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Archives for November 2011

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Verity Murphy | 13:18 UK time, Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Following a difficult Autumn Statement yesterday, the government is facing further pressure with what unions describe as the largest public sector strike for a generation.

On tonight's programme we'll be looking in detail at the crux of the dispute - public sector pensions. The chancellor has said the schemes are unsustainable, but unions object to plans to make their members pay more and work longer to earn their pensions.

Whose argument do the figures support? Joining Jeremy will be Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude and PCS Union general secretary Mark Serwotka.

We'll also be comparing the economic situation of two families, one with an income from the public sector, the other from the private sector.

And our Economics editor Paul Mason will be asking if anyone has a chance of a more prosperous future, or with flatlining growth are we facing a decade of economic pain?

In other news, a report by former Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf has heavily criticised the London School of Economics over its links with the Gaddafi regime in Libya.

The school's director resigned in March over a £1.5m gift from a foundation led by Colonel Gaddafi's son Saif, a former student.

We'll be speaking to Lord Desai, who was an internal examiner for the award of Saif Gaddafi's PhD at the university.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Verity Murphy | 11:32 UK time, Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Chancellor George Osborne has said public sector pay rises will be capped at 1% for two years, as he lowered growth forecasts for the UK economy.

The number of public sector jobs set to be lost by 2017 has also been revised up from 400,000 to 710,000. Borrowing and unemployment are set to be higher than forecast and spending cuts to carry on to 2017, he admitted.

For Labour, Ed Balls said the figures showed the chancellor's economic and fiscal plans were "in tatters".

Tonight we will be getting Paul Mason and David Grossman's assessments of what was announced.

In the studio we will be joined by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and his Labour Shadow Rachel Reeves.

And we will debating the government's plans with guests including Lord Heseltine, FT editor Lionel Barber, economist Mariana Mazzucato, Philip Collins from think tank Demos and WSJ Europe editor Tracey Corrigan.

Plus Shaun Ley will be looking at whether the chancellor, like predecessor Gordon Brown, is starting to look like a man with an eye on the top job one day.

All that with Jeremy at 10.30pm on BBC Two.

Monday 28 November 2011

Verity Murphy | 13:49 UK time, Monday, 28 November 2011

The OECD has warned that the UK could be entering a recession, predicting a 0.03% contraction this quarter, and a further 0.15% next, and has warned that a further deterioration in the UK economy could require changes in policy.

The prediction comes a day before Chancellor George Osborne unveils his "mini budget" Autumn Statement.

Tonight David Grossman reports on what we have already learned about the statement in the briefings of the last few days and what else the chancellor may have up his sleeve.

Plus Paul Mason has been in the North West, still the country's industrial heartland, looking at what can be done to boost growth and to switch the economy from one dominated by consumption to one led by export.

And Jeremy Paxman has an interview with General Martin Dempsey, the US' new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

When he was nominated Gen Dempsey was described by President Barack Obama as one of America's most "combat-tested generals", but his biggest challenge may be more prosaic - establishing priorities for cutting the defence budget, which consumes around 20% of the federal budget.

Mark Urban will be looking at which areas could be in the cross hairs.

Plus, Tim Whewell reports from Cairo where Egyptians are voting in the first election since President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February.

Friday 25 November 2011

Verity Murphy | 19:09 UK time, Friday, 25 November 2011

Early next week the chancellor will reveal the government's plans for growth in his autumn statement. Tonight we examine the differences between the main parties on economic policy and whether there is clear water between what they are saying or not.

And we hear some radical ideas for economic growth from those in business and outside the political sphere.

Also Tim Whewell reports from Cairo on who the generals running Egypt are and how they have effectively split the opposition ahead of next week's elections.

Plus, Steve Smith has a strange tale from Lewes in Sussex where vandals armed with explosives have embarked upon a dangerous campaign of blowing up parking meters.

