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Wednesday 5 October 2011

Verity Murphy | 12:17 UK time, Wednesday, 5 October 2011

David Cameron re-wrote his conference speech at the last minute to omit a call on households to pay off their credit cards. Tonight Newsnight picks through the detail of what stayed in and asks whether his appeal for a can-do optimism at an anxious time for the economy is likely to be heeded.
Paul Mason reports on talk of a concerted move to beef up balance sheets of struggling European banks, what is needed and what is likely to happen.
We have a strong Lyse Doucet film from inside Syria about the current nature of the anti-government protests.
Plus Jeremy talks to musician Brian Eno about art and music in an age of turbulence.


  • Comment number 1.

    Ah yes, Britain, Britain, Britain from David Cameron.

    Well, he would, would'nt he?

    The point of political Britain being run from Westminster becoming less and less relevant to the Scots and the Welsh is ignored.

    But it is not going to go away - when are the English going to get their own Parliament?

  • Comment number 2.

    Yes it was all good fun yesterday with the catgate story and all that..but considering the financial meltdown is already rolling down the hill we need to get serious about marshall law on the streets and that the soup kitchens contingency plans are in place. Newsnight need to be covering that. If there's no chicken noodle soup I'll be the first to kick off. You'll all be looking back at this conference season thinking how irrelevant it all was even if we did enjoy Teresa May telling Clegg to stick the Human Rights Act up up his pipe hole.

    P:S can someone please keep their eye on what George Soros is up to.

  • Comment number 3.


    What chance is there?

    After listening to M. Portillo's rather biased 'capitalism on trial' piece on r4 last night and his string of 'expert witnesses' , I have come to the conclusion that the only thing that could sort this mess out peacefully is the accidental detonation of a high altitude EMP weapon above the northern hemisphere wiping out all banking, sharehholding, debt and financial legal records in an instant but without any loss of life.

    Surely the Russians must have a few calndestine space nukes still up there past their sell by date which could accidently go off... ooops.... all debt and ownership wiped... awfully sorry about that anyone?

    ''ruinous inheritance'' qt from the bible I think.

    Non of this is new, its just bigger.

  • Comment number 4.

    Leadership for a better future is being delivered .. by Alex Salmond for the Scots and Carwyn Jones for the Welsh, both First Ministers of their respective Parliaments.

    Who is delivering leadership for a better future to the English?

    Not David Cameron - he is for the British.

    We English should have an leader exclusive to our country - just like the other home nations.

    As things stand, it ain't right.

  • Comment number 5.

    Mr Cameron's speechwriters are reportedly "rewriting" his earlier exhortation for the populace to pay off all their debts. Apart from the fact that if people were actually to take any notice, full blown depression would ensue, it's also mathematically impossible. There is undoubtedly more debt than money in the world*: therefore it can't all be paid off. Our economic system requires an increasing amount of money in circulation in order to function. This in turn drives the perceived "need" for economic growth.

    * In 2008, the net debt in the UK was estimated at approximately £1.4 trillion. The amount of money in deposits and cash was less than half that, at about £600 billion. Debt could only be paid off by a net transfer of the ownership of physical assets from debtors to creditors. If it were all done in a short space of time the notional value of those assets would plummet. To reiterate: our current economic system NEEDS debt in order to function.

    It is not necessarily a bad thing for there to be more debt than money. Society relies on the labours of the past. Eg many roads and houses were built by previous generations. It is only fair that in order to enjoy the fruits of others' work, we make our own contributions to the present and future.

    The problem is that the price of such things as housing is not based upon replacement cost, or any other rational factor. The prices of property are manipulated by the availability of credit (created from nothing), enabling banks to extract maximum rent from the real economy. It's not only the price of property which is determined by the availability of credit. Such things as TV sports rights are also bought up with money created from nothing, enabling a nice BIG earner for both the banks and the media cartels involved in the scam.

    I've often shared a version of Jericoa's fantasy. In my version the City, Wall St etc, would be whisked off to another dimension by a wormhole. It would not affect the ability of the rest of society to provide for its physical needs, and the trader-parasites could live by selling paper to each other! :-D

  • Comment number 6.

    Symbolism can be quite important and I note that the backdrop to Camerons speech today at Conference has changed from that red, white and blue montage, which ones supposes represents Britain, to one of light blue clouds on a blue sky backdrop.

    "Blue skies, nothing but blue skies, coming my way."

    I think not, more like black thunderclouds.

  • Comment number 7.

