Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Prospects for Thursday, 19 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 19 Jun 08, 10:48 AM

Today's output editor is Shaminder Nahal - here's her morning e-mail to the production team:

Hello everyone.

We have the second of our brilliant Burma films tonight. Investigative journalist Simon Ostrovsky reports on the aftermath of cyclone Nargis - we see the harrowing journey he makes into the disaster zone, and how people there are coping with the aid that's trickling through. Shall we have a discussion?

What on earth are Europe's leaders going to do about the Irish NO on Lisbon. David Grossman and Neil Breakwell are in Brussels.

Do we need to open the debate on GM because of the global food crisis? That's what the Environment Minister, Phil Woolas, seems to be saying. Susan Watts is on the case.

Are there any lighter stories you think we should get on air? Please look around.

Other big stories around:
Hamas/Israel ceasefire watch.
Zimbabwe. Mugabe and Mbeki have held talks. Bodies of MDC supporters have been found. Rice discussing crisis at Security Council.

Anything else? See you in a minute.

Yours, Shaminder

Wednesday, 18 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 18 Jun 08, 05:52 PM

From tonight's presenter, Kirsty Wark:

Crunch time

darling_nn_203.jpgIt's Alistair Darling's BIG NIGHT OUT at the Mansion House - and boy, is there a lot for him to talk about.

With the prospect of energy prices rising by 40 per cent by Christmas according to an industry insider today, and so soon after his letter from the Governor of the Bank of England warning inflation might hit four per cent by Christmas, AND with public sector unions threatening strikes if the government does not renegotiate pay settlements - what exactly is he going to say?

Will he talk down growth, warn about pay restraint and shake a big stick at the City and its big fat bonuses? We'll be there.

We'll also hear from the Shadow Chancellor George Osborne and debate whether pay settlements really should or could be held down. Do let us know how life is for you during the Crunch by commenting below.

French economy

We'll also have the economic view from across the channel. We have an interview with the French Finance Minister, Christine Lagarde on France's problems with the economy and the future of the EU now that the Irish have said "no" to the Lisbon Treaty.


Our diplomatic Editor Mark Urban is following up on the deadliest attack on UK forces in Afghanistan since hostilities began seven years ago. Four soldiers - three men and a woman - were killed in an explosion east of Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province. Weren't we meant to be winning the war against the Taleban?

After Nargis

And we have an extraordinary, exclusive film of unseen Burma - of two doctors working for the NGO Merlin in an area devastated by the cyclone, where they were operating with the permission of the Burmese authorities.

Click here to read more.

Prospects for Wednesday, 18 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 18 Jun 08, 10:23 AM

From today's output editor Simon Enright - here's his morning e-mail to the production team:

Good Morning,

Lots of stories which should we take on to uncover something a little deeper.

- The biggest loss of British life in Afghanistan for 2 years. Weren't we winning the war against the Taleban?
- First Mansion House Speech for Mr Darling... Will he keep the economy on track and can he restrain pay?
- Abu Qatada released but under severe bail conditions. Will we learn more about where he is today?
- Plans for tackling our attitudes to crime. Will the government accept any of them?
So you know.... We have two things planned. Christine Lagarde, the French finance minister will be talking to us - what should we ask about?

We also have a film produced by Mark Lobel of unseen Burma. The footage is from two doctors working for Merlin, but they were operating with the permission of the Burma regime.

Do come with thoughts at 10.30.

All the best,

Tuesday, 17 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 17 Jun 08, 06:04 PM

The rate of inflation has hit its highest level for 11 years and the governor of the Bank of England says it could keep on rising. The Consumer Prices Index hit 3.3% last month, up from 3% in April. The bank governor Mervyn King has written to the government saying that rising food and oil prices could push inflation over 4% this year. We'll be asking how bad could this get and what are the solutions? Treasury Minister, Yvette Cooper will join us in studio. The Newsnight Shadow Monetary Policy Committee will reconvene to tell us what could happen next. Are we heading for further increases in inflation, interest rate rises and recession?

The Conservative Party Chairman Caroline Spelman is to face a Commons inquiry into the use of her MPs' expenses to pay for a nanny. The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner has ordered an investigation after Newsnight's Michael Crick reported that she'd used her secretarial allowance to pay a nanny more than a decade ago. Caroline Spelman insists she's done nothing wrong.

Watch the reports here.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Minister, Hazel Blears, may have broken the rules on the handling of restricted government information. A personal computer that holds restricted government documents relating to defence and extremism was stolen from her constituency office in Salford on Saturday.

Political Editor, Michael Crick will join us live.

A United Nations envoy met Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe today to discuss the violent political crisis ahead of this month's presidential election run-off. The visit is the first by a senior UN official for three years and comes at a time of growing international pressure on Mugabe over the June 27 vote. Opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, President Mugabe's Western critics and human right groups accuse the veteran leader of orchestrating a violent campaign to intimidate MDC supporters and leaders ahead of the election. Because the BBC isn't allowed into Zimbabwe Ian Pannell has gone in undercover. His report includes new allegations of intimidation by the President's party against the opposition.

We'll be speaking to America's most successful political blogger, Arianna Huffington about the power of the web in the election campaign.

Return of the Baghdad Blogger

  • Salam Pax
  • 17 Jun 08, 12:41 PM

pax203watch.jpgHello. This is the Baghdad Blogger. It's been a while since the last blog online and on television so I'll try and not be too sad if you've forgotten about me and moved on to more interesting blogs and bloggers.

About a year ago my family decided to leave Iraq. I was coming to the UK for a year to study and most of my extended family had already left Iraq as the levels of violence on the streets rose and we all felt frustrated by the lack of any improvement.

It wasn't an easy decision to make. We as a family stayed in Iraq and witnessed the death of friends and relatives; sat at home through days of waiting for good news from kidnapped acquaintances and clung to every little change on the political landscape in hope that this will be the moment things will change to the better.

We left our home as my neighbourhood somehow became a Sunni enclave and became less safe for my mother. And helped my aunts and uncles do the same.

There was a moment when most of the things I loved about Baghdad became a memory as I sat in our new home.

My father's brief involvement in politics meant that we had to live within a protected area and his fear for us meant that if we were to go out on the street we would have to be escorted.

I put my camera aside, my mother stopped visiting her siblings or going to the shops.

