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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.



  • Comment number 1.

    I'd love to see a serious debate on the merits of military intervention in Zimbabwe.

    TV has endless hand-wringing debates but no one ever proffers any solutions. Military intervention seems off the wall but it's worth considering the following:

    - We intervened in Sierra Leone (albeit in different circumstances)

    - We intervened in Kosovo in remarkably similar circumstances

    - Our military could do the job in about two days (not that they would want to, admittedly).

    - We could be out of there in a month. Zimbabwe has a ready-made alternative leadership. Most Zimbabweans would surely be delighted to see us depose Mugabe. It isn't Iraq.

    - We do, after all, have a moral responsibility to that country. It was we who enabled Mugabe to take power.

    We could save millions of people from starvation and despotism. If ever there was a justified liberal intervention, surely this is it?

  • Comment number 2.

    Very interesting piece IMO on Scott McCellan last night, but think the programme could look again at the Giles Chichester issue. I didn't feel that the gentle treatment that he got on the programme, accurately represents public outrage on MP and MEP's financial dealings. A few weeks ago I passed a couple of stationary hours on our glorious motorway system, listening to a BBC Radio phone-in on this issue, and almost everyone who called, was absolutely seething about the Tory MP who'd passed out our hard-earned, to his son when he was at university, and many were advocating the most radical punishments.
    Please be tougher with these creatures. Andrew Neal's handling of Liam Byrne recently would make a good case-study.

  • Comment number 3.


    The ambassador finds it reprehensible that Mugabe does not follow either his own laws or international law. Could it be that he is guided by the conduct of a 'higher power'? Is pot calling kettle black?

  • Comment number 4.

    On the subject of free swimming I heard that the Lib Dems said it has come too late, well thats a great reason to not go ahead with a plan that on the face of it seems very good. I do wonder however where the funding will come from as the pool's will still need staff (actually more if more people are using them) who i assume would like to be paid and the other running costs. I suspect the cost may get passed on to the tax payer ie the people who work and do not actually have the time to visit the pool allowing in general people to swim all day genuinely for free as they do not have the troublesome issues of working or paying tax or am I just being overly cynical.

  • Comment number 5.


    Ask not what aspects of governance are spin, ask why ALL is spin.

    Westminster's plastic dome protects and nurtures PARTY POLITICS.
    Parties protect and nurture MPs who connive at spin, if they are not to be neutered, or have ambition crushed

    The Olympics are 'a triumph for Labour' not a magnificent celebration of human physique. That is long gone.
    Eco Towns are an eye-and-ear catching way of (supposedly) doing what we could and should do anyway - everywhere. We need elegant, applied Eco-Think and no ballyhoo.

    Take away the Party charade and the spin will wither. SPOIL PARTY GAMES.

  • Comment number 6.


    What is it about law and governance? Westminster seems to have I swathe of lawyers in high office. Could it be to do with the adversarial ethos, where truth and right are less important than winning?

    I note that Obama is a lawyer and is married to a lawyer. When Britian was directed by such an ethos, it did not go so well.
    Obama has vowed to use ALL MEANS IN HIS POWER should he think fit. Oh dear - with Tony he could only threaten to use Dubya's power.

  • Comment number 7.

    There probably were CIA agents present when Bobby Kennedy was shot, but why would they shoot him? Kennedy was a friend of the CIA giving them unlimited support against Castro.

    Its very similar to his brothers murder: who benefited? Only two people stood to gain from JFK's death... Lyndon Johnston and the southern industrialists he was friends with or Castro (who JFK kept trying to kill) because it might stop the assasination attempts. The question is who benefited from Bobby Kennedy dying?

    Lone weirdos do happen and sometimes they get lucky, but not that often.

    On a related note if Hilary becomes VP how far WOULD she go to become the first women president.........?

  • Comment number 8.

    the nimbys have a false knowledge. All they are defending is an image of The Haywain they have in their heads.

    They divisively talk in terms of rural and urban even though they cannot define them. Where does one start and the other end? The uk is ONE whole. it has areas of high population and areas of low population and both have their problems. The problems of low population are solved by bringing in more population so it supports a greater level of services.

    As for eco towns i think one has already been chosen as the water board have for the past 6 months been laying huge water pipes that end in the empty fields where one town is planned.

    the protestors i have seen are the usual green wellies of the equestrian class and other self serving 'heritage' worshippers

  • Comment number 9.

    I used to work at the European Parliament. It may not be true now but it was true then that accounts auditing really just consisted of checking the sums added up. Not what the items were, who got the money etc. I know a lot of work has been done. Kinnock was always saying that there was no euro corruption any more but if that practice still continues how would they know?

    #1 Yes you might get a quick result but would it just lead to an ongoing terrorist action and we would be morally obliged to provide counter insurgency. The army would love you.

    If Zimbabwe becomes unstable and Kenya gets more wobbly then al Qaeda and any future offshoot could well prosper in the regional chaos. It could then spread to South Africa already creaking a little.

