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Wednesday 11 August 2010

Sarah McDermott | 13:57 UK time, Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Here's Kirsty with news of what's happening on tonight's programme:

Are you confident about the recovery? The Bank of England has today lowered our expectations with its revised economic growth forecast for next year. In May they forecasted 3.4 per cent, now its 2.5 per cent, and Bank Governor Mervyn King delivering his quarterly report said it will take many years before bank balance sheets and fiscal positions return to anything like normal.

There is a weakening in consumer confidence - is that because of the coming hike in VAT, combined with the knowledge that big spending cuts are coming, faster and deeper than was expected before the election? Or is it because people are simply saving what they have and not spending?

Tonight we'll examine the impact of the Coalition's hit-'em-hard-now-and-see-the-benefit-for-the-economy-later policy with John Redwood and Lord Myners, the ex-City minister.

Our Diplomatic editor Mark Urban is just back from Kandahar where he went independently to gauge local feeling, before embedding with the military. The city is the central focus of President Barack Obama's troop surge because it is here that Nato and Afghan troops are battling the Taliban in Operation Hamkari.

It is also the power base of Hamid Karzai's family, and possession of the city itself has long had a powerful symbolic importance for the country's dominant Pashtun tribes. Mark spoke to young women about their education, and how much they fear the Taliban, to a man who doesn't know which forces murdered his brother two weeks ago, and to a police lieutenant who is the only one of his 132-strong family who supports the state.

Read more and watch a preview clip here.

And should we be flying the European flag more? EU head honchos certainly think so and have fined the UK government and organisations which have received EU funding. Why are we so reluctant? Is it because we don't want to admit to taking the money? Or that we don't really think we are Europeans? Or is it (my favourite) because it is such a dull flag?

Billy Bragg will be here to wade in to this discussion about identity.

Join us at 10.30pm on BBC Two.

From earlier:

We have a film tonight from our Diplomatic editor Mark Urban who has recently returned from the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, Afghanistan's second biggest city. He spoke independently to people who are struggling to maintain normality in their lives amidst growing violence and also had exclusive access to the security offensive there.

More details later.


  • Comment number 1.

    "Labour said the jobless fall to June showed their policy had been right."

    Is that true as surely the US has meekly followed the advice of Labour (Keynes) and their jobless rose?

    More seriously I would have though that the signals are in fact very difficult to read and so its not clear who was "right".

    They also have not paid any account of the signals that many in finance,economists and business appreciated on debt reduction so can it be said that without that our jobless rise would not have been worse?

  • Comment number 2.

    Mr Griffin says: "In 10 years, our activists and I have turned this party from a bad political joke into a major factor in British politics. There is still much to be done, and it is best done under proven, principled and visionary leadership, without futile, time-wasting elections."

    Hence three run against him.

    So note that he does not think they are a joke - though most who despise them would not actually laugh at them rather than what they say as with say Lee Barnes calling David Beckham a black man.

    On the one hand Ryan Giggs has a black father but Beckham does not - I believe - have any ethnic relatives.

    Secondly it is not any kind of insult as there are no significant differences between the races and it is like somebody saying "oh he has apple blonde hair".

    Anyways three of his men challenge him and one is an old favourite.

    Mr Barnbrook argues that he has the "integrity, impartiality and lack of self-interest that will command the loyalty and solidarity of all the membership" and says he can "end the strife caused by this destructive, divisive and bitter campaign".

    Integrity well .....

    When he was cited by the local council for citing murders that never happened he blamed a mixture of dyslexia and church bells.

    He didn't get reelected by the way.

    Going back to Griffin - who has taken them so far but is quitting after an alleged threat to kill him by a former BNP publicity officer Collett - you can see how a man of his disposition would see elections as "futile".

  • Comment number 3.

    I look forward to Mark Urbans report and whether he really sees any signs of progress or continued attrition.

    It seems to me that despite the Talib propaganda the fact that they are happy to see more Afghan civilians die - who probably don't read the Western media so it is unlikely to be our propaganda against them - that things aren't going as well for them as they would like.

