Paxman bashes BBC bosses in email

The <em>Newsnight</em> host celebrates the demise of the show’s promotional email with a poke at the

Jeremy Paxman is no shrinking violet. Whether he's taking on a government minister or a BBC boss, he tends to speak his mind. Paxman calls a spade a spade and a cut a c***.

His forthright opinion on the demise of the Newsnight email – a daily plug for the show, sent to a few hacks and Newsnight nerds – is below.

Paxman used the valedictory email to attack BBC bosses and be generally contemptuous of new media. It's well worth a read.

Good morning. And good afternoon. Or possibly, good evening.

Welcome to positively the last Newsnight daily email. The time has come to put this exercise in fatuousness out of its misery.

It gives me no pleasure to say that it should have happened years ago. Actually, I lie. There is more joy in heaven, etc, etc.

The reason for killing it off is pretty straightforward. It's crap.

Conscientious readers may have noticed that Monday's email this week was actually promoting a programme which went out last week. A carrier pigeon would have been quicker.

The daily email was dreamed up – like so many other utterly brilliant initiatives (anyone recall the Newsnight podcast, for people who preferred their television without pictures?) – by visionary senior management at the BBC.

For a while we even sent out a morning email, as well, detailing the mental anguish of the editor on duty that day, and soliciting suggestions as to what people would like to see on air that evening. This, too, often arrived after the show had been broadcast.

Like a dodgy plumber skulking away from a flooded bathroom, those responsible are blaming the tools of their trade. In this case, they're right. The piece of kit (the "gizmo", to give it its technical name) which sends out the email is completely useless and we can't afford to fix it.

But fear not. There are other, thrilling ways to make sure you're not pleasurably surprised when the programme goes on air. The fascinating blog on the Newsnight website is updated every day, and we're also on Twitter and Facebook.

Alternatively, you could just switch on your television to BBC Two at 10.30pm.

So, farewell daily email. And a Happy New Year, Merry Christmas, Easter and Millennium Eve to all our viewers.

Jeremy Paxman

Follow @duncanrobinson on Twitter here.

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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn prompts Tory outrage as he blames Grenfell Tower fire on austerity

To Conservative cries of "shame on you!", the Labour leader warned that "we all pay a price in public safety" for spending cuts.

A fortnight after the Grenfell Tower fire erupted, the tragedy continues to cast a shadow over British politics. Rather than probing Theresa May on the DUP deal, Jeremy Corbyn asked a series of forensic questions on the incident, in which at least 79 people are confirmed to have died.

In the first PMQs of the new parliament, May revealed that the number of buildings that had failed fire safety tests had risen to 120 (a 100 per cent failure rate) and that the cladding used on Grenfell Tower was "non-compliant" with building regulations (Corbyn had asked whether it was "legal").

After several factual questions, the Labour leader rose to his political argument. To cries of "shame on you!" from Tory MPs, he warned that local authority cuts of 40 per cent meant "we all pay a price in public safety". Corbyn added: “What the tragedy of Grenfell Tower has exposed is the disastrous effects of austerity. The disregard for working-class communities, the terrible consequences of deregulation and cutting corners." Corbyn noted that 11,000 firefighters had been cut and that the public sector pay cap (which Labour has tabled a Queen's Speech amendment against) was hindering recruitment. "This disaster must be a wake-up call," he concluded.

But May, who fared better than many expected, had a ready retort. "The cladding of tower blocks did not start under this government, it did not start under the previous coalition governments, the cladding of tower blocks began under the Blair government," she said. “In 2005 it was a Labour government that introduced the regulatory reform fire safety order which changed the requirements to inspect a building on fire safety from the local fire authority to a 'responsible person'." In this regard, however, Corbyn's lack of frontbench experience is a virtue – no action by the last Labour government can be pinned on him. 

Whether or not the Conservatives accept the link between Grenfell and austerity, their reluctance to defend continued cuts shows an awareness of how politically vulnerable they have become (No10 has announced that the public sector pay cap is under review).

Though Tory MP Philip Davies accused May of having an "aversion" to policies "that might be popular with the public" (he demanded the abolition of the 0.7 per cent foreign aid target), there was little dissent from the backbenches – reflecting the new consensus that the Prime Minister is safe (in the absence of an attractive alternative).

And May, whose jokes sometimes fall painfully flat, was able to accuse Corbyn of saying "one thing to the many and another thing to the few" in reference to his alleged Trident comments to Glastonbury festival founder Michael Eavis. But the Labour leader, no longer looking fearfully over his shoulder, displayed his increased authority today. Though the Conservatives may jeer him, the lingering fear in Tory minds is that they and the country are on divergent paths. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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