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Monday 9 May 2011

Sarah McDermott | 10:31 UK time, Monday, 9 May 2011

Here's what we're planning for tonight:

Nick Clegg has said that protecting the NHS is now his number one priority, claiming that "no bill is better than a bad bill". Meanwhile, one of his own MPs says the whole NHS reform exercise ought to be "stopped rather than paused".

Tonight Michael Crick will be examining the politics of this - one of the most radical plans in the history of the health service - and Paul Mason will be asking if the opportunity to really reform the NHS has been lost for this generation.

Stephen Smith goes in search of the flat white drinking, Guardian reading, progressive North London "commentariat" who voted 'yes' in last week's referendum on the alternative vote.

Jeremy will be asking the former US assistant secretary of defence Joseph Nye what power is.

And Will Gompertz meets film maker Terry Gilliam - the man who ran away from Minnesota to join Monty Python's Flying Circus - to find out how he got on with his operatic directorial debut, The Damnation of Faust for the ENO.

Join Jeremy at 2230 on BBC Two.


  • Comment number 1.

    What does the word "reform" mean in the context of the NHS? Does it mean to make it better, or cheaper?

    "Overall, around 8.4 per cent of the UK's gross domestic product is spent on healthcare, which is 0.5% below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average and about one percent below the average of the European Union."

    The German figure is 10.8%

    The question is, how much of this money is actually spent on healthcare? German sources tell me that the German system is expensive to administer. In the UK, PFI costs are escalating:

    Words like "reform" and "modernise" can mean anything. If there are to be changes, the aims need to be spelt out in plain English, so that we can judge them and the actual proposals in meaningful terms, and not in politico-managementspeak.

  • Comment number 2.

    Newsnight wrote:

    "Guardian reading, progressive North London "commentariat" who voted Yes in last week's referendum on the alternative vote. The poll received a resounding 'no' nationally, but in six London boroughs the 'yes' vote came out on top - with 61% of those in Hackney voting in favour of the alternative vote"

    I'll tell you why the hackney voters was in favour of AV. They were bombarded with the word 'Alternative' because that word in itself has resonance with Hackney voters. Let me explain: Alternative=different=Govt funded=something for nothing=equalities commission=Trevour Phillips=social workers in police uniforms...and last but not least, affirmative action. Tell your average Labour voter from Hackney - of which there are many - how voting for the Alternative Vote will transform their lifes, with a guaranteed win on the Lottery blah blah ...and all done easy with them political activists running around with nothing better to do, their community action pamphlets and balloons in hand and 'Yes' to AV T-shirts. The detail of AV would have been a side note; in small print and any mention - to the average Labour voter from Hackney - wouldn't have mattered one jot because the word 'Alternative' would've been delivered Paul Mckenna style. Where do they sign-up for this new (utopian) voting method they would have asked before getting their goodie bags of stickers...just tick 'yes' would've been the answer..does it matter they don't understand what 'vote in order of preference' means? Only a Libreral and the mentally unfirm would want to push for AV and they showed no shame in the manner in which they pushed it into the weak minded of Hackney.

    I'm reminded of the marx quote whenever I think of the cleggster Liberals:
    "those are my principles and if you don't like them..I have others"
    Marx...Groucho Marx

  • Comment number 3.

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

  • Comment number 4.

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

  • Comment number 5.


    If not before, surely it is apparent now, to all but the dullest, that Westminster is only at second or third order, anything to do with MANAGEMENT of Britain and the British?

    I have spelled it all out previously. To some MPs it is status without either aptitude or responsibility, to others A HOBBY (add your own). It boils down to game-playing.
    Did no one notice the REFERENDUM GAME?

    The NHS game, is just one more of many.


  • Comment number 6.

    'in search of the flat white drinking, Guardian reading, progressive North London "commentariat"'

    Meanwhile, elsewhere, in this odd representation of Britain that seems reflected on our screens ..

