Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Thursday, 7 February, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 7 Feb 08, 05:17 PM

Sharia law in the UK?
williams203.jpgIs this what we really want? The Archbishop of Canterbury - leader of the Church of England - thinks it is unavoidable, and desirable. He told the The World at One on Radio 4, "There's a place for finding what would be a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law, as we already do with some other aspects of religious law." He specified marital disputes and financial disputes and not the "inhumanity" that has sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states.

But is this really the way to achieve "social cohesion" and has he consulted, in particular, British Muslim women for their views on this? Tonight Newsnight discusses how Sharia would work given equal status to English and Scottish Law, and if Sharia is a legal system you can "pick and choose".

Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone appeared before the London Assembly today and Michael Crick was watching. The mayor’s stewardship of London is under question tonight. There have been calls for the resignation of his close friend and race advisor Lee Jasper.

Emails released by the London Development Agency allegedly show that 13 projects in the city run by Mr Jasper or his friends received as much as £3.3m without proper process. Ken Livingstone told the BBC and others that all the paperwork was in place. We've asked Michael to find out the truth.

Ethical fashion
And for all you dedicated followers of fashion - and clothes junkies - is your compulsive purchasing of ever cheaper clothes destroying the planet? Is ethical fashion a contradiction in terms? Ahead of London Fashion Week Madeleine Holt has been deep inside the fashion industry in the company of woman who put Top Shop on the map - and then left. This is the first time Jane Shepherdson has spoken since she waved Sir Philip Greeen goodbye. Read about Madeleine's adventures in the world of ethical fashion here.

UPDATE: Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has withdrawn from the race for the Republican party nomination for the US presidency, leaving the way clear for John McCain. We'll examine the impact of Romney's withdrawal tonight.

Kite non-runner

  • Michael Crick
  • 7 Feb 08, 04:51 PM

Caroline FlintIf ministerial careers depended on their popularity amongst Labour backbenchers, then Gordon Brown’s new housing minister Caroline Flint would be in deep, deep trouble.

There has been an outcry amongst Labour MPs in the last 48 hours about Ms Flint’s speech suggesting that people who live in council houses could be evicted if they don’t actively look for jobs.

This idea went down extremely badly with Ms Flint's colleagues, even though many of them accept – as Jackie Long reported on Newsnight – that this was merely a kite flying exercise.

“There are four kinds of policies in politics,” a former Labour cabinet minister told me (barely able to hide his disbelief at what Ms Flint had said), “the best policies are those which both make sense and are popular. Then you’ve got policies that don’t make sense but which are popular, and then there are policies which make sense but are unpopular. The worst of all are policies like this - which are neither sensible nor popular.”

Nothing fishy here

  • Michael Crick
  • 7 Feb 08, 12:48 PM

Plasma screen tvI went to a hearing of the Information Tribunal this morning where the Freedom of Information campaigner Heather Brooke and a couple of Sunday newspaper journalists were trying to get the House of Commons authorities to release more details about what MPs can claim on their additional costs allowance.

This is the money they get for having to occupy a second home, either in London or in their constituencies. They are reimbursed not just for rental or mortgage interest costs on their second home but also a general household expenditure, including items of furniture.

We heard from Andrew Walker, Director General of Finance and Administration, who argued that providing more detail would be an invasion of MPs personal privacy.

A well known Oxford Street store will no doubt be delighted to learn that that the Commons finance department keeps what Mr Walker calls a “John Lewis list” of reasonably priced items. TV sets for instance, which are neither luxury/top of the range nor “the bottom end of the market”.

So Mr Walker’s department would be unlikely to accept a claim for a plasma TV, he told the tribunal, and claims for iPods are rejected on the grounds that iPods are regarded as a personal items, but he said fish tanks “may be claimable”. Although he did know of one case where a claim for a fish tank had been rejected.

If only the BBC accounts were as understanding as this.

Prospects - Thursday, 7 February, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 7 Feb 08, 10:28 AM

Simon Enright is today's programme producer - here is his early email to the team. What do you want us to cover?

Hello People,

Met police officersLots going on - how best do we deploy our resources to tell the most important and distinctive stories?

Sir Ronnie Flanagan on how policing must change. How shall we do that?

The NATO/Afghanistan row - is there a way we can take this on from our excellent coverage last night.

Ken Livingstone appears before London Assembly. Is it time for Michael Crick's profile of the mayor?

Stuart Bower tries to take Gordon Brown to court today. He's accusing the PM of a breach of trust with the Labour voter - for not holding a referendum. Liz Mackean is in court.

Oh and an amazing access film from Madeleine Holt on ethical fashion. We have debate setup off the back.

Other stories? Playout ideas.

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