Saturday, May 23, 2009

English vs. Scottish Press Freedom

The recent exposure of MP’s expense perks is destined to go down as one of the greatest moments in English media history. I suspect the Telegraph felt that they had to win back the middle ground of relevance after the blogger Guido reminded them what their job is supposed to be.

I particularly loved Frank Skinner’s comments as he mused aloud on why on earth MPs need second jobs:

Yet again, it takes a comedian to talk truth to power (see my post on Jon Stewart).

Then I had a look at the expenses claimed by region and noticed a common factor – nearly all of the MPs had claimed for an assistant.

It would appear that the primary purpose of the political assistant is to free up the MPs’ time to earn more money outside Parliament. It’s certainly not to make them more accessible to their electorate.

The thing that impressed me most was the Telegraph’s new-found willingness to attack the system, of which it is very much a part. Then I remembered something I stumbled across when I was putting together another post recently:

Media freedom is well established in the UK and media coverage of the [2005 General Election] campaign was extensive. There are many print and electronic media outlets that freely and actively cover election campaigns, and the electorate is generally offered a range of views and information. (1)

Anyone who has bought a newspaper in Scotland in the past few years will probably think that a piece of political black humour. The Scottish Parliament might seem squeaky clean compared to the British one, but as far as press freedom goes, the English are putting Scotland to shame.

The behaviour of the Scottish press throughout this British expenses scandal has been deplorable. (See Moridura’s post) Day after day they find something negative to say about the Scottish Government alongside the British story, rather than simply report the truth – that their beloved Union of Great Britain is falling apart at the seams.

What does it take for a team of patriotic Scots millionaires to join forces to create a half-decent Scottish newspaper? Do I have to name names? Yes, it could have a Scottish perspective on what is going on in the world, but what on earth is wrong with that? Every other country in the world has. And I'm not talking about being pro-SNP.

If the group's first act were to take over the Herald and the Scotsman, it would inherit their established distribution networks, and would have access to an army of ex-journalists, freed from the shackles of British Unionist management, no longer prevented from saying what they really want to say. With the Herald and Scotsman eliminated, it would quickly establish itself as Scotland's national newspaper.

Once it has built a readership, it could switch to a tabloid format to win over the Daily Record readers with sport, and could cover national (i.e. Scottish), European and international news, entertainment and movie stars, and have a section on what Scots are doing around the world. I’d bet that even bloggers would be willing to contribute the odd opinion piece for free, or some original research - now that Guido has made us respectable. The important thing is that it would contain real news and original research. Anything is better than the zombie Labour spin we are getting now.

There are strong moral reasons for doing this too, and, as my father used to say, “Ye cannae tak it wi ye.”

Gentlemen, it's time to play your part. You know who you are.

Your country needs you. And it will be remembered.


1. This is an excerpt from the EU OSCE/ODIHR observer report on the 2005 General Election, p13


scunnert said...

I enjoyed the vid. Speaking truth to power indeed. I find it mind boggling that the UK allows its Members of Parliament to also work for Corporations. I think it's clear whose interests they served.

OutLander said...


I wish more comedians would get political. People trust what they have to say, and they bring a strong dose of reality back to often farcically surreal situations.

Re corporate Britain, George Monbiot nailed it for me with Captive State. One day we'll find out who Blair was really working for.