    Meanwhile does the fact that Iraqi al Qaeda cells are getting the money to try and buy off their old allies from the US/Iraqi government (NN last nigh + Guardian) mean that they are getting new financing from somewhere and does that relate to the Afghan drug trade?

    Are they making progress on interdicting the supply of IED munitions and fighters that presumably come across the border?

  • Comment number 4.

    Speaking on a panel at the event, Schmidt [Google CEO] argued that anonymity on the Internet is dangerous. "In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you," he said.

    Schmidt took the stance that governments may eventually put an end to anonymity. "We need a [verified] name service for people," he said. "Governments will demand it."

    He expanded on his thoughts in a separate interview.

    "Privacy is incredibly important," he said, adding, "Privacy is not the same thing as anonymity

    I think we do need to move away from the surveillance state where three CCTV cameras will follow you on each street corner but I have to say that if somebody like the Aryan Strike Force and of course al Qaeda are out their promoting hatred and violence via the web then surely we should be able to identify them quickly.

    That said on the issue of benefits checks and credit rating agencies I was heartened to see the Information Commissioner was making sure that the boundaries of what were being done were well within the law and hopefully the spirit of the law.

  • Comment number 5.


    Is it me, or is there something disturbing about the coupling of those two words?

  • Comment number 6.

    the films you won't see

    20km a Year - Afghanistan

    and from the taliban side

    Taliban Ambushing NATO Forces In Afghanistan

  • Comment number 7.


    'The Taliban' must surely be open to 'peace in our time'? Trouble is - we only have the watches. THEY have control of time.

    In passing: In this 'War on Terror' (an abstract enemy) if I remember rightly, the two divisions of Terror are: Al-Qaida (The Base) and The Taliban (nebulous students). I get the impression we might need a Ouija board to get any agreement actually SIGNED.

  • Comment number 8.


    Maggie who - Adrian Mole like - declared she was leaving No 10 after 'eleven AND A HALF glorious years', still won out, trumpeting in memoir: 'THE DOWNING STREET YEARS'. Poor Tony - he's not a naughty boy, he IS the Messiah! The book SHOULD be called THE Journey, dammit! (Or maybe Bible II?) How that imposed change must RANKLE!

    On the strength of that, I could almost believe.

  • Comment number 9.


    I am, today, announcing a non-initiative to get the best out of ordinary people who 'do stuff anyway'. In keeping with our innate, pragmatic ethos, there will be no sloganeering; no heading such as 'THE MUTE PRACTICALITY'; indeed, nothing will change.
    The loose-knit set of indigenes who make up 'us' (as opposed to 'them') are resolved to just go on being resourceful, regardless of the Curse of Nick n Dave, until party games are spoiled and life is good again.

  • Comment number 10.

    no 2. -

    "but Beckham does not - I believe - have any ethnic relatives"

    Apparently he doesn't agree with you:

    Some folk are very proud of their identity whilst others make out that group identity is not important. Odd.

  • Comment number 11.

    No 9

    Barrie, How about focusing a little more upon what the politicians actually did (and are still doing) to the country, rather than upon their personalities? Surely you, like the rest of us grown-ups, have had enough of the liberal celebrity culture? It's disposable. It's pulp-politics. It's a distraction from what matters, and I suspect intentionally so. So long as grown up people are pre-occupied with the petty psychology of politicians, they're not going to be attending to what really matters. Hence, "it's only psychological'".

  • Comment number 12.

    Be afraid, be very afraid.

    Seems to be the main purpose of media these days; forget about informing people, giving a perspective on any given event, just try to scare them.

    If it's not an attempt to spook us about the Coalition failing - they know this will not happen - it's about viruses immune to antibiotics which will take over the world and turn us into zombies.

    On the other hand, they keep trying to make the most spurious statistic sound like good news while waving another one to prove we're all doomed.

    Jobless numbers are down by 49k, yet numbers drawing Jobseeker's allowance - Newspeak? - have barely altered.

