Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Thursday, 22 May, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 22 May 08, 06:33 PM

A turning point?
Is the result of today's Crewe and Nantwich by-election likely to be a major political turning point? Labour seem to be reducing expectations. If they lose the seat what does it mean for Gordon Brown? Another relaunch or worse?
We'll also be going in search of the most significant by-election victory since the war - you can make your suggestion here.

A wise Middle Eastern sage Sheikh Yamani once noted that the Stone Age did not come to an end as a result of a shortage of stones and the oil age would not come to an end because of a shortage of oil. The shocking price of petrol and aviation fuel hits all of us. How bad could it get?

And our very own Steve Smith reports from Cannes where one of his Newsnight films has been given a screening.

Now that's what I call a by-election

  • Newsnight
  • 22 May 08, 01:52 PM

Simon Enright, Assistant Editor, Newsnight

byelection203x170.jpgThere's something about by-elections that make them irresistible - especially for journalists. It's that rare chance for the electorate to give the government a kicking, to make them listen, but not change the administration.

My first memory is of the local TV presenter, Austin Mitchell, putting down his microphone and knocking on doors in Grimsby. It was a marginal seat and a worried Labour government threw all their resources at holding it. Austin Mitchell did win, just - and is still an MP. But unnoticed, the voters of Ashfield in Derbyshire took against the government and handed that much safer Labour seat to the Conservatives. Needless to say that loss didn't feature so much on Yorkshire Telly.

For every party there must be a favourite win. If you're a Scottish Nationalist you won't forget the dramatic wins in Glasgow Govan - they took it twice in by-elections from Labour. Or for sheer television drama, Labour supporters surely can't forget the result in Dudley West that broke Peter Snow's Swingometer.

bermondsey203.jpgBut surely the by-election masters are the Liberal Democrats. Simon Hughes began the recent trend by turning yellow the safe Labour seat of Bermondsey, with what many remember as a brutally efficient campaign. The 80s, 90s and also in recent years have seen Liberal Democrats "Winning Here" in Greenwich, Eastbourne, Newbury, and most recently Sarah Teather in Brent East.

Could Crewe and Nantwich be the Conservative totem that marks a sea change in British politics? Maybe, but what really has been the most significant by-election result since 1945 and why? That's the challenge we're setting this lunchtime. On tonight's programme Liz MacKean will announce your favourite.

Prospects for Thursday, 22 May, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 22 May 08, 10:28 AM

Today's output editor is Robert Morgan - here's his morning e-mail to the production team:

Good morning everyone,

There's quite a bit around today. The Crewe by-election is today. David and Vara are there. Oil prices have reached a record high. Ban Ki Moon is in Burma. Do come to the morning meeting with ideas on how to do these or other stories.

Steve Smith has been to Cannes to witness the screening of his Newsnight film on "the Picasso of South America" Fernando Botero. Should be good!

Playout thoughts welcome. See you in minute,


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