Talk about Newsnight

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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


  • Comment number 1.

    Not so much a 'light' story, but following your excellent film about how 'lap-dancing' clubs can get away with a similar licence to a bar, the debate has now reached Parliament - worth a quick follow up item ?

  • Comment number 2.

    The BNP website gets more hits than the other political parties put together, representing the fears and concerns of many, about immigration. Yet those having these concerns are routinely ignored or abused for months on end, by the news media, including NewsNight.
    Would this qualify as one of the "lighter stories" which you're casting round for, and presumably have programme-space for?

  • Comment number 3.


    There are two extremes of expression defining themselves on the Newsnight blogs: one that struggles to illuminate the failings of government and the fundamental causes of that failure, and now, the distressing individual stories of just how remote the Westminster, party political (WPP) charade is from slings and arrows that impinge on ordinary folk, living under the plastic-dome of de-mock-crass-y.
    Five nights a week, Newsnight, almost as a symbiotic adjunct to WPP, jousts with the usual suspects yielding the usual outcomes.

    It is a game, isn't it.

    Decades ago, Eric Berne showed us that unless we move on from games, we are stuck. Newsnight is stuck.
    Is there anybody there? Anybody who can see the power for good that is in your hands? Joseph Rowntree adjured us to: 'Seek out the weakness and evil in society'.
    Nowhere does weakness and evil flourish as it does in the WPP charade; no one is better placed to bring about belated change, than BBC Newsnight.
    Newsnight: I plead with you to have the vision, courage and integrity to take on the role of St George, mount up, and spill the fetid guts of the evil WPP dragon.

  • Comment number 4.

    On GM you would have to drink unhealthy amounts of alcohol to believe his motives. Almost the first act of Blairs "National Conversation" was to try and push through GM when a consultation process showed 85% of the public were against it.

    Starving people in Africa have rejected GM (think Uganda has taken it up now) because the seeds are copyrighted and once the population is dependent they can be screwed over pretty well for ever. Humanitarianism!

    Monsanto is a business and they want profits.

    The US supports big business, we do whatever they say and thats why Woolas develops this conscience. Are we going to be starving here anytime soon?

    More knowledgeable people than me would be able to highlight the grand GM claims don't really match up to the reality.

    I think population levels need to be addressed now as it would take decades to bring population under control. There are issues, including I would say human rights issues like the right NOT to have to eat GM, that need to be addressed. What kind of food do we want to eat. Do we want gardens,allotments,parks and green belts? Is there a link between population levels and violence?

    I won't rant on anymore.

    Other issues for other nights could be:

    The growth of the Quango estate - accountability, cronyism and costs.

    How many days will we go before more government data/secrets are lost? When will they take it seriously - queue another Quango I suppose.

    Scotland. Did I hear that it was alleged the Cabinet actually discussed the 2010 referendum?

    When did the government know about the credit crunch? Investment bankers must have known for a while - many investment bankers have Quango roles for the government?

    When will the Abrahams/funding inquiry give up a status report?

  • Comment number 5.

    t 11:37am on 19 Jun 2008, grumpy-jon wrote:

    "The BNP website gets more hits than the other political parties put together, representing the fears and concerns of many, about immigration."

    And I bet those fears and concerns aren't exactly put at rest by visiting the BNP website. Its not something I want to have found on my browsing history but I'll bet there isn't one postive immigration story on it is there?

    If the British public are 'scared of immigration' then in part its because of scare stories spread about by the likes of the BNP. My dentist, my GP and the guy I have in to do some electrical work periodically are all immigrants and they all do better work than the British equivalents I've used in the past. My dentist is the first one I've every had who doesn't suddenly find £1000 of work to do every time I have a check up. What does the BNP say about that?

  • Comment number 6.

    Looks like my #4 might get blocked - can't think why as I was only talking about GM.

    The other question is is the Sun going to run against Davis?

  • Comment number 7.

    #5 Peter_Sym and grumpy-jon

    I am absolutely with Peter_Sym - and we don't agree on much.

    The BNP are trying to appear to be nice Nazis in suits. There aren't any.

    It certainly would not be a "light" story to cover immigration from a BNP perspective.

  • Comment number 8.

    As my #4 got pulled:

    Blair had his National Conversation and then tried to push GM after %85 of the population rejected.

    So this is Brown listening then?

    There are food shortages partially because Bush pushed for biofuels and that is skewing food prices.

    Now the solution is GM?

    Do you hear the companies involved offering to provide super seeds (and the non-GM experts will say none of the promises have been delivered) and who is liable if there are unexpected side effects.

  • Comment number 9.


    I would imagine that most people curious about the BNP would investigate the party's history and current position and then run a mile.

    For all the appearances of reasonableness, let's not forget that this is still a fascist party.

    Unless of course grumpy-jon wants to explain how he's not really a fascist at all?

  • Comment number 10.

    You're making my point for me Peter. There is a debate going on in the country. It's ignored or sneered at by the media.

  • Comment number 11.

    My #7 got pulled.

    Basically I support Peter_Sym and we agree on very little.

    I don't see a story on immigration from a BNP perspective as "light".

  • Comment number 12.

    gm is about owning the seed base. many farmers who had nothing to do with gm have been sued because they saved their own seed that had been infected with gm. it is a new form of seed feudalism.

    ..The Center for Food Safety released today an extensive review of Monsanto's use and abuse of U.S. patent law to control the usage of staple crop seeds by U.S. farmers.

    These law suits and settlements are nothing less than corporate extortion of American farmers," said Andrew Kimbrell executive Director of CFS. "Monsanto is polluting American farms with its genetically engineered crops, not properly informing farmers about these altered seeds, and then profiting from its own irresponsibility and negligence by suing innocent farmers

    ..Percy never had anything to do with Monsanto. He never purchased seed from Monsanto. He was concerned that Monsanto seed had contaminated his farm. The GMO canola plants got into his fields by the wind blowing pollen or seed onto his land.

    The federal judge decided that it did not matter how the GMO crops got into his field, he must pay Monsanto their fee of $15/acre. In addition, the judge ordered that Percy pay Monsanto all of the profits from his 1998 crop, and that he must turn over all of the plants and seeds to Monsanto.

    helping the third world by stopping poor farmers from saving seed?

  • Comment number 13.

    To whom it may concern:

    The same can be said of the fascist left and
    ive been running a mile for years from the experiment that was never asked for.
    The steady rise of British nationalism is not a new phenomena and at its base level its just mans desire to preserve his territory and way of life and any outside threat puts a strain on our desire and need to preserve what we are familiar with. We are told we are a tolerant society but the word 'tolerant' means to put up with something that is unfavorable, maybe we should find a new word to use. The recent display of breached tolerance has been witnessed in south Africa with the horrific wholesale attacks of immigrants Zimbabweans with thousands jumping on trains and buses fleeing for their lives. The political left and media especially the BBC have no idea how to respond to the horrific events unfolding as they have been telling us for years that only white Europeans are capable of racism. Well i have always believed in calling a spade a spade and what i see in south Africa on black rampant racism. When Newsnight visits this story again maybe they should not give us the sanitised version of events yet again but give it the true treatment and put the word 'rascist attacks' in its reports... because on a base level...that is what it is. We may need to find an alternative word for 'racism' as well.

  • Comment number 14.


    Hi bookhimdano. I think I would rather not have know that. There must be some EU department all geared up to nail us with the same chicanery. And you can be sure our judges (especially the retired ones who did such sterling work for Tony) will be on hand to apply justice aka Law) Ah, I forgot, it will be EU judges and EU law, will it not.
    Is it cold in here?

  • Comment number 15.


    Without a word of invention, I once heard an ethnic gentleman on Radio 4 say: 'Intolerance will not be tolerated'.
    After that - the Deluge.

    There are a number of words current in this PC Wonderland, that fall into a similar ethos to 'have you stopped beating your wife'. There is one I cannot mention here that implies I hold an irrational view, quite improperly, but I cannot escape.

    You are spot on with 'intolerance' and as 'racism' is shorthand for 'racial intolerance' it drops into the same bracket.
    'Prejudice' is another favourite. If we do not discriminate (!) against the prejudiced, we are in all probability intolerant or phobic.

  • Comment number 16.

    #12 bookhimdano

    I agree over the feudalism and said similar in my #7 - but it got pulled.

    I think you are spot on.

  • Comment number 17.

    Ah...Licked your wonds have you? I don't need to explain anything to you dear boy. I'm a democrat. You're someone who sticks silly little labels on people who state facts, in order to stifle debate, just as you've been taught to do.

    Always interesting to hear your views Gang. I was attempting irony, and obviously failing, in earlier post. My point was that I find it outrageous that the programme can be casting round for light story-items, when the biggest issue out there is consistently surpressed. I certainly don't expect everyone to agree with me; however, today we're deemed worthy of hearing a few details about Campsfield. This took place at the weekend, and now on Thursday for god's sake, they decide to let us voters and taxpayers know that there was a riot and an escape. Needless to say, comment will be confined to those in the immigration industry. As I see it, this is news suppression and management, unacceptable in a democracy. One of a million other cases that one could mention would be the recent instance of the group of morons who 'blacked-up' to abuse Lewis Hamilton at an F1. race. ( They claimed that the whole thing was light-hearted, which is easy to say when it's not you that the 'Humour' is aimed at.) I felt that this was worthy of coverage, but our media absolutely bombarded us with it , and regurgitated it all again at a subsequent GP. On the same weekend as the original incident, a white girl was gang-raped by a gang of black youths in London, and this passed almost without mention by the media, particularly at the serious end. A similar case took place shortly before this, when again a white girl was raped by a black gang, and this time the 15 year old victim was dowsed in caustic soda to destroy, it is believed, forensic evidence. One of those arrested for that rape was subsequently shot dead in Oxford Street, 'in a row with two other local youths over a soft drink'.I don't accept this is reasonable.
    I hope that you'll appreciate that I don't seek to have the debate through these pages, but to press for it to be seen in the media, as the prioriety that it is.

  • Comment number 18.

    #11 grumpy-jon

    My problem is that I see much worse manipulation of news items by the BNP, whom I would not trust as far as I could throw them.

    For example there was the story of the Derby BNP activist killed by his Asian neighbour on race grounds. But in fact it appears that the dispute was over a border.

    I would never believe anything the BNP said.

    I would NEVER support BNP items on Newsnight. Never. Never. Never.

    As a matter of interest are you an activist?

  • Comment number 19.


    Is there a double-bluff going on above?
    If not, some wonderful illustrations of the 'intolerance of intolerance' issue #13/15. Yet again, Eric Berne's Transactional Analysis cries out to be applied. Is what's at issue a case of knowing right from wrong? Is it 'just not fair!' Or is it something to which no absolutes can be applied and an approach is needed that transcends (on a good day) human frailty? I want to be thought right on here; I want to get my view across; I want to be smarter than the average blogger.
    So whatever you do, don't vote for anyone like me as an MP - it will end in de-mock-crass-y, and tears.

  • Comment number 20.

    #8 by me

    I was very unclear. Its because I was rewriting in haste after having had an earlier effort pulled for some obscure reason.

    The humanitarian notion to the need for GM is rubbished by the fact that they would never provide the seeds for free. bookhimdano has identified in his worthy effort the significant dangers of GM companies.

    The flip side of gene leakage requiring payment as described by bookhimdano is that I think I am correct in saying that the GM company would not be liable for any negative effects on the environment or health.

    Heads they win tails we lose.

    Also I will bang the drum for long term debate on population levels. In fairness there was a piece recently.

    Does Newsnight not think it is worthwhile running a few one off "specials". You provide coverage but sometimes more detail and time would be appreciated.

    Its not reality TV so I suppose there would be no budget.

  • Comment number 21.

    17. At 3:00pm on 19 Jun 2008, grumpy-jon wrote:
    "...I don't need to explain anything to you dear boy. I'm a democrat...."

    A simple description of your political position is not the same as 'applying a label to stifle debate'.

    For any fascist (yes you are, you're in the BNP) to call themselves a democrat is simply absurd.

  • Comment number 22.


    I was, for much of my working life, a fully signed up member of the Rat Race. My time was spent pedalling my personal wheel, because if I stopped I felt the food pellets would cease to come and no one would change the water. I was transferred to Germany and having fallen out with a thick Herr Doctor Professor - a logic-free zone - I returned out of work. On some technicality, the government of the time wanted to double tax me, but because I was out of work, I could make my MAIN ENTERPRISE the defeat of stupidity. I became an extremist. I sat opposite the tax inspector lady, presented my case saying that my position was morally unassailable and that I would go to the gates of the prison before they got a penny from me (verbatim).
    Whereupon, she slid a book across the desk and indicated two passages to be copied out and signed. I paid nothing.
    Often, it is only 'outsiders' who have the time and the mind-set to go against authority. Thus, statistically, oddballs are over-represented in protest BUT THAT DOES NOT NECESSARILY INVALIDATE THEIR STANCE. Now I am retired, I can oddball all day and all night. Be afraid . . .