    House prices have dropped and chartered surveyors have predicted a double dip.

    We all need to realize that for at least 10 if not 15 years the economies of the world have bloated through overuse of cheap credit and the bubble has burst; what do the media boys'n'girls mean when they talk about "recovery"? A return to a bubble of cheap credit and inflated house prices? Or a return to "normal"? "Normal", in terms of boom and bust, never ever went away, even though Gordi decreed otherwise.

    Surprise, surprise, then, that with the proclaimed dawning of the Age of Austerity, people are being cautious with spending.

    A bit less hysteria about the situation would be welcome.

    Afghanistan will be left to its own devices in five years. In five years, UK will be well into austerity and beginning to see signs of a balanced economy taking shape as a result of the Coalition's broad strategy.

    There will then be an election and NextLabour will be returned and the game will re-commence.

    Who said we wanted a 24 hour rolling news service; from my limited experience - yesterday and today - it amounts to the repetition of some cheap journalistic lines and "human interest", reducing "news" to a cross between the "Sun" and "Heat". It's difficult to believe that someone sees BBC News Channel as worthy of licence fee expenditure; is it just because Sky do it? VERY badly.

  • Comment number 13.

    ET TU ENNABLER? (#9)

    The evil that men do springs from the personality 'install-ed' in their 'bones'. Where politics is concerned, the genesis of that personality is of little account. I won't go there!

    The type of personality that succeeds under the Westminster Ethos is never going to be one that puts the country's well-being above their own aggrandisement and legacy. Policies are hatched and/or endorsed by such personalities.

    The DISTRACTION (used widely in the recent election) is to tell the voters NOT to look at personalities, as you seem to endorse. I don't regard psychology as petty. It would seem we have no common ground here.

    'It is the thunderbolt that steers the universe' and I am deeply persuaded that human psychology steers the fate of mankind.

  • Comment number 14.

    How about some real economic news-

    U.S. Is Bankrupt and We Don't Even Know: Laurence Kotlikoff

    And now to stop foreclosures in the US interest free loans by the government!

    As for Afghanistan, well have you seen the animation of the IED attacks on YouTube?

  • Comment number 15.

  • Comment number 16.

    Being part of the Union we put in billions of pounds a year, so if we have to put up a EU flag to show we have received money from the union, then the rest of europe can put up a Union Flag to show the money we have contributed..... If countrys outside of europe use the flag to demonstrate there thanks for the support, then this is fine, but for us to thank the Eu for the money we have put in ourselves then im sorry it aint gonna happen.... I know the BBC have a hidden agenda to push the positive idea of Europe and the Union on to us, but Im sorry BBC, you aint having us anymore.... We can see what you are now and we dont like it... Im watching you

  • Comment number 17.

    Yet again an unsatisfying Newsnight interview (this one with Lord Myners and John Redwood). What could have been enlightening and interesting was ruined by Ms Wark's style of interruption, inept and scarcely intelligible questioning and her poor time-management which meant that even when Redwood made the amazing (and surely newsworthy ?) claim that there were not going to be any cuts, but in fact spending increases, Wark totally ignored this and plodded on with her same old line of questioning which revealed little of interest. What a waste. She is becoming an embarassingly poor presenter.

  • Comment number 18.


    "The DISTRACTION (used widely in the recent election) is to tell the voters NOT to look at personalities, as you seem to endorse. I don't regard psychology as petty. It would seem we have no common ground here."

    Perhaps because you didn't understand what I wrote?

    In Parliamentary Democracy, all that really matters is how the members of parties (especially the one with the most seats) vote when legislation passes through the Houses. That is what matters, as it's legislation which changes how the people behave. The psychology/personality of the politicians is irrelevant, That's why people are urged to focus on policies (which find their way into Bills and then Acts (and not personalities. Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn't understand politics. One can rubbish or reward MPs to influence how they vote, but it still is a matter of changing their behaviour at the Division Bell is it not?

