Talk about Newsnight

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Monday, 18 February, 2005

  • Newsnight
  • 18 Feb 08, 04:59 PM

Jeremy's presenting the programme tonight.
Northern Rock
Gordon Brown and Alistair DarlingWe'll have the latest on the fallout from the decision to nationalise Northern Rock. A few minutes ago David Cameron called for Alistair Darling to be removed from his post. Where does all this leave the government's reputation for economic competence? And would the Tories’ plan for the Rock be any sounder? We expect to hear from a Treasury minister and a senior Conservative.

"Draft" weapons dossier published
The government vigorously opposed its publication, but lost the battle. A first draft of the notorious dossier on Iraq's weapons capability has been released under Freedom of Information legislation. The draft was never released to the Hutton inquiry nor to Lord Butler's inquiry into the evidence that led to war. It sheds more light on the key role that political advisers had in the presentation of sensitive intelligence. More details on the programme...

Pakistan elections
The polls have already closed in Pakistan's parliamentary elections. The election is supposed to ease the transition to civilian democracy after eight years of military rule - but after weeks of bloody violence, and the assassination of key opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, it's likely that the outcome will lead to yet more instability and chaos. Mark Urban has spent the past week travelling across the country, speaking to top politicians and ordinary Pakistanis about the chance of peace.

Diana inquest
It was never likely to be a quiet day in court. But Mohammed Al Fayed's first day of evidence at the inquest into the death of Diana has proven more explosive than anyone could have imagined. He's referred to Prince Phillip as a "Nazi", and suggested that Prince Charles was part of the alleged murder plot, hoping to clear the decks so he could marry Camilla Parker Bowles. Has any of this led us any closer to the truth about her death? Possibly not. But we've sent our reporter Steve Smith along for the spectacle.

Prospects - Monday, 18 February, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 18 Feb 08, 10:19 AM

Today's programme producer is Liz Gibbons - here is her early email to the production team.

Hello all

Masses around - what should we concentrate on?

Northern Rock bankNorthern Rock
How did we get here? Why did it take as long as it did to get here? And what might the political/economic consequences be? David Grossman is working on a piece. There's a Gordon Brown press conference at 11, a press conference with new Northern Rock boss Ron Sadler expected this afternoon and a Commons statement due. What are the key issues we want to address and who we want to hear from live?

Pakistan - Mark Urban is there for us working on a film assessing the impact of the elections. We should have a good sense of early results by the time we're on air.

Kosovo - officially recognised by EU and US today. Key interviews? (Watch Allan Little’s Kosovo essay from last week)

Al Fayed giving evidence at Diana inquest - Steve Smith is in court. Is there a discussion to be done?


Wish I'd taken a punt now, really - on the Rock!

  • Paul Mason
  • 18 Feb 08, 08:31 AM

Two weeks ago I appeared on Newsnight to talk about the bids in for Northern Rock. I went as near as I could to suggesting that the pullout of Olivant, leaving Branson plus the in-house "bid", left the Rock very close to Nationalisation. The reason? Both bids effectively only offered half a billion of new money in return for the government removing risk on 24bn worth of debt. Of course only Treasury people could be privy to the deep inner mathematics of the bids but even a jackass such as myself could work out that this possibly did not represent best value for taxpayers' money.

I had strong belief there and then that it would have to be temporarily nationalised. Why? For a reason you can't stake your reputation on: the tone of voice of everybody in government I spoke to betrayed their despair at the non-appearance of decent bids from the private sector. When I asked Downing Street that night: "are you planning to nationalise the Rock" the reply was "Treasury matter, Paul" - as in Father Jack Hackett's famous all-purpose brush off "That would be an ecumenical matter..."

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