Thursday 24 November 2011

Verity Murphy | 13:31 UK time, Thursday, 24 November 2011

On tonight's show we look at figures out today showing a record level of net migration to the UK. In 2010 it reached 252,000, soaring higher than the government target of "tens of thousands". Immigration Minister Damian Green, and people directly effected by the issue, will be joining Kirsty.

Also at record numbers are Neets, young people in England not in education, employment or training. Tonight, we look at the pressures facing young workers.

Looking ahead to next week's strikes, with more than two million workers expected to walk out, we assess the scale of the likely disruption. The government is warning that the action could cost the UK economy £500m and lead to job losses.

The so-called most dangerous place in Europe, Dagestan, boasts the unexpected accolade of employing Samuel Eto'o - reportedly the best paid player in football. In an attempt to unify the troubled republic in Russia's North Caucasus, the capital's football team, Anzhi Makhachkala, has been splashing its billionaire owner's cash to attract top talent and take the locals' minds off the daily violence. We have a special report tonight.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Verity Murphy | 13:11 UK time, Wednesday, 23 November 2011

After a mild November will the predicted harsh winter place further strain on household energy bills? Tonight, Jeremy will be turning up the heat on two of the men with the greatest influence on future prices; British Gas boss Phil Bentley
and Energy Secretary Chris Huhne.

Plus our Science editor Susan Watts will look into the industry's bewildering tariffs and asks what lies behind energy costs.

Bahrain's King Hamad has promised reforms to prevent abuses by security forces, after an independent report said that authorities had used excessive force on protesters. Peter Marshall looks into the unrest in which more than 40 people died, and Minister for Cabinet Affairs Kamal Ahmad will join us to give the Bahraini government's response.

Closer to home, new rules are being considered for small businesses on hiring and firing staff, so will staff lose their right to claim unfair dismissal, and will the changes actually boost the economy? We'll discuss with Ann Pettifor, director of Prime Economics, and Jon Moulton, chairman of Better Capital, LLP.

P.S. We are no longer running the piece on the England Rugby team that was planned earlier.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Verity Murphy | 17:36 UK time, Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The High Pay Commission has described the high salaries of UK executives as "corrosive", claiming that the disparity between what top executives and average workers earn is creating inequalities last seen in the Victorian era.

Politicians have promised change, but is anything likely to be done?

Our Economics editor Paul Mason reports and in the studio we talk to MPs Chuka Umunna and Elizabeth Truss, plus City guru Nicola Horlick.

In Egypt the country's military rulers have agreed to speed up the transfer of power, holding presidential elections by next July - are they to be trusted?

We will have a film from Tim Whewell who is in Cairo and will be getting the very latest on the situation in the capital live on the programme.

Today at the Leveson inquiry into press standards comedian Steve Coogan claimed that he was a victim of large-scale press intrusion. His testimony came as a day after actor Hugh Grant accused the Mail on Sunday newspaper of hacking his phone - a claim the newspaper has dubbed "mendacious smears".

So how widespread were these kind of tactics and did they go beyond the now-defunct News of The World? Richard Watson reports.

Plus our Science editor Susan Watts will bring us up to speed on the online release of a new batch of emails and other documents from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit.

Monday 21 November 2011

Len Freeman | 11:52 UK time, Monday, 21 November 2011

As the government finalises plans for the autumn statement, we'll take a look at what might be in it. There is talk of benefit caps, deregulation and help for the housing market. Plans have been unveiled to allow first-time buyers of new homes to borrow up to 95% of the value, with the government underwriting part of the risk.

Tim Whewell has been in Cairo's Tahrir Square all weekend. How close to the edge is Egypt? There have been more clashes overnight and the health ministry has confirmed the number of deaths has risen from 11 to 20.

Jeremy will also interview the novelist and commentator Umberto Eco about the state of Italy.

Friday 18 November 2011

Verity Murphy | 16:59 UK time, Friday, 18 November 2011


David Cameron and Angela Merkel have acknowledged that they have differences over the eurozone crisis, but claim that both have the "same plan" for European growth.

Tonight we report on the meeting, the state of Anglo-British relations and whether the tensions are likely to be overcome with our Economics editor Paul Mason and studio guests.

