Shereen Nanjiani will be presenting Morning Extra for a fortnight until my return on Monday 7 September. There'll be no separate blog entries during this time, but do feel free to post any thoughts on the subjects raised here on this thread!
Archives for August 2009
Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi has returned home to a hero's welcome in Libya. The justice secretary Kenny MacAskill says his decision reflects Scottish values, but is compassion appropriate for a mass murderer?
We had a near record number of calls, texts and emails this morning. So if your voice wasn't heard, do add your comments here.
Morning Extra's guests today were Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan (right) of the Violence Reduction Unit and his deputy Karyn McCluskey. The unit was established in 2005 to find long-term solutions for tackling violent crime in and around Glasgow. A year later its remit was extended nationwide by the Scottish Executive, creating a national centre of expertise on tackling violent crime.
John and his team deal with violence in all its forms - in schools and the workplace, to violence on our streets and domestic abuse. What marks them out is their close work with other professionals, including social workers, health experts and academics.
We had a lively debate on this morning's programme and it's fair to say opinion was very split. Roy texted the programme to say: "Your two studio guests talk sense and offer hope." But Tam in Glasgow says: "People are sick of the namby-pamby attitude of your guest. They don't have the will to deal with real crime. So you go for the kid-on option."
Do continue the debate here.
Violence Reduction Unit
Primary pupils caught with knives (15 May 2009)
Police to target domestic abuse (27 April 2009)
Police to target group disorder (2 March 2009)
Jail warning for knife carriers (1 March 2009)
Britain learns Chicago gang plan (15 Oct 2008)
Scottish crime 'lowest since 80s' (30 Sep 2008)
Scotland worst for violence - UN (18 Sep 2005)
It's not often I have a personal connection to the stories we talk about on Morning Extra. But on today's programme I introduced you to a former colleague and friend of mine, Ray Daniels (pictured right, in happier times).
Ray was the drivetime show presenter at Glasgow-based Real Radio between 2002 and 2003. Most of us had no idea he was an alcoholic, but after leaving his job and spending some time in the United States, he came back to Scotland with a serious problem.
Ray has been told by doctors that he's in a critical situation and has just months to live. And yet, he claims there's a lack of support for him from the health service.
Peter McCann, who runs Scotland's biggest treatment centre for alcoholics, Castle Craig in Peebleshire, revealed to us on-air this morning that he has 23 beds lying empty. And of the nearly 100 or so that areoccupied, a third are taken by foreign nationals.
The Scottish Government recently told us it's investing a record £120 million between 2008 and 2011, to both prevent alcohol related problems occurring and develop specialist treatment and support services. This is an increase in funding of 230 per cent on the previous three year period.
But, as things stand at the moment, is there a problem with access to treatment? Have you managed to find help? And how difficult is it to give up the bottle?
Almost half of 5 to 10-year-olds never play outside their homes, according to a study out today. Compare that with two generations ago, when it was rare for youngsters not to play in the street. Indeed, just 12 per cent of over-65s said they had never played outside their homes when they were young while 47 per cent said they did so every day.
So what's changed? According to the charity Living Streets, a lot of it is down to the increasing amount of traffic. That's why they're suggesting 20mph speed limit across all residential roads.
But there are other factors too, including the social breakdown of our communities.
"The number of neighbours we know has declined, local shops have closed and it is becoming increasingly rare to see children playing out on the streets," saysthe charity's chief executive Tony Armstrong.
"We have effectively designed ourselves out of our own communities through urban planning that has failed to prioritise people."
What do you think? Let me know by leaving your comments below.
Another one of our hotseats is being occupied this morning. The Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy is here to take your calls on Morning Extra between 9 and 10 today.
As usual, you can ask him anything you like. Immigration to Scotland, more powers for the Scottish Parliament and unemployment are just a few areas which he's spoken on recently.
So call me now on 0500 92 95 00 and get your question in nice and early.
As the public purse is squeezed, Strathclyde Police is examining the cost to taxpayers. Three recent Orange Order events cost almost £1 million pounds to police. But would charing for - or banning parades - be a denial of our freedoms?
A caller to Morning Extra last week who said atheists are "damned to hell" and gays are "very sad people" has been exposed as a Borders councillor.