    The rest is really just fit for pulp media - i.e. distraction. Politics is for grown-ups, personality/psychology is for adolescents (non
    grown-ups) who don't know how the real world behaves. You will find that serious journalists don't dwell on personalities and psychology, just policies (behaviour and law).

    "I don't regard psychology as petty."

    You should. As psychology is just the name that we give to what we don't understand about behaviour. Thus, whilst there are no experts in psychology, there are many quacks.

  • Comment number 19.


    When leaders of an Island Nation declare it to be AT THE HEART of a land mass, what is going on? Even Dave probably knows we 'stood alone' by virtue of BEING AN ISLAND. Once again PERVERSITY rears its rear.

    Billy Bragg wittering on about not having to storm beaches was hardly relevant. Travel, communication and trade have modified relations between the old adversary-nations far more than nuclear deterrence or overblown political union.

    Our leaders have played Globopoly, using Britain as a counter, with not a thought for indigenous wellbeing. (Didn't Dave have some index of wellbeing scheme, for a couple of days?) They played a very bad game. I think we lost.

    There can be no doubt we have all the ingredients for a damaging explosion. They are unmixed for now . . .

  • Comment number 20.


    'Legislation changes how people behave'. But what of how they WISH to behave (and do when not observed)?

    'Should' is a vey revealing word. . .

    Oh tabblenabble01, surely you can register: I am not available for instruction - any more than you are. There is room for more than one viewpoint in all other disciplines, why not here? And no one is keeper of absolute truth.

  • Comment number 21.

    I was really disappointed with the fluffy discussion of the display of the European flag/insignia tonight. It was on a par with the low-brow discussion of falling standards of grammar last week. There seemed to be no discussion of or attempt to understand the reason behind the regulation requiring the display of the European insignia on projects which are funded with European money. I assume the requirement is an attempt to ensure that European regional investment is credited and about raising awareness of Europe in general and the role that such investment schemes play in the everyday life of the British people. In fact five seconds on Google throws up numerous results explaining the reasoning behind it, including the following paragraph from [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    "[Why is it necessary to publicise?
    The European Commission is keen for the beneficiaries of Structural Fund money to have a better understanding of the role of the funds. It is also important that the general public become more aware of how the European Union is working together with the UK government to help improve the economy of North East of England.]"

    Surely the researchers could have done a bit of research rather than asking a few football supporters with more pressing things on their minds?
    The more interesting question that might have been raised is why the British public as a whole seem to be so resistant to identifying themselves with Europe at all. And why a story like this would be presented in the same dismissive vein as a story about Europe regulating straight bananas, which as one interviewee pointed out, is a myth, but still seems to get a regular run in the press here.
    It can't simply be the fact that Britain is an island nation, Ireland is even further removed physically from the continental landmass but strongly embraces its European identity. The comment by the Belgian embassy official on the panel was very true in my experience - in that I as a European speak to British people and find it very comical that many don't even realise that Britain is a member of the European Union and always refer to 'you Europeans' as if it were something completely other. This is a very interesting aspect the the story that was just glossed over. It's probably to do with any sense of European identity first having to contend with the powerful remnants of the identity of the British Empire, or perhaps something to do with decades of entrenched Eurosceptic politics, but none of that came up. It could be to do with the hugely limited language learning in British schools or the culture of limited contact with Europeans on holiday abroad.
    Perhaps the production team were running out of time, but with such high profile panellists as Albert Roux and Billy Bragg, it would be good to give them something to actually discuss! Poor old Fiona Shaw last week was in the same position, she clearly had some very eloquent and well formulated ideas but she wasn't given a chance to express them, or given an intelligent question to get her teeth into.

    Although that said, the paragraph regarding this European flag segment in the blog above does set out some interesting arguments - for some reason though they didn't come up in the show.
    And for the record I think the European flag is quite interesting - I've grown up with it, I think it's visually striking, and has strong associations for me.
    It's on the money I use when I visit home and it's on most of the motorways I drive down! :-) Perhaps it's just a question of time and exposure then before the insular British people feel more comfortable in their European skin.