    As Mr. Robinson's 'Beware of the Leopard' blog often closes rather uniquely fast on occasion, and before more than a few score licence fee payers get to share their thoughts, in case he reads others even if not his own, perhaps he or other BBC notables might wish to comment on the reaction so far to this.

  • Comment number 7.

  • Comment number 8.


    If, as I suspect, NHS/alcohol/tobacco/tax/ amounts to a hole-digging-and-refilling exercise, there is no impetus for government to introduce efficiency. (I don't remember Orwell spotting the 'continuous war between sickness and health' as a government stratagem. Did he?) We are literally pawns in their games, sickness is just so many shovels of earth, and death just another hole.

    To rise above the current paradigm, acceptable to the Westminster Mind, we have to step outside the lie - refuse to be in the Truman Show.

  • Comment number 9.

    @3 You spoiled a perfectly reasonable post by use of the "N" word. To me, calling someone a Nazi is as bad as calling them a paedophile, and should not be done lightly or without evidence. Where are the stormtroopers? Where are the attempted putsches, the blood on the streets etc? Name names!

    Seriously overstating a case actually destroys that case, and your own credibility.

    I now see you've done it in @4 too.

    What you do is hijack the emotional opprobrium associated with the word Nazi, and unjustly and dishonestly attach it to someone else. Please justify why you think Mr Yeo is like Hitler, Heydrich or any of that lot, or refer yourself to the moderators.

    Remember, it was Dr G who said: "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it" You are repeating a lie by calling people you disagree with Nazis and fascists. I don't think you are a Nazi, but I don't think they are either, certainly not Mr Yeo.

  • Comment number 10.

    Nobody with a few brain cells give a flying fig about Clarkson, Khan or any other celebrity nonsense distraction. We want them to disappear up their own narcissism at full throttle babbling as much injunction cr-p as their ego feels necessary .
    The nhs is truly appalling - a basic is the need for clear communication in very good spoken English so each and every word is understood . Ive not had this for many years where I live. Why do the people who give jobs to the people who cant speak English to a very high standard and under pressure not understand this ? Let me explain with two words :-


  • Comment number 11.

    At last!...a politician who gets it. Or at least one who has the guts to say it how it really is.

  • Comment number 12.

  • Comment number 13.

  • Comment number 14.

    so much here about stock market parasites and market men dying to get at the NHS purse but there are millions of us, we, the skint members, the proles who turn up everyday, do it, and go home again. We are not greedy, we just want an NHS that works, kids educated and a decent old age, in the 21st century surely that is not too much to ask when you think of the sacrifices our parents made...for our benefit it is an outrage that the flagship of all that sacrifice i.e. the NHS should be a political football on the Andrew Marr show, on 5live veryday that the very miniscule 'free marketteers' out there should be setting the agenda when we, the inheritors of so much sacrifice should be out on the streets protesting but this is Britain and we have apologists like Nick Clegg and the LibDems propping up a party that want that legacy dare they...

  • Comment number 15.

    IT'S DANGEROUS (#10)

    Two times two more words flicks3 - but which applies?

    IT'S EQUALITY. (Good PC)

    IT'S CHEAP. (Bad PC)

  • Comment number 16.

    #9 Sasha

    I suppose you must take great pride in defending the people festering government policies to appease this guy, and there are plenty more alleged socialist greens out there backing him as well I suspect. They have already started on the " getting rid of defectives " ( freeze and starve the chronically sick to death ) bit with the recent welfare reforms, but its OK to have totally disabled people in private homes where they can be battery farmed and not given enough money to be able to smoke so they technically live longer and the corporations can make more profit for longer.

    Its high time the gloves came off when dealing with these disgusting people feeding off the poor, but I suppose that you would prefer to be nice to the crocodile and hope that it will eat you last ?

  • Comment number 17.


    If we go on posting at this rate, the BBC will have to take untold numbers of 'enhancers' away from the vital business of aggravating the licence-fee payer, and second them to Blogdogging.

    In passing, I guess Douglas Adams got out before the enhancers proliferated. They would certainly have been on the B-Ark with the hygienists and hairdressers! (:o)

  • Comment number 18.

  • Comment number 19.

    If we lived in a sensible country the NHS would be scrapped.

  • Comment number 20.


    Obama is suggesting the Pakistan Secret Service might have been agents of Terror.


  • Comment number 21.

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

  • Comment number 22.

    'Two times two more words flicks3 - but which applies?

    IT'S EQUALITY. (Good PC)

    IT'S CHEAP. (Bad PC)'

    Let you know Friday the Thirteenth

    But that's if I remember how to put the words together after a NHS appointment .

  • Comment number 23.

    2. Let me explain: ...

    Sweet. TP was Pres. of Nat. S.U. when I was a student so I've watched his career. I particularly liked his take on the SS furore. Very RE, I thought.

    10. Yes to EFL but Yes to freedom of the press too.

    9. 16. (20.)
    Curiouser and curiouser or at least two sides TES.
    a) Jesuits run NWO
    b) AJ linked to Scientology and a front for NWO

    Freudianism part of b).


    Jar City - brill
    Spiral - fab
    The Killing - superlative


    11. 16. You don't hear from them for ages and then suddenly they dominate the news!


    By the bye, I used the term eco-fascist in 1992 (litter-picking my way through Glastonbury with a group leader well known for his zeal.). Is that a record (or is that an ego I see before me)?

    A word on egos and children. One of the tests for autism in infancy is whether or not the toddler 'points'. Next time you see a toddler watch how it interacts with the environment through its forefinger; it's fascinating viewing. I reckon that that finger is our ego. Autistic adults do not write or read between the lines. They have no ego in their finger to teach them where to look. :)

  • Comment number 24.

  • Comment number 25.


    I read your links about the Finns, and they seem to be a pretty unpleasant bunch, as well as (in the second case) having little real grasp of economics.

    But these people do not call the tune in British politcs. If you know of people involved in NHS privatisation with similar views, please name names. And calling Tim Yeo any kind of a Nazi is defamatory. For most of the 20th century, the right tried to tar democratic socialists with the brush of Stalinism and Soviet style Communism. You do something similar to those you disagree with. Logically it's equivalent to the false syllogism displaying the fallacy of the undistributed middle.

    All cats are animals
    All dogs are animals
    Therefore all dogs are cats.*

    This is clearly disprovable with a Venn diagram for example.

    I would strongly recommend that you read 'Straight And Crooked Thinking' by Robert Thoulless. It was first published in 1930 and has just been deservedly reprinted for the nth time.

    Smearing and namecalling is wrong in principle, and does not help your case.

    *A humourous refutation of the 'logic':

    "Sir, I admit your general rule, that every poet is a fool:
    But you yourself may serve to show it, that every fool is not a poet!

    (Matthew Prior, 1664 - 1721.)

  • Comment number 26.

    the SNP have removed the profiteering "private sector" from their Health system, avoided or scrapped the PFI privatisation scheme, and involved local communities in the running of the Service. Not only are prescriptions still free, and a range of other services we English and Welsh lost years ago, but the SNP do seem to be quite popular as well!

    as alex salmond said, reducing the number of Quangos, and all the other leeches from non-transparent and unaccountable Govt from the system, and it becomes more efficient.

    the British Public want a decent Welfare system, a decent NHS, and they don't trust UK politicians with all their silvery talk about "efficiencies", when it is blatantly clear the only "efficiency" they introduce is to siphon off Public funds into private bank-accounts for their favourite wealthy KKKorporations.

    now, what are the chances this condemn(ed) coalition will remove the 'private sector' from the NHS??? Precisely. Certainly far lower chances than any claimed "reforms" will actually increase the amount of profiteering, making the NHS more expensive, yet with even less services for the People!

    and considering Cleggs useless record so far of policy-making (which is surely reflected in his popularity figures), it is certainly not HIM that i would look to to save us from the Tories on the NHS. I hope NewsNight has brought down an SNP policy-wonk who can explain HOW the Scottish removed the Thatcherism from their NHS, and ended up far more efficient than all the English 'reforms' have managed to. Its GOOD to hear from *successful* reforms, rather than more electioneering and politicking from the second-raters who form our current Govt!

    in fact, across a whole range of services, the Public Sector is VASTLY more efficient than the 'private' for-profit sector, and any politicians who try to mantra otherwise are either ideologues blinded by their own faith, or else out-and-out liars who are in it for their own benefits/backhanders/retirement packages/'directorships'. Often both. Mealy-mouthed little [bleep]s.

