Talk about Newsnight

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Wednesday, 28 May, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 28 May 08, 05:25 PM

From tonight's presenter, Gavin Esler:

Nuclear Power

pylons_203152.jpgGordon Brown suggests it might be part of the answer to our energy problems. That was all after a big push to stop the "third oil shock" this morning from the PM. But will this solve the energy gap or is it an example of bad policy being made on-the-hoof?

Mary not so Contrary

Mary Whitehouse campaigned at what she saw as the smut and violence on television from the 1960s on. Newsnight tonight follows a play about her life, and we'll debate whether the doughty campaigner was in fact right. How far are the roots of today's violence and social problems to be found in the kind of television Mrs Whitehouse loathed?

Did Mary Whitehouse have a point?

The 1968 Protests

Protests around the world in 1968 seemed to be demanding a change in the global order. The student clashes in Britain seemed nothing in comparison to those in Paris and the US. But 40 years on Paul Mason has got hold of the secret police files which show just how worried the establishment were.

Read Paul Mason's blog

Beryl Cook

She was described by Victoria Wood as "Ruben's with Jokes". One of Britain's most popular painters Beryl Cook has died aged 81. We'll mark her work.


  • Comment number 1.

    Any artist who's work makes you smile, is worthy of praise.

  • Comment number 2.

    Having grown up in Plymouth at the time Beryl was becoming famous I am saddened by her death. She was untrained as a painter, yet like Lowry painted scenes and types of people instantly recognisable to those from a similar background. Above all she had a sense of fun, knew what people were like under the public facades they kept up, hence the often mildly sexual (I think -saucy - is the preferred term) aspect to her paintings; fat bums, droopy bosoms and all. That doubtless is why she struck such a chord with the public. (Its probably no co-incidence that she and her husband frequented the pubs on the Barbican at a time when they were mainly visited by trawler-men, holiday makers letting their hair down, soldiers from the local barracks and bar-room girls.) Her work is instantly recognisable and has a likeability factor that resonates with many people. To link with another of today’s topics, I doubt she’d have met with the approval of Mary Whitehouse, but I think most people knew which one of the two they preferred and that Beryl reflected her times the better.

    Was her work great art? Not in the same league as a Turner or Constable perhaps, but likely to be admired long after many contemporary Brit Artists (and I do like some of their work too) have faded into obscurity.

    Finally a nod to Bernard Samuels, director of the then lively and eclectic Plymouth arts centre, for being willing to risk hosting her first exhibitions and bring her work to a wider audience.

  • Comment number 3.

    In 1994 a BBC2 " Late Show's" producer Clare Bevan made a superb
    Mary Whitehouse documentary I hope Newsnight managed to get it out the Archive ?

  • Comment number 4.

    The Prime Minister meets some oil executives, comes out of the meeting and announces an expansion of Nuclear power ..... what the hell happened!? Did he throw his teddy?

  • Comment number 5.


    I have read (always unwise) that uranium ore will become ever lower in grade as the good stuff is mined out, and will take a lot of extracting. Is it possible that Gordon has got his sums wrong again, and by the time we have built a power station or two, the cost of fuel will make them uneconomic? Perish the thought. Also, isn't all the uranium "somewhere else" - like the oil?
    Is Clunk Brown clunking again?

  • Comment number 6.

    It looks like the descendants of Mary Whitehouse got to my blog about free supermarket bags on Friday. I expect that last night's contribution will soon follow.

    You can tell when the Corporate Nazi's are loosing their argument, they start playing thought police. The Harry Enfield spoof advertisements I referred to recently have just been removed from You Tube.

  • Comment number 7.

    Apologies for posting such a trivial question with no relevance to the news, but does anyone know what the music was that was used repeatedly in the first report this evening, about energy, over a grid of images of energy-related pictures?

  • Comment number 8.

    I do hope Newsnight will not gloss over Mrs Whitehouse's homophobia, as the dramatisation did. She was closely involved in the Festival of Light campaign (indeed that was her connection with Cliff Richard, which the drama did mention, out of context), almost bankrupted the first gay and lesbian newspaper and intended to destroy what was a vital lifeline for many isolated people in what was then a very hostile country, and particularly picked on any media representation of such people, in any context. Some thought she was simply a woman of her class and time, but in fact she was vindictive and hate-filled simply due to prejudice. She sought the unelected power she exercised, as the drama showed, for that, very dark reason. Please don't whitewash that.

  • Comment number 9.

    Uranium has 85 years to go! Unless the more expensive reactors are built, then it lasts 1500 years.

  • Comment number 10.

    Would one of these anti-cluster ammunitions folks be able to explain to a 20 year old British Soldier why they can not use cluster bombs/rockets on a enemy that has used them against them ?

    This pandering to these and various other special interest groups have been the problem with this Labour Government and its results we are seeing today !

    It's about time Labour realized 90% of these special interest groups are not in touch with reality !