One morning we were woken up by one of the guards assigned to protect my father and told that American soldiers are at the door, they want to search our house.

They suspect we were hiding explosives. As we stood outside while the house was searched we were told that the neighbours had told the nearby American check point that they should check us out.

It was a Shia area, my father's Sunni tribe made them suspicious. The American soldiers left after finding nothing. And for us it was clearly time to move out.

This is when we, like almost two million Iraqis, decided it was safer for to leave for a while. Most of us who have left Iraq looked for refuge in neighbouring countries.

Like my own family most Iraqis are in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon or the United Arab Emirates - my own is spread throughout three of those four, as not all of us were able to get some sort of legal residence in the same country. And a much smaller percentage made it to shores farther away including the UK.

In the next couple of days I will be trying to find out more about the situation of Iraqi asylum seekers in the UK and will be making a film about their situation here to be shown on Newsnight in July.

I will be finding out what is happening to Iraqis whose application for refugee status here has been refused and also talking to Caroline Slocock from Refugee Legal Centre about what appears to be the Home Office's decision to accelerate forced deportations of failed asylum seekers.

I will keep you posted.

Salam's report will be broadcast on Newsnight in late June.

Prospects for Tuesday, 17 June

  • Newsnight
  • 17 Jun 08, 11:13 AM

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

Hello everyone,

The big squeeze continues. The soaring cost of fuel and food has pushed inflation above 3% for the first time since March last year. The cost of living is now running at 3.3%. It means that the governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, will now have to write a letter to the Chancellor to explain why the figure has risen more than 1% above the government's target, of 2%. Let's discuss how we should do this story in the meeting.

Bids are in for the Chancellor and Yvette Cooper.

A top UN official is due in Zimbabwe for a five-day visit ahead of the presidential run-off, which continues to be marred by political violence. Haile Menkerios is expected to meet politicians to discuss the situation in the run-up to the 27 June vote. Violence is reported to have spread to urban areas near Harare, with opposition activists complaining of being attacked near the city. The UK Prime Minister called Zimbabwe's government a "criminal regime". Despite a ban on the BBC operating in Zimbabwe, Ian Pannell reports on the election campaign from inside the country. The film will need astons, archive, graphics to be dropped in later. Will send later today.
We have an interview with America's top political blogger Arianna Huffington about the US elections and her impact on them.

Other stories around today include the EU Treaty in the Lords, the Shell Strike and the latest extraordinary brain research.


Monday, 16 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 16 Jun 08, 03:22 PM

Are we paying too high a price for our commitments in Afghanistan? The Defence Secretary Des Browne announced today that troop numbers in Afghanistan will increase to a new high of more than 8,000 by next spring, but is British policy working in the south of the country? Coalition deaths in Afghanistan last month exceeded those in Iraq for the first time. We have the Defence Secretary, Des Browne, and Lord Paddy Ashdown on the programme.

Michael Crick has been investigating new allegations about the Conservative Chair Caroline Spelman. Last weekend she defended using parliamentary allowances ten years ago to pay her nanny by saying that the nanny had also been working as her constituency secretary.

We interview former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on a new call for aid for Africa - but should leaders on the continent do more to solve their own problems?

And a special report from Orla Guerin about the wave of xenophobic violence that has swept South Africa, leading to horrific attacks on refugees which were broadcast around the world. But what turned defenceless foreigners into targets, and where does the blame lie?

See Jeremy Paxman tonight at 22.30 on BBC 2

The Oxford Shuffle

  • Michael Crick
  • 16 Jun 08, 01:11 PM

A little noticed fact from last week's Conservative mini-reshuffle is that all three of David Cameron's most important front bench colleagues - George Osborne (Treasury), William Hague (Foreign Affairs) and now Dominic Grieve (Home Affairs) - went to Magdalen College, Oxford. I wonder if this has ever happened before in the history of British politics?

This quirk is a little unfortunate perhaps for a party trying to stress its new inclusivity under David Cameron. But then Labour failed dismally in its efforts to exploit the toff factor in the London mayoral race and in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election.

In my time at Oxford, in the late 1970s, Magdalen was the faction in the University Conservative Association (OUCA) which included most of the more right-wing Thatcherite members, and they ran a powerful machine in student politics. Left-wing Tories such as the Conservative's current immigration spokesman, Damian Green, were associated with Balliol.

A number of weekend papers have reported on the famous incident in the autumn of 1977 when a bunch of Magdalen men, somewhat the worse for drink, dumped Damian Green into the Cherwell River after he had visited the college one evening for dinner. And this gang of Magdalen hearties included Dominic Grieve, who has just taken over as Green's boss in the Conservative Home Affairs team.

I was editor of the Oxford University newspaper (also called Cherwell) at the time and recall running the story as a front-page splash (as it were). I'll try and obtain a copy of the article for the blog as soon as I can.

Monday, 16 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 16 Jun 08, 01:03 PM

Good morning.

Looks busy today.

Bush and Brown meet today and will have a press conference this morning (10.30). As well as apparent differences on Iraq, there is an Afghanistan statement later today. Who should we have on?

We have an interview with Kofi Annan as a new Africa report is published. The Africa panel are asking for the pledges made at Gleneagles Summit in 2005 to be met. Western governments are to be asked for billions more in funding. But why though should the West continue to give so much aid to African Governments when they seem so disinclined to resolve Zimbabwe, Darfur and other conflicts. Is the teacher/pupil model implied by the African panel healthy or effective?

Crick has more on the Caroline Spellman story, I'll explain in the meeting.

What else would you like to do? Which guests would you like on?


Monday, 16 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 16 Jun 08, 01:03 PM

Good morning.

Looks busy today.

Bush and Brown meet today and will have a press conference this morning (10.30). As well as apparent differences on Iraq, there is an Afghanistan statement later today. Who should we have on?

We have an interview with Kofi Annan as a new Africa report is published. The Africa panel are asking for the pledges made at Gleneagles Summit in 2005 to be met. Western governments are to be asked for billions more in funding. But why though should the West continue to give so much aid to African Governments when they seem so disinclined to resolve Zimbabwe, Darfur and other conflicts. Is the teacher/pupil model implied by the African panel healthy or effective?

Crick has more on the Caroline Spellman story, I'll explain in the meeting.