Fifa chief Sepp Blatter has told the BBC he is sorry for causing offence with his statements on racism but says he will not resign - we talk to Sol Campbell about racism in football and whether Mr Blatter's apology is sufficient.

Plus amid new that the Foreign Office is investigating reports that two UK terror suspects died in a US drone strike in Pakistan, Richard Watson looks at the controversial US attack programme.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Verity Murphy | 15:53 UK time, Thursday, 17 November 2011

On Wednesday a group of renegade Syrian soldiers from the so-called Free Syrian Army targeted a compound run by air force intelligence in the Damascus suburb of Harasta.

The deadly pre-dawn raid, along with other ambushes, has prompted Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to claim that the situation in Syria is beginning to resemble civil war.

Tonight Sue Lloyd-Roberts, one of the few undercover Western journalists to get inside Syria in recent months, reports on who the Free Syrian Army are, how strong they are and how much of a threat to the Assad regime they represent.

We'll also be hearing from Tim Whewell in Cairo about how Arab countries are lining up on Syria and where the regional splits may lie.

Susan Watts is looking at the role of climate change in extreme weather events and whether it is possible to pin point which events are man-made and which not.

Paul Mason is reporting on the sale of Northern Rock and we are looking at the Occupy protests two months after they began in New York and as police and protesters clash as demonstrators try to march on Wall Street.

Plus as Fifa President Sepp Blatter denies that football has a problem with on field racism, prompting Professional Footballers' Association chief Gordon Taylor to call for him to resign, we ask how racist is English football?

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Len Freeman | 11:11 UK time, Wednesday, 16 November 2011

As the Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King cuts the UK economic growth forecast to just 1%, what options for manoeuvre does this leave Chancellor George Osborne? David Grossman will take a close look at today's figures.

We also have a film on Vulture funds. Charities are calling for Britain's Privy Council to block an American speculator from taking $100m (£63m) from the Democratic Republic of Congo through a 'vulture fund' which sued in Jersey. We'll have a full report.

Plus the latest in the race for the Republican leadership in the US ahead of next year's presidential election.

Do join Jeremy at 10.30pm.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Verity Murphy | 12:52 UK time, Tuesday, 15 November 2011

On Wednesday the Office for National Statistics will publish its latest unemployment figures and the number of under-24s who are out of work is expected to pass the one million mark for the first time since the early 1990s.

Tonight we are dedicating the majority of the programme to this issue.

Jeremy will be joined in the studio by Employment Minister Chris Grayling and David Miliband, who is chairing a task force on youth unemployment for the charitable sector, and a studio audience of young, unemployed people.

And we have a report on the scale of the problem from Newsbeat reporter Jim Reed.

Plus, Richard Watson brings us the latest on the border security row, which today has seen the ex-head of the UK border force Brodie Clark testifying before a committee of MPs.

And after Prime Minister David Cameron announced last night that we are all euro sceptics now, we speak to the head of another country which is inside the European Union but outside of the eurozone, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

Monday 14 November 2011

Verity Murphy | 14:56 UK time, Monday, 14 November 2011

Tonight we are putting Britain's long term relations with Europe in the spotlight.

At this crucial time of economic crisis in the eurozone some are talking about a two-speed Europe - a "federal" core of the members of the eurozone, with a looser "confederal" outer band of the non-euro members.

If that vision came to fruition could Britain really lead an outer core bloc to prevent a German-dominated eurozone undermining our interests, or is that fanciful? What should Britain's strategy be to protect national interests?

Tonight David Grossman reports on this issue and Jeremy Paxman interviews former European Commissioner for Trade Lord Mandelson.

He will also be speaking to France's former minister of European Affairs Noelle Lenoir and former UK foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind.

Plus, hot on the heels of an Arab League vote to suspend Syria's membership, King Abdullah of Jordan has told the BBC that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should step down in the interest of his country.

Tonight Tim Whewell looks at Syria's increasing isolation, its likely effects and what options Damascus has for striking back across the region.

