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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?


Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 11:29 AM on 10 Mar 2008,
  • Bill Bradbury wrote:

One wonders how much will Brown's stamp be on the Budget or Darling's- Shades of Putin and Mededev? Tomorrow night would be better for your pundits to say what they would do.
He really needs to support industry and commerce and soften the blow to those of us on fixed incomes in the forthcoming economic crisis.

White Britain is closely linked to the loss of traditional industries and a way of life. Times have changed but White Britain has not leaving a lot of confused and disconnected older generation wondering where they fit in.

In my case a greater tax on cars and petrol would force me to cut back on holidays. Low income and Middle England families will feel the pinch this year and when we pull in our spending, as we will be forced to do with a punitive budget, then recession won't be far behind as firms lay off people due to lack of orders.

Darling had better be careful before he sows the seeds of recession.

  • 2.
  • At 11:41 AM on 10 Mar 2008,
  • wappaho wrote:

morning simon, team,

budget - could we have a clear analysis and working examples of how reducing corporation tax benefits anyone other than capitalists? are there some secret trickle downs that i haven't heard of or are we being conned by this theory of how 'wealth creation' benefits society as a whole. we seem to have a huge impoverished and alienated work and non-working force drinking themselves to oblivion and whispering in corners for fear of state intevetion in their private thopughts - how is that trickle down?

weather - a sensible projection of where to develop in britain and where not - no more pathetic eco-geeks telling us to eat cabbage please. and if you do grab for the local mafia again please ask them (Tim / George) how local food systems help in flood situations, wouldn't supermarkets with national distribution systems be more helpful?


ps iraq war - boring! you just can't help some people. clearly it was a stupid idea but can we please stop flagellating ourselves for trying to offer a nation a better life

is anyone seriously in doubt that liberal democracy is the best thing we've achieved so far - many improvements still to make so let's look to the future and stop hanging around with tradishniks.

thanks again

  • 3.
  • At 01:25 PM on 10 Mar 2008,
  • neil robertson wrote:

It will be interesting to hear what Stephanie Flanders makes of Alistair Darling. This might get her going??!

The truth is nobody yet knows if he is his own man ... he is a survivor
and has risen almost effortlessly
and probably without making many
enemies despite having been the
Chief Secretary (ie the guy who
cuts other ministers' budgets)?

As a Lothian Regional Councillor he was one of a group who took on Mrs
Thatcher and refused to balance their
budget - at a time when Red Ken is
at the GLC .... but then the beard
is shaved off; the hand goes up in
a meeting to oppose devolution in
an edinburgh central CLP meeting
along with those of the GMC - and
he ends up in Parliament ........

He was however mildly pro-Europe
I suspect (more than can be said
of Gordon) and sometimes reminds
me a little of early John Smith?
Very private persona and cautious
in public ........... son of Tory
Lord Provost of Aberdeen I think?

Andrew Marr was also at Loretto
though is perhaps a bit younger.

But on more serious Budget issues:
Brown is talking today about public sector reform and the Third Act -
but the real Third Act may be the big PFI hangover which will now it
seems remain unknown for another year as there has been a decision
to postpone bringing all the off
book transactions associated with PFI into the mainline accounts because of data delays. The FT
ran stories about this last week.

See: 'PFI delay avoids Budget rewrite'

There is also a report out today in Scotland from our own Information Commissioner Kevin Dunion in which he flags up concerns that one of the unintended consequences of further public sector reform and new forms of delivery may actually be less information for the paying public as Freedom of Information legislation may not extend to e.g. Northern Rock or new forms of service delivery if there is not explicit legislative extension. In Scotland Dunion has recently ruled that one big PFI contract in Darling's constituency should be published .... and his report also cites other examples such as a prison service contract where there has been another wee
victory for transparency .......

The other big story in Scotland is about the attempt by Gordon Brown
to do a deal with Ming Campbell -
but you would need to buy his book
or read this piece by McWhirter to
understand the political logic and the implications for the whole UK!!

Nick Clegg has ruled out any such
deals in future and the Liberals
are sitting down to pizza with
Alex Salmond trying to abolish
council tax and bring in local
income tax in Scotland so this
is I suspect water under bridge?!
It does provide an insight though
into the modus op of Gordon Brown.

  • 4.
  • At 02:36 PM on 10 Mar 2008,
  • Jeanette Eccles London wrote:

Yes the weather is good and maybe a short travel report like the M4 south lane is closed ..

  • 5.
  • At 04:04 PM on 10 Mar 2008,
  • John wrote:

Whilst I'm very pleased that Newsnight is looking at matters relating to Iraq, I'm uncomfortable with mixing news and drama within an established news programme. Perhaps Newsnight isn't the best forum for the BBC to pursue such projects? For example, we have the news (not dramatic reconstruction!) today of the massive hike in MOD budget for Iraq & Afghanistan, which offers up a great chance to do what Newsnight normally does.

  • 6.
  • At 04:56 PM on 10 Mar 2008,
  • M. Rock wrote:

Behind the scenes at Newsnight

Jeremy Paxman fronts an educational yet comedic short film explaining how Newsnight is put together as part of a wider BBC project to get children interested in news


If the budget has Gordons easily recognised fingerprint all over it, we will know poor Sancho Panda is just a lackey.

  • 8.
  • At 11:43 PM on 10 Mar 2008,
  • Bill Bradbury wrote:

Thank God for Ken Clark. Those two Green dimwits reminded me of the Monty Python "Blue Peter" sketch where they were going to find a cure for the whole people of the earth etc. From what Janet & John economic manual did they get their ideas?

Ken had it right. Green is an excuse to fleece us all for more money and it won't effect our footprints one iota.
The rich won't even blink that there will be another £1000 on their car and will continue to fill up on their expense accounts.

Ken had it right again (but Jeremy wanted to keep him on the Green issue) that the economy and industry is the major problem for the Chancellor. Perhaps tomorrow we could have a good debate on this.
As for me on a fixed income facing increases all around I will be worse off after Wednesday. If enough of us pull in our horns then watch for redundances as the money supply from our pockets and purses dry up.

  • 9.
  • At 10:32 AM on 11 Mar 2008,
  • Eddy Hunt wrote:

International Law states that war can be justified on the basis of a Security Council resolution.

What kind of resolution is required? It seems to me that it must be one authorising the use of force.

The resolutions sited related were either outdated (jusified the 1991 Gulf War) or imposed obligations on Iraq, which were not fulfilled.

Not only was there no resultion authorising force, but it was clear that if one were to be sought then it would be defeated.

It is a pity that those who justify the war on the basis of previous Security Council resolutions are never challenged on this point.

  • 10.
  • At 12:30 AM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Chris Dean wrote:

I watched the Newsnight programme about the legality of the Iraq war with interest. As was stated in the 10 Days to War programme there was no legal basis for the Iraq war then the government as a criminal should not only be prosecuted and held to account but supports crime and criminal activities thus undermining the Police and the rule of law.

Therefore it is perfectly acceptable for me to break into this house and steal whatever I can, mug this old lady for her pension, defraud my employer of thousands of pounds and do whatever I can to feed my own habits without regard for anyone or anything else except my own pleasure and benefit.

If the government can break the law when they choose why can’t I?

While this attitude is not acceptable in civilized society the government by their actions have made it acceptable for anyone and everyone to break the law as they choose.

At least Mr Darling has just a slight twinge of conscience about the way he has been neglecting pensioners. I see that he is increasing the Xmas Winter fuel allowance for pensioners over 60 by £50 and for those over 80 by £100.

As an 82-year old pensioner I suppose I am supposed to be grateful for the fact that , if I live until Xmas, the £100 will help a little towards the increased income tax I have to pay due to the increase of income tax from 10% to 20% during the last budget.

At least I will not have to pay increases in car tax as I cannot afford to buy or run a car. Also, I will not have to pay any increases on beer, wine or spirits, as I cannot afford to buy any alcoholic drinks.

I realise he wants to help young families, but why take from Peter to pay Paul? Mr Darling one day you will grow old!

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