What else would you like to do? Which guests would you like on?


Will Labour stand in by-election?

  • Michael Crick
  • 13 Jun 08, 04:43 PM

So the big question is - will Labour stand in by-election?

I spent much of the morning trying to track down their parliamentary candidate Dan Marten, who is still apparently in his early 20s and a student at Hull University.

When I finally got through to him on the phone my first question was - "Do you support the government on 42 days?"

"No comment," he replied. "You'll have to speak to the Labour Party press office."

"But surely you can tell us whether you support 42 days?"

"No comment."

And so it went.. "No comment, no comment, no comment."

"And do you think Labour should fight the by-election?"

"No comment."

There was a time when parliamentary candidates used to hold opinions and weren't frightened of expressing them.

Friday, 13 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 13 Jun 08, 04:37 PM

voting203.jpgEurope's Friday 13th
If Ireland's reaction to the new proposed European Union constitutional treaty were to be a hand signal it would probably involve the extension of the middle finger of the right hand in the air. Ireland says NO. This throws the carefully oiled process by which all the other governments across the continent skilfully have NOT asked their voters' opinions into disarray. We'll be debating what the European Union does next - and perhaps more importantly, why democracy and the EU do not really seem to go together.

David Davis
As if David Davis has not suffered enough - we've sent Michael Crick to his constituency. I have no idea what he's found out, but as always it will be worth watching.

Catching up on some reading in Howden

  • Michael Crick
  • 13 Jun 08, 01:22 PM

crick203.jpgClearly the good people of Howden have the right idea about something. While filming there today I noticed their local library had a copy of an important book about one of Mr Davis's former rivals.

On Newsnight Review tonight

  • Newsnight
  • 13 Jun 08, 12:01 PM

hulk203.jpgWe're planning to review The Incredible Hulk. Ang Lee's art-house version of the Hulk story in 2003 was not a hit with the fans. Will this one be? It'll be interesting to get our panellist (and comic book fan) Natalie Haynes' view.

Coldplay's latest album is out. Our panellist, the music critic John Harris, is a "Coldplay Cynic". Will he be won over by this more experimental album? And have you been?

Michael Frayn once again draws inspiration from 20th Century history in his latest play, Afterlife which opened at the National Theatre this week. He links the turbulent tale of the life of German theatre impresario Max Reinhart with the narrative of the play he famously directed - Everyman. And he makes the bold decision to write half the play in verse. What will the historian on the panel, Tristram Hunt, make of it?

And Bob Dylan is another musical legend who has turned his hand to visual art. An exhibition of his paintings has opened in London? What will our panel make of it?

Do leave your own reviews below - or suggest other things you'd like us to look at in the weeks to come.

How will Murdoch fund Mackenzie campaign?

  • Michael Crick
  • 13 Jun 08, 11:48 AM

mackenzie203.jpgFormer editor of the Sun newspaper Kelvin Mackenzie has indicated that he's 90% certain to stand as a pro 42 days candidate in the Haltemprice and Howden by-election; caused by the resignation of David Davis.

And on the BBC's This Week programme he revealed that his old boss Rupert Murdoch had offered to back his campaign financially:

"Rupert suggested to me that if Labour didn't put anyone up, that I would run against David Davis, if that's the case - and Rupert says he's good for the money... I might well do it," Mr Mackenzie said.

But there is one problem with that.

Mr Murdoch is an American citizen and so under British law is not allowed to contribute funds to any UK election campaign.

Perhaps Mr Murdoch will try to channel his funds through his business - NewsCorp - but that would also be illegal since NewsCorp is also American

I suppose Murdoch and Mackenzie could try and fund the campaign through one of Murdoch's British subsidiary companies. But that surely would make a mockery of our laws for foreign funding of British elections.

Prospects for Friday, 13 June

  • Newsnight
  • 13 Jun 08, 11:07 AM

Today's output editor is Richard Pattinson - here's his e-mail to the production team...

Morning everyone and happy Friday 13th.

We'll have the results of the Irish referendum at around teatime, although may well get a strong indicator earlier. A leading bookie is already paying out for Yes bets but with initial reports of a low turnout that could be very premature. If it's a No, what would that mean for the EU? Who do you want to hear from?

Michael and Stuart are heading up to Haltemprice and Howden following yesterday's extraordinary announcement. Will David Davis be out pressing the flesh today? And will Kelvin MacKenzie really stand against him?

Other stories
Oil. The partial strike is under way - will there be significant panic buying? Plus a meeting in Brussels today over high UK fuel duty rates and fresh oil data out from OPEC.

Oh and it's the 100th anniversary of the tea bag apparently. Why today exactly I can't work out.

Anything else take your fancy?


Thursday, 12 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 12 Jun 08, 04:34 PM

davis203.jpgIs the resignation by the Shadow Home Secretary a sign of principle in politics or a temper tantrum at the top of the Conservative party?

We'll have the latest on the Davis bombshell after an extraordinary day at Westminster.

Plus we'll also be reporting from Ireland on the knife-edge European referendum and from Australia on the man who was seen as the Gordon Brown of Down Under.

So why has Prime Minister Kevin Rudd done so well?

Prospects for Thursday, 12 June

  • Newsnight
  • 12 Jun 08, 11:10 AM

Good morning. Today's output editor is Dan Kelly - here's his e-mail to the production team...

Good morning all.

Some good stories today - what are your thoughts?

Today sees the culmination of the BMA's campaign against the government's plans for so-called "super-surgeries" in England. They claim that plans for polyclinics and GP-led health centres - which will group more GPs together and offer extra services - will lead to the end of the traditional local GP surgery and many closures. They've managed to spook their patients too - 1.2 m have signed a petition opposing the plans. Are doctors just protecting their own interests? Ministers say the BMA campaign is "mendacious" and "misleading".

What more can we do on the secret documents story?

The Irish referendum on the Lisbon treaty takes place today. How has the No campaign - a rainbow coalition of nationalists, free marketers and left wingers - managed to bring Europe to the brink? David Grossman is on the story in Dublin.

We have a piece from Australia on PM Rudd - why has he succeeded where Brown has not?

Annie Lennox is being awarded with a Red Cross honour today for her charity work on Aids, but can Celebs ever do any lasting good in this field or is vanity the real winner? We have an interview.

