Friday 30 August 2013


Last night's historic parliamentary vote against the UK's military involvement in the impending attacks on the Syrian regime broke just as Newsnight was going on air. 

The sense of the importance - and the sheer drama - of the moment certainly came across, as Jeremy Paxman, Mark Urban and Allegra Stratton reacted as they reported, seeming almost as stunned as anyone else to begin with (well, perhaps not Mark Urban, who's a cool customer at all times.)

Allegra floundered rather badly, it has to be said, reporting in an increasingly breathless manner and fixing too narrowly on her special area of concern (what it all means for David Cameron), but both Mark and Jeremy put in creditable performances, with informative commentaries from the ever-adept Mark Urban and well-judged interviews with the robotic Douglas Alexander and the clearly-deflated-but-keeping-his-chin-up Philip Hammond.

There remains a puzzle. The opening of the programme promised Senator John McCain (leading proponent of military action in Syria) but Sen McCain never appeared, and no explanation was given for that. Surely he wasn't bumped, as his reaction (doubtless an angry one), would have been a scoop for the programme. So did he storm off, on hearing the breaking news? 

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