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Last Updated: Friday, 4 March, 2005, 17:19 GMT
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People seek opportunity not identity. They have identity. Britain needs to clearly define ethically, legally and culturally its own identity with a simple constitution for Egalitarian Britishness, to be accepted by all people of all cultures who choose to live, work, trade or just visit here. To attempt to blend cultural identity is to disrespect cultural identity.
Stefan, London

While your guests discussed shared values, a publican in Norwich was trying to work out how he can persuade the magistrates to grant him a licence extension for St George's Day. They have previously granted extensions for Chinese New Year, American Independence Day and St Patrick's Day but St George's Day was considered "not special enough" last year. On appeal, an extension was granted for 23 April but not because it was St George's Day and only if it was regarded as a charity event.
Ian Campbell, West Horsley

I am concerned about my fellow men and always try to help whenever I can. Nationality and patriotism means nothing to me at all. All good people share the same good qualities: it is nothing to do with being British.
Bill Coughlan, Chelmsford

We have had 30 years or so of Britishness being questioned, criticised and overwhelmed first by all things American to the endless directives from Europe. As a nation we lack confidence in ourselves and tend to belittle many of our achievements and characteristics. We choose to report negatively instead of exalting in some of the great things about the UK. It has been politically incorrect to feel pride and "cool" to bash and question everything. We should start by feeling good about ourselves as a country and reporting more positively.
Jo Humphreys, Lymington

Predictably, the speakers on tonight's programme, on the subject of "Englishness", were all completely out of touch with reality. I meet a lot of people in my work - up to 150 per week - and virtually all of them seem perfectly clear on what Englishness is. If you want to know what it means to be English, ask some ordinary English people instead.
Graham Tinsley, Swindon

I never thought that I would actually begin to agree with a Labour politician but I do actually agree with much of Gordon Brown's comments in his Britishness debate. Sadly in Britain today we seem to have lost our sense of history as many young people of my age know little of the history of the 20th century or indeed history in general. It is important for everyone to have a comprehensive knowledge of the whole spectrum of our history. History underpins everything in our country!
Alex Naughton, Liverpool

Why did your item on Britishness have to include someone who obviously has no wish to be British? There are plenty of us from an ethnic minority who are working hard to ensure that we are and (more difficult) are accepted as British. Why not feature someone with a more reasoned contribution to make?
Sanjay Dighe, Harrow, Middx

After Newsnight tonight, I wish to respond to Mr Brown's wish for us to move on and feel British again, and say good luck to him in his quest to be the next prime minister of England but he has denied his real Scottishness. I have never felt that I am British nor will ever want to be, and await the day for Scotland to be fully independent once again.
Barbara Conboy, Edinburgh

You asked what we mean by Britishness. I am a British citizen as stated on my passport but am an English national by choice. To me Britishness is outdated and its nations should pursue their own paths.
Roy Bond, IoW


Can someone please explain why you no longer announce the international exchange rates? Please note the question is WHY? Thank you,
J G Green, Northampton

International markets segment - reply from the editor

We have recently decided to stop running markets information on the programme. Markets coverage was first introduced on Newsnight when business data was much less widespread than it is today. Given the proliferation of 24 hour news, internet and teletext coverage of markets data our thinking is that much more detailed and up-to-the minute information is available elsewhere for those who are interested. We have done this on an experimental basis and will keep an open mind on it.
Peter Barron, Newsnight Editor


No doubt you will follow up the saga of Mrs Dixon's shoulder operation being cancelled seven times. As an avid viewer of your programme I would be very interested to hear Michael Howard's (or his representative's) response to the question, "You clearly hold the current government responsible for Mrs Howard's operation being cancelled. Can you guarantee that if a Tory government is elected this year that such cancellations will never occur?"
Gerry Lynch, Chichester

I am concerned at the anti-Christian bias present in Thursday's broadcast. In particular the representative from Christian Voice was presented with a number of accusations which he tried to answer while being interrupted. Even when answers were given the accusations continued.
Derek Tripp, Charlotte USA

I was annoyed that BBC Newsnight broke off in the middle of the discussion about Christian Voice. The BBC seems to be biased against Christians, and have not listened to the thousands of Christians who complained about the broadcasting of Jerry Springer the Opera. As a non right wing Christian, I applaud what Christian Voice is doing.
Margaret MacLeod, Troon, Scotland

With eight years working in child protection I found your report 'Possessed by evil' very interesting, but my experience is that this is an issue for many fundamentalist religious groups. I have been involved in two serious child protection cases where white evangelical Christian groups have been involved. It's not simply a Black issue. It is about cultures and values, which rationalise the emotional abuse and physical chastisement of children and white cults do that too. It's a bit disappointing because you missed the real story.
Moray Grant, Cardiff

I applaud Jeremy Paxman's determination to get a straight answer from Hazel Blears on Tuesday's Newsnight. I want it put on record that I want as an individual, a tax payer, a voter and a licence fee payer for the BBC to ask the awkward questions of our politicians on my behalf. Long may it continue.
Chris Bown, London

I felt your report on 'Possessed by evil' fell short in reaching the proper target audience by not placing people like the Met adviser on the panel. Even though it was a very emotive subject when it came to the panel debate I was turned off by what seemed like the same old group of white men moralising about Africans.
Roderick Ryan, London

