Archive for the ‘comment’
Here’s the Labour diehard, former Lord Provost of Glasgow and regular Scotsman columnist, Michael Kelly, on last night’s concluding episode of “Road To Referendum”:
As befitting a tribal dinosaur of the old Scottish political school, Kelly popped up to proffer a vintage line that’s fallen out of favour with the No campaign, namely that Scotland is too wee and too poor to go it alone. But it was something else he said in the same segment that caught our ear.
Willie Rennie made a bit of an idiot of himself last night. He appeared towards the end of the final instalment of Iain Macwhirter’s largely-excellent STV documentary “Road To Referendum”, with the empirically wrong assertion (in the name of the fabled “positive case for the Union”) that “the National Health Service is a United Kingdom institution, it was created by United Kingdom people.”
This, as alert Wings Over Scotland readers will know in some detail, isn’t true. The NHS has never been a “United Kingdom institution”. From the first day of its creation, it was two independent institutions – the Scottish NHS and the English/Welsh NHS.
(It’s now four separate national bodies – Northern Ireland having its own service, with a different name and different responsibilities, and the Welsh NHS having been “divorced” from the English one and devolved to the Assembly in 1999.)
To the Scottish Lib Dem leader’s embarrassment, the NHS therefore proves the exact opposite of what he’s trying to use it to prove – namely, it shows that Scotland can deliver better health services for its people (free prescriptions, personal care, eye tests, dental check-ups, hospital parking) via independence, yet still co-operate smoothly and productively with the rUK where necessary without the sky falling in.
But Rennie’s clanger triggered off another interesting exchange.
Last night’s extended edition of Newsnight Scotland was a special “no men allowed” independence debate. Unlike last week’s Question Time, the BBC at least offered a panel comprising equal representation from both sides, and one of the panellists was Amanda Harvie, introduced as a business consultant and former chief executive of a financial-services industry body, Scottish Financial Enterprise.
Ms Harvie claimed (around 42m into the programme) that she wasn’t an official ‘Better Together’ representative, “nor do I speak for a political party – I’m a businesswoman”. But an alert reader noticed that she looked a lot like another Amanda Harvie.
Looks like we’ve got another difference of opinion, Geoffrey.
But a lot has changed since Adam’s glory night. Then, a popular and charismatic SNP, which had pragmatically negotiated four years of minority rule at Holyrood, was rewarded with an epic victory across Scotland. Now, facing pressure over its preparations for independence, and carrying the burden of a monopoly on power, it is a very different world.
That’s the Scotland On Sunday view (in an article which appears to be littered with several troublingly major factual errors, such as claiming the Aberdeen bypass is “still in the courts” when it isn’t, and asserting that numerous very real and operational institutions haven’t been built yet when they rather visibly have).
But the Sunday Herald is getting quite different vibes from its people on the ground.
So, everyone turned up for Question Time in the end. We expected no different. As far as we can ascertain, the view in the pro-independence community was that the SNP’s Angus Robertson acquitted himself well as the sole political representative of the Yes campaign, and it was interesting and welcome to see journalist Lesley Riddoch (who was also assured and compelling) actually nail her colours to the Yes mast too.
But what of the show itself? Were the fears of independence supporters justified, or did the BBC mount an impeccable exercise in impartiality? Let’s find out.
…on whether 16/17-year-olds are smart enough to vote. Here’s one of Scotland’s bright young things on last night’s Question Time, talking about independence:
“Do you [Angus Robertson] not think the SNP are mucking us about right now? Because we’re not even getting answers on will we have free tuition… how are we going to know that our education’s going to be as good as it is right now?”
We’re struggling to think of a reason why the SNP’s Angus Robertson (and to a slightly lesser extent journalist Lesley Riddoch) would still want to turn up for tonight’s Question Time in Edinburgh. Up against four anti-independence panellists, Robertson can’t expect to achieve much other than looking embattled and defensive – he can surely hope for little protection from David Dimbleby in the chair.
Riddoch has already tweeted about the show’s imbalanced line-up. If our memory serves us correctly, she’s a firm advocate of the policy of male speakers refusing to appear on heavily gender-imbalanced panels (which tonight’s QT also is), so why not politically-skewed ones too?
It seems to this site that principled withdrawal is by far the better option.
We were going to do something on the disgraceful line-up of tonight’s edition of Question Time, broadcasting from Edinburgh with an audience of 16/17-year-olds, but frankly we couldn’t put it any better than the Scottish Green Party’s official complaint to the Corporation has. You can read it in full here.
UKIP have no Westminster MPs, no Holyrood MSPs and no Welsh AMs, and attract a microscopic proportion of the vote in Scottish elections, yet their leader Nigel Farage has made more appearances on Question Time (14) than any other politician since 2009. The Greens have representation in both Westminster and Holyrood, but the Scottish party has been invited onto QT just once in the same period.
The show’s guest list tonight will uphold the BBC’s standard debate policy of four anti-independence politicians (Farage plus George Galloway, Anas Sarwar and Ruth Davidson) against a single pro-independence one (the SNP’s Angus Robertson) with a token neutral (Scotsman journalist Lesley Riddoch). Enjoy. We’ll be playing poker.
Did something really dramatic just happen without anyone noticing? Yesterday we passingly noted a curious new trend in the Scottish media: that of Unionist papers complaining that the problem with independence is that it isn’t independent enough.
But it wasn’t until we went back and had a closer look at yesterday’s Daily Record that the full strangeness of the picture became clear.
The Scottish press has reacted in a fairly typical manner to the release yesterday of a Scottish Government-commissioned report on the implications of independence on welfare, which is to say by finding the most doom-laden interpretation of it possible.
Leading the charge is the Daily Record, with a piece that online goes by the relatively restrained headline “Undoing hated Con-Dem cuts could could put all benefit payments at risk, SNP are warned” (though the print version screams “SNP TOLD YOU CAN’T CUT TORY CUTS”). The Scotsman follows along with “SNP welfare plan ‘a risk’”.
Both, though, are telling a deeply – and obviously – misleading story.
Yesterday we passingly mentioned how Home Secretary Theresa May this week claimed that Scots could lose their British passports and be denied dual nationality following a ‘Yes’ vote for independence in next year’s referendum.
Mystifyingly none of the newspapers reporting the story bothered to research the facts behind her claim, so we had to get our investigating hats on.