Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Monday, 17 March, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 17 Mar 08, 05:15 PM

Tonight's programme is presented by Jeremy Paxman

Markets slump

markets1_203100.jpgMarkets from New York to Tokyo have recorded heavy losses in reaction to the emergency bailout of US investment bank Bear Stearns over the weekend. In New York the Dow Jones Industrials tumbled 194 points, more than 1.5%, in early trading before recovering. London's FTSE 100 index was down 2.7%. The Bank of England today made an extra £5bn available for UK banks to borrow to ease credit fears. The money was five times over-subscribed.

Meanwhile, on the markets, US, UK and European banks were hammered; Lehman Brothers fell 30%, UBS lost 13%, HBOS 10% and Commerzbank fell 7.9%. Investors are worried that the collapse of Bear Stearns, one of Wall Street's biggest names, is a sign that the credit crunch is getting worse and lending might seize up.

The BBC's Economic Correspondent Hugh Pym will assess how big the problem is and what the potential market solutions are. We'll also be looking at the impact on the UK economy. And Stephanie Flanders will join us live from New York to give us the latest on the fallout in the US.

We'll also be reconvening Newsnight's Shadow Monetary Policy Committee to cast their expert eyes over events.

Markets slump on banking worries


The deadline for Tibetan protesters to surrender to the police has passed, after a quiet day in the city of Lhasa. China had given demonstrators in the city until midnight to give themselves up or face punishment. Exiled Tibetans said security forces had been rounding up political dissidents and witnesses said there was a heavy police presence on the streets. Dozens are feared dead after days of rioting in Lhasa, with each side accusing the other of excessive force. Other parts of China also saw rallies on the weekend, while Tibetans in Nepal and India are continuing to protest. Mark Urban will analyse what's been happening and examines whether the Chinese Government will crack down hard on protestors just months before the Olympics.

Tibet protester deadline passes

Iraq: 10 Days to War

Five years on from the war in Iraq we speak to former Cabinet Secretary, Lord Butler about the use of intelligence on WMD.

And from the web team

The countdown continues with 3 Days to War. In You Are Welcome Here, with UN diplomacy dead, the weapons inspectors continue their fruitless search in Iraq. Watch a preview of tonight’s episode here.

Our Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban has written up his recollections of reporting on the preparations for war back in 2003, and shares his thoughts on how – with hindsight – he might have reported things differently.

And Michael Crick has added to the Big Fat Politics Blog with a few words about how Shadow Education Secretary Michael Gove has been “cracking the whip” with the leader of the Tory party; plus some thoughts about the many novelists Parliament and British politics have produced over the years…

A test of Wills

  • Michael Crick
  • 17 Mar 08, 03:40 PM

I’ve just finished a thriller written by the only remaining member of the government to have published a novel (at least by my reckoning). The novelist in question is Michael Wills, a Minister of State at the Justice Department, who, for some strange reason, writes under the name of David McKeowen (especially odd when he then identifies himself as Michael Wills on page one).

Wills’s first novel Grip is not about politics in any way, but a thriller about what happens to a middle class family when their son suddenly finds himself owing £30,000 to a violent drug dealer. It doesn’t pretend to be great literature, but is certainly an excellent read, examining the psychologies of each of the different players. It would make a great film or TV drama. He has also published a second thriller, Trapped, and more books are on the way.

Michael Wills, a distinctly Brownite member of the government, claims to have had six careers in his adult lifetime. Looking at his Who’s Who entry these seem to be: diplomat, TV producer, businessman (as founder of the independent TV company Juniper), MP, minister, and now novelist.

Parliament and British politics boasts a surprising number of novelists over the years – from Disraeli and John Buchan to Jeffrey Archer and Iain Duncan Smith – and Winston Churchill even published a novel early on in his career. Other novelists to have held ministerial office since Labour came to power are Helen Liddell, Chris Mullin and Peter Hain.

My complete list of British politician novelists runs to 41 names, as follows, but I’d love to know of any that I’ve missed:

Rupert Allason (MP)
Jeffrey Archer (MP)
Joe Ashton (MP)
Stuart Bell (MP)
Melvyn Bragg (peer)
John Buchan (MP)
Winston Churchill (MP)
Philip Collins (adviser)
Julian Critchley (MP)
Edwina Currie (MP)
Bertie Denham (peer)
Benjamin Disraeli (MP)
Michael Dobbs (adviser)
Iain Duncan Smith (MP)
Walter Feinburgh (MP)
Maurice Edelman (MP)
Peter Hain (MP)
David Hart (adviser)
Roy Hattersley (MP)
Douglas Hurd (MP)
PD James (peer)
Boris Johnson (MP)
Stanley Johnson (MEP)
Robert Kilroy Silk (MP)
Helen Liddell (MP)
Bob Marshall-Andrews (MP)
Chris Mullin (MP)
Amanda Platell (adviser)
Lance Price (adviser)
Barbara Rendell (peer)
Tim Renton (MP)
Brian Sedgemore (MP)
Martin Sixsmith (adviser)
CP Snow (minister/peer)
John Stonehouse (MP)
Michael Spicer (MP)
David Walder (MP)
Ann Widdecombe (MP)
Michael Wills (MP (as David McKeowen))


Chris Bryant (MP)
Alastair Campbell (adviser)

Educating Cameron

  • Michael Crick
  • 17 Mar 08, 03:13 PM

BBC colleagues who accidentally overheard David Cameron last Friday evening, while rehearsing his speech to the Conservatives’ (so-called) Spring Forum in Gateshead, were struck by the important role which the Shadow Education Secretary – and regular Newsnight Review panellist – Michael Gove played in the proceedings.

gove_203.jpg“He was really cracking the whip,” I’m told, in advising Cameron very forcefully on using softer language. Gove advised him, for instance, to refer to “mothers and fathers” rather than “parents”, and how it was best to avoid an old-fashioned phrase like “creeds and colours”.

Michael Gove has long been identified as a rising star on the Conservative front bench, a moderniser and close ally of Cameron, but my colleagues were surprised at how much the Tory leader was happy to defer to his education spokesman. Until now it had been thought that Steve Hilton was Cameron’s chief modernisation guru. Although Hilton was among those listening to David Cameron's rehearsal, he said very little in comparison with Gove.

Prospects: Monday, 17 March, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 17 Mar 08, 10:29 AM

From today's programme producer, Robert Morgan:

Good morning everyone,

There's a lot around today. The fallout from Bear Stearns is set to be big. How will the international markets respond? What will the Fed do with interest rates tomorrow? What effect will this have on us in the UK? Tracker mortgages were withdrawn over the weekend and a report today says up to 10,000 jobs could go in the banking industry.

We have an interview with Lord Butler off the back of the 10 Days to War series. We need to watch out for China's midnight deadline for demonstrators in Tibet to give themselves up. Kosovo is worth looking at too. Do come to the meeting with ideas on how to do these stories.

Playout thoughts weclome. See you in a minute.


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites