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Newsweek Scotland: Thinking aloud

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Derek Bateman Derek Bateman | 17:15 UK time, Friday, 18 November 2011

Ah, Quebec! I found it endlessly enjoyable and visually sumptuous during a week-long visit in 1995 just before the sovereignty referendum. The BBC asked me to make a couple of radio documentaries on the secession movement so I was in my element in a place that is a hotbed of political debate and ideas. I think the programmes may well have disappeared into the ether by now but for those among you with sleep problems, I enclose a link to a piece I wrote for the Edinburgh University Public Affairs magazine. Don't laugh...some people like this kind of thing.

Quebec is mentioned by someone on the Newsweek blog pointing out that the economy suffered in the run-up to the referendum, a point that has occasionally been made by opponents of Scotland's "secession", among them Malcolm Rifkind if I remember correctly. So we dip our toe into those (St Lawrence) waters tomorrow to see if that position still holds.

We have a political debate with Angus Macleod and Iain Macwhirter - who also made a documentary on Quebec. It's what I call Custard Pies. One minute Michael Moore is demanding answers from the SNP government about the costs of independence and complaining he gets no answer. Then at the Holyrood committee on the Scotland Bill he himself is unable to say how the financial provisions of the Bill will be implemented. (You see...he puts a pie in the Nats' face and they retaliate).

George Osborne says uncertainty over Scotland's constitutional future deters investment, but shouldn't investors also doubt the UK's developing arrangements with Brussels? David Cameron wants that to change into a looser association which might mean Britain in a second tier of the EU. Meanwhile a large chunk of his party including over 80 MPs, want a referendum on coming out altogether. Might THAT not also put off investors? Just thinking aloud...

Someone else thinking aloud quite a lot is Labour MP Douglas Alexander who seems to be on a tour of doom. He makes his second speech in a few weeks with his analysis of where Labour is going wrong. We'll ask him what they need to get right, and if they're capable of it.

We have horrifying stories about immigration - if you're worried about who might be illegally in our country, I suggest you turn the volume down when I speak to David Moss who studies the subject. We're in Spain for the elections and we look at the craft of letter-writing. It is an art that has been overtaken by bloggers writing drivel like this. Join me tomorrow at 8.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Derek

    Good to see that you continue to post and accept comments. And also apparently read them. Long may it continue.

    Perhaps you could consider the strange position of BBC Scotland being unique in stopping comments on its politics and business blogs. And stranger still its published statement that this change is to allow comments on other stories and be consistent with the rest of the BBC.

    Good that you are querying Osborne's peculiar thoughts on Scottish business. Has he come up with any evidence yet? And Scottish Labour too? Can you ask them?

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Derek, add my concerns to those of AMJHAJ about the inability (unique on the BBS sites) to comment on Scottish political and economic affairs. This is particularly strange as the country (Scotland and the rest of the UK) are furiously debating exactly what the various futures hold for us all - except on the BBC Scotland pages!

    Regards your comments: Indeed there is a rather hypocritical response from ALL the pro-status quo parties. It seems the independence referendum is ONLY a worry for Scottish investors (despite no actual evidence) and yet these same investors do not appear to worry about the situation in the rUK should independence follow.

    Maybe instead of calling for an immediate referendum on independence (let's not forget - it was continuously voted DOWN by these same parties when they held the majority in the Scottish Parliament) will the Con/Dem government bring forward a referendum on the EU? Apparently not. So it's do as we say, not as we do.

    Well, that's no longer good enough for me. The Scottish economy needs attention, that's where the SNP government is applying itself - good. The referendum will come in the second half - good. That's the right order of things.

    In the meantime, can you and your colleagues at least be objective and impartial in your reporting of affairs in Scotland. Te Scottish people deserve honest reporting on the run up to one of the most important political / economic / social decisions they will have to make in 300 years.

  • Comment number 3.

    Enjoyed your programme this morning Derek. As always, cutting edge stuff. The input from the Quebec lady was fascinating and the discussion between your self, Iain MacWhirter and Angus MacLeod was insightful. Newsweek Scotland really is a 'jewel in the crown' of Scottish broadcasting. Long may it continue.

  • Comment number 4.

    Enjoyed your programme again this morning. Worth getting up for! Thought the lady from Quebec particulary interesting. Maybe, if you interview her again you could ask whether the people of Quebec had to contend with a hostile press and media as indeed the Scottish Goverment does at the present, with your own honourable exception, of course. It would also be interesting to know the extent of Quebecs present fiscal powers also.
    Meanwhile we wait with baited breath on the extent of fiscal powers Mr Alexander would bring to Scotland.
    Alex is right to keep his powder dry while the opposition leave their powder out in the Scottish rain!

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    If Derek is reading this, as a Barcelona-based reader, where can I keep up with UK journalists commenting on the Spanish elections, particularly in Catalonia? Are there any plans for a base in Barcelona, or are all journos going to be in Madrid? These elections have tremendous significance for the autonomous structure of Spain, and as a Scottish reporter, I presume Catalonia will be of special interest. If you can, jump on that AVE and pay us a visit!

  • Comment number 7.

    Derek,

    Opponents hit out at Labour “ALEOs shambles” as Glasgow Council faces ‘Financial Meltdown’

    As BBC Scotland TV is not very interested in reporting on this story maybe you on radio might give it an airing this seems to be the only blog we can comment on so I hope it will not be withdrawn like the other two.

  • Comment number 8.

    Derek
    I wonder if you might be able to ponder what I consider to be a failure on the part of BBC Scotland to accord patrons and other stakeholders similar rights accorded to our counterparts in other areas of the UK. The present situation where no comments are allowed on a good number of articles on the BBC Scotland website is a very concerning situation and frustrates the right of free speech. I can comment quite freely on articles on the UK webpage but am unable, by way of example, to express my opinion on the Danny Alexander article on today's (9th December) BBC Scotland webpage. There are, what a detached observer might consider reasonable, grounds for inferring that this is a deliberate policy to frustrate free speech on the part of BBC Scotland, and one must concede that many websites testify to this suspicion. This is very poor PR. There are house rules in place to which all commentators have signed up, there is no place for personal insult or denigration of character, but rational comment of whatever political persuasion MUST, in a 21st century democratic country be seen to be a precious, inalienable right of all citizens.
    I wonder if you might have some ideas on how this could be improved.

  • Comment number 9.

    Dear bigbuachaille

    Thanks for your comments. If you'd like to make an official complaint please visit the complaints page on the BBC website which will then be forwarded to the relevant person.

  • Comment number 10.

 

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