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Newsweek Scotland: step back in time

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Derek Bateman Derek Bateman | 15:43 UK time, Friday, 2 December 2011

What were the 70's like for you? And don't say you can't remember because you were in primary school. Your age automatically shows up at the BBC as soon as you start reading this page...

I remember twin tub washing machines (which I covered in green and white floral formica to capture the style zeitgeist), wide lapels and bell bottoms and massive multi stripe ties, phone boxes, typewriters, Embassy fags, mini skirts and kinky boots, my Renault Four with the push-me, pull-you gear change and...Vesta curries.

Well, it seems we're going back there as living standards decline under the deep chill of sustained recession. I wonder where my sheepskin coat is now. So Newsweek returns to the seventies to see how things have changed and to ask if it really was all that bad. We had Bridge over Troubled Water, Maggie May and Ernie (the fastest milkman in the west), for goodness sake. That saw us through rampant inflation and the winter of discontent. But what does it tell us about just what the government is doing with the economy today and how we are reacting. Forget the Chancellor. We'll ask our own experts.

David Cameron called the strikes by two million a damp squib. I'm tempted ask how many people he could get on to the streets of Britain to back his policies. In fact you could argue the strikers are the Big Society. They are the men and women who make Britain work and they don't do it for profit. They banded together to take collective action on the biggest issue facing the country today. It sounds like a definition of the Big Society. Only, of course, on the Jeremy Clarkson view, they were actually putting themselves before the rest of society and protecting their own. Not that the bosses of FTSE 100 companies have been doing anything so selfish... just adding 40 per cent to their already massive pay packets and putting another £400,000 into their pension pots.

We make no apology for returning to the question asked so little this week: What DID happen to private pensions that they are so poor? And why should public sector staff have to be impoverished as a consequence?

Are politicians' pensions being cut? Not the last time I looked. Aren't they in the public sector? Should we be making this public/private distinction at all or should both wings of this argument be uniting for fair pensions all round? In fact, isn't that the government's role?

And is there really no alternative to cutting pensions... no slack, no wriggle room anywhere in the government's entire budget? We'll find out.

The producer says we'll also have some good news about health to counter all my doom and gloom. But if you want an antidote to Armageddon I suggest the Three Degrees "When Will I See You Again", (August 1974.) So good I think I'll have it played at my funeral (Check out the title). So black turtlenecks, bell-bottom jeans and Chelsea boots at the ready...

See you at 8 tomorrow if my flip over alarm is still working.


  • Comment number 1.


    I think another correspondent called you a 'beacon' in BBC Scotland news. How true.

    I look forward to your show tomorrow. In case you have space, here are some suggestions for you:

    Margaret Curran's rather surprising public comment about Alex Salmond - she said she wouldn't ask who did it, if he were run over by a bus - and compare with the reaction to Clarkson's comments (and ask why the BBC, amongst others, haven't covered this).

    NHS in Wales apparently in trouble, England too. Why does Scotland seem to be different?

    In elections, Labour has apparently never taken a constituency from another. Is that true? If so, why so?

    Labour MPs strike. Or did they? What does Master Miliband think? And the Unions?

    Tom Harris - I could stop there - and his curious views on website life.

    And, of course, the very strange story of BBC Scotland politics and business blogs and their closure to comments ...

  • Comment number 2.

    amongst other things ,you ask what happened to private pensions that they became so poor?
    could the answer be that the chancellor that saved the world raided them just like this chancellor is trying to do with the public service ones right now!
    you also ask are politicians pensions being cut - don't be silly man of course not.
    now that we've stopped the expenses wheeze they have got to get their money from somewhere one cannot survive on MP's wages alone.
    ps Hope this doesn't just disappear like my and around 15 other peoples comments on Brian Taylor's blog the other day one minute they were there the next they just disappeared ,wiped of the face of the news page never to be seen again

  • Comment number 3.

    Those were the days when fuel was 3s/6d a gallon (17.5p) and you could go up and down the box without using the clutch on your Renault 4.

    Raise Taxes on Rich to Reward True Job Creators: Nick Hanauer

  • Comment number 4.


    Could I just add a few more suggestions to those already added by AMJHAJ in post #1.

    Why did the BBC NOT send a reporter and T.V. crew to follow Alex Salmond when he went on his recent visit to the Middle East.

    Why were there no nightly reports on BBC Reporting Scotland about Alex Salmond's trip to the Middle East?

    Why have we been given nightly reports from a BBC Reporting Scotland reporter from Brazil every night?

    It's not that he has had a great deal to say of any great importance to the average viewer of Reporting Scotland.

    Is there any BBC reporter and T.V. crew following Alex Salmond on his trip to China?

    Will there be nightly reports from China on the First Minister's trip to China?

    If not why not?

    What is the fascination of BBC Reporting Scotland and Michael Moore?

    Why does no one from the BBC push Michael Moore or Douglas Alexander for real answers?

    Why do interviewers accept the first answer from unionist politicians and move on, no matter how lame their answer is but push, and push, and push SNP politicians?

    What ever happened to the BBC having a non biased approach to interviews?

    Why do the BBC interviewers play cow-tow to messrs Moore and Alexander?

    Why did Douglas Frazer on BBC reporting Scotland on Friday nights programme not push the member from the Scotch Whisky Association harder for his evidence that the Minimum Pricing Bill going through Holyrood will adversely affect their (SWA) export sales? Surely this is garbage. Did the last Scottish Government not say, numerous times that Scotch Whisky would NOT be affected by the Minimum Pricing Bill?

  • Comment number 5.

    An idea for a future programme, on the domestic banking consequences of independence: RBS is now effectively owned by the UK taxpayer. In the event of Scottish independence, we will have a situation where a UK-owned bank has its HQ in what will be, from a UK point of view, a foreign country. Would this be sustainable? Would the UK not wish to move the HQ of a massive nationalised financial asset inside its own territory? Another cross-border domestic financial structure is the UK government-owned National Savings and Investments (NS&I), which issues income bonds, premium bonds and other domestic investments held by many people across the UK. If the assets of this organization were to be split (say 90%-10% on a population basis), would Scottish-resident holders of NS&I bonds find that their bonds and savings automatically transferred to a new “Scottish NS&I”? Given that the NS&I holdings are disproportionately held by people in the South-East of England, would some other proportion of split be more appropriate? A third issue is with current accounts. Would Scottish residents be permitted to hold current accounts in English bank branches?


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