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Thursday 13 November 2008

Len Freeman | 18:21 UK time, Thursday, 13 November 2008

Here is Emily with details of tonight's programme.

Parliamentarian of The Year Peter Mandelson with George Osborne."Thank you for welcoming me back on board, as we say in Corfu."

The words of award-winner Peter Mandelson, as he received his prize from none other than George Osborne, at the Spectator's Parliamentarian of the Year lunch. Photo ops don't come much better than that. We hope to bring you a taste of a thoroughly golden moment a little later in the programme.

First though, tonight:

Recession in the suburbs:

BT announced today that they're cutting 10,000 jobs. Virgin Media and already announced redundancies in their thousands earlier this week. These jobs are going in the very sectors we used to think of as above the danger zone - financial services, telecommunications and new technology. This time around it's not just manufacturing. So is this the beginning of the first real white collar recession? We'll be talking to heads of industry in the studio and asking what impact this will have on our cities and our society.

US Recession:

We'll also be bringing you the story of white collar recession from the suburbs of Washington - Rockville to be precise. David Grossman looks at what happens when the engine of the world - the American consumer - simply stops spending.

And we'll be talking to a key member of Barack Obama's transition team, financial advisor Robert Shapiro, who worked as Under Secretary of Commerce for Bill Clinton.


Does this country have a problem with the way it protects its children? It may be a strange question to ask in the week that we've heard about the brief life and tragic death of 17-month-old "Baby P" and on a day when two more tiny children have been found stabbed to death in their home in Manchester. But tonight, we attempt to get the facts straight - what is the British record on child protection and child abuse, and are we in danger of drawing the wrong lessons from these very tragic, but very exceptional cases?


On the day two Royal Marines have been killed it is hard to find any voice - diplomatic, political, military or local - that will say Afghanistan is a success story at present. An opinion poll - commissioned by the BBC - suggests that two-thirds of people think British troops should leave Afghanistan. The country has seen violent incidents rise ten-fold in the last year, 50 per cent of the economy is once again coming from the opium trade, nearly half of the country is viewed by the UN as an "uncontrolled hostile environment" and the man in charge is seen as weak, indecisive and unable to clamp down on the corruption in his own government. The BBC has secured an interview with President Hamid Karzai. We'll be asking if he is still the right man for the job and how this mission has to change if it is to succeed.


The Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell has died at the relatively unrock-legend age of 62. He's the last of the three to go. And we will have a tribute to him - them - and, hey, to rock itself on the programme tonight with our Culture correspondent Steve Smith.


  • Comment number 1.


    "Does this country have a problem with the way it protects its children?"

    This country has a problem with everything that can be a problem. A for angst, to Z for Zed-listers. Lacking the P for philosophy and and W for wisdom, to find our way back.

    How about the BBC (for?) appoint a Rescue Czar - they could trawl ideas on these blogs for a start! Now THAT'S Public Service.

  • Comment number 2.

    On the recession it is worth asking how individuals can plan for the future these days.

    It is common for people to change careers two or three times. Continuous violent economic changes in direction (manufacturing to services to ...) in a relatively short space of time make it impossible for many skilled and qualified people to succeed and will inhibit long term confidence and social mobility.

    Outsourcing and allowing non-EU IT workers jobs over here due to the "shortage" has undermined many skills sectors. It will be interesting to see how that plays out now. As an aside I would rather work with them than BNP head-bangers by the way.

    One of the examples of projected occupations for older people changing careers was plumbing. So first there is ageism so they couldn't get the apprenticeship then there was the Poles undercutting them and now with the recession people who went down that path probably find themselves in an economic desert.

    There has been a total lack of vision and caution at the top for a long time.

    Will that translate into voting retribution does remain to be seen but I think Gordon Brown "Economic Hero" may soon rate with "prudence" and "the Iron Chancellor".

  • Comment number 3.


    Surely the BBC should 'secure an interview with' 'ol' screw-eyes' Blair, himself? I gather he has made enormous strides in teeing up the Middle East for an easy solution. Half an hour on the Afghanistan question ought to do it . . . If he is half as good at ending 'em as he is at starting 'em, it will still be a doddle. "Tony - any chance of The Word?"

  • Comment number 4.