Richard Watson reports on the opening of an inquiry led by Lord Justice Leveson
examining the culture and practices of the press following the News of The World phone hacking scandal.

And Jeremy interviews Eliot Spitzer, the former New York State attorney general and governor of New York, who was forced to resign as governor in 2008 when it was revealed that he had been seeing call girls.

Before his fall Mr Spitzer was known as the Sheriff of Wall Street and took on a series of special interests over corporate pay, securities fraud and insider dealing.

He had been elected governor with the largest margin in New York state's history and many believed he was on his way to becoming the nation's first Jewish president.

Friday 11 November 2011

Verity Murphy | 13:59 UK time, Friday, 11 November 2011


We will no longer be running the item on Syria or on the 50p tax outlined below. Instead are focussing on the massive political change on which has been rippling out on both sides of the Mediterranean as Arab Spring turns to European Autumn, with reversals of fortune for governments of every stripe.

Then we will move on to our item on the history of Remembrance poppy wearing and whether the poppy is a political symbol or not.


Human Rights Watch has called on the Arab League to suspend Syria for what it calls crimes against humanity by security forces in Homs.

Tonight we have a fresh report on the situation in the beleaguered city from Sue Lloyd-Roberts who has secured new footage of what is happening there.

We look at whether axing the 50p rate of income tax would help shore up the British economy against fallout from the eurozone crisis as City leaders have claimed in a call for George Osborne to accelerate plans to scrap it.

And we look at the history of Remembrance poppy wearing and whether the poppy is a political symbol or not.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Verity Murphy | 13:31 UK time, Thursday, 10 November 2011

After days of negotiations Greece has an interim prime minister, former European Central Bank vice-president Lucas Papademos.

But there is still political uncertainty in Italy and the European Union has drastically cut its growth forecast for the eurozone in 2012, from 1.8% down to just 0.5%.

So how can economic collapse across Europe be prevented? Will the ECB intervene in a significant rather than piecemeal way? What are new ECB President Mario Draghi's short and long term calculations? And what should we make of reports, denied by Angela Merkel, that France and Germany are involved in talks on a radical EU overhaul which could lead towards a smaller more integrated eurozone?

Tonight we will be discussing these questions with guests and getting the latest on the crisis from our Economics editor Paul Mason.

Richard Watson will be picking through James Murdoch's latest appearance before a committee of MPs investigating phone hacking by the News of the World newspaper.

And Tim Whewell has a report on the oligarchs trial in London in which Boris Berezovsky is suing fellow Russian businessman Roman Abramovich for £3bn alleging that Mr Abramovich "intimidated" him into selling shares in Russian oil company Sibneft for a "mere $1.3bn" (£800m) - an allegation Mr Abramovich denies.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Len Freeman | 13:24 UK time, Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Tonight our science editor Susan Watts looks at the increasing use of cognitive enhancing drugs by people who are trying to boost their brain power.

These drugs like modafinil and Ritalin are usually prescribed to treat medical conditions, but are also known for their power to improve memory or focus.

Many people buy them over the Internet, which is risky because they don't know what they're getting.

And we also know next to nothing about the long term effects on the brains of healthy people, particularly the young.

Susan will have a full report and also try one of the drugs herself - under medical supervision - to assess the effects.

We'll also bring you the latest on the European debt crisis as Italy's cost of borrowing touches a new record, a day after Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said he would resign once budget reforms are passed.

Do join Jeremy at 10.30pm.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Verity Murphy | 19:49 UK time, Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Tonight we will have more on our story about how the News of the World was engaged in covert surveillance on a huge scale, and we will be revealing more names of people who were targeted.

Mark Urban has a report on claims from the UN's nuclear watchdog the IAEA that Iran is conducting research that can only be aimed at developing the capacity to make nuclear weapons.

David Grossman has the latest twists in the row over the loosening of UK border controls this summer.

Plus Rory Cellan-Jones has a report on patent wars in the US.

