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Newsweek Scotland: The Empire Strikes Back

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Derek Bateman Derek Bateman | 16:20 UK time, Friday, 13 January 2012

There's been so much action this week it's been like a space chase in Star Wars. Whoosh! Another missile overtakes on the starboard side. Zing! There's an explosion at 11 o clock. There are mighty monsters clawing at each other's throats and bellowing madly. Yes, it's another day in Scottish politics. At last the commanders of the mothership London have ordered a counter attack on the Salmondista forces of rebellion against the Empire. (Grow up - Ed.)

Oh well, it has been pretty gripping for politicos like me as a new event broke live on telly as I struggled to catch up with the papers and FMQs. There's been claim and counter claim and it's time to draw breath at the end of the week. What will we do with it all? Well the first thing I did was search for some perspective in order to get things into position. So I sat down with one of our pre-eminent political scientists Professor James Mitchell who has a special interest in the SNP - no one outside the party is closer to the leadership - and he's an expert on the Tories. ( I suggested this was a fringe interest nowadays but I was only joking). So he tells us all about previous constitutional turmoil and - relevant I think - how previous promises of change were abandoned.

Is anybody in any doubt that Labour, the Lib Dems and Tories have formed a pact to resist a second question? It looks rather like it. Or, as Professor John Curtice put it on Newsnight: "it is curious". He says they want Salmond to lose and be left with nothing. It seems he must be humiliated and damaged because he has been a nuisance to the Tory Government and his clear defeat will leave the way open for Labour to surge back into power at Holyrood (goes the theory). So they won't endorse a second question as a consolation even if Devo Max is something Labour and especially the Lib Dems are likely to promote later. The spanner in their works is that Salmond is still in control of the question and is likely to put which ever combination he wants even after a consultation. We have a debate with Angus Macleod and George Kerevan.

We're working on more material on the referendum including other countries where there have been referendums. We will also look at the welfare reforms and how they impact on disabled people. We hear how they are feeling unloved and under pressure. And we have a heart-breaking insight into the latter stages of Burns' life. Poor Rabbie never did capitalise on his great talent and died deep in debt. We hear from Clark McGinn who has unearthed new evidence of just how parlous were the Bard's circumstances at the end. And yet after his death the family collected his complete works and it was a publishing sensation making them wealthy. If you never had a lump in your throat at Ye Banks and Braes or Ae Fond Kiss, you will after hearing this. I'm off to look for my light sabre.

Join me tomorrow at 8


  • Comment number 1.

    Enjoyed your programme again as always. Thought the interview with Kenyon Wright thought provoking and look forward to some answers from the anti Independence parties.
    Why does BBC Scotland make it difficult to access your blog. Are they trying to tell us something?

  • Comment number 2.

    #1 bencruachan good morning , firstly is hunting for Derek's blog not well worth it?
    IMHO it certainly is . secondly Derek is in an amazing position as in you can no longer blether with BBC Scotland's political editor nor can you chat with BBC Scotland's business & economy editor via there blogs. if you want a chat via a blog you can do so with the English ,NI and Welsh versions no bother. strange that is it not? I can recommend the Welsh one which is indeed very welcoming.

  • Comment number 3.

    WOW! A BBC Scotland blog that allows comments. What is Mr Maxwell afraid of that he censors these comments in this manner? Blether with Brian and the Douglas Fraser blog became very popular with people wanting to comment on day to day Scottish politics, in particular the perceived Unionist bias of the MSM in general and the BBC in particular. Is this why the censoring is happening. The wrong kind of comments?

    This political scandal was covered on the Newswatch programme but Mr Maxwell refused to appear to put his case. It all looks a wee bit grubby. I do hope my post passes the censor department. Thanks Derek.

  • Comment number 4.

    Thankyou for a thought provoking programme, once again. It is a pleasure to hear well-reasoned argument coupled with expert opinion. I note from from one of your fellow bloggers, Craig Murray, that the subject of the Scotland-England maritime border has caught many people's interest. Since this would appear to have a bearing on the economy of a future Scotland, might it be possible to discuss the matter in some depth with persons who have a knowledge of the subject?

  • Comment number 5.

    As you are the only blog we are allowed to comment on at BBC Scotland have you anything to say on the story in Newsnet about the headline below.

    BBC Scotland under pressure over online blog censorship

  • Comment number 6.

    Like the previous posters I welcome a blog which allows comments from so called Cybernats like me! And like the poster above why does Mr Maxwell fear comment from pro independence followers.? Do the BBC only listen to Unionist politicians? Why no BBC retraction on Johann Lamont's question to FM about a rape case that never was? Or the recent press release by Ms Baillie at the start of this year that attacked the SNP using figures that were gathered in 2005/6, a time when Labour were in power?
    In the press release Ms Baillie claimed that newly published figures showed Scotland topped a European league table of healthcare associated infections (HAIs). It subsequently emerged that the findings were based on a survey published in 2007 - with data gathered in 2005/06.
    Do the BBC not check the facts before blindly publishing anything Labour say?
    The facts are that since 2005 these figures have shown a dramatic DECREASE

  • Comment number 7.

