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Showing posts with label Derek Mackay MSP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Derek Mackay MSP. Show all posts

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The laziness of Scottish journalism

I had planned an extended blog this morning on ‘Labour’s Last Redoubt – I’m an internationalist!’ But it will have to wait until later today, because one or two items in todays press require a quick response.

I have defended the media, especially the BBC and print journalism on a number of occasions against those who think that all media are biased against nationalism and Scotland’s independence, and that it doesn’t really matter anyway because bloggers and alternative media are going to supplant them anyway. This has led me to point out, among other things, that political bloggers and alternative media in fact feed upon media and the press, and would have rather thin blogs without them.

But I have also complained of the lack of any real investigative journalism in Scotland, and the reliance of television and the press on the same old circle of panellists and commentators – the usual suspects. An exception to this can be radio, and often the key story and insight of the week comes from radio, especially Radio Four, where the real story of the week before last broke on the Today programme on defence, and the nuclear issue for the UK of Scotland’s independence.  Here I must say that a blogger’s role in recognising the significance of this story and teasing out the elements of the debate appeared to have triggered the belated wider awareness of its significance. That blogger was me, and the blog was Nuclear bases, subs and Trident on Today programme

Anyway the press, including today’s newspapers, have belatedly latched on. Do I claim credit? No, but I claim a role. And by the way, guys, your analysis is still superficial and has still failed to grasp what really matters in the defence story. Earn your corn, for God’s sake!


A few weeks ago, I attended an SNP meeting in the old Broughton School, now Drummond Community School in Edinburgh. The meeting, on 15th December 2011, was addresses by Angus Robertson MP and Derek Mackay MSP, the two central strategists in the SNP’s independence campaign.

The meeting was no secret, and it was made clear that there was no restriction on attendance – it was not a closed meeting, and branch members were encouraged to bring along non-party guests who might be curious about the SNP and its independence strategy. The open invitation included the comment “This is no ordinary meeting as we will map out how we will help secure Scottish independence.” Indeed, Angus Robertson asked the large audience, around 250 to 300, if they had brought an outsider, e.g. a non-party, non-affiliated voter who might be interested - and if not, why not?

There was no security, no requirement to show an invitation, and those attending were simply invited to sign a guest book. At no point in the meeting was confidentiality requested or suggested, and I remember looking around and wondering where the press people were, because although I assume they weren’t formally invited, there was nothing whatsoever to have prevented them attending. I am certain that Angus Robertson and Derek Mackay operated on the assumption that, like any political meeting these days that is not enveloped in iron security measures – and probably most of those anyway – that it would be reported, and indeed probably recorded surreptitiously. There ain’t no secrets no more, if you will forgive the double negatives …

But today’s Sunday Herald, pages 6 and 7, over three weeks after this meeting took place, bursting with excitement, presents a report of the meeting billed as EXCLUSIVE BY PAUL HUTCHEON. Eat your hearts out, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward!

Paul Hutcheon breathlessly reveals his Deep Throat -

At a meeting held at a school in Edinburgh last month, details of which have been leaked to this newspaper, psychologist Claire Howell was present alongside Robertson and Mackay.”

The article goes on in similar vein, with a rash of quotes in inverted commas, to maintain the spurious air of secrecy, one which was totally absent in the structure and tone of the meeting.

Not one word of the ‘exclusive’ presented anything that was not already in the public domain. If Paul, or any other journalist had taken the bother to find out that the meeting was scheduled, they could simply have attended as an interested party – no slouch hat, raincoat, and heavily-muffled face would have been required, Paul.

Of course, for the Sunday Herald, surrendering yet again to its tabloid instincts, the story is the ‘guru’, not the open content of the meeting. After all, if you have a three-week old ‘exclusive’ from a ‘leak’ from an open meeting, you do have to try and make it look like something. Journalism is a hard game these days, and anything is better than getting off your arse, out of the office and doing some real digging.


Friday, 16 December 2011

My New Year resolutions start today …

I listened to Angus Robertson speak in Edinburgh last night. It is a rare experience to hear a politician speak and have fundamental doubts dispelled. It is even rarer to experience a politician who not only really communicates ideas but who also listens. Angus was ably supported by Derek Mackay MSP.