    This recession is perhaps the first to have such a major impact on the middle classes. As a result it may lead to the next shift in the political landscape. It may indeed be comparable to the shift in the opposite direction that Margaret Thatcher engineered with the sale of council houses. Now much the same people, having moved up the property ladder, are urgently looking to Labour to save them from the credit crash. This is now Labour’s strongest suit, indeed its only one, where the Tories are all at sea. Not merely do the latter have no dramatic new ideas but they are even opposing the (Keynesian) ones that everyone else around the world is accepting as the new gospel. The result is that the centre has moved left, and there is once more blue water between the main parties; with the Tories moving ever further away from the centre! David Cameron has at last been faced with the need to spell out his strategies and, not helped by his very weak Shadow Chancellor, is losing the battle for believability with the key (independent) voters.

  • Comment number 5.

    Afghanistan has been a basket case for a couple of centuries; remember the Great Game in the 19th century. There is, therefore, a strong temptation to walk away from it. But, left to descend into the abyss, it is a real threat to the rest of the world. Its two main industries, Taliban hosted global terrorism and opium, potentially afflict every other country. At the other extreme a significant increase in military force might win on the ground, except that it will merely move the Taliban into Pakistan; where the whole process will start over but this time within a nuclear power! Even if the war is won we will still be left with a local client government which is nearly as bad as the Taliban itself. By taking the easy way out, and ennobling its ‘friends’ who are the corrupt warlords running the poppy trade, the US has made Afghanistan even more ungovernable. It is the classical situation where the glib answer is ‘I wouldn’t have started from here’. But we did, and have to live with our mistakes. But how can we clean up the government there, without undermining our boast that it is at least democratic?

  • Comment number 6.

    It will be interesting to see whether this
    'white-collar recession' results in a bomb
    being put under DWP to re-organise the
    job search support services in Britain - a
    national disgrace since Labour came into
    power. Back in January 1998 - on the day
    New Deal was launched in Dundee by the
    then Chancellor of The Exchequer Gordon
    Brown in Wellgate Job Centre along with
    two other Ministers, I asked to see the
    Professional and Executive Job Vacancies Register as one used to do when visiting
    a Job Shop in the good old days of yore
    when Maurice Macmillan was Secretary
    of State for Employment under Edward
    Heath! Talk about panic ....... Ministers
    looked confused ....... white collar man down buroo asks for professional job vacancy shock horror! Civil servants up
    from Whitehall blushed with obvious
    embarrassment before one of them
    intervened to tell Donald Dewar (one
    of three Ministers present) [and me]
    that of course 'the old Executive and Professional Job Vacancies Register
    held by DWP had been privatised in
    1984 and CEASED TO EXIST in 1989'.

    The only 'jobs outside Tayside region' on display that day in the New Deal launch
    JobCentre in Dundee were 'Join The Army and See The World'. The lift was also out
    of action ..... ..which was perhaps why GB
    turned up 20 minutes after Donald Dewar?

    Complete fiasco. Labour's Flagship policy - sunk on Day One by one simple question!

  • Comment number 7.

    Parliamentarian of the Year? Peter Mandelson? But he was spectating
    from Brussels (and Corfu) last year!

    He's not even in the House of Lords
    five minutes and he's grabbing this
    award from poor novitiate Osborne!

    Or have you mixed them up again?!
    Out of sheer devilment Newsnight?
    Who reads The Spectator anyway!

  • Comment number 8.

    gas price has made a new low today. its tied to the oil price which has dropped near 100 dollars or 60% since the july spike.

    energy companies say they 'might' reduce prices in may [as usual] making sure we all pay the blood price through the winter.

    Centrica is making 70% profit out of gas storage. Is that evidence of value?

    the govt twiddles it thumbs and pretends it can do nothing.

  • Comment number 9.

    thegangofpme (#2) "There has been a total lack of vision and caution at the top for a long time."

    Not if their strategy has been to break up the state so they can create Regional Assemblies/Development Agencies and via this internal devolution to NUTS, further faciliate the EU free-trade/market project. From that perspective it's a job well done surely? This is the only way that all these years of anarchism/nihilism makes any sense I suggest.

  • Comment number 10.

    'Newcomer of the year' - a Spectator jest.

  • Comment number 11.


    Britain has played a major role in supplying tobacco products (narcotics) to third world countries (while successive governments fought (and still fight) a rearguard action for the home trade).
    One of our respected 'elder statesmen' made a good return from this trade, and the last time I checked the EU was subsidising tobacco growing.
    And then there is alcohol. Westminster depends on it with its 13 bars; government needs the tax and parties need donations from brewers. Only the families and individuals destroyed (now increasingly YOUNG WOMEN) by alcohol, and the A&E service, 'don't need it'.
    Would not the Taliban (who are horrid to YOUNG WOMEN) - yet with an almost British concern for morality - be justified in bombing us? Oh - they did - by proxy.
    Being a Christian country, we all know the Mote and Beam parable. If we LIVED our dogma rather than waving it at others, the history of those lands that we rogered (and are still rogering) would, I suggest, be a lot different. Arrogance has been our watchword for centuries. Do we REALLY think they haven't noticed? And to cap it all -Miliband D!! A man who EXUDES arrogance - when not doing pomposity. Bravo Britain - a whole new meaning to 'failed state'.

