Peter Hain, the Welsh Secretary, has written to the BBC’s director general, Mark Thompson, warning it will run a “serious risk” of a legal challenge if it allows Nick Griffin to participate. The media regulator, Ofcom, confirmed that the BBC was under no legal obligation to invite the far-right party on to the programme and was acting under its own interpretation of impartiality. Meanwhile, a posting on the BNP’s website describes Bonnie Greer, the writer and broadcaster who is appearing on Question Time, as a “black history fabricator”, and said that Baroness Warsi, the Conservative spokeswoman for community cohesion, who is of Pakistani origin, was a “product of Tory affirmative action.” Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, writing in the Independent, supports Hain’s stand: “I say the BNP should be interrogated on news programmes but an appearance on Question Time is a privilege which the BBC now bestows on racists. It sickens those of us who expect better of the corporation.”
MPs face being barred from using public money to furnish their homes as part of sweeping reforms to the expenses system. But the Times reports that anger is growing. Communities Secretary John Denham tells the Telegraph, “We collectively allowed a system to develop that was too lax and generous.” But Bruce Anderson, writing in the Independent, says “fairness is another British coral reef. Someone ought to stand up for it, and begin by insisting that retrospective legislation is wrong.”
Speaking on the Today programme, School Select Committee Chair, Barry Sheerman, called Ed Balls “a bit of a bully” for appointing Maggie Atkinson as England’s next children’s commissioner. The Schools Committee had unanimously decided not to back the appointment. But Paul Ennals, head of the National Children’s Bureau, who was on the interview panel that recommended Atkinson said: “The irony is, she was the most fiercely independent of all the candidates. The panel agreed she was the best person for the job.”
According to the Telegraph, Slovakia is threatening to reopen the Lisbon treaty in order to realise similar concessions to those being negotiated by neighbour, the Czech Republic. Czech President Vaclav Klaus has said he will sign the treaty if EU leaders – meeting in Brussels for their quarterly summit on October 29 – agreed an opt-out for the Czech Republic from the Charter of Fundamental Rights and gave this the same legal force as a series of guarantees agreed for Ireland.
Gordon Brown will today tell representatives of 17 leading nations, who have gathered in London in advance of the UN-sponsored climate summit in Copenhagen in December, that there is “no plan B” if negotiators fail to reach a deal. He will say that by 2080 an extra 1.8 billion people — a quarter of the world’s current population — could lack sufficient water. Meanwhile, the Guardian report that officials have drawn up secret plans to tax electricity consumers to subsidise the construction of new nuclear reactors.
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