I was amused to see the politicians skirting the issue on who would end up paying for pensioner council tax rebates, and carefully avoiding the intergenerational issue. I hope you will have a similar debate on the Great British House Price Rip-Off, whereby the Labour Government is engineering a massive transfer of housing wealth from the younger and poorer to the older and richer. None of the major parties wants to risk offending home-owners by facing down the vested interests in the housing market.
Andrew Leech, York

I don't disagree with the Liberal idea about income tax not council tax, but why not go the whole hog and use national taxation and save the high cost of collecting the money?
G James, Merthyr Tydfil

I have just finished watching Monday night's Newsnight and again it has left me feeling that the once fine impartial reputation of the BBC and its political news coverage counts for absolutely nothing these days. I would like to point out to the makers of Newsnight the fact that you are not "asking the tough questions and holding those in power to account" as you started out doing in the 80's.

Your editor feels this is a fact that should be highlighted to all visitors to the Newsnight website; I find this ironic really as it's patently not true. I felt that the shadow minister was not allowed to speak without being constantly interrupted by Jeremy Paxman expressing his own rather irrelevant opinions rather than allowing the Conservative representative to answer the questions put to him. Perhaps if your bias against the Tory party was not so blatant, you could concentrate on asking the tough questions of the party in power rather than acting as a propaganda machine for Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell.

A clear bias shows when the content of your programme so clearly responds to an issue raised by the Conservatives in such a cynical manner.
David Marchesi, Uckfield

Re the hunting debate, there's an issue that keeps being touched on but never really explored and that is the treatment of the hunting dogs, which from what I can gather, are put down well before they grow old simply because they are no longer able to follow the hunt. I think this needs to be clarified as it somewhat undermines the "caring" persona that the hunt fraternity tries to project.
Oli Senior, Aberystwyth

I was surprised by your item tonight with Roger Scruton pursuing mice with dogs in some attempt to ridicule the ban on hunting with dogs. He seems to have completely missed the point about the campaign to end hunting with dogs. It is all about respecting the life of a living thing and, in particular, if you must take their life, doing so in a reasonably humane way. I thought his so called stand pointless, trivial and childish.
Paul Divall, Trowbridge

Your maglev train comments

I was an electrical engineering student at Imperial College in the late 1960's and was privileged to be one of Eric Laithwaite's students. Without doubt, maglev transport has enormous potential to reduce transportation and energy costs but - unlike canals, railways and motorways in their time - it lacks the political will to succeed. After all, who wants to replace the black hole of railways or motorways with a new infrastructure needing major investment in ground-based guidance? Cheap air flights are the new mass transport system - a portacabin terminal, air traffic control arrangements, GPS and some old planes and you can shift people anywhere!
Brian Rich, Warwickshire

At last the Media wakes up to the enormous economic and environmental benefits of maglev trains. It is a proven technology, originally conceived by a Briton and has huge potential to unite, enrich and make living, working and travelling in the UK a more efficient, rapid and pleasurable experience. China is about to move ahead with this wealth-creating technology whilst we madly continue to waste billions each year on patching up a crumbling and outdated 19th Century railway infrastructure!
Janek Czekaj, Swansea

Very interested in the maglev train, and keen to see it happen asap. Regards, Paul
Paul Mullineaux, Lancaster

Maglev IS the future. It is fast, it is economically balancing for the country and it is an example to our European partners in Kyoto leadership. We were the inventors of this 21st century travel, only our British conservatism is in our way.
Steve Elliott, London


Did we really hear Tony Blair admitting in one of your clips that: "What we must realise is that all of these problems come from the modern world that we are living in?" But aren't the British Prime Minister and his American ally President Bush the people who are most responsible for creating the modern world in which we now live? A world which, as Blair points out, causes all these problems? If Britain and America are not responsible for this modern world - then who the hell is? Trevor Batten, UK

Thank you Newsnight for showing us that there really is no future for republicanism in the U.K. Who on earth could we elect to be president. Blair? Brown? Prescott? Some washed up loser like Kinnock? Give us a break!
John, Stockport.

Enjoyed Michael Crick's piece on Freedom of Information this week. I emailed a request to Ofsted about schools with Special Measures between 2000-2002. Ofsted responded within the timescale but said that my request would exceed the 600 limit and therefore chose not to proceed - quoting the Act. Interesting! It is hard to anticipate the amount of time needed (costed at 25 per hour) when you make a request for something others should be made aware of. It will be fascinating to see how this Act works over the next year.
Dave Jobbings, Basildon.