'Ken from Selkirk,' as he described himself, called me to criticise the Glasgow exhibition which encouraged gays and other marginalised groups to write their stories in the margins of a Bible. The Bible eventually had to be enclosed in a glass case after some visitors were found to be writing obscene messages.
Ken was one of many who called me on last Thursday's programme to say this was sacrilege. As well saying "non-believers are damned to hell" he went on to say:
"We have got so-called gays who are really very sad people and we have non-believers and heathens, you know, running the country and running down Christianity."
You can hear the full extract here.
It was only when a journalist identified our caller as SNP councillor Kenneth Gunn that a stushie was kicked up in the local press. Linda Jackson, who we heard on today's programme, has launched an official complaint with Scottish Borders Council. She's chair of Scottish Borders Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Forum and, as a constituent of Councillor Gunn's, thinks he should be representing all his constituents, including those in minority groups.
Opposition politicians have also condemned his comments. Liberal Democrat MSP for Tweedale, Ettrick and Lauderdale Jeremy Purvis said: "It's utterly unacceptable that the offensive comments from an SNP constituency association chairman will not be retracted." And Green MSP Patrick Harvie, a leading gay rights campaigner, branded the affair a "disgrace".
So is a councillor entitled to his private religious beliefs, or is he not fit to represent his constituents?
While initially happy to come on the programme, upon taking "advice from others" Councillor Gunn declined our request for an interview. Instead he emailed me this statement:
"As a Christian I was upset and angry by the content of the art exhibition being discussed in last week's phone in and wished to express my views on that as an individual. In doing so I said things which I regret. As a Christian I believe that we should all work together for a better society in which acceptance, mutual respect and understanding are key - regardless of belief or sexuality. I understand the offence my statements have caused and apologise for that."
Homophobic SNP councillor faces investigation (Pink News, 7 Aug)
'I've received many, many messages of support' (Selkirk Weekend Advertiser, 7 Aug)
Gunn faces official complaints over 'homophobic' remarks (Selkirk Weekend Advertiser, 7 Aug)
SNP attacked for failing to act against gay-row councillor (Scotsman, 6 Aug)
Nature of comments 'was a real shocker' to lesbian couple (Southern Reporter, 6 Aug)
Kenneth Gunn's on-air salvo - what was said (Southern Reporter, 6 Aug)
Under-fire Gunn 'wild and bigoted' (Southern Reporter, 6 Aug)
Believe ... or go to Hell (Selkirk Weekend Advertiser, 31 Jul)
The Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, has visited the Lockerbie bomber in Greenock prison. Kenny MacAskill met Abdelbasset Ali al-Megrahi yesterday as he considers a transfer request from the Libyan government.
Megrahi, who was convicted of killing 270 passengers onboard Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988, has also asked to be freed on compassionate grounds as he's suffering from terminal prostate cancer. Such requests are normally only granted where a prisoner has less than three months to live — which isn't believed to be the case in this instance.
But should a government minister even entertain a convicted killer? And do the doubts over his guilt on the part of many, including the UK relatives, mean Mr Megrahi should be considered a special case?
That was the subject of today's Morning Extra. You can continue the debate here.
As pupils celebrate record exam results and the jobless total soars, competition for places has never been higher. Are we sending too many young people to colleges and universities?
I want to hear your experiences of education. Has it made a difference to your life? Or are you one of those who, despite leaving school early, has never looked back?
And whether you're a school leaver, or an out-of-work adult, weve experts on hand this morning to answer your questions.
Call me now on 0500 92 95 00.
The Scottish Government has increased the funding for Gaelic schools by £800,000. The culture minister, Mike Russell, says more people will have to use the language in everyday life if it's going to have any chance of survival.
But with no great increase in the number of speakers over the years, does spending more money on what many see as a dying language make sense?
We had a lively debate on today's Morning Extra and you can continue the debate here.
We're looking at the state of the Scottish games industry on today's Morning Extra investigation.
Home grown talent has started shipping out for foreign shores and the industry says it needs more help from government to compete in a global marketplace.
Are you involved in the industry or do you know someone who felt they had to leave to get ahead?