    Interesting tone to Cameron's speech, never even mentioned carbon emissions, green jobs or renewable energy ( wind farms ) once, perhaps this is this the long overdue end of the eco-fascists cancerous grip on UK government policy ?

  • Comment number 8.

    The elephant in the room is that many currencies in developed west now stretched to breaking point:

    1) bonds issued everywhere
    2) short medium & long term debts AND liabilities
    3) no growth & low tax revenues
    4) poor resourcing strategies
    5) high personal debts still sucking in imports
    6) energy shortages/ price hikes
    7) even with low interest rates & devalued currency

    If UK economy cannot export with lowesr ever interest rates & GBP alreday devalued & currency stretched to limit & idiotic BOE ready to print more money for QE & give this to bankers

    UK /Europe set to become Latin America style economy of 1970's as existing currencies must crash under load as over-stretched/borrowed/leant.

    Our UK govt ECB won't even try & get VAT cut to stimulate demand.

    I'm a gloomster/doomster because of what's out there.

    An over-stretched currency can only devalue further - the question is how much as the govt/BOE will not defend exchange rate with interest rate rises as is trying to deflate debt away with steady 4 -5% CPI inflation - which means BOE thinks this policy is at least a medium term inflation problem.

    Solution - Emigration!

  • Comment number 9.

    4.At 14:07 5th Oct 2011, JohnConstable wrote:
    Leadership for a better future is being delivered .. by Alex Salmond for the Scots and Carwyn Jones for the Welsh, both First Ministers of their respective Parliaments.


    Don't worry the next financial crisis will mean Scots/WElsh & Irish are screaming for independence when we stop subsidising them as there is no money left.

    Then we'll have to default on all debts & have a new English leader who can build from the ground up

  • Comment number 10.

    In his Conference speech, Cameron got in a dig about not booing past leaders, which was a challenge that the hapless Labour leader Ed Miliband totally flunked during his own speech, where, in an instant, he (Miliband) had to decide whether to put down the booing or acquiesce.

    However, Cameron was guilty of the very same lack of leadership during the HoC debate where he told his own female MP Dorries that he was sorry she was 'very frustrated' and then failed to stand up for her as the mostly male chamber sniggered.


    Yes and no.

  • Comment number 11.

    Perhaps what Cameron deliberately decided not to mention in his speech was more important than the context of what he did actually say, the political pundits on BBC News 24 picked up the fact that he failed to mention carbon emission targets right away. I suspect that the eco-fascist leaning BBC will attempt to downplay this glaring omission in the coming hours so perhaps no chance whatsoever of it even being mentioned on Newsnight ?

  • Comment number 12.

    Cameron talks of Britishness.

    There's Plaid Cymru

    There's The SNP

    Why no ENP?

  • Comment number 13.

    So in AD 2011, we're waiting for the EU to get hold of this one & see how many regulations the eurocrats can write on this

  • Comment number 14.

    In his speech, Cameron tells Ed Balls that his Government spent £428Bn more than was 'available'.

    On these blogs over the years, I've often stated that Labour added £400Bn to the National Debt, on top of the £320Bn that they inherited from the previous Tory Administration.

    So, that is factoid that I agree more-or-less with Cameron on but was it realistic to expect Labour to not add anything to the National Debt in a time of surplus?

    I think that in conventional economics, you would usually expect the Government to pay down debt during the 'boom' part of the cycle, and Labour did actually do that for the first few years, reducing the National Debt to £298Bn but then they went into reverse and began to borrow, borrow , borrow (plus the off-balance sheet PFI stuff).

    Balls attitude seems to have been that of somebody who expects pay rises year after year after year (which the City supplied in taxes to Labour for some years) and lives fully up to it but when it all came to a grinding halt in 2008, the folly of that approach was exposed.

    I'm not sure why Cameron was bothering to attack Balls, because there is a politician whose political capital is almost exhausted.

  • Comment number 15.

    @12 Lizzie and others. Wales may have Plaid Cymru, but Plaid Cymru doesn't have Wales. It got less than 20% of the popular vote in the Assembly elections in June: 3% less than last time. This was despite an unpopular (in Wales) South-England based coalition in Westminster. In fact, the Tories improved their share of the vote marginally at the expense of the Liberals. The turnout of 42% means that less than 1 Welsh voter in 12 bothered to vote for Plaid.

  • Comment number 16.

    14.At 18:20 5th Oct 2011, JohnConstable wrote:
    In his speech, Cameron tells Ed Balls that his Government spent £428Bn more than was 'available'.

