Today today

Another cracking Today programme this morning: Trevor Phillips on human rights (“human rights are absolute; they are the rights you cannot take away from the people you most loathe”), the courageous Debra Storr on why we shouldn’t let Donald Trump dig up some of Scotland’s most beautiful dunes, Tom Butler on Terry Pratchett, plus the man who invented the gas mask. He lied about his age to fight in the First World War, then put his scientific skills to work to save people from the gas attacks he witnessed. Fantastic stuff; if you missed it, you can listen again here.

The gas mask man wasn’t the only scientist on the programme; James Naughtie was grilling Sir John Chisholm of Qinetiq about the fact that the staff turned shareholders made a whole heap more from its privatisation than the taxpayer. [I should perhaps declare an interest as Qinetiq are clients of my firm. I don’t know any military secrets. I do know a bit about their quality control of bibliographic records, but nothing worth kidnapping me over. Sorry.]

Even richer than Sir John, however, is the fact that this criticism is coming from Edward Leigh MP, one of the keenest advocates of privatisation under Mrs Thatcher. Their whole argument was that bringing in entrepreneurs motivated by profit would re-energise flagging state-owned companies. I don’t agree with the wholesale privatisation agenda (although who thinks the state should own a telecoms monopoly now) but it’s hypocritical of Mr Leigh to criticise the results of his own policy.

On yesterday’s programme, for one delirious moment I thought they had a Professor Kidney talking about urinary tract infection. Too good to be true; it’s Professor Richard Kitney of Imperial College. [Ahem, may I declare the same interest as before. We have a lot of clients.] But his subject was fascinating – using synthetic biological organisms to identify infectious contamination on hospital equipment; could this be the end of MRSA?

As Steve Webb said in yesterday’s Climate Change debate, “I am not a scientist but I know some people who are”. With science at the heart of the fight against climate change, it’s good that the Today programme is doing its bit to promote news about science alongside the more regular diet of politics and culture.



  1. anonymous said

    I was very disappointed to hear the lady interviewing Alan Sugar to try and trick him ino revealing the winner of The Apprentice. Not only that, but she inferred that as a BBC insider she already knew the answer was Claire.

    Now her comment ” Cant you tell us now, now its been recorded that the winner is Claire” was hopefully just a cheap journalistic trick designed to con Alan Sugar inot revealing the name, she has now ruined the suspense for the many listeners of the Today programme who watch The Apprentice. I now feel I know the answer, correctly or incorrectly, and it is a great shame.

    I cannot for the life of me understand why some hack would want to try and torpedo the culmination of one of the BBC’s flagship series with such a deliberate spolier attempt.

    Very disappointing.

  2. anonymous said

    Sorry, thought this was the Today program blog, there was a link on the page

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