    #2, Sturmtrooper Kev: "Only a Libreral and the mentally unfirm would want to push for AV"

    right. Sure. Actually, the edl was also supporting it, so perhaps for once you have it right?

    !! :o

  • Comment number 27.

    Mork, did you see Waves last night? I literally caught the last few mins, in time to hear, presumably, an academic say, " some really important and(!) scientific way, we are... a wave." And I thought of you, with your high IQ. As for me, the remark just washed over (durr). :)

    25. are you including the poet in residence or is your VD multaye-dimensional?

  • Comment number 28.

    Bli*ey Mork! Bang on time - I thought you were just kidding when you said you can control time.

  • Comment number 29.

    St Wappaho: yes, an ego is a very useful thing. However, an over-developed ego is problematic, it should be *under* the Self, not above it. This is the key to Taoist wisdom, and Buddhist theological-psychology.

    criticising "egotism" is usually seen as referring to the problem of an over-identification with the Ego, especially in Jungian and post-Jungian psychology.

    its another area that is very interesting to study - imho, moreso than genetics. But that's just me, perhaps. :)

  • Comment number 30.

    "The four economists claimed the agencies — Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch — caused severe financial losses for Portugal and demanded to know whether they profited from the ratings."

  • Comment number 31.

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

  • Comment number 32.

    Greek people just remember what James Rickards said - unlimited unregulated CDS's means bailout is a stupid, tell them to go to Hell with their planed scam to steal your land .

  • Comment number 33.

    "we are a wave". I don't know the program you mention, but i would guess you could understand such a comment, with your own super-duper IQ score, right? >125, - is what you said? That means you could accomplish most degree courses, given actual study and not just flicking peas past the ears of those scally-wag 'liberals'.

    what do you think he *meant* by the comment, btw?

    "As for me, the remark just washed over (durr). :)"

    gorramnit, it took me a while to spot that!! ;)

  • Comment number 34.

    Made me think would putting nuke power stations on a ship be safer or more dangerous than fixed on land ?

  • Comment number 35.

    29. When you go to the GP, do you expect him/her to base their practice on hypotheses about the human body from 1910?

  • Comment number 36.

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

  • Comment number 37.

  • Comment number 38.

    33. dunno. something about bubbles writing poetry

  • Comment number 39.

    #35: what?

    1. i would not expect a GP to deal with ego/Self questions, they would refer a patient to a psycho-therapist for such matters,
    2. many basic concepts the average GP uses are from 1910 and before, accurate hypotheses last a long while,
    3. what i said supported what YOU said earlier!!

    so what's the beef? are you just arguing for the sake of it? :/

    #24/ #34 - the 'true finn' leader has accurately imho pinpointed the problem of the banking crisis, and his lessons are also very valid for the UK, too. But that doesn't mean i support their other policies, blaming "immigrants" for most problems.

    brossen: KKKorporate fascism is virtually identical to how the Nazis structured Germany, and the Western KKKorporates were openly helping, even sometimes funding, the Nazi Regime - even into the war. Look up "Prescott Bush", for instance. IBM sold the computer technology that allowed the organisation of 'The Final Solution', other KKKorps sold patented military technology, including additives for military fuel.

    it was the mass rise-up at the end of the war, alongside the (illusionary) alternative in the USSR, that forced the powers-that-be to create the Welfare States, and raise living standards for the majority - instead of just profits for the wealthy. We are, obviously, heading back that way now.

    i doubt the condemn(ed) coalition will change this around again, call me Mr Cynical if you want.... :(

  • Comment number 40.

    #30: NewsNight has also touched on that topic, a few months ago. I shouldn't be surprised if the NN crew could quietly help the investigation... perhaps we should also have the same trial here?? Or would they blackmail the UK with the threat of "downgrading" our ratings from such a move?

    not that the Tories, the Ratings-Agencies collaborators, would ever countenance such a REAL clean-up of the corrupt-at-the-core financial system. That would be as likely as them removing the private sector from sucking dry Education, Health and Prison Services. Or being honest during a referendum/election campaign. Or admitting they are deliberately allowing tax-evasion by the KKKorporate multi-nats. Such honesty, it seems, is simply not in the Tory DNA. Bet they truly hate the freedom-of-information across the Internet!

  • Comment number 41.

    #38: mmm, ok. Waveforms are movements of energy, half of the wavicle equations that QM uses - as i've understood it. Sounds like a nice program. :)

  • Comment number 42.

    #28: St. Wappaho, i shouldn't be surprised to find *you* have this ability....!!!


  • Comment number 43.

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

  • Comment number 44.

  • Comment number 45.

    Excellent Jeremy tonight particularly with Joseph Nye - had been looking forward to that. Balanced debate by Hine et Robinson on the NHS reforms too, though Hine was more convincing.
    :p Poor Polly! Nuff sed.

  • Comment number 46.

    "Stephen Smith goes in search of the flat white drinking, Guardian reading, progressive North London "commentariat" who voted 'yes' in last week's referendum on the alternative vote."

    Err, two south London boroughs also voted yes to AV. I know we don’t quite fit your neat narrative in this report but we’re only across the river and would have appreciated a visit. We also have writers, artists, designers and some of us have been known to read the guardian!

  • Comment number 47.

    '17. At 16:27pm 9th May 2011, barriesingleton'

    The wisdom of Mr. Adams across many areas is sorely missed but could yet prove valuable in pricking a few bubbles.

    Speaking of which, on-topically....

    When reflecting society, it may be wise to check what is beyond the comfort of a mirror.

    Certainly it seems... appropriate... that a regular deemed most qualified to comment last night was actually for once appropriate and representative.

    From the heart of the brain of the country, which sees itself as 'progressive' and, oddly in some cases, a majority. Apparently.

    Mind you, anyone who spends most of her time in Labour Party meetings probably does acquire a certain viewpoint. Though it does make her constant invitations to broadcast her experiences nationally seem a tad odd.

    And, given the topic of the story, an irony maybe the producers missed.

  • Comment number 48.

    39. are you just arguing for the sake of it?

    In the sense that I study and debate the science of human behaviour and mentality rather than playing sport or a musical instrument.

    The Id-Ego-Superego framework has no value to me. Each can be explained more usefully with different frameworks. Synchronicity and archetypes, which are only Jungian, I find extremely useful frameworks.

    42. maybe. I once saw an 'aid to doing business in different cultures' that showed how cultures view the past, present and future, as represented by three circles of different diameters and different gaps between them. Fascinating, although I can't remember what they looked like! I have a feeling that Japan was unusual. Mine would be three circles of diminishing size. A Buddhist's would be a dot then a circle then a dot?

  • Comment number 49.

  • Comment number 50.

  • Comment number 51.

    On the issue of NHS, I don't blame "charming Nick" not knowing what he has signed up to until now. I don't understand the NHS reforms either. Who is going to do the important work of drawing up a budget, deciding on which items to spend on, identifying areas where the health sector could reduce deficit, if not a financial manager? If two GPs both adamantly believe theirs is a priority, who is going to be the judge of that?

  • Comment number 52.


    Well - not if you know they wouldn't if they knew . . .

    Do you remember how 'charming' both Nick and Huhne were when going for the leadership? I would not join any club where they hold office.

    It's about personalities - not policies. Get the former right and the latter will be the best possible.


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