    Good to look at the facts re national debt - but the big unknown is the national liabilities for issues like lack of housing, electricity, infrastructure, PFI - everything is creaking

    The liabilities side dwarves the national debt - & as still the big unknown

    £3 trillion?
    £5 Trillion?
    £7 Trillion?

    Of course this is not debt as means money has to be found & paid - but even so - these monies i.e. for liabilities will never be found - we are broke

    Hence we will all increasingly be living in the pockets of large mainly foreign multi- nationals who will eventually deciding whether we are 'sufficiently profitable' for them

    We're set in the UK to become financial slaves in our own country - for many of us -within our lifetimes as very poor pensioners looking to large PFI type private companies providing most things for us

  • Comment number 17.

  • Comment number 18.

  • Comment number 19.

    Why no ENP? - because the english know the difference between nationalism and patriotism; nationalists are always against someone who they blame for all their woes and who they blame for everything that's wrong, vide "Heid the ba'" Salmond and his collection of Balamory MSPs who blame everything on "down south" or "Westminster".

    Patriotism is something much more positive; which is why there won't be an ENP.

    Oh, and the english couldn't be bothered to start one up anyway.

    Just for the record; I am not an immigrant, I have several homes one of which is in UK and am a UK taxpayer.

    So enough with the prejudice already!

  • Comment number 20.

    I really enjoyed last night's Newsnight. Some serious points made with light-hearted humour running through it. Very nice.

    Probably not to everyone's taste, though, so please don't take too much notice of my praise.

  • Comment number 21.

    The English Democrats ( roughly the English equivalent of the SNP and Plaid.

    It would be fair to say that at present they are viewing Westminster from the foothills but maybe one day, they and others might be able to (re)-establish an English Parliament in that place.

    Which at a stroke would correct a major political fault line which, in my opinion, runs through the politics of the so-called UK.

    That political fault line is this, Scotland and Wales are basically socialist countries at heart, whereas England leans more towards a mixed socialist/capitalist model.

    This is why England, Scotland and Wales are becoming such uneasy bed-fellows and the solution, which Scotland and to a lesser extend, Wales, are moving towards, is complete devolution for the home nations.

  • Comment number 22.

    nautioner @ 16

    You are probably correct, in one sense, when you assert that this country is technically bust.

    That is, if you take the one trillion pound plus National Debt, and add to that all the rest of the off-balance sheet liabilities, such as PFI, the public sector pensions and so on, then yes, we are technically bust.

    However, just as your mortgage provider does not just come out of the woodwork and demand that you pay back all of your mortgage in one go, then similarly, the Government can string out debt repayments over a long time, and also, from time-to-time, renegotiate certain debts.

    Furthermore, unlike you or me or any business, the Government has one ace which trumps all and means that it theoretically can never go bust - that ace is the ability to electronically print as much money as it needs at any given time.

    Some will point out that the BoE (and private banks) print the money but when push-comes-to-shove - if the Government wants money from thin air, having first cleaned out the back-of-the-sofa, it will get it.

  • Comment number 23.

    I see that one of the procedures that the Haxby practice in North Yorks is charging for is sebaceous cyst removal (£220). I had one removed from the back of my neck once by my GP - about 15 minutes work I recall. He was pretty sure what it was, but nonetheless sent it off for a biopsy, because in rare cases they can be malignant tumours mimicking cysts. Without removal they can also get infected, leading to septicaemia - always potentially fatal. There is, at the moment, no doubt that the latter conditions would be treated by the NHS. Removing the cyst was an act of precautionary and preventative medicine.

    So these doctors in N Yorks seem to me to have crossed an ethical line. They get paid more than well enough by the state for the job they do, without converting it to a moneymaking scheme, exploiting, in a rural area, what is effectively a captive clientèle!

  • Comment number 24.

    Cameron looked absolutely knackered today.

    Stress due responsibility...or stress due to fear?


  • Comment number 25.

    JohnConstable wrote "Some will point out that the BoE (and private
    banks) print the money but when push-comes-to-shove - if the Government wants money from thin air, having first cleaned out the back-of-the-sofa, it will get it."

    Then logically, you must conclude that "the Government" does not want such money, as it is busily imposing "austerity measures" upon the Public Sector which is the means of Governance. This is why there is so much unrest in Greece, as their Public Sector, under pressure from 'the troika', is being forced to cut jobs in order to free up money.