Other ideas? Guest suggestions?


Wednesday, 11 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 11 Jun 08, 04:29 PM

commons203.jpgIn tonight's programme - two knife-edge votes - one in Westminster on 42-day detention and one in Ireland on the new European constitutional treaty.

We'll be assessing how far tonight's vote may help Gordon Brown to bounce back - and how far tomorrow's vote in Ireland could sink the "European project".

Plus a report from Afghanistan on whether the billions of dollars of aid that have poured into the country have been spent effectively.

42 days - oxygen of publicity?

  • Michael Crick
  • 11 Jun 08, 03:42 PM

The two opening speeches in this afternoon's debate on 42 days were not a great Parliamentary occasion which will stick in the memory. Both Jacqui Smith and David Davis were beset by and allowed far too many interventions from backbenchers. Despite the many personal phone calls from Gordon Brown to Labour backbenchers, and the many reported "bribes" to those who are thought to be wavering, it looks like the vote could be close.

It may all boil down to the Democratic Unionists, now led by Peter Robinson. Several DUP MPs sat listening to the opening speeches, and at one point I saw them gathered in a huddle at the entrance to the chamber.

One perhaps significant intervention came from the DUP's former mayor for Belfast Sammy Wilson, who suggested that the government's 42-day measure, the Parliamentary and public debate that would surround its use, would provide terrorists with, in Margaret Thatcher's old phrase, the "oxygen of publicity". Not what Jacqui Smith would have wanted to hear if she's hoping for the DUP's nine votes.

Prospects for Wednesday, 11 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 11 Jun 08, 10:04 AM

Today's output editor is Shaminder Nahal - here's her morning e-mail to the production team:

Hello everyone.

Today, MPs vote on 42-day detention for terrorist suspects.

Tomorrow, the Irish people vote in a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. David Grossman and Sarah Teasdale are in Dublin.

We have a film from Alastair Leithead and Richard Colebourn on how effectively billions of dollars of aid have been spent in Afghanistan.

What else?

See you in a minute,

Tuesday, 10 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 10 Jun 08, 06:03 PM

42 days
From 28 days to 42. What are the chances of success for Gordon Brown with the serried ranks of Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and some Labour backbenchers implacably opposed to this key part of the Government's Counter-Terrorism Bill?

brown_42.jpgTomorrow's debate could be a defining moment for Gordon Brown's premiership, but far from bringing more MPs onside, opposition may be hardening with key players bolstering the case against - the DPP Sir Ken MacDonald, the Lord Advocate in Scotland Eilish Angiolini, the former Justice Secretary Lord Falconer, and the former Prime Minister John Major.

On the other side - the Met Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, the independent reviewer of terror laws Lord Carlile, the Chair of the British Muslim Forum, Khurshid Ahmed and the former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Tonight we will be doing the parliamentary arithmetic and asking whether Gordon Brown has made an effective case for 42 day detention, and if he fails is it a matter of confidence?

Why is it that the NHS in England and Wales insists that if you pay for any part of your treatment privately then you are barred from NHS care for that condition from that point on? The papers have revealed countless cases recently of people who've topped up the care and landed themselves with a bill. We know that Lord Darzi is producing a report for the government on future care but will he deal with this issue? Paul Mason is investigating and we'll debate the issue with leading proponents from both sides.
Join our NHS debate here.

Kirsty is also just interviewing President Museveni of Uganda - one of Africa's most senior leaders. He recently visited Zimbabwe and with opposition leaders there worried that elections will be neither free nor fair. She'll be questioning this friend of Mugabe about what next for the country.

The Pump
Finally here at Newsnight we've adopted a petrol station. With growing concern about the price of goods we wanted to hear views from the pump. If you too are feeling the credit crunch - and with news today that many home-owners are facing negative equity there must many of you - then please put your comments at the pump below.

England 0 - Austria 0 (SubbuteEuro2008)

  • Paul Mason
  • 10 Jun 08, 05:54 PM

Sunday's alternative Euro2008 Subbuteo clash between England and Austria (off BBC premises and outside work time - see Idle Scraw, passim) failed to scintillate. Despite Capello's best efforts the placing Owen up front in the 4-2-3-1 formation (we are still waiting for the superglue to set on Wayne Rooney's hip) didn't work. At half time England had to revert - Frank Bassett style - to 4-4-2, replacing Owen with a circa-1956 vintage cardboard Subbuteo figure in a Newcastle strip....

Continue reading "England 0 - Austria 0 (SubbuteEuro2008)"

Prospects for Tuesday, 10 June

  • Newsnight
  • 10 Jun 08, 11:18 AM

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

Hello All,

So what should we lead on today? Tomorrow sees the crucial 42 day parliamentary vote and David Miliband has cut short his trip to fly back today to help lead the debate.

We have an interview with President Museveni of Uganda. We can ask about so many different issues... Ethiopia's famine, Zimbabwe, continental leadership, South Africa? What should we ask him about?

The Conservative MP for Billericay, John Baron, has called a debate on NHS co-payment in the Commons today. If you top up your NHS care with private help then you get clobbered with the whole bill for your NHS treatment. Does any party have a policy which addresses this - we are all waiting for Lord Darzi's report which is due out soon.

What about poverty - is there more on that we should do today after the Archbishop yesterday? The official figures out this morning. If the Gordon Brown government isn't tackling this then what are they for?

Finally we have the second of our films about how the credit crunch is biting - at the Petrol pump. Jackie Long with Hugh Milbourn producing. Should we do more on the economy?

Or should we just ask Susan Watts to explain to us why the dolphins are dying Cornwall.

There is space for more ideas so do come armed to the 10.30 meeting.

All the best


Monday, 9 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 9 Jun 08, 06:44 PM

From tonight's presenter, Emily Maitlis:

Is anyone listening?
rowan203.jpgI have just interviewed the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams about the state of British children and how we treat them. He told me - in the context of a report by Children's Commissioners, out today - that we as a society often act in a punitive frame of mind, and behave as if we don't really like children. He said he had yet to see evidence that custodial sentences for young people actually worked.

