Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

All right Jack?

  • Michael Crick
  • 3 Mar 08, 10:13 PM

Gordon BrownGordon Brown looks set for some embarrassment when the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party meets next Monday (10 March 2008) to pick a new General Secretary following last autumn’s resignation of Peter Watt over the David Abrahams proxy loans affair. The Prime Minister’s candidate is David Pitt-Watson, who was recruited by the party from the City of London in 1997 and spent a couple of years as Labour’s finance director and assistant general secretary, when he was credited with helping turn round Labour’s finances. Yet most of Pitt-Watson’s career has been spent in the City, where until recently he ran Hermes Focus Asset Management, and where he has built a reputation as a leading advocate of greater activism by shareholders. Pitt-Watson, who’s been rejected for the post in the past, was also a significant financial backer of Gordon Brown’s leadership election. He is seem by the Prime Minister and his allies as having sufficient business brain and enough of an independent background to shake the party up following its recent funding scandals, but also to sort out the party’s mounting debts once more.

Continue reading "All right Jack?"

Monday, 3 March, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 3 Mar 08, 06:17 PM

24-Hour Drinking
WineWe were told it could lead to a café culture, sensible drinking and a decline in drink-related violence, but has it? Newsnight has conducted its own review of the 24-hour licensing laws, ahead of the Government's official publication, expected tomorrow. What has been the real impact of liberalising the law? (Remember Boozenight?)

Hamas declared "victory" this morning after Israeli troops pulled out of the Gaza Strip after days of fighting in which more than 100 people have died - but the Israeli Prime Minister said military action would continue. So what are the prospects for peace? Mark Urban reports from Israel and we speak to senior Israeli and Hamas politicians.

Obama's Foreign Policy
So how would Barack Obama have handled this weeks events in Gaza, Russia or Iraq and would we have even noticed the difference? We'll be speaking to his senior foreign policy adviser, Samantha Power.

Let sleeping peers...

  • Michael Crick
  • 3 Mar 08, 05:11 PM

Sleeping peerMuch amusement in the BBC office at Millbank this afternoon as we all watched the television feed from the House of Lords, and observed a leading Liberal Democrat peeress sitting - or reclined - right behind her party colleague Lord Thomas of Gresford as he spoke at great length in a debate on immigration.

Lord Thomas's arguments obviously required the utmost concentration.

I'd probably be hauled up before the Lords authorities if I were to name names. So I won't. And I'd be in big trouble next time I visited Edinburgh and bumped into her husband, a prominent Scottish journalist.

Canvassing For Livingstone

  • Michael Crick
  • 3 Mar 08, 02:13 PM

ken203blog.jpgI am amused to see that several prominent artists have donated works to Ken Livingstone’s re-election campaign for London mayor, among them Banksy, Anthony Gormley, Jeremy Deller and Marc Quinn. The works are due to be auctioned this Thursday at the Aquarium Gallery. A new form of canvassing, I suppose.

I trust, however that Mr Livingstone and the Labour Party will be registering these donations with the Electoral Commission. So far there’s no sign on the Electoral Commission register that Ken Livingstone is even running for London Mayor, let alone of any donations to his campaign.

I was also interested to see that the Sunday Times yesterday followed up my story on Friday about Labour failing to register with the Commission the cut-price work performed by their advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi. In line with what Saatchi’s Communications Director Eleanor Conroy told Newsnight last November, she told the Sunday Times on Friday that the work is “heavily discounted because we are so keen to work on it and so passionate about it … We give them a massive discount.” But later Ms Conroy changed her tune, as she did with Newsnight, and said “it is not a discount”. All very odd.

But the law is clear. And discount of more than 10% has to be registered as a donation. And “massive” sounds to me, like it was more than 10%.

Prospects: Monday, 3 March, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 3 Mar 08, 10:17 AM

Dan Kelly is today's programme producer - here is his early email to the team. Leave your thoughts below on what we should cover.

Good morning all.

Palestinian gunman in GazaHamas declared "victory" this morning after Israeli troops pulled out of the Gaza Strip after days of fighting that have killed more than 100 people - but senior Israeli officials said the conflict had merely entered an "interval” for a visit by the US Secretary of State. Rockets from Hamas hit the Israeli city of Ashkelon today, and Israeli air strikes have continued. Mark Urban is in Israel. Which guests would you like to see on this? What other thoughts do you have on the story?

The government is due to publish its review of 24-hour drinking tomorrow - local government chiefs have already been highly critical. Has the change made a difference for good or ill?

On the first day after the election, Gazprom, the company president-elect Dmitry Medvedev is still formally chairman of, has cut gas supplies to the Ukraine by 25%. Is this an ominous start? Should we do this and how?

On a foreign heavy day, we have an interview with Obama's senior foreign policy adviser, Samantha Power. How would a President Obama deal with the Middle East and Russia?

All other ideas welcome.


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