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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 June 2005, 17:31 GMT 18:31 UK
Feedback - June 2005
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G8: Your comments and views

Also this month:
Tax credits
Paxman, Snow and ties
Bad behaviour
Geldof and Live 8
Sir David Frost interviews Donald Rumsfeld
Climate change
EU UK rebate

Write to us...

RECYCLING [24/06/05]

Recycling is actually the biggest con out there The only thing worth recycling is aluminium cans as they are actually worth something. The energy required to recycle anything else is far greater than producing it from new, hence recycling is actually adding to the problem of green house gasses and emissions!
Andrew, Southend

Regarding the recent report on recycling, I do not believe anything will change in regard to improving Britain's record on recycling unless people are forced to recycle. I know that the Kirklees local authority force people to recycle rubbish by providing two wheely bins, one for general rubbish, one for recyclable waste. Bin men refuse to collect the bins if plastics, etc., are put into the wrong bins. I think this is the right way forward. If people are forced to do it then our record will improve. Even in Mumbai, India where I live there is a good success rate when it comes to recycling. We store any old newspapers, plastic bags, plastic bottles etc and there are recycling businesses who will come and collect it from us and actually pay us for it. The easier you make it for people to recycle the more people will be encouraged to do it.
Sharon, Mumbai

Since last year or so, the South Shropshire Council has provided kerb-side recycling for paper, aluminium cans and glass. The council provides the "green boxes" and collects them once every fortnight. This system is very efficient and saves us the trouble of driving to our closest public recycling collection point. Therefore, we can cut down on the miles required to take the recycling material to collection points. On the other hand, the council only provides one collection point for PET bottles, which is located 20 miles away. If I drive that 20 miles or so every time to recycle collected PET bottles, I may be doing more environmental damage than if I was just throwing the PET bottles away with regular rubbish.
Lukas Pytel, Tenbury Wells

BURMA [23/06/05]

I am writing to congratulate the BBC for screening the feature on Burma last night. The researcher appears to have undertaken a rigorous programme of research which has established a firm foundation on which to launch future initiatives to end this appalling situation. Many thanks for screening; keep up the good work.
Edwin Barker, Nottingham

Thank you, Newsnight, and thank you Guy Horton, for your excellent and essential piece on Burma. It is vital that Burma's atrocities are presented before us whenever possible, as it is so rarely possible. Thank you.
Tess Read, London

TAX CREDITS [22/06/05]

I was a bit disappointed that you didn't make the point that the so called "Tax Credits" are nothing of the sort - they are means tested benefits. A Tax Credit would reduce the amount of tax I pay, wouldn't it? Whereas the reality is my tax went up with the abolition of the married couple's allowance and now we get a weekly Child Tax Credit payment into our account. Why am I paying tax twice a year and being refunded weekly - how efficient is that? Why not just have me pay less in the first place?
Phil Thompson, Peterborough

TIES [22/06/05]

Never mind ties. What colour is Martha's nail varnish? I'm certain on one occasion her nail varnish was jet.
Pascal Desmond, Lancaster

Martha Kearney has advised the web team that it is, in fact, "Rouge Noir"...

...as for dressing down in Edinburgh I am not sure I will risk it, personally, after I was admonished by Jeremy Paxman, live on air, last night for failing to wear a tie. He relented and removed his own tie at the end of the programme but since rival media nabob Jon Snow was so insistent that no serious journalist appears without a tie I think I may have to get knotted again. More...
Paul Mason, extract from the Newsnig8t blog

Oh dear. Jeremy removing his tie had the unfortunate effect of reminding me of Andrew Neil. I had to go and lie down in a darkened room. Please don't do that again.
Pascal Desmond, Lancaster

Being without a tie is lowering the standards of the BBC. It would be like a woman going without a bra.
Doreen Swifr, Cheshire

Gentlemen wear ties. If you're not a gentleman, you don't wear a tie. And if you don't wear a tie, you're not a gentleman. Which probably explains why the open-necked look is so in vogue in the media...
Jonathan Smith, London

Ties are for hiding hairy chests and for showing honesty.
Dennis Wills, Havant

The necktie serves no purpose other than to give men the opportunity to sport a little bit of bright colour and a gaudy pattern. Women have endless opportunities to wear all manner of brightly coloured clothing, but in a business environment the necktie is a man's only chance to show some colour. A dark suit needs a decorative necktie to break the monotony. Don't knock it, Jeremy.
M.A. Howley, Wirral

Jeremy - you wear your bloody tie; I had to wear mine for over forty working years! But at the end of the day it's all a matter of standards, dear boy.
Keith Mossman

What does Jeremy think he is doing? Tie-wearing by persons in certain positions is part of what defines being British. The Queen could attend the State Opening of Parliament in pearls and twin set, but we would all feel diminished thereby. It is a matter of respect both to ourselves and those we come in contact with. Look what happened to the Croats when they abandoned the cravat. Ties enable us to reflect our moods and attitudes - from the loud or frivolous to the sombre hues to honour the passing of family or friends. Get knotting and keep ties in their rightful place!
Ainslie Kirkpatrick, Manchester

Finally the two titans of the only TV news programmes worth watching meet, and made me laugh out loud - quite an achievement at half eleven on a far, far too hot evening ... thank you. How appropriate in this weather that BOTH ended their respective bulletins freed from the silk noose and open-necked! Now, if you could get Snow and Paxman to chew the fat for a monthly programme ... that I would stay up till ANY hour of the night to watch.
John Walters, Bexhill

What a moment! Two of the world's best, two men with enormous integrity, going at it head-to-head over a question of "ties". This was one of the most delightful and stimulating encounters I have seen. Hats off... and ties... to BBC Two.
Graham Davis, Bridgwater Somerset

The purpose of the tie is to exert a subtle pressure on the Adam's Apple, reminding the wearer that it is probably a better idea to shut up rather than say something. Not sure that this applies to newsreaders, for obvious reasons. Jeremy might be pleased to know that my other half raised a brief flicker of interest when he took his tie off, though this quickly turned to disappointment when it became clear that he wasn't going to go "The Full Monty".
Daniel Davies, London

BAD BEHAVIOUR [22/06/05]

I have come to the conclusion that we are getting the morals of alley cats. I used to live in London in the early eighties in the heart of Soho and not once did I witness the type of behaviour demonstrated on the video taken by the councillor. I now live in Birmingham and will not go into the entertainment areas on the weekend as Birmingham is becoming a "no go" area.
Steve Burns, Birmingham

The piece with Councillor Ian Wilder was quite frightening. He is a true hero. I have a drug dealer living opposite me. The police told me they know all about him but they are doing nothing. Thank you for a fascinating, if disturbing, programme.
Catherine, London, England


Although I do not agree with Bob Geldof's language, he is not on his own; I've been called a female cantankerous old sod for more years than him over corrupt politics (in a nice way, though).
Barbara Lockwood

Bob Geldof
If any organisation, however just its cause, was planning to disrupt Britain on the scale proposed by Sir Bob, then they would all be in Belmarsh by now, charged with terrorist activities. Strange double standards.
Larry Adlard, Bradford

Have I missed something? When Bob Geldof was given his knighthood following the "Band Aid" events, we were told that because he was Irish and not British, the award was an honorary one and he would not be entitled to be called Sir. Has anything changed? If not, why is he now being called Sir Bob?
Kingsley Rees, Bridgend, Wales.

The salient point is that Bob Geldof had an opportunity 20 years ago, with a massive mandate and huge publicity, to carry on the issues he raised through Live Aid regarding starvation in Africa (as did the artists who performed). Nothing else was heard. The answer is not for individuals to be heroes, it's about changing corrupt regimes which are tolerated and encouraged by our leaders, writing off third world debt and helping poverty-stricken countries to be self-sufficient in a sustainable way. Not just throwing patronising, short-term aid and pity at them.
Claire Palmer, Oxford

I am a great fan of Newsnight but your coverage of the African aid story has not been objective. What about all the people, including prominent Africans, who are claiming that the Blair/Brown/Geldof solution is well meant but plain WRONG?
Dan McGeachie, UK


Click here to read a response to your mails on this subject from Deputy Editor Daniel Pearl

Donald Rumsfeld
The Donald Rumsfeld interview was shown on Tuesday 14 June
Why on earth was Sir David Frost allowed to waste valuable Newsnight time with his toadying interview of Donald Rumsfeld? Presumably he was the only person that Rumsfeld was prepared to face. Next time get Rumsfeld to deliver an uninterrupted statement. It won't waste so much time.
Ted Reilly, London

I have just watched the interview Newsnight screened between Sir David Frost and Donald Rumsfeld. As a former journalist I was astonished that you aired it. The interview reminded me of the soft stuff Kissinger brushed aside during the Vietnam War. There was one major question Frost should have asked: "Does America now believe it is now acceptable to torture prisoners?" It is a very simple question - and does not need to be qualified by whether the prisoners have been convicted or not. In this case they have not even had legal process. Frost's approach did not even get Rumsfeld to confront allegations that the American military tortured prisoners. The editor of the day for Newsnight should have resisted the pressure to run this item in full as it was.
Trevor Goodchild, London

I joined Sir David Frost's interview with Donald Rumsfeld tonight at the point when they were discussing Guantanamo Bay. Frost was frighteningly weak in calling Rumsfeld to account for his country's appalling record at Guantanamo. Finishing the interview with smiles, laughter and handshakes was pretty stomach-churning.
John Woods, Belfast

How disappointing. The interview was more like two old chums having a few beers. Frost acted like an old friend. A waste of 10 minutes.
Mark Webb, Dublin, Ireland

I just watched the interview with Donald Rumsfeld and felt embarrassed by the performance of Sir David Frost. An opportunity to interrogate the US administration on key issues was wasted.
Ian Boyland, Luxembourg


Several people have queried why Newsnight broadcast an interview between Sir David Frost and the US Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. It may be helpful to explain the circumstances behind this interview.