  • Comment number 12.

    #11 Barrie

    "If we LIVED our dogma rather than waving it at others,"

    This is what I don't understand. When 9/11 occurred shouldn't we lived by our dogma and forgiven.

    Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.

    Shouldn't we have found out what the problem was and tried to sort it out.

    Why did two world leaders who said they were Christian start a war? Surely this proved they weren't Christian.

    Why as a Christian country do we have armed forces?

    Why Why Why?

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 13.

    KingCelticLion (#12) "Why did two world leaders who said they were Christian start a war? Surely this proved they weren't Christian."

    Hmmmm..... Could it be because they who pay the piper called their tune (and also created Chritianity)?

    Trade Unionists are ever so 'last season', and worse still, they tend to be Democratic-Centralists/Stalinists, aka 'nazis'.

    Ian Duncan-Smith was grandstanding tonight, playing to the gallery as they, like New Labour, created and reinforced the anarchic mess he tacitly referred to as the swelling underclass. If they don't see how, more fool them (the Lib-Dems are clearly no better).

    This does not bode well does it?

  • Comment number 14.

    #13 JJ

    To me it appears everything world leaders are doing is not the optimum approach.

    The media seem to be allowing a dangerous situation to develop unchallenged.

    It does not bode well, we are sleepwalking to destruction.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 15.


    KingCelticLion (#14) But if one votes for devolution of 'choice' to the people one inevitably gets deregulation and 'small' government surely, with lots of frenetic legislation to ensure just that - i.e. deregulation and this 'freedom'?

    Only now, when it's predictably ended in tears (as it always has and will), we see many of those with 'choice' complaining about the lack of 'big' government.

    It's always someone else's fault with narcissistic kids (of any age), they only take credit.

    It's the cost of having feminised our culture.

  • Comment number 16.

    can karzai deliver peace? If not who can?

  • Comment number 17.


    Isn't it time to change the caption above?

  • Comment number 18.


    Also good to see the founder of the Revolutionary Communist Party now free-market Libertarian like Ian Duncan-Smith- ('you couldn't make it up') on last night. Ian Duncan-Smith did quite a good job of hinting at Murray's/Lynn's swelling, dysgenic underclass - but I note little was made of it.

    Time to try again perhaps? Every Child Matters, NCLB etc is all a bit barn-doorish.

  • Comment number 19.

    '17. At 11:52am on 14 Nov 2008, JadedJean
    Isn't it time to change the caption above?'

    But... depending who you are and what you can influence, if you wish really, really hard, maybe it will come true!

    And then you can make it up!

    I believe a gent from one of our EU partner countries had a thing or two to say about repeating things often enough...

    Go Aunty!

  • Comment number 20.


    You are of course right - the caption should read "Peter Mandelson and George Osborne at the Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year awards..."

    Apologies to Vince Cable MP, who was voted Parliamentarian of the Year.

    The full list of the winners is here.

  • Comment number 21.


    bookhimdano (#16) "can karzai deliver peace?" Maybe it was a language problem - his chums deliver pizza (with extra special topping).

  • Comment number 22.

    why not drop the caption completely and run a competition to find the appropriate
    comment for your pic of George & Peter?

  • Comment number 23.

    I did promise myself I would not post here again, it seems largely a waste of breath (keying) and A minority of the company leaves something to be desired. But I feel I must just pose the question, "Are we using the best resources available in Afghanistan?"

    F'rinstance - the chief of Afghanistan's General Independent Administration of Anti Corruption is Izzatullah Wasifi. He was appointed to this position in January 2007. As anti-corruption chief, Wasifi leads an eighty-four person staff and part of their responsibility is addressing Afghanistan's problems with opium. Now I know all about poachers turned gamekeepers and setting thieves to catch same but, bearing in mind his conviction in 1987 in USA for drug trafficking is he really the right man for the job? Is the re-ordering of Afghanistan's government being done well and with the best interest of British troops in mind?

    Personally I don't think we (Britain) should have got involved in the first place but now we are there I feel we should be doing a better job to support the poor blokes on the front line.

  • Comment number 24.


    Only for masochist, narcissists and nihilists, new Fazer. I claim I have the free time, and lack of self esteem, to be all three.