But he also revealed something rather interesting. When I asked him if he would offer stronger leadership on the difference between right and wrong and the way we lead our lives he replied: '"Do you think that people in this country faced with 'muscular Christianity' as you call it are going to change their ways because I say so or anyone else says so?" So tonight we ask what it means when the very head of the Anglican Church concedes that little he says really makes a difference.

Since our investigation into the expenses of the Tory party chair on Friday, Ms Spelman has been resolutely defending her position. Today she met the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner following complaints that she used taxpayers' money to pay for a nanny. The man who broke the story - one Michael Crick - joins us live.

Venezuela's President Chavez has told Columbia's foremost terrorist group to lay down their arms and free all their hostages. Why now? Frank Gardner, fresh back from Columbia where he's been looking at the hostage taking situation there, will be in the studio.

The international community has poured millions of dollars into prevention of HIV/AIDS in the former Soviet Union. But despite this money, the virus is on a dramatic rise and especially in Central Asia. Drugs and prostitution are the most common reasons behind the spread of the virus, although the most recent mass outbreaks happened inside hospitals and the victims are children. Natalia Antalava looks at what role hospitals play in the spread of the infection and why the healthcare system is emerging as one of the reasons as to why Central Asia is losing its battle against HIV/AIDS.

Bobby Kennedy
And we revisit the circumstances surrounding RFK's death. As promised, indeed, on Friday.

Prospects for Monday, 9 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 9 Jun 08, 10:31 AM

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

Good morning everyone,

We've got an interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury on the Children's Commissioners report on childhood. Are too many of our children being locked up and left in poverty?

Caroline Spelman, oil prices and Columbia look interesting too. Do come to the meeting with ideas on how to do these stories and others.

We've got a film from Natalia Antalava and Sara:

The international community has poured millions of dollars into prevention of HIV/AIDS in the former Soviet Union. But despite this money, the virus is on a dramatic rise and especially in Central Asia. Drugs and prostitution are the most common reasons behind the spread of the virus, although the most recent mass outbreaks happened inside hospitals and the victims are children. Natalia Antalava looks at what role hospitals play in the spread of the infection and why the healthcare system is emerging as one of the reasons as to why Central Asia is losing its battle against HIV/AIDS.

See you in a minute,


Questions that Sir John Lyon might like to ask Caroline Spelman on Monday

  • Michael Crick
  • 7 Jun 08, 05:41 PM

1. What total sum did Caroline Spelman pay Tina Haynes (nee Rawlins) from her Parliamentary Staffing Allowance in the period 1997-98?

2. What were the exact dates of Tina Haynes's employment as constituency secretary, and the dates for which she was paid from Spelman's Parliamentary Staffing Allowance?

3. Was there a contract of employment, as a constituency secretary, or for her secretarial work?

4. What did this specify?

5. Was there a contract of employment for her childcare work, and what did this specify?

6. What paperwork, apart from letters to claim Tina Haynes's pay from Parliament, is there to prove Tina Haynes was really acting as Caroline Spelman's constituency secretary for that period?

7. Was Tina Haynes qualified in any way as a secretary? Did she have any typing/shorthand/filing/computer skills etc.

8. Was Tina Haynes a trained nursery nurse?

10. Had Tina Haynes ever worked as a secretary before working for Caroline Spelman, and has she ever worked as a secretary since then?

11. Has Caroline Spelman ever provided an employment reference for Tina Haynes, and did this highlight her secretarial work? Can we see a copy?

12. How many letters a week did Tina Haynes type for Caroline Spelman?

13. How many MPs' diary arrangements did Tina Haynes arrange for Caroline Spelman?

14. How many phone calls of a parliamentary/political/constituency nature did Tina Haynes make on behalf of Caroline Spelman?

15. Is it true that Tina Haynes was not paid any money for her childcare work from 1997-98? (The Conservative Party says she did the childcare for no pay but received free accommodation, use of a car and meals.)

16. Did Tina Haynes carry on her childcare duties for no pay after her secretarial work ceased in 1998?

17. Was Tina Haynes paid very much the same amount for her childcare work after 1998 as she was paid from the Parliamentary Allowance for her secretarial work before 1998?

18. Did Tina Haynes know that her financial payments from Caroline Spelman from 1997 to 1998 were solely for secretarial work and not for her childcare work?

19. Was the initial contact with Tina Haynes on the basis that she would be employed as a nanny, or as a secretary?

20. What the position publicly advertised? If so, where? Did Caroline Spelman find Tina Haynes through a childcare agency or a secretarial agency?

21. How was Tina Haynes paid for her childcare work from 1998 to 2002, and how much?

22. What extra childcare duties, if any, did Tina Haynes perform after 1998?

23. Did Tina Haynes continue to receive payment in kind after 1998 - ie free accommodation, use of a car and meals?

24. If Tina Haynes was also paid wages after 1998, what extra childcare work was she doing to justify this new remuneration?

25. Given that Caroline Spelman's youngest child was only two and half in May 1997, can Mrs Spelman confirm that all her three children were at school (or nursery or play-group) full time between 9am and 3pm, Monday to Friday, from May 1997 onwards?

26. Has Caroline Spelman ever told the Commons authorities that Tina Haynes also worked as her nanny in 1997-98? When did she tell them this?

27. What was Caroline Spelman's new constituency secretary, appointed in 1998, paid? How does that pay compare with Tina Haynes? What extra duties did the new secretary fulfil, and how many hours a week did she work?

28. Was Tina Haynes's name published anywhere as being her constituency secretary (though she was then called Tina Rawlins)?

29. When did Caroline Spelman have her conversation with the Chief Whip, James Arbuthnot about this issue? Has any record been kept of that conversation? Did Caroline Spelman explain to Tina Haynes why she would no longer be acting as her constituency secretary?

30. Did Tina Haynes look after Caroline Spelman's three children from 9am to 3pm during school half-terms and holidays?

31. How many hours per week in total did Caroline Spelman expect Tina Haynes to work for her during the period 1997-98?

32. Were Caroline Spelman's arrangements with Tina Haynes ever brought to the attention of William Hague, the then Conservative leader?

