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Derek Bateman Derek Bateman | 11:52 UK time, Friday, 4 March 2011

Some of us used to think of cartoons when we heard the name Calman. Mel Calman drew the "Little Man", the everyman geezer who made wry asides about the news or was the victim of someone's wisecrack (often Missus Little Man). He appeared in the Daily Express for years and held down a live slot on the ground-breaking news magazine show Tonight on the BBC. Tonight was the first accessible news analysis programme on telly in the fifties and early sixties with emerging talent like Cliff Michelmore, Fyfe Robertson, Alan Wicker, Julian Pettifer and Brian Redhead who all became household names. My mum's favourite was a handsome and urbane fellow called Derek Hart. She liked him so much she called her son after him...and that's how I got my name. Did she know I would one day become a broadcaster with the BBC and that I too would be handsome and urbane (please refer this for factual checking - editor).

Anyway, all that to say that Calman nowadays brings to mind the complex constitutional inquiry by Sir Kenneth Calman, who is not that different physically from the Little Man when you think of a small, slightly rotund genial chap with a bald pate. Sir Kenneth doesn't really do wisecracks though judging by his esoteric report. And this week the Holyrood committee scrutinising the Westminster Scotland Bill produced its findings. It turned out to be Calman Plus with a raft of new, more powerful measures on borrowing and taxing and generally treating Edinburgh more like a sovereign parliament than a regional legislature. The SNP members dissented because they think the financial measures will damage Scotland but secretly they must be chortling into their Highland Spring. The Unionist alliance is proposing measures way beyond anything Alex Salmond can achieve without an overall majority and you could argue we are now skating down Tam Dalyell's famous slippery slope. In five years time after a period of heavy economic restraint by Westminster and a barrage of anti-London bashing by whichever one of SNP or Labour wins in May, will more Scots think to themselves: Why don't we just go for independence? After all, there must be a limit to how far the Unionist parties can stretch the argument by saying Scotland needs more of this power and more of that before the we reach a breaking point.

And yet, as David Murray's support for Alex Salmond indicates, for many Scots you vote SNP because it wins the concessions that actually strengthen the Union. Take your pick. We'll discuss with Iain McWhirter and academic Nicola McEwan. The polls have been giving conflicting messages so we'll discuss the intricacies of opinion poll methodology with Professor John Curtice...you may want to pull the duvet over your head during that.

Do you recall being told that our oil was running out and that you can't base an economy on something as volatile as oil and gas - a point that has escaped Saudi Arabia? Well the jeremiahs are wrong. All the signs are that the North Sea is undergoing something of a boom in output, jobs and commercial interest. How so and what does it tell us? We'll investigate.

And as we try to maintain our status as a global player while cutting the defence budget, is it wise to reduce the BBC World Service? I did a tour of the United States 20 years ago with journalists from 20-odd developing countries and everyone of them knew and respected the World Service. They couldn't trust their own media and didn't trust the editorialising of Voice of America. One of the latest cuts is the Portuguese service to Africa which serves, among others, Mozambique. We speak to Joe Hanlon of the Open University who knows the country well.

So that's Tonight, the World Service and Newsweek all in the same blog. It makes me feel proud to be in such exalted company but I suspect that Calman (deceased 1994) would have turned out a cartoon saying it's like comparing Panorama and Cbeebies. Join me tomorrow at 8.


Anyway, all that to say that Calman nowadays brings to mind the complex constitutional inquiry by Sir Kenneth Calman, who is not that different physically from the Little Man when you think of a small, slightly rotund genial chap with a bald pate. Sir Kenneth doesn't really do wisecracks though judging by his esoteric report. And this week the Holyrood committee scrutinising the Westminster Scotland Bill produced its findings. It turned out to be Calman Plus with a raft of new, more powerful measures on borrowing and taxing and generally treating Edinburgh more like a sovereign parliament than a regional legislature. The SNP members dissented because they think the financial measures will damage Scotland but secretly they must be chortling into their Highland Spring. The Unionist alliance is proposing measures way beyond anything Alex Salmond can achieve without an overall majority and you could argue we are now skating down Tam Dalyell's famous slippery slope. In five years time after a period of heavy economic restraint by Westminster and a barrage of anti-London bashing by whichever one of SNP or Labour wins in May, will more Scots think to themselves: Why don't we just go for independence? After all, there must be a limit to how far the Unionist parties can stretch the argument by saying Scotland needs more of this power and more of that before the we reach a breaking point.

And yet, as David Murray's support for Alex Salmond indicates, for many Scots you vote SNP because it wins the concessions that actually strengthen the Union. Take your pick. We'll discuss with Iain McWhirter and academic Nicola McEwan.
The polls have been giving conflicting messages so we'll discuss the intricasies of opinion poll methodology with Professor John Curtice...you may want to pull the duvet over your head during that.

Do you recall being told that our oil was running out and that you can't base an economy on something as volatile as oil and gas - a point that has escaped Saudi Arabia? Well the jeremiah's are wrong. All the signs are that the North Sea is undergoing something of a boom in output, jobs and commercial interest. How so and what does it tell us? We'll investigate.

And as we try to maintain our status as a global player while cutting the defence budget, is it wise to reduce the BBC World Service? I did a tour of the United States 20 years ago with journalists from 20-odd developing countries and everyone of them knew and respected the World Service. They couldn't trust their own media and didn't trust the editorialising of Voice of America. One of the latest cuts is the Portuguese service to Africa which serves, among others, Mozambique. We speak to Joe Hanlon of the Open University who knows the country well.

So that's Tonight, the World Service and Newsweek all in the same blog. It makes me feel proud to be in such exalted company but I suspect that Calman (deceased 1994) would have turned out a cartoon saying it's like comparing Panorama and Cbeebies. Join me tomorrow at 8.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Derek, looking forward to your programme.

    Be sure and discuss the powers that would be transferred TO Westminster under the Scotland Bill. And, what would be the REAL impact of the tax proposals.

    And why the YouGov polling is so poorly structured they end up with a 23 point 'weighting'(!) from SNP to Labour.

 

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