    Kenyon Wright had a lot of interesting (and logical) ideas.
    I wonder who is going to promote them as a "question".

  • Comment number 8.

    5.At 19:30 16th Jan 2012, wildjackamo wrote:

    "BBC Scotland under pressure over online blog censorship"

    I see Kenneth Roy has something to say on the subject too:


    Whether you call the political and business blog closeure censorship or discrimination it doesn't matter. It is just plain wrong, and I hope Daniel Maxwell and Ian Small will pay the price for this.

  • Comment number 9.

    Your return to GMS would provide the balance that the programme desperately needs.

  • Comment number 10.

    Looks as though there's demand for a programme on the blogging policy of the broadcaster that we all fund. Go on Derek, how about it?

  • Comment number 11.

    Derek, hope you make it back to GMS soon.

    As other posters have pointed out, why not raise the issue of the 'no comments' on BBC Scotland blogs ? Surely as a public service broadcaster that is part of your remit ? Whilst everyone is crying out for debate into the referendum, the BBC continues to deny licence fee payers a platform. Why ?

    Is it a service cut to Scottish viewers ? (Hard to understand as all BBC blogs are moderated outside the BBC by a private company, why they should cut Scotland's is surely unfathomable ?) We had been told by Daniel Maxwell that the cut was to allow other stories to receive comments, however since mid October we have possibly had three stories we could comment on (and one of those originated on the BBC UK news pages about renewable energy)

    Prior to this we could comment on average about 15 times a month on Brian Taylors and Douglas Frasers blogs. So we need an answer, if it is a BBC cut to Scotland sanctioned from London, do we need to start fighting BBC Scotland's corner ? After all, from the £250m we Scots give in licence fees, only @£75m comes back for funding to Scotland.

    Just let us know Derek, at a moments notice we can be mobilised !

    (I'll eat my hat if this gets past moderation)

  • Comment number 12.

    Just read that NWS is under threat - what a short sighted & ridiculous move by the bean counters. One of the best shows on the radio.

  • Comment number 13.

    Sorry to hear that your show is being axed and that you are being sacked.

  • Comment number 14.

    12.At 07:23 18th Jan 2012, conival wrote:
    "Just read that NWS is under threat - what a short sighted & ridiculous move by the bean counters"
    Or to take a more machiavellian view, a shrewd politically motivated move to remove the last un-biased program on BBC Scotland. I suspect Daniel Maxwell and Ian Small are behind this move. They are the ones who are behind the closure of the political and business blogs comments.

  • Comment number 15.


    Tell me more ????????????????????????????????????

  • Comment number 16.

    In light of the furore over bias in the national broadcast output, this particular cut appears to be patently political. Derek Bateman has been a beacon in an otherwise murky atmosphere. Thanks, Derek, for the memory!

  • Comment number 17.

    15.At 11:14 18th Jan 2012, minuend wrote:

    "Tell me more"

    You can find out more on the website that cannot be named on the beeb under "
    BBC Scotland under pressure over online blog censorship" - It's now in the more articles section at the bottom of the home page.

    Various of us are wending our way throught he tortuous complaints process - I personally am just moving on to complaining to the BBC Trust. I don't expect a fair hearing there, but maybe at OFCOM, once I get there. Discrimination like this must be challenged. After OFCOM it will be court under discrimination law. All the way on this one....

  • Comment number 18.

    So by dropping Newsweek and sacking Derek Bateman BBC Scotland is not only ending fair comment and anlysis being broadcast but is also in effect closing down comments on another BBC Scotland blog. Is BBC Scotland becoming paranoid?

  • Comment number 19.

    18.At 12:19 18th Jan 2012, minuend wrote:
    "So by dropping Newsweek and sacking Derek Bateman BBC Scotland is not only ending fair comment and anlysis being broadcast but is also in effect closing down comments on another BBC Scotland blog. Is BBC Scotland becoming paranoid?"

    That's what it looks like to me, minuend. Not so much paranoid as partial, I'd say.

  • Comment number 20.


    The music lovers who contribute to Bryan's blog don't take kindly to having our beloved presenter insulted on our comments pages.

    Kindly desist.

  • Comment number 21.

    Scotch Git

    Apologies! A glass too many at that point. However it IS a pity Derek Bateman does`nt enjoy similar prominence as music lover. Will desist!

  • Comment number 22.

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

  • Comment number 23.

    It is refreshing that Derek's inimitable style has been allowed to be transferred to an "old-style", unrestricted length of post blog. And worrying with the news that we are to be "treated" to a Saturday GMS. We can only hope that Derek will return to GMS in this Saturday Slot and bring a deal of balance to BBC Scotland's output.

    Why are we all posting here ? Derek's last blog postings attracted, ahem, minimal comment.

    Well, we all know the answer. It is because of the decision, as reported on BBC Newswatch and in other places, to close the comments facility on the Scottish Blogs run by the Political and Economic Editors, Brian Taylor and Douglas Forsyth.

    This closure has been unique to BBC Scotland amongst all of the BBC "Nations and Regions"

    Scottish License Fee payers must post therefore where and when we can, and although we may be too late to save Newsweek, Derek's blog has been far more interesting and we can only hope that by us coming back and posting, that BBC Scotland Management take note of the previously silent followers of Derek's work.

    Post Often, people.

  • Comment number 24.

    Sincerely hope that News week Scotland hosted by Dereck Bateman is not to be taken off air. Where is this rumour coming from.
    This reminds me of the time when Ken Macdonald's Sunday Morning show was taken off air and replaced with Sharreen and her panel of opinionated people. So instead of getting just the facts from a professional journalist we are treated to the opinions of people with their own political slant on the world.

  • Comment number 25.

    Will miss newsweek if the rumours are true(if that's allowed) that it is being closed down and the only upside will mean that I don't have to retune every Sat morning to hear the facts.

    I see BwB has now been downgraded to BB with no comments allowed seems that there is nothing coming out of Pacific Quay which has any relevance any more to the majority of people in Scotland.

  • Comment number 26.

    11. At 17:30 17th Jan 2012, maroonfever wrote:

    (I'll eat my hat if this gets past moderation)

    Is that with sauce?

  • Comment number 27.

    I just cannot believe that axing a 1 hour, weekly show will save so much money. Can't imagine that Derek is getting £10,000 per show!

    Production staff have to be there irespective of the show being broadcast. I imagine that the commentators are paid a token amount. How much in real terms is going to be saved compared to broadcasting GMS for a sixth day? Negligible I bet. Would love to hear Derek's take on it, but that certainly won't be allowed.

    Very, very sad

  • Comment number 28.


    I hope that reports of your show's demise prove to be unfounded.

    A beacon indeed.

  • Comment number 29.

    Is Newsweek getting dumped ? The most objective current affairs show on BBC Scotland.
    I guess this means the BBC is digging in for the union & preparing to take sides in the battle ahead.
    I always knew the British Broadcasting Corporation had a unionist agenda, but I thought its charter forced a duty to convey facts & discussion.
    When the BBC is gone, will we miss it ?

  • Comment number 30.

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

  • Comment number 31.

    It would appear that this blog is now being actively moderated. Does that sound the death knell for comments on another BBC Scotland site?

  • Comment number 32.

    Derek I'm hoping you're going to go out with a flourish, and to really say what you think, even more so than usual. That of course is pretty unusual in itself, within PQ Towers. I see one of your fellow bloggers, sadly without a comment facility far less one not restricted to tweet full of characters, has decided that Rosa Kleb put in 'a good performance' today. Do you agree with that assessment? We were referred again to that Arc of Insolvency, and specifically to three small, independent nations, all of which sit higher than the UK in the World Prosperity Index. Then there's the Fred Goodwin School of Economics quip - now who was it that recommended said biker for a trip to the Palace? And Fred's qualification as an economist was what precisely? And that of the FM when he was indeed an economist in same organisation? Hmm, not like the professional journos at the Beeb to gloss over the facts as they strive to palm us off with Labour announcements is it Derek?

    Are you able to give us an advance on your thoughts for this week's programme?

    What did you do to earn your moderators? Or is it a compulsory part of the leaving gift. Newsweek will undoubtedly be missed, and I for one will be switching over to R4 earlier than normal on Saturdays when the time comes.

  • Comment number 33.

    What is happening to the BBC is now getting a wider audience.


    Will tune in on saturday as usual to hear the usual interesting take on things going on in Scotland.

  • Comment number 34.

    I write as an appreciative listener to some terrific BBC programmes and broadcasters of the past. I refer to Brian Redhead, John Timpson, Robert Robinson, Eddie Mair, Colin Bell and John Milne among others. In my view the programme, ’ Newsweek Scotland’ ranks high among the programmes of these great radio broadcasters, and it is with bewilderment that I note the axing of this excellent, informative, well-researched, non-partisan and consistently thought-provoking weekly programme.
    I am bound to state that the removal of Newseek Scotland from the airwaves serves no one. To replace a programme which involves lengthy discussion and reflection by recognized experts in their field with a programme like Good Morning Scotland, which of necessity concentrates solely on the news of the day without in-depth analysis, is no replacement at all. They are two different kinds of programme.
    Yes, I know folk don’t like change, and I am no different to many, but some folk still admire high standards, and this is precisely what this programme consistently attains. The overriding sameness on offer elsewhere on Radio Scotland, where the listener is frequently invited to phone or text in his / her views on whatever is their favourite X, is the sort of unambitious radio to which the BBC should never descend. Newsweek Scotland has not plumbed these now unfortunately familiar depths. For that, thankyou, Derek, and best wishes for your next journalistic step.

  • Comment number 35.



    Aye, we've a' been there!

    Now that you know where it is, come along and join in. Bring your friends.


  • Comment number 36.

    Just launched today, the campaign to save Newsweek Scotland:


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