The Breakfast with Frost team had been bidding for an interview with Mr Rumsfeld for several months but only received confirmation a week ago, after the last ever Breakfast with Frost has been broadcast. As a result they had the option of turning the interview down or finding a programme on the BBC which could show it.

Newsnight, as the BBC's flagship news and current affairs programme, was an obvious place to transmit the interview and we were approached by the production team. From time to time we choose to show interviews conducted by people outside the core team and jumped at the opportunity of broadcasting an extremely rare, extended interview with one of the world's most powerful men.

The interview challenged Mr Rumsfeld on a number of areas, from Guantanamo Bay to Iraq. Indeed Mr Rumsfeld conceded several points, not least the problems created by Guantanamo, which made headline news in newspapers across the world.


Thursday night's item on Climate Change was excellent. Top notch journalism on this hugely important issue. More please, and don't let those "sceptics" off the hook!
Jim Saunders, Powys

It does not take a genius to work out that Kyoto would encourage large firms to move from the UK to developing nations to avoid high environmental costs. This will throw more people out of work here and at the same time, do absolutely nothing "to save the environment". The Trading Emission Scheme does not make sense as regards "Saving the planet".
Anne Palmer, Wolverhampton

If these e-mails (with regard to global warming) are really typical I found it profoundly depressing. Global warming is an obvious fact and if the human race continues to destroy the planet in the way has been doing since the industrial revolution we'll all be going to Hell in a handcart & taking most of the other species with us.
Andrew Wallis, London

I watched the report on climate change and the Hebrides last night [8 June]. I thought that there was very little time spent establishing whether there was strong evidence or not to suggest that climate change was responsible for the recent storm. As a result the whole, pretty long report rambled from pillar to post, touching on the very human tragedy of the loss of life, without really convincing me that we can be sure that the issue was one of climate change or not. There was even one moment when the reporter said something on the line of, "whether this is due to climate change or not..." Even he did not seem very convinced!
Morice Mendoza, Cambridge

Our climate has changed from that of a wine producing country, ie Mediterranean, to so cold that the Thames froze in winter. Since then, it has warmed, as we all know, but the evidence that this is due to man's actions is never given to us. Surely the 19th century, and the first half of the 20th, with pea soup fogs, were more polluted than the 21st?
Paul Wright, Gosport, Hampshire

Could other countries, including seven of the G8, refuse to supply America with oil? Sure, Latin American countries will understandably continue to supply oil but if more and more countries join up the people of the US will become more aware and it will push Kyoto to the political front.
Ian Chamberlain, London


The EU rebate is not anachronistic. The UK built its population on "Empire" food and is unable to feed itself from its own land. In the EU the UK is unique in this respect. Long before (>40 years ago) the UK joined the EEC we spent money amalgamating and modernising our farms. The French, the main CAP beneficiary, still has not done so!
John S Churchill, Stroud/Glos

If the rebate has truly become an anachronism then it could be amended subject to conditions: 1 - Reform of the CAP preferably before 2012, along with scrapping the ability of Germany and France to do the sort of stitch-up on the CAP that they did in 2002. 2 - High quality audit and financial management procedures are agreed, operated and proved along with appropriate reporting to a select committee of MEPs with a balanced membership of all parties. 3 - On completion of above, agree to reduce the rebate to make our net contribution equal the average of the industrialised members of the EU.
John Dawson, Cumbria


Ridiculous to talk about "a pause for consideration". The constitution in its present form is dead and we should have a Europe-wide debate to decide the best way forward - if a best way forward exists. Newsnight's coverage was excellent.
Peter Macnab, London

Do we wish to remain small independent nations that will increasingly lose power on the international stage?
Joachim Foot

I'm pro-EU because - and I can't put it any more simply than this - it makes a lot of sense; a massive amount. However, the rejection of the constitution isn't the end of the world, and offers a good opportunity to push for more EU reform and transparency, and the return of some competences to member states. The ball is also clearly rolling in the direction of greater competitiveness. Lastly, I see no reason to close the doors to further members, as long as the conditions are met.
Valerie Talacko, London

JP's piece last night [The Newsnight Debate - 15.06.05] on the EU, without politicians, was superb, but to do the subject justice the whole programme should have been devoted to just this subject. I realise that there are limitations, but when something as important as this surfaces, then time MUST be allowed.
Roy South, England