  • Comment number 22.


    Maybe thay haven't noticed? More likely they intended to run off with the money, but hang on to island status.

  • Comment number 23.


    How very true, Singie, 'There is no absolute truth' when it comes to politics and ideas though some of the bloggers do not seem to agree with it. That's how dictators are 'born'. All they can think of is their little world they create in their little, limited heads. I do, however, have a few very firm and long lasting personal truths. So, again Singie, relativity is my preferred option on considering almost any big issue.


  • Comment number 24.

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

  • Comment number 25.

  • Comment number 26.

    Got Going Got A Slate

    GeoghraPics not sure where it came from, could have been A Pub

    Landlady/Landlord, Lovely People, they support phil, so do Eye/aye/I
    dont no y, i could up in there

    was in a mess, dont no which mess

    the slate was 80 quid,I paid it off

    got another slate, it was the price of a PINT, I paid that

    Great Idea, get a slate big big Time and do a runner

    A bit like an unelected pm

    have you got that..the bill..NO run away and hide


  • Comment number 27.

    no. 20

    "Oh tabblenabble01, surely you can register: I am not available for instruction - any more than you are. There is room for more than one viewpoint in all other disciplines, why not here? And no one is keeper of absolute truth."

    For someone who has frequently curried popularity by telling readers how he battled with education and education lost, that's a remarkable thing to write is it not? There are not 'viewpoints' there are just different areas of work in disciplines. In those disciplines where there ARE many viewpoints, one should take that as evidence that there is in fact little discipline.

    Psychologists used to be taught to avoid psychology and to focus instead upon behaviour, and with good logical reasons.

    Matters HAVE changed in recent decades, but for the worse I suggest.
    When so many people have opinions, and must be listened to, nobody knows who is worth listening to!

    Whilst there are no keepers of ABSOLUTE truth, there are those who strive to improve what we can practically. These are called scientists and professionals, and I think we should all do our bit by respecting their education and efforts - don't you?

  • Comment number 28.

    Given what I posted to barriesingleton, if anyone needs to accept that there are SOME absolute truths, it may well be you and thegangofone mimpromptu. I'll leave you to try to work out why that may be in both your best interests.

    If all that matters is opinions, nothing people say really matters, and when nothing really matters, in the end one ends up with personal and collective anarchy, which in time is not very stable.

    Today, there are some who have a financial/political agenda. For them, there ARE rules, and they do very well by them. At the same time, it suits them to have other people having all the opinions they want. They encourage this, and thus they encourage other people's suffering.

  • Comment number 29.

    Charity begins at Home..does It..HUM/stink

    Africa/Pakistan,theres a 2 capers there

    throw a few bob/bobs there,swiftly/swizz/moves 2 a bank account swiss

    begining/BEGGinIng a new charity..its called fill my back pockets

    I will show u my builders bumm

  • Comment number 30.

    I prefer Sally

    its a War cry/greet

  • Comment number 31.


    There is one absolute truth, tb01, and that is that we will all kick the bucket one day.

    Who, however, will go 'down' in history, globally or in a nation's legacy, as the biggest contributors to mankind or nationally, remains to be seen. Who knows, maybe I'll be one of them but maybe not. It's not my primary concern.

  • Comment number 32.


    Don't forget to shower her, Sally that is, with the dosh from the Swiss account. And do have fun, won't you?

  • Comment number 33.

    Shower her with what.. Carry your bags Maam

    I never have fun

    don't believe INIT

  • Comment number 34.


    Dave wants us to be in the top 5 TOURIST DESTINATIONS. I have not heard that tourists make indigenes more content. If they did, why would so many Brits strive to be the tourists of other countries annually?

    Dave just wants income, and shallow national status. Income and status count at the Globopoly Table, but wellbeing and contentment at home can be ignored.

    We have got ourselves another one.

  • Comment number 35.

    Will witch will oh that will

    the wrang/wrong will

    your great grannie left it for YOU

    its in the hands/back pocket of your liar/lawyer/solicIT

  • Comment number 36.