Because of his key role as SNP Leader in Westminster, Angus does not have the media exposure that senior SNP politicians in Holyrood have, and although his considerable talents are familiar to party members, he is not as visible to the wider Scottish – and UK – public as ideally he should be. His formidable talents and abilities are therefore applied out of the limelight – and maybe at this crucial time in Scotland’s history that’s the way he wants it to be.

The combination of three crucial roles – party leader in Westminster, defence strategist and spokesman and independence campaign manager – must place an enormous burden on his shoulders, but it is one that he is manifestly well-equipped to carry. On last night’s showing alone, this is man in whom I can place my trust, and it was abundantly evident from the large audience that they shared this view.

He implanted certain key ideas in my mind, one’s that I found it uncomfortable to take on board, while recognising their total validity.

And so to my early New Year resolution, on this anniversary of my mother’s birth. (Moya, as everybody who ever knew her called her, would have been 110 years old today.)


I will resist the temptation, ever-present, to be negative, especially towards those who don’t agree with me.

I will try to mirror the positive approach that is the essence of the Scottish National Party, and a key  factor in its electoral success and appeal.

I will recognise that other Scottish voters, commentators, politicians and political parties have an absolute right to express their views, and if I want to change them, I must first understand them and secondly address them without rancour.

I will remind myself daily that there are people who love Scotland but have different views of its future from me, and that we share that central, vital point of agreement.

I will recognise that the independence of Scotland is my objective, and that goal trumps all others. (I only ever had one deal breaker – one thing that I can never compromise on – that of a non-nuclear Scotland. Since that goal can only be achieved by Scotland’s independence, my key objectives are therefore inseparably linked and in harmony.)

I will keep constantly in mind that the goal of independence, and therefore the referendum campaign, cannot constrained by the SNP manifesto, and that others, from all parties - and no party - who seek independence have different views from me and my chosen party, the SNP.

I will also keep constantly in mind the central fact that after independence, the question of who governs Scotland will be determined by the electorate. The relationship between the parties, and between each party and the electorate will undergo a sea change, similar to, but much greater than the one that followed devolution and the establishment of the Scottish Parliament.

If my little blog is to have any  relevance to Scotland’s future, I will have to resist the ever-present temptation to yield to the easy option of throwing chunks of red meat to the already converted, and instead contribute to the much more complex task of trying to influence the unconverted.


I regret that, knowing my own limitations, I will regularly fail to live up to these resolutions. When I do, don’t hesitate to slap a grumpy old git’s wrist. Some of you may even miss the red meat.

Here’s a picture of some old Weegie with a bottle of Glenmorangie standing next to the Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill

Kenny MacAskill and some Weegie

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Scotland’s past and Scotland’s future–Ian Davidson and Derek Mackay

From October 16, 2011

Guess who represents the future of Scotland? The Westminster old-guard Labour representative of a failed Union, or the new MSP from Scotland's Party - the SNP - articulate, forward-looking, with only Scotland on his mind?

Margaret Curran exposes the vacuum at the heart of Team Scotland

The sound of a lonely wind blowing through the vacuum of Labour's policies - no idea what they stand for, forgotten what they used to stand for ...

Scottish Labour – they’ve learned nothing, forgotten nothing. But they’ve rediscovered a place called Scotland, after a long amnesia.

And Team Scotland will save the people of Scotland from the government they’ve elected twice, the second time with a massive, decisive majority – the SNP, and their wicked leader, Alex Salmond, and separationLabour can’t bring itself to say independence. Of course, they’ll do all the saving from England – Westminster to be precise.

And what does Labour now stand for? Well, democracy, motherhood – well, all that stuff … They feel no need to spell it out.

But they have one shining, eternal principle, one that they’ll die for, metaphorically speaking – the right of England to rule the Scots!

We understand at last, Margaret – that’s why you and Cathy buggered off down the high road to England, well away from the grinding realities of the daily lives of your constituents. And it’s much nicer in the Palace of Westminster, with all the delights of London on a fat salary and expenses, although since Michael – sorry, Lord Martin went, they’re not quite what they were.

Aye, right …