Friday, 6 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 6 Jun 08, 05:19 PM

Eco Towns:
flint203.jpgTomorrow night the village of Ford, in Sussex will hold a protest meeting to fight the imposition of an eco town on its doorstep. The government is planning ten such developments around the country, which they believe offer a sustainable strategy to solve a lack of housing. It's not just the celebrity dads who are up in arms - although the presence of Tim Henman's father has pushed the cause into new leagues of visibility. The award winning architect Richard Rogers says they would be 'one of the biggest mistakes the government could make'. And even the Green Brigade say that, of course, the truly eco solution is not to build them at all. We'll be talking to the Housing Minister Caroline Flint. Is this all Nimbyism? And is anything actually wrong with Nimbyism if it is?

Race and Gender:
The New Hampshire heckler who confronted Hillary Clinton with the banner saying 'iron my shirt' raised early questions about how much misogyny she would encounter on the campaign trail. It is hard to imagine how a hypothetical Obama heckler with a sign saying 'polish my shoes' would have been let off so lightly by either the media or indeed the law. Was the Democratic nomination lost to Hillary because of sexism? Probably not. Is race now less of an issue in America than gender? Again, probably not. But tonight, we hammer out the issue that has been ever present on this extraordinary and unprecedented campaign with feminist novelist and Clinton supporter - Erica Jong, and Jamal Simmons, Democrat strategist, Obama campaigner and yes, black man.

Assassination Plots:
bobby203.jpgIt may seem a rather inopportune moment to re-examine the circumstances surrounding the death of a man who'd just won the Democratic presidential primary. But bear with us. Bobby Kennedy was shot dead in 1968, at the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles. That moment has been revisited and reinterpreted ad nauseam. Two years ago, the documentary film-maker Shane O'Sullivan made the case on Newsnight that CIA agents were present at the shooting. It turns out the story is rather different......

Join us for that, and more, at 10.30 on BBC 2


Newsnight Review, 6 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 6 Jun 08, 02:08 PM

On Review tonight:

We'll take a look at the BBC Four drama about Margaret Thatcher's attempts to be adopted as a Tory candidate: The Long Walk to Finchley. It'll be interesting to see what our panellist - the MP Michael Gove - makes of the way the young Maggie's relationship with the young Ted Heath has been depicted - there's something of a "frisson" there, to say the least. Carol Thatcher is reported to have objected to that aspect of the drama.

'Gone Baby Gone' is Ben Affleck's directorial debut about the disappearance of a four-year-old girl - its UK release was delayed because of the Madeleine McCann case. There's certainly an eerie similarity between her and the young actress. But will our panel think it was overly sensitive to delay it?

Novelist Nick Harkaway secured a £300,000 deal for his first novel - 'The Gone Away World'. He's the son of John Le Carre - but don't expect a cold-war espionage thriller - this is altogether different. It'll be interesting to see if the panel thinks it lives up to the hype.

And - in her own words - "She's not the Dalai Lama...she's just a 'backwoods Barbie' in a push-up bra and heels". Really? It'll be fascinating to get Germaine Greer's take on Dolly Parton's latest album.

What issues should we raise with our guests? Have you read, seen or heard any of the items we're reviewing or do you suggest something else for us to review?

Let us know.

Prospects for Friday, 6 June

  • Newsnight
  • 6 Jun 08, 10:17 AM

Today's programme producer is Shaminder Nahal. Here's her morning e-mail to the production team:

Hello everyone,

Is there anything that particularly interests you today? Zimbabwe? Free swimming. (Can you really call that an Olympic legacy?)

Paul Mason is looking at eco-towns. The government wants 10 of them by 2020. But is it all just eco spin? Tomorrow a protest is being held at one of the proposed sites. Is it the start of a summer of discontent in Middle England?

Or is it a summer of strikes over public sector pay? Let's see what Unison says at lunch-time about the government's pay deal.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have held a private meeting ahead of her concession speech tomorrow. The bitter fight for the Democratic nomination opened up deep fault lines on race and gender. Discussion?

And an item already underway from yesterday - on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the assassination of RFK we look again at the theory that CIA agents were present in the hotel the night he died.


Thursday, 5 June, 2008

  • Kirsty Wark
  • 5 Jun 08, 06:33 PM

Expenses scandal

chichester203.jpg His response on West country TV to the revelations:"Here I am leading that process for the last couple of months and whoops-a-daisy I am shown up to have made a mistake." How could Giles Chichester get it so badly wrong?
Is the government heading for another policy climb-down? A major shake up of the planning process designed to speed up consent for big infrastructure projects is under fire from all sides of the Commons. MPs fear that the creation of a new Infrastructure Planning Commission will allow ministers to force through big projects such as motorways and power stations despite local opposition. Now miraculously the debate on the bill's report stage timetabled for Monday has disappeared into thin air, wiped from the agenda. Is the government running scared of its backbenches again? We'll be speaking to the Planning Minister John Healey.

US politics
More politics from across the Atlantic. Scott McClellan was George W Bush's White House Press Secretary for three crucial years during which he says in his new memoirs that President Bush "veered terribly off course" and was not open and forthright on Iraq. Given that he admits that some of his own assertions from the White House briefing room turned out to be "badly misguided". I'll be asking him live about what share of the blame he takes for his bosses actions. 
We'll also be hearing from our reporter alongside the Obama camp in Virginia - the latest on possible running mates, tactics and the Hillary issue.

Cheapest car
And exclusively revealed on Newsnight tonight, the world's cheapest car - the Tata Nano. We have the first look inside the factory which is making the £1,000 car which could revolutionise car culture in India and bring a new set of questions on climate change.

And we want Newsnight viewers to participate in the launch of our UK map to create a picture of the health of the NHS at 60.

NHS at 60 - A picture of health

  • Newsnight
  • 5 Jun 08, 02:53 PM

nhs203.jpgOn 5 July 1948 the National Health Service was brought into existence, making free public health care at the point of delivery available to all, funded by the tax system.

The NHS that is now 60-years-old is a very different beast. A hot topic at election time, how best to fund, run and modernise it is a thorny issue that successive governments have tackled with mixed results.

As part of Newsnight's coverage, you can tell us what the NHS means to you.

In the run-up to the anniversary we want to know about the NHS in your area. What are the issues that are most important to you? What are your experiences of the NHS?

We are producing a map to show the hot topics in your area so be sure to select the issue that matters to you from the dropdown menu, plot your location on the map and add your comment. Click here to see the map.

You can also contact us privately - click here to send us your comments via Newsnight's webform, where you can also find details of how to send us photographs and video.