Good, balanced reporting on E MacArthur. Never has a great sporting achievement been accompanied by such tales of misery and unhappiness. In the last few months, logging onto the 'Teamellen' site has, however miserable I feel, allowed me to know that there was someone who felt worse. She has had one of the best deals in yachting sponsorship ever, but, has chosen to use it to express her frustrations in a less than constructive manner.
Phil Ward, Portsmouth

What's your problem with Ellen MacArthur? Last night Paxman announced her record as if somebody had just stomped on his hamster. I thought maybe it was just him, but no... you had already dug up unfunny clips and a special interview with the utterly charmless Jan Ravens making snide remarks too. Maybe you wanted to provide an alternative to the elation surrounding this amazing feat? Fair enough, and maybe it could have been done with a bit of sense and a proper viewpoint, but you showed neither and just made yourselves look pathetic. You should stick to what you're good at. That would have been a good story about Bush Snr being the Deep Throat source, but I was too busy wondering if you were going to bring on another naff impressionist.
Kjartan Poskitt, York

Jeremy Paxman's lack of enthusiasm for Ellen MacArthur's world-breaking record achievement was only surpassed by the snide comments of the woman from Dead Ringers - sorry dear, can't remember your name. Oh, why's that? Perhaps because you haven't spent 71 odd days at sea battling the elements single-handed. Why did you have to be so negative about what is a tremendous achievement for a British sportswoman? I am hugely disappointed in Newsnight. (P.S. Bet you don't put this email up on your website).
Alison Woodhead, Winchester

Excellent report by Mark Urban last week on the RAF plane crash in Iraq. He exuded real authority and demonstrated a complete grasp of the issues. He explored the likely scenarios without resorting to worthless speculation, and this made for the kind of in-depth report that Newsnight does best.
Jonathan Sloan, UK

It was great to hear you talking yesterday about The Sea Inside... I'm so happy that Spanish cinema is starting to mean more than Almodovar, and that a programme like Newsnight Review discussing a Spanish movie... Although poor Kirsty Wark couldn't say the name of the director ... It is A ME NA BAR... just for next time :-) Thanks anyway!
Mar Cabra, Preston

I never take the news from the US newspapers or TV, I get my news from you folks. Keep up the good work. I wish your news could be seen in Oregon. Thank you.
Donna

Mark Urban's analysis of the Al-Jazeera crash site was the most realistic assessment of today's reports on the subject. The crash site on the video could be one of the recent helicopter crashes. The video shows an engine, a ladder structure and a rear cargo ramp or cargo floor in a specific layout on the ground - it will be interesting to see if the layout of the real crash site is the same.
David Owen, UK

I am writing regarding the pre-Election interviews between Jeremy Paxman and the party leaders. I suggest that this time viewers be given the opportunity to submit questions, the best of which would be put to the leaders. This would enable the concerns of the electorate to be addressed to a greater extent than is the case with the current format. It would also raise the level of public interest in the interviews.
Jeff, Preston

Election interviews - reply from the editor

Thanks for this suggestion. The format of our election interviews hasn't been finally decided, but this is something we will certainly bear in mind. Getting the views of our viewers into our election coverage is something we are keen to achieve.
Peter Barron


We need more stories with Stephanie Flanders. Or just more Stephanie Flanders.
Trevor, Bristol

The choice of including the poignant story of the survival of Irene Nemirovsky's manuscript was a fitting close to a day when the world's thoughts were with the survivors of Auschwitz. Could you tell me the name of the music which accompanied the report? It beautifully reflected the mood of the piece and events of the entire day.
Valerie Weeks, West Drayton

Congratulations on 25 years! Whenever I am able, I watch Newsnight and have done so for some considerable time. Somewhat belatedly, I'd like to wish the team all the best for 2005. I realize how informative Newsnight has been and how demanding it must be to achieve and maintain such a high standard. For me, a must see programme.
Neil Murray, Kent

The breadth and depth of analysis continues to challenge, stimulate debate and, often, infuriate. One carp, can we Scots stay with London for a full programme instead of being sliced off at 11:00 to listen to parish councillors' whinging about street lighting. Newsnight should be international for all!!!
Graham Laird, Glasgow

I was interested in your report on the design and use of streets, featuring on-going work in Colchester. We hear a lot about the impact on the environment of new housing, but much less about whether the street layouts that get built are actually any good. Streets tend to last much longer than the buildings lining them, and even longer than the activities that go on inside the buildings. Yet the current town planning system in Britain turns this logic on its head. Statutory plans produced by local councils are based around activities or 'land uses' - the most transient element - and street layouts and designs aren't really considered at all! In turn this means that the public have no legal right to be consulted, even at a broad level on the design of most development that takes place. No wonder so much development in Britain is of poor quality.
Philip Bisatt, Taunton

I enjoyed the piece from John Harris, and how I agree with him, so many of us had hoped for a different Britain. We have nobody to vote for. I'm 57.
David Johnson, Kendal

Just a quick note to say this evening's Newsnight programme was very interesting. The report on urban planning in particular was very informative. It's a shame that this programme of longer more detailed reports is broadcast on a Friday night - a time when I would normally be out. John
John, Kingston-upon-Thames

I have never before been moved to e-mail a TV programme, but I would very much like to say how well Kirsty Wark dealt with tonight's seemingly never-ending personal onslaught in her interview with Robert Kilroy-Silk. Keep up the good work.
Enjay, Reading

It's a shame that in an otherwise completely fascinating story, John Harris didn't get the chance to talk to the Green party. We totally oppose PFI, support public investment in public services and believe that an ethical lifestyle is about more than just eating organic food and using recycled paper. It's about a radical alternative to the three main parties from a party which got over a million votes in the UK less than a year ago.
Alex Rowe, London

Thanks for the Baghdad Blogger feature tonight - gives a fascinating context to the grim headline news and so brilliantly presented. Does he do the edit himself?
Tony Gale, Maidenhead