    It seems to me that far too many people here still do not understand what Libertarian (anarchistic) "Governments" don't do. They don't do governance. What they do is erode or abrogate governance in favour of the Private and Third Sectors which they work for. What they do is erode what is left of the state from prior generations by stealth. They will not privatise the NHS simply because it is a great (tax) cash cow just as it is. It has been hollowed out (like other Public Sector services) and de-structured to ensure that those in top positions can not do effective procurement in the best interest of the taxpayer, but in the best interest of suppliers instead.

    Instead of posting what people think is the case, I suggest people take a look at what really is the case, as most people's vanity is being used to mislead them.

  • Comment number 26.


    If my heading gets past the Blogdog, MuseV, I suggest: subconscious fear of 'losing the illusion' must stalk all illusory beings. And it only takes a chance remark, or an inconvenient epiphany, to 'collapse the wave'.

    Tony lost his ability to 'believe that he believed' (belief being the source of his strength) and the consequences are visible.

    What this indicates about this nation's vulnerability, I shall not address.

  • Comment number 27.

    22.At 21:37 5th Oct 2011, JohnConstable wrote:
    nautioner @ 16


    Printing money is OK to x amount? as dpends on how this gets in the money supply.

    Eventually, printing money devalues the currency - a question of tipping point

  • Comment number 28.

    Tonight's main feature on Newsnight was pure propaganda with the aim of softening up EU taxpayers to fund the bottomless pit of an EU " Corporate Nazi " welfare state for the banks and their stock market parasites. It just a pity that Paxo seemed incapable of putting their plan under proper public scrutiny, perhaps he was more interested in saving his pension than taking the political bull by the horns, but then he was outnumbered three to one ?

  • Comment number 29.

    @ 26 "THE CAMERON ILLUSION"? Delusion more like Barrie. The fact that he or his puppet-masters/speech-writers could write such naive nonsense to start with shows that, like Osborne, EITHER they don't have a clue about economic fundamentals, OR that all the talk of deficit reduction and growth is just a fig-leaf for class war. Or maybe even both.

    There's certainly no sign of the "brilliance" attributed to Cameron by Vernon Bogdanor on election night.

    If we regard our leaders as products of a Kästner-like School For Dictators, the quality of the graduates is declining.

  • Comment number 30.

    An example of Cameron's nonsense "UK must not be "paralysed by gloom and fear" but show "some fight" to get through the global economic storm." according to the BBC.

    The world economy, and Britain's in particular isn't functioning because of technical debt. It's a mathematical problem, not a global famine or resource shortage. The Gordian knot of the mathematical difficulty needs to be cut by governments. Instead, they're treating the problem like a real famine, and putting people through unnecessary austerity.

    In what way will "some fight" help, unless it's in the sense of, say, John Lilburne?

  • Comment number 31.

    Shapiro was about right with his two-three week prediction.

    No mention yet of it been an engineered collapse but thats OK.

    Brian Eno:
    I recall an Adam Curtis BBC Documentary where some Eno 'soundscapes' were used:

    I reckon a great tune for our times. Dark..foreboding.

  • Comment number 32.

    The new citizens of britain, coming to town near you, what did Starkey say 'eh?

  • Comment number 33.

    #15 I think my point was the spirit of Wales and Scotland is there sasha, so why not the English, rather than the voting system. Wales seems very proud of it's language and heritage, and admire them for that.

    My question again, why no ENP? Oh I get it that would be racist.

  • Comment number 34.

  • Comment number 35.


    In his speech Dave said: "Of course, we'll make sure your money goes to the people who need it most". He didn't say what precise form the expenditure might take on.

    There is something very 'special' about the political mind: in our name, Johnnie Foreigner is both saved from death, and annihilated, yet THE PERVERSITY GOES UNNOTICED, and certainly unremarked. (Your move Jeremy.)

    It just HAS to be something to do with the Westminster Ethos. In the real world, we do not hesitate to lampoon the Judge, flushed out of the house of ill-repute, when raided. Yet we make no murmur as Westminster endorses war after war, while handing out LIFE SAVING aid. Should we not, at least, be using sponge bombs and foam bullets?

    Dave would say we have to kill Johnnie Foreigner, to keep him out of Peckham High Street; while all the time the 'beautiful babies' of Dave's speech, might well grow up and migrate to Tooting Broadway!

    I suppose there is a kind of balance there? Or is it just


  • Comment number 36.


    "these young minds bear the deep scars of a life filled with anger and violence,"

    An 'alpha' TV in every home; a cannula to the deep mind of every young person, dripping the vitriol of 'soaps', Big Brother and violent 'entertainment' of every kind into vacant minds. Another alien 'immigration', unchallenged, unchecked and under the radar.