And Liz MacKean explains more about the project in the video below.

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Prospects for Thursday, 5 June

  • Newsnight
  • 5 Jun 08, 10:29 AM

Hello all,

There's news around and a few things already set up. I'm keen to look today at the new planning laws that will be debated in parliament on Monday. Politicians giving up powers to a new commission - is that the right way? David Grossman has planned this and John Healey the minister will do an interview.

But there is also lots of other news. Richard Dannatt wants more pay for privates in the army. Gordon Brown wants more kids with knives in court.

We have the first look inside the factory that is making the world's cheapest car - the Tata Nano. It could revolutionise sales of cars in India - and that has climate change implications.

We've also two other short films planned: The launch of our UK map to find a picture of health with the NHS at 60. And on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the assassination of RFK we look again at the theory that CIA agents were present in the hotel the night he died.

What else should we, can we do? How else should we deal with the planning story? Should we have guests?


Tory candidate was bow-tie wearing presenter

  • Michael Crick
  • 4 Jun 08, 06:02 PM

howell203.jpgI see that the Conservative candidate in the Henley by-election, John Howell, is describing himself on his early campaign literature as "Previously a presenter for BBC World Service".

My BBC World colleagues here at Millbank had never heard of him, but they made a few enquiries and it turns out that Mr Howell was a business presenter on BBC World around 1994 and 1995.

The most remarkable feature of his presenting work, apparently, was that he used to wear a bow-tie. Click here to see him on BBC Breakfast News.

It looks like the Tory campaign will be something of an ex-BBC operation. Apart from John Howell the Conservative campaign is being run by senior Shadow Cabinet member Chris Grayling, who spent many years working in BBC news.


I'm sorry if anyone - including the candidate - found my comments unfair, one of the hazards of blogging. I've removed the offending passage.

Personally I have no idea if John Howell was a good presenter or not perhaps the best thing to do is to delve into the BBC archives and find a clip of him of at work - click here.

Wednesday, 4 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 4 Jun 08, 05:03 PM

obama_mccain203.jpgAmerican Elections
We are going to devote a significant proportion of tonight's programme to the most important major political event in the world this year - the contest between Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain. What difference will it make to America and the world if it is McCain rather than Obama?

Plus, a Conservative MP with a Polish background has accused the BBC of fuelling racist attacks on Polish immigrants. He says that it's also using Polish immigration as a soft and politically correct way of talking about the overall question of immigration from countries which - unlike Poland - are not predominantly white or Christian.

Does he have a point? We'll be debating this live.

We also hope to be hearing from celebrated artist, David Hockney on art and indecency.

Is the BBC to blame for attacks on Poles?

  • Newsnight
  • 4 Jun 08, 12:58 PM

The BBC is to blame for an increase in attacks on Poles, according to a Conservative MP.

Daniel Kawczynski told BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning: "The liberal elite of the BBC are using the Poles as a cat's paw in a politically correct world to talk about immigration because you won't do stories about more controversial immigrants. You always focus on Poles.

"And as a result of that, Mr Humphrys, there are increased attacks on Poles in this country."

Listen to the interview here.

Is the BBC really to blame? Leave your comments below.

Prospects for Wednesday, 4 June

  • Newsnight
  • 4 Jun 08, 11:08 AM

From today's output editor, Robert Morgan:

Good morning everyone,

The US election gun has been fired. It's to be Obama versus McCain. Peter and Ben are in Washington. Let's discuss how we do the story today.

There are a few other stories around today. There's the Polish attacks story, PMQs, Darling's evidence on 10p tax to the Treasury Select Committee, another 42 day meeting of Labour backbenchers tonight, the future of the NHS, and David Hockney's latest outburst.

Playout? Mel Ferrer?


Tuesday, 3 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 3 Jun 08, 05:30 PM

From tonight's presenter, Gavin Esler:

clintons_nn_203enlarge.jpgClinton and Obama
Is it finally the end of the road for Hillary? And have the Democrats chosen the right person? We'll have the latest from the final US primaries.

Eat your Greens
Is going vegetarian the answer to the world's food problems? Yvo de Boer, the head of the UN climate agency, thinks so. We'll discuss.
Click here to join the debate

The Winners
Some people are doing well out of the credit crunch. Who are they? And would they lend me a tenner?
Watch last night's report on The Losers

The RSPCA says we have an increasing problem with dangerous dogs. Why?

When did the Lib Dems last lose a seat in a by-election?

  • Michael Crick
  • 3 Jun 08, 05:02 PM

The answer to the question in yesterday's post is the 1957 Carmarthen by-election, which many Liberals regard as the nadir of their party's fortunes (they were left with just five seats in the Commons).

The wound hurt all the more for two reasons: 1) It was delivered by Megan Lloyd-George, daughter of the great Liberal Prime Minister, who had defected to the Labour Party before the 1955 General Election; and 2) One of the issues was the Suez war which the Liberal Party opposed but its candidate supported.

Prior to that there was the October 1934 Lambeth North by-election, also a loss to Labour. The last by-election loss to the Conservatives was the March 1926 Combined English Universities by-election.

If Mark Oaten is negotiating, his hand is very strong. A loss to the Conservatives at a by-election would be almost impossible for his party to explain away.

Is it time to turn vegetarian?

  • Newsnight
  • 3 Jun 08, 12:30 PM

"The best solution would be for us all to become vegetarians".

cow2_203100.jpgSo suggested the head of the UN climate agency, Yvo de Boer, who is attending UN-led climate talks in Germany this week. He was responding to criticism that measures to tackle climate change are partly to blame for the rise in food and energy costs. Carbon-cutting biofuels, for example, use food crops to make alternatives to gasoline.

Meanwhile, Patrick Wall, chairman of the European Food Safety Authority, has questioned whether it is "morally or ethically correct" to be feeding grain to animals while people starve. Speaking to the Times, he argued that it's time to end the EU ban on the use of animal remains to feed pigs and chickens. Lifting the ban would allow grain to be diverted to millions of starving people.

And the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, hosting a much publicised summit in Rome this week, has warned of global catastrophe unless food reaches parts of the world where it is needed most.

So, does the global food crisis demand a radical rethink of how we distribute food? Should we worry less about feeding our animals and prioritise getting grain to people suffering food shortages - even if that affects the availability of meat?