    If Jaded Jean is even half right about all the other illusory stuff, war must also have a sub-text? I am just reading 1984, for the first time and keep having to remind myself it was written in 1948.

    Anyway - good to see you on the blog, if only for the proof that you 'yet endure'.

  • Comment number 25.

    22. At 2:28pm on 14 Nov 2008, neilrobertson

    So much to do; so little time.

    Sadly, I suspect Guido is on the case already.

  • Comment number 26.

    Barrie (#24)

    How nice to 'see' you again. Somehow you always raise a smile.

    I fear though that JJ is mostly right about most things which explains my apathy.

    JJ will have no truck with 1984, it being written by one of the 'enemy'. It was a book I almost carried round with me in my hippie days but it seems wide of the mark now.

    More power to your elbow and may we both endure a while longer yet.

  • Comment number 27.


    If there is hope, wrote Winston, it lies in the proles.

    Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have
    rebelled they cannot become conscious.

    Here's to judicious apath New Fazer. (:o)

  • Comment number 28.


    Compare and contrast these differering perspecties (and note the deliberate non-clarification in one report) on a recent report in a Geman newspaper.

    Note also that all secondary schools here (i.e. over 4000) are allegedly to have a holocaust specialist apparently to ensure the subject is taught sensitively in the context of anti-racism (and arguably, pro-affirmative semitism).

    Is this not invidious politicisation of the curriculum? Is this not subtle political conditioning of young people to favour the ideology of the de-regulated free-market 'right' (shared today by all three main parties and the EU) and against leftist statism i.e big government?

  • Comment number 29.



  • Comment number 30.


    barrrie (#29) I'm not sure it's best conceived as apathy as this implies volition, consider instead Differential Reinforcement of Other Behaviour (DRO) and Differential Reinforcement of Low Rates (DRL). Elements of a science which one group has done it's best to bury for several decades in favour of obfuscatory cognitivism.

    Blogdog (unwittingly?) helps here.

  • Comment number 31.


    Barrie (#27) "If there is hope, wrote Winston, it lies in the proles."

    The author (coincidentally another Blair) wrote a Trotskyite tract as was Animal Farm. The proles were never likely to (and never did) rise up in Russia, that's why Lenin's Bolsheviks favoured a vanguard (elite) in opposition to the Mensheviks (who favoured democracy from below). In the end, Trotsky shifted to the Bolsheviks but was ousted by Stalin who purged the original, largely Jewish, elite in the 1930s. This is why the West (i.e. those who fled to to the West from Eastern Europe to London and then NYC) loved Trotsky but hated Stalin until 1941 (and then hated him again after WWII when he had served his purpose).

    The proles never rise up, they just drown out the rest with child entitlement/demands. How can they gain consciousness if intelligence is largely genetic? We don't increase IQ via education.

    Psychopaths/narcisisists don't care at all about others unless they are useful to them. That's why they're so good at taking advantage of people. It's because they have no conscience. It is very hard for normal people to grasp the extent to which some people just do not care.

    Look at our supermarkets and their clientelle. Consider what drives them. Is it providing good value for customers or is it making the most profit from the least outlay? If running them, would you want discerning customers or would you want the opposite?

  • Comment number 32.

    20. At 1:03pm on 14 Nov 2008, IanLacey

    You are of course right - the caption should read "Peter Mandelson and George Osborne at the Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year awards..."

    Maybe worth changing it one day?

    I know it's hard to let go.

  • Comment number 33.


    Well - roger everthing really . . .

    My 'money' is on the cockroaches.

  • Comment number 34.


    Just in case you missed him.

  • Comment number 35.

    Barrie - re JJ and Mr Orwell. Told you so! :-)

    JJ (#28) - Every school is going to have a WHAT? Good grief they'll be teaching creationism next! Heigh-ho, down with Newton, down with Darwin, down with history. So much for the age of enlightenment.

  • Comment number 36.


    NewFazer (#35) A free-market political commissar... to ensure '(Old Labour) ... Never Again!'....

    It started with politicization of the Civil Service under Thatcher, now these specially selected types are de-rigueur in school senior management too - soon every school will have one they hope.

    Lysenkoists the lot of them.

  • Comment number 37.

    Just checking.

    Being it's now four days hence.

    I know it's 'corrected' way down in the middle of the comments, but I still note that the actual main picture caption remains unchanged.

  • Comment number 38.

    17. At 11:52am on 14 Nov 2008, JadedJean wrote:

    Well, it's 12.13am on 22 Nov 2008, over a week hence, and about to drop off the main home page.

    Old news I guess. No reason it needs to be accurate now.


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