    PS. Mark is right , there is no nice weapon of war , there never has been and never will !

    PPS. Should we ban bullets ? because if a soldier drops some rounds while in battle , 2 years later after the battle a small child might pick them up and it might go off and hurt themselves or others around them !

    Where does this type of argument end ?

  • Comment number 11.


    I completely forget what the piece was about, but the slow pixilation of the background, followed by dimming to semi-dark (accentuated by the quaint hand-over-eyes by the presenter, usually redolent of BRIGHT light) all made this a tour de farce.
    And the interspersed "test card" of boxed electrical bric-a-brac left me dancing with something-or-other. There really should be a place in the Turner Prize competition or even an Olympic event for such genius.

    PS Mullerman. Point taken on stocks. Will the owners let us have any?

  • Comment number 12.


    Once, Mother Nature looked on as men fought
    remarking: nothing seeds quite like success!
    And though brute-force was all a winner had
    such seed – embraced – would yield a brutal lad.

    But perched precariously atop that ape:
    a cerebrum hell-bent on cleverness;
    beneath a bonehead skull, soft grey deceit
    in nihilistic glee schemed brute defeat.

    Once, man-power and an innate will to fight
    behove a man to take the sovereign’s coin;
    with luck he would return from foreign field
    not die there with his innards all revealed.

    He fought in daylight that his God might see
    the valour he displayed in battle joined
    and when it grew too dark for slaughtering
    he sought a little fruitful roistering.

    Now that has changed - thanks to technology
    and high-tech kit supplants the scout’s keen eye
    attacking in the dark was once thought mean
    but with night-vision goggles – mean is green!

    The boffin brain loves war’s technology
    that brings about a level killing field;
    today a slight squadette – driving a tank
    sees off a six foot, murderous, sperm-bank.

    Soon robot squaddies - loyal to a “man”
    not on their stomachs marching - but on chips
    will long no more for homelands when they fall
    as all terrain’s the same when in the virtual.

    In that new dawn the nerds will rule the waves
    Great Britain’s destiny: to be effete
    with geeky meek inheriting the Earth
    outranking that dumb brute who once had worth.

    Then Mother Nature, sad at Woman’s flight
    from motherhood and nurture in these days
    will deem manhood’s departure that last straw
    and from this vale of tears she will withdraw.

  • Comment number 13.


    I don't think it would explain to a 20 year old British Soldier why cluster weapons can be used by a enemy on them, but they could not respond in kind .

    But thanks for responding all the same .

  • Comment number 14.

    What would Mary Whitehouse have thought about Beryl Cook?

  • Comment number 15.

    Yesterday on this blog the issue was noted of EU-originated rulings being being pushed through to make it much more difficult to question and/or challenge significant (and on past evidence, often poorly-considered) major issues being pushed through, such as... nuclear power.

    '4. At 7:04 pm on 28 May 2008, mullerman wrote: The Prime Minister meets some oil executives, comes out of the meeting and announces an expansion of Nuclear power ..... what the hell happened!?'


  • Comment number 16.

    energy policy

    in germany micro generation linked to a two way grid [so people can sell surplus back] employs 1/4 million people and generates 24 billion euros. the uk govt refuse to have a two way grid as they do not believe there is any evidence it would work. sums this govt up.

    tv violence

    is it artistic valid? Look at the classic films like casablanca or brideshead revisited how much sex swearing and obsessive violence is in that? if they don't need it why do others think it is essential to have it?

    much of the tv is soft porn or violent porn. there is no 'greater context to it. so there is violence in shakespeare but is that what he is writing about? No. so its false comparison to compare violence in eastenders and shakespeare. eastenders and other violent shows has no higher moral framework other than titilation.

    much more dangerous are radio like bbc1 xtra that pump out gangsta and hip hop brainwashing. If they wouldn't give drug dealers or jihadi preachers their own radio station why do they give it to their music that is based on that preaching?

  • Comment number 17.

    16. At 11:58 am on 29 May 2008, bookhimdano :energy policy

    There's the rub. Who knows? And why do the majority of the population (inc. me) not?

    The German example you share seems inspirational, proactive, positive and profitable.

    Yet, apparently... 'the uk govt refuse to have a two way grid as they do not believe there is any evidence it would work'.

    Now belief is all well and subjective. Surely to heavens it is not beyond the wit of media to help us get to find out what the actual facts and/or truth is? Then the people can lobby for what is good for pocket... and planet.

    I would dearly love some clear information and discussion on this (and others), and not a 'tis/t'isn't twofer with extremes from the dogmatic activist or box-ticker/lobbyist/subsidy junkie end of a debate.

    And even if we do get actual engineers and/or number crunchers, if they still have opposing viewpoints might we hope for a host with experience and training enough to actually get to definitive answers we can act/vote on than a 'that's all we have time for' ratings segment that gets filed and forgotten in days?


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