Is it time for us all to become vegetarian? Leave your comments below.

And remember when Ethical Man went vegan for a month to reduce his carbon footprint? Watch again here:

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Prospects for Tuesday, 3 June, 08

  • Newsnight
  • 3 Jun 08, 10:24 AM

Today's programme producer is Shaminder Nahal. Here's her morning e-mail to the production team:

clintons_nn_203100.jpgAt 10:30 tonight, we could be hours away from closure in the fight for the Democratic nomination in the US. Or we could not. But anyway, the last Democratic primaries are being held today in Montana and South Dakota. When will Hillary leave the stage? What are the super delegates going to do? Shall we discuss Bill Clinton's extraordinary comments on "the bias of the media for Obama" and his view that "this has been the most rigged coverage in modern history"?

Forty world leaders (including Robert Mugabe) are descending on Rome to try and work out how to solve the global food crisis. What should we do on this?

The Burma Campaign has published its dirty list of companies that trade/invest with Burma. Should we name and shame them?

Ryanair has announced a 20 per cent rise in its net profits for the last financial year. But its chief executive, Michael O'Leary, says if oil prices don't fall, he only expects the airline to break even this year. Is cheap air travel dead?

The RSPCA is worried about dangerous dogs. Are you? What does the apparent increase in ownership of dangerous dogs tell us about ourselves?

And: Olmert is Washington - his farewell tour? Maths standards are down. We'll know the details of the 42 days concessions.

And the upside of the downturn. Part two of our mini-series on the winners and losers in the credit-crunched world. Gillian Lacey-Solymar explains why the economic slump is good news if you sell lipsticks or cushions, and if your work-place is in need of some Dunkirk spirit.

See you in a minute,

Monday, 2 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 2 Jun 08, 04:33 PM

From tonight's presenter, Gavin Esler:

Today's Quote for the Day comes from Gordon Brown: "I am determined that we stick to our principles."

gord2_203100.jpgThe prime minister was speaking about government plans to allow the police to detain terror suspects for up to 42 days without charge. In taking such a stand, just what kind of risk is the prime minister running? Is there an electoral strategy behind it? Michael Crick investigates and we'll be talking to the government.

Banks in bother?

More bad news for the banking industry. Bradford and Bingley shares fell sharply today after news that it made a loss and it's blaming problems with the buy-to-let market. Could other banks be in similar trouble? And is the announcement that it has sold more than 20 per cent of the bank to an American private equity group a sign that banks are at the bottom of the market - and now is the time to buy on the cheap?

US election

Hillary Clinton keeps clocking up wins in the primaries but the mathematics still mean it is Barack Obama who will secure the Democratic nomination for president. We've a report from Peter Marshall in Washington, and I've been talking to Sandy Berger, Bill Clinton's former National Security Adviser and long-term friend of the Clinton family. Mr Berger tells me that these are the most dangerous times for a new US president since Franklin Roosevelt first took power in 1933 - faced with Mussolini, Stalin, the Rise of Hitler, and the Great Depression. What's his plan for the next president to follow?

Yves and Bo

And finally we were torn on whether to mark the death of Yves Saint Laurent or of guitar legend Bo Diddley. In the end we decided to do both. We have an interview with Yves Saint Laurent's friend and top shoe designer, Manolo Blahnik. And we'll end the show with Bo.

The Ronaldo Of Westminster?

  • Michael Crick
  • 2 Jun 08, 03:58 PM

oaten_ronaldo_203.jpgIs Mark Oaten trying to do a Ronaldo? One wouldn't normally compare the Lib Dem MP for Winchester with the world's greatest footballer. OK, they've both been embarrassed by the British tabloids over their private lives, but one would hardly expect the former Lib Dem leadership contender to score one goal a season, let alone 42.

No, I speak of the strange noises coming from Mr Oaten over the weekend to the effect that he may have to stand down from Parliament before the next election. He originally planned to retire from the Commons at the next election, and is currently negotiating with potential future employers. He now says his new bosses may require him to step down ahead of time.

Continue reading "The Ronaldo Of Westminster?"

Gordon, the Government and Everything

  • Newsnight
  • 2 Jun 08, 12:55 PM

gord2_203100.jpgNot since the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has the number 42 caused so much discussion and confusion. But rather than being the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything, Gordon Brown is hoping it will be one of the answers to two issues: combating terrorism, and getting his leadership back on track.

Writing in the Times today, he argues that extending the number of days that terror suspects can be detained without charge from 28 to 42 days is the "right way to protect national security". The proposal is backed by the police.

The vote, which is part of the Counter-Terrorism bill, takes place next week, and the prime minister hopes he will have persuaded enough potential rebels - and made sufficient compromises - to avoid defeat.

But as the whole issue of terror detention has generally been debated via the prism of Westminster, have ministers lost touch with the views of the country? Are the majority of voters actually quite comfortable with 42 days as a measure to help tackle terrorism in the UK? Or should opponents of the figure, concerned about potential infringements of our civil liberties, remain defiant in the face of Gordon Brown's resolve to stick to his principles and "do the right thing"?

Our political editor Michael Crick is at Westminster with his ear to the ground - he'll be blogging for us later this afternoon and reporting for tonight's programme.

Stay up to date with his blog, and let us know your thoughts on 42 days and whether this could be the last throw of the dice for Gordon Brown.

Prospects for Monday, 2 June, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 2 Jun 08, 10:06 AM

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

Hello All,

Which story will be the most important at 10.30 tonight and which one can we move forward?

MPs are back from their half-term holiday and the PLP meets this evening to discuss 42 days. Gordon Brown is offering concessions but is clearly determined to face defeat if necessary on this issue. Just how damaging could this be for him?

Bradford and Bingley have made a loss in the first few months of the year. Their share price has tumbled. But they've found an American buyer for 20% of their stock. So does that mean it is bad but this is the bottom?

We've also got an interview with Sandy Berger - former Bill Clinton advisor - ahead of the final two primaries. He's some interesting advice to give to the next US President on foreign policy.

And Madeleine Holt will do Yves Saint Laurent.

But what interviews should we do? Is there a playout? Is there a story we're missing? Mugabe? Olmert?

All the best and see you at 10.30.


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