  • Comment number 23.

    the gang of one wrote:

    "I would never believe anything the BNP said."

    That can be said of all political parties.

    Your view is subjective so therefore has no weight or validity.

  • Comment number 24.

    Simon Ostrovsky's last piece was on Uzbekistan's exploitation of children during the cotton harvest. What will this intrepid reporter be investigating next after this piece on Burma? Zimbabwe perhaps? Are there any other 'backward' (aka Marxist/centrally planned) countries which he can look into?

    Big Government = Bad... Little or No Government = Good?

  • Comment number 25.

    Re #18. Gangofone. Am trying to press for full debate on the whole issue, rather than to use the site to bang the drum for the BNP, which I chose to vote for vote for. I'd feel more comfortable e-mailing you direct with my particular position. Can I try to get my e-mail address to you, should you want to do that? I know the site doesn't carry personal details, which I understand. I fully respect your view on the BNP.
    Having read your other posts, I realise that you're very well-informed; but would suggest that I know a lot more about the Derby killing than you do G Of O, so maybe you might suspend judgment on that one, as a case in point of who's telling you the truth and who's not .

    Re#22. Hi Barrie. Fascinating anecdote and usual wise and insightful stuff from you.

    Re#21. Usual banality. Nothing worth answering from the UK's last graduate of the hate-word chanting PC college of advanced stupidity. Have a nice day.

  • Comment number 26.

    grumpy-jon - #17

    Is this one of the news stories to which you referred?

    As you see from this link below, the gang attack on the schoolgirl was originally reported with no mention of race, and I recall only minimal media mention of this attack.

    And from the comment provided here it seems at least some of the media feel, well, at least perhaps embarrassed at omissions in reporting.

    So, clearly, there was some media manipulation taking place to play down this event. The motives behind such manipulation we will probably never know for sure.

  • Comment number 27.

    Re #26.
    Hello Derek. Thanx for those references. The prominence, or lack of, bestowed on news items is so powerful, isn't it.
    Best from Grumpy Jon.

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    Post 22 I have the Tee Shirt Barrie. Rage against the Machine, the machine is run on rymes with *hit.

  • Comment number 30.

    Is this the right room for an argument/debate auntie? or have I *come* across a dug up/cloned M Whitehouse.

  • Comment number 31.

    JadedJean (re 49 from Fri 13 June), and others interested in live links, I've put some stuff up on Il Barone's latest addition:

    Formatting live links


  • Comment number 32.

    Thanks Cloe_F. I did inserted html codes in one submission, but kept getting error messages to do with DNS and .xml regardlesss of what I did (even when all the code and links were stripped out). I began wondering whether there are key word filters.

    DerekPhibes (#26) Depressing isn't it? What can be done though? Official statistics unequivocally show that there's a much higher than expected rate of 'crimes against the person' by Blacks than by other groups (and it's the same in the USA). It has nothing to do with skin colour though.

  • Comment number 33.

    I share the strong reservations regarding Monsantos business methods; I also understand the more general concerns regarding GM crops, but still do not think GM should be ruled out completely.

    If you haven`t heard of the (non-profit) International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics in India it may be worth Googling it. They look specifically at increasing the productivity and the nutritional content of crops, developing drought resistant crops and so on. Producing crops that can survive in earth saturated by salt water is also a research topic for lowland tropical areas affected by cyclones, such as around the Bay of Bengal.

    I sympathise with comments regarding the need to control population growth, but as western politics of both the left and right are now so deeply rooted in ideals of individual freedoms I can`t see how a one-child policy [for example] would gain any mainstream support in the UK. We have no real choice but to look at trying to match food production with population growth.

  • Comment number 34.

    Mushtaq Khan Mooliani Layyah

    You have raised the question "Do we need to open the debate on GM because of the global food crisis?" I would say yes.It is the need of the time and demand of the countless people that the debate must be opened.

    Mushtaq Khan Mooliani Layyah

  • Comment number 35.

    If Newsnight reports on the Lisbon Treaty in its usual way, as some sort of jokey light entertainment, with no reference to what is actually in it - then that will do for 'light'.

  • Comment number 36.

    I remember Shaminder Nahal reporting on the Hamas/Israel cease fire, we were just coming back from Isreal that day and I really enjoyed Shaminders point of view, as it was a very stressful time in my homeland.

    Jenny [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 37.

    oo thanks a lot...
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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