    The African Union - prominently Mbeke (who is a political pygmy compared to Mandela) - need to be the ones to ensure the safety and security of the region. Maybe we could show willing and contribute to the costs if it it was accepted this was not a post-colonial intrigue.

    In fairness I don't think they will do squat - it will be interesting to know what - the next SA Presidents view is. I am ashamed to say I am blanking on his name at this moment.

    Paul Mason seems to be Mr. Africa - the position of the new South African President on regional stability and HIV policy is going to be of massive interest.

    I think Obama knows that some people who voted for Hilary will not vote for him. But would black disillusioned Republicans vote for him? I think he would be crazy to take on Hilary as a back seat driver. I don't think that barring the "sweetie" slip - which the reporter did not take massive offence at - he doesn't need to reposition himself regarding gender. Go Barak! A President with a brain and real life values. I am not sure if population level concerns are on his agenda but thats all I would need to hear to declare him the perfect candidate. Guard him Americans.

    Regarding RFK I assume that you have actually asked the CIA whether the reporting has thrown up new information to them. Is this a "real" story that may go somewhere one day like a trial or an admission. There have been so many conspiracy stories muddying the waters that it is hard to see these reports as more than "faction" - even if the facts are hard.

    The Americans are more open to the idea of Freedom of Information etc.

    Not like MI5 where we may know that they exist and the occupation of a wife with a keen interest in racing cars and ... stuff ....

    Hugely competent people in some cases like the current trials.

    Also in passing Miliband said on Question Time last night regarding 42 days, I think, that three current cases required more than 28 days? I probably misunderstood but how could they of if 28 days is the limit?

    He also did not explain how the US system manages with a much shorter time frame. Do we get more complex cases or are they more efficient? Bush is soft on terrorism?

    Chakrrabati (probably spelt her name wrong) made many telling points that probably won't get made in Parliament. Maybe she should consider that option.

    Vroom vroom MI5.

  • Comment number 10.

    Free swimming

    Hurray Hurray
    treble verrucas all round !


  • Comment number 11.


    Lone weirdos find it difficult to stand in front of their target as Sirhan Sirhan did and shoot him in the back as the autopsy showed!

    Therefore conspiracy that was successful. If we amateurs create a simple profile of who would be likely to be capable of that its a short list.

    It does not prove the CIA did it or organised it.

    As for the CIA being right behind Kennedy I think the Bay of Pigs was deemed a betrayal by some at the CIA according to the general literature. Whether it was a fair criticism can't be said because we don't know who said what to whom obviously. But there is smoke there, possibly no fire.

    Don't worry, be happy.

  • Comment number 12.

    gangofone: generally I favour cock-up over conspiracy. Personally I wonder if one of Bobby Kennedy's bodyguards accidentally shot him in the back as he drew his gun.

  • Comment number 13.

    After recent press coverage I have realised exactly who shot BOTH Kennedy's it was in fact immigrants from Poland after all are they not to blame for everything else ?

  • Comment number 14.


    Thats not impossible. They probably should have checked everybody's weapons bit in the confusion.


    1. I think there was sound and the killer shot had to be fired almost simultaneously. There were no shouts till the last moment - so the gun was already drawn.

    2. If the photos are genuine then what were the CIA agents doing there? They weren't supposed to be there. If the gun was one of theirs nobody would check it. Hence the "box" in the last report.

    We'll just have to buy our tickets for Newsnight and wait.


    Hey chill Winston! Most people agree the Poles are nice hardworking polite people. The issue is, as I see it, we were told we should expect 16000 - and got more like 1.6 million. Nobody planned for that.

    Its the government I am angry with - its not the Poles fault.

  • Comment number 15.

    Michael Crick's Blog :
    I 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".

    This man just looks like a Michael Crick clone with hair


  • Comment number 16.

    Did my #14 get pulled? Can't think why.

    I was just going to say that the sound suggests the shot(s) were fired almost immediately Sirhan Sirhan was identified as threat. So the bodyguards gun would have to have been already drawn. If there were unofficial CIA people there then their guns would probably not have been checked. Hence "the box" that was apparently smuggled out from the venue according to the last film. So why were they there?

    I also mentioned to #13 that most people like the Poles and should be angry with the government as they did not plan for the number that arrived. Indeed they were saying there were 12 or 16000 until it became laughable.

  • Comment number 17.

    I personally haven't seen the Polish People blamed for 'Everything else', as you appear to have done.
    I have heard many, probably well-merited eulogies paid to the Poles, and their industry and integrity.Knowing a couple of Polish families, who have lived in UK for many years, I know of their qualities. I have seen and heard Poles raising concerns over assaults on them, which I have no reason to disbelieve, and which everyone would condemn. And I have seen and heard low-level coverage of people feeling that the character of their area is being changed, without their consent, by sudden and large scale immigration from Poland. And I've seen some coverage, particularly ITV's "Jobs for The New Boys", of British people at the bottom of the income ladder, voicing their concerns about lost jobs, and for their future and that of their children.
    Why anyone would deride people making these legitmate concerns known, I have no idea. Doubtless the sagacious Poles, in the same situation, would do the same.