    Westminster has zero competence in matters human; it thinks in terms of money and mechanisms. No wonder the country is slipping into madness.

  • Comment number 37.


    That's odd. Perhaps my letters (some recorded delivery) about the Conservative Liar Flyer, are just not reaching this honourable leader in the fight against tyranny? He would surely want to deal with tyranny in Westminster?

    Nuff sed

  • Comment number 38.

    An age of political disconnect, evidenced by empty seats in the conference hall for a mainstream parties leaders speech, (which, by the way, achieved the minor miracle of totally ignoring the impending financial crisis in Europe as if it was of no concern to us in England).

    That model of active mass support for a political party in England seems to have been dwindling away for decades now and smells as if it is way past its sell-by date.

    Then Brian Eno talked about the digital convergence of media such as art, music and other new forms through open-source collaboration.

    Maybe that hints at a new model for politics in our England, highly collaborative, essentially digital, pulling people together to achieve political goals, which once achieved, do not neccessarily mean that grouping continue to stay together, but recasts to move on to new objectives.

    A fluid, rapidly changing dynamic politics that is driven by and for, the people of England.

    That is for some future, however, just now with Europe teetering on the edge, we are rapidly approaching decision time, so let us hope the worlds policymakers step up to the plate and take control.

    Its been a slo-mo car crash that is now speeding up.

  • Comment number 39.

    Gist of Dave’s speech on the economy:
    • Keep your finances in order, stay liquid and get ready for the upcoming recession/banking crisis
    • Sell to the Chinese and other emerging economies in the far east
    • Pledge that Britain will never join the euro during his premiership (translation: we ain’t paying alongside zee Germans)

    It is a pretty sensible plan. Surely it is just a broad sketch, but this is exactly why the PM’s job is the easiest in the cabinet: he/she only needs to point out a general direction, while leaving the rest of head-scratching details and implementation to the lucky cabinet minister in charge of the portfolio. Poor George, he looked as if he hadn’t slept in three days and were about to pass out on the floor any minute. -___-||

  • Comment number 40.

    Heard on PM yesterday, "well that is the end of the conference season".

    So we only have three political parties in Britain, where's the Greens, UKIP, even the BNP (they're not banned) how can we know what's really going on, and have political debate with different views, without hearing everyone's political angle as well?

  • Comment number 41.

    "....the end of the conference season"...."

    Would that were true EcoLizzy. I note that one of the commentators on the news or NN last night agreed that the big three conferences at least should no longer draw the nations media or interest - they are merely internal fillibustering lending excuses for a pee up.

  • Comment number 42.

    11. At 17:02 5th Oct 2011, brossen99 -... perhaps no chance whatsoever of it even being mentioned on Newsnight ?

    In other (possibly editted out) news, one is sure the day and evening's guest lists - from the Breakfast Sofa paper review though Daily Politics to NN's invaluable summaries - will be again packed with such as Kevin Maguire of The Mirror, offering their unique insights into topical issues of the day. In a balanced way, of course.

  • Comment number 43.

    @33 "Wales seems very proud of it's language and heritage" Well yes, but the language is a very divisive issue. A majority don't speak it, and don't want to, apart from a few words in common use, like cariad (darling.) English immigrants are often more supportive of the Welsh language than many natives.

    Then there is the North-South divide in Wales - and Welsh. It's like the Ghegs and Tosks of Albania, but fortunately without Enver Hoxha. In South Wales, it's far far better to be English than a Gog (north-Walian).

    The English language is very much part of the Welsh heritage too: think Dylan Thomas. And of course, though I'm a native of North-East England, I challenge anyone to name someone who spoke English more beautifully than South-Walian Richard Burton!

  • Comment number 44.

  • Comment number 45.

    I was completely oblivious of Brian Eno before his interview with Jeremy, and am not a fan of Coldplay or U2 either, however, it was an interesting interview :o)

  • Comment number 46.

    #43 Good points Sasha, although I've never had any problems when visiting North Wales, I like the Welsh. And agree about the English supporting Welsh language, but then I know an English person in central america, who is supporting the Bribri language so perhaps it's just the English!

    Have you heard Stan Traceys interpretation of Dylan Thomas, brilliant.

    And I hope you have the lovely North Eastern accent, I love that! ; )

    In Kent it's now estuary English, you rarely here the native Kent accent spoken, it was very soft and much like Western England one.


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