Fabulous Salam Pax piece on the Iraqi elections this evening. One of the reasons why Newsnight remains an excellent news programme. The production team deserve top marks!!
Rob Dunkle, London

Thank you so much for Jeremy Paxman's brilliant interview with Tessa Jowell. I've had cause to praise the BBC many times, and this is another occasion.
Geraldine Phillips, London

Will you do a programme on waste and fraud in government? Its continuation both indicates the lack of respect for taxpayers funds which is a fundamental problem of government. Additionally the savings available themselves would solve the pensions crisis in one go!
Simon, London

Unless I was mistaken, your lengthy report on English licensing laws made no mention of the fact that Scotland has licensing of this nature already in place, and well established at that. Was there any reason why Scotland was not featured in your report while Ireland and France were?
Andrew Clarke, Edinburgh

Having seen a balanced report on the subject beforehand, I was anticipating a similar approach in the interview. A few minutes in I was still waiting for the first question which would reflect what a large number of your audience would want to ask. Judging from the passion you showed asking your questions, it seemed clear that you were not simply representing the opinions of those who would like to see an end to faith schools but you were indeed of that opinion yourself. Does that strike you as being fair and balanced? Representing one side of the argument whilst millions of license fee payers were left with their views unrepresented? Thanks.
Fuad Ali, London

I thought the religious debate on Tuesday in response to the Tsunami was a great success. The members in the debate were fantastic representatives of their position (or stereotype). Never a dull moment in the whole of the show. More of this PLEASE!
Edward Sheffield, Manchester and Eaglescliffe

Wednesday's programme was a pleasure to watch with passionately held views on trade and the US debated by informed panellists but without the "shouty" style from either them or indeed the presenters! It's rare to hear such issues put into context and discussed in a way that didn't feel rushed or too high brow. For once all sides appeared to at least listen to each others views even if they didn't agree and the presenter kept the debate flowing rather than dominating it. Is it any coincidence that there were no politicians involved? Anyway thought it was great - thanks.
Michele Berry, London

At last the serious issues that emanate from a disaster like this were properly addressed
Mark Perry, London
Tuesday's programme was the best piece of TV I have seen in a long time. It was insightful and thought provoking. At last the serious issues that emanate from a disaster like this were properly addressed i.e. those of religious reaction, warning failure, reaction to international aid etc. The oxford professor who took part in the final theological discussion was so cold and lacking in human emotion and compassion.
Mark Perry, London

Congratulations Newsnight for your coverage on the Asian tsunami on Tuesday 4 January. After all the emotional overload of recent days, Newsnight provided us with insights and observations without the drama.
Ian Campbell, Birmingham

I would consider myself a sceptic, but I found myself given excellent food for thought
Tamar Wilner, Oxford
I thought the segment of January 4's programme on religious belief in the face of natural disasters was excellent. I would consider myself a sceptic, but I found myself given excellent food for thought by the two religious representatives. The sceptic's arguments, alas, were quite shallow, unfounded, and seemed designed to provoke controversy rather than reflection. I was surprised that you didn't say that he was professor at Oxford University! Overall, however, this was a welcome novelty: philosophy on television. Let's have more of it.
Tamar Wilner, Oxford

We were all joined in a mutual concern for the whole of suffering humanity
Lynn Rimmer, St Ives
I understand that some people, like your interviewee tonight, did not wish to observe the three minute silence today and felt that it was imposed on us in an artificial way. This was not how I felt. Ever since the tsunami disaster, I, and thousands of others, have been scouring internet sites and watching every news item available in order to ease some of the shock and pain of seeing the devastation caused to people in places we know well and genuinely care about. At midday today, I was taken aback at my own upset as people stood together in silence. It felt as though for a brief moment, we were all joined in a mutual concern for the whole of suffering humanity.
Lynn Rimmer, St Ives

I think that tonight's programme, which concentrated mainly on the tsunami tragedy, has been one of the best Newsnight's for a long time. It was well balanced with intelligent questions/discussions from Gavin Esler. Well done.
Scott Graham, Edinburgh

It was refreshing to have a studio guest in the discussion tonight who was not a believer. Let's have more guests like this to counterbalance the predominance of religious views in these types of discussions.
Barry Johnson, Manchester

Tonight's Newsnight's closing debate on theology was astonishingly inept and shallow. Major disasters and tragedies have always been part of history and all mature world views, including the mainstream religions, atheism and humanism have always recognised and accommodated this fact. Even as a humanist I would be surprised if any believer in a God (or Gods) would stop believing simply because another disaster, natural or man-made, had occurred.
John Vassallo, Ealing

In light of the tsunami tragedy, and despite almost 150,000 confirmed deaths, our prime minister chooses to remain on holiday. Time to return, or time to go?
Alistair Nicoll, Ely, England

No tortured genius worth his salt is going to give it all up to make their mum happy
Ben Sills, Madrid
I was shocked by the momentary lapse of Newsnight good reason during the interview with Pete Doherty. He may or may not be a complete pseudo but we won't find out unless you ask him some halfway hard questions. No tortured genius worth his salt is going to give it all up to make their mum happy anyway. Keep up the good work. Can we see Kirsty interview Busted next time?
Ben Sills, Madrid

Pete Doherty interview - reply from the editor

A number of Scottish viewers have e-mailed to voice frustration about not being able to watch the Pete Doherty interview that was broadcast after the opt-out to Newsnight Scotland.

