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PM's Andrew Lansley Week
Post categories: PM
Joanna Carr | 08:13 UK time, Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Comments (7)
Andrew Lansley Week. I think even the health secretary himself would agree that it's not the most obvious crowd-pleaser, but that's what we on PM are about to embark on.
We've invited the health secretary for England to join us live every day this week on PM to discuss his proposed changes to the NHS in England. The scale of the changes being proposed is disputed - the government stresses evolution, others see revolution - but let's take our cue from the prime minister, who told the Today programme that it was "quite a fundamental change". 80% of the NHS budget will be controlled by GPs. Every hospital to become a foundation trust. No more Primary Care Trusts or Strategic Health Authorities. All patients to have the choice of "any willing provider". And those are just the headlines.
The more I thought about all this, the more it became apparent to me that this subject couldn't be covered in any depth with a typical six-minute interview, or even a 10-minute one. And so I came up with the idea of a series of interviews, stripped across the week, each one tackling a different aspect of the reform, and Mr Lansley agreed.
On Monday, it was the role of GPs. Tuesday, it's patient experience. Wednesday, cost and the role of competition. Thursday, holding the NHS to account. Each one will be preceded by a short explainer piece from our health correspondent, Jane Dreaper. And on Friday, we'll put questions raised by the PM audience to Mr Lansley.
Some might say it's too much time to give to one politician of one party. But this interview series will mark the publication of the bill. Doubtless the debate will evolve, and we will return to it in other ways later in its Parliamentary passage.
We will represent other perspectives during the interview series, but I make no apologies for keeping the focus on Eddie's interviews with the man responsible for the reforms. And judging from the size of the postbag already, there's plenty of substance for 5 serious interviews.
Perhaps this could launch a whole new genre of interview... Ed Balls Month? Sarah Teather Summer? The Year of Oliver Letwin?
Joanna Carr is editor, PM, iPM and Broadcasting House.
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Electric car challenge
Post categories: BBC News
Jeremy Hillman | 16:03 UK time, Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Comments (110)
On the BBC's Business website we've devoted quite a bit of coverage over recent months to the electric motor industry.
There's no doubt it's growing in importance as evidenced by an increasing number of makes and models and changing consumer attitudes. That was the reason behind our idea to set our correspondent Brian Milligan a challenge this week - to drive an electric car from London to Scotland using only public charging points.
I'm delighted to say it's already drawing quite a following on our website as well as on our Facebook page and Twitter feed and a lot of you are engaging with our little adventure. We've even had a class from Preston School in Eaglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees, coming along to see the car and find out about the environmental issues of electric motoring.
Of course, as Brian acknowledged in his opening piece, the challenge could be a seen as a little unfair. Many electric cars are designed more for short commuter runs than a journey of the sort we're attempting but we're not making any great scientific claims for this, rather we're hoping to bring the issues about electric cars and their infrastructure to the widest possible audience and we seem to be doing that.
However, I hear that our project has a challenger and a rival electric sports car has now set off from London in pursuit! For those of who haven't yet seen the coverage please do feel free to follow our progress here.
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Kosovo reassessed?
Post categories: World Tonight
Alistair Burnett | 15:37 UK time, Tuesday, 11 January 2011
Comments (21)
Kosovo has been back on the front pages in recent weeks with lurid allegations against its prime minister and dominant politician, Hashim Thaci, accusing him of involvement in organised crime and even harvesting human organs for sale for profit. Mr Thaci has denied the allegations.
The prime minister has also been in the news as his party was accused of vote rigging in last month's parliamentary elections which were the first organised by the Kosovo government. This week, the vote had to be rerun in some of Mr Thaci's strongholds and a new government should be formed in the next few weeks.
Why is this interesting to people who don't follow affairs in south east Europe closely?
This is a question I have been asked given The World Tonight has followed the Kosovo story more consistently than many other news outlets.
The answer I give is that Kosovo is unfinished business which has implications that range far wider than this small territory in the former Yugoslavia.
The European Union has its largest ever civilian mission in Kosovo. Known as Eulex, it is a police and justice mission designed to help build the rule of law there as Kosovo is blighted by corruption and organised crime and a major source of trafficking in drugs, people and arms into the EU. EU officials will tell you off the record that the mission is needed so the drugs gangs can be tackled on the streets of Kosovo, rather than the streets of Paris, London or Berlin.
In addition to paying for this mission, European taxpayers have also funded a huge aid programme totalling several billion euros over the past decade aimed at reconstructing Kosovo after the conflict between Serbian Security Forces and the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army in the late 90s and Nato's intervention in 1999.
Another reason Kosovo matters is that its declaration of independence from Serbia three years ago - encouraged by the United States, Britain, France and Germany - highlighted the tension between self-determination and territorial integrity in world affairs that is at the root of several conflicts around the world. In addition to the Kosovo conflict, these competing ideas helped cause the short war between Russia and Georgia in 2008 and the long running civil war in Sudan which this week's referendum there is aimed at settling peacefully.
Kosovo is also important precisely because it is unfinished business. The EU is attempting to supervise the development of a functioning state along European lines, but despite the support of the US and leading EU countries, Kosovo as an independent state has struggled to achieve international acceptance. To date 73 countries have recognised Kosovo, but the rest of the world's 192 UN members still regard Kosovo as part of Serbia, including the world's major emerging countries from China to Brazil to South Africa.
The luridness of the allegations against Mr Thaci provoked a renewed focus on Kosovo in the media and a slew of articles have appeared in Britain and the US in recent weeks questioning Nato's intervention in 1999 and the wisdom of the supporting Kosovo independence and Mr Thaci, as one of the leaders of the independence movement, in particular.
The offensive against Serbia in 1999 was presented by western leaders as a humanitarian act to prevent widespread ethnic cleansing of Kosovo's Albanian population by Slobodan Milosevic's forces. This was widely accepted by western commentators at the time and since then reporting of the conflict in western media has been largely been framed as a story of Albanian victims and Serb aggressors. But some of the recent commentary (you can read examples here and here) has challenged this account and questioned whether the intervention and support for independence were misguided.
Like most conflicts, Kosovo has never been black and white. Albanians and Serbs have been involved in a struggle for control of Kosovo on and off for well over a century and there have been times when one side or the other had the upper hand and sought to drive the other out of the territory. So when NATO intervened to stop ethnic cleansing in 1999, it was also siding with the Albanians and this culminated in the declaration of independence in 2008 with American and European encouragement (although five out of 27 EU states did not back the move).
On The World Tonight we talked to the former senior UN official Jerry Gallucci, who now writes an informative blog, about whether this unwelcome publicity will damage Kosovo's prospects of achieving full international recognition. His take is that having the criminal allegations and the electoral fraud in the headlines casts Kosovo in a negative light and will probably keep the process of international recognition bogged down and that means the fate of Kosovo remaining unresolved and, for us, newsworthy.
Alistair Burnett is the editor of The World Tonight.
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