  • Comment number 18.

    #16. The problem with these theories is the number of things that are outwith the control of an assassin that MUST happen for the assassination to work.

    Its like the Diana theories.... the odds of everything needed to kill her in a staged car crash at 60mph and for the assassin to make a clean get away are so long no professional would ever attempt it. The CIA had over 40 shots at getting Castro and botched every one. I just can't believe that they suddenly pulled off far more difficult hits on both Kennedy brothers.

    If you want to do a PROPER political assassination you blow up the targets plane in mid-air, stick an icepick in his head (like trotsky) or have their bodyguard empty a sub-machine gun into their body (Mrs Ghandi). That can't really go wrong.

  • Comment number 19.

    So now Mugabe and his administration has banned rallies by the MDC, added to the fact they have already been denied access to the media, surely this now approaching the point at which governments around the world simply can not ignore any longer, though maybe they can considering Zimbabwe is more known for its farmland than other more useful and desired resources like other countries that have been "liberated".

  • Comment number 20.

    people my comment #13 has been taken incorrectly I do not blame the Poles at all it was a poorly executed attempt at sarcasm, i was trying to hint towards the fact that the Poles are an easy target in much the same way as the Irish were in the 70's.

  • Comment number 21.


    When Britain got its first Woman PM (I actually voted for her - then I grew up) we waited for her to show respect for her sisters. . .
    Should Obama become the first black president, what will be the significance his blackness with regarding the lot of America's black underclass?
    The last thing done by those who pursue power, is share it.

  • Comment number 22.

    #18 Peter_Sym

    1. If you have inside information on security arrangements - or a lack of them - then life is a lot easier. So things are easier to arrange if its in your sphere of control than say Cuba. A lot more things are also under your control. Even better if you can discreetly pick up that information. Then nobody even knows you have it and you are not on the suspect list.

    2. You are obsessed with ice picks! That works nicely if you have kamikaze CIA agents hell bent on some personal or professional obsession. If they actually want to get away with it they might quite like the idea of a "patsy". If they missed nobody would have known as Sirhan Sirhan would have been the fall guy. There is a caveat in that with Castro attempts the CIA did often fail. Probably this was because they were making it personal "exploding cigars" and what not. Not really very subtle. But then the context was different. Cuba was deemed as on their turf and just as with Central America they would get pretty dirty to intimidate existing and potential opponents. Wonder if Chavez smokes cigars?

    3. My problem with the theories is Sirhan Sirhan. There was a lot of talk of him being brainwashed. I would not rule that out but there should have been more solid evidence to emerge of it by now. If he was an insider he would have to know who else was involved and he would have a good motive for cooperating with the state. He didn't. But then did he actually shoot RFK?

    4. The CIA agents were, in the last report, seen as more "attack dogs" than "guard dogs". So why were the attack dogs there?

    5. With JFK I am open minded and not really persuaded by any one view. With Martin Luther King there are also questions. If you have three assassinations of similar political people it may say something - or it may say nothing.

  • Comment number 23.

    Re- #13 and 20.
    I thought you made your point clearly squid. I was trying to respond with the idea that Britain has been subject to another big pulse of immigration, without consultation but with the inevitable tensions; and very few concerns have been put forward in the media from Brits, and when they have been aired, they have usually been low-status people phoning in, at their own expense. On the other hand, as well as Polish people putting their views, plenty of MP's, and media-savvy quango types have joined the debate, usually taking a pro-Polish stance, based on the stereotypical lazy British worker. And they're in the studio after being driven in, and being welcomed in the Green Room. This is what characterises so much of the debate on immigration ( after decades of suppression) as I see it-if you speak up FOR immigration, you're seen as cultured, educated and perceptive; if you challenge the advisability of mass-immigration, you're basically abused.
    Anyway, hope I got your point OK.

  • Comment number 24.


    The British system of governance smiles on disparate vote-value between parties and uses a multitude of fixes and fiddles at election time. Our politicians connive at this cultural norm.
    Our food supply is in the hands of 'veterans' of commercial coercion who, while government looks on taxingly, entice us into obesity and diabetes, tooth decay and waste.
    But all is not lost, Mr Miliband has his finger on the pulse of the dastardly Mugabe (his foot having failed to find the throat) and will soon reinstate the Zimbabwe food supply while ensuring free and fair elections.
    Political greatness is all about choosing your arena.

  • Comment number 25.

    Free OAP swimming, or even all of us eventually. What a waste.

    So we are taxed to pay for a daft couple of weeks private self indulgent games playing, and then are taxed double to ensure it is seen as having done any 'legacy' good.

    How crazy can things get?

    Oh easy the BBC dig up a 10 year out of date expense 'scandal' well before it became such an issue it is now. Be easy to find relatives employed back then too. News, not history please.

  • Comment number 26.

    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?

    Probably talking about what "position" he was going to offered to her in exchanged for leaving the Democratic Party nomination.

    It is nice that can talk as grown ups....then bickering back and forth...


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