Programme editor Peter Barron writes: It's inevitable that viewers in Scotland will sometimes be disappointed to miss an item in the last third of the programme.

This opt-out does mean that following devolution the Scottish audience can see stories relevant to Scotland on Newsnight.

If you do miss an item the whole programme - including the Pete Doherty interview - is available on this website.


The Pete Doherty interview was the most affecting interview this year
Kate, London
I have never before emailed a show. I am a devotee of the program. The Pete Doherty interview was the most affecting interview of the year. Such a talent, so young, the interview so so well done by Kirsty.

As he said, it's not the drugs or the scene that speaks to people, but the music. People don't understand this, but it really is about music and poetry and its ability to speak to people. And the lights must not go out for this young man. But also well done Kirsty.
Kate, London

Why wasn't Pete's interview shown in Scotland?
Sam, Coatbridge

Did Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant write the script for the Kirsty Wark interview with Pete Doherty? Embarrassment comedy at its finest, complete with a letter from his dear old Mum. Someone get the poor lad a publicity agent!
P Townsend, Colchester

I saw the Pete Doherty interview last night. I never really appreciated the depth of talent he has. It was an amazing interview
Fred McCaig, Exeter
I've just watched the interview with Pete Doherty, and I found him to be exactly as I expected: a passionate, sensitive young man with problems that have now spiralled beyond his control. His music is genius, and his voice heart-achingly beautiful.

I pray that this time next year, we will be watching an interview where this troubled icon can discuss with clarity and certainty how he overcame his addictions in 2005. I wish him all the strength in the world.
Rebecca Corbett, Wolverhampton

I saw the Pete Doherty interview last night. I never really appreciated the depth of talent he has. It was an amazing interview that portrayed one of the country's true artists trying so hard to express himself as an artist rather than one of these plastic icons created by TV audiences. I do feel that as most great artists, he will be remembered when he is gone.
Fred McCaig, Exeter

I watched the interview with Pete Doherty. It was an incredible interview handled in a sensitive way, but was still completely open and frank and highlighted the destructive nature of drugs. I share the comments made by Fitzroy Samuel on this site and hope that he gets the help he clearly needs before it is too late.
Alistair, Portsmouth

I'm 41 years old and I've seen Tuesday's programe features Pete Doherty - formerly of the Libertines. I'm very sad as I just know that at some stage in 2005 I will get the news that he's gone. He's an icon for a generation - it's like watching a horrific car crash in very slow-motion. I wish somebody could help him - he's a genius we need for the future.
Fitzroy Samuel

Re: Cancellation of Birmingham play
Yet again we cave in to violence and threats - this is a disgrace and a complete abuse by the protesters. Free speech is our right.
T E Bird, Brimscombe

Re: Play closure
Freedom of speech is vital, but it is not the highest of human rights. Your Sikh interviewee was right - the examples of racism, sexism etc demonstrate that. All freedoms must be used responsibly otherwise they can become a form of tyranny.
Chris Chesterton, Gloucester

At my work it is considered inappropriate to be convicted of drink driving and it can be seen as a dismissible offence. I feel that if other employers took a firmer line with their staff, they would then think twice about getting drunk and disorderly.
Julian, Guildford

What is the Labour Government afraid of? Why are they denying these men the right to a trial? Why does the government think we would believe them and not the alleged detainees? Thank God Blunkett's gone. What a shame another authoritarian minister has replaced him. It seems extraordinary that Labour really believe they are democratic.
Lara Handysyde, London

I have great fears for the future of democracy in this country
Rachel Griffiths, Oxford
I am cheered by the Law Lords' pronouncement on the detention without trial of those accused of terrorism. I agree with the Law Lord who said it put him in mind of Stalinism: increasingly, that is my own feeling about this government. I have great fears for the future of democracy in this country.
Rachel Griffiths, Oxford

"Did Blunkett abuse his position?" Jeremy Paxman was absolutely right yesterday in asking this central question. I hope when the Budd report is issued, Estelle Morris will be asked back to answer this question more clearly. All this cloying talk about "integrity" masks a host of details.
J T Llewellyn, London

I was surprised at the cotton wool ride given to David Blunkett
Simon Jackson, London
I was surprised at the cotton wool ride given to David Blunkett compared with that ridiculously aggresive interview with Michael Howard a few weeks ago. Your programme seems to give the opposition a far rougher ride than the government.
Simon Jackson, London

I felt Jeremy Paxman's comparison of hunting to bear baiting was ridiculous. In a democracy, minorities have rights. Our country has always been tolerant of minorities, and this prejudiced law is going to be very divisive and disruptive, and like the Poll Tax is not going to be respected by many people who are among the most law abiding people in our society. What a sorry state of affairs.
Simon Martyr, Salisbury

Isn't it about time that you gave some time to the anti-hunters
Mary Clarke, Seaford, E. Sussex
Why is Otis Ferry being given prime time on Newsnight? I am sick of the bias shown by the BBC on the pro-hunting side. Isn't it about time that you gave some time to the anti-hunters, who - I would like to remind you - represent the majority of the British public? I expect to see some coverage from the lawful anti-hunting people on Newsnight and stop giving so much time to these law-breaking individuals.
Mary Clarke, Seaford, E. Sussex

I struggle to understand the government policy on making your own retirement provision
Julian, Guildford
As a financial adviser I struggle to understand the government policy on making your own retirement provision. At the moment, you are financially penalised at retirement if you have done something for yourself.