Monday 7 November 2011

Verity Murphy | 17:40 UK time, Monday, 7 November 2011

Tonight Richard Watson has a report on the News of the World (NoW) newspaper hiring an ex-police officer to carry out surveillance on two prominent lawyers representing victims of phone hacking.

Richard has been speaking exclusively to Derek Webb, the ex-police officer turned private detective, who was commissioned by the NoW to follow solicitors Mark Lewis and Charlotte Harris.

And we will be hearing from Mr Lewis and Tom Watson MP

You can read more about that story here.

David Grossman has a report on the row surrounding the UK Border Agency and Home Office over claims that identity checks on travellers from outside Europe were scaled back in the summer, without ministerial approval.

And Mark Urban has the latest from Greece where political leaders are holding talks on appointing a new prime minister and coalition government to clear the way for a bailout package which would ease the country's eurozone debt crisis.

Mark will also be reporting on Italy where government borrowing rates have hit a euro-era high putting increased pressure on PM Silvio Berlusconi.

Friday 4 November 2011

Verity Murphy | 12:25 UK time, Friday, 4 November 2011

Manoeuvres are continuing in Greece between the government, some of its own MPs and the opposition over how to tackle the country's economic crisis - moves which could have major repercussions for the eurozone economy.

Prime Minister George Papandreou needs to secure enough votes to survive a vote of confidence later in the day. Mark Urban is in Athens for the crunch vote and will be bringing us the latest on tonight's programme.

In Cannes G20 leaders have ended their summit with a plan to boost growth and rebalance the global economy, but so far have given no details. Paul Mason is there and should enlighten us tonight.

And in the studio Emily will be joined by Peter Altmaier chief whip of Angela Merkel's ruling party and Baroness Vadera.

Thursday 3 November 2011

Verity Murphy | 13:37 UK time, Thursday, 3 November 2011

Tonight we will be focussed on the fast moving events of the eurozone crisis.

Mark Urban is in Greece where PM George Papandreou has announced that he is seeking consensus with the opposition on a eurozone bailout as an alternative to holding a referendum.

Paul Mason is in Cannes where G20 leaders are holding a summit overshadowed by the chaos in Athens.

And David Grossman will be picking over David Cameron's statement that it is right to consider boosting funds to the International Monetary Fund in a time of crisis and whether Westminster would back such a move.

We will discuss the events of the day and what happens next with guests including economist Ken Rogoff, Gillian Tett from the FT, Brazilian ambassador to the UK Roberto Jaguaribe, German MEP Elmar Brok and Greek MP Lianna Kanellis.

And we will also be looking whether the Occupy movement is starting to affect the thinking of political and financial leaders around the world. Writer Naomi Wolf, who was arrested at the Occupy Wall Street protest, will be joining us in the studio.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Sarah McDermott | 12:10 UK time, Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Paul Mason is in Cannes on the eve of the G20 summit which has been totally overshadowed by the euro mess. Read Paul's latest blog here.

He will be bringing us up to date on that and tonight's emergency talks between Germany, France and Greece which follow Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's shock announcement that there will be a referendum on the eurozone rescue plan.

Mr Papandreou has got backing from his cabinet for a referendum, but what is the wider mood in Athens? Mark Urban is there and will be reporting on the programme.

And we'll be joined live in the studio by Mike Mills and Michael Stipe from US band REM, who announced recently that they were calling it a day after 31 years.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Sarah McDermott | 10:30 UK time, Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Ahead of the 2011 G20 Summit and emergency meeting with Greece tomorrow, Paul Mason is in Cannes for us tonight with the latest on the announcement of a Greek referendum on the aid package to solve its debt crisis. Read more on Paul's blog.

Shaun Ley is in Tyne and Wear where he'll be reporting on the latest economic growth figures.

Tim Whewell has just returned from Milan where he's been asking how Italy - the country with the second highest government debt in the eurozone - can survive.

And we have a film from Liz Mackean about the joint enterprise law, used by police to tackle gang violence, which is to be investigated by MPs after claims it is criminalising hundreds of innocent and mainly young people.

Join Gavin at 2230 on BBC Two.

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