Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

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.


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