Ask me not what kind of Europe I want - ask me, do I want Europe?
Patrick, Grimsby

I am a very keen supporter of Britain being a full member of the EU. It is a tragedy that Tony Blair, arguably our most pro European PM since Ted Heath, has made such a mess of our relationship with Europe. We should be closer to the EU and tell Dubya to get stuffed. And the same goes for Rupert Murdoch.
Jim Wright, Calne, Wilts

Gavin Esler comments that few women have emailed in about the EU situation. Perhaps it is because many women see the EU as a complex problem, which has no easy solutions. Personally, I believe in a European Free market system, but I feel that there should be limits to how much integration there should be economically and politically. A free market system of 25 states is not a problem - it's only when you try to get all of them to agree on anything else that you are likely to run into problems!
Bernadette Adams, UK

May I, another woman, endorse Bernadette Adams' email: The EU is indeed complex but it is deliberately so in order to deceive. I have spent over 12 years researching and writing three books about the EU. I am in no doubt that the project was always intended to be a superstate, to destroy the independent nations and create a socialist bloc to take on the US. Put like that it sounds bizarre but the project has been underway for over 50 years and what the few sought to disguise in layers of complexity is now emerging.
Lindsay Jenkins, London

As a European Federalist, I long for a single European nation. The constitution as it stood did make some progress towards this. A Foreign Minister and a permanent President for example. However, if Europe was ever realistically going to become a single nation, expansion without closer integration is not beneficial. I think that integration verses expansionism is a key issue to be addressed. Do we as Europeans wish to create a state which will be of a size able to rival the economies of the USA, and in the not too distant future China and even India? Or do we wish to remain small independent nations that will increasingly lose power on the international stage?
Joachim Foot, Callington, Cornwall

In reply to the federalist Mr Joachim Foot, the alternative to the EU is a low tax, low regulation trading nation. We are the fifth largest economy in the world and being an island constitutional monarchy outside a trading bloc hasn't harmed Japan which is second. The EU social and economic model is sclerotic and dying. The EU has no immediate prospect of acting as a superpower and I really don't see the value of superpower status unless you're planning a war. If they are planning a war, I would like to delay federation until my son hits 35.
Jonathan Munday, London

Anything that unites so many dispirit peoples is a good thing
Pam Hooper
All this fuss about the failed constitution is irrelevant. The real point is that the EU in its present form is run primarily by an unelected, inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy that cannot be constrained effectively by a merely titular parliament. In short, the EU in its present form is a rotten apple and we should bin it. Only a system matching our own criteria of real parliamentary government and a subordinate civil service should be acceptable in its stead.
Mr Lindsay Thomas, Sevenoaks

I'm pro-Europe - it's just across the channel. Why on earth did the media suddenly decide the European Constitution was so important? Our future is Europe and we shouldn't ignore the progress since the war. Anything that unites so many dispirit peoples is a good thing.
Pam Hooper, Eastbourne

I am totally against the EU project because this project was brought in under a cloak of deceit.
Paul Greelely, Liverpool

I am pro-European Union. Why? Because there is no alternative. If there is a viable alternative short of full restoration of the British Empire I would like to hear what that is from those who constantly berate and criticise the EU. What of the role of the media? When the Spanish voted "yes" to the constitution was there in-depth analysis or lengthy discussions with experts? No. A "no" vote in France and Holland attracts the most extensive media frenzy but, apart from an episode of Question Time from Paris, has there actually been any discussion of the constitution? No. Is it any wonder that the electorate of our islands are so anti-EU?
Mike Clarke, Whitchurch, Shropshire

Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Your commentators tend to mislead us about Churchill's view on Europe. He agreed that some form of commonwealth was desirable, but he never envisaged Britain being part of any future "United States of Europe". He said "We have our own dream and our own task. We are with Europe but not of it. We are linked but not comprised. We are interested but not absorbed."
Ralph Swanwick, Herstmonceux

I wonder if the people of France and Holland voted "no" on an informed opinion? Have they actually read the constitution (I haven't) or did they vote against it because of perceived fears of loss of national identity? To "cherry pick" now would make no difference - if people have not read the document, they would just vote on an emotional level again. I think it would be a disaster to throw in the towel now, we are handing ourselves on a plate to America. George Bush must be rubbing his hands looking at this disarray. We should go ahead, have a care about our individual identity, but realise that united we are stronger not weaker.
Karin Campbell, Tavistock

Hoorah, at last, some countries have been strong enough to say NO. At last the people are getting to have their say and not being told, as we have been all along. The British were misled in the first referendum and would not have said "yes" if we had been allowed to see the details. Yes, we may want trade links with other European countries but most people do not want to be ruled by anyone other than their own governments. The constitution is dead, it cannot be watered down or forced through.
Margy Long, Newquay

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Feedback - May 2005
12 May 05 |  Newsnight


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