers, this seems to be yet another petty 'campaign' by Newsnight against foreign workers.

Secondly, you have a second campaign item, in which Newsnight, it seems, has successfully managed to get two shops - with more to follow - to ban products from Uzbekhistan. Well done. I hope you're proud of yourselves. To translate: in this campaign, you have undoubtedly lost hundreds of families an income. However, I'm sure that you can content yourselves with some tickbox that shows that you have managed to be a really influential on politics. (Unfortunately, it's a completely reactionary influence)

This is NOT your role. Exposing bad pay/ child exploitation is one thing. Campaigning - especially with the express purpose to get people sacked - is reprehensible.

The smugness with which the BBC and Newsnight in particular is engaged in this citizen-journalism-in-reverse is doubly hard to take. Watching Jeremy Paxman feed lines to his smug interviewee - two joint campaigners congratulating each other on their 'success' - was the final straw.

Bring back the news.

Austin Williams

  • 15.
  • At 06:44 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Stan wrote:

Ref: 13
Thankyou for the explanation Tom. I understand your reply.

Sorry BBC Subtitles - the Polish doctor did not actually say "I am Dr David Colin-Thome" !!

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