Bearing in mind the government has taxed pension funds since they came in to office, it would be more appropriate for them to "reward" savers at retirement, by giving them extra tax free income allowances at retirement, but only if you have a pension, over and above the state scheme. Please can we have some active discussion on this proposal?
Julian, Guildford

Just to compliment you on the way you closed off tonight's edition (Wednesday) with the hymn "Dear Lord and Father" - it was just so amazingly poignant and in a way that is hard to express - just so "right". Well done to whomever 's idea it was.
Trevor Cass, Westcliff-on-Sea

I have just seen your insert on tonight's Newsnight (Tuesday) about Film Downloads. If the people at the bottom of the production chain rely on the sales of legitimate DVD's, why not pay those at the top less than the ridiculous sums that they are currently being paid and distribute this further down the 'chain'. With thanks.
M. Postlethwaite, Merseyside

Why couldn't the IRA provide photographs to a respected person independent of the political parties
Sylvia McDonald, Haunton Staffs
Why couldn't the IRA provide photographs to a respected person independent of the political parties and others directly involved who could vouch they had seen them? This could satisfy Ian Paisley (unless he is determined to publicly humiliate the IRA).

Having spent some time in Northern Ireland many years ago and saw what went on, I feel it is high time for peace and it is obvious that many people want this.
Sylvia McDonald, Haunton Staffs

Regarding the EU constitution referendum, I had a pollster round today. This was the main subject of the survey. The angle adopted was both interesting and disturbing. There were some 15 questions, each aiming to ascertain under what circumstances one would vote yes.
Des Baker, Bristol

Surely the issue is more how we can protect people in their own homes?
Claire Rickards, Hastings
I would like to comment that as a victim of burglary and (most of the time) living alone as my partner is overseas a great deal, I could not defend myself if I wanted to. Surely the issue is more how we can protect people in their own homes and get the police out on patrol at night (two more of my neighbours have suffered burglaries within a week in my area).
Claire Rickards, Hastings

Isn't about time you covered the debate for an English Parliament? This government have now given devolution to every country other than England within the UK. Come on guys, if you say you offer the latest news and current affairs, put your money where your mouths are and give us a fair and honest debate.
Ed Abrams, Chester

Kirsty Wark made a passing comment on MP pension arrangements. I'm sure everyone would like to know, in detail, (including me) how well they have looked after themselves, together with a comparison of what we are being offered.
Eric Abel, Hay-on-Wye

Hunting 'Satan' in Falluja hell by Paul Wood. Can say nothing other than a brilliant piece of reporting.
Rory Byrne, Dublin

Why should we all fork out for cosy pensions for public workers through tax when in the private sector the government have effectively told everyone else to work until we drop!

The argument that public workers' schemes should be retained because "the pension is part of the public sector deal" could also be used in the private sector by those who have lost their final salary scheme or where their company scheme has collapsed.

How about the public sector working harder to persuade the government to sort out the pension mess for the benefit of everyone, not just their own?
John C, Eastbourne

The carbon trading film was illustrated with about a dozen shots of Battersea Power Station, including one of a carbon trading expert wistfully staring at it as if to say "when will they ever learn?" Why? Battersea Power Station is a disused power station and has been a contributor of precisely zero CO2 emissions for at least 10 years. Everyone in London knows this, so I'm presuming you do too.
Daniel Davies, London

Newsnight is normally such a standard bearer in British journalism but tonight you really missed the mark. I can see what you were trying to do (presenting a different view of such an intractable problem) but by accepting without question the US/Israeli presumption that peace now depends on a Palestinian ceasefire first you really became a mouthpiece for them instead of investigating the issues in a balanced and incisive way, as you should.

You failed to examine in any significant way what leads to people blowing themselves up, be it the religious ideology that legitimates it, the economic conditions that feed it, the targeted assassinations, building of settlements, "security" walls and all the other things that lead to this.
George, London

The report on the diary of the suicide bomber was eye opening as was hearing from Palestinians and Israelis. How could the studio guest call this third-rate journalism?
D Stone, Luton

I have just finished watching the film by Laurence Clark about abortion and disability. It was powerful and unsettling. I don't normally watch Newsnight (on too late) but I might start watching if you can find other filmmakers so good at challenging the assumption that our "liberal" society is basically OK - particularly in issues like abortion where the political and media consensus is otherwise so one-sided.
Thomas Flynn, Oxon

It's amazing that so much airtime is being given to the non-story about Blunkett and whether or not he filled out a form - even before the inquiry has begun! Surely the debacle in Equatorial Guinea and Britain's involvement there is more deserving of coverage?
Matt Barker, Sheffield


A Newsnight feature on Michael Howard in which Jeremy Paxman joined the Tory leader on a visit to the South West triggered a large response, both positive and negative.


