Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Dummy update

  • David Grossman
  • 10 Mar 08, 07:00 PM

I earlier reported the shock news that Madame Tussauds had no plans for a Gordon Brown waxwork.

Well, Number 10 insist that Mr Brown was invited to sit for a Tussauds waxwork as recently as March 3rd. Apparently the Brown team was contacted by Madame Tussauds' global head of external relations, Nicky Hobbs who writes, "I am honoured to tell you that The Prime Minister, Mr Gordon Brown, has been selected to be honoured by the Tussauds team and be amongst the very select group of people that are made into wax figures.

"We choose our figures from detailed public surveys, and he has been a hugely popular choice amongst local Londoners and tourists from around the world.

"On behalf of our creative team I would like to ask for a sitting to obtain detailed measurements, a sitting takes up to two hours. I would send a team to a location of Mr Brown's choice and to suit his schedule if he is happy to sit. We realise Mr Brown is of course incredibly busy, and we would hope to agree on a sitting date that falls within the next six months."


Monday, 10 March, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 10 Mar 08, 05:52 PM

Juliet StephensonTonight Jeremy Paxman and Newsnight will appear a little later - after the first in the series 10 Days to War. The opening episode is a dramatic representation of senior Foreign Office Lawyer, Elizabeth Wilmhurst's decision to resign over the legality of military action.

On Newsnight we'll debate whether the war in Iraq was legal - and if it was not legal, whether that matters. We'll be joined by General Sir Mike Jackson one of those charged with running the war five years ago, William Taft, who was at the time the legal advisor to the US State Department and leading QC Philippe Sands who doubts the legality of the war.

With just two days to go before the Budget we're already being told to expect many "green" measures. But does it really achieve anything other than increasing government revenue to put up taxes on so called environmentally bad things? Our science editor Susan Watts asks whether a few green taxes will really change anyone's behaviour. We'll then debate whether such taxes can be justified. And our economics editor Stephanie Flanders has a profile of the man with the job of making these decisions, Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling.

Finally, have you read the blog of Whitehall insider Civil Serf? It's believed to be the online outpourings of a disillusioned civil servant. At the weekend it disappeared from the web. So what happened? We've asked Michael Crick to find out.

Do tune in to BBC 2 at 10.30pm for Ten Days to War and then join us immediately afterwards.

Gordon's no dummy

  • David Grossman
  • 10 Mar 08, 05:48 PM

Tony Blair's waxwork dummySounds like a good headline for the PM? - well not really. It seems that the people at Madame Tussauds don't think Mr Brown is enough of a draw to bother making a waxwork of him.

Public relations manager Ben Lovett tells PA news:
"At the moment we have no plans to make Gordon Brown.

"We are going to wait for a general election to see what will happen because
that's the ultimate test of public opinion.

"We are always continuing to monitor public opinion so if there's a surge of
support then we will reconsider."

Sadly for Mr Brown's ego it seems Tony Blair's waxwork is still drawing the crowds.

More on pavement politics...

  • Michael Crick
  • 10 Mar 08, 02:54 PM

There was a little unease amongst the Lib Dem high command at my presence at the conference on Friday. Political editors tend to shun the gatherings so there must be something juicy, they thought, to tempt me to take the three-hour train journey to Liverpool at the end of what had been a very bad week for their leader Nick Clegg.

But the story - juicy or not - almost failed to make air on Friday night when my producer was trapped in the lift for well over an hour at the Lib Dem run City Council's brand new conference centre.

Another example of the good old Liverpool tradition of dirty tricks?

CaravanTalking of which, and following my story on Friday about Liberals adding laxative to the milk-bottles outside Conservative HQ on polling day, a veteran Lib Dem councillor gave me another good 'dirty tricks' story dating back to the Manchester Exchange by-election in the early 1970s. The Conservatives had no base in the constituency, so they set up their campaign headquarters in a caravan on a piece of wasteland. Liberal activists soon noted, however, that the Tories failed to guard the vehicle each night - instead they just locked up and left. So one enterprising Liberal, without announcing his identity, procured some Labour posters from the Labour HQ, and in the middle of the night plastered them all over the Tory caravan.

You can imagine the Conservatives' fury the next day. So angry were they that they forced Labour's north west regional organiser to go through the humiliation of scraping the posters off the caravan one by one with a knife. Smirking Liberal activists kept their distance, of course.

Or so the story goes...

Spot the missing word

  • Michael Crick
  • 10 Mar 08, 11:39 AM

ken203behind.jpgStrange, I thought Ken Livingstone had returned to the Labour fold at the last mayoral election in 2004, having been expelled and fought as an independent in 2000.

But the word "Labour" appears nowhere on the home page of his website, though there is a small red rose - the Labour symbol - tucked away down at the bottom.

My BBC colleague Rhodri Jones has done a more extensive search, and the only mention of 'Labour' he can find is in Livingstone's biography, where it says he served as a "Labour councillor".

Prospects: Monday, 10 March, 2003

  • Newsnight
  • 10 Mar 08, 10:29 AM

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

Hello everyone,

10 Days to War
Juliet StephensonTonight is the first of the drama reconstructions of the events that led to the conflict in Iraq - it's called 10 Days to War. Starring Juliet Stevenson and Kate Ashfield in this episode we're behind the scenes at the foreign office as one of the government's most senior lawyers plans to resign over the legality of the war. We'll debate with General Sir Mike Jackson, QC Phillipe Sands and senior US legal advisor William Taft whether the war was legal and why it matters if it was or wasn't.

But what else should we do on tonight's programme? Stephanie Flanders is working on a profile of Alistair Darling ahead of Wednesday's budget. Should we do more on the budget than that?

Is there something Newsnight should be doing on the weather?


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