    Taking EU Money

    the EU has no money. why do people support that false belief? The uk is a net contributor. So we are merely giving money to ourselves. The Eu should only fly all the flags of all those who pay into it and fined if they pretend they have their own money.

    kirsty interviewing foreigners. watching them trying to understand what is going on is so entertaining.

  • Comment number 37.

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

  • Comment number 38.

    #34 Barrie is this what you mean...

    10,000 thousand jobs created, hhhmmm that'll be 7,500 for foreign workers and 2,500 for Brits, at the current rate of job allocation.

    One slight problem as well, where are all these millions of travellers going to stay? Once the chinese get the travelling bug, most of europe will be inundated, so as Dave says a nice little earner. But have we got the infrastructure to cope.

  • Comment number 39.

    House Rules, There/their are no rules,dont get caught

    that could be A rule/hand me the ruler/I might not no what 2 do with it
    but then aGAIN I might

  • Comment number 40.


    Yes Lizzy - that's the story.

    I have just watched Definite Dave explaining, in his best schoolmastery 'talk-down', that "strikes achieve nothing". It looks as if he might be keeping the whole class in (breaking collective punishment law) until the strike threat is withdrawn.

    Once again it is all about money/trade/profit and no mention of feelings/aggravation/abuse.

    There is a lot about the unmoneyed masses that Dave wot's not. Just what we need in a Prime Minister. No worries, Nick'll fix it.

  • Comment number 41.

    Bragg has never grasped the concept of Britain, in fact, he hates it (why is he allowed air time, I will never know). If you are comparing EU to Britain, it means you are saying the EU is an Nation state like Britain or the United Kingdom(s). Britain was united by Scotland's Monarchs, it is and feels like a natural Country, we are Britons by DNA, unlike Europe. The UK is not a version of the EU or UN, she is a Country. Storming beaches has got nothing to do with it.

    I will never be European, in any sense, I do not live in Europe, and I will never have it forced upon me. Which is what is being attempted now, even by Bragg. It can be seen in this item on newsnight, and by the way it's seen as wrong that the British despise the so-called EU flag. The EU as a body has no industry or money making system itself. It feeds off of Britain for this, with our membership and money to the EU budget leading to over 60 billion pounds lost, and in a recession, needs to be reviewed as it is completely un-affordable. I consider this money as overseas aid, in which British industry does not benefit.

    Are there blue flags over Sunderland to show EU's help in killing the most efficient shipbuilding area in Britain, and why the last shipyard that exists there cannot get going in building ships that we need and that the EU knows, can compete in building. Are there flags over Steel manufacturing sites the EU helped destroy too, due to over capacity in the EU, but in which we always pay the price.

    Only a small percentage of UK business trades in Europe, yet all other British business is badly effected by it. EEC was a trading zone.

    The BBC playing ode to joy No, 9 for advertising the proms is another attempt at making people accept this nightmare. Even at the end of the program, a newsnight snippet about a house built when Europe was connected to Britain was typical. The whole land mass of the world was connected at some point. I do not know the motives behind the reason of airing this item on illegal euro fines, it seems strange. What was the BBC or newsnight trying to provoke, apart from me.

    A flag maker wants to sell flags no matter what.

    I wish when European's (or what ever they want to call themselves), speak of the British, they stop saying English.

    It's not early days for this EU rag, it's days are numbered. We are big boy's, and we do not need anybody to hold our hand in big international meetings.

    I have many friends from Scotland and Wales, and they detest the EU, and the attempt by the Frenchman at being divisive by saying Wales and Scotland like the EU and this flag, is what the EU does, it exploits our weaknesses.

    We are becoming servile to this daft Empire. It's in decline, it's killing Britain, it's expensive, it has never had, and never will have any benefits, it's undemocratic, it's detached, it has no right, and we're in it. At the moment.

    Jimmy Reid was right. We should have modern shipyards for the 21st century on the Clyde, instead of waterfront developments.


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