I cannot believe tonight's Newsnight report of American soldiers in Falluja was cut short to make way for Scottish content.
Sam Brown, Edinburgh

Newsnight Scotland can come on halfway through general Newsnight reports, we are also told about the interesting stories that are coming up in the general Newsnight program but cant watch them because Newsnight Scotland is shown instead. If you have to show it can you not show it as a different program after Newsnight finishes?
G Isbister, Edinburgh

Reply from the editor
A number of viewers in Scotland were disappointed and annoyed that Paul Wood's excellent film on Falluja was cut short in order to make way for the Scottish opt. The opting decisions are taken in tandem by the editors of the day in London and Glasgow and can throw up a number of difficulties. The opt is meant to happen within a three minute window around 11pm. In this case, Paul's film - which the London editor felt deserved to run high in the programme - overran the window by three minutes. The Glasgow editor then had to decide whether to run the film in its entirety and lose 3 minutes of airtime for Newsnight Scotland or take an early out on the film. I'm sorry that some viewers felt short-changed, but would add that the whole film is available on the Newsnight website.
Peter Barron, editor


Last time I wrote to you was to highlight my outrage at the way in which Paul Boatang was allowed to waffle on without answering any questions.

This time it is to congratulate you and your panel of interviewees on last nights programme.

The discussion with Paxman and the three persons who were introduced as "the next generation of politicians" was most interesting and frank.

What a pleasant change to the normal way in which your panellists look to score cheap points against each other.

More of the same in future please.
James Beckram, Walton on Thames

Praise be the lord! The three guests who have been on tonight are what we want - people who are prepared to agree and don't just want to push the party line. If, in future, politicians don't answer the questions can you be hard on them and cut them off.
Dean Gibbons, London

A word of thanks, Newsnight is simply TV journalism without peer. The synopses you produce for each topic are of an extremely high standard, and give real context and penetrative analysis, despite what I assume is an extremely tight deadline.

I particularly appreciate your program when it comes to contentious subject like the war in Iraq. Frankly during the invasion yours was the only coverage worth watching. I have shown Newsnight and the Economist to several international friends to show them what real journalism is.

May there never be a British Berlusconi,
Nick Brunt, Ireland

PS: Oh, and eternal thanks for that golden moment of the Howard / Paxman interview with only one question :)

Just thought I would mention that I love your daily e-mails. And they work - we are beginning to make a date with our TV again. Good job!
Andrew Nugee, London

Just wanted to say how especially good Newsnight has been this week. Jeremy was on splendid form on Tuesday night and the Chirac interview on Weds was fascinating.
Matthew, London

It was lovely to see David Hockney on your programme tonight - an individual in a world becoming increasingly robot-like. The other chap (whose name I can't remember) seemed to miss his point We all have to eventually die of something, don't we? But let's go ahead and ban everything so that at least we all die healthy!
Rita Kitto, Geneva/Switzerland

David Hockney is right about the phoney passive smoking argument. My mother, a non-smoker all her life, had eleven children, all of whom smoked. She lived to be 100 years old!
George Skelly, Liverpool

I would like to see a report on the Ukraine elections - it is a country the size of France on Europe's eastern border and there has been zero news coverage
J Frontwood, London
I would like to see a report on the Ukraine elections. Here is a country the size of France on Europe's eastern border and there has been zero news coverage of elections, of which even the US State department has said it is "deeply disappointed that the campaign to date has fallen short of international standards" - I believe this deserves a Newsnight report!
J Frontwood, London

Your daily newsletter is much appreciated - receiving these insights into your editorial planning increases my feeling of "ownership" of the programme. Yet another good reason to pay the licence fee...
Nigel Blackman, London

I have wanted to ask this for ages! When the news went to 10 o'clock, we were told that there would be a seamless news service (i.e. Newsnight followed straight on). But we don't - at least not if we want to see what tomorrow's weather will be! I always miss the beginning of Newsnight. Any comment?? :)
Sheelagh Kendra, UK

Reply from the editor
Dear Sheelagh, I share your frustration, as we want as many viewers as possible to switch across from the 10 o'clock news. I can't promise an immediate remedy, but will raise it with the BBC's schedulers.
Peter Barron, editor

Keep up the valuable work that you do! Many of us rely on programmes like Newsnight for investigations covering international issues which are sometimes given a low profile in other media or not featured at all. Is it possible for Newsnight to be given a slightly earlier slot? More people need to now what is going on here and around the world. Thanks.
Lola Adeokun, London

Your story, "Oil gangs threaten Nigerian unity" totally ignores how oil companies affect Nigeria's environment.
Jon Davis, USA

In your report on EC contacts on 15 November, I was unable to read the text displayed because of their jazzy background displays. Can we have please not have this distraction?
Eric Jones, Wrexham

Kirsty Wark has repeatedly conducted some of the best TV interviews I have ever seen. Especially recently in live interviews on Newsnight.
Tobias, Hove

Watching the debate between the "two" parties about childcare. What about the third party and their proposals on childcare? After all the Liberal Democrats are within a few points of the Tories in the polls, why assume that only the Tories' views in comparison with Labour should be heard?
Derek Deedman, Steyning

FSA Sudan 1 recall list
Many of your have e-mailed to say you've had problems finding the link to the FSA's Sudan 1 recall list. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

I just wanted to thank you for the story on the Sudan 1 recall. My husband and I love spicy food and we had at least one product on the list in our fridge. I am extremely grateful to have this brought to our attention.
Penny Schenk, Oxford


Re your item on smoking. I thought the lady, I believe her first name was Claire, was extremely lucid in the interview.

