BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC TwoNewsnight
Page last updated at 16:27 GMT, Monday, 23 January 2006

Monday, 23 January, 2006

Jeremy Paxman

Details of tonight's programme
Sign up for our daily e-letter from the Newsnight presenters
Jeremy Paxman's biography


From programme producer Kate McAndrew


It looks more like an old loaf of bread rather than a spying-device, but the fake rock spy scandal is causing quite a stir. The argument is centred around what the Russians insist is a transmitter hidden inside a fake rock they've uncovered on a Moscow street, used they say, by British spies to collect and transmit information.

The Foreign Office responded haughtily that they were surprised and concerned at Moscow's allegations, and the Prime Minister laughed it off at his monthly press conference. So what's going on? Has MI6 been busted, could it all be a rouse cooked up to make Vladimir Putin look tough to his people and the outside world? Our Diplomatic Editor, Mark Urban, is on the case.


Notwithstanding the comedy rock, the Prime Minister clearly had one message he wanted to get across this morning; there would be no compromise on his plans for schools which have alarmed so many of his own MPs.

The PM insisted there was nothing to fear - he simply wanted all parents to be able to have the best education for their children. Good schools, he said, should be able to grow to take as many children as need to go, and government should enable this. So why have more than 90 of Mr Blair's own MPs said they're against his plan? Martha will give us the three minute guide to school reform, and the gossip from both sides' backbenches.


It's even less comfortable on the Liberal Democrat benches, as the fallout from the latest party PR disaster whirls around, and their poll standing plummets. No sign of Mr Oaten himself, who's not surprisingly keeping a low profile, but what of the remaining leadership candidates? Is there anything in their pasts they'd rather you didn't know? Rest assured - Michael Crick is investigating.


Another energy review is underway, with the government promising it will look at the challenge of meeting our future energy needs with an open mind, but Paul Mason is talking to some people who maintain the government's already made up its mind to go nuclear. If so, why not just get on with it?


The most common reason for claiming Incapacity Benefit is mental illness or mental distress, and the numbers claiming it are massive - more people claim incapacity than are registered unemployed. But should everyone receiving the benefit really be getting it? Ahead of tomorrow's announcement about welfare reform, Becky Milligan has been to Bridgend to see how the issue is being tackled there.

Don't forget that you can watch Newsnight online via this website. The programme is available in broadband either live or on demand for 24 hours after originally broadcast.

Click here to launch the Newsnight media player

Blair's education 'highwire act'
23 Jan 06 |  Politics
Can Lib Dems recover after Oaten?
23 Jan 06 |  Politics

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

  • MMIX
  • Back to top ^^
banner watch listen bbc sport Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific