Showing posts with label Ruth Wishart. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ruth Wishart. Show all posts

Thursday 31 August 2023

Moving Forward Dugdale & Riddoch, Edinburgh book festival 2023

If we agree on the destination, how can we then agree on the road to reach it? 

“We must find a middle ground – otherwise we in Scotland are stuck.”

Three high profile women - Kezia Dugdale, former Scottish labour leader, now lecturer at the John Smith Trust; Lesley Riddoch, campaigner, podcaster, new book Thrive – asked what is the road, now its ONLY about the road (currency, borders etc) and not the destination or our common bonds; while Wishart provided excellent sound bites and humour on these critical issues  


How do we find the middle ground and build bridges. 

This talk was a lively discussion – they looked at how we’re governed, and how we must be honest about risks. Scots are risk adverse. They agree on the destination of social policies to improve lives BUT see different routes to get there. The UK is micro-managed by a right wing government, that is cruel, elitists and can’t or won’t modernise. 


Kezia as former leader of the Scottish branch of the Labour party, provided the counter arguments of why left leaning voters have much in common with our counterparts in England. She agreed on the destination – on the social polices of how we might work to eradicate poverty and inequality and was an advocate for improved housing – she disagreed with Lesley on how we might reach these goals. (she is no longer a Labour party member)


Dugdale has softened her position on independence since Better Together 2014, and said shed prefer indy over an extreme right wing government Boris led UK government (but who wont concede a referendum). She felt there were big questions on social policy to resolve – not the yes/no constitutional lens. Trust is low, many see politics as corrupt. Is politics broken here in the UK?

Riddoch showed her metal and years of experience as a journalist, traveller, author, broadcaster and political commentator. She said that commentators took their eye off the ball. She spoke of Scotland’s overly large council areas, the largest in Europe – average Scotland 175K/ average Europe 10K. The 32 councils in Scotland are really large regions. In Norway there are 400 councils. 


She claimed we’ve lost our self confidence in Scotland to govern and run places ourselves. Community councils only receive £400, are Development Trusts an answer? We must get power out of Edinburgh into the rest of country – to the local village. She spoke of Shetland’s large wind farms, which are of no benefit to Shetland and they rely on diesel generation. Scotland has the best wind and waves in Europe. 30 yeas ago Norway was developing renewables.


While Kezia spoke of employment legislation, immigration powers, wealth redistribution and the importance of new housing. Federalism UK - is this possible? She spoke of the benefits of the EU, but hoped Keir Starmer wins the next election. Dugdale said she was proud of the Scottish government. On the question of Yes/ No, she said she would decide at the time! 


Riddoch said Feudalism in Scotland was only abolished by the Scottish Parliament in 1998! That we Scots are wacked back of the head, by large landowners. The country has never been ours and is treated as a playground for the rich. After Brexit, half of the highlands are shut. The Indy vote 2014 in Scotland inclusive of all who’ve lived here for 3 months. Wheras the Brexit vote was exclusive, had to be British. 

 Scotland does not compare well to other small nations. She spoke of Denmark, as the highest taxed but happiest country – with best kindergarten, security system and OPEC wind turbines of 50 years! Sweden, best elderly care and highest trust. Most sustainable country in the world. Estonia (1991) moved away from Russia and invested in education (as did Ireland) 

Lesley Riddoch

Federalism was discussed and Wishart asked, could such an Asymmetrical federalism work? And where does it work?
 In Wales Labour are more outspoken on small nationalism, Welsh language and culture. Proper devolution for England, where the large cities (London etc.) don’t vote Tory. Devolution for all parts of England. 

Riddoch was hopeful that things can change and progress here in Scotland. If the SNP can be bold enough. England needs to face its own problems. Do we have capacity – with the risk adverse Scots? Perhaps Scots simply want our lands and voice back. The questions remain – how do we come unstuck from Westminster – they claim Scotland is a negative to Britain’s economy yet want to hold on to Scotland. This all doesn’t add up.

Ruth Wishart

Social democracy is the settled will in Scotland. Wishart asked – what is the settled will in England? The UK is the single unitary state in Europe of 65 million, and where London runs everything. Its those in the middle who really hold the power. Vote for confidence OR a straitjacket. We need levers and capacity. 

Major issues - 

Electoral Reform – the ERG group 

FPTP voting system

Unelected House of Lords, second chamber

Well being economy

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Scottish Press; Dialogue on Media - EIBF August 2014.

The dead wood press is now selling a quarter what it once did and that most of the Scottish press is now under foreign ownership. 

This event was hosted by journalist Ruth Wishart, and with fellow journalists Iain MacWhirter (Herald) Stephan Khan (Observer London) and Niki Seth-Smith (Common weel).
They spoke of the vigorous diversity of the Referendum debates in particular online websites such as National Collective, Kiltr, Bella Caledonia etc.  

Iain MacWhirter (Herald)
He said that professional Journalism allows for long form research.
He talked of Online Journalism. Citizen journalism provides more and cheap instant views, when journalism becomes often opinion journalism. Media used to be the privileged elite but now everyone has a voice.  There is a difference between sharing information though, instant opinions and researched facts.

The Decline of Scottish press stood at a drop of 100,000 sales per year, that it maybe had 5 years left. .
Most of the Scottish press was now foreign owned and The Scotsman had been taken over and had become the Daily Mail of Scotland. He said the dead tree press (professional journalism) are the cultural curators. The business model doesn't work on the internet though and the trouble is that real journalism cant' be done for nothing. 

He spoke of the one-sided media right now in Scotland which is hostile to independence.  What is happening here would be illegal in Scandinavia as the constitution is to have diversity of press. 
We have only had the one newspaper here - The Sunday Herald - supporting independence in Scotland.  He said that the BBC is still dependent for news on the dead tree press. 

Stephan Khan (Observer London) spoke of the plurality of press
He said the new consumer was more sophisticated. The problem with new media is there was often no raw copy and no research online. 

The question now is what happens after the Referendum. 
There was good online media and entrepreneurship but which do too often relies on press stories. 

He said, 'Comment is free, facts are sacred.'
He spoke of the need for objectivity and the blurring of the line between comment and fact.  Journalist will also make academic papers readable for the general public.  
Niki Seth-Smith (Common weel)  stated that online there were also often multiple drafts and editorial time too to provide decent facts with rigorous fact checking.   

MacWhirter suggested public funding for say a National Enquirer paper that was for factual news gathering rather than opinions or speculations and to help to ensure diversity of expression was properly informed.
The BBC is struggling with devolution or what it is really about.  Scotland has national politics and no national press. I notice now that many of the respected in this debate are not going on the BBC news programs - understandably. 

They thought that the best bet for small democracies was an open democracy that also pays contributors. 
Twitter feeds are difficult at reflecting on news with no longer articles and they felt that Print still has a future.