The anti-smoking man came out with the same old guff about disproved harmful effects of passive smoking.

If, however, his example about cause and effect is right, perhaps we should also ban driving cars, because they cause many thousands of deaths and injuries each year.
Geoff Sleight, Aylesbury

Your coverage of the smoking ban being introduced/proposed in Scotland was utterly unbalanced. As an Irishman, I didn't recognise the picture painted by the correspondent. Compliance with the ban is at 98%, an overwhelming majority of people support the smoking ban.

This measure has been the bravest thing our otherwise orthodox and uninspiring govt. has managed and is to be congratulated as such. Shame on Newsnight for letting it's high standards drop
Andrew Croughan, Dublin, Ireland

Why has Alistair Campbell appeared on the show twice in four days to spin his close friend Blair? This unelected mouthpiece is hardly objective and considering the damage he did to the BBC, I for one do not find him a credible or worthwhile guest.
Jemima Craig, Essex

Please please please make the videos available in Windows Media Player and not just Real player ... like the news site have just done. Ta
Neal O'Brian, Sydney

I watched Newsnight on Monday specially for George Monbiot's film on the decline of the English apple. An article in the Guardian's "Weekend" magazine, 30.10.04, stipulated that the film would be shown on Monday. If they were right, why did you not say that it was to be rescheduled? Please let me know so that I and friends who are particularly interested in the subject do not waste our time. Thank you in anticipation. Derek Simmons, Charlton Musgrove

Reply from the editor
I'm sorry about the mix-up on George Monbiot's excellent film about the English apple. Because of our extensive coverage of the US election there was not room to run the film on the date that was originally planned. Normally we try to alert viewers to changes of plan like this, but on this occasion I'm afraid the message fell between the cracks.
Editor, Peter Barron


"...daily analysis of news and current affairs on da telly..." of course, apples, smoking, Tory pipedreams...oh and something about Falluja. With smiley Gavin! Keep up the good work.
John Joseph Langton, London

I love this programme but don't live in the UK. I'd love to see this on BBC World though. Why isn't this currently possible? Are there plans to make this possible?
Norberto Amaral

I enjoyed your analysis of the US elections. It was interesting to see it from a different perspective.
H Zimmer, United States

It would be nice to have a story to make people feel good about being British for a change
Digby Tarvin, London
With all the depressing news that has come from America and the Middle East recently, I would like to suggest a more optimistic and inspiring story that seems to have been largely overlooked - the European Aurora programme which ultimately aims at a manned Mars landing.

On 1 October the UK announced its continued participation in this program. I think it would be nice to have a story to make people feel good about being British for a change.
Digby Tarvin, London

Would you please re-show the interview Kirsty Wark did with Hanan Ashrawi not so long ago? I only caught the last two minutes of it and it looked very interesting. She is a potential successor to Arafat.
Paul Bird, Cambridge

The Inland Revenue and other authorities have long rejected the "I won it gambling" explanation for unusual transactions
David Hope Robertson
Your report on money laundering in casinos shows a lack of understanding of the subject. Money laundering is the process firstly of getting cash into the banking system and subsequently transferring it either from one person's account to another's, or to the originator so as to make it appear legitimately earned.

Exchanging cash in a casino and then cashing out simply leaves the holder with unaccounted funds - the casino will not certify he won the money since he clearly didn't. The Inland Revenue and other authorities have long rejected the "I won it gambling" explanation for unusual transactions.
David Hope Robertson, Ferndown

I see Alistair Campbell is no sooner back on the scene than the spin continues. He was appearing alongside Michael Portillo being interviewed by Gavin Esler. He stated, without being challenged, that, Tony Blair had been elected by the British People, which he certainly has not. He is selected by his own party as leader but can we put this one finally to rest. He is certainly not, under our present system, elected by the people of this country. I enjoy Newsnight for its rigorous interviews. I hope you're not going soft.
Ewen Mackay, Surrey

Did the BBC really need to have that many reporters covering the US election? It seemed every programme from Newsnight to Songs of Praise had to have their presenters or reporters in the states nice work if you can get it) but yet the BBC were still relying on ABC etc for updates - at least the BBC could of had their own pollsters. All that expense for style with no substance.
Shahriar Zakaria, London

I'm worried - and very pessimistic - about the result of this US election. However, there's been some consolation. The world will not fall apart when Peter Snow is giving us the need for "these 270 crucial votes" with a simulation map and pop-up numbers.

Peter, we only know it's a real election when you're there. Thanks for this and so many others.
Philippa Sutton, Newcastle

Tonight's programme - Monday, 1 November, 2004 - was a brilliant, riveting piece of broadcasting. I can hardly imagine a better account of the us election. Another plus for public service broadcasting.
Best wishes
Christopher Pick

I know other people who get annoyed with your programme because of the change to Newsnight Scotland at 11pm. Since I am paying for a TV licence, I think you should show it on one of the BBC channels. Either people who want to watch the Scottish version change channel or vice versa. I don't think I should have to pay for satellite to watch!
Regards
Susanna Weir

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